xOD Capsule Newsletter - February 20, 2007

Tue, 02/20/2007 - 11:25am  |  CED Broadband Direct  |  Current Issue  |  Subscriptions
February 20, 2007

DVR the centerpiece of new Showtime-DISH iTV effort
Jeff BaumgartnerShowtime Networks will leverage EchoStar receivers with on-board digital video recorders to launch a newly upgraded interactive television initiative.

That effort, dubbed Showtime Interactive 2.0, will pull video loaded on the DVR to fuel the interactive TV environment. The system will allow customers to access trailers, behind-the-scenes videos, celebrity interviews and other video-based extras tied to Showtime movies and originals such as "Dexter," "Weeds," and "The L Word." The platform will also list every show airing on all 10 Showtime linear channels and enable customers to schedule DVR recordings.

A portion of the DVR's hard drive will be allocated to house the video components of Showtime Interactive 2.0.

New interactive platform from Showtime
EchoStar DVR hard drives will fuel a
new interactive platform from Showtime.

The new interactive environment will also look to lure in new Showtime customers using a "self-provisioning" app that will allow EchoStar customers to sign up for the premium service with the click of a remote. To subscribe, customers will simply click a "Get Showtime" button on the TV screen.

The interactive system is smart enough to detect whether or not a EchoStar customer is also a Showtime subscriber, the companies said.

"Through our collaborative efforts with Dish Network, we have been able to leverage their technology to create an application that combines iTV, DVR and self-provisioning capabilities," said Robert Hayes, SVP and GM of Showtime's Digital Media Group.

"2.0" follows two years of development between Showtime and EchoStar, he added.

EchoStar has more than 13 million customers, but not all of them have a receiver with DVR capabilities. The DBS giant, however, has continued to leverage its DVR base to push its own version of "video-on-demand." Rather than using an interactive two-way network for VOD, such as cable does, EchoStar feeds movies and other content to the hard drive for later playback by the customer.

EchoStar's VOD content library was expanded in December with the addition of New Line Cinema fare.

Jeff Baumgartner, xOD Capsule Editor, and CED Editor-in-Chief

ARRIS tenders Tandberg offer,
reducing speculation of rival bids

ARRIS has formally launched a tender offer for Tandberg Television for roughly $1.2 billion, about the same aggregate price tag disclosed when the deal was first announced mid-January.

Reuters noted that Tandberg shares have been trading above the offer price, likely indicating that investors expected ARRIS to sweeten its bid or that a rival bid could emerge.

The voluntary tender offer period is scheduled from Feb. 15 to March 15, 2007. The offer values Tandberg at the exchange rate as of Jan. 12, 2007.

Analysts have lauded the marriage, citing the fact that the two companies provide complementary technologies and services, and position them to compete with the likes of Motorola Inc. and Cisco Systems.

ARRIS and Tandberg expect to close the deal by Q2 2007, as the board of directors of Tandberg has unanimously recommended the offer to its shareholders. The deal requires approval from at least 90 percent of Tandberg shareholders.

OpenTV synchs up with 'Heroes'
OpenTV Corp. is powering synchronized two-screen (ie. PC-and-TV) interactive elements tied to NBC's new primetime hit "Heroes."

Using OpenTV's "Participate" platform, the show will feature live polls and allow viewers to make predictions on the story's outcome and obtain advertiser information.

Viewers will participate using a Web-based application that synchs up with the live broadcast. The cable industry, led by specs generated at CableLabs, is also working toward "enhanced TV" systems that allow the broadcast and interactive elements to synch-up on the TV screen.

Viewers of 'Heroes' can tap the Web to participate in polls and
other interactive elements that are synched up with the live broadcast

OpenTV will host the system for NBC at the vendor's data center. During the series, however, NBC will have control of the creation and management of the interactive "events."

"The OpenTV Participate solution presented with important new options for live two screen interactivity and we felt that a show like 'Heroes,' which has an audience that is seeking out a rich, multi-platform viewing experience, was the ideal show to try it on," said Jon Dakss, NBC's director of ITV technology product development, in a statement.

He said the system is flexible enough to allow NBC to experiment with new ideas "on-the-fly."

Nielsen to sample 300K 'interactive' DirecTV subs
The Nielsen Company will soon get a good picture of the viewing habits and behaviors of DirecTV customers who use interactive services.

Nielsen, which is developing new metrics for measuring interactive usage, has secured a deal to test a new system using data generated from a panel of 300,000 DirecTV customers.

Information from those customers —acquired through clickstream data— will be aggregated and remain anonymous, the companies said. To participate in the test, customers will be required to opt-in.

The agreement marks the first for Nielsen DigitalPlus, a recently announced service that will measure viewership behavior based on data culled from digital set-tops.

"As the DirecTV interactive TV space continues to rapidly evolve, we need to develop a complete and accurate understanding of how our customers use these services," said DirecTV Entertainment EVP Eric Shanks.

Concurrent goes out of house while seeking CFO
Concurrent Computer Corp. has retained TechCFO LLC to provide senior financial guidance while the company conducts a search for a new CFO.

Emory Berry, a TechCFO partner, will work on a full-time basis while Concurrent conducts its search and eventual transition to a new CFO. The company said it hopes to have a new CFO named within 90 days.

Greg Wilson resigned as Concurrent's CFO, effective Feb. 12, 2007, to take the post of VP of finance at Merge Technologies Inc.

In other personnel news, Concurrent has promoted Kirk Somers to executive vice president. He was the company's vice president of investor relations and general counsel.

DirecTV tunes into games
DirecTV has booted up a new gaming channel that features titles from brands ranging from Mattel, Nickelodeon, Leap Frog and PBS KIDS.

The new "Game Lounge" service will feature a range of casual puzzle, world, card, educational and arcade-style games. Among them will be titles based on Nickelodeon mainstays such as SpongeBob SquarePants and Avatar, as well as Mattel games based on the Hot Wheels and Barbie properties. SkillJam, an exclusive DirecTV partner, will offer casual games such as Bejeweled 2, Solitaire and Sudoku.

Customers will "interactive receivers" will be able to play the games via the TV using a DirecTV remote control. DirecTV is selling the service on a subscription basis for $5.95 per month, or $1.95 on a play-per-day basis.

HBO VOD jumps the pond
HBO has secured a deal to offer popular movies and home-spun series such as "The Sopranos" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" via VOD in the United Kingdom, according to this BBC story.

This subscription VOD service will be offered initially by BT Vision, Tiscali TV and Virgin Media.

For New Product Information, visit CED's Product Showcase Today!
Click Here.

We are making changes and additions (including international deployments) to our
Web-based "living" deployment chart. If you have a new deployment to report for the VOD Scorecard and the Web-based deployment chart, please contact CED Editor Jeff Baumgartner.


CED February, 2007

February 2007
Issue Contents »

Company: Gemstar-TV Guide International
Headquarters: Los Angeles, Calif.
CEO: Richard Battista

Claim to fame: With a keen eye towards what's on TV, Gemstar-TV Guide operates three business units: TV Guide Publishing Group (comprised of TV Guide magazine, with circulation of more than 4.5 million, TV Guide Online, and a merchandising and licensing unit), TV Guide Television Group (TV Guide Channel, TV Guide Interactive, and TV Guide Spot), and TV Guide Consumer Electronics (TV Guide On Screen, and VCR Plus+). It also operates TVG Network, a 24-hour interactive network dedicated to horseracing.

Recent news of note: Expanded its portfolio of TV-related Web sites after signing deals to acquire,,, and "certain assets" of a TV blog called eVokeTV.

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