Interactive TV News Round-Up (II): Canoe Ventures, Comcast, Opera, Digital TV Labs

--Canoe Ventures Continues Hiring Spree, Outlines How New Hires Will Support its Strategy
--Comcast Casts Light on its Connected-TV Plans
--Opera Using Digital TV Labs' Ligada Test Tool to Facilitate HbbTV Browser Integration

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.

  • Canoe Ventures has appointed David Kelly as VP of affiliate relations, reporting to CFO, Neil Schaffer. The company has also provided more information on its recent hires and promotions of industry veterans Chris Pizzurro, Jonathan Bokor and Sanjay Patel (see the article published on, September 15th), explaining how they will support its strategic objectives: 1) Kelly will serve as "a key interface between Canoe and its owners and also between Canoe and future distributing affiliates," the company explains in its press materials. "Kelly is responsible for driving effective communications between Canoe and its partners, ensuring that the company's marketplace opportunities and business plans are achieved through alignment with distributors that combine to produce Canoe's robust national footprint of unparalleled value. Kelly is a cable industry veteran with more than 17 years experience in various roles at large programming networks. Most recently, he was vice president, national accounts for A&E Television Networks, where he oversaw cable distribution, marketing, advanced services and ad sales for major cable distributors in the US and Canada. 2) Chris Pizzurro joined Canoe earlier this year as vice president of product strategy and business development. In September, he was elevated into a newly created role as general manager of VOD solutions, one of two new general manager roles created for Canoe product lines which report to chief product officer, Arthur Orduna. As general manager of VOD solutions, Pizzurro is responsible for the successful commercialization of Canoe's first on-demand product, national Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI). He holds full responsibility for the success of Canoe's business with the national VOD platform the company has created, and for managing the life cycles of the products introduced for VOD. Pizzurro's expansive experience covers 20 years in media marketing and advertising sales at organizations including Turner Broadcasting and Leap Media Group, as well as holding governor positions at the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. 3) Jonathan Bokor joined Canoe in September to assume the general manager role for Canoe's first commercially available product line, ITV (Interactive Television) Solutions; he also reports to Orduna. As general manager, he takes the reins for Canoe's ITV product line, which includes its Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Innovation Award-winning RFI (Request for Information) product, which allows marketers to enhance national advertising with compelling interactive proposals to viewers, allowing them to receive samples, coupons, brochures and other information with easy interactions using their cable remote control. Bokor holds full responsibility for Canoe's portfolio of ITV Solutions which will be expanded to include in-program interactive applications such as polling and trivia products. Bokor is a widely recognized figure in interactive media circles with more than 14 years of experience in the space, including tenure at Tandberg Television/Ericsson and Walt Disney Internet Group, as well as consultancies with NBC Universal and SinglePoint. 4) Sanjay Patel joins Canoe as vice president of marketing, reporting to chief marketing officer, Vicki Lins. Patel is leading Canoe's efforts to introduce, position and promote Canoe's products for competitive success in the marketplace. Patel will be deeply integrated with the business general managers to develop successful go-to-market plans; he will also develop strategies that help Canoe's direct sales and affiliate sales efforts with vertical industry marketing plans, including category-centric tools that demonstrate the differentiated value of Canoe's advanced television solutions. Patel brings more than 15 years of experience in brand management, including the development of multiplatform marketing strategies and programs for media companies (including Nickelodeon, E! and ESPN), product marketing, strategy development and digital marketing." Said Canoe CEO, Kathy Timko: "The creation of these new roles at Canoe signals the priorities of the company as we move into an exciting new chapter. On behalf of the cable companies who founded us, Canoe is poised against enormous opportunities for video distributors, programming networks and their advertising clients. The heavy lifting to create a robust national platform with optimal reach to television viewers across distributors continues, but we are moving forward with initiatives to create greater scale while also adding focused resources on product and market development. Canoe continues to attract the most talented people in cable and media, each excited at the opportunity to help make television better for all constituencies."
  • In a new FCC filing, Comcast has revealed plans to bring content and services to a range of connected-TV devices, including TiVo. Light Reading Cable's Jeff Baumgartner has more. Meanwhile, at CTAM in New York last week, Comcast's president of converged products, Sam Schwartz, stated that the MSO is now preparing for a nationwide roll-out of its new Pace-manufactured, Internet-connected Xfinity TV set-top (codenamed Xcalibur), which will incorporate content from Facebook and other online services. FierceCable's Steve Donohue has more.
  • Digital TV Labs, a provider of specialized receiver-conformance products and services, contacted [itvt] Tuesday to let us know that it is working with browser company, Opera Software, to "provide CE manufacturers with a swift and easy integration of the company's new HbbTV-ready browser technology. Opera has developed HbbTV compatibility as part of its offering, with the two companies working together to ensure that CE manufacturers integrate the technology correctly," Digital TV Labs' press materials continue. "CE manufacturers who have licensed Opera can now purchase Digital TV Labs' Ligada iSuite HbbTV Test Tool to ensure a swift route to market by conforming to the interim HbbTV Logo Policy...The Ligada iSuite HbbTV Test Tool--a test harness consisting of test suites and server upon which to run them--fully supports the preliminary HbbTV Test Suite, slated for release in October this year. The latest version of Ligada automates many processes via its integrated JavaScript API support, IR blaster control, power cycle control and video screen capture interface. With its intuitive UI and the inclusion of HbbTV test cases linked to the HbbTV test assertions, Ligada significantly increases development productivity. Ligada fully supports DVB-T/C/S HbbTV receivers...Digital TV Labs is a very active member of the HbbTV Consortium and is the single highest contributor of test cases, having so far authored nearly half of the official test suite."
North America