Vid-Biz: White House, DTV, Boxee

White House Flip-Flops on YouTube Privacy Exemption; Obama’s administration had exempted the video-sharing site from federal rules relating to cookies and privacy, but later backpedaled and implemented a fix that limited YouTube’s ability to track visitors to the White House web site. (CNET)

Senate Closer to a DTV Delay; Sen. Rockefeller (D-W.V.) says he has reached an agreement with Republicans; his bill could push the national switch back to June 12. (The Associated Press)

Boxee Adds ABC Content, Mulls Hardware Moves; open source media center can now play Lost and other shows from ABC.com, and is looking for feedback about embedding its software into set-top box devices. (Boxee blog)

Walgreens Launches Prescription Drug Videos; drug store partnered with One Minute Media to create two 60-second videos, one about a drug savings program and one about discount pet medication. (MediaWeek)

Study: Younger Americans Prefer Online TV to DVR’d TV; Solutions Research Group found that 70 percent of 18 – 34 year olds have watched TV online at some point compared to just 36 percent who have watched a show on a DVR. (TVWeek)

SnagFilms Partners with Cinetic; agreement will bring more than 100 documentaries online for free ad-supported viewing. (Variety)

SlideShare Adds YouTube Capabilities; online presentation sharing service now lets you embed videos into your work. (emailed announcement)

Boxee Adds Joost and BBC iPlayer

boxee-video-browsing-screenshotBoxee announced today from CES that it has added Joost and the BBC iPlayer to the litany of video services that run on its open source media center. The company also announced that it is opening up its alpha to all Mac, Ubuntu and Apple TV users and that the Windows version is moving into private alpha (but it sounds like everyone who asks will get an invite).

Sorry, BBC fans living in the U.S., the iPlayer will only be accessible from inside the UK (bummer, but to be expected). Joost, on the other hand, will work here, and you’ll get access to all of the content in Joost’s library. In addition to these new content partners, Boxee also expanded its MTV Music offerings, allowing users to search for songs inside the MTV app, or just browse through its music catalog.

Boxee, which launched its alpha last June, landed $4 million in venture funding in November and integrated Netflix streaming in December, also said today that more than 200,000 people have signed up for the service.

Boxee Adds Netflix Support

Today, boxee is releasing their latest alpha build for the flexible media player. The big news for this release is the tantalizing Netflix support and new custom interfaces for various channels like Hulu, CNN, Flickr, Picasa, and YouTube. There are a few new content sources as well.

Netflix takes center stage for this release at the request of users. The boxee team ran a survey just two weeks ago and the results put Netflix out in front as the most requested new addition to the media center app. The initial implementation for the desktop seems to be pretty complete even at this early stage. You can browse content available in Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” category, add items to your Instant Queue, and play the streaming content. Here’s a couple shots to tide you over until you can download and install for yourself.
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Boxee is Back On Apple TV 2.3

And there was much rejoicing! I noted in my Apple TV 2.3 article that the latest Apple update broke boxee, but now the official boxee blog explains that they have got it working again. It took a little longer to get the USB Creator updated to work with Apple TV 2.3, but you can find the instructions on the boxee blog to make a patchstick installer that makes the whole process as simple as pulling the cord, plugging in the patchstick that you made, plugging the power back in, waiting, and then rebooting.
Some other things to be aware of…

New remote behavior:

  • long “select” switches between now playing and ui
  • long “menu” takes you home
  • back on login screen takes you out

Known caveat: with the update to 2.3, Apple broke a few things, one being the ability of the app to consistently appear in the foreground. Until this is figured out, if you run boxee, and get a black screen, you need to back out of boxee by clicking menu on the remote, and try launching boxee again.

Apparently Scott and Stephan are working on this last bit to kill the black screen bug dead for good.
I like the new features in Apple TV 2.3, but I missed having access to boxee after I upgraded the other day. I’m was having minor issues with boxee and Hulu. Playback gets just a little bit jittery at times. I’m hoping the upcoming releases will help improve this situation.
Also, as a side note on boxee, the boxee team just released the results of a user survey they conducted to determine which media sources to add to boxee next. You can read all about the results on their blog. Personally, I’d be thrilled if they can deliver half of the sources on their list. Pandora on Apple TV would be amazing.

Apple News: Orb, Boxee and Icky HDCP

Thanksgiving is a week away (Wait, really?), and we have a bounty of Apple (s Appl) news to report — though not all of it will make you give thanks.
First, the good news. Our colleagues over at the mobile devices blog jkOntheRun are excited that the Orb 2.0 app is available through the iTunes AppStore and no longer requires a jailbroken iPhone. Orb lets you stream video content like downloaded videos and live TV from your PC (oddly, it doesn’t work on Macs yet) to your handheld device. Think of it like a Sling for your iPhone.
Now the not-so-good news. Via our friends at The Apple Blog, we hear that Apple released some minor updates for its Apple TV software, adding features like AirTunes streaming, third-party remotes and music volume control. But… The update also killed Boxee on the Apple TV. Boxee had recently hacked its open source media center onto the device, and as we predicted, Apple put the kibosh on it. If you must have your Boxee on your Apple TV (maybe to watch Hulu), The Apple Blog post shows you how to disable the automatic update.
And finally, it looks as though Apple has kow-towed to Hollywood and has implemented a bummer of a content protection scheme on its new MacBooks. According to Wired’s Gadget Lab Blog, Apple has added something called High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP). In a nutshell, it prevents users from playing video content purchased through the iTunes store on many external displays, forcing people to watch their movies and TV shows on their smaller laptop screens. Blech.

Apple TV 2.3 Update Adds Refinements, Kills Boxee

Late on Wednesday, Apple released the Apple TV 2.3 software update. This update adds a few refinements to Apple TV, but doesn’t offer any breakthrough new features. If you read my post about boxee and installed it on your Apple TV, you’ll want to wait because boxee won’t run after updating.
Apple’s summary of the 2.3 update highlights four key features that have been updated..

  • AirTunes Streaming from Apple TV
  • Third-party Remote Controls
  • Playlists
  • Music Volume Control

The AirTunes update allows the Apple TV to become a source for other AirTunes speakers in the house. I haven’t been able to test this because I only have one Apple TV, and no Airport Express, but this sounds like a great feature for party music. You can now select the music or playlist on the Apple TV and have it play elsewhere in the house. No word yet on if this means simultaneous output to local speakers and remote speakers, or just output to remote speakers and no local audio. And sorry, I don’t have the setup to test it myself.
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Boxee Gets $4 Million

Open-source social media center Boxee announced today that it has raised $4 million in its first round of funding from Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital, which split the round 50-50.

Boxee Wants to Enlist TV Pirates to Grow Hulu’s Audience

Forget filters, DRM and locked-down set-top boxes. The makers of the open-source media center Boxee have a novel approach aimed at getting people to watch TV from legitimate sources. The idea behind it is not to punish pirates, but to instead use them as taste makers that could drive others to Hulu, Joost and similar streaming media web sites.
I sat down with Boxee’s head of products, Dave Mathews, at the DCIA’s P2P and Video conference a few days ago. Boxee has been enjoying a busy month, issuing a major announcement almost every week. First it was unveiled that Boxee is now running on the Apple TV platform. Then Hulu came to Boxee, and most recently, the Boxee team won the CES i-stage competition, earning not only $50,000 but a booth at the next CES in Las Vegas. Boxee won the award, in part, because of its social features, which could help turn potential pirates into Hulu users.
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Boxee Update Now Plays Hulu

The latest alpha release of boxee, released today, has added support for streaming shows from Hulu and CBS. In fact, I’m watching the season opener of Heroes on my Apple TV right now. Very cool stuff.

If you haven’t seen it yet, boxee installs on your Apple TV (via the patchstick method) and adds a new item to the main menu to access the boxee software. Once you launch boxee, it takes over the interface and allows you to select from different sources. When you’re done, you can exit back to the regular AppleTV interface.
Internet video isn’t as smooth on the Apple TV as it is going to hulu.com on my MacBook, despite sharing the same internet connection. I assume that the alpha release still has some work to be done on it. Still, I’m pretty excited about the possibilities that this latest release hints at.
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