Interactive TV News Round-Up

--ActiveVideo Announces its Cable Congress Exhibit Plans
--BBC Releases January iPlayer Usage Statistics, Says New iPlayer iPad App Proving Popular
--Mobile Interactive Group Posts Strong 2010 Results
--Report: NDS Seeking $1.05 Billion in Loans to Refinance Debt
--Rovi Successfully Completes Tender Offer for Sonic Solutions Shares
--Sorenson Media, Kulabyte Team on Cloud-Based Live Video Encoding Platform
--Telefonica Unveils Cloud-Based Multiplatform Apps Environment

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

  • Cloud-based interactive TV specialist, ActiveVideo Networks, has announced its exhibit plans for this week's (February 15th-17th) Cable Congress show in Lucerne, Switzerland. The company says that it "will demonstrate how its CloudTV Platform can uniformly bring smart-TV functionality and applications to any set-top box or television equipped with CI Plus (Common Interface Plus) modules. During the three-day conference," the company's press materials continue, "ActiveVideo will show how CloudTV can build value for cable system operators, programmers and third-party developers by enabling the limitless delivery of content and applications that are streamed from the network cloud. The ActiveVideo exhibit will demonstrate the breadth of content that can be created using Web-based development technologies in a 'write once, deploy everywhere' environment... In addition to CloudTV's ability to drive content and application creation and delivery, the ActiveVideo Cable Congress exhibit will include the ability of operators to enhance services for consumers with iPhones, other smartphones and Web-connected devices. The demonstration will show how communication from handheld devices can enable true, real-time interactive and on-demand services over one-way cable plant, as well as the ability to use ActiveVideo's iPhone Remote Control App to enable gesture-based interactivity, improved keyboarding and navigation, significantly improved search and discovery, and the ability to upload photos and intuitively control displays on the TV."
  • The BBC has released January usage statistics for the BBC iPlayer. The corporation's Bridget Middleton summarized the statistics on a BBC blog: "Following a record month in Dec 2010 (145 million requests) in January, BBC iPlayer received 162 million requests for TV and radio programs, an increase of 12% month-on-month, 35% year-on-year," she wrote. "'Come Fly With Me' was the most requested TV program in January 2011, with five episodes making up all the top five positions, followed by 'Top Gear' and 'EastEnders.' The new series of 'Hustle' and 'Human Planet' were popular, as well as films 'Wall-E' and 'Point Break.' The most requested radio program was coverage of The Ashes (Fifth Test, Day 3). Other popular sport included Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup Football, and the Twenty20 Cricket. Non-sporting titles included 'I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue' and Radio 2's Gary Barlow Concert." According to the BBC, its new iPlayer app for the Apple iPad was downloaded 54,511 times during the first 24 hours after its launch last week.
  • Mobile Interactive Group (MIG), a UK-based company that specializes in enabling mobile phone-based interactive TV experiences, has released its 2010 financial results. According to the company, its revenues grew 15% year-over-year from £68 million to £78 million, while its operating profit trebled, and its headcount grew 30%. Over the course of the year, it says, it invested £5 million in technology development. "Looking forwards to 2011, we anticipate a larger contribution to our margin growth to come from overseas customers and we are on track to deliver strong revenue growth through organic expansion and acquisition, with margin growth in line with previous years," founder and CEO, Barry Houlihan, said in a prepared statement. "Our continued positive operating cash flow demonstrates that our core business model is highly cash generative and we believe 2011 will be a very big year for MIG and our customers. In 2010 we invested significantly in new mobile infrastructure and technology, particularly in the areas of mobile payments, mobile CRM, mobile Web and app development and mobile advertising. We are now starting to see the benefits of this investment as we grow and scale our business into new markets."
  • Interactive TV and conditional access technology provider, NDS, is seeking $1.05 billion in loans in order to refinance debt, Bloomberg reported Monday, citing "a person with knowledge of the transaction." The transaction is apparently being led by JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Rovi has announced the successful completion of its cash and stock tender offer for all the outstanding shares of Sonic Solutions. It expects the merger--which will see Sonic becoming a wholly owned subsidiary--to be completed within a few days. "Based on preliminary information from the depositary for the tender offer, 45,790,080 shares, representing over 89.3% of the outstanding shares of common stock of Sonic Solutions as of the close of business on February 11, 2011, were validly tendered and not withdrawn prior to the expiration of the tender offer," Rovi states in its press materials. "All of such shares have been accepted for payment in accordance with the terms of the offer, including 6,429,921 of such shares that were tendered pursuant to the tender offer's guaranteed delivery procedure."
  • Video encoding specialist, Sorenson Media, and live HD and mobile video streaming company, Kulabyte, have announced that they are partnering to bring to market a cloud-based live video encoding platform called Squeeze Live. According to the companies, the new solution, which is currently in beta, enables high-volume live video encoding for distribution to any mobile device or computer. "Squeeze Live's architecture enables the event producer to entirely re-think traditional approaches to live broadcast," the companies state in their press materials. "With audiences increasingly consuming media on multiple devices at multiple bitrates, adaptive bitrate streaming capability provides a high-quality, reliable, consistent stream, even for challenging bandwidth environments. Preparing multiple renditions previously required additional on-site encoding hardware, bandwidth and infrastructure. Squeeze Live eliminates this wasteful per-event overspending and logistical problem, in favor of a flexible, modular, yet comprehensive high-quality live streaming platform. Squeeze Live provides the ability to seamlessly connect video-on-demand encoding of live streams, ensuring complete event coverage all within a single cloud platform...Squeeze Live significantly streamlines and optimizes the previously complex, cumbersome and costly process of encoding video for online delivery for live events--including sporting events, awards ceremonies, conferences, breaking news and exposition presentations. The Squeeze Live solution first passes through a live video stream frontend encoder onsite. The encoded stream is then sent to the cloud for encoding in real time into multiple formats and bitrates, optimized for playback on TV, desktop or laptop computers, or on a broad range of mobile devices, including Blackberry, iPad and iPhone, Android and others. In the final step of this real-time process, multiple renditions of each video profile are delivered to the content delivery network (CDN) of choice for streaming."
  • Spanish telco, Telefonica, has unveiled a new service that it says will allow customers to "access, manage and enjoy apps on any mobile phone, tablet, netbook, mobile PC, set-top box TV and many other homescreen devices. The multiplatform 'all my stuff, anywhere, anytime' applications folder--dubbed Frigo until the commercial brand is formally unveiled in the spring--automatically backs up content to the cloud, meaning customers can seamlessly take their profile with them when they switch device," the company states in its press materials.
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North America