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DirecTV is contemplating embedding an antenna into their set top boxes
in order to offer live over the air broadcasts, thereby circumventing retransmission fees. Speaking at the JP Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom conference in Boston, DirecTV chief financial officer Patrick Doyle stated they didn't have a timeline on the project, but that it makes financial sense due to the soaring price of retrans fees and the landscape shift that's occurring courtesy of Aereo. He also stated that whenever it does get deployed, it would only be initially made available to new customers. "Well probably test in some markets an over-the-air integrated tuner set-up and make sure the customer experience is there," insists Doyle.
Time Warner today announced that the company's TBS and TNT channels would offer subscribers the option to stream live television on their tablets and iPads
-- but only if you subscribe to traditional cable TV. The news comes on the heels of a similar announcement from ABC
that they'd be trialing live streaming in New York City and Philadelphia. All of these announcements are of course in response to Aereo, who the broadcasters are trying to sue into oblivion. By offering their own streaming options -- even if tying them to existing cable subscriptions makes them immensely less appealing -- the studios can claim they're giving consumers what they want, even if with the other hand they're suing innovators out of existence.
As you've probably been noticing, the streaming video market is getting rather fragmented, with different programs getting different exclusive licenses
with different streaming providers, a problem that's likely going to get much worse before it gets better. As licenses expire and these exclusive contracts shift underfoot, it's also difficult to know when a program you'd like to stream will be available or expire.
On the heels of yesterday's pricing changes
, broadcast streaming company Aereo has now announced that they'll soon be expanding into the Atlanta market on June 17. According to Aereo, the Atlanta market (their third launch area so far) technically covers some 5.3 million consumers in 55 counties across Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina. The Atlanta launch comes as Aereo this week prepares to launch the service in the Boston market, which technically covers some 4.5 million consumers in 16 counties across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.
According to the New York Times
, ABC is preparing to let New York City and Philadelphia users stream local broadcast channels live via smartphones and tablets -- if they have a traditional cable connection. "We keep a very close eye on consumer demand," a Disney-ABC Television Group executive tells the paper. "We watch how people are behaving with their devices, and we really felt that we needed to move faster." The company's "live" button is a clear response to pressure from streaming OTA upstart Aereo, though it rather impressively takes the Times
until the twelfth paragraph to mention this. ABC and other broadcasters are suing to stop Aereo
for copyright violations, while threatening to yank their broadcast channels off the air if they lose their legal fight.
As had been predicted for some time, Google this week announced
their new subscription a la carte video "channels." Under the new pilot program, users can pay anywhere from $1 to $6 a month for individual channels, providing many of these content creators an additional revenue stream to (presumably) fund raising the bar on some of YouTube's inexplicably popular dreck
So far there's about 53 channels for users to choose from, all viewable here
This picture (click to enlarge) says it all, though Dan Frommer says some more
CBS recently proclaimed on Twitter
they'd be taking their legal fight against Aereo to a new level with another lawsuit in Boston, but it appears that Aereo has taken pre-emptive action to prevent that from happening. Aereo has filed a complaint in New York today looking for a declaratory ruling that states the broadcast industry can't open new fronts in their legal assault against the streaming upstart.
Anonymous sources insist that YouTube is getting close to launching their rumored subscription TV channels
. Pricing for individual channels will run as for as little as $1.99 a month, giving channel creators some added money to improve what is traditionally low-grade fare.Google's move comes as traditional pay TV operators like Verizon and Time Warner Cable are dropping poorer performing channels
in order to reduce programming costs -- the lion's share of which are driven by sports. Under Google's model, those channels could find new life under YouTube subscriptions. Though the idea will likely raise eyebrows now given the sheer volume of painful crap
on YouTube, it could evolve in a compelling concept.
For years as the entertainment industry sued grandmothers and engaged in all manner of aggressive behavior one common refrain was: "you know, people would probably pirate less if you offered a less expensive, quality video services." Fast forward a few years, and the success of Netflix streaming is a clear testament to that idea, even if there will be some people who'll always pirate. Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos this week noted they see a drop in BitTorrent traffic whenever they launch Netflix streaming
in a new territory:
One of the things is we get ISPs to publicise their connection speeds and when we launch in a territory the Bittorrent traffic drops as the Netflix traffic grows.
HBO and Time Warner are once again reiterating that you shouldn't hold your breath if you're waiting for a standalone HBO streaming option that doesn't require you have a traditional cable and HBO subscription. As the company has stated previously, they simply don't see the numbers working in their favor, even if many think the company is shooting itself in the evolutionary foot as Netflix's U.S. story continues..
Licensing battles have slowly started fracturing the broadband video landscape, making it so if you want a specific
program, you need to sign up for a specific
service. If you want to watch Disney films, you need to use Netflix
Amazon is about to bring their Kindle brand to the set top box market. Sources tell Bloomberg
that Amazon's Kindle set top box should launch sometime this fall. That puts the device in direct competition with other small TV-focused devices like the Roku, Apple TV, and Boxee Cloud DVR, as well as game consoles by Microsoft and Sony. Around the same time Microsoft is expected to launch not only a new Xbox, but a smaller, cheaper Xbox focused entirely on video
. Amazon's set top is being built by Amazons Lab126 division in Cupertino, and run by former Cisco and Apple exec Malachy Moynihan.
Latest legal victory clutched tightly in hand
, streaming OTA broadband video operator Aereo this week announced that they'll be expanding into the Boston market starting on May 15. According to a company press statement
(pdf), the May 15 "Boston" launch date actually covers 4.5 million consumers in 16 counties across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. The May 15 launch date is also only for those who pre-registered with Aereo -- the service will be available in "Boston" to everyone else on May 30. Aereo is currently only available in the New York City area, though the company promised expansion into 22 additional markets after receiving $38 million in financing back in January
Reed Hastings has long believed that HBO is Netflix's primary competitor
, and even though HBO has stubbornly refused to offer a standalone streaming video product (one that doesn't require a cable connection), Hastings believes they ultimately will. "The goal," Hastings stated earlier this year, "is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us." Hastings got some good news on that front this week, their earnings indicating that Netflix now has more total subscribers than HBO for the first time
, 29.17 million to HBO's 28.7 million. The picture looks quite different globally, where Netflix has a long way to catch up to HBO's 114 million subscribers.
One of the licensing constraints placed on cable operators trying to stream broadcaster content to user mobile devices has been that you can only stream content inside the home. Fortunately, those licensing restrictions appear to be easing (or cable operators are paying more) and cable mobile TV apps are evolving accordingly. Time Warner Cable this week announced that some
content is now available outside of the home via their Time Warner Cable TV app
for Android, Roku and iOS. Mari Silbey over at Light Reading
directs my attention to the fact that Cablevision also recently loosened some of the restrictions on content outside the home for their iPad Optimum app. Both companies say outside-the-home content availability should quickly expand.
When Google Fiber launched, the company's $120 TV package (which comes quite deliciously with a symmetrical 1 Gbps connection) had more than a few programming gaps
, including ESPN, Disney channels, and premium content from HBO and Cinemax. Most of those gaps have since been filled, with Google announcing today at their blog
that they're now offering Google Fiber TV customers HBO and Cinemax. The prices won't be quite as revolutionary as their broadband speeds and prices, however. Google is offering all HBO channels for $20 a month, Cinemax for $10 a month, or a bundle of HBO, Cinemax, Starz and Showtime for $40 a month.
Some additional early details of the next Xbox
indicate that the device will tie very closely with existing cable subscriptions, allowing users to essentially use the device as a cable box. That's not terribly surprising, given Microsoft's existing relationships with Comcast, Verizon and others -- which allow users to view a limited amount of cable content via the Xbox 360 (provided you have a cable connection
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Recent news contributorsJKukiewicz , Karl Bode , swintec