Ran into the CableLabs contingent in the DirecTV booth (by the way, easy to see the News Corp influence on the new, glitzier booth) as the ear-pluggers looked at the new "Mix Channels" [see ‘DBS @ CES’ below]. Earlier, sardonic but aggressive DirecTV CEO Mitch Stern and crew touted local HD channels via MPEG-4 (coming soon-though subs will have to change out their boxes and dishes), interactive "Active" channels (coming very soon). And, in one of those really good ideas to boost NFL Sunday Ticket, a fantasy football channel for next season. In the meantime, EchoStar solidified its theft of the VOD concept, cleverly using a big hard drive DVR. — The DTH booths, including VOOM, were all VERY busy. — Ed Whitacre outlined SBC’s impending immersion in video, unveiling "SBC’s U-VERSE" (pretty bad title for a brand, methinks), playing off the universal use idea of ‘anywhere, anytime.’ Basing the product introductions across the latter part of this year, Whitacre is betting big time on IP tying together an ersatz broadband hi-def video offering ("we don’t have cable’s need to deliver every signal") with cellular/wi-fi and landline rolled into the same seamless service. He said it would pass 18mln TV HHs in 3 years. He also claimed 5mln DSL customers and that VoIP would roll out to 25% of his customer base later this year. He touted the concept of convergence, "finally the time is right." Whitacre claims there would be more than enough bandwidth for HDTV, superfast broadband, VOD and "just about any other application." While it remains to be seen if SBC can deliver, promotional spots were impressive. They kept the complex message of convergence simple, showing how you can set a DVR to tape a show via your cell phone or how inputting a new email address on your computer will automatically update data on multiple devices. Other flashy features: multiple camera angles during TV viewing and pop-ups on TV telling you when your favorite celeb is appearing. — On the cable side, SeaChange was ready to be a hospitality partner (in the parking lot of the Beach across from the LVCC) and CTAM was scheduled to have a break there. — MTV Nets Judy McGrath entertained at an insider session. Among the deals touted by Bill Gates the night before was one with MTV Nets for delivery of news, music videos and other content to Microsoft’s Portable Media Centers. — PSM

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Nielsen Gauges Cross-Platform Viewership

Nielsen launched monthly viewership visualization tool “The Gauge” Thursday.

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