Interactive TV News Round-Up (V): NDS, DirecTV, Netgem, Shaw Direct, Showcase

--NDS Extends Contract to Supply DirecTV with Set-Top Software and DVR Technology
--Netgem Makes its Home Cloud SDK Available to App Developers
--Satellite-TV Provider, Shaw Direct, Launches Online VOD Service
--Showcase Promotes New Series via Facebook-Powered Interactive Episode

Because the [itvt] editorial team has been busy this week working on the TV of Tomorrow Show 2011, we are covering recent news in round-up/summary form. Once again, 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 see your news covered in this issue, please bear with us.

  • NDS said Wednesday that it has renewed through January, 2016 an existing contract with satellite-TV provider, DirecTV, under which it provides DirecTV US and DirecTV Latin America with set-top box software and DVR technology. NDS, which has been providing DirecTV with set-top software since 2005, says that it also continues to provide it with other core technologies, including conditional access, under a separate deal. "DirecTV and NDS have a strong history in pioneering the best in consumer television services," Romulo Pontual, DirecTV's CTO and EVP of engineering, said in a prepared statement. "I am very confident that, with the extension of this partnership, DirecTV will have the tools needed to deliver comprehensive solutions, so that our customers can enjoy the next exciting generation of entertainment." Added DirecTV COO, Raffi Kesten: "DirecTV has long demonstrated its commitment to delivering the very latest in advanced TV and DVR services. We share a common goal to satisfy consumer appetite for next-generation TV experiences while supporting the long-term business goals of the pay-TV operator."
  • Digital TV technology company, Netgem, has announced that it has made its Home Cloud SDK available to application developers, ISP's and operator partners. "Netgem is further developing its partner ecosystem to enable third parties to take advantage of its IPTV 2.0 open architecture," the company states in its press materials. "This application framework is designed for the development of live and on-demand TV and multimedia applications. Using the open and fully documented API's, telecom operators and their partners can develop their local ecosystem of applications and services to differentiate their offering from competitors. Since Netgem is a pure technology vendor it does not interfere with the economics of the relationship between operators and developers, who are able to share 100% of the revenue." Said Fredrik Andersson, CEO of Netgem partner, Accedo Broadband: "We've really benefited from Netgem's SDK; it provides a simple interface which helps us to consolidate games and app development. This has cut the time-to-market for new titles to reach Netgem operators customers in Slovenia and Australia."
  • Shaw Direct, a satellite-TV provider majority-owned by Canadian cable MSO, Shaw Communications, has announced the launch of an online VOD library which it says customers can access over any Canadian broadband connection. "Shaw Direct customers now have access to an online VOD library at where they can order programs on-demand and enjoy them conveniently on their computers. Titles like 'The Switch,' 'Despicable Me' and 'Buried' and fan-favorite titles like 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' and 'Twilight: Eclipse' are now available online, with more titles being added each month. Recently added to the online VOD library are popular TV shows from HGTV, Food Network and History Channel, as well as new-release movies from Universal Studios, Maple Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. In addition, customers with Movie Central as part of their TV package can watch movies and shows from Movie Central at no additional charge. Award-winning HBO TV series such as 'True Blood,' 'Entourage' and 'Eastbound and Down' are also featured for Movie Central subscribers with Shaw Direct Online VOD. The Movie Network (TMN) subscribers can soon look forward to having the same exceptional content available to them through the Shaw Direct Online VOD library. Shaw Direct customers will also have access to stellar music programming from Galaxie Broadband Player, with 40 online channels of non-stop, commercial-free music including channels like Classic Rock, Maximum Party, Hot Country and Easy Listening. This is only the first phase of Shaw Direct VOD technology with more methods of content delivery, including VOD capabilities through their most advanced digital receivers, in the near future. The online VOD library currently offers Shaw Direct customers the flexibility of watching their movie or TV choice online and allows customers to take their TV viewing experience with them wherever they go, as long as there is an Internet connection."
  • Shaw Media-owned cable network, Showcase, has teamed with digital production company, Secret Location, and Thunderbird Films to create a series of online enhancements--including a Facebook-driven interactive episode--to support the new Showcase series, "Endgame." "Beginning today, viewers can go to for an abundance of exclusive content, including an innovative interactive episode of the series that inserts visitors directly into the crime-solving action with customized storylines based on their personal Facebook accounts," Showcase states in its press materials. "In addition, the site is home to behind-the-scenes footage, mini-games and full episodes of the series. At the heart of the Web site is the dynamic 'Endgame' participatory episode. The episode engages with users' Facebook accounts, pulling everything from photos to birthdays, resulting in a uniquely personal and suspenseful viewing experience for each consumer. Deeply immersed in the crime, visitors work with 'Endgame' lead character Arkady Balagan to uncover a kidnapper's identity and rescue their missing friend. Playing a part in the 'Endgame' interactive episode are three exciting and addictive mini-games. Users can try their virtual hand at 'Three Card Monte,' beat the clock in assembling pieces of torn-up photographs to use as evidence in a kidnapping, and search for suspects on the Huxley Hotel's security camera monitors. The games can also be played as standalone experiences. Capturing all the behind-the-scenes action is 'Endgame's' own Patrick Gallagher (who plays defiant hotel security manager, Hugo). Viewers can watch as Gallagher goes behind the camera, offering visitors exclusive interviews with 'Endgame' cast and crew. The undercover look at the making of an original series is as informative as it is entertaining. New installments of the webisodes roll out in conjunction with new episodes of 'Endgame' on Showcase...In addition to the interactive episode, challenging games and behind-the-scenes webisodes, fans of the series can log on to find full episodes of the series, cast biographies and character backstories."
North America