Archives For Web

NimbleTV

NimbleTV is back in business. DISH Network cut off the streaming video service last month with a statement saying the company wasn’t an authorized Dish retailer. Now, FTABlog reports that customers in NimbleTV’s New York pilot market are slowly getting service back.

One of several TV Everywhere services on the market, NimbleTV offers its own business model twist. For $29.99/month, the company will transcode video from your pay-TV service and stream it back to you over the web with cloud-based DVR features. NimbleTV pays retransmission fees to content programmers, but does not have a formal relationship with any pay-TV operators. Instead, the company has informally paired up with Dish Network, and theoretically will do the same with other service providers in the future.

Things were fine and dandy for NimbleTV users until Dish cut off access to content in July. The service is returning now, but there are a couple of changes. First, all subscription charges for both NimbleTV and Dish service will be bundled together in one bill. Second, users have to provide a “New York Metropolitan Area address” in order to get access to local New York City channels. Of course, as FTABlog notes, “Did you know that the Empire State Building is at 350 5th Ave, 10118? Just sayin’.”

I’m still not convinced NimbleTV can make a go of its business, but it does count former Slinger Jason Hirschorn as one of its advisers. The company plans to expand beyond New York going forward to several other U.S. cities, and to select international markets.

Digital TV

The retransmission fight between CBS and Time Warner cable shows no sign of abating, but it is triggering some interesting discussions over how consumers and regulators should handle the standoff. Dave suggests that Time Warner subscribers pick up a Mohu Leaf antenna to amplify over-the-air CBS signals while cable access is cut off.

On the regulatory front, GigaOM points us to a blog post by Harold Feld, attorney and Legal Director for Public Knowledge. Among other suggestions, Feld recommends that the FCC should bar CBS from blocking Time Warner subscribers from accessing its content on CBS.com. The theory is that CBS can choose what programming it makes available online, but it can’t discriminate against a specific group of viewers.

Meanwhile, I’m left wondering why no one seems to bring up the obvious discussion point. Should we still have free TV? Broadcast networks now rely heavily on retransmission revenue, and that’s why negotiations with cable companies are such a big deal. But retrans fees trickle down to consumers, which means people are paying for free content just to get it through their cable provider. Is the idea of free TV dying out as business models evolve? More importantly, should we be trying to save it? Continue Reading…

tivo-social

Let’s face it, most social apps and interaction on television platforms are tedious silos… including TiVo’s very own Twitter app that launched on Virgin Media in 2011. However, TiVo CEO Tom Rogers has communicated that family and friends will “soon” be able to share viewing recommendations. And we wonder if, instead of managing this through a television UI, it’d be handled via the so-called “second screen.” A number of clues indicate that may be the case… Beyond TiVo’s upcoming TV Everywhere portal, a commissioned tivo.com redesign concept by Haraldur Thorleifsson and hosted on Dribbble includes a Friends tab indicating “TiVo is social. See what your friends are watching.” Of course, this text is most likely a placeholder. Yet, likely indicative of what TiVo’s been percolating. Indeed, TiVo Director Evan Young conveyed at the 2nd Screen CES Summit that the company has been researching things like user profiles, yet is taking a thoughtful approach – intending to add value in a non-creepy manner.

Nielsen: Understanding The Two-Way Causal Influence Between Twitter Activity and TV Viewership

tv-twitter-relationship

slingbox-share

Since we haven’t actually gotten around to an in-depth review of the newer HD Slingboxes or covered the current state of Sling’s webplayer (that has essentially replaced Mac and PC desktop software), we figured we should at least touch on this little nugget that Engadget turned up. In years and devices past, sharing one’s Slingbox meant sharing a password. But Sling has never shied away controversy, despite network and studio protest, and has revised sharing capabilities with individual, revocable tokens. The Slingbox viewing experience remains one-to-one and invites have been distributed by email address via the Sling.com portal. What’s new this week for Slingbox 350 and 500 owners is Facebook sharing which potentially reduces friction and provides Sling an opportunity to advertise post to your wall (with your permission). Accepting an invite sends guests directly to Sling’s portal, and this isn’t related the possibly discontinued Facebook SlingPlayer introduced in 2011.

Who’s Buying Hulu?

Mari Silbey —  July 10, 2013 — 8 Comments

Hulu for sale

Someone is buying Hulu, and the list of suitors is down to three. Before the close of bidding last Friday, AT&T jumped in on a joint offer with the Chernin Group. Peter Chernin founded Hulu years ago when he was still president of News Corp., but his company’s bid was likely too low without the additional backing of AT&T. DirecTV and Time Warner Cable are also in the hunt, and rumor has it that the bids are upwards of $1 billion. Variety reports this morning that Guggenheim Digital is out of the race after submitting a bid below what Hulu was willing to take.

Hulu initially put itself on the auction block back in 2011, but backed away from a sale at the eleventh hour. Google and Dish were the leading bidders then, with Google reportedly offering up to $4 billion for the company as long as Hulu was willing to throw in expanded content licensing rights as part of the deal. (It wasn’t.)

Unlike Boxee, Hulu has built a significant consumer fan base, and the company says it earned close to $700 million in revenue in 2012. However, Hulu still isn’t profitable, and the issue of video licensing fees is a thorny one as programmers try to protect as much of their revenue as possible through the existing pay-TV ecosystem. Perhaps given those conditions, it’s not surprising that a pay-TV company – and not an outsider like TiVo or Google - appears set to come out on top when the Hulu sale finally closes.

Who’s Buying Boxee?

Mari Silbey —  June 27, 2013 — 9 Comments

Boxee buyer

Rumors surfaced earlier this month that Boxee is about to get bought on the cheap. And while details are virtually non-existent on the identity of the buyer, we’ve never let that stop us from speculating before.

So who is the mysterious suitor? I see four potential acquiring types.

Hardware company
With Boxee’s software roots, it’s possible that a hardware manufacturer like D-Link could pick up Boxee’s video guide and DVR applications to bundle with retail boxes. If the price is right, I wonder if even Roku might be interested. Roku doesn’t want to spend the money to license fancy guide software for its super-cheap hardware. But if it could pick up the Boxee assets cheaply enough, the interface upgrade potential could be compelling.

Service provider
It’s hard to imagine that a pay-TV provider would bother with Boxee, given the other software options available, and the fact that the big operators are building their own next-gen UIs. However, maybe a small innovator would consider grabbing the assets just to break away from the standard software vendors and create some buzz. Wide Open West has made hay with the Moxi interface. Maybe somebody else on the tier-two provider list is ready to step up on the multi-screen UI front.

Media company Continue Reading…