Interactive TV News Round-Up (I): Apple, AT&T U-verse TV, BBC

--Apple Seeking Patent for "Enhanced TV Widget Paradigm"
--AT&T U-verse TV Launches "Troubleshoot & Resolve" Interactive TV App
--BBC Releases iPlayer Usage Statistics for May

Because the [itvt] editorial team is on the road this week, we are covering stories in this edition of the newsletter in round-up format:

  • Apple has applied for a US patent for what it describes as "an enhanced TV widget paradigm." The existence of the patent application was first reported on by Patently Apple. "Apple states that they recognized a limitation of existing widget technology as applied to a TV environment--in that conventional widgets, while often useful resources standing alone, are unaware of the media content that the TV is currently presenting," Patently Apple explains. "Accordingly, Apple envisioned and developed an enhanced TV widget paradigm in which widgets are capable of being content-aware and thus capable, among other things, of automatically (i.e. without intervening user input) providing the user with access to information or other resources that are complementary or otherwise relevant to the media content currently being presented by the TV set to the user." The full text of Patently Apple's article on the new application--well worth reading in its entirety--is available here.
  • AT&T has launched an interactive TV app that allows customers of its Microsoft Mediaroom-powered IPTV service, U-verse TV, to use their remotes to access self-support information and tools. Dubbed "AT&T Troubleshoot & Resolve," the app is being rolled out on a market-by-market basis over the coming weeks, and is located under "Help" in the U-verse TV menu. According to AT&T, the app: "1) Provides you with an up-to-date status of your U-verse TV service with a U-verse Service Check. 2) Offers simple step-by-step guides, including images and tips, to address common questions. And 3) allows you to request a call from a customer service agent if you have any questions, with the click of your remote control." AT&T U-verse TV also offers 1) an Account Manager app, which launched last August and which allows customers to compare programming packages, upgrade to higher-level packages, view channel line-ups, view their account summary, view product overviews on U-verse High Speed Internet and U-verse Voice, and set parental controls; and 2) a U-verse TV System Set-Up Tool, which provides information on setting up parental controls, programming the U-verse remote control, altering the viewing aspect ratio, and more. A demo video of the new AT&T Troubleshoot & Resolve app is embedded above.
  • The BBC has released May usage statistics for the BBC iPlayer. The corporation's communications team summarizes the report's highlights as follows: "In May 2011 the BBC iPlayer received 159 million requests for TV and radio programs in total. Weekly user numbers were strong this month. The week of 9th May delivered a new record of 7.2 million online users in one week (excludes Virgin Media cable). 'The Apprentice' and 'Doctor Who' dominated the top-10 most-requested TV episodes this month. It was also a strong month for factual content--including 'Louis Theroux: Miami Mega Jail,' new series 'Inside the Human Body,' and 'Panorama: The Death of Bin Laden'--as well as entertainment, including 'Russell Howard,' the Eurovision Song Contest and 'Psychoville.' New dramas, 'The Shadow Line' and 'Exile' were also in the top 20."
North America