Cisco Launches First Integrated Wireless IPTV Solution

  • Cisco recently launched a wireless IPTV service with AT&T U-verse that features new wireless receivers and wireless access points (WAPs).
  • “Consumers can now rely on wireless technology to deliver high-quality video services throughout the home without the need for cables or wires,” explains the press release. “TV content is sent from the Cisco wireless access point via in-home Wi-Fi to the Cisco wireless receiver next to the TV.”
  • Based on the 802.11n standard, the wireless solution can deliver SD and HD programming to multiple receivers with integrated Wi-Fi, provide interactive services and function as an HD DVR.
  • In addition to enabling consumers to view television anywhere they choose in the home, the “wireless TV solution offers service providers the means for faster service activations and consumer self-installation with easy-to-use Wi-Fi kits…The integrated Wi-Fi receiver also offers service providers the ability to monitor the device’s performance via the network, as the receiver comes equipped with remote diagnostics.”

Interactive TV Trends: Multiple Screens Leading to a New TV Experience

  • Multiple screens are being used while people are watching TV.  According to Nielsen, some 70 percent of tablet and 68 percent of smartphone owners are using their devices while watching TV. Checking email and looking for related content or checking social connections are the most common activities.
  • This dynamic is starting to have a wide-reaching effect. Advertisers, for example, want to use multiple screens to more efficiently reach audiences; networks are incorporating Twitter and Facebook to increase viewer engagement and participation; and TV OEMs are starting to package TVs with tablets.
  • Startups are targeting TV with apps like Yahoo’s IntoNow, which can identify a show and bring up relevant information and social opportunities. Peel is an innovative recommendation engine and universal remote.
  • TVs will be able to recognize users and recommend content based on preferences. They will also be able to incorporate your tablet and smartphone choices. And, of course, cloud-based apps will allow us to buy and watch TV anywhere on any device.

Affordable AMOLED TVs Expected to be Mass Produced by 2014

  • The promise of super-thin and colorful OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology for TVs has yet to be realized, even though the industry has been regularly impressed with prototypes and limited editions.
  • According to Electronic House, “OLED TVs are poised to make a comeback, or a debut, or a comeback debut.” Researchers predict that AMOLED (Active Matrix OLED) will appear in a number of devices, including TVs.
  • LG, for example, is planning a 55-inch OLED TV in 2012, and one of the larger Asian manufacturers has a deal with DuPont to use the company’s “printing-based process that it says will reduce manufacturing costs for large-display AMOLED TVs.”
  • “Current manufacturing technology doesn’t scale up to TVs,” says Bill Feehery, global business director for DuPont Electronics & Communications. “Today OLED material is heated up and evaporated, then they use a screen to create the pixels on the display. Our goal was to use an ink-jet printer-like technology to print it.”
  • Feehery suggests the hefty premiums of early units will come down in cost once mass manufacturing of AMOLED TVs begins in 2014.
  • “AMOLED is already used in mobile phones and can deliver vivid colors, higher contrast, faster response and a wider viewing angle than traditional LCDs, while consuming less power,” reports Electronic House.

Bob Iger Named to Apple Board, Arthur Levinson to Serve as Chairman

  • Apple has named Disney chief exec Robert Iger to its board, while Arthur Levinson will take over the chairman post previously held by Steve Jobs.
  • Bob Iger was a friend and business partner of Jobs. The two worked together when Disney acquired Pixar Animation Studios in 2006.
  • Levinson, chairman of biotech company Genentech, has been co-director of the Apple board for six years.
  • “They’re trying to shore up the Disney relationship or strengthen that relationship because it’s an important part of where Apple is going,” said Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos, referring to the possibility of a future Apple television and its need for licensing deals. “The content piece is the critical key to the living room,” Munster added.
  • “He is going to make an extraordinary addition to our already very strong board,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said of Iger, commenting that Iger’s role at Disney in harnessing new technology makes him “a great fit for Apple.”

TV Tune-In: New Second Screen Companion Hopes to Socialize TV

  • Rogue Paper Inc. has developed a second screen app named TV Tune-In that is designed to let TV viewers engage in real-time commentary with other viewers.
  • The company refers to the app quite simply as an “Audience Engagement Platform.” It works by tracking the user’s time zone and program being watched.
  • According to Rogue: “Viewers can just plop down on the couch, turn on both screens, and dive into the sea of snarky comments about their favorite shows. The app allows users to watch live and time-shifted, to enjoy the entire delicious dish in sync with the episode you’re watching on your TV or laptop.”
  • The platform is targeting the 40 percent of consumers identified by Nielsen who simultaneously use mobile devices while watching television. These multi-taskers should be of interest to advertisers as well.
  • “From the 1950s when viewers gathered around the television and discussed the programs, to conversations happening in real-time, television has always been social,” explains Rogue Paper CEO Stephanie Boyle. “TV Tune-In harnesses the social aspect of television and provides a toolkit for broadcasters to engage their audiences and actively participate in the conversations happening around their content.”

Will LG Electronics Debut a New Google TV at CES?

  • LG may debut a television set with Google software at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, according to “two people with knowledge of the project.”
  • The move would be a boon for Google in the field against entrants such as Apple and Microsoft.
  • Google is working to build support for its Google TV software, despite disappointing sales from its Logitech partnership. The company introduced a redesigned version last month after the earlier release failed to meet expectations.
  • “The revamped version of Google TV service has a simpler interface,” reports Bloomberg. “The upgrade was designed to show the YouTube video- sharing service better and opens up the platform for Android developers to build applications for TV. Android is Google’s software platform for mobile devices.”
  • LG rival Samsung has also been in discussions to develop a Google TV product.

Panasonic Announces App Expansion for Connected Viera TVs

  • Panasonic’s line of Viera TVs now ships with 12 embedded applications, including Hulu Plus and Netflix. About 120 third-party apps are also available for Viera TVs.
  • Just as PC users add apps to their computers, Viera owners are free to add content apps to their TVs once those apps go through quality-assurance testing by Panasonic.
  • The company says that more than 40 million connected TVs were sold by 2010, and 2013 projections suggest sales of connected TVs will outpace those of PCs.
  • “Panasonic also recently announced a new gaming app, PlayJam; a Bollywood movie/video channel, BigFlix; and the Viera Connect Market, whereby users can upload credit card information once and use it across a variety of apps, such as a demonstrated app in which users could buy 3D eyewear, among other consumer electronics devices,” reports Home Media Magazine.

Study says 80 Percent of Mobile Users Multitask while Watching TV

  • Digital advertising agency Razorfish recently partnered with Yahoo to conduct a study regarding consumer behavior and the simultaneous use of television and mobile devices.
  • “While 80 percent of mobile users multitask in front of TV, 70 percent say they multitask once a week, and 49 percent on a daily basis,” reports Lost Remote. “More than 60 percent check their phones at least ‘once or twice’ during a show with 15 percent active on their devices the entire time.”
  • These multi-taskers are primarily attracted to content related to reality shows, news, comedy, sports and food.
  • The study suggests that 38 percent believe the mobile activity enhances TV broadcasts, while an equal 38 percent find it distracting.
  • Lost Remote reports: “94 percent of mobile multitaskers communicate while watching TV, while 60 percent are looking up content. Of the communicators, the most popular activities in order are: texting, talking, email, social networking and IM.”
  • Razorfish and Yahoo also learned that most of the mobile activity takes place during commercial breaks.

Viewing Trends: DVR and VOD on the Rise in U.S. Households

  • Leichtman Research Group reports 44 percent of U.S. households with TVs have a DVR, up from 8 percent in 2005.
  • LRG also found that one-third of DVR households have more than one DVR, and 73 percent of digital cable subscribers have used VOD.
  • “On-demand TV viewing in the forms of DVR and VOD, as well as Netflix streaming, have significantly increased in terms of usage and popularity over the past few years,” said Bruce Leichtman. “Yet these on-demand TV platforms remain largely complementary to traditional TV services and viewing, with about 90 percent of all TV viewing in the U.S. still being via live TV.”
  • Additional LRG findings (on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being excellent): 80 percent of DVR owners rate the service 8 to 10, 62 percent of cable VOD users rate the service 8 to 10, 63 percent of Netflix subscribers rate the Watch Instantly feature 8 to 10, 20 percent of Netflix subscribers use Watch Instantly daily.

Will Android Market Access and YouTube Interface Resurrect Google TV?

  • Google is offering an update to Google TV that includes a streamlined UI, quick-launch bar for most-used apps, an app that can locate 80,000 movies and TV episodes via the Web or TV, and a new TV-oriented YouTube interface.
  • The Android Market looks to launch current and new apps specially optimized for television (access to the Android Market may prove the biggest step for Google TV).
  • YouTube is looking to create original content and become a “next-generation cable provider” by signing deals with media companies and celebrities.
  • However, the service has been hindered by TV networks that “continue to block Google TV from viewing Web sites that stream some of their shows that are freely available to personal computer browsers,” reports Forbes. “That’s a big turn-off given that other devices such as Apple TV, Roku, and many others offer access to more TV content.”
  • In a related post, GigaOM lists the more notable new features and includes a 7-minute video demo.
  • “The new version of Google TV isn’t really all that groundbreaking; rather, it’s what Google TV should have offered all along,” suggests GigaOM. “And that seems to be exactly what Google was aiming for with this release — not a big flash, but finally a solid base that can be continuously improved both through Google’s apps as well as applications from third-party developers.”

AsiaD Video: Peter Chernin Discusses Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and More

  • Peter Kafka interviews Peter Chernin in this interesting 11-minute video from the AsiaD conference.
  • “As News Corp.’s longtime chief operating officer, Chernin was instrumental in developing Hulu,” reports All Things D. “He explained why he wanted to build the video site — in part to compete with Google and YouTube — and why he thinks its studio owners should help it thrive today — in part to compete with Netflix.” Chernin also expresses his thoughts on purchasing Yahoo.
  • Chernin knew IPTV would be big, but didn’t want one dominant video distributor like YouTube. Thus, the studios got together to create Hulu, which today competes with Netflix.
  • Chernin believes online viewers will pay $2 per month for premium content. He talks about the future of video and creating something like a digital HBO.

Hulu Taken Off the Auction Block: Sale of Video Hub Tabled by Owners

  • After months of bidding, Hulu’s owners — News Corp., NBCUniversal, Disney and Providence Equity Partners — have decided to stop its sale.
  • “Since Hulu holds a unique and compelling strategic value to each of its owners, we have terminated the sale process and look forward to working together to continue mapping out its path to even greater success,” explained the partners in a short statement. “Our focus now rests solely on ensuring that our efforts as owners contribute in a meaningful way to the exciting future that lies ahead for Hulu.”
  • In a related TechCrunch post, it was suggested that media companies saw more value in retaining licensing fees than selling them.
  • Bidders were not willing to pay more for Hulu knowing that the costs for content rights would increase dramatically after the two year period being sold. (Google reportedly bid $4 billion, but wanted streaming rights for longer than the guaranteed “couple of years.”)

TV Viewers Like their Tablets and Phones: Stay Tuned for More Innovation

  • A new study from Nielsen shows that approximately 40 percent of tablet and smartphone owners use their devices on a daily basis while simultaneously viewing television. The figures jump to 70 percent for users who do the same several times a week.
  • Most of these viewers are primarily checking email, followed by surfing information and accessing social networks, suggesting strong potential for second-screen applications.
  • The study suggests users are accessing social networks more than websites with information related to the TV program. “Unfortunately, the study doesn’t break down if people are 1) participating or just listening to social conversations and 2) if the conversations are related to the TV program at hand,” reports Lost Remote. “But it’s probably safe to say that more viewers are more inclined to talk about (or listen to) conversations about a TV show than proactively look up expanded content about it.”
  • Successful second-screen apps should bring together “social conversations, expanded content and interactive (even synchronized) advertising,” suggests the article. “Compelling second-screen experiences, in theory, will move the needle more in the ‘related’ direction, making TV viewers more engaged overall.”

Cord-Cutting: Report Predicts Homes without Cable Will Triple by 2016

  • A new report from media forecasting firm Magnaglobal shows that by 2016 cable subscriptions will dramatically decline as online becomes the medium of choice.
  • Magnaglobal predicts that 9 million households will not subscribe to traditional pay TV services (triple today’s amount), of which 4 million will be cord cutters who cancel their service to opt for content via the Internet.
  • Additionally, The New York Times points out that the number of young consumers who have never signed up for cable or satellite service, but rely on services such as Hulu and Netflix for their media, will continue to grow. “The number of people who never signed up for cable is expected to double — to 5 million, from 2.5 million today — by 2016, according to the report.”
  • The growth of DVR ownership is also expected to decline, as consumers continue to adopt devices that enable streaming of content via the Web.

Networked Insights Hopes to Fine-Tune Social Data for TV Advertisers

  • Nielsen data is no longer enough for effective TV planning and buying, suggests Networked Insights, a company that “analyzes social data to uncover trends and consumer engagement opportunities.”
  • Networked Insights recently published reports that focus on the value of television viewers’ social data. One such report examined top social TV shows from FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS and CW. Viewers were grouped by TV Fans, Millennials, Gamers, Electronic Consumers, Moms and Sports Fans, while general sentiments from each group were analyzed.
  • “What’s impressive is how the company looks at specifically where ad money is being spent to analyze the conversations around the show,” reports Lost Remote. “For example, before the show even premiered, they described NBC’s ‘massive ad campaign’ for ‘Whitney’ as a ‘Social Turkey,’ and that ‘over-hyping a show is underwhelming potential fans.'”
  • Another report revealed opportunities for a Toyota Corolla TV ad to improve its digital strategies, specifying where targeted spending would be most effective. Respondents included fans of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” The article suggests that the case study “is pretty compelling proof that social data can help you get the competitive advantage in TV planning and buying if you listen in the right places across the social web.”
  • Networked Insights recently announced $20 million in series B funding from Goldman Sachs.