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Cable Technology Feature Article

July 19, 2014

Cable Technology Week in Review

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

The popularity and demographics of a television program are often based upon ratings determined through statistics gathered on those who tune in to the program. This information is vital for television stations and producers in order to decide on when and what programs should be aired, along with what type of advertisements should be played during airtime. Unfortunately for Nielsen, the company that has been gathering these ratings for decades, mobile devices have recently thrown a wrench into their data collection system.

Social media giant Facebook (News - Alert) is partnering with Nielsen to track data from mobile users about the shows they watch and provide the measurement company with viewership information. The idea is to get a better picture of second-screen behavior and social TV activity, to correlate with more traditional ratings approaches. The data will be fully anonymized and privacy-protected, the companies said; Nielsen will collect demographics like age and gender in aggregate, not linked to a particular account, and the tracked TV shows will be given to Facebook as code numbers, making for a double-blind strategy.

Check out all of the angles in our full analysis.

After seeing satisfaction in Aereo’s failure to win favor in the US Supreme Court, FOX has been handed a defeat in its bid to tear down DISH Network's Slingbox-based DISH Anywhere offering on the same grounds. Aereo provided local affiliate feeds via the Internet for $8 per month, but failed to pay retransmission feeds. DISH uses the Slingbox technology and a side-loading feature called Hopper Transfers to give its satellite subscribers access to content already stored on their DVRs, from essentially anywhere. FOX lawyer Richard Stone argued to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that both companies give consumers digital access to content without permission—and should be considered the same as far as Copyright Act violations go. The court disagreed however, upholding a lower court ruling in which a federal judge refused to grant a preliminary injunction against the DISH Anywhere service.

To find out more about the implications of the decision, click here.

In M&A news, Comcast has purchased PowerCloud Systems (News - Alert), which makes the popular Skydog Wi-Fi router and a corresponding app that lets users control broadband usage within the home zone. It’s not a mega-merger but it has interesting ramifications. Tyson Marian, a strategic development executive for Comcast, told Venture Beat that Comcast will use the intellectual property to build smart home products that let broadband subscribers manage all of their IP devices and track usage, along with security implementations. The connected home strategy positions the cable giant for a big revenue opportunity, and some say that Comcast could even use the technology to move out of footprint, perhaps in a wholesale model.

For full details and analysis, click here.

Speaking of mergers—attempted ones, anyway—a rejected $80 billion bid by 21st Century Fox to buy Time Warner (News - Alert) signals that the media company is “in play.” Despite the rejection, other potential bidders now will have to evaluate whether their own bids to acquire Time Warner might now be on the agenda. And though the list of potential bidders would include other big media concerns, it sometimes happens that friendly overtures, if rebuffed, develop into hostile takeovers—so 21st Century Fox might craft another offer.

One apparent Time Warner concern was the “non-voting shares” its shareholders would have received as part of the original proposal, 21st Century Fox might try to create another deal that sweetens other parts of the bid, even if the non-voting shares issue is not modified.

It’s worth noting that a big deal by a major content company to buy Time Warner will add to the heap of recent big potential acquisitions—AT&T’s bid to buy DirecTV (News - Alert) and Comcast’s effort to buy Time Warner Cable are being weighed by the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice; and regulators might soon also be weighing a Sprint attempt to acquire T-Mobile (News - Alert) USA.

Read more about the mega-merger landscape, by clicking here.

Turning to consumption habits, TransGaming, the smart TV gaming pioneer, has launched its GameTree TV cloud gaming service on VIZIO smart TVs. The 2014 M-Series and E-Series Vizio televisions offer Internet Apps Plus, through which the gaming app can be accessed. Users can now play games on their television screen without needing a game console or a connected mobile device, and can also access on-demand games.

Read more about this move, here.

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

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