Interactive TV News Round-Up (I): AT&T U-verse, BBC, Facebook

--AT&T U-verse to Offer Multiview Apps for US Open, Paquete Espanol Programming Package
--BBC Worldwide Makes "Top Gear" Episodes Available for Rental on Facebook
--BBC Releases July iPlayer Stats; BBC Red Button Chief, John Denton, Steps Down

Because the [itvt] editorial team was recently on the road for several weeks--and has also been working on TVOT NYC Intensive 2011--we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format. We anticipate that it will take us a few more 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.

  • AT&T said Monday that it will shortly roll out Multiview apps (i.e. multiscreen interactive TV apps that let viewers watch multiple channels at once, or select a channel to watch in full-screen mode) for the US Open tennis championship and the Spanish-language programming package, Paquete Espanol, on its Microsoft Mediaroom-powered IPTV service, U-verse TV. The company describes the key features of the US Open Multiview app (and of its other special coverage of the US Open) as follows: "1) With US Open Multiview on channel 661 and HD on 1661, tennis fans can watch multiple courts at once--choosing from the Tennis Channel's main broadcast and five courts. 2) The app makes it easy to follow multiple matches at the same time and is available from August 29-September 2. 3) U-verse customers can also choose from five additional dedicated channels on 662-666 and HD on 1662-1666 covering live action from Grand Stand, Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong courts. 4) Tennis fans can also enjoy a free preview of the Tennis Channel on channel 660/1660 from August 29-September 2. 5) The US Open Multiview and the Tennis Channel free preview will both be available to all U-verse TV customers at no additional charge." AT&T describes the Paquete Espanol Multiview app as follows: "1) Paquete Espanol Multiview, soon available on channel 3001, lets customers choose from up to 53 Spanish-language channels in the Paquete Espanol package and watch up to four at the same time. 2) The app is available at no extra charge for U200 Latino and Paquete Espanol subscribers. 3) Paquete Espanol Multiview is the second Spanish-language app made available on U-verse TV. AT&T U-verse TV uses 100-percent Internet Protocol (IP) technology, which allows AT&T to introduce advanced interactive apps to customers on a regular basis," AT&T's press materials continue. "Customers enjoy Sports Multiview, Kids Multiview, News Multiview, and My Multiview--which lets customers choose and watch up to four of their favorite channels at once on their TV screen--at no extra cost as part of every package. Using the flexible U-verse IP platform, AT&T has also made Multiview apps available for baseball, football, basketball, golf, tennis and other global sporting events, and plans to work with more content providers and sports teams to bring more Multiview apps to U-verse customers in the future."
  • The BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, said Monday that it is making three "iconic" episodes of its auto-enthusiast show, "Top Gear," available for rental via a new Facebook VOD app that uses Facebook Credits. "Launching with the 'Polar Special' today, the specials will be staggered throughout the coming weeks and available for users in Europe, USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand," the company states in its press materials. "Once rented, episodes will be available to view for 48 hours. Facebook Credits provide a familiar and consistent payment experience, and a trusted space to store payment information. Credits can be purchased within an app, or through the payments tab within the user's account settings. BBC Worldwide runs both the 'Top Gear' Facebook fan page, which has over 8.8 million fans and The Stig fan page which has over 5 million fans. Combined they have more fans than inhabitants of Manhattan, which is the final destination of the 'US Road Trip'--the second episode set to air online. It is the 25th largest TV show on Facebook, and the biggest British TV show on Facebook." Said "Top Gear" managing director, Adam Waddell: "'Top Gear' has amassed a huge following on Facebook with almost 14 million friends following the brand itself and The Stig. We're always looking at ways of adding value for the core fans of the show, so it's entirely appropriate that we should be one of the first TV shows to make its premium content available via Facebook."
  • In other BBC news: 1) The corporation has released July usage stats for its catch-up TV service, the BBC iPlayer. "July 2011 saw BBC iPlayer receive 153 million requests for TV and radio programs in total, with continuation of new devices growing in usage," the BBC states in its press materials. "Mobile devices, tablets and games consoles deliver[ed] more requests than in June, and IPTV requests specifically rose from 1.8 million in June to 3.2 million in July." 2) John Denton, the BBC executive in charge of the corporation's Red Button interactive TV service, has stepped down, C21 Media reports.


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