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Cable Technology Feature Article

August 31, 2013

Cable Technology Week in Review

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Go ahead: sound the death knell for cable. Colin Dixon (News - Alert), nScreenMedia founder and chief analyst, says he is confident that over the top TV subscriptions will succeed in displacing traditional cable, satellite and telco TV services. The simple fact is that such over the top services have huge operating cost, capital cost and marketing cost advantages and can offer better features. But so far, direct to consumer is not a tack programmers have been keen to adopt. There are signs that times are changing, though: Netflix and HBO launched direct-to-consumer video streaming services in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland in 2012. For HBO, it was the first time the company had launched a direct-to-consumer video streaming service without the partnership of a cable TV operator or other distributor.

With cloud-based services and over-the-top (OTT) content continuing to make a home for itself inside the hearts and minds of consumers and businesses alike, the video service market is making some moves of its own. Content delivery network (CDN) providers are looking to add scale and broaden their functionality via consolidation and acquisition, according to ABI Research (News - Alert). The primary driver for the market shift is CDN behemoth Akamai, which has increased its market share of the media and entertainment-focused cloud video service market to nearly 30 percent this year, up from about 27 percent in 2012. And all of its rivals have less than approximately 5 percent of market share, ABI said. They essentially will have no choice but to consolidate to stay viable.

Meanwhile, TiVo is bumping up the over-the-top proposition for its set-tops and its pay-TV operator clients via technology integration with Opera Software (News - Alert). Pay-TV operators who are shipping the just-announced TiVo Roamio devices will be able to offer HTML5 apps and content to their consumers through the Opera TV Store, by writing made-for-TiVo apps using the Opera Devices SDK. The first apps should appear by early next year, TiVo said. In 2012, more than 25 million connected TVs and devices shipped with the Opera Devices SDK, and the Opera TV Store has shipped on tens of millions of devices globally. The new Opera TV Snap, a tool to convert online videos into connected TV apps, is expected to bump up usage even further.

Twitter (News - Alert) still believes in linear TV: the social service is acquiring Trendrr to better understand the intersection between television, Twitter engagement and activity, and advertising implications. Trendrr analyzes data from social media sites for networks, television studios, brands and media agencies to give them insight into how second-screen behavior works. Company clients include ABC, MTV, Telemundo and Univision. Curatorr, the company’s Twitter-certified product, will continue to work with media companies, marketers and display ecosystem partners to focus on the real-time aspects of TV and media. For Twitter, the acquisition could give its advertising efforts a big shot in the arm.

And there’s one area where the streamers just can’t compete, and you know what it is. With the NFL regular season fast approaching, members of the content food chain are employing divergent plans to best deal with soaring costs and sore pay-TV subscribers as carriage fees continue their climb for what represents the last bastion of appointment TV: live sports. Bob Wallace examines what it all means to the fluid video distribution ecosystem, including content owners, advertisers, operators and others in this analysis. He noted that NBC’s Sports Network and Fox Sports 1 are clear examples of how broadcasters have decided to handle soaring costs that have driven many to what appeared to be a content cliff late last year.

We’ll wrap up with something entirely different, in the form of some observations about TV white spaces, on a global basis, drawn from talks at the Super Wi-Fi and Shared Spectrum Summit. Gary Kim (News - Alert) noted that we are at a stage of experimental licenses, not commercial potential. And right now, though regulators in Canada, the United Kingdom, Singapore and the United States have announced plans to open up use of TV white spaces spectrum for communications applications, nowhere has any regulator yet approved widespread operations on a commercial basis. But potential use cases range from backhaul for mobile service providers to wireless ISP access operations. And some are very encouraged about potential for TV white spaces to function as an affordable way of providing Internet access to billions of people with no access.

Now, go forth and stream! And have a great weekend!

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