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Cable Technology Feature Article

June 14, 2014

Cable Technology Week in Review

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

The melding of traditional TV and over-the-top (OTT) marches on in our lead-off news from the week, about a report that Comcast (News - Alert) is planning to start limited tests for a new hybrid TV service that brings YouTube-like online video capabilities to its X1 cable set-top boxes. The experiment will involve a dedicated app that’s accessible via the STB; and “content creators” can upload their own videos to the server to make them available to viewers. Producers will likely be able to wrap in advertising or use a transactional fee model, but the company is “still evaluating its options.” Professionally produced video will be the focus, the gambit will be a showcase for long-tail Web content and multilingual fare. Taking a streaming video approach allows Comcast to unburden itself from the requirement to monetize less-viewed content via the traditional advertising model.

For more on why this matters, check out our full analysis.

This week also saw the passing of an industry giant. Former Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable Chairman and CEO Glenn Britt, a 40-plus year veteran of the cable industry, passed away at the age of 65. Britt served as TWC's CEO from 2001 to 2013, overseeing the cable company’s transition from a regional television provider to a triple-play operator that stands as the No. 2 MSO in the United States after its 2009 spinoff from Time Warner. It now has $21 billion in revenue and a $40 billion market cap, and is planning a $45 billion mega-merger with Comcast, which is under regulatory review.

Britt announced his plan to retire last summer, Rob Marcus as the company’s next CEO, before stepping down in January. Last October, he revealed that he had been diagnosed with melanoma in 2008, and that it had returned.

Britt also oversaw much uncertainly for the operator in recent times. For the full obituary, click here.

Elsewhere in cable news, CableLabs (News - Alert) announced that it had joined the Multimedia over Coax (MoCA) Association, keeper of one of the many standards for home entertainment networking. The addition of the creator of DOCSIS to its roster as a full contributing member is a vote of confidence for MoCA, which is popular in North America for supporting higher-end multimedia gateways, but has struggled in other markets. Now, as operators in Western Europe and elsewhere are deploying higher-end gateways and set-top boxes with integrated wireless and wired technologies to distribute video to multiple devices in the home, CableLabs’ involvement with MoCA can expand its reach.

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

Moving from Europe to Latin America, Millicom (News - Alert) continues to expand its focus: when it launched Tigo Star in Paraguay in 2014 to support growth in cable TV and entertainment, it was a trusted name that was primarily associated with the mobile phone. Since that launch however, Tigo has made greater inroads into Latin America when the media company launched satellite pay-TV in four more countries. The latest to benefit were Costa Rica and the Honduras. As a result of Millicom’s recent venture, consumers in those regions can now choose from more than 70 channels that provide a variety of entertainment. Four of these channels are reportedly in high definition (HD).

There’s much more to Millicom’s transformation, detailed here.

And finally, a cautionary word: If consumers act on their reported sentiments, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, Cablevision Systems and Cox (News - Alert) Communications will lose a combined $6.9 billion in revenues within a year, according to consultancy cg42. A vast majority of consumers in fact believe that “cable companies are predatory in their practices and take advantage of consumers’ lack of choice.” But do disgruntled subscribers believe they have better choices? Consider this: many say that “there is too little competition among TV and entertainment content providers.”

Read more from our full analysis and get the full study highlights, here.

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

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