Interactive TV News Round-Up (II): Civolution, Ex Machina, Miso, Vejo Park, Google TV

EdinburghTVFest - Eric Schmidt delivers the James MacTaggart lecture

--Civolution Teams with Ex Machina, Miso, Vejo Park to Demo its New ACR Technology at IBC 2011
--Schmidt: Google TV to Launch in UK and Continental Europe Early Next Year

Because the [itvt] editorial team has 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 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.

  • Civolution, a provider of technology for identifying, managing and monetizing media content, has provided more detail on its exhibit plans for IBC (Hall 2, Stand C30), where it will be debuting VideoSync, its companion-device synchronization solution (note: the solution uses audio watermarks to synchronize smartphones and tablets with programming, allowing delivery of second-screen content, such as ad placements or replacements, viewer polls and programming enhancements; it can be used with both live and time-shifted programming). The company plans to demo VideoSync-powered second-screen apps developed for iOS and Android devices by three of its partners: Ex Machina, Miso and Vejo Park. More detail on the apps is available here.
  • Delivering the annual MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival last week, Google executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, revealed that the company plans to launch Google TV in the UK and continental Europe early next year. Schmidt also shared some thoughts on multiplatform, interactive and social TV: "I remember the excitement about interactive TV a few years ago--all that drama over pushing a red button," he said. "There were a few neat experiences on offer, like playing along with a game show. But on the whole, red button-style interaction was pretty limited. Now we're riding a second, much bigger, wave of interactivity. It's a convergence of TV and Internet screens. This time the interaction isn't happening via your red button--it's on the Web through your laptop, tablet or mobile. But most important of all, this time it's social. For some shows, the online commentary that swirls around them--be it through Twitter or chat forums or blogs--has become a crucial part of the experience. Just consider how the BBC's 'Question Time' is using Twitter to engage audiences. Once you could only shout at the politicians on your screen, now you can tweet your rant to the world. Adding a social layer to TV shows will increase. Among Google+'s coolest features are group video chats called 'Hangouts.' Watching YouTube videos in Hangouts is like being in the same room. While the video plays, you can chat over the top, or text notes on the side. Anyone in the hangout can grab the controls to pause, rewind or fast-forward, or even skip to a new clip, and it keeps the video playing in sync for everyone. A social layer is something viewers--or at least a substantial number--clearly want. It's also great for broadcasters. Trending hashtags raise awareness of shows, helping boost ratings. It can be a metric for viewer engagement, a vehicle for instant feedback, a channel for reaching people outside broadcast times. It can also provide a great incentive for watching live. In fact, I don't expect TV viewing will ever switch to be entirely to on-demand. There will always be a cultural pull, for some shows, on some occasions, to watch in real time. Linear viewing remains remarkably robust--in 2010, over 90% of broadcast TV viewing remained live. But I sense the default mode of viewing will inexorably shift. Try forcing a six-year-old who's grown up on DVR's to only watch live TV. Once you're used to such things, it's hard to give them up--no pause, no rewind, no choice. Already, in homes with Sky+, it's claimed nearly 20% of viewing is timeshifted. There are hints, too, of shifts if you look beyond the headline figures, particularly for shows that appeal to a younger demographic. It's said more people watch ITV's hit show 'The Only Way is Essex' online than on TV--although I confess I haven't seen it myself. And despite almost every broadcast outlet showing the footage, the Royal Wedding was live-streamed 72 million times on YouTube with viewers in 188 countries. So, what are the trends to watch? I can sum that up in three words: mobile, local and social." A video of the Schmidt's address is embedded above (starts at 0:36:00) , and Paid Content has published a transcript here.
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