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Samsung Debuts Exclusive ESPN App For Internet TVs

New York -- Samsung Electronics, looking to offer more reasons for consumers to hook their HDTVs to broadband connections, announced the launch of a free interactive app from ESPN available exclusively to users of Samsung's "smart TVs" for one year.

The consumer-electronics company made the announcement at a press event today in the Samsung Experience store in the Time Warner Center in Manhattan.

Samsung also announced a "Free the TV Challenge," offering cash and prizes worth $500,000 to interactive TV developers to "find the most innovative applications for IPTVs, Blu-ray players and Blu-ray Home Theater Systems."

The new ESPN Next Level app, available as a free download through Samsung Apps, provides information on sports events and players in the news; picks of the day's games across major sports; and dispatches on a variety of statistical subjects from Peter Keating, a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine. Samsung and ESPN plan to introduce a ScoreCenter app in the fall of 2010, based on the sports programmer's popular app currently available on mobile devices.

Currently, Samsung is the only TV partner offering an app for Hulu Plus, the Internet TV venture's $9.99-per-month subscription plan that provides access to expanded content on multiple devices. Meanwhile, Samsung said it will soon launch a 3D video-on-demand app to offer sneak previews of upcoming 3D movies.

Today, the company offers nearly 100 apps for its line of Internet-connected televisions and is on track to offer 200 by the end of 2010, said Tim Baxter, president of Samsung's U.S. consumer electronics group.

To support the Free the TV Challenge, Samsung is launching a series of Free the TV Developer Days, where developers will get hands-on demonstrations of the platform, which encompasses Web-based technologies such as JavaScript, XML and Adobe Flash 3.1. The first session will be held on Aug. 31 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, Calif., featuring Pandora founder Tim Westergren.

More information on the contest is available at Apps must be submitted by Nov. 11, 2010, and winners will be announced at CES next January in Las Vegas. The contest will be administered by New York-based startup ChallengePost.

Also Wednesday, Samsung debuted a 65-inch 3D LED TV, the UN65C8000 (list price $5,999), which features a built-in 3D processor and Wi-Fi support, as well as three 3D-enabled plasma HDTVs. The 50-inch 720p Plasma 490 series lists at $1,100 -- with street prices below $1,000 -- while the 50- and 58-inch 1080p-capable Plasma 680 displays list at $1,600 and $2,300 respectively.

In addition, Samsung announced a strategic marketing partnership with IMAX, which will license limited use of its trademark and two 3D films -- Into the Deep and Galapagos -- which will be exclusive for the next 12 months as part of Samsung's 2010 3D starter kit. The manufacturer also has an exclusive deal to offer the 3D Blu-ray version of DreamWorks Animation's How To Train Your Dragon with the start kit, as well as Giant Screen Films' Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs.

The 3D starter kit, which includes two pairs of 3D glasses, will be available starting this fall bundled with Samsung 3DTVs and 3D Blu-ray Disc players.

And Samsung announced the U.S. availability of a portable Blu-ray player with 3D capability, the BD-C8000, which features a 10.3-inch screen -- along with three additional standalone Blu-ray players and three new Blu-ray Home Theater Systems.