Interactive TV News Round-Up (V): itaas, Nagra, Gracenote, Netflix, Discovery Communications

--itaas Hires Dave Hansen to Lead Sales
--Nagra Integrates Gracenote's eyeQ into its Multiscreen TV Solution
--Netflix in Streaming Deal with Discovery Communications

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.

  • Interactive TV technology services company, itaas, has hired Dave Hansen to lead its sales team. Hansen, who will report to president and CEO, Vibha Rustagi, was previously in sales management at Scientific-Atlanta and Cisco. According to itaas, he has extensive experience working with cable MSO's. "Having Dave responsible for our North American sales activities and account relationships shows our continued commitment to being the best at translating a customer's idea into an innovative offering that can be widely deployed," itaas' Rustagi said in a prepared statement. "Sales serves as a key advocate for our customers. Hansen's knowledge of the customers' business and their challenges will provide guidance for us to be able to offer the best solutions."
  • Earlier this month, Nagra and Gracenote announced what they are billing as a partnership to bring advanced guide, search and recommendation services to multiscreen television. The partnership sees Nagra integrating Gracenote's eyeQ TV listings, search and recommendation capabilities into its multiscreen (TV sets, set-tops, smartphones, tablets) TV solution. "By integrating Gracenote eyeQ into our multiscreen solution, we can provide high-quality recommendations that allow service providers to substantially enrich the viewing experience and the way their consumers engage with content," Nagra's SVP of marketing, Ivan Verbesselt, said in a prepared statement. "This also perfectly illustrates the flexibility of the Nagra Federated Headend to integrate new services and extend its capabilities with solutions like Gracenote eyeQ." According to the companies, an IBC demo combined "Gracenote eyeQ on-demand and linear television capabilities for a service provider-oriented solution. Integrated with Nagra's latest OpenTV middleware and combined with Nagra's best-of-breed multiscreen television solutions, these advanced features enable rich metadata search and recommendation services across televisions, set-top boxes, smartphones and tablets, allowing viewers to instantly connect with movies, music and TV wherever they may be," the companies' press materials continue. Said Gracenote's VP of product management, Vadim Brenner: "Tablets and smartphones offer a perfect platform to extend the smart-TV experience, and create a deeper, more personal connection with viewers. Our collaboration with Nagra puts the power of the smart TV in the hands of viewers, letting them browse TV schedules, explore movies and TV shows, and discover new programs without interrupting the main screen."
  • Netflix and Discovery Communications said Wednesday that they have signed a two-year, non-exclusive licensing agreement that will allow Netflix customers to instant-stream an expanded line-up of prior-season series and specials from Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Science and the Military Channel. Shows covered by the deal include Discovery Channel's "Man vs. Wild," TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress" and Animal Planet's "River Monsters." "Netflix is pleased to announce the renewal and expansion of our relationship with Discovery," Netflix chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, said in a prepared statement. "With television shows playing an ever more important role for Netflix, Discovery is one our finest suppliers of top-quality programming. We look forward to bringing our members the wide range of the additional episodes and series covered in this deal."
North America