Interactive TV News Round-Up (II): Comcast "Parker," Apple TV Patent, DirecTV Patent, Endavo
--FCC Filings Cast Light on Comcast's Next-Generation "Parker" Set-Top Box
--Apple Awarded Episodic TV Content Patent, DirecTV Awarded Set-Top Box Data Patent
--Endavo Expanding its Content Services to Support its OTT Video Solutions
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.
- FCC filings uncovered by Engadget this week provide more information on "Parker," Comcast's Pace-built hybrid RF/IP set-top box, which the MSO demo'd at CES last week (see the article published on itvt.com, January 12th). The box, which will power Comcast's planned Xcalibur platform, incorporates a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem; a CableCARD slot; USB, HDMI and Ethernet ports; an eSATA link for an external hard drive; and an SD card port for "future use." Light Reading Cable's Jeff Baumgartner has more. On a related topic: Fierce Cable's Steve Donohue offers some analysis of a US patent that was awarded to Comcast last August and that shows how the MSO may be planning to use interactive overlays to present programming ratings to its customers. "The compact guide display could show top recommendations across all content, or across a single genre," the patent description states. "It could receive its recommendations from a conventional rating or recommendation engine. The recommendation engine could use user profiles to determine appropriate recommendations for the user."
- In other patent news: 1) Apple has been awarded a US patent for a method of organizing episodic TV content on an Apple TV device. The patent's first claim reads as follows: "A computer-implemented method, comprising: receiving episodic content including one or more episodes of television programs and storing the episodic content in a data store; receiving metadata associated with the episodic content and storing the received metadata in the data store; displaying on a display device a menu arranged in an interface environment, the menu comprising a list of menu items associated with the episodic content; displaying on the display device a sort interface arranged in the interface environment, the sort interface defining a plurality of sort options and being configured to receive a selection of a sort option and to sort the list of menu items based upon the selection; in response to receiving a selection of a sort option: determining whether the received metadata stored in the data store includes metadata that facilitates sorting the menu items in accordance with the sort option: in response to determining that the received metadata does include metadata that facilitates sorting the menu items in accordance with the sort option, sorting the menu items based on the received metadata in accordance with the sort option; and in response to determining that the received metadata does not include metadata that facilitates sorting the menu items in accordance with the sort option: extracting from the received metadata that is associated with additional metadata that facilitates sorting the menu items in accordance with the sort option; providing the extracted metadata to a content provider and receiving the additional metadata from the content provider in response; and sorting the menu items based on the additional metadata in accordance with the sort option; and displaying on the display device the sorted menu items." More on the patent (which lists Steve Jobs as an inventor) is available at Patently Apple. 2) DirecTV has been awarded a US patent for a technology that would enable it to use data collected from set-top boxes to provide real-time ratings to networks and advertisers. "A need exists in the art for an inexpensive, accurate system and method for automatically monitoring the viewing habits of viewers of direct broadcast satellite television programming," the patent description states. Fierce Cable's Steve Donohue has more.
Endavo said Thursday that it is expanding its content services, in support of its flagship OTT video-syndication and distribution solutions. The company now bills itself as offering branding, design, marketing and content-management services to producers, networks and distributors looking to optimize their channels on OTT video services. It says it will be meeting (in the Glitter room on the Versailles level) at next week's NATPE show with "various content providers aiming to optimize OTT opportunities, especially English-language lifestyle, beauty, travel, cooking and animation, as well as TV shows and indie movies." Said the company's chief marketing officer/head of content, Peter Contardo: "Success requires channel positioning, strategic branding, active content management and marketing to optimize a presence on an OTT device or platform, especially when content is distributed through service providers. It's all part of our goal to syndicate the planet with content. To fully leverage the syndication and distribution potential of OTT, content providers must first understand the entire OTT ecosystem. Success requires channel positioning, strategic branding, active content management and marketing to optimize a presence on an OTT device or platform, especially when content is distributed through service providers...NATPE is important for showcasing our content services, and acquiring new content as part of our growing portfolio available to service providers for OTT video services."