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CableCARDThe National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) has provided a CableCARD status report to the Federal Communications Comission. For the most part the association documents the adoption rate, consumer costs, rate of incidents, and other metrics of current CableCARDs amongst the top cable providers. However, the more interesting news is the status of CableCARD 2.0 on track for 2006 deployment. The current CableCARD tecnology provides the ability to decrypt and display digital cable without the need of a cable box, whereas the CableCARD 2.0 spec allows for both multistream (for dual tuning DVRs) and bidirectional communication (interactive program guide, Pay Per View, and Video On Demand). Initially, only multistream 2.0 CableCARDs will be released with bidirectional functionality following in only  another year or so if we’re lucky.
Tivo has promised a HD-capable DVR with CableCARD support next year.

NCTA says: The Commission asked for a report on the “effort to develop and deploy a multistream CableCARD.” We are pleased to present the following information in response to that request. The specifications for Multistream CableCARDs and the Multistream CabelCARD interface are complete. The “M-card” will operate in a backwards compatible, single-stream manner with single stream devices (for example, in a UDCP); or in the multi-stream manner with multi-stream devices. See CableCARD Interface 2.0 Specification OC-SP-CCIF2.0-I02-050708, http://www.opencable.com/specifications/. Pre-Qualified samples of the multistream CableCARD will be submitted to CableLabs for preliminary testing in the fourth quarter of 2005, with the expectation of full testing and qualification early in 2006. It is expected that multistream CableCARDs will be widely available for use in commercially available commercial devices by mid-2006.

DishWith the proliferation of satellite TV and DVR services, tracking viewing trends has become more difficult and less precise. To collect more comprehensive data Nielsen announced a partnership with Dish Network today, in addition to their preexisting DirecTV/Tivo trial.

Dish says: EchoStar Communications Corporation (NASDAQ: DISH) and its DISH Network satellite TV service today announced that it has signed an agreement with Nielsen Media Research for national TV ratings service. Nielsen, the leading provider of television and audience measurement services, measures the viewing habits of TV homes including DISH Network’s estimated 11.4 million customers. The deal will allow DISH Network to use Nielsen Media Research data for marketing, programming and sales research purposes. DISH Network can use the data from Nielsen to guarantee advertisers a specific number of viewers for their advertisements.

Rent My DVREarlier this year Micke Langberg launched Rent my DVR, an online marketplace to buy and sell television programming. By scanning a web listing of television shows, one chooses what they’d like to receive. If a request is filled, the show can be downloaded for about 25 cents through a custom “P2P” application. Conversely, a person can scan open television show requests and agree to provide them. The provider receives payment of also about 25 cents upon delivery of a show. Langberg, based in Sweden, is vague on the technical details such as networking protocols used and the source of guide data.

When asked about the legality of his product, Langberg responded, “I can’t see that there should be any legal concerns related to our service, since it is exactly the same thing as asking your neighbor to record a TV show for you.” While he was adamant that BitTorrent plays no part in the equation, I can’t help but wonder where shows originate.

Verizon Flips FiOS TV Switch

Dave Zatz —  September 22, 2005

FiOS TVFiOS TV has gone live in Texas with a huge selection of digital channels and VOD at very competitive prices. Verizon plans to expand service into Florida, California, and Virginia later this year. FiOS TV uses Verizon’s fat pipe fiber optics to provide IPTV via a set-top box.

Verizon says: FiOS TV subscribers will enjoy 100 percent digital programming, as well as access to a large selection of video-on-demand content. Expanded Basic delivers more than 180 video and music channels for $39.95 a month. This tier includes access to 600 on-demand titles now, with 1,800 by year end. This service requires a standard-definition set-top box or a high-definition set-top box for HD channels. Verizon offers three set-top boxes: standard definition for $3.95 per month; high definition, which includes HD channels, for $9.95 per month; and a digital video recorder set-top box with HD channels for $12.95 per month.

FiOS TVVerizon’s FiOS TV has only been approved in a handful of jurisdictions, but that hasn’t stopped them from moving forward with content deals. Today Verizon inked a major agreement with Disney.

Verizon definitely needed ESPN to compete with traditional cable providers and satellite TV… And now they can – ssuming they get cleared to provide television service in more regions. Oh how I dream of the day that I can dump Comcast.

Verizon says: Under the agreement, Verizon will carry 12 television services on Verizon FiOS TV’s expanded basic, including ABC Family, ABC News Now, Disney Channel, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD, Toon Disney and SOAPnet. Verizon will also be granted retransmission consent of ABC’s owned and operated television stations as part of the agreement.