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xOD Capsule - August 16, 2007

Wed, 08/15/2007 - 8:00pm
Traci Patterson
   August 16 , 2007

Zoom on in for some interactive fun
Last week, a Nike commercial launched on Dish Network with interactive capabilities provided by Ensequence and Wieden+Kennedy Portland, Nike's ad agency. Dish customers with DVR receivers (about five million households) are able to navigate through the commercial, watch videos, play an interactive game and search for stores nearby that carry the new product—Nike's Zoom footwear line.

Nike's integrated marketing campaign, "Quick is Deadly," is promoting the Zoom footwear across print, broadcast and digital advertising platforms, and the campaign features San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson and other high-profile athletes.

'Quick is Deadly'
"Quick is Deadly" featuring San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson

When the Nike spot appears on ESPN, MTV or any of the 13 other channels carrying it, Dish customers are prompted to press "Select" on their remotes to learn more. If a DVR user does, they are then taken to the showcase, where they can view 22 unique, interactive video clips—including "Quick is Deadly" outtakes, training tutorials from the athletes and exclusive interviews with Tomlinson—play the interactive game (different numbers pop up and viewers use the remote to capture them) and receive localized content about the Zoom footwear based on their location.

DVR users can also link to a long-form Nike commercial and experience the ad from Tomlinson's point of view. Non-DVR users have access to the game and graphics, but not to the interactive videos.

"This is seen as something revolutionary in the iTV space, at least in the U.S. market," says Michele Bogdan, SVP of marketing for Ensequence. "It shows how the innovative brands are really starting to think about the TV differently, about going beyond just the thirty-second spot to engaging consumers. When Nike starts to do things differently, it changes the tide for other brands."

With Ensequence's on-Q response software, the company can track how many people are pressing the "Select" button, what pieces of the interactive campaign they are spending the most time with and what platform they are coming from (Comedy Central, MTV, etc.). The campaign can be augmented, if needed, based on the information collected, which Ensequence is sending to Nike on a weekly basis.

Ensequence, with platform-independent iTV capabilities, is also beginning to work with a number of top cable operators—the company has recently announced projects with both Cox and Comcast. "They've taken a slower approach than satellite, more of a market-by-market rollout," Bogdan says of the ops. "But we're starting to work with them more. In the past few months we've seen a lot of interest."

 —Traci Patterson, Web/News Editor - CED, Editor - xOD Capsule


Mediacom, Insight launching Listings2Go
Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. said that Mediacom Communications and Insight Communications are launching TV Guide's Listings2Go, an online TV guide app, on their respective portal sites.

My TV Guide
My TV Guide

Listings2Go is one of the initial phases of My TV Guide, the company's suite of cross-platform personalized guidance tools and services. Mediacom and Insight's launch of the app will enable their customers to personalize grid views and search local TV listings online.

Also, Mediacom, which has been testing interactive ads for about 10 months now, is hoping that presidential candidates will take advantage of the technology later this year by purchasing spots that lead users to dedicated, informational VOD channels.

Microsoft seals aQuantive deal
Microsoft Corp. has completed its $6 billion acquisition of aQuantive Inc., which brings Microsoft closer to its goal of providing an advertising platform across multiple devices and media.

"Today we take a significant step forward in our ability to capture share of the $40 billion online ad opportunity and the larger $600 billion ad market, which is rapidly shifting to the world of online and IP-served platforms, including TV and gaming," said Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft's Platforms & Services Division (PSD).

Microsoft also created the Advertiser & Publisher Solutions (APS) Group, which will be led by aQuantive CEO Brian McAndrews. The group will be responsible for building Microsoft's monetization engine to serve the advertiser and publisher communities. Microsoft's other two ad-focused business groups are the Online Services Group and the Search & Advertising Platform Group.

Blockbuster snaps up movie download site
In order to better compete with NetFlix, Blockbuster said last week that it was buying Movielink.

MovielinkMovielink offers a digital-movie download service. While Blockbuster said Movielink will continue to operate as a separate service, the deal allows Blockbuster to match Netflix's download service that launched earlier this year.

The acquisition, the terms of which were not disclosed, gives Blockbuster access to a large library of downloadable movies and TV content, and it allows Blockbuster to offer customers downloadable entertainment content via their PCs, portable devices, TV-connected home networks and approved STBs.

 iTV solutions provider NDS buys CastUp
NDS Group, a provider of iTV and conditional access solutions, is looking to strengthen its hand in bringing video to broadband markets by purchasing CastUp for about $11.3 million. The deal is expected to close in Q1 2008.

CastUp, through its subsidiary in Israel, provides an end-to-end solution for the acquisition, processing, distribution and serving of media content via IP, particularly video and audio over the Internet.

The deal will bolster NDS' online video delivery and help its current pay-TV customers expand their broadband video distribution services. CastUp's technology will also help NDS—which is majority owned by News Corp.—to develop new enhanced services and apps for broadband-enabled STBs.

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KDDI picks SeaChange, Panasonic for on-demand platform
KDDI will use hardware and software from SeaChange International and Panasonic for the launch of an on-demand platform for cable operators in Japan.

KDDI provides VoIP, backbone Internet services and other IT services to more than 60 cable operators across Japan. By using the end-to-end platform provisioned by SeaChange and Panasonic, Japanese cable operators will be able to ramp up their on-demand offerings.

In the first stage, on-demand services will be centrally managed at the KDDI network operations centers, with the ability for each cable operator to expand and enhance its service according to its regional coverage. TV and movie content will be provided by KDDI, and cable operators will be able to mix in their own local content, as well, through the KDDI central site.

Charter launches UGC VOD contest in St. Louis
Charter Communications and ExpoTV, a video-based social commerce network, are launching a user-generated video contest—"Beat the Heat." Videos submitted on ExpoTV's Web site will be featured on-demand for Charter customers in the greater St. Louis area.

"Programs like 'Beat the Heat' continue to demonstrate how our cable platform is a superior venue for consumers to get what they want, when they want it," said Mike Szczechura, Charter Media's VP of ad sales and operations. "By adding user-created videos, we are continuing to define cable as a safe, fun, interactive place for consumers to engage."

BigBand shows next-gen SDV at CableLabs conference
BigBand Networks Inc. showed its new switched digital video (SDV) capabilities in both public and private demonstrations at the CableLabs Summer Conference in Keystone, Colo.

In private exhibits for operators, BigBand demoed the technology—designed to go beyond bandwidth savings and enable the delivery of TV commercials to individual viewers, the delivery of Internet video to SD and HD televisions, and the support of a "virtually infinite amount of programming," the company said.

Comcast adds entertainment VOD channel
Comcast Corp. has launched rehearsalsTV, an on-demand service that takes viewers behind the scenes at the CenterStaging Corp. campus in Burbank, Calif. The content will also be available on Comcast.net. CenterStaging is a music and entertainment studio with rehearsal facilities for recording music artists and production facilities for broadcast and online content.


• TWC's variation on the DVR, without ad skipping, reported by The New York Times.

• BitTorrent revolution builds on old model, according to The Seattle Times.

• Google is closing its video retailing operation, reported by The New York Times.


Company: Maven Networks
Headquarters:
Cambridge, Mass.
URL: www.maven.net
CEO: Hilmi Ozguc

Claim to fame:
Maven's Internet TV platform enables media companies to connect with an audience that's growing exponentially and is hungry for interactive broadband video content online.

Recent news of note:
Maven and Alliance Atlantis announced a partnership to launch broadband video players throughout Alliance Atlantis' Web properties. Alliance Atlantis will be using Maven's Internet TV platform for online channels that include FoodTV.ca, HGTV.ca and Slice.ca.


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