Archives For Broadband

LG SP530 product image

Lost in the Chromecast news yesterday was an announcement from LG and Entone on a new media streamer coming to retail. In itself, the streamer isn’t all that exciting. But pair the box with Entone’s 8-tuner gateway and you have a very interesting proposition for retail or the ISP channel.

To start, the streamer is called the LG SP530 Media Player, and it supports OTT services like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube via LG’s Netcast platform (no WebOS in this one). The Media Player is the only Entone box LG is bringing to market now, but there is an option for LG, or any other CE player, to pick up Entone’s Magi media gateway as a partner product as well. The Magi gateway can receive content from over the air and from a cable network, and it can transcode video and stream it back out to any connected device.

Think of the deployment scenarios.

At retail, a combination of the gateway and streamer would give us OTT and OTA video all in one interface. MSOs could ultimately add their own apps like with the Xbox and Roku… or not. And we’d be able to watch video on a TV, tablet, or PC interchangeably.  Continue Reading…

Netflix exec talks historic Emmy nominations and the company's future

A World Without CableCARD

Dave Zatz —  July 17, 2013

cablecard

The CEA, TiVo and Public Knowledge continue to hammer the FCC, due to the government agency’s bungled Charter waiver, and appeal to the body that “its regulations be reinstated.” Some choice quotes:

By misreading the law, the FCC took away your ability to buy alternative set-top boxes like Tivo and Smart TVs. We think that’s wrong. (Public Knowledge)

The Bureau’s Order, like the Charter Request, deals in assumptions and hopes rather than in facts. The Commission cannot let stand this nullification of law and regulation, without process or public comment. (CEA)

By vacating these rules, the Court created an unhealthy amount of uncertainty in the industry — uncertainty that harms innovation and competition as well as settled consumer expectations. (TiVo)

Due to a variety of factors we won’t rehash, beyond TiVo, CableCARD and retail cable set-top boxes have never really taken off. And even TiVo’s market penetration is suspect. I reached out to the NCTA and was informed there are about 600,000 CableCARDs currently deployed (plus Verizon FiOS). So that’d include TiVo hardware, Windows Media Center, and any legacy smart TVs that support the tech. It also encompasses households with multiple cards, as the TiVo Series 3 requires, and to serve folks with multiple devices — meaning there’s something less than 600k active CableCARD homes. Now, that’s not necessarily a number to scoff at. But it pales in comparison to tens of millions pay TV subscribers and burdens cable with additional infrastructure and support costs – including 40 million+ set-tops they themselves provide with CableCARDs.

We rarely shed tears for big cable and have been TiVo proponents for many years, yet it’s an interesting exercise to imagine a post-CableCARD era where Section 629 is met by iPad, Roku, Xbox, and Apple TV. Discuss.

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…