Interactive TV News Round-Up (II): Flashlight Engineering, FourthWall Media, Knology, Hulu

--Flashlight Launches PC-Based Mini-Headend for Developing and Testing EBIF and tru2way Apps
--FourthWall Media Expands its EBIF Partnership with Knology
--Hulu to Launch in Japan

Because the [itvt] editorial team has been on the road the past few weeks, we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format. We anticipate that it will take us several days to catch up with all the recent news: so if your company has sent us a press release or briefed us on an announcement, and you don't yet see your news covered in this issue, please bear with us.

  • Portland, Oregon-based Flashlight Engineering and Consulting has announced the availability of the DiCE (short for "Digital Cable Emulator") Mini-Headend, which it bills as a PC-based solution that enables developers to build and test EBIF- and tru2way-based interactive TV applications quickly, easily and inexpensively. "DiCE can be used in three modes," the company explains in its press materials. "1) As a streamer, DiCE will deliver several channels of QAM-modulated SD or HD video multiplexed in real time from file or streaming sources. Individual sources may be started or stopped without interrupting the transmission of all other sources. 2) With an Ethernet connection to the set-top, DiCE will also add up to five simultaneous VOD sessions to any of the transport streams. In addition, it supports an HTTP file server for downloading application data to the set-top. 3) With the addition of a CMTS, DiCE will deliver a complete set of SI Tables (NIT, VCT, etc.) over an OOB channel...DiCE is portable, durable, and affordable for desktop development of cable applications as well as taking on the road for tradeshows or customer demos. DiCE can be either rack-mounted or it can be used in a cubicle, office environment, tradeshow floor, or test lab. In addition, Flashlight also offers a full set of engineering services, from staff augmentation, to full development teams dedicated to designing and building custom solutions for our clients." Said Flashlight CEO, Eric Miller: "With EBIF available in over 20 million homes, developers need a way to quickly and easily build and test interactive applications. DiCE provides that capability at an affordable price."
  • FourthWall Media has secured a deal with Knology that will see the latter deploying its EBIF platform to power called-ID on TV and other interactive TV applications in a number of new markets. "Previously Knology had deployed the FourthWall EBIF platform to a portion of its Montgomery, Alabama system," FourthWall states in its press materials. "This new agreement expands the offering to include additional markets within Knology's Southeast and Midwestern footprint to support the deployment of caller-ID... FourthWall Media is working with three of the top six US cable operators as well as smaller MSO's and independents to provide the EBIF platform, which is now running in millions of homes. EBIF is the common language that allows advanced advertising and other applications to appear across cable's entire deployed footprint. FourthWall also offers a broad portfolio of cross-platform applications." Said FourthWall CEO, Tim Peters: "Knology is a leader in innovative and subscriber-friendly technologies. With our platform, they now open the door to an expanding array of interactive and advanced services that deliver convenience and engagement. One of these advanced services is caller-ID. Americans spend more leisure time in front of their televisions than anywhere else. Being able to see who is calling is a great convenience and we salute Knology for their commitment to the consumer experience by delivering this popular feature."
  • In a posting on its corporate blog, Wednesday, Hulu announced that it plans to launch in Japan: "We are happy to announce that Hulu will be launching in Japan later this year, a move that marks our first international expansion," the blog posting stated. "With the launch of Hulu's Japanese subscription service, for the first time entertainment fans in Japan will have access to a large selection of premium feature films and popular TV shows at any time, on four screens (PC's, TV's, mobile phones, and tablets), for one monthly price. We are not announcing further details of the product offering at this time (we have to leave something to the imagination, right?) but we will share the specifics when we launch. We are excited about entering Japan right now for a number of reasons. For one thing, Nihon wa subarashii kuni desu ('Japan is a wonderful country'). Japanese audiences are passionate about premium video content, and the country is a major producer of world-class TV and feature films (Japanese content has played an important part of Hulu's content lineup in the United States for a long time already). In Japan, we also see an unfulfilled market need with respect to premium feature film and TV content, and very favorable environmental factors to a service like ours, including extensive broadband penetration, smartphone and other Internet-connected device ubiquity, and strong consumer interest. We have been able to use what we have learned from Hulu and Hulu Plus, in addition to the insights gleaned from our market research, to design a high-value product specifically tailored for Japanese customers. We believe Japan is a vibrant market for premium video content distribution online, and are committed to our Japanese service for the long term. We have opened offices in Tokyo, with a dedicated Japanese team designing and running the service, and are hard at work finalizing preparations for launch later this year." Hulu is inviting consumers who are interested in its planned Japanese service to sign up at
North America