Interactive TV News Round-Up (III): Comcast, Skype, Concurrent, Hulu, Facebook, Google, LG

--Comcast Publishes Videos Demo'ing its New Skype App
--Concurrent Secures VOD Deals with Four Chinese Cable Operators
--Hulu Launches, then Suspends, Facebook-Powered Social-TV Functionality
--Hulu Suitors Said to Include Google; Hulu Plus Launches on LG LCD TV's

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:

  • At the Cable Show last month (see the article published on itvt.com, June 14th), Comcast revealed that it is teaming with Skype to test HD video calling on the TV, with trials slated to begin in the next few months. Comcast has now published two videos (embedded on this page) that showcase its collaboration with Skype: The first video, featuring Comcast user-experience experts, Jamie Hall and Susan Oppelt, discuss the development of the look-and-feel of the new service; the second video, featuring Comcast president, Neil Smit, and VP of product development and management, Michael Connelly, provides a hands-on demo.

  • Concurrent has announced that it has secured deals to supply VOD systems and associated services to four leading Chinese cable operators with a combined subscriber base of 25 million households: Jiangsu CATV, Jilin CATV, Mudianjiang CATV and Xizhou CATV. Concurrent's in-country partner for the deals is Potevio, a state-owned equipment manufacturer and network integration services provider. "China is rapidly becoming a growth engine for Concurrent," Concurrent president and CEO, Dan Mondor, said in a prepared statement. "These new agreements illustrate that we are successfully executing against our strategy of focusing on high-growth international markets to expand our global customer base. Our decision to partner with Potevio in mainland China is paying dividends, and together we are taking the leadership position in video and media data solutions in this explosive market."
  • In a posting on Hulu's corporate blog last Friday, product manager, Betina Chan-Martin, announced the launch of Facebook on Hulu, an integration with Facebook Connect that is designed to facilitate social viewing, personalization and content discovery. Unfortunately, shortly afterwards Hulu had to disable the new feature, when it discovered that the profile information of "a small number of users" (approximately 50, it said) had been compromised: "When we launched our Facebook Connect feature early this morning, we discovered that a small number of users weren't seeing their own Hulu account information upon log-in," Hulu's VP of platform technology, Richard Tom, wrote on the company's blog. "We're still drilling down on the precise nature of the issue, but we know that it was a coding and configuration error on Hulu's side, and not the result of hacking, or other third-party actions, or a vulnerability in Facebook Connect. We've been able to confirm approximately 50 affected users whose profile data, including email addresses, could have been accessed. But no one gained access to Hulu systems or highly sensitive user information such as passwords or credit card numbers. Here's what we have done and plan to do to ensure that this does not happen again: Out of an abundance of caution, we disabled all the connection points to Facebook Connect on Hulu, and we required all Hulu users to login again directly through our site. We are also taking the precautionary measure of resetting privacy settings to the most restrictive settings for anyone who logged into their Hulu account through Facebook during the affected period. Once we are certain that the issue has been fully addressed, we will re-launch our Facebook Connect program." In her blog posting earlier in the day, Hulu's Chan-Martin described the key features of Facebook on Hulu as follows: "1) Interact. We are excited to announce a new feature that is the first-of-its-kind and one that we think will become a staple at Hulu going forward. One of the most exciting features we are launching today is the ability to comment on a specific moment in time while watching any video on Hulu, and with one click, instantly share those remarks--and the relevant video moment from the program--on Facebook for all your friends to see. When you comment on a Hulu video, that exact moment will appear on Facebook so your friends can jump in and react right away. And since friends can respond to your comments, you can have those water cooler conversations online at any time...2) Personalize. Now you can easily log on to Hulu--or create a new account--using your Facebook account. From there, you'll be able to interact with all of your Facebook friends. You'll log into a homepage tailored to you, where you can see your friends' favorite shows, and start conversations with anybody who follows the same shows you do. 3) Discover...With Facebook on Hulu, you can introduce your friends to shows you're rooting for, and discover new favorites with the help of your friends, too." The launch of Facebook on Hulu was sponsored by Coors Light and Microsoft Bing--with the latter offering a 1-month Hulu Plus subscription to users who signed up for the new social video service.
  • In other Hulu news: 1) Google is in "preliminary talks" to buy the company, the Los Angeles Times reported last week. Other suitors with which Google has been in initial acquisition discussions are believed to include Microsoft and Yahoo! 2) The company's premium subscription service, Hulu Plus, is now available on certain LG LCD television sets, and has been integrated with LG's Magic Motion remote. According to Hulu, the service will launch on other LG devices in the near future.
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North America