Interactive TV News Round-Up

--Al Jazeera Launches "Lean-Back" Version of its Web Site for Google TV
--Brightcove Launches "YouTube Sync" Capability
--Cisco's Set-Top Sales Decline 29%
--GetGlue Brings "Check-In"-Based Social TV to the Grammy Awards
--Howard Stern Live-Tweets "Private Parts"
--S&T to Showcase MHEG-IC and HbbTV Solutions at IP&TV World Forum

Here are some other interactive TV-related stories we didn't have room for in this issue:

  • Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based news network whose coverage of the ongoing Egyptian revolution has been widely viewed and praised, but which has previously faced difficulties getting its Al Jazeera English channel carried by US pay-TV platforms, has launched a "lean-back" version of its Web site for Google TV. Google trumpeted the news, Friday, on its dedicated Google TV blog: "Over the past two weeks, Al Jazeera has carried 24/7 breaking news coverage of the protests in Egypt," Google's Daniels Lee wrote. "Live video of the protests from Tahrir Square, streaming from AlJazeera.net and English.AlJazeera.net, have driven a 2,500% traffic increase to their Web site. The majority of this traffic has come from the United States, as US viewers can't access Al Jazeera's broadcast on television. This week, Al Jazeera released their Al Jazeera spotlight site, where you can watch breaking news clips, scan headline news and dive into the breadth of their Web content--all on the big screen." Earlier this month, OTT platform provider, Roku, began offering Al Jazeera English (see the article published on itvt.com, February 1st).
  • Brightcove has announced the pending launch of "YouTube Sync" capability for its online video platform, which it says will enable its customers to "save time and expand your audience by automatically synchronizing selected video content and related metadata in your Brightcove account with your YouTube channel." The company has also launched its own YouTube channel to demonstrate the new functionality. "You might be asking yourself, 'If I'm already using Brightcove, why would I want to put my videos on YouTube?'" Brightcove's Sara Marie Watson wrote on the company's blog. "Brightcove is great for hosting beautiful video on your Web site with the quality and control that professional publishers need. There are near-infinite options for player customization, once you take into account all the WYSIWYG, BEML and partner integrations that we offer. The fact remains that YouTube is the second-ranking search engine, trailing behind only Google itself. The social video-sharing platform presents a huge awareness-building opportunity for your video content. A blended distribution strategy can have significant impact on your content's SEO and discoverability. But no one wants to repeat the work and time required of uploading, tagging, describing, and naming all their content in both the Brightcove Studio and their YouTube channel. That's why we've streamlined the entire process for publishers to be able to manage that all from one place: the Brightcove Studio."
  • Cisco revealed last week that its cable set-top box business (which it acquired via the purchase of Scientific-Atlanta) saw a 29% year-on-year decline in sales in the fourth quarter--following a 40% year-on-year decline in the prior quarter. Light Reading Cable's Jeff Baumgartner has more on the decline and on Cisco's hopes that its recently launched Videoscape offering will help address the decline of its TV business.
  • AdaptiveBlue, the company behind the "check-in"-based social-TV service, GetGlue, has announced that it partnered with CBS to enhance the latter's coverage of the Grammy Awards, Sunday. "We're announcing our first partnership with ratings giant CBS for the Grammy Awards, so users who watch the awards show on Sunday, February 13 at 8/7c can check-in through our apps or our site to earn some song-worthy stickers," the company wrote on its blog.
  • Shock jock, Howard Stern, used Twitter to interact with viewers of HBO's 4:00PM, Saturday airing of his 1997 movie, "Private Parts," and provide a running commentary on the movie. Stern's decision to bring a social-TV element to "Private Parts" appears to have been made on the spur of the moment. His "Private Parts" tweets can be found here.
  • Strategy & Technology (S&T)--which is trumpeting its work "helping to deliver on-demand video content over broadband to Freeview HD and Freesat set-top boxes and iDTV's as part of the new MHEG Interaction Channel" (note: the MHEG-IC is part of D-Book 6.2.1, the specification for Freeview HD published by the UK's Digital TV Group, and has also been specified for the Freeview New Zealand platform; S&T says that it anticipates that MHEG-IC-based apps "will be brought into use ahead of the launch of the YouView platform, in which it is included, offering viewers service such as the BBC iPlayer on set-top boxes, PVR's and integrated digital televisions")--has announced its exhibit plans for the IP&TV World Forum: "S&T will be showcasing the S&T Player application that offers a configurable and customizable video-on-demand solution (VOD) for MHEG-IC, supporting navigation to find content and playback control," the company states in its press materials. "S&T Player also enables the use of playlists so that, for example, a sequence of commercials and program segments can be served to the receiver that then 'pulls' each content item in sequence. Logging of playback progress is also supported, enabling the introduction of audience measurement for advertising. The MHEG-IC version of S&T Player runs on receivers conforming to the DTG D-Book 6.2.1 specification, which includes high-definition (HD) graphics and AES encryption of streamed media. A version of the S&T Player is also available for the UK Freesat platform as well as for markets using the CI Plus (CI+) standard. S&T has also recently announced a version of its RedKey3 receiver engine for the HbbTV specification. RedKey3 integrates the NetFront Browser from Access and associated HbbTV (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV) extensions, as well as S&T's DSM-CC client. RedKey2 is already a popular choice of manufacturers implementing MHEG functionality in digital TV receivers with more than 14 million units already installed. RedKey3 offers an integrated HbbTV solution, complete with a DSM-CC client and HbbTV signaling, using a similar API to RedKey2 to simplify integration. Many leading European broadcasters including Canal+, TF1, ARD, RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 are committed to offering HbbTV-powered hybrid applications and services. The HbbTV specification is based on existing standards and Web technologies including OIPF (Open IPTV Forum), CEA, DVB and W3C. It has been standardized as ETSI TS 102 796. S&T will also be displaying the latest version of its popular TSBroadcaster DSM-CC Object/Data Carousel including HbbTV signaling support. TSBroadcaster is already a well-established and highly-respected product, used both in Europe and in North America, with versions already covering DVB (MHEG-5 and MHP), OCAP and ETV platforms."
Region: 
North America