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NBCU/Comcast Hackathon Produces a 'Golden Ticket'

NBCUniversal and Comcast have announced the winner of their recent hackathon in London, with the grand prize going to a team that created a “Golden Ticket” to help users gift electronic content with personalized messages and custom animations.

The London hackathon was the fourth one set up by the companies as part of a larger effort to spur innovation and develop closer ties with tech talent and start-ups.

The London event was the first outside the U.S. but like previous events was designed to help the companies address specific business issues, explained Sanjay Macwan, senior VP and CTO of the NBCUniversal Media Labs, with both business executives from NBCU and outside techies attending.

Overall more than 100 people attended the events on June 6 and 7.

In the run-up to the event and during the weekend, Macwan noted that a large share of the Twitter traffic, about 30%, in London about hackathons referred to the NBCU/Comcast event.

Macwan explained that business execs at NBCU/Comcast put together four challenges that they wanted attendees to address. The 100 plus participants formed 25 teams to compete for up to £10,000 in cash and prizes.

The grand prize went to the winner of the "Gifting Digital Content” challenge. In an era were digital downloads and electronic sell-through become more important than physical media, studio executives wanted to find a way to encourage people to continue to give TV shows and movies and to make those gifts as personally appealing as gift wrapping a DVD or Blu-ray.

The team composed of Marcel Goga, Glen Cooper, Dean Bryan, Piotr Klarowski, and Peter Mechelsen came up with the "Golden Ticket" concept that encourages electronic gift purchases by allowing users to wrap digital content in a personalized message.

Winners were also announced for three other challenges.

NBCUniversal International Digital Distribution’s challenge relating to "Social Transactional & Impulse Purchase" was won by the team that came up with a “@suggest_movies” concept. It uses Twitter to allow for easy social media recommendations and purchases.

Another challenge from NBCUniversal International Digital Distribution involved "Driving Social Interaction Within A Subscription Service." That category was won by the "Lounge" concept, which allows subscribers to interact, leveraging live event and social functions, while watching movies with friends.

Finally executives from Universal Pictures proposed a "Next Generation Advertising" challenge, which was won by the "DiscoVR" concept. It uses Oculus to allow users to consume content within a virtual marketplace.

In addition to the development of new ideas, participants and start-ups were given an opportunity to pitch their ideas to NBCUniversal Media Labs, which was set up last year to spur innovation.

Macwan noted that they were also able to meet with a number of promising developers and engineers that might be recruited to the companies.

The overall theme of the hackathon was “The Future of Content Creation, Distribution and Monetisation in a Connected World."