Interactive TV News Round-Up (VII): Screenz, Sony, Warner Bros., UltraViolet, Wal-Mart

--New Venture, Screenz, Seeks to Transform TV Shows into "Multiscreen Events"
--Sony, Warner Bros. to Offer their First UltraViolet-Enabled Movies by Year's End
--Report: Wal-Mart "Very Close" to Adopting UltraViolet

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.

  • Israeli broadcaster, Keshet Broadcasting, and international content and advertising company, The Box, have launched a joint-venture, called Screenz, that will specialize in cross-media products for TV production and distribution companies. The company bills the products as being designed to transform TV shows into "multiscreen events." "Screenz brings together the expertise of Mako, the digital arm of Keshet, and The Box's creative merging of content and technology to help broadcasters deal with radical changes in viewing habits worldwide," the companies state in their press materials. "Viewers, and especially the 30's and younger demographics, arrive at their TV screens today because of content that enticed them online, on mobile phones or from social media. Screenz will provide TV makers with ways to effectively execute cross-media strategies and meet their viewers on their own grounds--turning TV shows into multiscreen events. Through its unique make-up as a combined entity of Keshet and The Box, Screenz already has an extensive portfolio of customizable products that it has successfully deployed to build audiences for various broadcast programs. These include interactive dashboards, applications and online games for such hit TV shows as 'Big Brother,' 'Master Chef,' '101 Ways to Leave a Game Show,' 'The Million Pound Drop' and more. Screenz will offer these, as well as other proven cross-media strategies and products for television, distribution and production companies worldwide. Its catalog of solutions range from 'ready-to-go' white-label applications to customized games the audience plays along with the linear broadcast. Such cross-media creativity deepens viewer engagement and branding that is pivotal to achieving strong TV ratings and online advertising revenue." Screenz will be exhibiting at MIPCOM in Cannes, October 3rd-6th (Stand 22.13). "Being a commercial broadcaster ourselves, we understand the dynamics of the media business, and the need to help TV programs to gain a substantial audience quickly," Mako CEO, Yuval Natan, said in a prepared statement. "Cross-media programs, when done right, are a sound business strategy with rapid ROI, improved TV ratings and new money coming from online advertisers. Screenz can deliver these, and more."
  • At TheWrap's TheGrill event earlier this week, John Calkins, head of Sony's digital arm, announced that "The Smurfs" and "Friends with Benefits" will be the first Sony films to support the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem's (DECE) UltraViolet digital rights locker system (note: the latter is designed to allow consumers to view digital media content that they have purchased on multiple devices, once they have authenticated themselves). UltraViolet-enabled Blu-ray Disc versions of the movies are expected to be available December 2nd. At the same event, Thomas Gewecke, president of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution confirmed that Warner Bros. plans to release an UltraViolet version of "Green Lantern" later this year.
  • In related news: Wal-Mart is "very close" to adopting UltraViolet for its disc sales and its Vudu broadband VOD service, CNET's Greg Sandoval reported Wednesday, citing "sources with knowledge of the talks."
North America