Interactive TV News Round-Up (VII): Simple.TV, Sky, zeebox, SyncTV, M6, Xbox, Unvision

--Simple.TV Launches "First DVR Designed for the Connected-TV World"
--Sky Forms Strategic Partnership with zeebox, Takes 10% Equity Stake in the Company
--SyncTV Powers Xbox 360 OTT Service for France's M6
--Univision Launches News App for iPhone/iPod touch

Due to the large volume of news being generated by this week's 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format. We anticipate that it will take us several days to process all the news from the show: 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. While the [itvt] editorial team catches up with CES news, please check out the live Twitter coverage of the show from [itvt] bloggers, Will Keller and Zachary Weiner, by following the @tswedlow Twitter feed.

  • Simple.TV has launched at CES a product that it bills as "the first DVR designed for the connected-TV world" and as "turn[ing] the iPad, Roku box, Google TV, Boxee Box, or any Web browser into a full-featured DVR that is accessible anywhere. The Simple.TV DVR ($149) consists of a high-definition TV tuner that converts broadcast television into streaming MPEG-4 for the most popular connected devices," the company's press materials continue, "With the addition of a USB 2.0 hard drive or network-attached storage, Simple.TV users can store thousands of hours of their favorite TV shows and HDTV videos and watch them on their mobile devices or connected TV's...Unlike most DVR's, Simple.TV has no traditional analog or HDMI video outputs. Once connected to a home network, Simple.TV streams content directly to a Web browser or to dedicated applications that users launch on their favorite connected platforms. For users who want expanded features, Simple.TV offers a Premier Service subscription ($4.99 per month) that adds an electronic program guide, automatic TV series recording, in-depth information on content, and unlimited remote streaming for up to five users."
  • UK satellite-TV provider, Sky, has formed a strategic partnership with zeebox, the second-screen social-TV company that was co-founded by former BBC iPlayer chief, Anthony Rose. The deal sees Sky taking a 10% equity stake in the company. "Launching in the first half of 2012, Sky and zeebox will offer a groundbreaking companion app experience for Sky customers which offers unique 'augmented' TV viewing features, such as connecting with friends around TV shows, finding more information about what's on TV, and buying products relating to their favorite programs," Sky states in its press materials. "Sky will become the only TV platform in the UK to integrate zeebox's technology into its own applications--which include Sky+ and the multi-award-winning Sky Go--to give its customers an even richer companion experience to complement their main set viewing. The zeebox service--currently available on iPhone, iPad and the Web--serves up social media feeds and conversations via Twitter and Facebook, as well as additional information on the topics, people and products featured within specific programs. Consumers use these 'zeetags' to search the Web for more information, read up on characters or actors, purchase music, buy products featured on-screen--whether during programs or ad breaks, or simply share their views with friends and followers on social media. From later this year, Sky customers will also be able to use a zeebox-powered Sky app to access their Sky+ box on the move, so they can manage their Sky+ recording remotely, as well as using their iPhone or iPad as a remote control for their Sky box, creating a comprehensive and fully integrated companion TV experience...As part of this multi-million pound strategic partnership, Sky has become an investor in zeebox and has taken a 10% equity stake, providing funding to support the company's future product roadmap and global rollout plans. As part of the deal Sky Media will become the exclusive advertising sales agent for zeebox's synchronized advertising inventory. zeebox remains an independent company continuing to operate its own zeebox-branded social TV platform in the UK and elsewhere. It will continue to deliver an innovative second-screen platform that broadcasters and program-makers can use to support and enrich their shows, connect with fans, and obtain new insights into viewer behavior."
  • SyncTV, which offers a platform for distributing video content to Roku and other connected-TV platforms, as well as mobiles and other devices (note: for more on the company, see the articles published on, March 25th, 2010 and September 7th, 2011), contacted [itvt] last week to let us know that French broadcaster M6 has tapped it to deliver its first OTT service for the Xbox 360. "M6 selected SyncTV as its preferred digital media distribution partner because of the company's leading expertise in OTT solutions and its solid relationship with Microsoft's Development Program," SyncTV states in its press materials. "By leveraging SyncTV's platform, M6 will be able to instantly reach millions of viewers through a dedicated app on the Microsoft Xbox 360. A sample of M6 premium content offerings includes premium VOD TV series US-based 'The Good Wife,' 'Hawaii 5-0,' and 'NCIS.'"
  • US Spanish-language broadcaster, Univision, has launched Noticias Univision, a free news app for iPhone and iPod touch. "Features of the app," the broadcaster states in its press materials, "include: 1) Videos, photos and articles of the latest US and worldwide news. 2) Local news and weather. 3) Access to Univision's popular news programs and award-winning journalists. 4) Breaking news alerts. Additional features to launch later this month: 1) Personalization--Users can receive local/country related news. The app identifies user location and displays relevant info. 2) User-generated content--Users can report breaking news by uploading photos and videos. 3) Users can share their favorite Noticias Univision content with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter."
North America