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.”

TV Execs Predict Significant Changes in Content Delivery

  • At the Elevate Video Advertising Summit in New York earlier this month, executives from Comcast Interactive Media, Turner, Disney and ESPN agreed that in two years 75 percent of television content will be available online and on mobile devices.
  • For an increasing number of consumers, the line between traditional TV content and Web video is blurring.
  • The immediate hurdles involve negotiating broadcast rights across platforms and addressing the threat of broadband usage caps and fees.
  • Regardless, it seems the concept of “TV Everywhere” is inevitable.
  • “It’s interesting to think of what the definition of a TV is,” said Comcast’s Matt Strauss. “My kids think an iPad is a TV. People don’t think of TV anymore, they just think of video. For us, in the broader context of what we’re doing, we’re beginning to migrate everything to Internet video.”

Facebook Media Plans Include Spotify and Others

  • Facebook is working with Spotify and others to integrate new music services and applications.
  • The social networking giant has expanded its position in significant Internet sectors – including retail, news and games – and is now getting serious about music and other media.
  • At the recent Cable Show in Chicago, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts predicted that cloud-based guides and interfaces will be paramount to television’s future. Roberts described an integration with Facebook that can make TV more social with recommendations and interaction with “friends.”
  • Spotify already allows users to share info about songs with Facebook friends, but the next level of integration is expected to be much deeper. Additionally, Facebook has reportedly been reaching out to other online music services.
  • Facebook’s Music Dashboard will show songs of friends, recommended songs and “happenings” in your social and music areas.
  • This opens new potential for Facebook to become a social e-commerce business.

Comcast Subscribers Will Be Able to Video Chat via Skype

  • Comcast announced it is teaming with Skype to provide its broadband subscribers video calling on their TVs.
  • Details of the service are still being worked out. Testing is expected to begin in the next few months.
  • An Xfinity broadband service subscription will be required (subscribers will also have access to Skype calls through the Comcast Xfinity Mobile app).
  • The service will be enabled via an adapter box and a “high-quality” video camera provided by Comcast (a number of Internet-enabled TVs from Panasonic and Samsung already offer Skype but the set-up requires compatible cameras, that typically cost between $130 and $170).
  • According to Comcast, customers will be able to receive Skype calls or send and receive IMs while watching television.

Increased 3D Content may Push Consumer Adoption

In the wake of disappointing 3D TV sales for 2010 (due in large part to a lack of 3D content), this year may see new traction as television vendors switch their strategy to marketing 3D as one feature of new high-def sets, rather than the single selling point. More 3D content is on the horizon via cable and satellite TV channels, Blu-ray Discs and video games. Eventual adoption may also be impacted as consumers shoot their own video with 3D-enabled camcorders.

Disney’s ESPN 3D sports channel began broadcasting in mid-February — while Sony, Discovery and Imax launched their 3net channel the same month. Comcast and DirecTV already have 3D channels, and more than 100 3D channels worldwide are expected by 2015.

“Clearly, lack of content has been holding the market back,” explained Chris Chinnock, president of research firm Insight Media. “But one or two years into the HDTV transition there wasn’t much programming either … It took about seven years to reach 11 percent (household) penetration with HDTV.”

DisplaySearch predicts 6.6 million 3D TVs will ship in North America in 2011 (16 percent of the more than 40 million sets expected to be sold). The research and consulting firm is targeting 15.2 million 3D TVs to ship in 2012 (up 130 percent).

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