Interactive TV News Round-Up (I): Fox, ACTV8.me, ATVOD, BBC Red Button, 2012 Olympics

--Fox Invests in, Signs Second-Screen Interactive TV Deal with ACTV8.me
--Amazon Instant Video App Launches on Sony PlayStation3
--ATVOD Reduces Fees for VOD Providers
--BBC Releases Red-Button Programming Schedule through April 7th
--BBC to Offer 24 HD-Quality Streams of 2012 Olympics Coverage via the Red Button

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.

  • ACTV8.me, the social-TV start-up which earlier this year announced that it had formed a partnership with reality-TV producer Mark Burnett's One Three Television (see the article published on itvt.com, January 3rd), said Tuesday that it has signed an agreement to deploy multiple second-screen interactive TV experiences for Fox Broadcasting. The deal also sees Fox take an equity stake in the company. "Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will 'ACTV8' several of Fox's primetime series, beginning with the 'New Girl' second-screen app, which is available today on iTunes App Store for iPhones and will be available on iPad and Android platforms following the coming weeks," the company states in its press materials. "Through these apps, viewers can interact during the live broadcast of their favorite Fox shows in a number of ways, including chatting in real time [and] earning badges by watching and answering episodic trivia." Said ACTV8.me founder and CEO, Brian Shuster: "Our goal with Fox is to deploy and nurture new, really compelling interactive and social features that enhance the overall television entertainment experience and ultimately grow audience viewership...Today's audience has a whole new set of expectations from the shows they enjoy. ACTV8.me gives them exactly what they want: interactivity, social connectivity, with the overall goal of gamifying the second-screen experience."
  • Amazon.com and Sony Computer Entertainment have announced the launch of an Amazon Instant Video app for the PlayStation3 games console, as well as an agreement that will see Sony prominently featuring the app--which was developed by Amazon-subsidiary, Pushbutton--on all PS3 units sold in the US. The PS3 is the first games console to offer Amazon Instant Video.
  • ATVOD, the industry body that co-regulates VOD in the UK (in partnership with Ofcom), has reduced the fees it levies on broadcasters and other providers of VOD services by 3.58%. According to ATVOD CEO, Pete Johnson, the reduction in fees was made possible by the increasing popularity of VOD in the UK. "There are a larger number of service providers this year than last and we expect even more to arrive next year; this spreads the costs and so we can drive down prices," he said. "There are certain fixed costs associated with any regulator service, and the more providers you have paying that, the more we can drive down the prices." New Media Age's Jessica Davies has more; and ATVOD's full statement on its revised fee schedule is available here.
  • The BBC has released the schedule of programming and interactive content that will be available via the BBC Red Button service through April 7th.
  • In related news: The BBC has unveiled plans to make 24 HD-quality live streams of coverage of the 2012 Olympics available to cable and satellite-TV on a non-exclusive basis via the BBC Red Button service and corresponding EPG channels (note: the streams will also be available on the BBC Sport Web site and on mobiles, tablets and connected-TV devices). "Using these brand new red-button services and via the standard EPG platform listings, viewers will be able to switch seamlessly between 24 SD or HD channels," Phil Fearnley, general manager of news and knowledge for BBC Future Media, explains on the BBC Internet blog. "Pressing red on any BBC TV channel will enable audiences to find and watch the events they like, when they like, through simple five-button navigation (up, down, left, right, OK). The channels on each red-button service will only show the Olympics sports as they are taking place, as well as highlighting what is coming up later. We want our audiences to intrinsically feel that they are part of a family of BBC digital Olympics products, no matter what platform they are on--PC, mobile, tablet or TV. The design of these new red-button services reflects that, and adapts around the capabilities of the various platforms and their set-top boxes. The red-button services will be built by the platform operators themselves in line with BBC product, technical and UX designs, to ensure that consistency, standardization and ease of use. Our digital Olympic services for TV extend beyond the satellite and cable platform plans we have announced today, and we intend to go into more detail on this in the coming weeks. While it is significantly more complex to design and deliver standard services for connected TV, we are working hard to make sure our audiences have as much choice and access as possible on all platforms, alongside our core digital offer on the BBC Sport Web site. Our vision for BBC Online is as a single service, made up of ten products (including News, Sport, Weather, iPlayer) across four screens (PC, mobile, tablet and connected TV)--our 1-10-4 strategy. Our announcement today is clearly focused on the TV platform. However, over time the lines are starting to blur between IP and broadcast channels, and between platform boundaries. Today's announcement ensures that 24 channels are available on all BBC online platforms in the UK, but also on traditional TV platforms, and as red-button services."
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North America