NBC Universal to host its first UK hackathon on its quest for innovation

US media giant NBC Universal is set to host a hackathon in the UK next month in a bid to create new technologies.

The 36-hour event, taking place in London over the weekend of 6-7 June, will give software developers the chance to access SDKs, APIs and platforms used by NBC Universal's technology partners, such as IBM Watson, Oculus and Blippar.

Participants will be be provided with free food and caffeine during the hackathon and one winner will receive a £7,500 prize, while four category winners will be given £1,000 each. More information on those categories can be found below.

The hackathon, dubbed The Future of Content Creation, Distribution, and Monetisation in a Connected World, is being led by NBC Universal's Media Labs division - a new $72 million (£44 million) innovation hub at the US media and entertainment company.

Media Labs is the company's first dedicated division focused on innovation and business acceleration through the use of technology and is being spearheaded by Andrew Jordan, who is the SVP of international operations and technology at NBC Universal.

Jordan told CIO that Media Labs aims to deliver targeted projects that can rapidly incubate solutions that will provide sustained and long-term commercial benefits across all NBC Universal's lines of business.

The hackathon follows an NBC Universal hackathon in Orlando, Florida, that attracted 170 participants and 42 teams from across the US.

Four categories

Words from NBC Universal

1. Gifting Digital Content

Holidays and birthdays just wouldn't be the same without the gift of entertainment. For 40 years, films and TV shows have found their way under trees or wrapped in ribbons, as perfectly matched gifts to elated recipients. The digital revolution has challenged this tradition, and gifting a digital film or gift card lacks the elegance and emotion of its physical counterpart.

Your challenge is to rejuvenate this practice, and make both gifting and receiving content a social interaction that can turn digital bits into physical excitement. Using NBCUniversal content, platforms and software provided by our technology partners, and the APIs of various social networks and digital storefronts, create opportunity for someone to give the perfect gift to a loved one. The key here is ease of use and technical utility. A successful solution will be simple, fun and multi-platform -- allowing the gift giver to buy without knowing what device the film will be download to, because the gift receiver can download the film on a variety of devices.

2. Driving Social interaction Within a Subscription Service

Netflix, Amazon, Blinkbox -- the world is full of subscription video services. But while the content they hold may have mass appeal, and all your friends may be watching it, the experience within the service is a lonely and solitary one. Your challenge is to create social experiences within a subscription video service that help drive audiences to discover and consume more content, to drive return rates, reduce churn and maximise linger time. Think about the techniques employed by other services like Foursquare, Spotify and Facebook to make seemingly solitary tasks exciting, social and inclusive. We used to gather around the watercooler, where do we go now? Let's have that conversation where the content is.

3. Social Transactional and Impulse Purchase

Recommendation engines are seen as the ultimate solution for content discovery, but who knows you better than your friends? Ranking, rating, voting, liking, clicking, watching, sharing and commenting all create data, which can be used to help create a serendipitous meeting of consumer and product that is made even more personal when your friends are involved. This challenge is looking to identify what social triggers can be used to help drive impulse purchase of content on the web. Working with our digital retail partners and social networks, you'll be looking to create purchase journeys that feel unique, competitive, complementary or collaborative, but most importantly, part of a social experience.

4. Next Generation Advertising

As our audiences and customers fragment across a plethora of different platforms and services, they become harder and harder to reach. Traditional advertising strategies, tools and technologies are not as effective as they once were, and consumers are more sensitive than ever to irrelevant, intrusive ads. Your challenge is to rethink the traditional approach to advertising and help us create new experiences that promote NBCUniversal content across digital platforms to millennials and their successors.

Interactive, sharable, user generated, contextual, geo-trageted, hyper-personal and relevant are all words you could be thinking about as you identify key consumer behaviours and activities across social platforms, brand websites and mobile experiences with the aim of using those interactions to drive engagement with our content.

Our content is cool, entertaining and exciting -- our ads should be too!

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