DECE GM Answers Questions About Future of UltraViolet

Mark Teitell, GM of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, spoke recently during a Home Media Magazine UltraViolet presentation. Teitell says we should expect a marketing push this year and suggests there will be increased transparency involving the number of titles within the 12 million-plus UltraViolet accounts. During a Q&A session, he also addressed the status of UltraViolet’s Common File Format and in-home disc-to-digital efforts. Continue reading DECE GM Answers Questions About Future of UltraViolet

Insiders Say Peter Chernin Bidding $500 Million for Hulu

Multiple sources suggest that Peter Chernin, former president and chief operating officer of News Corp., has formally bid around $500 million for Hulu through his Chernin Group holding company, reports Reuters. Chernin helped launch the online video streaming service in 2007, which is currently controlled by Disney and News Corp. (co-owner Comcast relinquished corporate control as a concession when purchasing NBCUniversal). Continue reading Insiders Say Peter Chernin Bidding $500 Million for Hulu

Copyright Alert System: ISPs Join Effort to Curb Media Piracy

A group of Internet service providers including AT&T, Cablevision, Time Warner, Verizon and Comcast have teamed together to join a coordinated effort to address the ongoing problem of subscribers illegally downloading entertainment media such as movies, TV shows and music. The ISPs are implementing an alerts system based on “six strikes” that carry tiered degrees of penalty for their subscribers who choose to illegally access media. Continue reading Copyright Alert System: ISPs Join Effort to Curb Media Piracy

Will Intel Be the One that Finally Delivers Internet TV?

Intel confirmed rumors that it was pursuing Internet TV when VP Eric Huggers announced last week that the company had been negotiating with content companies and would launch a set-top box and new platform by the end of the year. While skepticism has resulted from lack of concrete details, the prospect of a chipmaker competing with top cable giants, and the industry’s history of failed attempts — Intel could still become the company to finally crack Internet TV. Continue reading Will Intel Be the One that Finally Delivers Internet TV?

Comcast to Buy Rest of NBCUniversal from GE in Early Sale

Comcast is acquiring General Electric’s 49 percent stake in NBCUniversal. Teamed with Comcast’s initial 51 percent acquisition two years ago, the new $16.7 billion deal will result in the cable operator’s full ownership of the film and television giant. Comcast is taking a bold gamble, particularly when considering the uncertain direction of the entertainment industry in the midst of digital change and the growing success of services from the likes of Netflix and Amazon. Continue reading Comcast to Buy Rest of NBCUniversal from GE in Early Sale

New Research Indicates TV Everywhere is Not Yet Everywhere

According to a new study from research firm GfK Media, consumers are streaming online video more than ever before, but only a reported 17 percent of pay TV subscribers have watched cable programming online using TV Everywhere services. The study represents the “latest bad news” for the TV Everywhere initiative, reports the Wall Street Journal. Continue reading New Research Indicates TV Everywhere is Not Yet Everywhere

In a Multichannel World, Pay TV Fought its Future in 2012

According to Variety, 2012 was more about what didn’t happen than what did happen when considering the intersection of TV and digital media. As the multichannel world continues “begging for disruption,” the cost of the “average pay-TV subscription has skyrocketed 68 percent over the past 10 years,” notes the article. It seems something will definitely have to give, “but despite the fragility of their delicate bond, programmers and distributors didn’t face any real challenge in 2012 from any of the expected upstarts hoping to gain rights to live TV and package it in more innovative ways.” Continue reading In a Multichannel World, Pay TV Fought its Future in 2012

UBS Global Media: Comcast Execs Discuss Benefits of New Verizon Pact

  • At this week’s UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, Comcast executives described “their multi-billion dollar pact with Verizon inked late last week a transformative event in some ways on the scale of acquiring of NBCUniversal,” reports Variety.
  • “Talk about content, you got NBC. And wireless, you got this. In perpetuity,” said CFO Michael Angelakis. “This is a deal forever. We don’t have to invest in building a wireless network. We aren’t going to acquire a wireless network. It’s quite a significant transaction.”
  • The deal to sell wireless spectrum to Verizon will finally enable the quadruple play where customers can receive video, Internet, landline and cell phone service.
  • “Watching a video on your wireless devices, then resuming it in your home. Great new devices with your Comcast (subscription), great new innovations…will come out of that side of the deal,” said Comcast Cable prexy Neil Smit.

Microsoft: Xbox Video Service Features Voice and Motion Controls

  • Microsoft is getting a boatload of new content for its Xbox video service intended to help it serve as a digital media hub. The company has struck deals with Comcast, Verizon, HBO and others.
  • Verizon and Comcast will be joining AT&T’s U-Verse to provide content, although while Verizon will include live video TV and video on demand, Comcast is testing the waters with its VOD library only. HBO Go streaming access will provide HBO original programming and movies from Warner Bros., Fox Searchlight and Universal Studios. Bravo, EPIX and Syfy are among the cable networks that will be available. Xbox’s international content will include the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 and LOVEFiLM in the UK; Antena 3, RTVE and Telefonica in Spain; and Televisa in Mexico.
  • But how do you get to the movies, TV shows, games and music that you want? Microsoft hopes you will command your Xbox with voice control, motion control and a Windows smartphone.
  • “This is incremental stuff but it’s still interesting. A source who’s played with the new service says it’s genuinely cool. Just as important, given that Microsoft has sold some 50 million compatible machines, it has (potential) leverage to do some really interesting stuff,” reports All Things D. “This is where Google TV would like to be, and it’s why Google is out pitching content guys for a relaunch this fall.”

Will Cable Operators Switch to A La Carte or Will Programmers Resist?

  • The weak economy is leading cable operators to reverse their opposition to so-called “a la carte” programming. Comcast and Time Warner have lost 1.2 million customers in the last 12 months.
  • Programming costs have risen 6-10 percent annually over the last decade. And the fear is that it will continue as they see ESPN, for example, sign a $15 billion, 8-year deal with the NFL. Cable and satellite operators are also now paying to retransmit local broadcast channels.
  • “There is a growing recognition that the current model is broken,” says Craig Moffett, cable analyst at Bernstein Research. He expects smaller, less costly programming packages to emerge as Time Warner is doing with its TV Essentials pack.
  • “The specter of unbundled programming is likely to encounter fierce resistance from network owners such as Viacom Inc or Discovery Communications Inc, which are keen to maintain the economics of selling their most popular channels as a package with their smaller, nascent networks,” reports Reuters.

Judge Enters His Own OVD Condition with Comcast-NBCU Final Judgment

  • Consent from the U.S. Department of Justice for the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger has been approved, but with a new condition.
  • Comcast purchased 51 percent of NBCUniversal from General Electric in January, creating a $30 billion business that includes broadcast, cable networks, movie studios and theme parks.
  • At that time, the Department of Justice said Comcast could acquire NBCUniversal only if it ceded control of Hulu and made stand-alone broadband service available at $49.95 per month for three years, but the settlement still required final approval.
  • Last week, Judge Richard Leon delivered final approval, but stipulated that the federal government would monitor whether rival online video services, such as Hulu or Netflix, demand arbitration to license content from Comcast-NBCU for the next two years.
  • The ability of rivals to obtain programming was one of the key concerns of the DOJ and the FCC during reviews of the merger.
  • “Since neither the Court nor the parties has a crystal ball to forecast how this Final Judgment, along with its arbitration mechanisms, will actually function … I believe that certain additional steps are necessary,” Leon said in a court order.

Final NASA Space Shuttle Mission to Air this Week in 3D

  • Comcast announced it will air special programming for its In Demand Xfinity 3D subscribers that features the final landing of NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis.
  • The 45-minute special, that also follows astronaut training in Houston and features 3D footage from space, is scheduled to air this Friday (August 5).
  • The footage was captured by Vertical Ascent Productions with a Panasonic 3D A-1 camera. The July 8 launch was recorded with unprecedented access, from just 500 feet away, and a Panasonic 3D A-1 was also on board the shuttle to capture the space footage.
  • The 3D special is part of In Demand’s “In Deep” series. Other In Demand affiliates will have access to the special.

Rovi Claims Hulu Infringes on Electronic Program Guide Patent

  • Rovi Corporation filed suit against Hulu last week, claiming that the video site infringes on its patents for electronic program guides.
  • Santa Clara, California-based Rovi provides technology that powers streaming services from Blockbuster On Demand and Best Buy’s CinemaNow. The company also licenses its technology to others such as Apple, Microsoft and Comcast.
  • The digital entertainment solutions provider claims that Hulu’s infringement “presents significant and ongoing damages to Rovi’s business.” The company is seeking compensation for lost license revenue and treble damages.
  • As previously reported by ETCentric, Hulu has been offered for sale by its owners (Disney, News Corp., NBC Universal and Providence Equity).

Time Warner to Stream CNN and HLN Online

  • As part of its “TV Everywhere” strategy, Time Warner is streaming live simulcasts beginning this week of cable news channels CNN and HLN to people who subscribe via distributors such as Comcast, Dish Network and Verizon.
  • “TV Everywhere” is designed to discourage service cancellations by subscribers (also known as “cord cutting”).
  • Media companies are hoping to gain additional revenue from streaming either directly from distributors or through higher TV ratings.
  • “We’re trying to lead by example. We’re trying to show that it works,” said Andy Heller, vice chairman of Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting. “If we don’t give consumers those options, you run the risk of seeing the potential for cord cutting.”

ISPs Agree to Voluntary Copyright Enforcement Plan

  • Hollywood studios and music recording labels announced an agreement with major ISPs including AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon in which the ISPs agree to send “copyright alerts” to consumers who have accessed pirated content.
  • The intention is to educate, not punish.
  • A 2007 study showed that a “large majority” of those who receive alerts will stop the illegal activity.
  • If the alerts have no effect, mitigation measures may be pursued. Consumers will have the option of an independent review for a $35 fee.
  • Mitigation measures begin with the fifth or sixth alert, and may include: “temporary reductions of Internet speeds, redirection to a landing page until the subscriber contacts the ISP to discuss the matter or reviews and responds to some educational information about copyright, or other measures that the ISP may deem necessary to help resolve the matter.”

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