Archives For Satellite TV

EchoStar Licenses Tru2Way

Dave Zatz —  August 12, 2008

Guess that DOCSIS 2.0 cable modem with integrated Slingbox functionality we unveiled at CES was just the beginning… EchoStar (split from DISH Network) has just licensed Tru2Way – the evolution of the CableCARD experience.

solidified its commitment to providing innovative products and technologies to the cable industry with its recent signing of the tru2way™ Host Device License Agreement with CableLabs®. This agreement grants EchoStar the rights required to implement OpenCable™ Application Platform (OCAP™) middleware and the CableCARD™ interface on devices using tru2way technology, allowing users to take full advantage of two-way, interactive cable services.

I get the sense that EchoStar would initially target MSO (cable-co) customers with set-top box technology, though a direct-to-consumer retail play may not be out of the question. As far as DVR interfaces go, I’d say the current EchoStar boxes beat many of the existing cable boxes in usability and functionality. Though, it’s yet to be seen how/if a new player would be welcomed into the fold.

Not much to say on this one, but DISH did provide me a purty image to accompany the expansion of their interactive advertising platform. Basically, television service provider on-demand advertising is here to stay (Comcast, TiVo, DISH)… Their goal really isn’t to be unobtrusive, so we can forget that. However, I’m hopeful it remains tastefully implemented (like TiVo’s thumb bug, unlike their Now Playing ads) and that interactivity will provide advertisers a platform for more entertaining campaigns. And I’ll continue to watch as many movie trailers as they throw my way.

Building on its efforts to reinvent the way audiences experience content and advertising, MTV Networks, a unit of Viacom, is partnering with Cadbury, the makers of Sour Patch Kids soft & chewy candy, and DISH Network Corporation to launch its first-ever advertiser-supported interactive television campaign. iTV voting and polling presented by Cadbury’s Sour Patch Kids will be enabled during The N‘s all-new reality series, “Queen Bees,” which premieres Friday, July 11 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT. The campaign will be available exclusively in DISH Network homes nationwide.

Similar to TiVo’s “Thumbs Up” advertising, DISH Network customers will shortly be presented with interactive ads from NBC. However, instead of DISH driving advertising sales it appears that the network will leverage their existing advertisers to broker deals and/or as a means of driving traffic to their own TV properties. From the press release:

NBC Universal [14 networks] will offer the ability to purchase advertisements with interactive trigger capabilities as a way to enhance their campaigns on NBC broadcasts delivered through DISH Network’s satellite service. The interactive triggers allow viewers to select an icon displayed during a commercial that will take them to a page to obtain more information about the advertiser. When finished, viewers are returned to their programming at the exact place they exited. The advertiser information page may contain details about a product, service or more. NBC will also be able to provide advertisers with detailed reports about viewer participation with DISH Network’s interactive products

Disclosure: I’m employed by Sling Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of EchoStar, which is a DISH Network hardware and service provider. I’m also a frequent Starbucks customer and Last100 reader. No animals were harmed in the writing of this post. I give thanks to Al Gore for blessing us with his bountiful series of tubes.

Dish Team Summit Tweets

Dave Zatz —  May 18, 2008

Here’s the round-up of my Dish Team Summit Nashville trip tweets (with pics) over the last few days (minor edits for accuracy) in chronological order:

  • Forgot to print Southwest boarding pass last night, now stuck in mid-B group. Should be good enough for an aisle, but open seating is weak. (5/14)
  • Downloading Deadliest Catch via TiVoToGo for flight. Hope it finishes transferring before I need to leave. (5/14)
  • Firing up Deadliest Catch (TTG) and off to Nashville. (5/14)
  • Building booth @ Dish Team Summit, Nashville http://snipurl.com/28yn6 (5/15)
  • Popcorn Hour media tank @ the breakfast table. http://snipurl.com/28z8p (5/15)
  • Hootie, Blowfish, and crappy iPhone camera @ Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. http://snipurl.com/292qp (5/15)
  • Gaylord Opryland Resort Internet is horrible. Both hardwired and WiFi feel like dialup. Sprint EVDO card struggling too. JoikuSpot next? (5/16)
  • TR40 renamed DTVpal and shrank 50% – http://twitpic.com/14i3 (5/16)
  • Not only do I write, I can even speak – http://twitpic.com/14kd (5/16)
  • D-link’s MoCA networking and media gear – http://twitpic.com/14o2 (5/16)
  • Western Digital now offering USB Dish My DVR Expander (in addition to TiVo eSATA drives) – http://twitpic.com/14qj (5/16)
  • Dish Network STB TV2 output getting UHF->IR converter. (Slingbox!) – http://twitpic.com/15xc (5/17)
  • SatelliteGuys.us host Charlie Ergen Q&A – http://twitpic.com/16jn (5/17)
  • Too tired for The @CableShow, so most definitely leaving Nashville for home tomorrow. Expect pics & news on EngadgetHD and from @msilbey (5/17)
  • Weak. Nashville Airport Security sponsored by Zappos.com – http://twitpic.com/175k (5/18)
  • Wiis in stock at airport. ONLY as a $500 bundle. I’m calling Miyamoto to complain. – http://twitpic.com/176d (5/18)

While relations between DirecTV and TiVo have thawed (extended pact, do-not-sue agreement, software update), there doesn’t appear to be much momentum based on comments made during DirecTV’s earnings call:

I think we continue to see a few things — I think we have a constructive relationship. We are not doing a lot in all honesty but I think we have an honest dialog that I think is sincere about seeing if there are things that make sense for us. I mean, at our core, the heart of our business is going to continue to get driven by set-top box technologies we’ve developed that are at the core of the — as we launch VOD and whole home solutions and broadband connectivity and all these things, they are all tied into set-top box software that is deployed and operated by us. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things we can do with TiVo and if we can find a way to crack it, I think we’ve always been open to an intelligent relationship if there was one.

No mention of DTV’s ReplayTV IP play

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Bear Stearns is out with a new report today suggesting DirecTV (DTV) may warm to the idea of renewing ties with TiVo under Liberty Media’s ownership, leaving Murdoch’s NDS venture behind. Or perhaps choosing to upsell a TiVo solution.

We believe the new DTV management may be more amenable to renewing a relationship with TiVo. The TiVo HD-DVR offers several advantages over the NDS DVRs, including better user interface, wireless access can provide quasi-VOD service, ad revs would be incremental, and TiVo’s HD-DVR is already cheaper than NDS’ HD-DVR.

Though there haven’t been any recent DirecTV TiVo hardware introductions, the two companies are currently collaborating to support existing DirecTiVo customers. And while both camps have a reciprocal do-not-sue clause in effect, DTV’s recent acquisition of ReplayTV‘s intellectual property muddies the issue – and could give them leverage in negotiating terms. We shall see…

Super Bowl Party Disaster

Brent Evans —  February 5, 2008

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When I host a Super Bowl party the things I usually worry about is having enough food, making sure my TV and audio are in working condition and there is enough seating. What else could go wrong?

Picture this. You have a group of people coming over to watch the most watched game of the year – the Super Bowl game on your home theater, projection screen system. Everything is going well, the pre-game is on in the background as people are arriving and all of the sudden the channel goes black. No picture, no sound nothing. You frantically check all the other channels which are all fine. After almost an hour a message finally appears on the screen telling you they are experiencing technical difficulties…

kfta.jpg That’s pretty much as close to a Super Bowl party disaster as you can get and it really happened to thousands of viewers in Northwest Arkansas and Southeastern Oklahoma Dish and DirecTV subscribers due to a software glitch at Arkansas FOX affiliate KFTA.

My Dad called to ask me if I was having problems in Kansas City (I wasn’t.) DirecTV put up a message for subscribers to turn to an alternative channel where they were broadcasting the channel from an alternate “local channel” for the game, but Dish Network subscribers like my Dad were out of luck.

The outage lasted until just before the end of the third quarter. For those that waited that long, they did get to see the most exciting quarter of the game (the fourth of course), but there will be a LOT of unhappy people around those parts. And Arkansas people weren’t alone, looks like Nevada had some problems as well.

Check out more of Brent’s reflections on tech, gadgets, software and media at Brent Evans Geek Tonic.