Interactive TV News Round-Up

--Former MSNBC Host, Keith Olbermann, Joins Current TV
--HTC Invests $40 Million in Games-on-Demand Company, OnLive
--iDirect, Sky-Stream Enable Access to On-Demand Programming on Apple TV in Remote Locations
--LodgeNet Releases List of Top-10 VOD Movies on its In-Room Interactive TV Platform in 2010
--Twitpic Launches Video Sharing on Twitter
--Report: Wal-Mart's Vudu OTT Service Could Threaten iTunes' EST and Internet VOD Dominance

Here is a round-up of some other interactive TV-related stories we didn't have room for in this issue:

  • Current TV, a channel well known for its use of user-generated content and other interactive initiatives (including, for example, its VCAM--or "Viewer Created Ad Message"--program, which invites viewers to upload their own video ads for participating brands; and "Bar Karma," its soon-to-premiere interactive TV series created by "The Sims" creator, Will Wright, and Worldwide Biggies CEO, Albie Hecht--see the article published on, October 17th), has announced the appointment of former MSNBC host, Keith Olbermann, to the newly created role of chief news officer. He will have an equity stake in Current TV's parent company, Current Media, and will also executive-produce and host a new, nightly primetime news and commentary show, slated to launch later this year. Current TV has not yet stated publicly whether Olbermann's show will feature interactivity or user-generated content.
  • HTC plans to acquire a $40 million stake in US-based games-on-demand company, OnLive, and has announced that it will acquire London-based mobile content delivery company, Saffron Digital, for around £30 million. The Wall Street Journal has more.
  • VT Systems-subsidiary, iDirect, has announced that Dubai-based Sky-Stream has launched a satellite IPTV streaming service over the iDirect platform. The service uses the Apple TV device to enable customers in the Middle East and Africa to access on-demand programming in remote locations where other delivery platforms are unavailable. "Sky-Stream's IPTV service provides on-demand, high-quality streaming for movies as well as news and sports shows offered through Apple TV," iDirect states in its press materials. "The new offering is an expansion of Sky-Stream's standard Voice over IP (VoIP) and Internet service that it provides to military and civil defense customers in Iraq, Afghanistan and parts of Africa. With the launch of its recreational service, Sky-Stream hopes to acquire new customers in the maritime and oil and gas sectors in the Middle East. These customers will be able to access the service from any location, no matter how isolated. The new service is powered by iDirect's satellite platform, providing built-in TCP acceleration on an IP-based system that allows Sky-Stream to offer high download speeds to customers for immediate access to the programs they want. During development, Sky-Stream tested other satellite platforms and found average download times to be unacceptably slow--taking customers over an hour to download a full-length movie. With iDirect's TDMA platform, Sky-Stream is able to overcome latency and other link reliability issues to reduce typical movie download times to as few as five minutes."
  • Hospitality-industry interactive TV provider, LodgeNet, has released a list of the 10 most popular VOD titles for 2010 in hotel rooms served by its platform. The movies were: 1) "The Blind Side" (Warner Bros.), 2) "Couples Retreat" (NBC Universal), 3) "Date Night" (20th Century Fox), 4) "Robin Hood" (NBC Universal), 5) "2012" (Sony Pictures), 6) "It's Complicated" (NBC Universal), 7) "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" (Summit Entertainment), 8) "Sherlock Holmes" (Warner Bros.), 9) "Avatar" (20th Century Fox), 10) "Salt" (Sony Pictures). According to LodgeNet, 35 of the 359 movie titles it offered on its platform last year each generated $1 million or more in sales revenue.
  • Twitpic, a company which as its name implies offers a solution for sharing pictures on Twitter, has launched video-sharing on the microblogging platform. "We've been working hard the past few months to release our new video-sharing feature for Twitpic," the company states on its corporate blog. "Just like uploading a photo you can now upload a video from the site itself, from your phone via email or from supported Twitter/Twitpic clients." A demo video is available here.
  • While Apple's iTunes store still dominates the US market for movie electronic sell-through and Internet VOD, the company may face a significant emerging competitive threat from Wal-Mart's Vudu OTT service, according to new IHS Screen Digest research. "The most fearsome rival for iTunes in the future could be a giant company that was only a small player in 2010: Wal-Mart," IHS Screen Digest's press materials state. "Wal-Mart's aggressive drive for market share for its US online movies service Vudu, has generated a spike in consumption for the service starting in the fourth quarter of 2010. The company announced $0.99 promotional pricing on iVOD movies and support for a wider range of living room devices, including Sony's PlayStation 3 video game console...Wal-Mart generated more than $3.5 billion in revenues to the studios from sales of physical movies in 2010, IHS Screen Digest research indicates."
North America