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Dream Team Of Children’s TV Producers Create PlaySquare, “Touchable TV” For The iPad

playsquare-handWhat do you get when a team of Emmy winning children’s TV producers are introduced to the iPad? You get a company that has a whole new vision for the future of television. That company, PlaySquare, is working on something they’re calling “touchable TV.” It’s the idea that the child shouldn’t just be watching television, they should be interacting with it. And it’s not a second screen experience, where the iPad app serves to complement the show a child is viewing. It’s a television network on the iPad, where the show itself becomes personalized to the child, growing with them the more they play, and even “leveling up” as they learn new things.

Google Licenses Rovi’s Program Guide Patents For Its New Fiber TV Service

rovi-logoOne of the main surprises of Google’s Fiber announcement in Kansas City last week was that the company also plans to provide its own TV service to the residents of its ‘fiberhoods.’ There are some issues with Google’s Fiber TV service, including the fact that it seems to be missing quite a bit of content, but it’s definitely looking to be a very competitive offering. To make all of this work, however, Google apparently needed to license a number of patents. As digital entertainment technology provider Rovi announced today, Google has signed a multi-year licensing agreement with the company that provides Google with a license to Rovi’s “interactive program guide patent portfolio for set-top boxes, as well as online and mobile platforms.”

Google Details Its 1 Gigabit Fiber Network In Kansas City, Will Come With TV Service, 1TB Of Cloud Storage, Nexus 7

Google Fiber logoAfter a few delays and setbacks, Google today officially launched its 1 gigabit residential fiber network in Kansas City. The network will deliver symmetric 1 gigabit connections to households across the city. That’s about 100 times faster than most current residential broadband connections in the U.S. There will be no monthly caps or overage charges. Google Fiber will also come with 1 terabyte of cloud storage and HD TV service. Users in Kansas City will have to pay a $300 fee to get the service installed in their houses. The monthly price for TV service and the 1 gigabit Internet connection will be $120/month. Users who just want the Internet service will have to pay $70/month.

Users who just want a basic 5 Mbps Internet connection will be able to get this for free for at least the next 7 years, as long as they pay the $300 construction fee. Google will also offer free gigabit connectivity to schools.

Netflix “Returns To Profitability,” Reports Gain Of $0.11 Per Share On $889M In Revenue

Netflix_4C_White_LogoNetflix has just released its second quarter 2012 earnings report, in which the video rental veteran outpaced estimates, improving on last quarter and meeting most expectations and even beating some. Revenue increased to $889 million compared to the same period for 2011. Earnings per share came in at $0.11 per share. In the weeks leading up to the release, analysts had been projected Netflix to remain steady, reporting a profit of $0.04 per share on sales of $889 million.

That works out to a $6 million gain for the quarter, and brass are happy with the outcome over the quarter. In their letter to investors (see below), CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells said that Netflix returned to global profitability this quarter, and are gearing up for more of the same in Q3. Although, as it should be, expectations remained mild for the rest of the summer.

The Connected Viewer: More Than 50% Of Cellphone Owners Now Use Their Phones While Watching TV

Early 1950s Television SetAccording to the latest data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, more than half of the adult cellphone owners in the U.S. now use their phones while watching TV. The main reason they do so isn’t to talk about a program they are watching on Twitter, though. Instead, the majority of cell owners (38%) used their phones to keep themselves occupied during commercials or breaks. Quite a few of these “connected viewers” also use their phones to fact check something they heard on TV (22%) and marketers will be happy to hear that 35% of smartphone owners use their phones to vist sites that were mentioned on TV.

NBCUniversal Ramps Up Film Exposure In China With Youku Premium Deal For 100 Films

youku homepageNBCUniversal continues to ramp up international streaming deals as a way of getting its content in a non-pirated (read: revenue-generating) format out to the masses. Today, the media company is making a key move into China in a multi-year licensing deal with Youku, the country’s biggest online video player with 300 million monthly viewers, to provide a rolling selection of 100 feature films as part of Youku’s premium paid content service.

The deal is also a sign of how Youku is expanding its catalog with more non-Chinese content: it will see blockbusters like Schindler’s List, Apollo 13, as well as the Jurassic Park and The Mummy series offered as video-on-demand films become offerings on Youku Premium; along with more edgy films like Being John Malkovich, Trainspotting and The Big Lebowski; as well as future releases. Youku, when merged with its rival Tudou, will control some 49 percent of the online video market in China, with the next-nearest rival, Xunlei, at only 11 percent.

Only Messi Can Save Us Now

messiWhat’s wrong with this picture? It’s 2012, cheap broadband is ubiquitous in the developed world, and TV still isn’t dead. In fact it’s thriving. Sure, for the first time ever, Nielsen says more people watch videos on the Internet than on a TV–albeit barely–but if you look at how much time is spent on the two, there’s no comparison: TV utterly dominates. Which explains why, again according to Nielsen, more money is spent on TV advertising than all other ad platforms combined.

A few doomsayers say the TV industry “may be starting to collapse” and that excessive production costs are its weak spot. Yeah, if only. Television as constituted today makes no sense at all; it’s a kludged-up legacy system that’s enormously painful and expensive to maintain. But TV’s entrenched economic interests and cultural inertia are so pathological that even HBO GO wouldn’t make sense as a standalone app–as HBO confirms–and the rumors of a brand-new Apple TV ecosystem were, alas, dead wrong. Sure, YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu are mighty powers in their own right, but if even nigh-omnipotent Apple has given up, what hope do they have?

Funny you should ask. I just happen to have an answer.

The Four Most Underhyped Trends In Social TV

Screen Shot 2012-05-19 at 4.58.45 PMLast time I took a look at the most over-hyped topics of the Future of TV, and I thought a great follow-up would be to look at the reverse case. After all, it’s easy to sit there and critique, but what about the positive side, where’s the action happening but not being talked about as much as it could be?  Here are four things going on in the TV industry that definitely don’t get enough respect…

Forrester: 32.1 Million U.S. Households Now Access Online Video On Their TVs

yellow_old_tvAlmost 115 million households in the U.S. currently own at least on TV set and 36 million own four or more. That’s a huge market and as Apple, Google and Microsoft try wrestle more of this business away from the traditional content and hardware players, the old-school cable and satellite providers now suddenly have to content with this new group of challengers that, until now, barely registered on their radars. According to Forrester analyst James McQuivey, it’s Microsoft that’s winning this platform war so far.

Ask Forgiveness, Not Permission: Why Dish “Ad-Skipping” Tech Irks TV Execs

skipping1When Dish announced their new ad-skipping tech, response was fairly muted. Sure it was some cool technology – the experience is seamless in that you notice maybe the first second of a commercial and then a little notification pops you over the commercials entirely – but TV execs are reportedly upset by Dish’s unilateral decision.

Fox’s Peter Rice said it was “a strange thing to do” and NBC is still evaluating it. However, what is really interesting is that Dish decided to go ahead with the service at all.