Interactive TV News Round-Up (IV): Freeview, GEM 3DTV, ESPN, Facebook, ITV Player

--DTG Unveils New Features for Freeview and Freeview HD
--DVB Publishes GEM Profile for Plano-Stereoscopic 3DTV
--ESPN Launches ESPN3 Player on Facebook
--ITV Player Micropayment Trials Delayed until June

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.

  • UK DTV-industry body, the Digital Television Group (DTG), on Wednesday unveiled a range of enhancements to Freeview and Freeview HD, the UK's free-to-air digital terrestrial TV platforms. The enhancements will be published March 31st in an updated version of the DTG's D-Book. According to the DTG, the new enhancements include: "1) Enhanced EPG with the ability to go both backwards and forwards, allows a viewer to navigate to a program's Web page or view a trailer for the program. 2) Remote Booking (enables viewers to book recordings or set reminders from a Web site or application). 3) Enhancements to the current Broadcast Record Lists feature. 4) Clearer reference of the ETSI MHEG specification to drive international harmonization. These enhancements," the DTG's press materials continue, "build on the current edition of the D-Book (D-Book 7) published in 2011, which marked a turning point in UK digital terrestrial television with the introduction of an industry-agreed, technical specification for connected-TV products and services...Delivering access services to connected TV's: The DTG's role as an industry leader in the standardization of usability and accessibility features in digital television was recognized by Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries at an event hosted by BIS and DCMS last week. To ensure the UK builds on its status as an international leader in the provision of digital television access services, the DTG has established an Accessibility Group to expand on the existing Usability Book (U-Book) by further enhancing the sections on subtitles, audio description and text-to-speech with reference to hybrid broadcast/broadband 'Connected TV.' Leading international standardization: The D-Book's adoption of the European ETSI standard for MHEG interactive applications underlines how the Group works with international standards bodies to drive innovation while maximizing international standardization. The first version of the ETSI standard (ETSI ES 202 184), published in 2004, was based on D-Book 5, with the aim of making the MHEG profile developed by the DTG available to countries outside the UK. The second version, published in 2011, brings it in line with D-Book 6.2 and introduces a number of technical solutions from other platforms that have adopted MHEG. This makes ES 202 184 the central resource for MHEG implementations around the world. The new version of the D-Book, references ETSI directly and contains only clarifications and profiles that are specific to the UK's requirements. In the future the DTG will publish all enhancements to the UK MHEG profile through ETSI to ensure that all international platforms derived from ETSI can benefit from the DTG's technical leadership. Future focus: The DTG recognizes the importance of emerging technologies such as Second Screen and Home Networking. Development work in these areas will begin in the spring. The DTG will also focus on future uses of spectrum such as LTE and White Spaces."
  • The DVB has published the "Globally Executable MHP (GEM) Profile for Plano-Stereoscopic 3DTV (GEMS3D)" as a new BlueBook (A159) on its Web site. The BlueBook can be found here, and the API documentation here. (H/t Anthony Smith-Chaigneau, Alticast.)
  • ESPN is enhancing its coverage of NCAA Championship Week via a new Facebook player for its online channel ESPN3. "This marks the first time live, streaming sports games from an ESPN network will be available through the social networking platform," the company states in its press materials. "In order to access the content, Facebook users must receive ESPN3 through an affiliated provider. Beginning Thursday, fans will begin to discover the ESPN3 player by going to one of ESPN's Facebook pages. Teams and conferences will also be able to display the ESPN3 player on their official fan pages to highlight live games for their fans. Replays of recently concluded events will be available as well. For users who receive ESPN3 through an affiliated Internet service provider, the player will be able to automatically identify them as an authenticated user. Users whose subscription is tied to their video account will be directed to www.watchespn.com to authenticate."
  • UK commercial terrestrial broadcaster, ITV, has delayed until June its plans to begin trials of micropayments on its ITV Player online catch-up service. "We are behind on the pay player because we wanted to ensure all technologies are in place, but we expect to launch it reasonable shortly, with internal trials to start in June," CEO Adam Crozier stated during the company's recent earnings conference call. According to ITV, views for the player increased on a year-over-year basis from 261 million to 376 million. New Media Age's Jessica Davies has more.
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