While you read this, I will be covering a tabletop gaming event up in the area of Minneapolis. In fact, much of this was written early in the week as I had a six-and-a-half-hour bus ride on Thursday. But how can I forget my duties to you weekend warriors who are busily catching up on what went down over the week in the online video industry and beyond?
Google TV Expands to UK, Pre-Orders on Sony Unit in US
Starting Monday June 25th, Google TV devices will be available for pre-order in the U.K. and the U.S., from partner Sony with its Internet Player with Google TV. Sony's 2012 plans include bringing the Internet Player with Google TV to Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico and Netherlands.
For example, in the U.K. you’ll be able to pop live TV into the background while you read up on The Guardian’s website with Chrome, catch up on the latest episode of EastEnders on the BBC iPlayer, view Lauren Luke’s latest make-up tips on YouTube, and choose from the hundreds of apps optimized for TV in Google Play.
Source: Google TV Blog
Amazon's LoveFilm Signs Twentieth Century FOX TV Content
According to the press release:
The agreement gives LoveFilm exclusive access to older e pisodes of T V shows such as Fox's "24" and the motorcycle drama "Sons of Anarchy" from Fox's FX cable channel.
The deal adds to the exclusive streaming deals the British service says it has signed with outlets that include NBC Universal and Sony and Warner Brothers to give its subscribers exclusive access to movies like Warner's "The Dark Knight" and "Sex and the City 2."
Online video really seems to be heating up in the EU. Lovefilm is available in Britain, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.
Amazon's Own Studio Creating Four Series
One is a children’s show, three are comedies and all four were discovered via the Amazon Studios site. The comedy projects are:
The 100 Deaths of Mort Grimley
Creator: Angel Castillo
Premise: In this animated comedy, Hell desperately needs new customers. And Mort Grimley, new to the Underworld after accidentally taking his own life, is offered a deal; get Hell’s numbers up and maybe get a transfer out (and up), or face eternity in fire and brimstone alongside the cruel mother he tried to escape.
Why We Like It: Angel has created a world and characters that are imaginative, visual, hilarious and different than anything that’s out there. It’s dark subject material, but handled with a deft and smart comedic hand.
Creator: Nathan Thomas
Premise: This mockumentary follows an ensemble of diverse characters as they ready themselves for the supposed end of the world — including the guru who made the doomsday prediction.
Why We Like It: Nathan’s script is a smart, laugh-out-loud comedy with interesting and compelling characters that you want to follow anywhere, especially as they prepare for what may be their final days.
Magic Monkey Billionaire
Creator: Diana Wright
Premise: When their wealthy magician owner suddenly dies, his two animal assistants — Rabbit and Monkey — are shocked to learn that Monkey alone has been left his billions, soon unleashing the ultimate forces of good and evil as former friends turn to arch enemies.
Why We Like It: The premise of this script and the origin story of Rabbit and Monkey is great and, in the vein of Spy vs. Spy and Itchy & Scratchy, paves the way for an animated comedic series with an epic showdown between two iconic characters.
The children’s project is:
Creators: Frank Suarez (artist) and Clark Stubbs (writer)
Premise: Buck Plaidsheep chronicles the adventures of a courageous little critter named Buck. Whenever there’s a problem on Fleecy Farm, Buck races full-speed into action in one of his souped-up vehicles. And although things may not always go as planned, it’s Buck’s “never give up” attitude that makes him the sheep that always saves the day!
Why We Like It: This show features memorable characters (like a plaid sheep and a paisley sheep), strong narrative threads and adventures, and good qualities for young children to emulate, such as perseverance and helping others.
Source: Hollywonk Blog (the official blog of Amazon Studios)
Taboola Knocks Back Another $10M in Funding
Taboola took in $10M in Series C funding this week.
According to Adam Singolda, founder and CEO of Taboola, proceeds from the round will be used
to implement the company’s international growth strategy and invest in its product range for its
top tier digital publisher partners.
Taboola’s groundbreaking recommendation platform, Taboola EngageRank, creates 500
million recommendations daily served to over 130 million users per month.
JW Player 5.10 Released
What's New in JW Player 5.10
The JW Player 5.10 release is another step in establishing the JW Player as the leader in cross-platform video playback. While JW5.10 includes numerous enhancements & bug fixes, the three most exciting features are:
- HTML5 is now the default playback mode on Android Devices
After Adobe announced that they would stop developing their Flash Player for Android devices in November 2011, we refocused our Android support on HTML5 mode. As a result, HTML5 will be the default playback mode moving forward.
- Cleaner User Interface on iOS Devices
We've taken a number of steps to clean up the way the player looks and behaves, focusing on iOS playback. Enhancements include:
- Player preview image now fades in when player loads
- Video is not displayed until it is sized correctly and ready to play
- The buffering icon appears on the iPad while video is loading
- Saved Volume in HTML5 Mode
In HTML5 mode, the player now saves the user's volume settings. When a user returns to any page on your site where the JW Player is embedded, the player will be configured with the same volume or mute state as their last visit.
Note: Not supported on iPhone/iPad due to technical limitations of iOS.
Source: LongTail Video (full list of changes in JWP 5.10)
Vizio Offering Co-Star Google TV and OnLive Set-Top Box
Using the latest version of Google TV, the VIZIO Co-Star makes it easy to transform any HDTV into the ultimate smart TV, merging live and streaming entertainment into one intuitive and easy experience. With VIZIO's new stream player, users get instant access to thousands of apps, full-screen web browsing capabilities—via Google Chrome with Adobe Flash Player and HTML 5 support—and the best in streaming entertainment.
Unique to the stream player market, the VIZIO Co-Star offers the distinct advantage of connecting to a cable or satellite box. This allows viewers to enjoy live TV along with the web, apps, OnLive cloud gaming, and other streaming entertainment without interrupting what they're already watching. This integrated experience along with the universal touchpad remote with keyboard eliminates the need to switch TV inputs or remotes to access alternative content and provides viewers with a truly smart TV experience.
Social Video Discovery Platform Chill Gets a Cool $8 Mill
I've not used many of these social video discovery platforms, but I have seen a couple in action. Chill is not one of them, however it seems others have and are behind it with big buck.
After launching earlier this year, Chill has grown substantially to hosts over 18 million registered users and a thriving, active community of people sharing and watching online video. Users recognize Chill as a video destination site that allows them to effortlessly view socially recommended programming from quality content partners as well as directly share videos throughout their own social graph.
Stupeflix & Google Offer 40% discount to Schools
Stupeflix wants everyone to be able to edit video and Google sees some value in that.
Google released a curated collections of web applications tailored for the 500+ schools and districts using Chromebooks. Selected for the grade-level apps packs, Stupeflix is offering a 40% discount to schools and districts who will subscribe through the Google Apps Packs website. School administrators can add Stupeflix directly from their Chromebooks management console, and easily manage thousands of students and teachers from their Stupeflix account - for less than a dollar per student per year.