Darren Feher tapped to head the new Technology Growth Center.
NBC Universal has formed the Technology Growth Center (TGC), a central technology division, dedicated to facilitating new business opportunities in digital media. The company also announced that the TCG will be headed by Darren Feher, executive vice president and chief technology officer. The announcement was made by John Eck, President and Chief Information Officer of Media Works, NBC Universal’s Technology and Operations division. Feher will report directly to Eck.
The TGC is organized into four divisions:
- Technical Product Development—builds and launches technology for digital growth in the areas of broadband, iTV, electronic-sell-through, mobile and wireless, PVR and DVR’s, as well as gaming.
- Policy, Strategy and Standards—focuses on increasing the influence and representation of NBC Universal’s industry positions among standards consortia and in Washington.
- Emerging Technology and Research—works with GE’s Global Research Center and various universities, where funded research projects are underway.
- Anti-Piracy Technical Operations—focuses on forensic watermarking, cracking down on Internet piracy, and raids and investigations.
Specifically, the TGC will focus on developing technology that will make content more enjoyable, accessible and user-friendly. For example, The TGC recently developed technology that allowed NBC Universal to digitally send its TV content to Apple for distribution on iTunes. This eliminated the need to send Apple content on digital beta tapes, a much slower and less efficient method that much of the industry still relies on.
The TGC is also actively involved in a number of interactive television (iTV) projects. Interactivity was incorporated into Olympics programming and was available on Dish, DirecTV and Time Warner Cable. NBCU says “this 1-screen iTV application is the first of its kind to be launched simultaneously across multiple cable and satellite providers. The service allowed viewers to access medal counts, news and athlete bios.”
The TGC has enabled the Same-time Messaging (SMS) and online voting in several NBC Entertainment shows, including Deal or No Deal, which has generated more than 30 million SMS and Web votes.
In broadband, the TGC is leading an initiative to consolidate existing brands on shared technology services. Recent examples include Olympics.com, poker.com and Dogsshow.com.
Additional TGC projects underway include DVD point-of sale activation, forensic watermarking, new peer based distribution technologies, download-to-own technology, DRM standards and automatic closed captioning.
“Today, consumers want to enjoy media any time and any where. The TGC will help fulfill this demand by providing the necessary technology to foster a greater variety of distribution methods,” said Eck. “With Darren leading our efforts, I am confident this will be a successful endeavor.”
“With digital media rapidly changing the way we do business, it is more important than ever to have a coordinated approach to technology across all of NBC Universal,” said Feher. “I am thrilled to be taking on such an important challenge for the company,” he added.