Archives For Industry

It took years for Cablevision to plow the necessary legal ground for its network-based DVR service. Even once the paperwork was filed, actual deployments didn’t start until January of 2011. However, since that time, the buzz around cloud DVR has ramped up in the cable industry. I’ve been hearing since at least last fall that cable operators are testing out new network DVR solutions and planning to move video recording into the cloud. Now, there’s confirmation of sorts from cable vendor Envivio. Envivio says multiple MSOs in Europe and North America are running lab tests with its Halo network  media processor, which would enable network DVR services.

While I’m hesitant to read too much into news about lab tests (the press release also talks about updates to the Halo platform), the announcement does jive with other activity in the cable industry. Comcast, for example, has invested hugely in building out its network in order to host more content in the cloud for VOD services and TV Everywhere delivery. And there is a concerted effort underway across multiple operators to shift electronic program guides (EPGs) into the cloud for easier and faster interface management. While a better cable UI is in everyone’s best interest, the real motivation for cable operators with these EPGs is the future promise of cloud-based content and service management. When cable can introduce new services – including network DVR – without a truck roll, operators will be in revenue heaven.

Meanwhile, as Steve Donahue at Fierce Cable also points out, Charter’s CEO said last month that it would consider introducing a network-based DVR (which could include TiVo), and Comcast has filed its own patents for network DVR technology.

The big question for the next generation of digital video recording is whether it will be true nDVR, or the hobbled remote storage DVR (RS-DVR) that Cablevision has had to deploy for legal reasons. From an operational and an environmental standpoint, let’s hope it’s the former.

 

75 Minutes To Verizon FiOS

Dave Zatz —  August 28, 2012

fios-external-ont

As the owner of a brand spanking new home, we had the unique opportunity to decide which provider would run cable into our humble abode. After weighing the pros and cons, we selected Verizon FiOS over Comcast Xfinity for both television and Internet services. And, from start to finish, it was the least painful process we’ve experienced in this realm. No hiccups… even the CableCARD pairing went smoothly. Also, at a mere 75 minutes, it was very efficient — handily beating our prior six hour FiOS retrofit.

What follows is the tweet archive of our install:

ZNF regular Chucky shares some satircally exclusive details regarding rumors that Apple has pitched the cable industry

In a stunning anouncement, Apple has reached a deal this morning with almost all US major MSO’s to offer cable service via the magical new Apple TV Pro.

All cable billing for the Apple TV Pro will take place through iTunes Billing, with Apple taking their god-given 30% tax off the top, and an ‘Expanded Basic’ sub priced at $220/month, and HBO at $80/month for consumers.

Eddy Cue of Apple was quoted as saying, “We decided to way to get the MSO’s to get past their iTunes billing objections was to stuff their mouths with gold”.

Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast, was quoted as saying, “That Tim Cook really understands supply chains. This is a great deal for…” Roberts attempted to continue his statement, but collapsed in uncontrollable laughter.

The magical Apple TV Pro will feature live cable TV, AirPlay, and Siri, but no DVR. Tim Cook was quoted as saying, “We think we have the cash to run saturation Sam Jackson and Zooey Deschanel ads to get folks beyond their irrational attachment to the DVR.”

developing… Continue Reading…

The FCC yesterday released its latest pricing data on pay-TV services. In the twelve months leading up to January 1, 2011, the average cost for “expanded basic” service increased 5.4% across the country to $57.46 per month. The price for expanded basic service is defined as “the combined price of basic service and the most subscribed cable programming service tier excluding taxes, fees and equipment.” Oddly, however, the FCC also points out that average costs increased slightly more in competitive communities than they did in non-competitive communities. The difference was 5.7% to an average monthly cost of $58.47 in competitive communities versus 5.2% to an average monthly cost of $56.82 in non-competitive communities.

The findings here are highly counter-intuitive. Why would pay-TV service cost more in communities with reasonable service provider competition?

There’s no simple answer to that question, but there are a few critical things to point out about the FCC data. First, the FCC isn’t including equipment fees in these numbers. Continue Reading…

Super Hi-Vision Ultra-HD 8K camera

Comcast and NBC Universal hosted an Ultra-HD screening of several Olympic sporting events tonight in a nondescript office building not far from Washington D.C.’s Union Station. The second of its kind, tonight’s showcase included women’s swimming, women’s track and field, and the men’s 100-meter dash where Usain Bolt once again earned the title on Sunday night of world’s fastest man. The Ultra-HD video in the Comcast facility streams at 16 times the resolution of a typical high-definition television broadcast. And it was sharp enough tonight to allow those of us in the audience to identify the man who famously threw a beer bottle from the crowd on to the track at the start of Usain’s race.

The Ultra-HD video experience comes by way of a partnership including Comcast, NHK out of Japan, and the BBC. It’s branded as Super Hi-Vision, but the technology is also known more colloquially as 8K HD. There were 4K-resolution streams shown off at CES last January, and at the Cable Show in May, and you can even find limited 4K HD content on YouTube. However, there’s no other place in North or South America where 8K HD viewing is possible. Outside of Washington D.C., you have to go to the U.K. or Japan to see Ultra-HD.

So, is it worth it? Continue Reading…

Google Fiber TV Box set-top

In case you missed it last week, Google announced its new TV service in Kansas City based on a gigabit, fiber-to-the-home network. Leaving aside the broadband component of the offering for this post, the new Google Fiber TV service relies on all-IP delivery (a la AT&T’s U-verse) and high-speed residential connections (a la Verizon’s FiOS) to package up TV in a new Internet-style fashion. Wi-Fi access, Netflix and YouTube are built right in. Everything is searchable (linear, on-demand, app content, etc.) and placeshift-able. And Google is already working on features like a button that lets you “plus one” a show, and the ability to let you tune to a new station from your social stream.

On the gadgety goodness front, Google is proffering a slim DVR Storage Box with two terabytes of storage, even slimmer client TV Boxes with Wi-Fi access points included, and a free (for now) Nexus 7 tablet with remote control application. Brent Evans (aka geektonic) notes that part of the old Sage TV team is also behind the Google DVR, which bodes well for its performance.

Google’s content deals fall squarely in the fair to middling range. The company has negotiated licensing (so far) with nearly all of the broadcast networks and several cable channels like Nickelodeon, Showtime and Discovery, but there’s no Fox, Disney or ESPN, which would be a deal-breaker in my house.

All of which leads me to where Google is headed with Fiber TV. After watching the cable market for years, and recent broadband build-out activity, I can make a few wild guesses… some of which may even turn out to be right.

Prediction #1: Google TV is not about TV

Continue Reading…

I’ve been dreading this day since I first got my ReplayTV in 2001. Time Warner Cable has earned a patent for a method of disabling trick-mode features on DVRs. The tech lets Time Warner block fast forwarding so recorded programming (i.e. commercials) can’t be skipped over.

Time Warner patent prevention of trick mode DVR features

Although the patent was filed back in 2007, the timing of its issue is interesting in light of the new Dish commercial-skipping feature in the Hopper DVR. The broadcast networks have gone lawsuit-happy over the Hopper, and Time Warner’s patent shows them that the cable company wants to back them up. Of course, the desire to block commercial-skipping features, and actual deployment of the technology are two different things. As Steve Donahue points out at Fierce Cable, the likely backlash against such a move by Time Warner would likely have the MSO back-pedaling as fast as it did four years ago when it first tried to institute bandwidth caps. Unfortunately, as with bandwidth caps, even if Time Warner fails at first, that doesn’t mean it won’t try and try again. Continue Reading…