Interactive TV News Round-Up (II): Rovi, Dixons Retail, Media Markt, Showtime, Sigma Designs, XBMC, Softel

--Rovi Enables Dixons Retail's KnowHow Movies Service to Expand its Reach
--Rovi Enables Media Markt to Expand Videodownloadshop Service; Service Integrates Rovi's DivX Plus
--Showtime Launches Alternate Reality Game (ARG) to Promote Second Season of "Homeland"
--Sigma Designs Ports XBMC Media Player onto 3D SoC
--Softel Publishes Guide to Subtitling and Captioning "Challenges"

Because the [itvt] editorial team is busy working on our upcoming TV of Tomorrow Show event, TVOT NYC Intensive (December 10th in New York City), we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format:

  • Rovi is today announcing that its Rovi Entertainment Store is powering the availability of KnowHow Movies, the broadband VOD/electronic sell-through (EST) service from Dixons Retail (owner of Currys and PC World) on a number of new platforms and devices. "KnowHow Movies is now available on all 2012 LG Smart TV's," the company states in its press materials. "In addition, there is an iOS App for iPhone and iPad users available through the Apple App Store in the UK and, for Android-based device users, an app that provides high-quality video delivery in Rovi's advanced adaptive streaming format, DivX Plus Streaming...KnowHow Movies allows consumers to access an extensive library of film and TV entertainment when they want, where they want, including newly released movies, which can be rented or purchased on an individual basis without subscription fees. Customers can access KnowHow Movies on up to five devices, switching their viewing between them. A customer can, for example, begin watching a film by tablet during the evening commute, then pause and resume watching it on their living-room TV once home. Rovi Entertainment Store is enabling retailers, service providers, CE manufacturers, and content owners to launch over-the-top storefronts that allow consumers to discover, purchase, manage, and enjoy a broad range of new movies and TV shows on multiple platforms and devices. Rovi Entertainment Store includes white-label storefronts and playback client SDK's, cloud services, as well as content-licensing, management, and marketing services. The solution also includes DivX Plus Streaming, Rovi's adaptive streaming solution, which has quickly gained the support of major studios, retailers, and IC manufacturers serving the CE industry, and offers an advanced feature set with support for 1080p, subtitles, multiple language tracks, and trick-play functions such as smooth fast-forward and rewind. Customers may deploy Rovi Entertainment Store as a complete end-to-end solution to support multiple aspects of storefront deployment and management, or license individual components to enhance aspects of an existing service."
  • In other Rovi news: The company is also announcing today that it is enabling CE retailer, Media Markt Germany, to expand the reach of its Videodownloadshop VOD/EST service to a range of new connected devices; as well as collaborating with the German company to integrate support for Rovi's DivX Plus Streaming technology (billed by the company as "an adaptive streaming solution that enables the digital delivery of a Blu-ray Disc-like entertainment experience") into the service. "In addition to retailer adoption, DivX Plus Streaming is quickly gaining the support of major studios and IC manufacturers serving the CE industry such as Broadcom and MediaTek," Rovi states in its press materials. "The advanced adaptive streaming format brings features historically associated with Blu-ray Discs to the over-the-top entertainment experience. The solution not only dynamically adjusts streams to help deliver maximum visual quality based on available bandwidth, but also offers an advanced feature set with support for 1080p, subtitles, multiple language tracks, and trick-play functions such as smooth fast-forward and rewind...As well as supporting DivX Plus Streaming for the delivery of high-quality content to connected devices, Media Markt also offers premium titles in the DivX format for offline playback. The 'download to own' storefront was launched two years ago and enables consumers to enjoy purchased entertainment on any DivX Plus HD-Certified device. Over 750 million DivX-certified devices have shipped into the market worldwide from leading consumer electronics manufacturers. Media Mark's Videodownloadshop recently launched on a range of connected set-top boxes, including the latest devices from VideoWeb, developed by the German manufacturer Abox42...In addition, the service is now available on a selection of new and in-market solutions from TechniSat as well as Inverto's Volksbox. After setting up an account on these devices, Media Markt customers may choose from thousands of movies and TV series that are available for rent or purchase. Once purchased, movies can be viewed at any time on up to five devices using the Media Markt app. Media Markt and Rovi are actively working with a number of leading CE manufacturers to launch the service on additional home and mobile devices including a range of DTV's, smartphones, and tablets."
  • Premium programmer, Showtime Networks, has launched an alternate reality game (ARG) to drive interest in the new season of its series, "Homeland." The game is available at "With this alternate reality journey, fans of the series will be able to bridge the gap between seasons one and two, with a site set inside the world of 'Homeland,' complete with the twists and narrative turns that the show's viewers have come to expect," Showtime states in its press materials. "New portals will be unveiled every week, until the series returns to Showtime for a second season on Sunday, September 30th. picks up where viewers left off at the end of 'Homeland' season one--with Carrie Mathison on a hospital bed, about to undergo her first round of electroconvulsive therapy. Fans are then given a special mission directly from Carrie--by digging deeper into the characters and their activities introduced in the first season, viewers are able to prevent a new incident. Through a series of video and audio artifacts, documents, and unique interactive events, fans will have a chance to surveil a travel agency in real time, interrogate a prisoner, and finally gather the evidence needed to thwart the enemy. The featured portals on include: 1) Carrie's Wall--An interactive vision of the evidence wall assembled by Carrie Mathison throughout season one, the wall is essentially a virtual scavenger hunt. Players will be tasked with searching through this wall for clues that ultimately reveal new secrets behind Carrie's passionate pursuit of Abu Nazir. 2) Saul's Files--where viewers will get access to documents on Saul Berenson's computer. Players must enter the virtual laptop containing secret CIA files only Saul has access to and assemble them in a cohesive manner to unlock the next portal. 3) Dana's Blog--Sgt. Nicholas Brody's 16-year-old daughter Dana posts thoughts about her life, which include a great deal about her family and her enigmatic father. The blog will give fans a look inside the entire Brody family, through Dana's perspective."
  • Sigma Designs on Wednesday announced that it has ported the XBMC media-player app onto its SMP8656 system-on-a-chip (SoC). "XBMC is a free and open source media player application developed by the XBMC Foundation (a non-profit technology," the company explains in its press materials. "Sigma Designs' leading SoC's with XBMC's award-winning open architecture platform are expected to open the European developer market serving the installed base of XBMC users. Sigma Designs' advanced and cost-effective processor solutions deliver superior picture quality and high performance 3D graphics and the Open GL ES 2.0 support offers a new level of interactive experiences. As an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub for digital media, XBMC is very popular with developers and runs on a variety of platforms such as Linux, OSX, and Windows. XBMC also allows for easy connection to the content in iTunes and other Apple devices. Hundreds of software developers have contributed to XBMC, and 100-plus translators have worked to expand its global reach, making it available in more than 30 languages. XBMC's confirmation gives Sigma Designs a main entry point and leverage in the XBMC community...Consumers purchasing compatible devices will be treated to an enhanced media experience with entertainment providers such as interactive advertising, games, video-on-demand (VOD), and social networking, to name a few."
  • Softel has published a guide which it says identifies the "10 most common subtitling and captioning challenges faced by broadcasters and network operators in complex modern workflows. Examining cost efficiency, video-editing synchronization, file format transcoding, multi-language/multi-channel processing, live subtitling, quality control as well as Web and mobile streaming, the guide explains each challenge and offers advice on how to tackle them, reviewing recent developments in subtitle and caption processing," the company's press materials continue. "It summarizes information in simple tables featuring challenges and their solutions and provides detailed diagrams presenting workflow configurations for optimized subtitle and caption processing. Working with global broadcasters, facilities houses and other players in the subtitle process ecosystem, Softel has witnessed the emergence of increasingly complex subtitling and captioning issues. Workflows have had to evolve rapidly to answer the exploding demand for IP-delivered content and the broadcasters' need to reach greater numbers of global viewers. Their complexity has made the integration of subtitle and caption processes a difficult task and, with legislation for content accessibility becoming more stringent across the world, this is set to become a crucial issue." The guide can be downloaded here.
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