Archives For Industry

Verizon Fiox Media Server concept from Motorola

Now that the industry has come to grips with the fact that consumers want to watch TV on multiple screens, there’s growing momentum behind video gateways. (Gateways combine regular television with IP video, and allow users to share content across a home media network.) The big winner to date has been the Arris six-tuner super box, with customers including Shaw, Wide Open West and BendBroadband. However, there’s new confirmation that Verizon plans to launch a Motorola gateway, dubbed the FiOS Media Server, in the coming months.

I hear it’s likely we’ll only see a managed field trial of the Media Server before the end of the year, but at least Verizon is moving in the right direction. After early talk of porting FiOS TV to mobile devices, we’ve had precious little action from Verizon on the mobile access front. The new Media Server isn’t likely to allow placeshifting outside of a subscriber’s home network, but frankly I’d love just to be able to watch an NFL game on my iPad out on my porch, or upstairs while sorting the laundry.

As for what we know about the new box (which Dave first wrote about last December), it reportedly has six tuners and one terabyte of storage. There is an eSata port, but no word on whether that will be enabled or not. There’s also the ability to transcode up to four video streams for playback on different mobile devices.

Does Aereo Have a Back-Up Plan?

Mari Silbey —  September 17, 2012

Broadcasters aren’t giving up on shutting Aereo down. A new court brief filed on Friday has several programmers fighting a judge’s ruling this summer that Aereo is legally in the clear (for now) to continue operating. The new filing claims that the ruling ignores an existing statute which requires licensing payment “whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or different times.”

We’ve always known that Aereo has an uphill battle ahead of it, but one thing that’s occurred to me more recently is that the company may have a back-up plan. CEO Chet Kanojia was the star speaker at last week’s Multichannel cloud TV event, and I had a chance to ask him afterward if Aereo is working on an alternative business model in case the current one doesn’t work out. Kanojia was adamant that the company is only focused on the here and now, but he also agreed that there are other applications for Aereo’s technology. Personally, I wonder if Aereo’s tiny antennas and transcoding tech could be repurposed for something other than just broadcast content. The entire TV delivery system is changing after all. Could Aereo help other TV service companies move to a cloud-based distribution model?

It’s also interesting to note that Kanojia has serious street cred in the cable industry. He worked with Time Warner Cable on its Maestro solution. Maestro didn’t pan out, but Cablevision picked up the idea and ran with it for its RS-DVR service. So Kanojia is no stranger to this space.

5 phones walk into a bar…

Dave Zatz —  September 6, 2012

In case you missed it, a gaggle of smartphones was introduced yesterday — a trio of Motorola RAZR Android devices, and a pair of Nokia Windows Phone Lumia handsets. And they generally look pretty good (although it is somewhat perplexing that a Google-owned company can’t deliver the latest Google software). But without a single release date in sight, you have to wonder if these showy displays were simply meant to head off Apple’s iPhone 5 announcement next week.

From Moto’s press release

  • “available before the holidays”
  • “More details on timing and pricing will be made close to availability dates.”

From Nokia’s press release

Both phones will be available in pentaband LTE and HSPA+ variants and are expected to start shipping in select markets later in the year. Nokia will announce pricing and specific roll-out dates country by country when sales are due to begin.

Compare that to Apple’s likely approach of providing international pre-orders along with their product unveiling. Of course, being first to market doesn’t make you best. Just ask Apple who was arguably late to the smartphone party. But it seems no other company is in their league when it comes to launching a product. Continue Reading…

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


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…