Interactive TV News Round-Up (II): Boxee, NCTA, Invidi, ITV, Apple, "Emmerdale"

--Boxee, NCTA in Dispute over "Clear QAM"
--Invidi Secures Addressable Advertising Patent
--Report: UK Broadcaster ITV Warns Apple against Using "iTV" as its Connected-TV Brand
--ITV to Enhance "Emmerdale" via Multiplatform Interactive Storytelling

Because the [itvt] editorial team has been working on The TV of Tomorrow Show 2012, we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format.

  • OTT TV specialist, Boxee, has submitted a filing with the FCC arguing against a proposed rule change that would allow operators to encrypt basic cable channels (i.e. eliminate "Clear QAM"). "If Clear QAM is eliminated, consumers who have little or no OTA antenna reception will not only be denied the choice of 'shaving the cord' with a product such as Boxee, but will also be forced to rent additional set-top boxes for any TV's in their home that were previously receiving only the basic tier via Clear QAM," Boxee's filing argues. Boxee's filing can be found here; the NCTA's response can be found here; and Multichannel News's Todd Spangler has more information on the dispute here.
  • Addressable advertising company, Invidi Technologies, said Thursday that it has been awarded another US patent. According to the company, the patent supports its flagship system, which is billed as enabling addressable advertising decisions to be made at individual set-tops or other user equipment devices, based on information provided to the network by subscriber devices. "US Patent 8,108,895, titled 'Content selection based on signaling from customer premises equipment in a broadcast network,' contemplates the anonymous, privacy-protected use and reporting to an operator's network of near-real time information from a user equipment device, such as a set-top box," the company states in its press materials. "Based on this information, the network can optimize which particular advertisements should be delivered for viewing on one or more devices at a particular time. This patent is not limited to cable set-top boxes...The patent contemplates networks where many people receive the same content, and because bandwidth may be limited, provides for a system that most efficiently utilizes available bandwidth to send ads to viewers. This patent complements other Invidi patents, including set-top-based audience classification (USP 7,698,236 issued April 13, 2010--'Fuzzy logic based viewer identification for targeted asset delivery system') and reporting set-top decisions (USP 7,730,509 issued June 1, 2010--'Asset delivery reporting in a broadcast network'; and USP 8,065,703 issued November 22, 2011--'Reporting of user equipment selected content delivery')." Said Invidi CEO, David Downey: "After input from a number of user equipment devices, that information is tabulated and the results are used to pick a subset of media assets, or TV commercials, to deliver based on targeting criteria. For instance, a large number of set-top boxes will send messages to the headend that say, 'Here is a list of ads that are available to be shown to viewers right now.' The headend takes all of these requests and makes a selection of one or more of a subset of the ads to send to all viewers based on targeting criteria."
  • UK commercial terrestrial broadcaster, ITV (note: the company's name stands for "Independent Television Network"), has written to Apple warning it not to use the brand "iTV" for its long-rumored connected-TV device, the Daily Telegraph reported this weekend. According to the newspaper, ITV first approached Apple with its concerns back in 2010, but was told by the latter that it would not use the brand, at least in the UK. However, Steve Jobs' replacement by Tim Cook, coupled with a spate of rumors and reports that Apple is indeed set to launch a smart-TV device this year, has apparently led the UK broadcaster to seek additional assurances. (Note: [itvt] itself was approached by ITV back in 2008 with a request that we amend our logo on the grounds that it was infringing on the broadcaster's brand. We subsequently reached a settlement with the broadcaster--see the article published on, June 8th, 2008.) In related news: According to a recent report in the Globe and Mail, MSO's Rogers Communications and Bell Canada are in negotiations with Apple to become Canadian launch partners for "its much-hyped Apple iTV, a product that has the potential to revolutionize TV viewing by turning conventional televisions into gigantic iPads." According to one source cited by the Globe and Mail, the two MSO's already have Apple connected-TV devices in their labs. "Viewers can [use Apple's Siri technology to] control the TV by voice or hand gestures, all from the comfort of a couch," the newspaper reports. "An on-screen keyboard, meanwhile, can also be activated in a similar manner, allowing viewers to surf the Web, conduct video chats and use social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook--all without any physical interface."
  • In other ITV news: The broadcaster has announced plans to enhance its long-running rural soap opera, "Emmerdale," via multiplatform interactive storytelling. "The 'Emmerdale' villagers will soon be leaping off the screen and into your homes in a whole new way," ITV explains on its Web site. "Want to know what's really playing on a character's mind? Ever wondered what happens in the bits between the scenes, that you never get to see? Well now you can immerse yourself in the world of 'Emmerdale' around the clock...Coming very soon, all of 'Emmerdale's' major storylines will develop off-air, as characters come to life in a playful, social way, outside of the daily episodes." Said Emmerdale producer, Stuart Blackburn: "This will give us a unique opportunity to provide viewers with a more interactive experience. From discovering what characters really think about each other by following their private messages, to viewing unseen footage filmed on their mobile phones, our rapidly developing online initiative will bring new ways of telling stories."
North America