Normally when companies have retransmission fee standoffs there's a great pressure put on the cable provider to pay up because the broadcaster content that's missing has irreplaceable value to viewers (like say, when "Breaking Bad" was blocked during AMC's feud with Dish
). But last January DirecTV took The Weather Channel off the air
after The Weather Channel demanded what DirecTV believed was an unreasonable rate hike. Especially for content that increasingly has nothing to do with the weather.
DirecTV ultimately replaced The Weather Channel with WeatherNation and a variety of options that actually show users the weather
, as opposed to historical documentaries on cheeses (or whatever it is the Weather Channel does now). The odd thing is that nobody seems to care, and DirecTV has now extended their relationship with WeatherNation
for another several years:
“This new multi-year agreement strengthens our relationship with WeatherNation and ensures our customers will have a service that is fully committed to providing all weather related information all the time,” said Dan York, Chief Content Officer for DIRECTV. “The overwhelmingly positive comments we’ve been receiving from customers made the decision to extend our agreement easy and expedient."
The Weather Channel, for its part, doesn't seem too fazed either. The channel continues to name the tiniest of storms in the apparent hopes of creating a nation of weather neurotics, while the website directs users to incredibly-important weather-related fare
. Executives over there seem so obsessed with getting more eyeballs and hits by any means necessary, that they've forgotten to care about the core mission, or about the fact that they've driven the brand right into the toilet.
Charlie Ergen's Dish has long been ranked as one of the worst companies to work for
, and if a new OSHA announcement
is any indication, there's little question why. According to OSHA, Dish violated the anti-retaliatory provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act by blacklisting a former employee after he (or she) reported a vendor for submitting fraudulent invoices and testifying at a deposition.
TechCrunch story continues..
is the first to report that Facebook is preparing to purchase drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace for $60 million. The deal is being struck as part of Facebook's Internet.org effort
, which explores ways to bring broadband access to developing nations like Africa.
While there's no shortage of studies examining consumer satisfaction, research firm Marchex has added a new wrinkle in analyzing which companies wind up with the most users swearing at them over the phone. According to the firm's latest study
, satellite companies take top honors in being the most curse-inducing, with one out of every 82 calls resulting in users cursing at the company.
The Weather Channel has gone dark on DirecTV. As of 12:01 this morning, as noted by Mike Reynolds
at Multichannel News, the channel was pulled when the extension expired, as talks broke down. "DirecTV, in addition, to looking to keep its cost in line, pointed to long-form fare occupying 40% of Weather Channel’s schedule, as well as the availability of weather information as reasons why it was looking to lower its outlay."
We noted the conflict yesterday
, and note today that another major player plans to enter the fray:
AccuWeather Global Headquarters, January 13, 2014 -" AccuWeather is pleased to announce it will launch a 24X7 weather channel, to be known as the AccuWeather Channel, in the third quarter of 2014. AccuWeather had not planned to make the announcement at this time, but decided to accelerate the announcement in light of the controversy that has developed between DIRECTV and The Weather Channel and in order to make the public aware of an additional offering that will be available to them later this year."
So says David Clark, president of The Weather Channel, currently in a carriage dispute with DirecTV. He urges customers to appeal to Congress to intervene in the dispute. story continues..
A few months ago DirecTV stated the company would be raising rates in 2014
, blaming higher retransmission fees as the biggest culprit for the hikes. Now users over at the Satellite Guys forum
state that Dish is also informing them that they should prepare for higher TV prices in 2014. "Starting February 2014, DISH is changing pricing on select programming and services," the message notes. "Most customers will see a $5 increase on their core programming package. You will receive detailed information about these changes in your next bill." Dish
Back in August we pointed out that satellite broadband provider ViaSat was trying something a little new with their Exede pricing plans
: a $65 per month trial plan that allows unlimited browsing and e-mail, but imposes a 5 GB month limit and $10 per gigabyte overages on any other network activity (video streaming, file transfers, etc.). Otherwise, users need to pay for 10 GB ($50), 15 GB ($75) and 25 GB ($130) allotments.
Last summer there was rumblings that DirecTV's exclusive distribution arrangement with the NFL could finally be coming to an end, with Google and Netflix named as possible new partners
. The death of that deal has been on many consumer wishlists for some time, as it would finally allow the league to join the modern age and offer broader out-of-market broadband distribution options -- like MLB.TV
. Alas, it sounds like such a shift may not be in the cards, with Variety
reporting that DirecTV and the NFL are getting close to renewing their deal, which expires at the end of the 2014 season.
JetBlue has launched a new, faster in-flight Wi-Fi service powered by ViaSat's Exede satellite broadband service. Dubbed "Fly-Fi
," JetBlue and ViaSat are promised 12 Mbps to each connected passenger, roughly the same speeds seen by their Exede
users on the ground.
Dish has offered up a little more detail on an already-announced plan to offer fixed wireless broadband service. Dish announced back in May
that the company would be offering fixed LTE services in a new partnership with nTelos.
Dish CEO Charlie Ergen continues to insist that he thinks a merger between Dish and DirecTV would be a good idea. "There’s obviously a business case that [consolidation] makes a lot of sense in the satellite industry," Ergen stated this week
. "Whether it ever comes to fruition is another story. But both Dish and DirecTV realize that it could make a lot of sense." It remains unclear if regulators would approve such a deal, after blocking exactly this specific merger back in 2002. Ergen clearly likes to hope so -- his rhetoric this week almost exactly matches the same statements he made back in August.
Dish has spent much of the last year kicking broadcasters in the shins and fighting off broadcaster lawsuits in court
-- simply for offering useful consumer products like their Hopper auto-ad-skipping DVR. The tactic appears to be working with users, as the company's latest quarterly earnings
suggest Dish has added more subscribers than Wall Street expected.
Time Warner Cable suffered some significant subscriber losses
last quarter due to their feud with CBS -- roughly 3% of their entire customer base leaving because of lost programming. Judging from DirecTV's earnings report
, it seems likely that at least some of those users fled to DirecTV. Despite the fact that satellite TV providers recently joined cable in losing subscribers (in part to cord cutters) and
despite the fact DirecTV raised rates on many users, the company still managed to add a net 139,000 video subscribers
. The average DirecTV subscriber paid $102.37 per month last quarter, a 6.2 percent increase over the year before.
DirecTV CEO Michael White this week told attendees of an investor conference in New York that subscribers should probably expect more rate hikes in 2014
. The company hit subscribers with an average increase of 4.6% last February, with White stating that 2014 hikes "might be not as much" the increase "is still going to be meaningful." White blames soaring programming costs and retransmission fees, which have jumped 50% this year and 600% since 2010. "I would say clearly I've seen an impact from consumers on churn in terms of their feelings about the bill," White said.
Broadcasters aren't having a very easy time suing Dish's convenient ad-skipping Hopper DVR technology into oblivion. Last week, ABC lost a ruling in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
in their attempt to impose an injunction on the technology.
Our user reviews for satellite broadband have traditionally been rather dismal
, with users complaining of high prices, low usage caps, and inconsistent connection quality. ViaSat's new Exede service, launched last year
, has changed that dynamic somewhat by offering faster speeds up to 12 Mbps with three plans
offering users caps of 10 GB ($50), 15 GB ($80) and 25 GB ($130).
HughesNet has announced
that the company is now offering their satellite broadband customers the ability to bundle in voice services. The company's website
doesn't get specific on pricing, only stating that plans start out at around $20 per month. "HughesNet Voice customers enjoy high Quality of Service (QoS) calling as a result of new technology Hughes developed in its latest HughesNet Gen4 service delivery system, which establishes dedicated bandwidth for voice traffic, eliminating interference with data running over their satellite Internet connection," insists the company. While the company's new Gen-4 broadband service has been well hyped, many customers state HughesNet has struggled to deliver promised performance
with the new service.
In continuing what is not a particularly great week for the government's surveillance programs, hacker group Anonymous last night leaked a cache of internal DOD documents
(pdf). The documents are from 2008, shortly after the NSA began its just-unveiled PRISM spying program
, and outlines key portions of the DOD's "strategic vision" for monitoring and controlling information online.
Last week Sprint responded to investor criticism
by raising their offer to acquire the 50% remainder of Clearwire they don't own, offering $3.40 per share in a deal that values Clearwire at around $10.7 billion. Not to be outdone, Dish has announced they're upping their offer as well
. Dish now says they're offering $4.40 per share in cash, a 29% increase over Sprint's offer. The latest offer provides "substantially greater value to Clearwire and your minority stockholders and a clearer path to value realization for all parties," Dish said in a letter to Clearwire.
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