Interactive TV News Round-Up (IV): Netflix, Omek Interactive, PlayJam, Samsung

--Netflix Raises Monthly Subscription Prices by Up to 60%, Faces Subscriber Backlash
--Gesture-Recognition Specialist, Omek Interactive, Raises $7 Million in Intel Capital-Led Funding Round
--PlayJam Launches Interactive TV Games Service on Samsung's Connected-TV Platform

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:

  • Netflix has announced a new pricing structure which eliminates its unlimited-DVD-plus-streaming plans, and effectively raises monthly subscription rates by up to 60% for users who wish to receive both its Internet streaming and its DVD's-by-mail services. News of the move--coupled with the company's clumsy PR efforts to, as one commentator put it, " as a big boon to consumers"--appears to have angered a significant number of its subscribers--many of whom, including prominent tech blogger, Dave Zatz, are claiming that they plan to cancel their Netflix subscriptions.
  • Omek Interactive, a provider of gesture-recognition and body-tracking technologies, has announced that it has secured $7 million in the closing of the first part of its Series C funding round, led by Intel Capital. "Omek’s Beckon technology converts the raw depth map data from 3D cameras into an awareness of people in front of the camera," the company explains in its press materials. "People's movements or positions can then be converted into commands that control hardware or software, enabling device manufacturers and application developers to create gesture and body tracking interfaces which are natural and accessible." The company says it plans to use the new funding to "expand its product and technology teams, develop new products for specific target markets, and extend its business development and technical support presence in key customer regions."
  • Interactive TV games company, PlayJam, has launched a global games service on Samsung Smart TV's and Blu-ray players. The service, which is now live on Samsung's 2010 product range, is "a social and casual games network, available at Samsung Apps--the world’s first HDTV-based application store offering about 640 paid and free apps globally that help people connect to their various passions," PlayJam states in its press materials. "PlayJam offers a mix of in-house and leading brand titles, providing consumers worldwide with easy access to thousands of casual and social games at the touch of a button on the remote control. The PlayJam games network is a social engagement and monetization platform that drives increased revenue and customer loyalty through core features such cross-network tournaments, leaderboards, real-time mass participation events, virtual currencies and recommendations. PlayJam has launched a beta SDK to provide game developers with a simple one-stop route to global games distribution via TV." Said PlayJam CEO, Jasper Smith: "Samsung is the world leader and we are delighted to bring a new generation of games to TV. I have a fundamental belief that games on TV will evolve into a huge commercial opportunity and our combined aim is simply to provide the best games experience possible to our customers. To help make that a reality we offer great game developers simple access to our global games network--so that they can monetize their IP and make their games famous. TV has some extraordinary advantages over the Web and mobile, and the ability to make standout formats has never been greater. We are very excited to share our passion for bringing great games to TV with Samsung."
North America