Apr 3, 2014 | Newsroom

Pearl Broadcast TV Venture, LG Electronics, Watchwith and Cognitive Networks to Test New Services in Atlanta, Cleveland and Orlando Markets

LAS VEGAS, April 3, 2014 – On the eve of the National Association of Broadcasters Show, broadcasting and technology leaders today announced a groundbreaking new interactive TV trial to demonstrate the capability to easily view enhanced content and advertising delivered to LG Smart TVs in Atlanta, Cleveland and Orlando markets during live news broadcasts.

Interactive tests planned by the stations include additional photo and map overlays offered to viewers wanting more information about particular news events and weather reports, as well as personalized traffic information and content from the station’s own websites. Functionality also includes the ability to interact with advertising by requesting more information such as store locations or receiving coupons.

The spring effort is being coordinated by Pearl, a venture of eight leading TV station groups that was formed four years ago to explore and pursue new opportunities in digital media.  Pearl members include Cox Media Group, the E.W. Scripps Company, Gannett Co. Inc., Hearst Television Inc., Media General Inc., Meredith Local Media Group, Post-Newsweek Stations Inc. and Raycom Media.  Schurz Communications is also investing in the interactive TV trial.

Throughout the U.S., Pearl TV broadcasters reach 111 million households representing 63% of the U.S. population with 170 network-affiliated and top-ranked TV stations that collectively book nearly $4 billion in annual advertising revenue.

The unique live TV trial will deliver enhanced content to viewers utilizing services from Watchwith’s industry leading sync-to-broadcast content management platform and Cognitive Networks’ automatic content recognition (ACR) capability to LG Smart TV sets already in consumer homes in the test markets.

“Pearl members are very excited by the ability of Smart TVs to synchronize live and recorded programming with interactive content provided by the stations.  We’re experimenting with how these new capabilities can be used by programmers to enhance the viewing experience and provide better audience engagement.  As producers of some of the most-watched TV content in the country the involvement of local broadcasters is critical to the success of new platforms for both interactivity and new advertising options,” said Peter Diaz, Executive VP of Gannett Co. Inc. (a Pearl member TV holding company).

According to the Consumer Electronics Association, Internet-connected Smart TVs represent one of the fastest growing categories in the industry.

In their Global Digital Living Forecast Workbook from March 2014, Parks Associates estimates that the number of “Smart TV” households in the U.S. will reach 42 million this year, representing 36% of all TV households.  Approximately one-third of those sets will be automatic content recognition (ACR) capable.  By 2018, a majority, 56%, of Smart TV sets will be ACR-enabled.

“For years, LG has been making Smart TVs easier to use, providing more features for viewers to find and view engaging content, and enabling the delivery of some of the most desirable content.  LG’s LivePlus interactive TV service, launched last fall, adds to these OTT (over-the-top) features and enables Smart TVs to deliver enhanced interactive content from broadcasters, programmers and advertisers, synchronized to the linear program.  Our collaboration with Pearl breaks new ground on both live news programming and local station content,” said Sam Chang, vice president and head of the Silicon Valley Lab at LG Electronics.    “We’re proud that Pearl chose LG to collaborate with on the implementation of this innovative service for local TV stations and their viewers.”

For the interactive TV trial, Watchwith is providing a sync-to-broadcast content management platform for television stations to efficiently create, schedule and deliver perfectly timed interactive content, advertising and commerce offers in sync with their shows and commercials to consumers.

“Watchwith’s innovative platform makes it fast and easy for broadcasters and advertisers to activate their programs and commercials and connect directly with their viewers,” said Zane Vella, Watchwith founder and CEO.  “The combination of an ACR-enabled TV like LG LivePlus and interactive content from local broadcaster station producers using Watchwith delivers engaging interactive user experiences for audiences and generates new revenue for programmers.”

Cognitive Networks’ automatic content recognition system is the underlying technology running on the LG TVs that enables the local station to send the right HTML5 content at the right time to the right show – based on the consumer’s decision to add interactivity to the show.

“It’s great to see local broadcast stations taking advantage of the bridge that ACR builds between broadcast video and broadband-delivered HTML5 apps and content that can enhance the TV viewing experience,” said Michael Collette, CEO of Cognitive Networks.  “We think there is great potential to engage local audiences in meaningful new ways that will benefit all parties concerned.”

Stations participating in Atlanta are WSB (Cox), WGCL (Meredith) and WXIA (Gannett). Cleveland stations that are participating in the trial include WOIO (Raycom), WEWS (Scripps) and WKYC (Gannett).  In Orlando, participating stations are WKMG (Post-Newsweek), WFTV (Cox) and WESH (Hearst).

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About Pearl:

Pearl Mobile DTV Company LLC, founded in 2010, is a partnership of broadcast companies with a shared interest in exploring forward-looking opportunities, including innovative ways of promoting local TV content and developing digital media and wireless platforms for the broadcast industry. Pearl member companies reach two-thirds of the U.S. population with their stations and collectively book nearly $4 billion in annual advertising revenue.  Pearl’s membership, comprising 170 network-affiliated TV stations, consists of Cox Media Group, the E.W. Scripps Company, Gannett Co. Inc., HearstTelevision Inc., Media General Inc., Meredith Local Media Group, Post-Newsweek Stations Inc. and Raycom Media.  Learn more:  www.PearlTV.com

About LG Electronics USA:

Smart TV leader LG Electronics USA, Inc., based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., is the North American subsidiary of LG Electronics, Inc., a $52 billion global force and technology leader in consumer electronics, home appliances and mobile communications. LG Electronics, a proud 2014 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year, sells a range of stylish and innovative home entertainment products, mobile phones, home appliances, commercial displays, air conditioning systems and solar energy solutions in the United States, all under LG’s “Life’s Good” marketing theme. LG is the Official Smart TV Provider for the 2014 NAB Show.  www.lg.com

About Cognitive Networks:

Cognitive Networks is a leading provider of real-time services powered by Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) technology, enabling the fundamental transformation of the way viewers consume TV while delivering a platform for content producers and TV networks to increase customer engagement, grow their audiences, and increase the value of the TV viewing experience for all audiences.   The company’s ENGAGE™ API allows Smart TVs to launch applications that are intelligently synchronized with live or time-shifted television, enabling ecosystem partners to add Enhanced TV capabilities to broadcast TV displaying on Smart TVs. With Cognitive Networks’ Engage, content providers can now provide consumers with fun, smart things to do while watching TV on their Smart TVs.  Cognitive Networks has been selected to participate in SPROCKIT 2014 being held at NAB Show taking place in Las Vegas April 5-10. Cognitive Networks’ ACR technology will be on display at the Sprockit Hub (C2455).  For more information about Cognitive Networks, visit www.cognitivenetworks.com.

About Watchwith:

Watchwith provides a hosted software platform that broadcasters and television networks use to create, schedule and deliver perfectly timed interactive content, advertising and commerce in sync with their programming. Television producers use Watchwith Showrunner™ to efficiently author original interactive sync-to-broadcast content. The Watchwith Real-Time API™ delivers interactive content around live broadcast events, pre-recorded programming and commercials. Watchwith enables programmers to control the sync-to-broadcast experience around their content, and to connect with their audience across mobile, web, social and connected TVs. Watchwith is headquartered in San Francisco, California and investors include Rogers Venture Partners, Samsung, Arris and Gracenote. Watchwith is demonstrating during NAB in the ATSC TechZone at NAB (North Hall, booth # N3034).  For more information about Watchwith, visit www.watchwith.com.



Dave Arland, Arland Communications
Phone:  (317) 701-0084

John Taylor, LG Electronics
Phone:  (847) 828-2777

Paul Rodriguez, Cognitive Networks
Phone:  (240) 535-9097

JR Cordray, Watchwith
Phone: (323) 717-9374