Interactive TV News Round-Up (II): Comcast, NBCU, Canoe, BlackArrow, Grooveshark, Boxee, HBO

--Comcast, NBCU, Canoe in Major Dynamic VOD Ad-Insertion Push
--Grooveshark Launches Streaming Music App on Boxee
--HBO Launches Max Go "TV Everywhere" App

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.

  • Comcast announced last month that it is partnering with NBC Universal to roll out dynamic ad insertion in VOD programming, using technology from BlackArrow. The company also said that it would shortly be working with Canoe Ventures to make dynamic VOD ad insertion available to a broader array of programming networks than have been participating in the initial roll-out, and that Canoe would work to bring the capability to other operators by early next year. "Dynamic ad insertion, which is a service that allows for advertisements to be easily changed at any time, has begun rolling out in several Comcast markets, with plans to expand to the majority of Comcast markets in the coming year," Comcast stated in its press materials. "Chrysler and Kraft are the premiere advertisers. Content from USA Network, E!, Syfy, Bravo Media and Oxygen Media that airs on-demand on Comcast Cable systems will be part of the roll-out, which will initially focus on advertisements that run prior to and after a show (pre-roll and post-roll ads) and include dynamic ad insertion for advertisements throughout the show (mid-roll ads) later this year. Content from additional NBCUniversal networks is expected to be added to the service in the coming months...Traditionally, ads are inserted manually into on-demand programming and remain in place throughout a show's full window of availability. Technology from BlackArrow's Advanced Advertising System allows ads to be easily changed or revised when necessary, allowing clients to more effectively target their marketing messages. Comcast will make this capability available to other programming networks on its systems in coordination with Canoe Ventures, which will also enable this capability to a broader footprint covering multiple operators by early 2012. Comcast Spotlight, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable, is bringing dynamic ad insertion to local advertising clients as well. Local advertisers utilizing the technology include South Florida McDonald's, Richmond's nTelos, Virginia Credit Union, NBC12/WBBT-TV and Batteries Plus." More information on Comcast's dynamic VOD advertising initiative can be found in the video embedded above.
  • Music streaming service, Grooveshark, has launched an app on the Boxee connected-TV platform. Consumers can sample the service free of charge "for a few weeks," Boxee says, after which they will have to pay $9 per month. Key features of the Grooveshark Boxee app, according to the companies, include the Grooveshark Popular List ("lets you check out what's hot at the moment"), the ability to create and save playlists, and the ability to add songs to one's playlist or library "with just two clicks." In other Boxee news: The company is boasting that its newly launched iPad app (see the article published on itvt.com, August 10th) "broke into the top 10 apps in iTunes just two-and-a-half days after release."
  • HBO has launched Max Go, a "TV Everywhere" app for the Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, and for various Android-powered mobile devices. The app is currently available to Charter, Cox, Verizon FiOS TV, AT&T U-verse, Suddenlink, DirecTV and DISH Network customers who subscribe to HBO's Cinemax channels. "Similar to the HBO Go app which launched in May, the new Max Go app is free of charge to Cinemax subscribers through a participating television provider and offers unlimited access to over 700 hours of programming," HBO states in its press materials. "Max Go offers consumers instant access to hundreds of Hollywood hit movies, indies, cult favorites, the 'Max After Dark' series as well as new and exclusive, primetime high-impact drama series like 'Strike Back' specifically created for the channel--any time and from any US location with a high-speed broadband connection. With Max Go, new titles are added every week so there's always something new and exciting to watch. Customers also have the ability to create a 'Watchlist' that keeps track of bookmarked content for later viewing and allows users to resume viewing at any time; bonus content including behind-the-scenes extras with 'Max Uncut,' interviews and recaps; customizable views showing titles in slideshow, grid or list format; and the ability to pause, rewind and view at their convenience. The launch of the Max Go mobile app coincides with the debut of the newly redesigned Cinemax.com, featuring in-depth information on the wide variety of original programming, blockbuster theatricals and independents available on the network."
Region: 
North America