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BitTorrent co-founder now working with Hollywood

By Dawn C. Chmielewski Published: December 27, 2012
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Companies such as Zeebox, Yahoo Inc.'s IntoNow and Shazam Entertainment Ltd. offer smartphone and tablet applications that identify TV shows and deliver supplementary content to this second, smaller screen - including cast lists, a plot synopsis and interactive features such as polling.

Flingo's Navin is placing his bet on a different screen: the TV. Announcements of partnerships with device makers are expected next month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Smart TVs are moving from a novelty to the mainstream, with shipments expected to grow 15 percent worldwide this year, according to NPD DisplaySearch. Some 43 million of these devices - TVs that connect to the Internet and provide access to services such as YouTube, Netflix or Hulu - are expected to ship globally this year. That number is projected to reach 95 million by 2016.

This momentum is less obvious in North America, where Internet-connected TVs have been slower to catch on than other parts of the world, Gray said. That's because purchases are linked to media consumption habits. In China, for example, consumers watch free Internet content - and favor TVs with built-in browsers, which make it easier to watch streaming video. Similarly, in Western Europe, where half the households receive TV programming via over-the-air signals, broadcasters provide past episodes free online for consumers to do catch-up viewing. That's helped spur demand for Internet-connected TVs, Gray said.

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Navin launched Flingo in 2008, creating smart TV applications for networks including A&E, Fox, History Channel, Lifetime, Showtime and TMZ, as well as websites such as Revision3, Funny or Die and College Humor. As a result of this development work, the company has built relationships with more than a dozen major consumer electronics manufacturers, among them LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics Co., Sony Corp. and Vizio Inc. It claims to have published more smart TV apps than any other company in the world - available on more than 15 million devices in 118 countries.

That may position it to take serious advantage of smart TV growth in the U.S.

“The smart TV is the last great unmined consumer platform,” said billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban, who saw a demonstration of Flingo at the CES trade show last year and is an investor in the company.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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