Interactive TV News Round-Up (II): BBC Red Button, Freesat, BeeSmart, Comcast

--Freesat Viewers Get Fuller Version of BBC Red Button Interactive TV Service
--BBC Releases Red-Button Programming Schedule through February 11th
--Interactive TV Technology Provider, BeeSmart, Trumpets 300% Year-over-Year Growth
--Comcast Launches "Missing Kids On Demand"

Because the [itvt] editorial team was busy last week working on the TV of Tomorrow Show 2011, we are covering recent news in round-up/summary form. We anticipate that it will take us a few days to catch up with all the news we plan to cover: so if your company has sent us a press release or briefed us on an announcement, and you don't yet see your news covered in this issue, please bear with us. Our regular daily news coverage will return shortly.

  • The BBC has launched a fuller version of its red-button interactive TV/supplemental programming service on the UK's free-to-air satellite-TV platform, Freesat. Previously, Freesat customers were only able to access the BBC Sport Multiscreen service through the red button. "2008 saw the launch of a brand new digital TV platform, with the BBC instrumental in delivering both channels and interactive content onto Freesat," the BBC's Ronald Bullen writes on the corporation's BBC Internet blog. "The BBC Red Button offering on the new platform was not quite the same as that on our existing platforms such as Sky, Virgin Media and Freeview, and this has generated some comments since then. In particular, Freesat viewers have been keen to enjoy the same video content that was made available on other platforms...Today, all Freesat viewers (broadcast and IP-connected boxes) will be able to access our single-stream video services as well as the Sport Multiscreen service that accompanied the initial launch; this brings Freesat viewers a wider range of BBC Red Button video-based services to enjoy. First for Freesat viewers is the new 'Being Human' spin-off, 'Becoming Human,' available from 30 January, along with more exclusive content from comedy show 'Episodes.' This product development enables us to add these video service links via existing scheduling tools which launches an (MHEG) application allowing the viewer to be taken to our interactive streams and back again. We are aware that still not all services offered on our legacy platforms are available on Freesat; however this is an exciting development for the BBC Red Button team and one we hope to build on in the future."
  • In related news: The BBC has released the schedule of programming and interactive content that will be available via the BBC Red Button service through February 11th.
  • Slovenian interactive TV technology provider, BeeSmart, and user interface engine specialist, Ekioh, have announced that there are now over 130,000 end-users using BeeSmart middleware clients and the Ekioh SVG UI Engine--representing year-over-year growth of 300%. "A significant number of customers select BeeSmart because of its ease of use and compelling visual experience," the companies' press materials state. "BeeSmart client software is driven by Ekioh's SVG engine, which is rapidly becoming the de-facto standard TV UI rendering technology. BeeSmart was the first middleware company to recognize the benefits of SVG and particularly Ekioh's compact and high-performance implementation. This partnership yielded a solution which is delivering huge satisfaction to end-customers and TV operators alike." Said BeeSmart CTO, Marko Hiti: "The Ekioh SVG UI engine provides us a very flexible environment in which we are able to design responsive and visually attractive user interfaces for the end-client. Since our solution comes with a complete set of tools for development of custom applications, the same level of flexibility can be achieved by our partners who use BeeSmart Software Development Kit for designing their own tailored TV applications."
  • Comcast has launched a VOD service and a companion online service to disseminate information about missing children. Dubbed "Missing Kids On Demand," the services--which are modeled after Comcast's Police Blotter on Demand service (see, for example, the article published on itvt.com, December 21st, 2009)--are part of a joint initiative with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). "Comcast's Missing Kids On Demand and online...features 20 video profiles chronicling missing child cases from across the nation," the company explains in its press materials. "Each video provides relevant details about the child's case, including the name of the missing child, city of the disappearance, possible whereabouts, likely abductors and photos. In cases where the child has been missing for a long period, an age-progressed photo showing what he/she may look like at a more recent age will also be available. In addition, during the airing of each profile, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's toll-free 24-hour national missing children's hotline (800-THE-LOST) will be displayed on the bottom of the profile, so viewers can report tips should they have any information." 

 

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