D11 Conference: Fanhattan Unveils All-in-One Set-Top Box

Video discovery startup Fanhattan unveiled Fan TV yesterday at the D: All Things Digital conference in California. The OTT set-top box will enable access to live TV and VOD, in addition to a cloud-based DVR and streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. Viewers will be able to search and discover TV shows and movies based on genre, actors, social recommendations, etc. Fanhattan plans to partner with pay TV companies to sell the box, which is expected to be available later this year. Continue reading D11 Conference: Fanhattan Unveils All-in-One Set-Top Box

Cord-Cutting: U.S. Pay TV Providers Lose Subscribers in Q1

According to the Leichtman Research Group, pay TV experienced a disappointing first quarter for 2013. Cable companies lost an estimated 263,735 subscribers, which may have been the result of an increase in cord-cutting. While satellite TV providers and phone companies offering television gained some subscribers, the numbers were lower than in previous first quarters. Further losses are anticipated for Q2. Continue reading Cord-Cutting: U.S. Pay TV Providers Lose Subscribers in Q1

AT&T Launches Digital Life Home Security and Monitoring

AT&T announced that it has launched its Digital Life home security and monitoring service in 15 U.S. cities with plans to expand to 50 locations this year. Built on the telecom’s 2010 acquisition of Xamboo, it will compete with security offerings by companies like ADT and various startups building devices for the connected home. Digital Life will provide visual access via Web-connected cameras and sensors hooked up to a broadband connection. Continue reading AT&T Launches Digital Life Home Security and Monitoring

Potential Aereo Rival: CBS Invests in Streaming TV Startup

As broadcasters continue to battle the unauthorized distribution of their shows via Aereo, CBS announced that it has acquired a minority stake in Syncbak, a company that allows local TV stations to stream their content online. Syncbak’s technology enables the delivery of broadcast signals to smartphones and tablets. The service is currently being tested by more than 100 TV stations (including CBS, ABC, Fox and NBC affiliates) in 70 markets. Continue reading Potential Aereo Rival: CBS Invests in Streaming TV Startup

Intel Stands to Reinvent Cable TV with Media TV Service

According to Ad Age, the Intel Media TV Service has all the components that consumers want. The interface is beautiful, the remote is simple and the cloud-based DVR doesn’t require anyone to hit “record.” Algorithms are built in to learn what users like and recommend new content, it syncs easily with social networks, there is effortless co-viewing with distant friends, it works on mobile devices and more. Continue reading Intel Stands to Reinvent Cable TV with Media TV Service

X-Ray: Actor ID Feature from Amazon Expands to TV Shows

Amazon’s X-Ray feature, which uses the company’s IMDb database of content to add real-time actor information to Amazon’s Instant Video service, will expand to include TV show viewing, the company announced on Wednesday. To start, the X-Ray feature will be available for 13 shows including popular hits like “Downton Abbey,” “The Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad” and “Game of Thrones.” Amazon and IMDb are working to expand the service. Continue reading X-Ray: Actor ID Feature from Amazon Expands to TV Shows

CES 2013: Broadcom Introduces UHD Home Gateway and 5G Wi-Fi

Chip manufacturer Broadcom unveiled a number of new technologies at CES, including the first Ultra HDTV home gateway chip, a decoder that will enable 4Kx2K resolution distribution to the home. The company, whose enclosed convention space at the back of South Hall was abuzz with activity, also showcased its first 5G Wi-Fi wireless IPTV set-top box platform, which enables carriers to deliver HDTV programming to more devices, reliably and with greater speed and range. Continue reading CES 2013: Broadcom Introduces UHD Home Gateway and 5G Wi-Fi

Cloud-Based Gaming Service Playcast Plans 2013 Launch in the U.S.

Playcast is a cloud-based gaming service that runs through pay TV, IPTV, or over-the-top TV providers like Google TV and Roku.

“For the end user, the system operates like VOD or an app, while remote servers actually run the games and stream a video feed of the gameplay in real-time,” reports Engadget. “On the back end, one server shelf can serve up to 15 players an HD (read: 720p) feed simultaneously, and graphical artifacting is kept to a minimum because it streams over the operator’s managed network.”

Playcast differentiates itself from OnLive because Playcast can brand its front-end interface to fit specific customers’ desires and does not need additional hardware. Playcast also offers packages of games for subscription use.

The company plans to launch in Q3 of 2013 with 10-15 packages of 20 games each. The packages will likely cost $10-$15 a month. Playcast will alternate 10 percent new games in each month to keep customers engaged.

“It appears that Playcast will provide casual gamers an intriguing option for getting their gaming fix next year,” concludes the post. “But we’re reserving judgment until we see how well the games run on a managed network, what titles are offered, and just how much it’ll cost.”

Debunking Tech Perceptions: If TV not Broken, Why is Everyone Trying to Fix It?

  • Apple, Google, Microsoft, Roku and Boxee are just some of the companies working on ways to re-imagine the TV experience.
  • “But nobody seems to be able to answer the big question: what exactly is so broken about TV anyway?” writes Matt Rosoff in a commentary for CNN, part of a series designed to “debunk commonly held perceptions about technology.”
  • Rosoff acknowledges that channel guides are inefficient… “But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that most TV viewers simply won’t care enough about any of this stuff to shell out $1,500 for a new Apple TV, or spend a few hundred bucks and countless hours fiddling around adding a new box to their TV set and figuring out how it works.”
  • He notes that while the tech industry wants to optimize the television experience, it is important to remember that TV is passive. We don’t want to work at it. It’s not too difficult to turn the set on, find your channel and you’re done. Even Steve Jobs sometimes just wanted to watch TV and vegetate.
  • “That’s why we love TV just the way it is,” writes Rosoff. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Connected TV Marketing Association Announces Global Launch

  • The Connected TV Marketing Association (CTVMA) launched this week in New York, London, and Melbourne, Australia — in addition to 47 other chapters worldwide — to organize the fast-growing Connected TV industry, which is projected to account for 90 percent of the global TV market by 2014.
  • “I will be serving as an advisor and co-chair in North America of events and networking,” writes Natan Edelsburg of Sawhorse Media. “The implications for connected TVs with social is obvious. The more Internet enabled your TV becomes the more opportunities there will be to bridge apps and social platforms.”
  • Co-founder Zach Weiner told Lost Remote in an interview: “Our core reason for existence is help navigate the ways that the marketing, technology and device community can all come together to achieve potential. We hope to help educate, inform and provide oversight for the industry at large.”
  • “We believe that social TV is one of the core elements that truly enlivens Connected TV and makes it relevant,” adds Weiner. “Television with an endemic connection to the Internet allows for watching behaviors to be socialized in amazingly new and novel ways. New TV apps that are being created and app branding vehicles will all be highly social. EPGs and even programming itself will all have social graphs at their core.”

Will LG Electronics Debut a New Google TV at CES?

  • LG may debut a television set with Google software at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, according to “two people with knowledge of the project.”
  • The move would be a boon for Google in the field against entrants such as Apple and Microsoft.
  • Google is working to build support for its Google TV software, despite disappointing sales from its Logitech partnership. The company introduced a redesigned version last month after the earlier release failed to meet expectations.
  • “The revamped version of Google TV service has a simpler interface,” reports Bloomberg. “The upgrade was designed to show the YouTube video- sharing service better and opens up the platform for Android developers to build applications for TV. Android is Google’s software platform for mobile devices.”
  • LG rival Samsung has also been in discussions to develop a Google TV product.

Turning On but Tuning Out: Will Connected TVs Impact Viewing Habits?

  • This fall’s TV season may see some shifts in terms of viewership numbers, due in large part to media technology trends, suggests Variety.
  • As TVs continue to become connected to the Web via Blu-ray players and gaming consoles in more homes, the technology may impact viewing habits and not turn out to be as positive for TV programming as originally envisioned by the industry.
  • New research from Knowledge Networks suggests users may use their Web-connected TVs to perform other online activities before getting around to watching programming. Variety points out that online access to TV content also provides “the option of using a full-sized TV screen for all sorts of activities and functions previously associated with a computer, from perusing photos to long-distance chatting with relatives to playing games or frequenting chat rooms.”
  • The article poses a compelling question: “So do programmers have a new threat — one where using the TV doesn’t mean actually watching their content?”

Over-the-Top TV: Growing Numbers from Generation Y

  • Nearly a quarter of Generation Y viewers are now opting for Internet-connected TVs over broadcast.
  • A new survey from Knowledge Networks indicates viewers 13 to 31 are more likely to cut the cord than other generations.
  • Of this demographic, 44 percent still watch regular prime-time broadcasts, compared with 66 percent of baby boomers.
  • It is interesting to note that Generation Y also uses DVRs significantly less than Gen Xers.
  • Multichannel News asks: “Will the younger generation at some point subscribe to ‘real’ TV? Or do their current media-consumption habits point toward an eventual decline of traditional television viewing?”

Cisco Offers its Predictions on the Future of Television

The two-day OTTcon (Over-the-Top TV and Video) conference took place the first week of March in San Jose, CA. In his opening keynote entitled “What Will Television Look Like in 20 Years?”, Scott Puopolo (VP Global Service Provider Practice for Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group) offered his company’s predictions on the immersive and collaborative future of TV.

Cisco interviewed 50 television experts with a focus on technology, consumer behavior, and business models to analyze the medium’s direction. Puopolo’s blog on the Cisco site offers an insightful overview of the results, including an interesting video and the implications for Cisco Videoscape. Highlights include:

Sensory Technology: “Sensory technology will enable new creative tools for producers and new experiences for consumers. So we’ll not only see Rachael Ray’s brownies — we’ll smell them, and eventually taste them, too.”

Multipurpose Screens: “Instead of buying TV sets per se, viewers will buy multipurpose screens. A screen in a bedroom could display your favorite painting or change into a teleconference monitor when you’re not watching TV.”

Interactive Collaboration: “Viewers will break the confines of the TV episode and interact with their favorite characters in everyday life. They could, for instance, collaborate with other fans to help key characters solve a crime or mystery.”

Gestural Interfaces: “Consumers will use words, gestures, and devices such as smartphones and iPads to control their TVs. You might raise the volume or choose a different show with a simple flick of your wrist.”