Interactive TV News Round-Up (III): Function(x), Lovefilm, LG, Roku, Microsoft Xbox

--Function(x) Launches Viggle Rewards-Based Loyalty Program
--Lovefilm to Launch on LG and Roku Connected-TV Platforms
--Microsoft to Launch Xbox Live Video Apps in Canada and Germany

Due to the large volume of news generated by last week's 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format. We anticipate that it will take us several more days to process all the news from the show: so if your company has sent us a press release or briefed us on an announcement, and you don't yet see your news covered in this issue, please bear with us.

  • A company called Function(x), which was founded by media entrepreneur Robert F.X. Sillerman, has announced plans to launch Viggle, a rewards-based loyalty program for TV. "Viggle, which will be available initially as a free download in the iTunes App Store, awards its users points for checking into TV shows," the company states in its press materials. "Points can be redeemed within the app for dozens of rewards from companies such as Burger King, Sephora, Fandango and the Hulu Plus subscription service, or converted into charitable donations...Viggle works with live, recorded and online TV content from more than 100 channels today and more are being added daily. Shows with check-in bonuses are featured in the 'What's On' section, where people are also able to set reminders and 'like' shows. Viggle curates all of the Twitter discussions related to each television show, its cast and crew in the 'Chatter' section. People are able to link Viggle to their Facebook and Twitter accounts, making it easy for users to post comments directly to these social networks. Vibrant, behind-the-scenes experiences and access to unique footage and bonus offers are all part of the Viggle experience...In addition to more than 100 channels that Viggle works with automatically, the company is collaborating on show-specific engagements with a variety of networks, cable and production companies. With the ability to engage viewers with unique content, real-time polls and quizzes, and reward them for their loyalty to shows, Viggle represents a unique opportunity to help increase network ratings...The free Viggle app will soon be available in the US for download through the iTunes App Store for all iOS devices. Special versions for iPad, Android and the Web will follow shortly." Said Function(x) CEO, Janet Scardino: "We look forward to providing a platform and service for our network partners to build their own second-screen experiences. Our vision is for Viggle to become a broad currency for loyalty across all TV and we're excited about helping networks drive audience tune-in and engagement."
  • Amazon-owned Lovefilm (often referred to as "the UK Netflix") has announced that it is working with LG to bring its Lovefilm Instant video-streaming service to the CE manufacturer's connected-TV platform. "The LG smart-TV platform already boasts over 250 applications in the UK, with access to almost limitless content on-demand via the Internet," Lovefilm states in its press materials. "The addition of Lovefilm Instant, which provides a unique offering of instantly streamed films and TV episodes, is LG's first ever film and TV subscription streaming application. Lovefilm recently introduced an unlimited streaming-only package which provides access to films and TV shows via Lovefilm Instant for an introductory price of £4.99 per month. Lovefilm members watching movies via Lovefilm Instant on LG TV's will have instant access to thousands of titles, with a continually growing library...The application will also enable members to manage their movie rental list, rate movies, read reviews and search movies by cast and crew. Members can also find films within the bespoke collections via LG TV's, which will make it easier than ever to discover new favorites." Lovefilm is also said to be set to launch on Roku set-tops (note: the latter recently began offering its connected-TV platform in the UK and Ireland--see the article published on itvt.com, January 10th). NewTeeVee's Janko Roettgers has more.
  • Microsoft, which at CES announced a partnership with News Corp. to bring programming from Fox, Fox News Channel, IGN and The Wall Street Journal to its Xbox Live service (see the article published on itvt.com, January 10th), has announced that it will launch three more video apps on the service: Astral Media's Disney XD, which will be available to Xbox Live subscribers in Canada; Maple Leaf Sports' Real Sports, which will also be available in Canada; and ZDF's Mediathek/ZDF, which will be available in Germany. The company has also provided some stats on usage of entertainment apps on Xbox Live: "1) The hours of video consumed globally on Xbox Live increased 140 percent from 2010 to 2011," it states in its press materials. "2) In December more than 60 percent of US Xbox Live Gold members used entertainment apps on Xbox Live--for an average of an hour a day each. 3) The number of people using entertainment apps on Xbox Live increased by nearly 50 percent globally from November to December."
North America