Interactive TV News Round-Up (II): BBC, DISH Network, GetGlue

--Technical Lead for BBC News on Connected TV Outlines Best Practices for TV Software Design
--DISH Launches Independence Day Promotion for its DISH Cinema VOD Service
--GetGlue Launches Mobile Web Site, Sees 100% Check-In Growth since March

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:

  • In a posting on a BBC blog, Robert Hardy, the technical lead for the recently unveiled BBC News app for connected TV's (see the article published on, June 20th), has outlined his team's six TV software design best practices: "1) Our internal data sources need to be platform-neutral--meaning we can target multiple platforms with different frontend technologies," he writes. "News content has been multiplatform for years, since we already publish to the Web, mobile platforms, mobile apps and the four broadcast platforms. 2) To allow this, the content needs to be structured. A blog, for example, tends not to be a useful data source, since the mark-up tends to be unstructured, and contain objects like Flash videos that aren't multiplatform. 3) Each platform is a specific rendering, or a 'view' on the data. Our user-experience team and product owners need to ensure we can take advantage of the specific characteristics needed for each platform; for instance one form factor may be a handheld device with a touchscreen, whilst another will be large screen with a remote control. Whilst the data is platform-neutral, we've learnt we can't simply take the Web site and put it on a TV screen, as both the physical interaction and the mental engagement differ for each form factor. 4) We abstract away from vendor-specific API's so that the code is platform-neutral. This lets us play back videos, or handle remote control key-presses in a way that doesn't create a large development overhead for every additional platform. We do this by creating a state machine and model-view-controller architecture that's independent of the target platform. We can hook this into the vendor's API if necessary. 5) We use a test suite and harness to drive the implementation of the functionality. This lets us add new functionality with confidence, and also target multiple vendors to ensure the code works the same across devices. 6) Non-functional requirements, which aren't exactly sexy, feed into the project to ensure proper error handling, scalability and failover procedures in case there's a technical problem."
  • DISH Network has launched an Independence Day promotion, under which it is offering five movies--"Sucker Punch," "Hall Pass," "True Grit," "Battle: Los Angeles," and "Just Go with It"--on its DISH Cinema broadband VOD service for $0.99 each, from July 1st-7th. The movies are offered in both SD and HD, and "Sucker Punch" and "Hall Pass" will be available on the service nearly a month prior to being available on Netflix and Redbox, DISH says.
  • Social-TV check-in service, GetGlue, has launched an "app-like" mobile Web site at "We want checking in to feel fun and exciting, even if you don't have an iPhone, Android or BlackBerry with the GetGlue app," GetGlue states in its press materials. "For those of our users without the above devices, we have created a solution and decided to invest in a robust and fun mobile site that would work great on any mobile phone. We also made this decision based on the fact that about 10% of the current check-ins data comes from the existing mobile site. The new and improved mobile site is built to be like the app, and the screen flows like you are using your iPhone instead of a mobile site. We have also invested in tailoring the experience to different platforms. Using the technique of progressive enhancement, modern browsers will be able to take advantage of HTML5 features that allow rich interaction within the mobile site. The jQuery-PJAX library allows for partial-page reloading which translates to quick response times for the user. For less powerful phones, the mobile site degrades gracefully and is still feature-complete." In related news: a GetGlue spokesperson told [itvt], Wednesday, that the service now has 1.2 million users, and saw 5.5 million check-ins last month--representing a 100% increase in check-ins from March.
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