Just a day or so after sealing the deal, new graphics have been pushed to DirecTV Genie boxes at warp speed to update bootup imagery and the screensaver with AT&T branding. Faster even than Verizon can drop DirecTV from their FiOS offerings. If only making NFL Sunday Ticket available to U-verse could be as efficient… (Thanks Joseph!)
Archives For Satellite TV
While TiVo focuses their resources on serving smaller and international television providers, as retail customers defect, the larger US cable and satellite companies continue to crank away on their own compelling in-house DVR services.
Although DISH may have given up some ground in the Hopper’s ability to, you know, actually hop (over commercials) they just completed a nationwide software update that brings one-button access to Closed Captioning and the ability to watch an in-progress “live” show from the beginning should you have gotten a late start and the programming is resident within the On Demand catalog. But way more interesting, given our collective shift in scripted television viewing patterns, is the new Binge Bar (as shown above). Once you’ve finished watching an episode, any remaining episodes on your DVR or in the VOD catalog are presented – as pioneered by Netflix and similar to Comcast’s X1 “Next Episode Suggestion.”
Speaking of Comcast, TiVo has felt free to publicly bash their so-called partner… despite upcoming improvements to that Xfinity X1 HTML5 platform — including deeper Pandora and other “web site integration,” along with a few other features TiVo doesn’t possess. From the Donohue Report:
Its Share2TV app will allow X1 subscribers to stream personal videos recorded on mobile devices with any X1 subscriber in the country. Comcast is also developing an app called Family Point which will allow subscribers to view the locations of family members on TV by tracking smartphones that are connected to X1, and family members will also be able to leave messages through “sticky notes” that will be displayed when a television is turned on.
This probably isn’t the year to buy an Ultra HD TV for that special holiday someone. Despite nearly-reasonable prices ($1400 for this Samsung 55-incher), there just isn’t a lot of 4K content yet to enjoy on a new TV.
However, if you’re dead set on the idea, there’s good news coming at you from DirecTV. The satellite provider has started to deliver 4K content to Samsung TVs that are paired up with the Genie HD DVR. Initially, the 4K catalog only includes nature documentaries along with 19 movies from Paramount Pictures and K2 Communications. But DirecTV says there are “more titles to be announced soon.”
DirecTV also makes a point of noting that it is “the first multi-channel video provider to offer 4K Ultra HD programming direct to customers’ TVs.” Back at CES in January, Comcast said it would launch a 4K app for Samsung TVs before the end of the year, but that’s looking less and less likely by the day. Bet we’ll have more announcements at CES 2015!
After a several years of TV-centric home automation tech demos at CES, Echostar got serious and recently unveiled “Sage” – their “secure” take on the space and presumably targeted to
siblings partners like DISH and overseas providers, versus selling direct to consumers à la Staples Connect or Smarthings.
EchoStar is planning on expanding its set top range firmly into the smart home with the new Sage home controller and device ecosystem. […] The box itself contains ZigBee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth Low Energy and WiFi radios. […] With a single push the UI would pop up onto the screen and shrink the TV picture into the top right quarter. […] The back end architecture is all based on the existing Sling infrastructure that EchoStar already has in place, and there are plans to add the Sage tag to other Dish products.
By way of the TiVo Community and an FCC filing, we learn that TiVo has petitioned the powers that be for access to customers of a combined AT&T and DirecTV – should the merger be approved (now with NFL in the bag). And they do make a compelling argument… including drawing a clever parallel to Ma Bell (which is entirely unrelated to the current entity in anything other than name).
Any FCC action approving the merger of the leading DBS MVPD and the leading IPTV MVPD must require that the merged company comply meaningfully and effectively with existing law, including Section 629’s obligation to support commercial competitive devices.
If the merger is allowed, the merged company, in addition to being the largest MVPD, will be the only MVPD to supply programming and services via both direct satellite and wired transmissions. With its national scope, the new AT&T will in certain respects resemble the original AT&T system — a system that was required to open its network to device competition under the Commission
Further, TiVo doesn’t pull any punches in regards to DirecTV, leading us to wonder if their current partnership has soured in some way. TiVo has previously indicated discontent in regards to DTV’s decision to develop and deploy the prior TiVo experience…
TiVo’s experience with DIRECTV has shown that technical access to programming has not been a stumbling block to the use of retail devices. Device competition has been constrained, instead, by DIRECTV’s business objective of controlling the relevant device market, in a manner contrary to the intent of Section 629 and Commission regulations.
As widely rumored, AT&T has formally announced their intention to purchase DirecTV for $95/share.
This purchase price implies a total equity value of $48.5 billion and a total transaction value of $67.1 billion, including DIRECTV’s net debt.
While this transaction, should it be approved, would result in one of the largest pay television providers, I see it largely as a defensive maneuver on AT&T’s part in an industry where they should be on the offensive with more forward thinking plays as linear television looks to contract. Further, it’ll be interesting to see how DirecTV’s negotiations with the NFL evolve given new ownership, with deeper pockets and potentially broader distribution potential … and if they are granted exclusive rights.