Archives For Broadband

flareWatch Cox with Fanhattan

Cox Communications is piloting an IPTV service in Orange County, California that combines cable television with Fanhattan’s Fan TV set-top and user interface. Todd Spangler at Variety broke the news about flareWatch late last week, and Cox has since confirmed the trial and Fanhattan partnership. Spokesperson Todd Smith says:

Cox is testing a video service with a unique user interface as part of a small trial in our Orange County, California market… We are early in the trial, but expect the product and experience could evolve during the trial based on customer feedback.

The big news here is the fact that Cox is bundling online TV service with a broadband connection rather than tagging it on to a traditional cable package. Beta pricing is listed at only $34.99 per month, and that includes big-name channels like ESPN and Disney.

However, the other interesting angle is Cox’s use of the Fanhattan UI. Forget the sweet little Fan TV box for the moment, Fanhattan has somehow succeeded on the software front where so many other start-ups have failed. It’s gotten a foot in the door with cable, and it’s done so without years of heartache and litigation. (Ahem TiVo, Boxee…)

I like Fanhattan. The TV guide app’s been plugging along since 2011 and getting better along the way. But what makes it so much better than a thousand other video discovery and aggregation apps?

Maybe it’s a case of good timing, or maybe Fanhattan has friends at Cox. Whatever the case, the accomplishment is significant. Fanhattan is playing with the big boys.

comcast-thrones

After taking in the annual Cable Show, what struck me are the increasingly complex relationships – shifting and unpredictable alliances, enemies now friends, competitors snuffed… with the final chapters yet to be written. Much like HBO’s Game of Thrones. Beyond the corporate square dance, there’s clearly increased excitement surrounding TV Everywhere. So head on over to The Verge where I penned an article touching on these topics, including exclusive reveals of TiVo’s forthcoming web portal.

watch-espn

Mari chats with ESPN VP Damon Phillips

The Cable Show has returned to DC and while the NCTA’s annual convention is winding down, our coverage is still rolling in. Mari, who hosted the Navigation Station panel (shown above), is writing under the Light Reading masthead and I’m preparing a story that touches on the cable industry’s complex and evolving corporate relationships with two scoops from familiar faces thrown in for good measure. Beyond that, I’ve got a couple more interesting products/solutions to share in the coming days. But, until then, here’s a sampling of my Cable Show tweets: Continue Reading…

FanTV

Fanhattan has just announced their dramatic transformation from web service into living room set-top.

Fan TV is our answer to the future of TV and our vision – to make engaging with your favorite movies and shows simpler and more magical – realized. Fan TV brings your entertainment life together in one place: Live TV, cloud DVR, and streaming.

Based on the press release and seemingly conflicting coverage, it’s not quite clear if this well-rounded streamer (both figuratively and literally) will be distributed through retail channels or in partnership with service providers. Or perhaps they’re contemplating a hybrid approach as Boxee (via Comcast) and TiVo (via CableCARD) are pursuing. Regardless, we may not find out until later this year when the Yves Béhar-designed, Android-powered Fan TV arrives. And hopefully their fortunes will be more Roku than ZillionTV.

On the design front, the Fan TV sales pitch (embedded below) is mostly compelling with attractive hardware and a pleasant interface – comprised of both live television and video streaming. But, I wonder if their position on the form-versus-function spectrum is out of whack with what looks to be a 100% touch-based remote. The ill-fated Sezmi design decision to do away with numeric buttons wasn’t well received and I found GlideTV unnatural and limiting. But we’ll be ready to take a look with an open mind once Fan TV launches. Stay tuned. Continue Reading…

mediaroom

After failing to gain traction in the US, beyond AT&T (U-verse), or meaningful integration with other business components, Microsoft has decided to simply jettison their Mediaroom IPTV unit:

Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) has reached an agreement with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) to acquire its TV solution Mediaroom business. This will make Ericsson the leading provider of IPTV and multi-screen solutions with a market share of over 25%. Closing expected during the second half of 2013. Mediaroom is situated in Mountain View, California and employs more than 400 people worldwide.

At this point in the game, unloading Mediaroom is the right move for Microsoft…. as the opportunity to merge their IPTV, Media Center, and Xbox platforms came and went years ago. And Microsoft’s current content distribution focus is clearly the Xbox.

Sorry. I don’t get the drama around having an ‘always online’ console. Every device now is ‘always on’. That’s the world we live in. #dealwithit

Microsoft Studios Adam Orth on Xbox 720

Roku-TWC

As promised back at CES, Time Warner Cable’s newest set-top box is a Roku… and the free “Channel”, comprised of up to 300 channels, is now available to all currently shipping Roku devices – which start a mere $50. As you might expect, access to TWC on Roku requires a traditional cable subscription – and supposedly only works in regions served by TWC. However, unlike Comcast Xfinity  or Verizon FiOS TV on the Xbox 360, a TWC broadband account is not required.

Don Wegeng took a look at TWC TV on Roku, and while his initial reaction was disappointment due the lack of On Demand content (compared to the iOS app), he seems pleased overall with the speed of navigating the available live channels and the quality of HD content – once the higher res stream snaps in after a few seconds. However, as you can see from his video walk-thru (below), SD content is rendered with both letterboxing and pillarboxing. Yuck. But, all in all, not a bad first cut. And surely better than every other cable company’s non-existant Roku offering. Continue Reading…