Media Giants Join Forces Against FCC Opening Set-Top Box

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to begin to allow third-party companies to develop devices and apps to carry pay TV signals, thus loosening the grip of the set-top box manufacturing market and the pay TV companies that lease them. But now Disney, CBS, 21st Century Fox, A&E Television Networks, Time Warner, Scripps Networks Interactive and Viacom have banded together to oppose the move, in comments filed with the FCC. The founder of Roku has come out against the idea as misguided and unnecessary. Continue reading Media Giants Join Forces Against FCC Opening Set-Top Box

Nielsen Breaks into Set-Top Box Data with Dish Network Deal

In a major breakthrough, Nielsen has signed a multi-year deal with Dish Network to use data from its 14-million set-top boxes for ratings, in addition to its long-standing 40,000-household panel. The deal comes on the heels of comScore’s merger with Rentrak, which also measures set-top-box data, as that company attempts to challenge Nielsen’s dominance in TV audience measurement. The Dish deal, which is not exclusive, will let Nielsen improve ratings in local, smaller markets where panelists aren’t measured electronically. Continue reading Nielsen Breaks into Set-Top Box Data with Dish Network Deal

Viacom Inks Multi-Year Deal for comScore/Rentrak Digital Data

Ever since comScore acquired Rentrak, the merged companies have posed competition to ratings giant Nielsen. Now, the merged digital measurement firm has signed a multi-year deal with Viacom to help the media giant more accurately target specific demographics across its linear TV, digital, mobile and over-the-top channels including MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central. Viacom offers Vantage as a data-targeting service to advertisers who want to reach “new parents looking for diapers” and other more granular targets. Continue reading Viacom Inks Multi-Year Deal for comScore/Rentrak Digital Data

FCC Will Regulate Cable, Wireless Companies on Data Privacy

In a shift in the status quo, the Federal Communications Commission will take over the Federal Trade Commission’s power to regulate Internet access providers regarding customer privacy. The FCC already proposes new rules to shield users from unwanted use of their Internet data. Impacted cable and wireless firms are protesting that the rules would target them unfairly, putting them at a disadvantage against Internet service firms such as Facebook and Google, which will continue to be regulated by the FTC. Continue reading FCC Will Regulate Cable, Wireless Companies on Data Privacy

FCC Chairman Talks Net Neutrality, Privacy and Opening STBs

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has a lot to say about net neutrality, zero rating, privacy and Silicon Valley companies, among other topics that he’s been facing over the last months. Although net neutrality passed a year ago, a lawsuit still challenges its legality in court, with Senate Republicans issuing a report that President Obama “inappropriately and secretly influenced the FCC” into regulating broadband providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. Wheeler begs to differ. Continue reading FCC Chairman Talks Net Neutrality, Privacy and Opening STBs

NBCU Adds First-Time Sales of TV Ads via Programmatic Tools

There’s a sea change at NBCUniversal, which will, for the first time, begin selling some linear TV ad space to advertisers using programmatic tools and advanced data targeting. But the move isn’t as broad as it sounds and requires some parsing. Starting this fall, advertisers will be able to use their own data sets and ad-buying technology to buy on NBC, USA and Syfy. But this isn’t the “real-time bidding” found in digital advertising and marketers won’t be able to cherry-pick individual shows. Continue reading NBCU Adds First-Time Sales of TV Ads via Programmatic Tools

Google and Vizio Partner for First Chromecast-Powered TV Set

According to multiple unnamed sources, Google and TV manufacturer Vizio are partnering on new TV sets with built-in Chromecast-like functionality. The new sets are reported to allow consumers to initiate streaming of online services like Netflix and Hulu from mobile devices. This move is a sharp contrast to Google’s previous model, which drew a line between Chromecast and its Android TV, a smart TV platform launched in 2014 that runs apps on the TV set with navigation via a remote control. Continue reading Google and Vizio Partner for First Chromecast-Powered TV Set

AMC Employs Digital Watermarking to Pinpoint and Halt Piracy

AMC Networks is the latest Hollywood company to adopt digital watermarking to protect its shows — chief among them “The Walking Dead” — from digital piracy, especially before the episodes air on TV. AMC has said it plans to use Civolution’s NexGuard to embed watermarks on a list of its original shows, also including “Better Call Saul” and “Humans.” The watermarking would take place at its New York production/distribution facilities, where the technology will be implemented as software plug-ins for its transcoders. Continue reading AMC Employs Digital Watermarking to Pinpoint and Halt Piracy

Super Bowl 50 Sets New Streaming Record, According to CBS

Although CBS has yet to release official figures, the network claims yesterday’s Super Bowl matchup between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers drew a record number of viewers who streamed the game. NBC broke streaming records last year with 800,000 viewers per minute on average and about 1.3 million concurrent users. Eclipsing the previous year’s numbers should come as no surprise since today’s consumers are more comfortable with streaming, and CBS made the game easy to access for free via OTT devices including Apple TV, Roku and Xbox One. Continue reading Super Bowl 50 Sets New Streaming Record, According to CBS

Amazon Plans to Open Additional Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores

Although not on the scale originally reported, online retailer Amazon is expanding its business to more physical storefronts. Amazon opened its first brick-and-mortar store last year in Seattle. The store features thousands of books alongside Amazon’s electronic devices, including the Kindle tablet, the Fire TV set-top box, and the Echo Internet-connected speaker. The expansion of the brick-and-mortar side of the business suggests that the appeal of browsing shelves, particularly for book aficionados, isn’t quite yet lost. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Open Additional Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores

Nielsen to Face Stiff Competition From comScore and Rentrak

Nielsen has served as the leading name in measuring TV ratings, but now the 93-year old company faces new competition. That’s because media measurement companies comScore and Rentrak have merged in a $768 million deal. ComScore, founded in 1999, specializes in measuring use of digital media, and Rentrak relies on data from set-top boxes to formulate TV ratings. Nielsen has launched new products in an attempt to evolve beyond its paper diary beginnings, but numerous critics in the TV industry are eager for an alternative. Continue reading Nielsen to Face Stiff Competition From comScore and Rentrak

FCC to Shake Up Set-Top Box Dominance, Impact Competition

Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler has just proposed updating rules for television set-top boxes, in order to lower cable bills and provide more access to Internet-based programming. Consumer advocates supporting the change say the move would increase competition, giving the consumer choices over whether to use the service provider’s set-to-box/cable app or competing devices and apps. That competition could be advantageous to TiVo, Alphabet’s Google unit and other alternative STB providers. Continue reading FCC to Shake Up Set-Top Box Dominance, Impact Competition

Layer3 TV Launches Texas Beta of Its Umio Pay TV Service

Three years after its founding, Layer3 TV, a new player in the pay TV space, rolled out a beta test in two Texas markets. Launched by Broadbus Technologies founder Jeff Binder, and former Comcast/AT&T CTO Dave Fellows, the company’s new Umio service is based on a “state-of-the-art” set-top box with an integrated cable modem for Internet and TV services. The content bundle, however, appears to be fairly traditional, including local broadcasters and most cable networks, although Umio also offers some add-on channels. Continue reading Layer3 TV Launches Texas Beta of Its Umio Pay TV Service

Amazon Plans to Launch Portable, Lower Cost Version of Echo

Since Amazon had a surprise hit with its tabletop, voice-controlled Echo speaker, released in November 2014, competitors have stepped into the space. Amazon is fighting back with another, smaller, portable and lower-cost version, code-named Fox, expected to debut in a few weeks. Echo, which costs $180, must be plugged into an outlet; its Alexa software answers questions, creates shopping lists, plays music and can control connected lights. Originally a voice activation experiment, Echo has become a popular personal assistant. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Launch Portable, Lower Cost Version of Echo

CES: Philips is Third Manufacturer to Unveil 4K Blu-ray Player

Philips has joined Panasonic and Samsung in announcing a 4K UHD Blu-ray player with support for high dynamic range. The BDP7501 offers upscaling for non-4K content and includes HDMI, Wi-Fi and Ethernet for connectivity. It also includes built-in support for HEVC and VP9 codecs, which should make it ideal for streaming 4K content from services such as Netflix and YouTube. What may set it apart from early competition, however, is its unique compact design, more akin to a set-top box than a standard disc player. The BDP7501 is expected to ship this spring for under $400. Continue reading CES: Philips is Third Manufacturer to Unveil 4K Blu-ray Player