From the PC to the TV . . . in the 'Blink' of an eye
Quartics Inc. has released a free software solution, entitled Blink beta, which provides an eye-catching interface (the Blink Media Browser) for users to view video on their PCs and, with Quartics' PC2TV technology, on their televisions.
Blink Media Browser
The browser offers a categorized thumbnail view of Internet content and allows users to stream video from any Web site—YouTube, ABC.com, CNN.com, ESPN.com, etc. Based on their preferences, users can then create their favorite channels and playlists.
How does the PC2TV technology work? A box (what the company refers to as an "open media device") connects to the TV via the cable output. After a software download, the user's PC wirelessly communicates with the box, bringing Internet content and content from the user's PC to the TV screen.
With a Quartics remote control, users can access the Internet directly on their TV screens with any standard, Wi-Fi-enabled Windows PC. The technology wirelessly streams SD and HD content from a PC to a TV without any buffering, and by simply leveraging the infrastructure already present in the home.
"By providing users with complete control over their online or PC content from the comfort of their couch, we have expanded the entertainment value of TV so [that] viewers are not limited to watching only broadcast content," says Safi Qureshey, chairman and CEO of Quartics. "Now they can watch any content, from anywhere, at any time."
The Blink beta software also organizes photos and music from sites such as Rhapsody, iTunes and Flikr, as well as videos, photos and music housed on the user's PC. Users can choose to stick with the Blink Media Browser, which allows them to peruse Internet content and content stored on their PC with the consistent look and feel of the interface, or they can choose to see their actual PC screen if needed.
Quartics showcased its PC2TV and Blink Media Browser technologies at the ShowStoppers and Digital Life events last week. The company is currently in discussions with several telcos regarding the PC2TV technology and is working on a similar technology for mobile and portable devices.
Quartics and CinemaNow, an Internet provider of downloadable videos, recently signed an agreement, giving CinemaNow users access to more than 10,000 Hollywood movies, independent films, TV shows and music videos on their TV sets via Quartics' PC2TV technology.
Blink beta will be available to end users via OEMs, ODMs, content providers and Blink beta's Web site this month. The software will also be available with OEM products that utilize the PC2TV technology.
—Traci Patterson, Web/News Editor - CED, Editor - xOD Capsule
EchoStar to buy Sling Media while exploring spin-off
Last week, EchoStar Communications purchased Sling Media for $380 million and said it is considering a split into two companies, which would separate EchoStar's consumer-based and wholesale businesses.
Three days later, Sling Media launched its new Slingbox Solo—with a suggested retail price of $180—which can connect to SD and HD STBs and boasts increased streaming performance. The Slingbox technology allows users to forward content from pay-video services to a variety of viewing devices, such as PCs and portable media players, via a broadband connection.
One of the supposed disadvantages of DBS is that its satellite broadcast is not well-suited to provide rapidly responsive on-demand and broadband services. The acquisition of Sling Media and its Slingbox technology, combined with the DVR units that Dish subscribers already have, could give EchoStar some interesting options for presenting on-demand services. The deal gets even more interesting if EchoStar gets bought by AT&T, as rumored.
Cox to trial NBC shows on-demand in Calif.
Cox Communications will trial five NBC Universal primetime shows for free on its VOD platform in Orange County and Palos Verdes, Calif.
The available shows will be "30 Rock," "Friday Night Lights," "Las Vegas," "Life" and "Bionic Woman." Each episode will be made available the day after the show premieres. As part of the trial, the fast-forward feature will be disabled.
This fall, Cox is conducting a trial with Disney-also in Orange County-offering its subscribers there the ABC series "Desperate Housewives," "Grey's Anatomy," "Lost" and "Ugly Betty," and select ABC and ESPN college football games, also for free and without ad-skipping.
Comcast.net to distribute TV Guide Broadband
TV Guide Broadband has signed a new distribution agreement with Comcast's portal site. The service will be one of the launch partners of Hulu and is already available online at the following sites: TVGuide, YouTube, AOL Video, Yahoo, Brightcove, Veoh and Vuze.
TV Guide Broadband is celebrating its year anniversary. In August, the service reached its peak monthly usage with more than two million impressions across all of its distribution partners.
And in related news, Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. announced the official launch of its Online Video Guide, which debuted in beta in April. The guide will highlight the hottest online videos, including full episodes of primetime shows.
ICTV launches AccuWeather ActiveVideo Channel
ICTV has launched the AccuWeather ActiveVideo Channel, an interactive TV channel that houses AccuWeather's Web media content.
The new channel—for both cable and IPTV platforms—offers real-time weather forecasts and other weather information, which is delivered to the TV as a single programming stream with targeted, interactive advertising. With their standard remote control, viewers can navigate through searchable local forecasts, satellite-generated weather maps and local weather broadcast programming.
ActiveVideo Channels, delivered via ICTV's ActiveVideo Distribution Network, mix linear and on-demand programming with broadband content to form personalized MPEG video streams that can be sent to any cable or IPTV STB. The channels offer network operators and programmers access to video libraries, navigational elements, channel branding, targeted and interactive banner ads, and links to ad showcases.
YuMe providing ad side of Microsoft's Internet TV service
Microsoft is teaming up with YuMe to offer broadband video advertising capabilities for its Internet TV service.
YuMe is serving as Microsoft's ad serving platform and ad sales partner for the beta trial of Microsoft's new Windows Media Center Internet TV feature. Media Center will be available to all Windows Vista Home Premium Edition and Windows Vista Ultimate Edition users in the U.S.
Users will have access to more than 100 hours of on-demand, ad-supported content, including full-length episodes of TV shows, concerts, and news and sports clips. The Internet TV beta will also be available on consumers' TVs via the Xbox 360 and Microsoft's Media Center Extender device, which was launched last week.
• Study: U.S. VOD usage on the rise
Within the next five years, Americans will spend more than one-third of their daily TV-viewing time watching on-demand programs rather than regularly scheduled shows and events, according to a new VOD-usage forecast by Pike & Fischer.
The company predicts that the average monthly TV-viewing time per household will remain relatively stable, but that the amount of time Americans watch VOD programs will rise from 8.5 percent at the end of this year to about 38 percent by 2012 (to about two hours per day).
• Qualcomm uses Harris' transmitters for Flo TV trial
Qualcomm will use Harris Corp.'s broadcast transmission equipment for its MediaFlo mobile TV trial with PCCW Limited in Hong Kong.
This is the third international Flo TV trial to use Harris' transmitters to deliver multimedia content to mobile handsets; the first two were with BSkyB in the U.K., and China Network Systems and Taiwan Television Enterprise in Taiwan.
• Nielsen's people meter panel to triple
The Nielsen Company will triple the size of its National People Meter (NPM) TV ratings panel by 2011.
The panel—which now encompasses about 12,000 U.S. households and 35,000 people—will increase to 37,000 homes and 100,000 people as the company completes its introduction of Local People Meters (LPM) in 56 local U.S. markets and integrates these sample homes into the NPM.
• Online video is creating profound shifts in TV viewing and navigation, according to MediaPost.
• Mobile marketing has hurdles to overcome, according to Advertising Age.
• Microsoft: DoubleClick deal will bring new meaning to "being googled," according to Advertising Age.
Company: Navic Networks
CEO: Chet Kanojia
Claim to fame: Navic's solutions are designed to help advertisers efficiently and easily reach and engage their target audiences; to help programmers create interactive, on-demand experiences; and to help operators maximize revenues and improve subscriber services.
Recent news of note: Navic has launched Admira, a media placement service that utilizes census-level STB measurement data to increase the value of TV ad inventory. The service is undergoing commercial trials in multiple markets.