Interactive TV News Round-Up (I): AT&T U-verse, Facebook, Comcast, Ericsson, Flipboard, Hillcrest Labs, Ooyala, Pac-12, Open IPTV Forum

--AT&T U-verse Launches "Facebook on TV" App
--Comcast Applies for Network DVR Patent
--Ericsson Finds 62% Use Social Media While Watching TV, Up 18 Percentage Points from Last Year
--Flipboard Launches Curated Video Sections
--Hillcrest Labs Launches Freespace MotionEngine Lite Gestural-Control Solution for Connected TV's
--Ooyala Powers Pac-12 Now App for iPad
--Open IPTV Forum Adds Five More Members

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:

  • AT&T U-verse on Wednesday unveiled an interactive/social TV app, dubbed Facebook on TV, that allows customers to access the social network while watching programming. "The Facebook on TV interactive app delivers an even better way to watch TV," the company states in its press materials. "Through the TV app, you can: 1) View your news feed, friends list and photos. 2) Post status updates and share information about the shows you're watching. 3) Interact with friends and view their timelines, photos, and status updates...The Facebook on TV app can be enjoyed by everyone in your household. U-verse TV customers can add up to 10 different accounts on a single receiver. To access Facebook on TV, customers will need an existing Facebook account and a U-verse High Speed Internet account." Said Maria Dillard, VP of U-verse and video products for AT&T Home Solutions: "The TV experience is becoming more social, and we've always focused on delivering interactive TV apps that are more engaging and provide an overall better experience. This app gives U-verse TV and High Speed Internet customers the ability to share information about what they're watching on their TV with their remote, on any U-verse TV screen. It's another example of how we continue to enhance and bring more value to the U-verse experience."
  • A patent application recently filed by Comcast casts light on the network architecture that the MSO may use to support a planned network DVR service. Among other things, the application explains that customers will be assigned "active" and "archive" storage space, with programming being moved to "active" storage, based on demand and on data that Comcast has gathered about customer viewing habits. FierceCable's Steve Donohue has more.
  • Ericsson's ConsumerLab arm has published its annual study of TV viewing habits, the "TV & Video Consumer Trend Report." According to the company, the study shows that "social TV is becoming a mass-market phenomenon. 62% of consumers use social media while watching TV on a weekly basis, an increase of 18 percentage points in one year," the company's press materials continue. "By gender, 66% of women engage in this behavior, compared to 58 percent of men. 25% of consumers use social media to discuss what they are watching while they are watching it...Although viewing behaviors and demands are changing, only 7% of consumers say they will reduce their TV subscriptions in the future. In fact, instead of looking to cut costs, consumers are willing to pay more for an enhanced viewing experience: 41% of consumers say they are willing to pay for TV and video content in HD....Data was collected in Brazil, Chile, China, Germany, Italy, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, UK and the US. In all, 14 qualitative and 12,000 quantitative online interviews were conducted, representing more than 460 million consumers. Ericsson ConsumerLab gains its knowledge through a global consumer research program based on interviews with 100,000 individuals each year, in more than 40 countries and 15 megacities--statistically representing the views of 1.1 billion people. Both quantitative and qualitative methods are used, and hundreds of hours are spent with consumers from different cultures." Said Ericsson ConsumerLab senior advisor, Niklas Ronnblom: "Mobile devices are an important part of the TV experience, as 67% of consumers use smartphones, tablets, or laptops for TV and video viewing. Furthermore, 60% of consumers say they use on-demand services on a weekly basis. Watching TV on the move is growing in popularity, and 50% of the time spent watching TV and video on the smartphone is done outside the home, where mobile broadband connections are facilitating the increase." The report can be downloaded here.
  • Flipboard, which offers a service that aggregates content from users' social networks and other sources and presents it in a magazine-like format, has launched curated video line-ups. "Combine watching videos with the print-magazine experience, and you get our new 'TV' sections: the newest addition to the Flipboard Content Guide," the company states on its blog. "Flip through pages of videos--powered by popular YouTube channels--organized into topics like cooking and news. Whether you enjoy inspirational talks, science experiments or live music, these curated video sections are guaranteed to entertain and inform, wherever your interests lie. 1) Cooking TV: For foodies and aspiring home chefs, these how-to cooking videos can add skills to your culinary repertoire. Learn the basics like Chow.com's 'How to Make the Creamiest, Cheesiest Mac 'n Cheese' or try quirky recipes like Food Network TV's 'Chicken and Waffles on a Stick.' 2) Influencer TV: Hear about big ideas from leading innovators and creative thinkers. Influencers TV includes a TED Talks lecture on creating awe by Rob Legato, the visual effects supervisor for 'Titanic' and 'Hugo.' For shorter fare, check out Big Think videos on 'The Search for Life on Mars' and 'Seeing Sound, Tasting Color: Synasthesia.' 3) Music TV: Keep up with what the kids--and hip people of all ages--are listening to these days. Watch the latest indie music videos on Noisey and follow NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concert series for intimate sessions with emerging artists. Pitchfork TV catches live show moments, including 'Bjork Dedicates 'Declare Independence' to Pussy Riot. 4) Science TV: Feed your curiosity with cool experiments and surprising scientific facts. VSauce will answer 'What if the Earth were Hollow?' and 'What If Everyone Jumped at Once?' On SciShow, find out 'Why Our Brains Love Junk Food' or other scientific explanations for everyday dilemmas. 5) News TV: With News TV, stay updated on current events via leading news outlets. Get storm and earthquake alerts from Associated Press and ABC News. CBS News follows the 2012 presidential campaigns and Al Jazeera provides international news. 6) Catwalk TV: Get the latest fashion trends, fresh off the catwalks in Paris, Milan, Tokyo, New York City and more. YouTube channels like Fashion TV and Videofashion cover global runways and rising models. See new campaigns from individual designers, like Alexander McQueen's 'Menswear Autumn/Winter 2012.' Tap the red ribbon and open the Content Guide to watch TV Sections. Under 'Video,' you'll see the different sections, sorted by general topics."
  • Gestural control specialist, Hillcrest Labs, has launched, Freespace MotionEngine Lite, a solution targeting the connected-TV market. "MotionEngine Lite provides high performance, in-air cursor control on 8-bit processors commonly found on remote controls, with lower costs and simpler integration than typical smart-TV motion-control implementations," the company states in its press materials. "Hillcrest's Freespace MotionEngine Lite software is available today for Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) ZigBee RF4CE (Radio Frequency for Consumer Electronics) and Bluetooth low-energy solutions...The Freespace MotionEngine Lite motion software uses data from accelerometers and gyroscopes to provide high-performance cursor control for enhanced content navigation, Web browsing, point-and-click gaming, and more. MotionEngine Lite integrates many of the same features and functionalities that have made Hillcrest's full MotionEngine smart-TV software suite a market leader, including unique patented features, such as: orientation (or roll) compensation, real-time sensor calibration and precise cursor control. Hillcrest's sensor qualification process ensures equally high performance with sensors from any major MEMS supplier. MotionEngine Lite can also support cursor gestures through integration with Hillcrest's host-based Gesture Recognition Engine, which provides more than 50 pre-defined gestures and a software development kit (SDK) to easily create additional, customized gestures...Freespace MotionEngine Lite is available today through a license with Hillcrest Labs. MotionEngine Lite runs on high-volume, low-cost RF system-on-chips (SoC's), including TI's RF transceivers and TI's CC2541 Bluetooth low-energy and CC2533 ZigBee RF4CE SoC solutions. The MotionEngine Lite software is provided to qualified customers for simplified integration into a variety of smart-TV, set-top box and PC products. In addition, Hillcrest's remote control OEM partners, including its preferred partners SMK Electronics and Universal Electronics, are enabled to design and manufacture motion remote controls with the new MotionEngine Lite software."
  • Collegiate sports programmer, Pac-12 Enterprises, which earlier this year signed a deal with Ooyala that calls for the companies to work together to "deliver highly personalized, interactive and customizable video experiences for fans on the Web, tablets, smartphones, and connected TV's" (see the article published on itvt.com, July 9th), has launched an iPad app dubbed Pac-12 Now. Key features of the new app, according to Pac-12 Enterprises, include: "1) 24/7 access to seven live Pac-12 Networks channels: Pac-12 Network, Pac-12 Arizona, Pac-12 Bay Area, Pac-12 Los Angeles, Pac-12 Mountain, Pac-12 Oregon, and Pac-12 Washington. 2) Filter by your favorite school and sports. 3) Watch highlights, feature stories, game recaps, and exclusive Pac-12 Now video content. 4) Share what you watch via Facebook and Twitter."
  • The Open IPTV Forum (OIPF) has announced the addition of five new members: Dotscreen, Espial, Perpetual Solutions, Stingray Digital Group and The Weather Network/MeteoMedia (note: more information on the focus of each of the new member companies can be found here). "These latest new members signify growing interest from content providers and application developers as we go to market with deployment of our specifications, and show that the industry recognizes the common application platform for connected TV's established by the OIPF browser specification," OIPF president, Dr. Nilo Mitra, said in a prepared statement.
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