Interactive TV News Round-Up (II): Sky, BBC, ITV, zeebox, Cinram, Mobovivo

--Sky Anytime+ VOD Service to Feature BBC iPlayer and ITV Player, Expand to 5 Million+ Homes
--Sky Incorporates zeebox-Powered Social TV into "Got to Dance"
--Cinram in Interactive Entertainment Applications Partnership with Mobovivo

Due to the large volume of news generated by the recent 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 more 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.

  • BSkyB said Monday that its Sky Anytime+ VOD service (accessed via hybrid set-top boxes) will significantly expand its content offerings, via new deals that will see it adding the BBC iPlayer and ITV Player catch-up services to its programming line-up. The satellite-TV provider also said that the service will be available in over 5 million homes, at no extra cost, by Easter, 2012. "The move follows strong growth for Sky Anytime+, which is already in more than a million Sky homes and has seen weekly usage increase by 80% in the three months to 31 December 2011," Sky states in its press materials. "The enhancements form part of Sky's commitment to bring more value to customers through their subscription. Sky Anytime+ comes at no extra charge and already provides access to a wide range of on-demand content including movies, entertainment, documentaries and drama 'box sets.' In addition to programs from Sky's own channels, it offers access to content from partner channels such as MTV, Discovery, FX, History, Disney, UK TV and National Geographic Channel. To expand the range of high-quality content available on Sky Anytime+, Sky has reached new agreements with the BBC and ITV. This means that ITV archive content, including popular shows such as 'Prime Suspect,' 'Lewis' and 'Cold Feet,' will join the service from tomorrow, accessible through the main Sky Anytime+ menu, as well as a new dedicated ITV Player section. And later this year, customers will be able to use Sky Anytime+ to catch up on programs from both the BBC and ITV when the BBC iPlayer joins the service and more programming is added to ITV Player. Archive BBC content--including the likes of 'Doctor Who,' 'Outnumbered' and 'Top Gear'--is already available on Sky Anytime+ through Sky's existing deal with UK TV. And to help even more customers enjoy the service, Sky is extending the reach of Sky Anytime+ by making it available to all Sky+HD homes with an Internet connection, across all broadband providers. This means more than 5 million homes will soon be able to access the comprehensive video-on-demand service. The extension of the service builds on the 1.2 million Sky Broadband homes that already use the service."
  • In other BSkyB news: The company has unveiled its first deployment of zeebox, the social-TV company which was co-founded by former BBC iPlayer chief, Anthony Rose, and in which Sky recently took a 10% equity stake (see the article published on itvt.com, January 10th). "As excitement builds in the lead-up to this weekend's live semi-finals of [the reality show] 'Got to Dance,' we're bringing viewers closer than ever to all the dance floor action with our new Social Wall," Sky's head of digital entertainment, Aidan Conway, explains on the company's blog. "A huge video wall has been installed on the 'Got to Dance' set ready to display social media buzz from Twitter, Facebook and Cover it Live Chat after each act's performance. The Social Wall will reveal instant reaction from fans of the show, with posts moderated by a talented team of editors and selected ones read out by 'Got to Dance' presenter Davina McCall. Viewers will directly join in the excitement by voicing their opinions in real time online, with the chance of seeing their views displayed and discussed on-screen as an integrated part of the live show. The unveiling of the wall follows our recent partnership with social-TV start-up, zeebox...As we continue to find fresh ways to weave social-media interactivity into our shows, the semi-finals and final of 'Got to Dance' will be a great way to link the buzz and excitement of The Social Wall with the engaging second-screen technology of zeebox. So for 'Got to Dance' viewers using zeebox on the iPad, users can both use the app to comment on the show, and also follow what's appearing on the Social Wall through a special 'Social Wall' tab. In addition, as songs play out on the show, viewers will have the opportunity to buy them through a direct link to iTunes to download the track, providing our viewers with more ways of engaging with the show than ever before. We're excited to be drawing viewers even closer into the action with this innovative, second-screen addition to 'Got to Dance.' Integrating our viewers' reactions into the heart of the show takes audience engagement to a new level, making for even more entertaining viewing of one of the happiest, most joyful shows on TV."
  • Cinram International announced earlier this month that its subsidiary, 1K Studios, has entered a strategic partnership with social-TV technology provider, Mobovivo, which it says will see the companies "layer[ing] in [the] Mobovivo video app platform to network and studio offerings...Mobovivo apps enable producers and broadcasters to market and monetize premium-quality video across multiple platforms and on all screens," the company's press materials continue. "The apps include a branded interface, an online digital locker for easy content access, digital rights management, 'watch later' capabilities, in-app promotions, leading-edge second-screen technology, and a rich social media experience that heightens the viewer's connection to content." Said Ben Higgins, Cinram's SVP of business development and innovation: "The Mobovivo partnership is the next step in our strategy of providing a single source, end-to-end distribution and marketing solution for new and existing clients. The focus of our combined capabilities is to expand our digital delivery to all devices, from the living-room television to the smartphone, or tablet." Added Mobovivo CEO, Trevor Doerksen: "Mobovivo's platform and team perfectly complement the strong creative strengths of 1K Studios and the backend digital supply chain management solutions of Cinram. Our partnership will deliver game-changing services and technology built on extensive industry knowledge and deep relationships with television networks and Hollywood studios."
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