Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Is the FCC Redefining Television

The Federal Communications Commission is preparing a proposal which could help the fledgling OTT industry by treating certain online video services like cable and satellite TV providers. The move would help the online services gain cheaper access to major network programming and could allow them to become stronger competitors to the dominant pay-TV providers like Comcast.  Gaining rights to popular channels has been a major hurdle for online TV services. Sony Corp. and Dish Network (as previously reported here) are among the companies considering Web-based services to compete with traditional cable and satellite operators. The big issue and cause for some OTT failures like Intel’s exit from its “OnCue” service, is in securing highly coveted programming from ESPN, NBCU, AMC and others is that the networks typically are owned/controlled by the larger MVPD’s (Comcast, Time Warner, Cablevision).

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was asked about the matter yesterday and stated that a proposal is circulating among commissioners “is probably a bit of an overstatement.” Nonetheless the industry analysts are buzzing. “This is a very big deal,” said Richard Greenfield, an analyst for BTIG. “It could pose very significant challenges to the traditional cable TV bundle.” Paul Gallant, with Guggenheim Securities, said in a note today, that broadcasters such as CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox Inc. would potentially benefit from having more buyers for their programming.

According to an unknown source by Bloomberg, the change would affect online video providers that offer a cable-like programming service on a schedule, and not on-demand services like Netflix, which allows subscribers to watch videos whenever they want. But it could revive the controversial online video service Aereo, which allowed subscribers to watch broadcast TV channels on their computers and Internet connected-TVs.
Although for now this may just be chalked up as a rumor, it is one that would have a broad impact on the business as it is today, a  move which could significantly broaden competition in the MVPD market. More: FierceCable 09/30/14 - Rumor mill:Aereo-like platforms may be given program licensing rights by FCC and/or Variety.com09/29/14 - FCC Wants Some Online Providers to be Treated as Cable Operators

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sony Goes Over the Top with Viacom Deal

Sony, like Dish Network and others that we've reported on recently, is developing a broadband-fed services and they took a step closer to reality yesterday as they announced that they had completed a distribution deal that covers 22 Viacom cable channels at launch, as well as access the Viacom's full on-demand package.  In addition to popular services, including BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon, Sony will be able to offer customers access to Viacom’s TV Everywhere websites and apps as well as its full VOD package.  The company first announced its plans to offer pay TV channels over the Internet by the end of this year, and this is a big step in delivering on that promise.  More: Bloomberg.com 09/10/14 - Sony Recruits 22 ViacomNetworks for Internet TV

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Dish Digital prepares to Launch Nutv

In what appears to be a common theme trending in the industry today, Dish’s internet TV service, Nutv, plans to launch before the end of the year. Dish Digital, the satellite operator’s online business subsidiary that is going to be in charge of the new service, has filed a number of trademarks for the brand, including one with a logo that could be used at launch.

The Nutv brand has also surfaced in conjunction with one of Dish Digital’s existing apps, suggesting that the app may be used for the new service as well. Dish has secured digital licensing deals with The Walt Disney Company and A+E Networks so far to program the service. It's unclear at this point if it will make more content deals, given that obtaining a low under $30 price point is key to the new offering. A Dish executive recently said that the company plans to target “cord cutters, cord nevers and… cord haters” with the service.  Dish chairman Charlie Ergen said during the company's second quarter earnings call in August, "We'd like to get them started on pay-TV. We'd like to get them started on ESPN. My concern is that we're missing a while generation of customers."