Interactive TV News Round-Up (IV): Discovery, DISH Network, enableTV, ESPN, Five, Facebook, Google TV

Because the [itvt] editorial team has been on the road the past few weeks, we are covering recent news in round-up/summary form. Due to the volume of news we are covering in this issue, our summaries are somewhat more abbreviated than usual (note: extensive background information on most of the companies and technologies covered in this issue can be found by using itvt.com's search functionality). We apologize for any inconvenience to our readers: our regular daily news coverage will return shortly.

  • In a filing with the FCC last month, Discovery Communications stated that DISH Network does not have its permission to deliver its channels via the Internet using the satellite TV operator's new Slingbox-based "TV Everywhere" app (see the article published on itvt.com, December 9th). Multichannel News's John Eggerton has more.
  • Interactive TV technology and professional services provider, enableTV, has announced a reseller agreement with UniSoft, that the companies are billing as enabling a "robust one-stop solution for the interactive application marketplace." Said enableTV founder and president, Tim Wahlers: "We have been working with [UniSoft director] Audrey Ruelas and [UniSoft CTO] Guy Hadland for years. As we prepare to launch an exciting new product line in 2011 while continuing to expand our existing professional services, this strategic partnership positions us to reach new markets and new customers."
  • ESPN has announced the launch of its ScoreCenter application, which is available on such devices as the iPhone and iPad, on connected TV's. According to the company, the app will initially be available on Samsung connected TV's via the Samsung Apps store. "The application provides fans with the ability to view scores and stats from a variety of sports with a touch of a button," ESPN states in its press materials. "Scoreboards and live game details can expand to include in-game stats, scores and schedules. Personalization features allow fans to customize their ScoreCenter experience by highlighting their favorite teams and leagues. Fans can also position the application to suit their preference, including across the top, bottom or sides of the screen. The video image adjusts accordingly, depending on the placement of the app." A video demo of the connected TV version of ScoreCenter is embedded above.
  • In other ESPN news: The broadcaster has announced that it has acquired substantially all of the intellectual property of PVI Virtual Media Services. "The acquisition will augment ESPN's innovative use of virtual technology across its multiple platforms," the broadcaster states in its press materials. "Under this agreement, ESPN will hire substantially all of the highly talented staff of engineers who have developed many of PVI's virtual innovations. As a result of the transaction, ESPN will hold the rights to substantially all of PVI's intellectual property including intellectual property which relates to virtual insertion, player tracking, ITV applications as well as 3D graphics development. In addition, certain rights to PVI's technology have been separately sold to a third party."
  • UK terrestrial broadcaster, Five, has begun offering long-form TV shows on Facebook. "Viewers can go to [Five's online catch-up service] Demand Five, click on an episode and then on the Facebook 'like' button and the full episode will be added to their Facebook wall," Jessica Davies writes in New Media Age. "The move means Facebook's 26 million UK users can now watch Five's TV catch-up content including 'Neighbours' and 'Home & Away,' 'Fifth Gear,' 'The Gadget Show,' and 'Hotel Inspector' within the social network."
  • Google TV has generated a fair amount of news over the past few weeks. Among other things: 1) Google announced an "I want my Google TV!" contest, that will see it giving away 100 46-inch Sony Google TV sets. "To enter to win, create and upload a video telling us and all your friends on YouTube why you're pumped up about Google TV," the company wrote on its Google TV blog. "Winning submissions will be selected based on originality, creativity, entertainment factor, technical execution, and how well you explain why you are excited about Google TV and watching YouTube on Google TV." The deadline for entries was December 22nd, and winners are scheduled to be announced January 20th. 2) Google also announced that Vizio has signed on as a Google TV partner (see article in this issue). 3) The company rolled out its first Google TV software update. The update includes an upgrade to the platform's Netflix app; a "Dual View" feature that is billed as allowing users to "easily watch your favorite TV show and browse your favorite Web site together at once," and thus to "do things like watch Conan while tweeting about him on Twitter at the same time"; support for a Google TV Remote app for Android, which features, among other things, integrated voice search and the ability to share videos and Web sites from the phone to the TV; and a new movie results page. 4) Google has asked Toshiba, LG Electronics and Sharp, which were set to launch Google TV products at CES this week, to delay those product launches so that "it can refine the [Google TV] software, which has received a lukewarm reception," the New York Times reported last month. According to the report, the manufacturers were "caught by surprise" by Google's request. Samsung and Vizio, however, are both expected to unveil Google TV products at CES; and the head of Sony's television business, Hiroshi Yoshioka, has stated publicly (though without providing numbers) that sales of the company's Google TV devices have been "in line with expectations." Meanwhile, Logitech, which offers a Google TV set-top box, is disputing a report in the Asian trade publication, DigiTimes, that it has told its manufacturing partner, Gigabyte Technology, to suspend shipments of that box until later this month, pending the roll-out of improved Google TV software. Multichannel News's Todd Spangler has more.

 

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