Interactive TV News Round-Up (II): HbbTV, IAB MIXX Awards, Microsoft Xbox, MobiTV

--HbbTV Test Suite Released
--Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Announces Finalists for 2012 MIXX Awards
--Microsoft to Offer Extensive Interactive TV Coverage of 2012 US Elections on Xbox 360
--MobiTV Sets Up London Office, Headed by Co-Founder and President, Paul Scanlan

Because the [itvt] editorial team is busy working on our upcoming TV of Tomorrow Show event, TVOT NYC Intensive (we'll be announcing the date and location soon!), we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format:

  • The consortium behind the European Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) specification on Thursday announced the first release of its HbbTV Test Suite. "Covering a wide selection of aspects of the HbbTV 1.1.1 specification, the Test Suite will be used as part of the HbbTV Certification Program," the HbbTV Consortium states in its press materials. "The HbbTV Test Suite represents more than a year's work from leaders from across the industry. It includes specifications, test material and a dedicated program to run the test material. It is available to interested parties and will be provided on request; further details can be found at http://www.hbbtv.org. The availability of the HbbTV Test Suite supports the delivery of consistent user experiences across multiple devices benefitting service providers, hardware manufacturers and consumers. The HbbTV Test Group will now begin working to extend the Test Suite, the second release will add further coverage of the HbbTV 1.1.1 specification and address the HbbTV 1.5 specification including MPEG DASH."
  • The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has announced the finalists for its 2012 MIXX Awards. The awards honor excellence in advertising in such categories as "Cross-Media Integration," "Digital Integration," "Experimental and Innovative," "Social Marketing," "Tablet Marketing" (where interactive TV advertising stalwart, BrightLine, is a finalist), "Interactive Video" (where finalists include 1) American Express, Digitas and Momentum for 'American Express Unstaged--Coldplay'; 2) Mercedes-Benz CL-Class and AMVBBDO for 'Escape the Map'; 3) Ford Motor Company and Mindshare for 'Ford Focus Interactive Cinema'; 4) HBO and Definition 6 for 'True Blood: Immortalize Yourself Facebook Application'), and more.
  • Microsoft on Thursday unveiled "Election 2012 Hub on Xbox Live," which it bills as "a unique opportunity for Xbox 360 owners to watch and interact with live election coverage of the presidential debates, learn the facts about the candidates and issues from Face the Facts USA, register to vote through Rock the Vote, and participate in live daily polling from YouGov. NBCNews.com will deliver daily election programming to keep users up-to-date on the latest news and analysis about the election and the candidates," Microsoft's press materials continue. "Members will be able to fully access the first wave of content, which will focus on convention-related news, beginning Monday, August 27th. Through this innovative platform, US-based Xbox Live members...will be able to interact in real time throughout the three scheduled presidential debates, as well as enjoy live feeds from the Republican and Democratic national conventions. Xbox Live members will also be able to voice their opinions by responding to poll questions throughout live programming of the debates and other unique election events hosted on Xbox Live throughout the campaign season... Additional original programming will be featured through the Election Hub on Xbox Live with the 'Conversations with the Next Generation' youth town halls in Tampa, Florida, August 29th and Charlotte, NC, September 5th. National Journal, The Atlantic and Microsoft are working together on these one-of-a-kind events at the Republican and Democratic national conventions to engage with younger Americans and students in a dialogue about issues facing their generation. The event moderators, including NBC's Chuck Todd and Chelsea Clinton, will lead keynote interviews, panel discussions and audience Q&A with unique perspectives on the youth vote, education and the future of America's economy. Participants such as George P. Bush; Kal Penn; Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill.; MTV's Andrew Jenks; Michelle Rhee; Our Time's Matthew Segal; and the national presidents of both the Young Democrats of America and the Young Republican National Federation will further explore ways in which people can empower youths to get involved in the political process and make their voices heard...As part of Election 2012 coverage, Xbox Live is joining with Face the Facts USA, a nonpartisan, independently funded research initiative supported by The George Washington University and backed by 'Americans who believe facts should come first in the national debate.' Thanks to this initiative, Xbox Live members will have access to videos that will help them more accurately understand the major issues surrounding the election and the candidates involved. Frank Sesno, former CNN correspondent, anchor and Washington bureau chief and director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University, will host this important video content. Microsoft has also teamed up with Rock the Vote to encourage and facilitate voter registration. Rock the Vote will deliver information and programming directly into the Election 2012 Hub on Xbox Live, while also providing local voter information and the ability to register to vote through http://www.xbox.com/election2012. Rock the Vote will also make available exclusive musical content to be streamed directly to the Xbox Live community. Xbox and Rock the Vote previously worked together in 2008, successfully driving tens of thousands of citizens to register to vote and become active participants in the election process...Underlying this entire experience will be daily polling of the Xbox Live community aligned with relevant happenings on the campaign trail. Working with YouGov, the daily results will be weighed to reflect both the Xbox community and likely voters. Further, timely polling will provide quick feedback from the Xbox community during major campaign events this fall. To understand more about the political attitudes, behaviors and issue priorities of Xbox Live members, Xbox commissioned StrategyOne to conduct a survey of 1,678 Xbox Live households." Said Marc Whitten, corporate VP of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business: "We want to provide our passionate Xbox Live community with a great way to experience the election process with TV that makes them participants, and not just viewers. This is a great example of how our Xbox capabilities are making the promise of interactive television a reality."
  • MobiTV has announced that it will expand its EMEA operations to London, where it has set up an office that will be managed and operated by its co-founder and president, Paul Scanlan. "From the company's new London office, Scanlan will continue to manage and grow all aspects of the company's sales and partnership activity in EMEA, as momentum for TV Everywhere is building in Europe and other regions," MobiTV states in its press materials. "Recently, the company announced further upgrades to its TV Everywhere proposition with the introduction of its industry-leading nDVR (network DVR)--a cloud-based solution that addresses digital rights management issues geographically. MobiTV has also extended the scope of its datacenter to manage all types of motion picture content for international multiscreen delivery of high-quality services."
North America