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Media Center CableCARDs freed from OEM requirement September 10, 2009

Posted by hruf in Multimedia.
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This just in from our team at Microsoft’s MCE event at CEDIA — the OEM requirement on CableCARDs has been officially lifted, freeing Joe Six Packs all over from having to buy whole systems. The photo above pretty much says it all — enthusiasts (hey, that’s us!) can add CableCARD tuners to their PC. Even though a DIY workaround has been around for a while, it’s nice not to have to break/bend the rules to get your shows recorded, isn’t it?

via Media Center CableCARDs freed from OEM requirement.

TV on the Web – Growing but Still Small, Relatively | AllThingsDigital June 30, 2009

Posted by pannet in Internet & Communities, Multimedia.
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Here’s a quick way to describe the state of TV on the Web, via two graphs from a new research report from Screen Digest analyst Arash Amel.Graph one: Look how fast this business is growing! Broadcast and cable shows on the Web will generate less than $600 million in ad dollars in the U.S. this year, but four years from now that number will be close to $1.5 billion

Graph two: Look how tiny this business is! That $1.5 billion will be a drop in the bucket for TV advertising as a whole, which is a $70 billion business, give or take a billion. (It’s so small it’s literally almost impossible to find, but if you squint hard you can see a tiny sliver of dark green on the top part of the chart below.) And crucially, it will be smaller than the $2 billion that Amel predicts will flow out of conventional TV advertising.

[…] Main findings:

  • Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes dominates the market for paid TV shows delivered over the Web and controlled 60 percent of the market last year. Amel figures iTunes will hold on to 43 percent of the market by 2013. But he thinks that market will be significantly smaller than advertising on free TV shows delivered over the Web: $800 million vs. $1.5 billion in four years.
  • Web TV purveyors like Hulu and CBS (CBS) have been reluctant to run as many ads online as they do on conventional TV. But Amel says that will change. Web TV shows carry an average of five ads per hour, but he figures distributors can eventually boost that number to 12 ads an hour.

One big caveat here: Amel’s report only addresses TV shows on the Web, not video on the Web. Amel doesn’t spell this out, but I assume that’s because he’s most concerned here with the fate of existing players like NBC, ABC, et al. And, I’m guessing, because he doesn’t think that video on the Web that isn’t TV has much value.

There’s a whole ecosystem of players creating and distributing Web-native video who would argue with that. But they’ll have a stronger case when they can show significant revenue of their own.

Coming Next: Using Your PC as a Cable Box – Is there a chance for MCE, Nero LiquidTV, etc. April 8, 2009

Posted by hruf in Internet & Communities, Multimedia.
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While the top executives at the Cable Show last week were jockeying to cut deals to distribute major cable networks over the Web (for paying customers), the engineers in the background were talking about a completely different approach to getting cable programs onto computers.

Right now, video signals are transmitted over cable systems in a method called QAM, which is designed specifically for set-top boxes and cable-ready TVs. Computers and other digital devices need special hardware add-ons in order to receive the cable programming.

But what happens when you want to watch the Food Channel in the kitchen, and (horrors) you only have a laptop there?

New technology will let cable companies feed programs onto your home network in the standard formats used by the Internet. That way you could simply run video software, such as Windows Media Player or a special program given to you by your cable company, to watch any show on your cable system on your PC, game console or smartphone.

via Coming Next: Using Your PC as a Cable Box – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com.

Clearleap Makes TV Content Management Easy as PC March 3, 2009

Posted by pannet in Internet & Communities.
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Clearleap’s products help content owners and satellite, cable and IPTV operators bring all sorts of programming — from their own archives to time-sensitive content to web videos — together, along with dynamically managed ad inventory. The output is up to each customer, and could be a linear channel, a live stream, or VOD. Meanwhile, on the backend, Clearleap makes sure the content works with new set-top boxes and formats as they come on the market. The idea is to have TV programming become as easy as web content management.

Clearleap charges service fees for use of the product as well as incremental costs for the number of ads delivered.

If the company takes off, it’s possible it could provide web video creators an easy way to make their work available to traditional television operators. But that’s a ways off.

Clearleap has $12.3 million in debt and equity funding from Silicon Valley Bank, Trinity Ventures and Noro-Moseley. Competitors include BlackArrow on the ad-delivery side and ActiveVideo Networks on the content side.

via Clearleap Makes TV Content Management Easy as PC « NewTeeVee.

Media Convergence: Cable TV Companies Nervously Embrace Web February 25, 2009

Posted by pannet in Internet & Communities.
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Cable networks apparently don’t want to follow in the footsteps of the music and film industries, allowing their traditional business models to dissolve while they beat their breasts over the unstoppable force of the Internet. Instead, they’re looking for a way to give consumers what they want — anytime, anywhere television programming — and make a buck while doing it. […]

One model being discussed is for Philadelphia-based Comcast to expand its lineup of cable shows on Fancast.com, its Web site that aggregates TV shows and movies for free viewing, much like Hulu.com — but only subscribers could access the shows. It’s not yet clear how subscribers would be authenticated; it would be easier if the customer also bought high-speed Internet service from the cable company.

Cable operators and the networks have to walk a fine line between preserving their business and standing in the way of the online video revolution. About 34 percent of adults who go online at home watch videos over the Internet at least every week, up from 25 percent two years ago, said a survey released Monday by Leichtman Research Group.

People aren’t yet cutting the cord en masse — the Leichtman survey found that people who watch recent TV shows online every week are not more likely to give up TV service than other people. Still, the industry is heading off what could end up as a troubling trend. After all, the availability of free content online has befuddled other media industries, from music to newspapers.

Hulu, a joint venture between NBC and Fox that streams free TV shows and movies, already has felt pressure from content providers. It recently ended access to its shows from Boxee, a startup’s free program that lets viewers watch online shows easily on their TV sets. Industry executives say Hulu is losing money, but Hulu declined to comment on its financial status.

The cable companies and others involved in the talks for a TV service said their goal isn’t to kill the online video goose, but to work out a plan that keeps everyone’s business intact.

Technology News: Media Convergence: Cable TV Companies Nervously Embrace Web.

More consumers cutting cable – Free TV viewing choices chip away at business February 21, 2009

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Time Warner Cable, the nation’s second-largest cable operator, lost 119,000 basic video customers in the fourth quarter, even after excluding subscribers it gave up from the sale of some cable systems. The company also posted slower growth in new digital cable TV, Internet and phone subscribers. More details will emerge as other cable and satellite TV operators report earnings in the coming weeks. This is not to say that the cable business is in trouble. It’s a mixed picture in this economy. While there will be some people who will completely give up their pay TV service, many folks will keep the subscription but cut back instead on going out to the movies. They also might give up a movie channel or two and buy fewer pay-per-view shows.

But pay TV providers are right to be alarmed. Not only has a flood of TV shows and movies become available online, but the video quality has gotten better. Netflix is expanding its service that lets subscribers stream movies and shows from the Internet at no additional cost. And more and more people have home broadband – 57 percent of American adults, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Throw in the worst economic slowdown in nearly a century and people question whether they still want to pay for cable or satellite. As of January 2008, the average monthly home cable bill was $84.59, up 21 percent from two years earlier, according to the Federal Communications Commission […]

To be sure, there can be drawbacks to canceling pay TV. Watching shows on a PC still isn’t as comfortable as watching TV while relaxing on a couch. The quality of Internet video, while improving, still isn’t as good, especially for live events, in which video and audio might not be in sync. While some game consoles, Blu-ray players and other devices enable video to be seamlessly delivered over the Internet to a TV, hooking up a computer to the TV to watch the full gamut of online shows on a big screen can take some technical savvy. […]

Tulsiani noted that the success of Hulu.com, a joint venture NBC and Fox that officially launched last year and offers free TV shows and movies, has attracted other entrants. Perhaps to hedge its bets, Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp. – the nation’s largest cable company – runs a similar site called Fancast.com, while full TV episodes now are available through the networks’ Web sites. YouTube made deals last November to carry full shows in an alliance with CBS and MGM.

This is what worries Time Warner Cable’s Britt. He warned that if cable networks keep moving content online for free, it would hurt them and cable operators like Time Warner. Because with fewer subscribers, cable operators will pay less money to programmers for the right to air their content.

Missoulian: More consumers cutting cable – Free TV viewing choices chip away at business.

Cable companies work to bring new online content to pay-TV subscribers February 21, 2009

Posted by andre in Internet & Communities, Multimedia.
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In an effort to maintain relevancy during a time when online TV viewing is on the rise, a number of big name cable companies are looking to throw in online companion packages to sweeten the pay-TV equation. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that top cable providers (namely Comcast and TWC) and TV networks are looking to assemble a large swath of online programming — some of which has been previously unavailable — and deliver it only to subscribers. As it stands, loads of shows are available right now for free via Hulu and broadcast websites, but some channels without online portals can only be caught via cable. From what we’re gathering, it seems that these operators could be working to bring some of that content to the web, essentially providing a means to tune into a Comcast or TWC lineup without having to be in front of the set-top-box.

via Cable companies work to bring new online content to pay-TV subscribers – Engadget HD