Archives For Broadband

Pioneering Internet streaming service Sling TV has unveiled their upcoming interface refresh from CES. And our pal Brad Linder went hands on. Beyond recent guide presentation updates, the thrust of this transition is functional — with personalization taking center stage.

A new MyTV dashboard collates content you’ve previously flagged as Favorites, Recommended content based on viewership, and any On Demand programming you may have left in progress – so you can pick it up at another time or from another device. Further, On Now is a new customized guide presentation based on what you generally watch and when you watch it. Beyond these changes, Sling has also realized the UI does not need to be consistent amongst devices — what works on a touchscreen up close may not be suitable from a leanback experience. Not to mention navigation conventions vary by platform, say Xbox One versus Roku.

While the new approach does seem compelling and more interactive, at least in regards to Sling’s target millennial audience, it’s likely too visually rich and complex for my mom… who owns two Roku TVs and doesn’t particularly care for Comcast. Perhaps a future update could incorporate a slimmed down, “lite” mode with a more traditional presentation to expand Sling TV’s demographic to include seniors. In any event, Sling expects the multi-platform rollout to commence later this quarter.

T-Mobile’s innovative and contentious video streaming compromise took additional heat this week … when it was disclosed that YouTube, a non-Binge On partner, is being served to customers at 480p by default – irrespective of LTE speed and coverage. As to how many customers noticed the reduced quality on their own or are aware they can opt out of Binge On, we just don’t know.

Google’s YouTube complaint:

Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn’t justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent

And T-Mobile’s response:

Using the term “throttle” is misleading. A better phrase is “mobile optimized” or a less flattering “downgraded” is also accurate.

I assume most consumers are satisfied with T-Mobile’s favorable rates over lesser quality cellularly-served video given the relatively small screens and abundance of WiFi. But it’ll be interesting to see if this runs afoul of FCC net neutrality guidance, should the situation escalate and despite their initial blessing.

To celebrate promote the launch of Sling TV on Chromecast, the companies have quite the promotion running. Existing hardware owners are entitled to two free months of the normally $20/month over-the-top television service. Tho Sling TV has occasional streaming issues and a somewhat uncomfortable interface (that’s being improved), nearly a year later, no one else has managed to launch an equivalent nationwide Internet TV service. So why not check it out… for free?

slingtv-chromecast

Try the Best of Live TV for two months free, with Chromecast. See 20+ channels live including ESPN, AMC, HGTV, and more. No annual contract.

The Google OnHub announcement led to a cacophony of polarizing views regarding this new, unexpected router. And now, after having deployed it within the Miarka house the past 24 hours, my thoughts fluctuate — I love the ease of setup and administration, but find myself perplexed by some of the performance I see throughout the house. Read on for more impressions of Google’s first router as it exists today.

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Continue Reading…

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  May 6, 2015

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Comcast Announces new Xfinity remote with voice control
You don’t have to learn a new language or speak like a robot. Just press the blue button, say what you want to watch and it appears on screen. It’s easy, just like watching TV should be.

JetBlue to Offer Amazon Prime Members Free Wi-Fi to Stream Video
Amazon is taking to the skies in its battle with Netflix: The e-commerce giant announced a deal with JetBlue, under which Prime members will have free, unlimited access to in-flight Wi-Fi — fast enough to stream video right to their seats.

TiVo Survey Indicates Majority of OTA Cord Cutters Come From Satellite
TiVo Inc., a leader in monetizing over the air signals for operators, today released the findings of an in-depth survey of Over The Air (OTA) TV consumers revealing that a materially higher percentage of cord cutters are coming from former satellite TV service subscribers.

Cable companies want you to pay twice for On Demand with Hulu Plus deal
In another sign that operators are increasingly willing to bring over-the-top streaming services directly to their subscribers, Hulu has announced that it has reached agreements with five multichannel operators to offer Hulu’s subscription streaming service to their customers.

verizon-bundles

I’m failry certain we’ll never get to à la carte cable. Certainly not in the next several years… given the current content hegemony that requires channels on certain tiers and/or bundling of multiple properties. Having said that, industry has taken notice as consumers look to exert more control over their content choices and seek more value from their entertainment expenditures. And Verizon announced a new permutation of FiOS… that, interestingly, most closely resembles Sling TV.

Double play plans start at $55/month with both existing or new Verizon FiOS customers choosing the data speeds they want, including the base 34 Custom HD channel lineup, with the possibility to add “channel packs” for $10/pop. Triple play, for voice, is also an option. The new plans do not require a 2-year agreement, as so many other FiOS packages do, but the most interesting aspect is, of course, the ability to more finely tune the stations you receive. Continue Reading…

TiVo Coming To FiOS*

Dave Zatz —  February 26, 2015

frontier-tivo

TiVo has announced a “strategic relationship” with Frontier. And their first phase is quite unique. Whereas TiVo’s prior provider partnerships have exclusively powered cable television solutions, Frontier will be marketing the Roamio OTA to their Internet customers mid-year:

The new partnership will enable Frontier’s high-speed Internet customers to enjoy a consistent TV experience spanning major broadcast channels and over the top (OTT) content via TiVo’s unified cloud-based service, a whole-home gateway DVR, TiVo Mini, TiVo Stream. Multi-screen and remote scheduling functionality will be available through TiVo Web, iOS and Android mobile applications. Frontier customers with high-speed Internet service will enjoy an all-in-one DVR, a broad line-up of over-the-top applications, and a variety of top-tier streaming video services via a high-quality streaming solution.

While Frontier isn’t the first telco/cableco to hedge go after cord cutters and cord nevers with video services (see Cox, Cablevision), they will be the first to offer an over-the-air DVR for subscribers to record broadcast programming, like NBC and CBS, in conjunction with online services like Netflix. With an established customer base, TiVo presumably expects fewer marketing challenges than moving DVRs thru retail along with Frontier obviously anticipating a new revenue stream. Pricing details haven’t yet been released, so we can’t provide a comparison to a retail-acquired Roamio that currently runs $50 for hardware, along with an ongoing $15 monthly fee. Irrespective of cost, install assistance, etc it’s a forward thinking approach… that may not move the needle much for either company – at least not in 2015. Enter the more compelling second phase of this relationship. Continue Reading…

Some people, for example, believe probably incorrectly that we are on a path to interplanetary teleportation. Should we include the estimated bandwidth for that as well?

-FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly