Archives For TV Shows

Verizon FiOS TV CES 2011 3

Well this could put a damper on Verizon’s currently cozy relationship with the cable industry. According to the New York Post, Verizon – like so many companies – is in talks with “major programmers” about creating a national, Internet-based pay-TV service. The Post says that while Verizon has pursued access to particular shows in the past, it’s now exploring what it would take to acquire the content rights for a “full suite of channels.”

Verizon has theorized about offering FiOS TV as an app for years, but sadly has been slower to deliver a decent mobile app than several of the larger cable companies. The big question now is not whether Verizon will go down that road eventually (despite its cable alliance), but how and when someone, anyone brings an Internet-based TV service to market. I’m not talking about an option like Aereo, but a true, content-loaded, bring-your-own-device, pay-TV service.

Let’s take a look at some of the possibilities. Intel and Apple are “negotiating” with programmers, with Intel threatening to launch a service before the end of the year. Time Warner Cable has released apps for the Xbox, Roku, and select smart TVs. Cox is experimenting with Fan TV in California. Dish Networks’ Charlie Ergen has talked publicly about going over-the-top with TV service. And the list goes on.

The Internet TV era is definitely coming. Verizon knows it. The cable industry does too.

Jinni interface

We first heard that Microsoft was licensing Jinni’s video search and discovery technology back in 2011. Now, however, the two companies have made their intentions official. Jinni says it has signed a multi-year agreement to power the recommendation engine on “Xbox video game and entertainment systems.” The news comes less than three months before the scheduled launch of the Xbox One.

Jinni has been on a tear this year. The company signed up Time Warner and Vudu as customers back in January, and I discovered in June that Jinni will also be embedded in the upcoming Comcast X2 interface.

Recommendation engines are big business, and there are a lot of companies vying for licensing deals in the TV space. Jinni’s technology uses not only standard content metadata, but also data tags that describe qualities like mood and style for different entertainment titles. Jinni’s machine-learning system processes all of that data and uses it to recommend new content that viewers might like.

Says Dave Alles of Microsoft, “Our goal is to make it effortless to get you to entertainment you’ll truly love. Pairing Jinni’s Entertainment Genome with other key advances such as Conversational Understanding, makes finding something to watch on Xbox as fun as watching it.”

Apple TV with iOS 7

Everyone’s on the lookout for the debut of iOS 7 at Apple’s big press conference scheduled for next week. But GigaOM is reporting that, based on available shipping data from an analytics company called Panjiva, a new Apple TV set-top may also be in the cards.

According to the report, Apple received shipments labeled “Set Top Box with Communication Function” from a company called BYD Precision Manufacture based in Shenzhen, China on August 11th, 18th, and 25th. Panjiva is postulating that since Apple’s last set-top shipment was from a different company, Hon Hai, these latest devices are a new product altogether.

Aside from the timing of the set-top shipments, some of the new features in Apple’s mobile OS update also tie nicely with the idea of an upgraded TV product. For one thing, Apple will support device-to-device connections in iOS 7, which would allow a set-top to communicate directly with other gadgets (including gaming controllers!) without the need for an Internet connection. Continue Reading…

Online TV addiction: Man, it’s hard to shake

Chromecast set-up 3

I spent more time playing with Chromecast this weekend while also contemplating the ongoing CBS blackout for Time Warner subscribers. At the moment, CBS is also blocking access to its shows on CBS.com for TWC subs. However, there is some legal argument that the network shouldn’t be able to discriminate against a specific set of viewers online. If that notion ever gains traction, then online access could be a viable alternative to watching CBS on cable.

Which led me to test out streaming from the CBS website. With Chromecast.

The good news is that casting the CBS stream to your TV is extremely easy. Switch TV inputs, open up CBS in your Chrome browser, click the Google Cast button, and you’re good to go. The bad news is that the video quality is atrocious. I’m not a pixel snob, but I was on the verge of getting nauseous trying to watch the disjointed playback. Continue Reading…

WatchESPN iPad app with Live Toolbar
Remember when ESPN’s Damon Philips promised a summer update for the WatchESPN app? Well, it was no lie. The company released an upgraded version of the app today for all iOS users, and added an extra bonus for iPad owners with the launch of the ESPN Live Toolbar feature.

According to the app store, the new toolbar includes:

- Live TV Lineup: See what’s on ESPN’s networks and switch to additional ESPN programming without exiting the video.
– Scores: Follow additional games while watching your game on ESPN. Launch video highlights at the conclusion of an event (where available).
– Top Videos: Watch multiple things at once! Keep up with the latest news and highlights right alongside the live ESPN programming you’re watching. Rotate your device while watching two videos.

ESPN’s not done either. In the preview demo we got back at The Cable Show in June, Mr. Phillips said more feature updates would follow the initial upgrade. In the future, for example, users will be able to create preferences in the app to get select information and video clips from specific sports team queued up in the toolbar.

In other good news, ESPN programming that airs on ABC will now also be included within the WatchESPN app. AND, the company has made the app free to college students and military personnel. Brilliant.

NimbleTV

NimbleTV is back in business. DISH Network cut off the streaming video service last month with a statement saying the company wasn’t an authorized Dish retailer. Now, FTABlog reports that customers in NimbleTV’s New York pilot market are slowly getting service back.

One of several TV Everywhere services on the market, NimbleTV offers its own business model twist. For $29.99/month, the company will transcode video from your pay-TV service and stream it back to you over the web with cloud-based DVR features. NimbleTV pays retransmission fees to content programmers, but does not have a formal relationship with any pay-TV operators. Instead, the company has informally paired up with Dish Network, and theoretically will do the same with other service providers in the future.

Things were fine and dandy for NimbleTV users until Dish cut off access to content in July. The service is returning now, but there are a couple of changes. First, all subscription charges for both NimbleTV and Dish service will be bundled together in one bill. Second, users have to provide a “New York Metropolitan Area address” in order to get access to local New York City channels. Of course, as FTABlog notes, “Did you know that the Empire State Building is at 350 5th Ave, 10118? Just sayin’.”

I’m still not convinced NimbleTV can make a go of its business, but it does count former Slinger Jason Hirschorn as one of its advisers. The company plans to expand beyond New York going forward to several other U.S. cities, and to select international markets.