blackloud-pochannel

By way of the FCC (and Brad Linder), we learn of a new player in the streaming space, the Blackloud PoChannel. With YouTube branding and DLNA promises, the Gemtek-produced device looks similar in size and playlist function to the upcoming Qplay TV Adapter… minus the TiVo founder’s social linkages. But unlike Qplay, while PoChannel will ship with both Android and iPhone apps, a traditional remote control will also be included for more traditional control. Yet the questions remain, what sets these guys apart and is the market already saturated (with imperfect products)?

wireless-joey-fcc

The DISH Network Wireless Joey, unveiled at CES, is one step closer to release having just passed thru the FCC. The Echostar-produced Hopper extender hums with 802.11/a/n/ac to handle those high def streams of live and recorded content, without requiring a coaxial connection. Those with 802.11g networks need not apply. Via the filing, we also learn the Wireless Joey will ship with an RF remote – meaning a more sprightly response and the ability to hide WJ in a cabinet or behind your television. While I prefer DISH’s whole-home solution over TiVo’s, due to unrestricted placeshifting and Android support, I’m not quite motivated enough to switch providers given an ongoing reliance on Comcast or Verizon for broadband services. And despite TiVo’s recent layoffs and new emphasis on cloud services for cable providers, like Jason Nealis of RCN, I too hope they have a little more hardware left in them and pine for a similarly specced wireless TiVo Mini.

Comcastic TV Broadband Venn Diagram

There are so many implications to the proposed Comcast acquisition of Time Warner Cable that it’s a little hard to stay focused on one angle. However, I do want to interject something into the argument that the deal is all about the expansion of broadband. While that’s true, it’s also a simplistic statement. Why? Because broadband is all about TV right now. Think about it. What is driving the ridiculous growth of Internet traffic? It’s video. And what major video source is in the process of shifting to IP delivery? Television. You can’t tease out one side of the business from the other when the financial considerations of both are so intensely intertwined – from how networks are upgraded, to how bandwidth gets allocated, to how service packages are created.

There is one thing I think we’ll have to pay a lot more attention to going forward, and that’s how the major operators (including Comcast-Biggest-Cable-Company-of-All-Time-Warner) decide how to divide up their total delivery capacity between public Internet service and their own managed IP services. To be sure, ISPs depend on being able to market higher Internet speeds and cheaper prices to keep customers (at least in some markets), but I wonder whether in the future there will be less incentive to make public Internet services high-performing if cable companies can make more money from their own managed IP offerings.

comcastic

Charter had been looking to tie up the country’s second largest cable operator, but #1 Comcast has swooped in with a $45 billion agreement to acquire Time Warner Cable. The deal will be closely scrutinized by federal regulators, but at least one pundit expects minimal push back given their largely distinct areas of operation. However, that simplistic analysis overlooks Comcast’s identity as a media entity along with dramatically increased negotiating power when it comes to retransmission and licensing (in both directions). Further, Public Knowledge has concerns in relation to such a large percent of Americas relying on a single entity for their voice and data services. Having said all that, TWC isn’t a great cable company for TiVo owners and a Comcast infrastructure would be a significant improvement. Assuming we’re still using TiVo after the years required to close the deal, remove the punitive content restrictions, and retrofit those head-ends.

virgin-tivo

While TiVo’s US retail operation hasn’t fared so well in recent years, Virgin Media has seen great success from the TiVo platform in the UK… having just crossed the 2 million customer mark after about three years of availability. Virgin’s experience is largely TiVo as we know it, yet the 3-tuner hardware is foreign to us, as is the tent pole BBC iPlayer app. And with all their success, outfitting nearly 50% of television customers, we find it less likely Virgin’s new owners would dramatically drop TiVo for Liberty’s Horizon.