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Cable Technology Feature Article

August 09, 2014

Cable Technology Week in Review

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

This week’s news starts off with TV Everywhere innovation: DISH has announced an update for its DISH Anywhere app on iPad, Android (News - Alert) and Kindle tablets enabling customers to watch and record their favorite content from their smartphones. The update includes modernized user interface with a dark background and colorful thumbnails that make it easier to navigate the app. The app also remembers what viewers are watching and recommends new programs to them, and allows customers to watch and add shows to a watch list. On the hardware front, this app lets customers to control their remote with their smartphone. The app has a built-in DISH remote, which includes the ability to turn a TV on/off, change channels, adjust volume, access the Hopper menu, and set and playback recorded content.

To explore all of the new functionality, please click here.

It’s upgrades like that that No. 2 satellite provider DISH will have to rely on if it wants to stem pay-TV subscriber losses. In Q2, it saw revenue that climbed 5.8 percent to $3.69 billion, just missing analyst expectations. It added 36,000 new broadband subscribers, but lost about 44,000 pay-TV customers. At the end of the second quarter, DISH Network had approximately 14.053 million pay-TV subscribers, up 0.3 percent year over year. Meanwhile, the company had 525,000 broadband subscribers. Even so, the ARPU for DISH customers rose to $84.15, up from $80.81 a year ago, helping quarterly net income come in at $213.3 million or 46 cents per share compared with a loss of $11.1 million or 1 cent per share in the year-ago quarter. That’s a pricing strategy that’s in line with DISH’s ongoing efforts to focus on the higher end of the market rather than a volume approach.

Check out all of the angles in our full analysis.

The Independent Show 2014 commemorated NCTC’s 30th anniversary as a dedicated service to the cable industry. Throughout the event, a major topic of discussion was increasing the push for TV Everywhere. Our guest blogger examines the record amounts of online viewing from IP-connected devices during major sports events in 2014, like the World Cup and Winter Olympic games, and how the adoption of live-streaming is becoming more prevalent than ever before.

Just click here for the rest of the guest blog from Jin Yip Kong, Sales Manager for North America and Asia Pacific for Incognito Software.

Meanwhile, sports lovers rejoice: ESPN and DirecTV have come to an agreement today to include the SEC Network in its lineup once it officially launches on Aug. 14. The SEC Network, ESPN and the SEC’s joint channel, will expand its reach to a whopping 87 million with this agreement, up 27 million from ESPN’s prior carriage deals with other entertainment providers.

The college sports network is dedicated to covering the Southeastern Conference, one of the biggest athletic conferences in the country. Other programs that will be featured are SEC Storied, a show highlighting the history of different institutions and players in the SEC, and a simulcast of the SEC's already popular radio show, The Paul Finebaum Show. Viewers can look forward to the first SEC broadcast on August 28 which will air the match between Texas A&M and South Carolina.

For the whole story, click here.

Justin.tv, which pioneered live video on the Internet seven years ago, has literally been eaten by its young. After spawning Twitch, an online game streaming juggernaut and one of the largest video platforms of all time, the comparatively weak parent company is giving up its resources to help Twitch continue to grow. The writing was on the wall: Justin.tv in February formally changed its name to Twitch Interactive. Twitch, unlike Justin.tv, took off for the long term, and now boasts 1 million+ monthly broadcasters on the service. Twitch racks up 45 million viewers each month, who spend an average of 106 minutes per session on Twitch watching other people play games each day.

According to DeepField, Twitch ranks No. 4 for generating peak Internet traffic, after Netflix, Google (News - Alert)/YouTube and Apple.

The details of the move can be found here.

Just when you thought there was a break in fan-unfriendly deadlock between Time Warner Cable (which bid for the rights to carry L.A. Dodgers channel games) and other potential distributors, sports powerhouse DirecTV waved it off. Pressed by California legislators, TWC agreed to enter binding arbitration to address the problem of its not being able to attract other major local TV providers to license the games for which the cable giant forked out over $8 billion, leaving roughly 70 percent of Dodgers fans in the dark. The arbitration plan was designed largely to get the No. 2 TV provider in the L.A. market – DirecTV – to the table. The satellite TV provider said no thanks, continuing to say the price TWC wants too high for distributors, fans and those with no interest in sports who would end up paying more as a result (see statement below). TWC has not reached deals with Verizon (News - Alert), Charter and many smaller providers either.

Our analyst believes that the Dodgers-TWC situation will only worsen because both TWC and DirecTV are in the process of being acquired by other big players – Comcast (News - Alert) and AT&T respectively.

To read the complete analysis, click here.

Speaking of Comcast, the cable giant has announced it will include up to six months of complimentary service for any new family that has not yet applied for Internet Essentials, it’s low-cost, no-frills broadband offer for the disadvantaged that it agreed to offer as part of its mega-merger with NBCUniversal. In March, as it geared up to makes its case to acquire TWC, Comcast announced the indefinite continuation of Internet Essentials beyond its original three-year commitment. Now, throughout the back to school season, Comcast said that it will actively engage with parents, teachers, non-profit partners and elected officials to help spread the word to low-income families about the program—participants have until Sept. 20 to apply.

For full details on the rollout, click here.

HBO is examining its options to expand the over-the-top (OTT) tactic for programming distribution that it has already taken in the Nordics. The premium network is looking to launch a digital-only, Netflix-like service in places with plenty of broadband infrastructure and not a lot of existing HBO pay-TV business. Candidates could include Turkey and Japan, sources said. It launched its OTT service in 2012 in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, in what was the first move by the premium network to go direct to consumers. Its model has always been to partner with pay-TV distributors, through which it offers subscriptions, and this is unlikely to change domestically or anywhere where it has pre-existing arrangements with cable, satellite and IPTV (News - Alert) providers. But that leaves plenty of room for growth elsewhere.

Read more about the development by clicking here.

And we’ll wrap up with some research: broadcasters and cable operators are migrating from analog to digital networks in an effort to cater to subscribers' growing demand for digital content. With the transition from standard to high definition (HD) and video on demand (VOD) content shifting the focus to interactive, addressable advertising commercials, the global adoption of video and ad insertion servers is set to escalate. That’s according to analysis from Frost & Sullivan, which found that the market saw revenue of $1.32 billion in 2013—a figure that the firm estimates will reach $2.33 billion in 2019.

Taking steps towards regional and targeted ad insertion, which has long been considered a potentially strong revenue generator for broadcasters, will be crucial to perk up demand for video and ad insertion servers. Server providers can also target cable and telecommunication companies that need to upgrade their server solutions to distribute video over multiple media such as the Internet and mobile devices.

For more forecasting and analysis, click here.

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