Interactive TV News Round-Up (I): BBC Red Button, "Casualty," Chyron, Comedy Central

--BBC to Offer Special Episode of "Casualty" via the Red Button
--Chyron Launches Second-Screen/Social-TV Platform, "Engage"
--Comedy Central's "Indecision" App to Bring Second-Screen Experience to 2012 Elections

Because the [itvt] editorial team has been working on The TV of Tomorrow Show 2012 (note: Spring Discount registration ends midnight Saturday!), we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format.

  • The BBC has announced plans to offer a special supplemental episode of its long-running primetime medical drama, "Casualty," via its red-button interactive TV service next month. The episode will explore the military past of one of the show's newer characters, Major Sam Nicholls (Charlotte Salt). "Available via the red button on Saturday 14 April directly after episode 31, this special episode--'Casualty: Under Fire'--will travel to Afghanistan to uncover the traumatic events leading up to Sam's arrival at Holby," the corporation states in its press materials. "As the army medic faces an investigation by the GMC following her forcible restraint of a patient's relative during mainstream 'Casualty,' the red-button episode goes back in time to discover Sam's dark secret." The episode will also be available via the BBC iPlayer.
  • TV graphics specialist, Chyron, on Wednesday unveiled its new Engage platform, which it says is designed to integrate second-screen, social-media and social-TV data into live TV broadcasts. "Making these popular technologies available through existing Chyron graphics system interfaces, Engage eliminates the need for custom integration and gives broadcasters a low-cost, low-risk way to incorporate a range of engaging and dynamic new elements into their live news and sports programming," the company states in its press materials. "The Engage platform offers easy-to-use producer tools with which users can create interactions in just minutes. Rich call-to-action graphics, info-graphics, and tickers can be generated automatically using social and poll data. Because Engage fits seamlessly into Chyron's BlueNet graphics workflows, broadcasters can take advantage of social-TV and second-screen technologies while remaining within their routine production workflows. Chyron's charter partners for the Engage platform include ConnecTV, with its companion app polling technology;, providing an end-to-end social-TV platform for social TV, synchronized companion apps and participation TV; Vibes, with its text, Twitter and Web voting technology; and Mass Relevance, with its curation platform licensed to resyndicate Twitter content and data. A flexible and evolving platform for data integration, Engage has the potential and capacity to support an unlimited number and array of social-TV and social-media technologies. As a result, Chyron customers will be able to switch, mix, and match multiple social, second-screen, and other data streams at will." Said Chyron president and CEO, Michael Wellesley-Wesley: "Engage offers easy access to tools from top companies working in second-screen environments. By building these technologies into the TV production workflow, Engage gives artists and producers the means to take content such as Twitter feeds, polls, text messages, and other viewer-generated data to air within their live broadcasts."
  • Comedy Central has announced the launch of an iPad and iPhone app which, among other things, will bring a second-screen experience to major televised events (debates, speeches, etc.) of the 2012 US elections. The free app--dubbed "Comedy Central's Indecision Election Companion"--is sponsored by AT&T. "'Comedy Central's Indecision Election Companion' app delivers iPad and iPhone users exclusive politics-centric content through an iOS-optimized version of the 'Indecision' blog; a photo gallery called 'Snap Shots,' which captures the 24-hour news cycle in images and jokes; a 2012 Election Calendar; and an app-only exclusive 'Peanut Gallery' commentary feature, which provides a second-screen experience for nationally televised political talk shows, debates and speeches," the network states in its press materials. "The 'Peanut Gallery' also includes exclusive live commentary from Indecision bloggers and special guests, and offers real-time interactive 'Reacticons' for users to register their opinions. For example, users can post 'Reacticons' such as 'Cry-Baby,' 'Dunce,' 'Yawn,' 'Knock-Out' or 'Bulls#*!' to express their reactions as they watch candidates and talking heads on their TV screens. The 'Reacticons' will then grow and shrink to reflect the Indecision community's collective opinion in real time."
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