Interactive TV News Round-Up (III): ConnecTV, "March Madness," Digitalsmiths, Entone

--Second-Screen Social-TV Company, ConnecTV, Rolls Out New Features for "March Madness"
--Digitalsmiths Integrates Social Data into its Video Discovery Platform
--Entone Launches Media Player for EMEA Markets

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.

  • ConnecTV, the social-TV company co-founded by interactive TV industry veteran Ian Aaron (note: the company recently announced an integration partnership with ACR technology provider, Civolution--see the article published on itvt.com, January 10th), has announced a line-up of new features for the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship ("March Madness"). According to the company, the new "March Madness" features include "a custom Final Four 'blind pool' multi-player game, deep real-time play-by-play sports statistics, a 'time-out' detector to fill action lulls with compelling information, a 'go-back' function to see previous plays, along with seamless social integration that lets 'view-sers' share the greatest game moments with friends across the social-sphere...From Selection Sunday to the Final Four, ConnecTV instantly lets fans access the deepest cache of news and information about the nationwide college competition, to create the most engaging second-screen experience imaginable," the company's press materials continue. "ConnecTV's new content features include at-a-glance player bios, real-time team and player stats for that game as well as the entire season. In addition to second-by-second court action that tracks and enhances all the action on your TV screen, ConnecTV uses a first-ever 'timeout detector' that packs dull lags in the action with tons of compelling information, including game scores from around the league and NCAA news and highlights. And a special 'go back' feature lets you flick back in time to see information about previous top plays in the game with all the related statistics--and then tap the 'LIVE' button to return to ConnecTV coverage synced with the real-time action on TV. For the first time, NCAA fans can also play along with ConnecTV's unique new 'Blind Pool,' a multi-player game designed for the Final Four. The pool features a 10x10 grid in which users are randomly assigned five squares on a grid filled with 'Magic Numbers.' Users earn points for having the 'Magic Number' that corresponds with the first digit of the score at each given period. After each game, points will be totaled based on users with the most 'Magic Numbers'...ConnecTV offers second-screen coverage of local sports events in the top 26 markets nationwide by auto-syncing to leading regional sports networks. ConnecTV also offers a 'companion' experience with more than 250 national networks and will soon work with more than 200 local stations to create a broad-based platform for sports fans to enjoy their favorite games--whether it's on CBS, TNT, ESPN or broadcast locally and nationally. ConnecTV supports iPad and browser-based devices such as Macs and PC's, while access for Android tablets and smartphones will be available in the near future."
  • Video content discovery company, Digitalsmiths (note: the company acquired segment metadata specialist, Gotuit, in late 2010--see the article published on itvt.com, December 9th, 2010), has launched a feature called Social Discovery that is designed to enable operators, content providers and consumer electronics manufacturers to incorporate real-time social-media data into programming recommendations. "Most current social-TV solutions focus on generating and pushing out social data to viewers, requiring them to browse trending topics on Twitter or other third-party applications prior to sitting down on the couch and deciding what to watch," the company states in its press materials. "Digitalsmiths is removing this extra step in the discovery process by pulling in real-time social data to directly deliver personalized recommendations for viewers across all of their connected devices. Social Discovery is the latest feature added to Digitalsmiths' Seamless Discovery platform [note: for more on the platform, which Digitalsmiths says is currently in trial with a number of top-tier operators, see the article published on itvt.com, November 5th], which revolutionized the ease and speed with which personally relevant, engaging content recommendations can be delivered to end-users across any connected device. With the addition of social networks as a source of data, service providers, content providers and consumer electronics manufacturers can leverage social conversations to generate recommendations, helping viewers discover the most talked about video entertainment that meets their personal preferences. The Seamless Discovery platform draws from the world's largest catalog of time-based video data and asset-based video data. A popularity score can be adjusted on data inputs including third-party data, critic data, content ratings, and now social data to deliver highly personalized search results and recommendations to viewers." Said Digitalsmiths co-founder and CEO, Ben Weinberger: "Buzz on social networks, particularly trends on Twitter, is playing an increasingly important role in entertainment discovery. By rolling real-time social conversations into our search and recommendations solution, we can provide a more seamless experience to end-users."
  • Hybrid-TV and connected-home specialist, Entone, has unveiled its Kamai 500 Series Media Player for EMEA markets. According to the company, the hybrid-TV client device offers a range of high-performance features and twice the processing speed and half the power consumption of competing devices. "To further aid operators in building a case for deploying video, Kamai 500 Series offers flexible features such as carrier-grade WiFi and adaptive bit-rate (ABR) streaming to help reduce installation time, cost and complexity," Entone states in its press materials. "Kamai provides the latest pre-802.11ac WiFi support for enabling whole-home wireless HD video distribution and with ABR streaming, Kamai also ensures uninterrupted video delivery across the Internet and various last-mile networks by dynamically selecting the best quality video stream that can be delivered over current network conditions. Kamai 500 combines both linear (DVB-T, DAB, T-DMB) and over-the-top (OTT) services in a single, operator-branded user interface, which bolsters the operator's broadband value and increases revenue opportunity and customer satisfaction. Kamai provides access to OTT services that include over 50,000 streaming titles from Vudu and other online video services such as Netflix, YouTube and Amazon On Demand, as well as social media apps from Facebook, Twitter and Flingo. Subscribers can also share photos via applications like Flickr and Picasa and enjoy online music from Pandora, MOG and Grooveshark...Kamai 500 is also integrated with popular third-party middleware and digital rights management (DRM) solutions such as Cubiware, Ericsson, Hibox, Intracom, Latens, Microsoft PlayReady, Minerva, Nokia Siemens Networks, Nordija, Verimatrix and Widevine."

North America