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It looks like we can expect premium interactive TV shows from Microsoft by the end of the year, where we'll see the new TV shows launch on their Xbox Live service. This is all according to a top executive from Microsoft during All Things Digital's Dive into Media conference, in Dana Point, California.
Back in September 2012, Microsoft hired former CBS Network Television Entertainment Group president, Nancy Tellem, who would be responsible for a new production studio in LA and creating interactive content for the Xbox 360. We're now seeing the fruits of her labor, and the first things to grow from this seed.
We should expect the interactivity side of things to include Kinect compatibility, but it won't just be there to be 'cool', Tellem says "it has to be organic and a natural extension of what we are doing". She also declined to state just how much Microsoft are pumping into their original content, adding "we are certainly looking at a very robust content production schedule".
Google has reportedly signed a deal with the free-to-air UK satellite service Freesat that will bring a dedicated YouTube app to the service. It is a joint venture between the BBC and ITV that offers users more than 60 channels at no cost to its users.
Freesat has said that the app will be built using HTML5 and will "optimize" the videos for TV viewing, offering a "visually stunning" experience. This is a good thing because anyone who has ever watched YouTube videos on their large HDTV will be able to relate to the poor quality on larger screens.
Freesat has a reported three million+ in sales of its set top boxes, and gains a great deal of free content through this deal. Google will be the major benefactor here, as the addition to the service will most certainly see an increase in UK based viewers, giving it more people to display targeted ads to.
Premiering at the Berlin International Film Festival a few days ago, the documentary on The Pirate Bay called "TPB AFK" is now available online for free after four years in the making.
The documentary covers the site's three founders battling through their legal case with the entertainment industry in Swedish courts, right up until their final appeal is rejected which saw them ordered to pay $6.6 million in damages and serve jail time. You can acquire the movie through The Pirate Bay and YouTube, or you can contribute to the film makers through a pay-what-you-want donation that will see you receive any extra materials released in the future, or pre-order the DVD for $23.
Gottfrid Svartholm (aka Anakata) has been arrested and is serving time in prison, with the two other founders, Peter Sunde and Frederik Neij still wanted.
While the whole world waits on the TiVo Mini to make its retail debut, Suddenlink has managed to work out a deal allowing its customers to rent the small DVR extension units.
A report from Zatz Not Funny mentions that the outfit is pricing rental units at $6-$12 depending on customer location and current service package. The rental fee grants the user the privilege of streaming live TV from a TiVo Premier DVR to their network or another TV set.
Users are also able to search for and watch recorded shows. Dynamic tuning is built into the device, but it appears to be turned off at the moment. We can expect to see the TiVo Mini hit retail shelves sometime this spring.
Yet another option is coming for streaming movies and TV to your home. Redbox Instant will be competing with Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others and has decided to release an app for the Xbox 360. For whatever reason, Redbox Instant has decided to exclusively support the 360 for launch, which could limit how pervasive they become.
Microsoft's Major Nelson confirmed that early beta testers will soon be invited to download and install the app.
Redbox will likely eventually come to all of the home consoles. After all, Netflix has said that they see the most streaming from the PlayStation 3. Redbox wouldn't want to miss out on the ability to sell its services to a wider audience. We'll continue to watch what Redbox does and keep you up to date on any big changes.
As an Australian, one of my favorite bits of the Super Bowl is the movie spots for the up and coming blockbusters. While I really wanted a Man of Steel clip, Iron Man 3 will do.
And what a clip it is! The 20-second or so clip shows off an incredible new scene (spoilers if you keep reading) of Iron Man diving out of a plane and having to save 13 people from falling to the ground. Goosebumps!
Netflix's original series, House of Cards, has been uploaded to Netflix in all of its 13-episode glory. This means users can sit down and watch the entire first season in one sitting. If you aren't a Netflix subscriber, you can watch the first episode of the series for free. Netflix hopes this will encourage you to sign up for the service.
House of Cards is the second of Netflix's original series to be released. In May, Netflix will be releasing 14 episodes of Arrested Development all at one time. A show called "Hemlock Grove" will be making an appearance in April, and a few other series are also coming this year.
Netflix's chief content officer would like for Netflix to make at least five original series per year, though Netflix has to bring in profit to do this. They are doing their best to promote the series, such as offering the first episode free, to hopefully attract more paying customers. We should know how well this is working by the end of the year.
Amazon has managed to keep Downton Abbey away from its competitors Hulu and Netflix by signing the show exclusively for their Amazon Prime streaming service. Downton Abbey is the wildly popular show that can be seen on PBS in the United States. The agreement also maintains exclusivity for season 4 and 5, if the latter is produced.
"The series is consistently in our top most watched TV shows each week, making it the most popular TV series with Prime Instant Video customers, ever," Brad Beale, Amazon's director of digital video content acquisition, said in a press release.
Season 1 and 2 is available for streaming currently, and you can watch season 3, even though some episodes have aired in the US yet, if you buy Amazon's TV pass for $9.45.
Apple's Apple TV device has made an appearance at the FCC with a new version number. Some thought that this new device would be the fourth generation Apple TV, but it turns out that it is just a minor component change. An Apple spokesperson confirmed that the new version number was required to clear regulatory officials.
"We sometimes make component changes which require an updated model number for regulatory approval," an Apple spokesperson confirmed in a statement.
The changes reportedly include an A5X processor, which is the same as the one used in the third-gen iPad, and a new single antenna setup. The new device doesn't have a definite launch time and there will not be a clear way to tell the devices apart without looking at the version number.
Today the XBMC Foundation has released version 12 of the widely popular open-source home media center software. XBMC 12.0, codenamed "Frodo", brings forth several new features and improvements including Live TV and PVR support which brings Live TV, radio and TV guide features into the program.
The update also includes a completely new audio engine that supports most of the HD audio standards including DTS-MA and Dolby True-HD. Fans of Apple's AirPlay can jump for joy as well because Frodo includes improved support for Apple's wireless standard, in addition to AirPlay streaming for Windows users as well.
The biggest news however is the official support for the $35 Raspberry Pi. With the Model B now supporting 1080p HD video, the Raspberry Pi makes for the perfect entry-level media streamer when combined with XBMC. Version 12.0 also comes with "initial Android support" which unlike the XBMC remote app includes the full range of XBMC services on your Android device.