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
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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.
You know how a lot of consumers are fed up with rising cable bills, excessive program bundling, and limited access to TV shows? It turns out independent cable operators feels the same way.
Over and over and over at today’s American Cable Association Summit – a policy-driven event put on by the independent cable organization – I heard frustration about the state of the pay-TV business from small cable companies who feel outgunned in a market where the content bills just keep going up. Indie operators have two main complaints, and they’re both related. First, they have no leverage in licensing retransmission agreements because content owners can threaten TV blackouts. Second, in some markets, broadcasters are working together to set licensing fees, a practice the cable operators consider to be collusion. According to Wide Open West CEO Colleen Abdoulah, collusion is taking place in 20% of TV markets and is driving up retransmission costs by at least 22%. Continue Reading…
People think of Aereo as a cable competitor, but the company’s real fight is with OTA broadcasters who don’t want to lose retransmission revenue. And if Aereo were to win its war in court, some pay-TV providers might very well decide to partner with the company rather than battle against it.
Jeff Baumgartner reports that the topic of cable partnerships came up this week at the annual NCTC winter conference. The National Cable Telecommunications Cooperative is made up of independent cable operators, and Aereo’s CEO Chet Kanojia participated on a panel at the organization’s recent event. Reportedly Kenojia said Aereo would “take a very open approach with everyone we choose to work with,” and that he’d be “‘ecstatic’ to work with a like-thinking cable ISP.”
In other words, despite its marketing rhetoric, Aereo – like TiVo before it – would love to break into the cable biz.
Personally, I’m convinced that even if Aereo doesn’t win in court, it has other options for peddling its services. Beyond the now-famous dime-size antennas, Aereo appears to be operating sophisticated transcoding and video delivery technology. I imagine the Aereo solution is similar to what the TiVo Stream or Morega’s DirecTV Nomad device provides, except that the transcoding process takes place in the cloud rather than on a device in the home. The basic transcoding isn’t novel – plenty of companies offer transcoding services – but the ability to do it well and at scale is another thing entirely. Until all television content is transmitted in IP, Aereo has another potential technology ace up its sleeve, and plenty of patents to support it.
I love ESPN. I am entirely willing to spend gobs of money on my cable bill just to get it. Even so, my jaw dropped when I read that the licensing fee for ESPN programming is set to go above $7 per month in 2017. That’s the amount pay-TV operators have to spend per subscriber to get ESPN programming, and the amount that gets factored into our monthly cable bills for including the sports juggernaut. For $7 a month, I get ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, the WatchESPN app, and… wait a minute. I get all that for $7?
Yes, I was all set to write a snarky post about retransmission fees and the high cost of programming these days, and then I thought about all that I get from ESPN. Pretty much any sporting event I want to watch that’s not being broadcast on the free networks is available somewhere on ESPN. And that WatchESPN app? Man that’s come in handy when I’ve been away from the living room TV and wanted to catch a college basketball game or two. And it works on both my iPad and my Android phone. Inside and outside my house.
The big catch of course is that not everyone is a sports fan, and most cable subscribers have to pay for ESPN programming whether they watch it or not. On the other hand, I don’t watch a lot of the junk on the “free” networks (morning news programs, terrible reality TV shows, etc.), and I still have to pay for their skyrocketing licensing fees. So maybe all’s fair in love and TV programming. Regardless, there’s no cord-cutting in my future. Cable is expensive, but at least I enjoy what I get for my money.
A random web search turned me on to some interesting Roku job openings, emphasizing content relationships and recommendations. Individually, maybe they’re not so compelling. But from a holistic standpoint, perhaps these new positions shed a bit of light on Roku’s ambitions and decision to turn down an Amazon acquisition in favor of additional funding.
The first role is Roku Programming Director… to be located in Los Angeles. Which, of course, much of the content industry calls home. “The Director will survey the landscape of available content, plans and strategies” to assist “business development prioritize content acquisition efforts. ” Hm. By comparison, the Content Programming Manager will be based at Roku’s Nothern California headquarters and will basically function as a full-time recommendation engine: Continue Reading…