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Fox, Other Nets Try New Way of Nagging You to Watch Their Shows

Win Walter White’s Undies

Dave Zatz —  September 26, 2013 — Leave a comment

walter-white-underwear

As Breaking Bad draws to a close, the Emmy award winning series that attributes its longevity to Netflix, is auctioning off over 200 props shown onscreen. Amongst the Sony Pictures memorabilia are Walt’s iconic tighty-whiteys, haz-mat suit, and Pontiac Aztek - that’s sold as is, and will require a flat bed to get home. I imagine the relatively modest opening prices will skyrocket rather quickly once the auction goes live 9/29, but I’m still holding out hope I might pick up a bucket of Pollos Hermanos.

flarewatch

Another one bites the dust… Cox Communication’s over the top flareWatch television experiment has come to an end, with customers being notified of service termination and refunds (1, 2) while the landing page indicates “Service Unavailable.” The offering, built upon FanTV hardware, was intended to provide advanced television services, including cloud DVR and VOD, to cord cutters (who’d effectively replace one cord for another). Next?

Verizon FiOS TV CES 2011 3

Well this could put a damper on Verizon’s currently cozy relationship with the cable industry. According to the New York Post, Verizon – like so many companies – is in talks with “major programmers” about creating a national, Internet-based pay-TV service. The Post says that while Verizon has pursued access to particular shows in the past, it’s now exploring what it would take to acquire the content rights for a “full suite of channels.”

Verizon has theorized about offering FiOS TV as an app for years, but sadly has been slower to deliver a decent mobile app than several of the larger cable companies. The big question now is not whether Verizon will go down that road eventually (despite its cable alliance), but how and when someone, anyone brings an Internet-based TV service to market. I’m not talking about an option like Aereo, but a true, content-loaded, bring-your-own-device, pay-TV service.

Let’s take a look at some of the possibilities. Intel and Apple are “negotiating” with programmers, with Intel threatening to launch a service before the end of the year. Time Warner Cable has released apps for the Xbox, Roku, and select smart TVs. Cox is experimenting with Fan TV in California. Dish Networks’ Charlie Ergen has talked publicly about going over-the-top with TV service. And the list goes on.

The Internet TV era is definitely coming. Verizon knows it. The cable industry does too.

Jinni interface

We first heard that Microsoft was licensing Jinni’s video search and discovery technology back in 2011. Now, however, the two companies have made their intentions official. Jinni says it has signed a multi-year agreement to power the recommendation engine on “Xbox video game and entertainment systems.” The news comes less than three months before the scheduled launch of the Xbox One.

Jinni has been on a tear this year. The company signed up Time Warner and Vudu as customers back in January, and I discovered in June that Jinni will also be embedded in the upcoming Comcast X2 interface.

Recommendation engines are big business, and there are a lot of companies vying for licensing deals in the TV space. Jinni’s technology uses not only standard content metadata, but also data tags that describe qualities like mood and style for different entertainment titles. Jinni’s machine-learning system processes all of that data and uses it to recommend new content that viewers might like.

Says Dave Alles of Microsoft, “Our goal is to make it effortless to get you to entertainment you’ll truly love. Pairing Jinni’s Entertainment Genome with other key advances such as Conversational Understanding, makes finding something to watch on Xbox as fun as watching it.”