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Cable Technology Feature Article

April 26, 2014

Cable Technology Week in Review

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Online streaming video company Aereo has finally had its day in court—the Supreme Court, that is—this week, and so far the outcome is far from clear. Several Justices asked tough questions, and both sides offered compelling arguments. Whichever way the judgment falls, it will have definite consequences for the future of the cloud marketplace and over-the-top (OTT). Aereo retransmits local broadcast signals via the Internet for $8 to $12 per month, but doesn’t pay retransmission fees to broadcasters because, it says, it should be seen as an over-the-air (OTA) service, using the modern-day equivalent of rabbit-ear antennae. Broadcasters of course see this as copyright infringement. The Justices seemed a bit skeptical when oral arguments were presented on Tuesday. “It looks as if somehow you are escaping a constraint that’s imposed upon [other companies]. That’s what disturbs everyone,” said Justice Stephen Breyer. Find out more, here.

The case is timely considering that streaming video—and more specifically mobile video—is on the rise as consumers are increasingly watching streamed or downloaded video when and where they want. According to Experian Marketing Services, as of October 2013, 48 percent of all U.S. adults and 67 percent of those under the age of 35 watch streaming or downloaded video during a typical week, up from 45 percent and 64 percent, respectively, just six months earlier. That popularity of cross-device video streaming has led to a demonstrable rise of cord-cutting, said the firm.

Speaking of OTT, Netflix is getting just that much closer to the HBO model by extending its partnerships with pay-TV providers, including Atlantic Broadband, Grande Communications and RCN. Echoing deals it has in place in the UK with Virgin Media and in Germany with Com Hem (News - Alert), customers of these domestic operators who also have subscriptions to Netflix will be able to watch Netflix through their existing TiVo set-top boxes. The Netflix App could be available as early as April 28.

Also, FilmOn Networks, a free online TV service and live TV app with 40 million downloads, has acquired CineBx Library, which has 40 other collections including Allied Entertainment, A1 Entertainment, Four Star and HanVideo. Together, these collections include over 10,000 films and 10,000 hours of historical television footage. “Our global audience of tens of millions of users has made it clear that they want more and more quality content to be available on FilmOn,” said Alki David, CEO of FilmOn, which offers over 600 live TV channels including original programming, 600 video and audio podcasts from premium brands. The company also has over 90,000 video on demand titles at FilmOn.com and other destination sites online, including BattleCam.com.

Elsewhere in digital distribution, Infosys and Orange (News - Alert) have entered into a strategic partnership to aggregate multiple content players in the digital value chain to enhance television viewer experience and generate new revenue opportunities for service providers. Infosys (News - Alert) will offer a portfolio of interactive TV apps on the Orange Livebox Play to provide an immersive experience. The TV apps will be powered by Infosys DigitizeEdge which is an integrated, cloud-based digital asset and experience platform used by TV operators, media companies, advertisers and content publishers.

Pay TV had some significant news this week as well. No. 1 cable MSO Comcast (News - Alert) has managed to claw its way out of the cable churn bucket, adding basic video subscribers for the second consecutive quarter. Meanwhile, Bloomberg is reporting that Comcast is close to a deal to sell 1.5 million subs to Charter Communications (News - Alert) (News - Alert), with plans to spin off another 2.5 million into a new, publicly-traded company in which Charter will have a minority stake. In all, Charter is expected to pay $20 billion in total and give 275,000 L.A. subs to Comcast, which stands to dominate the L.A. market should regulators sign off on its $45 billion deal to acquire Time Warner Cable, as part of an asset swap.

And, TiVo has a new look at time-shifted primetime TV viewing from TiVo, studying what was watched between four to seven days after a program's live airing (Live+4 to Live+7), has revealed large increases in commercial viewership when the ratings windows are increased beyond the three-day mark. It’s a finding that could have ramifications on advertising models going forward. The analysis, covering a wide range of networks and programs, revealed exact second-by-second program and commercial rating increases from five to 17 percent by extending the measurement window to four to seven days after broadcast. For instance, looking specifically at the commercial rating for ABC's Modern Family, TiVo Research saw an increase of 10.9 percent by adding viewership from four to seven days after the telecast.

To check out more details on all of this and more, visit our homepage. And have a great weekend!

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