Archives For TV Shows
Someone is buying Hulu, and the list of suitors is down to three. Before the close of bidding last Friday, AT&T jumped in on a joint offer with the Chernin Group. Peter Chernin founded Hulu years ago when he was still president of News Corp., but his company’s bid was likely too low without the additional backing of AT&T. DirecTV and Time Warner Cable are also in the hunt, and rumor has it that the bids are upwards of $1 billion. Variety reports this morning that Guggenheim Digital is out of the race after submitting a bid below what Hulu was willing to take.
Hulu initially put itself on the auction block back in 2011, but backed away from a sale at the eleventh hour. Google and Dish were the leading bidders then, with Google reportedly offering up to $4 billion for the company as long as Hulu was willing to throw in expanded content licensing rights as part of the deal. (It wasn’t.)
Unlike Boxee, Hulu has built a significant consumer fan base, and the company says it earned close to $700 million in revenue in 2012. However, Hulu still isn’t profitable, and the issue of video licensing fees is a thorny one as programmers try to protect as much of their revenue as possible through the existing pay-TV ecosystem. Perhaps given those conditions, it’s not surprising that a pay-TV company – and not an outsider like TiVo or Google – appears set to come out on top when the Hulu sale finally closes.
Cox Communications is piloting an IPTV service in Orange County, California that combines cable television with Fanhattan’s Fan TV set-top and user interface. Todd Spangler at Variety broke the news about flareWatch late last week, and Cox has since confirmed the trial and Fanhattan partnership. Spokesperson Todd Smith says:
Cox is testing a video service with a unique user interface as part of a small trial in our Orange County, California market… We are early in the trial, but expect the product and experience could evolve during the trial based on customer feedback.
The big news here is the fact that Cox is bundling online TV service with a broadband connection rather than tagging it on to a traditional cable package. Beta pricing is listed at only $34.99 per month, and that includes big-name channels like ESPN and Disney.
However, the other interesting angle is Cox’s use of the Fanhattan UI. Forget the sweet little Fan TV box for the moment, Fanhattan has somehow succeeded on the software front where so many other start-ups have failed. It’s gotten a foot in the door with cable, and it’s done so without years of heartache and litigation. (Ahem TiVo, Boxee…)
I like Fanhattan. The TV guide app’s been plugging along since 2011 and getting better along the way. But what makes it so much better than a thousand other video discovery and aggregation apps?
Maybe it’s a case of good timing, or maybe Fanhattan has friends at Cox. Whatever the case, the accomplishment is significant. Fanhattan is playing with the big boys.
Rumors surfaced earlier this month that Boxee is about to get bought on the cheap. And while details are virtually non-existent on the identity of the buyer, we’ve never let that stop us from speculating before.
So who is the mysterious suitor? I see four potential acquiring types.
With Boxee’s software roots, it’s possible that a hardware manufacturer like D-Link could pick up Boxee’s video guide and DVR applications to bundle with retail boxes. If the price is right, I wonder if even Roku might be interested. Roku doesn’t want to spend the money to license fancy guide software for its super-cheap hardware. But if it could pick up the Boxee assets cheaply enough, the interface upgrade potential could be compelling.
It’s hard to imagine that a pay-TV provider would bother with Boxee, given the other software options available, and the fact that the big operators are building their own next-gen UIs. However, maybe a small innovator would consider grabbing the assets just to break away from the standard software vendors and create some buzz. Wide Open West has made hay with the Moxi interface. Maybe somebody else on the tier-two provider list is ready to step up on the multi-screen UI front.
Media company Continue Reading…
TiVo queried the Twitterverse for our favorite television theme songs. Tunes from Friends, The Fresh Prince, and Greatest American Hero were offered up as contenders, with my initial submission being the diddy describing The Jeffersons ascension. After conferring with Friends (of my own), Cheers is a no brainer for any list of top TV show songs. After all, when the series concluded May 20th, 1993 it seemed as if the entire restaurant where I barbacked sang the tune together that evening. So who else belongs on this list? And do we include instrumentals?
I’ll never understand the vehement hate the pilot received from die-hard Zombieland fans. You guys successfully hated it out of existence. –Producer, Rhett Reese
Internet-delivered TV is a messy market right now, and into the fray, Apple TV has tossed a new partnership with the CW network. The CW will soon have an app on Apple TV devices that shows TV episodes the day after they air
on cable. All content will be ad-supported, and no pay-TV subscription will be required.
Apple TV continues to putter along, gathering users, but not particularly breaking through the clutter of Internet-connected media streamers. The launch of a new CW app is noteworthy, however. It marks the first time Apple has offered content from a network outside of the iTunes store and sites like Netflix and Hulu.
From the CW side, the move is interesting because the network is offering
cable content as a stand-alone, ad-supported offering. Even ABC is requiring authentication for streaming content, and those shows are (also) otherwise available for free over the air. The CW app is also available on the Xbox and Windows 8 devices.
Apple TV, meanwhile, may get another boost later this year with access to the HBO Go app. There are rumors that Apple and HBO are negotiating terms, though fans can already access HBO content on the Apple TV by using AirPlay to stream video from an iPad.
Aereo has been super savvy in grabbing headlines of late. If you’re not caught up on the story so far, the start-up TV company has expanded to a few new markets, won another round in court against broadcasters, and left Fox, CBS and others frothing at the mouth and threatening to move free programming over to a paid service model.
The thing about Aereo is, while the conceptual disruption is huge, the impact of the actual service is still vanishingly small.
- Aereo is a Big Deal because broadcasters make bundles of cash from retransmission agreements, and the Aereo model creates a workaround for any service provider that wants to distribute free broadcast channels without paying a licensing fee.
- Aereo is a Big Deal because, as I wrote recently for Light Reading, it opens up the debate over whether there will continue to be a role for free TV in the Internet era.
- Aereo is Not a Big Deal because the service itself has serious limitations. In addition to being available only in a few markets, the service is getting poor marks for video quality.
- Aereo is Not a Big Deal because it is only one of several disruptors on the television scene. Start-ups and stalwarts alike are experimenting with new services and pricing models – from Simple.TV, Skitter, and NimbleTV to Dish, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable.