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Cable Technology Feature Article

June 06, 2014

Cable Technology Week in Review

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

For cablecos pulling out all the stops to retain subscribers, moving them up to the latest and greatest features and functionality is arguably as important as TV Everywhere strategies, especially in the conspicuous absence of customer reward/loyalty programs in the cable sector. But most cableco TV customers use old gear with older features, minimal software smarts and primitive core capabilities such as alpha-numeric search and program guides. Why aren’t these current customers current on what their provider is offering today? Often these longtime customers are being relentlessly pitched triple play packages and only use – and want - one or two services. Often, they are not eligible for deals aimed at customer acquisition. Or upgrade opportunities haven’t been “explained” to them properly in cableco’s direct mail pieces and TV ads. But arguably, this is the worst policy that MSOs can take in an era of churn and cord-cutting.

Check out our full analysis of why cablecos need to move ‘em or lose ‘em, here.

This is important, considering that consumers are increasingly ditching their cable, satellite or IPTV in favor of cheaper online video options, and it turns out that generally, they’re pretty happy with their decision when they do—even if it means missing major sporting events. "A growing group of broadband consumers are finding that life without pay-TV is not only plausible, but also pleasurable," said Colin Dixon, founder and chief analyst of nScreenMedia. "However, the digital video transition isn't just affecting this select group. With more people watching YouTube (News - Alert) than TV, it's touching just about everyone." The study also found cord-cutting to be a real phenomenon.

Read the full forecast information with percentages, click here.

However, there is some good news for cable TV companies and media networks: People seem to like being able to watch their subscription content on the mobile device of their choice. Like, they REALLY like it. In fact, TV Everywhere initiatives are seeing exponential growth, registering a 246 percent gain year over year, with nearly 21 percent of U.S. households using the technology, according to a report released by Adobe Digital Index. That’s an increase of 31 percent in the last six months. In fact, usage is growing faster than third-party over-the-top (OTT) video streaming services such as YouTube, Hulu and Netflix.

You can read full details and the market forecast, here.

Meanwhile, Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable has made a move to shore up the value of the company’s Internet services by partnering with Boingo, a wireless access provider, which will provide TWC customers with Wi-Fi access in 100 Boingo (News - Alert) locations, including 23 major U.S. airports. The two companies plan to complete a Passpoint-enabled integration later this year so customers can connect seamlessly and securely with their Passpoint-certified devices and account credentials.

There’s much more to the rollout, detailed here.

Also on the broadband front, Portuguese service provider NOS is combining its video and broadband services over a single DOCSIS access infrastructure, aiming to optimize network usage and reduce operational expenses. The company said that four months after the launch of higher-speed broadband tiers, a full 94 percent of NOS Iris subscribers were actively using additional cloud video services. This, in conjunction with growth in general Internet traffic, has created the need for a flexible network approach, the company said. NOS has chosen Cisco’s (News - Alert) Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP), and the Cisco Evolved Services Platform (ESP). The latter provides software orchestration that manages the capacity migration from video into DOCSIS on the Cisco CCAP platform. The result is that NOS will be able to move capacity between video and broadband services.

OTT players are not sitting idle: Despite the success of the Chromecast streaming video dongle, rumor has it that Google is planning to rename Google TV to give it another push. This time around, according to reports, it will be called Android TV, and will be a more robust offering than Chromecast. Initially, will come in set-top format, like Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV (the market’s getting crowded, folks)—but the sources said that ultimately, it wants to be embedded in smart TVs as the middleware for connected television, just like it has already done to date with Google TV. It will also reportedly feature something called Pano, for personalization.  

Read the full details of the rumor, here.

And finally, on the business front: At least so far, equity analysts seem far more unified about the upside from a Comcast acquisition of Time Warner Cable, and possibly a Sprint acquisition of T-Mobile US, than they are of one mind about the value and wisdom of an AT&T (News - Alert) purchase of DirecTV. The thinking is that the Comcast and likely Sprint deals simply increase scale in core business activities. The AT&T deal, on the other hand, puzzles some because it does not help AT&T with spectrum or other on-network assets. In general, necessity and feasibility are issues. Regulators already have signaled that AT&T will not be able to grow any bigger in the mobile business by acquisition, as Comcast would not likely be allowed to get any bigger after acquiring Time Warner Cable. What does that portend for the market in the future?

For the entire breakdown of the deals’ influence on the M&A market, click here.

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

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