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Cable Technology Feature Article

July 13, 2013

Cable Spotlight Week in Review

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

This week, the cable and video industry was a mixed bag of tricks, but most of them had to do with digital distribution.

First up is Aereo, the Barry Diller-backed Web TV start-up, which is facing a new claim disagreeing with its right to exist. Hearst Stations has filed a lawsuit arguing that Aereo is violating copyright rules by illegally retransmitting the TV signal for its WCVB-TV ABC affiliate in Boston. The $8 per month service, which offers users the ability to watch live feeds from local TV affiliates via the Internet, originally launched in New York City in February 2012, but has since expanded to Boston and Atlanta and has plans for Chicago and several other towns. It’s had its share of legal wranglings—and continues to insist it’s nothing more than a rabbit ears-like over the air service—but has so far prevailed. Will Hearst take it down?

Meanwhile, Canada's largest family owned and operated telecommunications company, Eastlink, has jumped on the TV Everywhere bandwagon with a Rovi-powered iPad application for an enhanced TV viewing experience. “No matter if you have missed out on the special episode of your favorite TV show or cannot remember which of the channels is going to air the latest blockbuster that you longed to watch – the new TotalGuide xD lets you remotely schedule recordings for viewing at a later time and date,” the company said. But in addition, the new app allows you to browse TV listings, explore programs and find what to watch within what it says is a deeply personalized TV viewing experience.

Moves like TV Everywhere are going to become increasingly critical if traditional cable and pay-TV operators want to thwart the disruptors in their midst, i.e. Netflix et al. But an Achilles Heel may just be latent buyer dissatisfaction—a growing “meh” when it comes to paying for cable.  Research company GfK surveyed U.S. households with TVs and found that in 2013, 19.3 percent of respondents had broadcast TV only and did not subscribe to any subscription TV service. That’s a 38-percent increase from 2010, when only 14 percent of households relied solely on broadcast TV. In other words, demand for traditional video subscription products is spiraling downward.

Someone’s always working on how to improve the living room experience though. To wit: TerraEchos has unveiled its first commercial technology, TrueStream Collaborative Video Exploitation and Manipulation (CVEM), which brings together social media and streaming video into one outlet. Users have the ability to watch video; socialize with friends; and interact with the video, all inside the same frame. The technology will be available for closed beta in August 2013. The company feels this is a game-changer (but then, don’t they all?): "After years of working in government solutions with sensor data, TerraEchos kept finding fundamental problems in the way we see and interact with streaming video, which corresponds to all video and social media platforms," explained Dan James, CEO of TerraEchos. "With TrueStream CVEM, we don't intend on being just another technology, but an evolution in communication. The need for added applications, another open window or even a second device becomes insignificant. "

The other thing about digital distribution? Mobile and online video offer brand-new monetization opportunities. And the over-the-top (OTT) folks are so far winning on that score. Rory Maher, a managing director at Hillside Partners, said this week that YouTube's mobile business will generate just under $800 million in 2013 for mobile ads, which is becoming an increasingly important piece of the business. He pointed out that according to comScore (News - Alert) in January 2012, Google wasn't even in the top 10 online video properties in terms of ads viewed, but accounted for 13 percent of all video ads viewed in April 2012 and 18 percent by April 2013. “Google (News - Alert) will continue to steal share of online video as usage moves to mobile where… its app is superior to other online video apps and has the advantage of preferred placement in the Android (News - Alert) OS,” said Maher. That could rapidly track upward, too: eMarketer estimates mobile video will account for $520 million in ad spending in the U.S. this year, or 13 percent of the entire digital video ad market. That’s a triple digit increase from last year.


Speaking of ads, we do have one piece of linear TV news to highlight, and it features an adorable duckling being saved from environmental disaster, as a bonus. Television and video advertising analytics provider Ace Metrix has announced the 10 most effective ads of the second quarter for the U.S., finding that Dawn’s philanthropic “Saving Animals from Oil Spills,” came in at the top of the heap. The ad has the highest scoring of the nearly 1,400 ads scored this quarter. The ad is the second-highest scoring Dawn ad to date, the first being “Dawn Saves the Wildlife” (Ace Score 699), which was introduced in April of 2010.

And that’s it for now. Time to go watch a movie on my iPad--have a great weekend, all!

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