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Cable Technology Feature Article

September 20, 2014

Cable Spotlight Week in Review: HBO, Apple, Ericsson, Opera TV and More

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

In an era of Netflix, it has been reasonable to predict that one day a premium cable network would break with precedent and offer content direct to consumers, over the top, and without the requirement to buy that same product as part of a linear, bundled video subscription. Some have predicted HBO would be first to do so, as HBO already does so in the Nordic countries, and has sold its service as an over the top product since 2012.

That logically suggests HBO would be willing to do so elsewhere - where such a tack might make HBO’s owner Time Warner (News - Alert) more money than restricting over the top sales. Time Warner has gradually warmed to the idea of doing so, even in big legacy markets such as the United States, judging by public statements over the past few years. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes indicated recently that the advent of over the top HBO streaming is closer than it has been in the past.

“We’re seriously considering what is the best way to deal with online distribution,” said Bewkes.

To see the full story, click here.

Apple really isn’t used to losing the gadget wars—or any wars, really. But one market it has had a hard time capturing is the over-the-top (OTT) market. In this particular battle, it is Roku that seems to be coming out on top. In fact, the smaller and lesser-known company when it comes to casual gadget-philes just hit a rather impressive milestone. The company has now sold more than 10 million of its streaming players since the device first launched in 2008. The sales number seems to underline that Roku is the king of the hill, when it comes to streaming boxes. The continued expansion of applications that will play on the service, as well as new features, such as the ability to actually play video games is making the streaming content box even more popular.

For full details and analysis, click here.

The tremendous rise in demand for more live content across all connected devices is driving broadcasters of all sizes to evaluate the capabilities of their current live encoding and packaging solutions. According to Frost and Sullivan, cloud-based services offer critical time to market advantages in testing, piloting and deploying new live multiscreen services. In turn, that rapid time to market drives top line revenues that are mostly ignored in TCO exercises. Researchers noted that that the top line increases, together with the bottom line capital expenditure savings, place cloud services in an advantageous place, even for live linear, multi-channel deployments.

Frost and Sullivan's TCO framework revealed various areas that are overlooked in a TCO analysis, comprising personnel costs and costs of upgrading equipment to keep pace with technology—two high cost items.

"Many industries are moving to the subscription-based economy and we have always believed that this approach provides the best solution for content owners and distributors who are ready to embrace the opportunity in live, multiscreen video services," said Jennifer Baisch, vice president of marketing for iStreamPlanet, which offers a cloud-based solution.

Check out all of the details in our full analysis.

Opera Software (News - Alert) has reported significant momentum from U.S. cable TV operators when it comes to introducing the Opera TV Store, and has now added Evolution Digital to the roster. Most of the progress has been made through leveraging TiVo’s (News - Alert) whole-home gateway DVR and multi-room client devices. TiVo and Opera software announced a partnership back in 2013, after which TiVo allowed its programmers develop TV-oriented apps built on a Web technology foundation using Opera's software development kit. The apps themselves run on Opera's browser engine in the DVR and are making it possible for cable network operators using the TiVo system to write apps that draw on a wide variety of Web content.

To find out more about Opera TV’s momentum, click here.

It’s not the ice bucket challenge, but an OTT Gatorade bath that might raise awareness among cable TV providers to imminent problems, as costs continue to soar and while profit margins reach five-year highs powered by gains in broadband services (not TV). Continually citing increasing programming costs as the culprit, cable TV companies continue to pass along costs to increasingly annoyed consumers. This group has grown tired of broadcast, sports and other fees, and has dropped premium channels and packages to move to a far cheaper plan and added OTT, or left cable altogether for Web alternatives such as Netflix. All this is happening while the OTT competitive threat gains traction, ironically, from TV providers such as Dish, AT&T, Verizon (News - Alert) and content owners such as Sony. What are the odds for the different factions at play, at a time when seemingly everyone is throwing their hats in the OTT service ring?

Check out the analysis on all of the players from our columnist, by clicking here.

Ericsson (News - Alert) has been making some waves in the content space, as the deployment of 4G and LTE continues to move forward globally, and operators look to the cloud for a reliable content delivery platform. For one, it has unveiled its new end-to-end cloud-based platform, Ericsson MediaFirst, which will be generally available in Q2 2015. For another, it has purchased Fabrix Systems, provider of cloud storage, computing and network delivery for video applications, to accelerate cloud video delivery for TV anywhere services and applications as it continues to migrate to the cloud.

Offered as a software as a service, the MediaFirst platform recognizes Ericsson's vision for the future of cloud-driven TV experiences where TV is on any device and the experience evolves with the consumer.

The rise of broadband connectivity, cloud services and mobility has brought about a highly disturbed period for the entire TV and media value chain. And with the acquisition, Ericsson looks to extend its TV platform provision with scale out video cloud storage and computing, including cloud digital video recording (DVR) and video-on-demand (VOD).

According to the findings of a recent Ericsson's latest ConsumerLab report, consumers today are rapidly adopting TV services that not only offer ease of access but also personalization with the highest possible quality.

Read more about MediaFirst, by clicking here. Details on the acquisition can be found here.

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

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