Got Plans Between Now and 2017?

In the latest sign that the apocalypse must surely be close at hand, TiVo has announced that it is ready to market the world’s largest DVR.

The six-tuner TiVo Mega boasts 24 terabytes of storage space. In case that doesn’t impress you, look at it this way: the Mega can record and store more than 26,000 hours of standard definition content. That’s more than three years of local news, singing competitions, and Seinfeld reruns. Three Years. 

For HD recording, Mega’s capacity dips to 4,000 hours, or about five and a half months of razor sharp local news, singing competitions, and Seinfeld reruns.

TiVo hopes to bring the Mega to market sometime in early 2015. The retail price will be approximately $5,000.

“Size matters,” said TiVO chief marketing officer Ira Bahr. “People hate being forced to delete cool stuff from their DVR before they want to or finding a TV show they had recorded is now gone. Now, with TiVo Mega they can always know their show or movie is still there to watch later. TiVo Mega offers more than 12 times the storage of any cable or satellite DVR. TiVo Mega is the solution for the power user who wants to record everything.”

And, apparently, also has the time to watch everything.

Is HBO Planning a Direct Shot on Netflix in the Direct-To-Consumer Video Market?

In most things related to the online video market, Netflix gets most of the attention. It makes sense, they have 36 million U.S. subscribers, got into a high-profile spat with Verizon and Comcast, and are basically seen as the leader in the online video content space. The question has always been, when will they have a more serious competitor?

Well, HBO may be that competitor. That is, HBO could transition to a direct-to-consumer option, that, like Netflix, can be accessed without subscribing to a pay-TV service such as cable or satellite.

The speculation about such a move started with some statements made by Jeff Bewkes, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Time Warner, HBO’s parent company. He was talking about HBO Go, which is available only to those with a pay-TV subscription, and he stated that the over-the-top market was looking more and more attractive. Indeed, HBO already launched in 2012 a direct-to-consumer product (called HBO Nordic) in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Obviously, the U.S. market is much different, but success with HBO Nordic may spur HBO into the direct-to-consumer market in the United States. On one hand, as Jeff Bewkes noted in 2013, there are about 70 million people in the United States that subscribe to a pay-TV service but don’t also subscribe to HBO. There are only about five to 10 million “cord cutters.” So, while HBO may want to focus on the 70 million versus the 10 million, going direct-to-consumer and increasing the available library of over-the-top content may get a number of those 70 million to look more closely at HBO Go. So, stay tuned.



Broadband TV: Adding Video to Your Broadband Offer

One of the more promising and emerging applications in today’s broadband marketplace is the concept of broadband TV. The idea is somewhat of a scaled down version of a full -blown IPTV offer, where a broadband provider delivers a slim channel line up over its broadband network, typically to a Roku streaming STB. That slimmed down channel line-up is then paired with the OTT video options available on that Roku device to offer a new approach to video and entertainment for end customers.

With broadband TV, service providers are delivering their local broadcast channels (ABC, FOX, NBC, CBS, etc.), along with other local content they may be producing via broadband into the home and/or business. The model requires much of the same components as IPTV, just in a much smaller scale (and significantly less expensive manner). Retransmission consent, video encoders and some form of broadband TV middleware are necessary. But with far fewer channels to manage, the costs can be considerably less.

Several NTCA members are offering broadband TV including Canby Telcom, Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom and Duo County Telecom.

There are limitations and it’s not a service for everyone. But for broadband carriers looking to offer some form of video in a less costly manner – perhaps to subscribers who can’t get IPTV, or for ‘cord cutters’ looking for other options, broadband TV may be worth exploring.

It’s a topic we will be covering at length at the upcoming BroadbandVision show. We have a case study by Duo County Telecom, as well as a session outlining the technical and operational requirements to offer it. There will be a number of exhibitors with solutions addressing the application as well. It’s worth a look.

Study: Five Out of Every Six U.S. Households Subscribe to a Pay TV Service

Eighty-four percent of U.S. households currently subscribe to some form of pay TV service, a recent study conducted by Leichtman Research Group, Inc. (LRG) finds.

Among those households that do not currently subscribe to a pay TV service, 35% have never subscribed. Six percent intend to subscribe in the coming six months.

LRG finds that while the absolute number of subscribers has remained relatively unchanged, an increase in the number of total households has resulted in a slight decline in the overall subscription rate.

The study also finds that 22% of TV households with average annual incomes less than $50,000 are non-subscribers, compared with 13% of those with incomes above $50,000. The average household spends $89.78 monthly for their pay TV service, up 36% from 2009.

The LRG study, Cable, DBS & Telcos: Competing for Customers 2014, is based on a telephone survey of 1,260 households throughout the United States.

“The number of pay TV subscribers in the U.S. remains about as high as it has ever been, but penetration of pay TV services in consumers’ homes has declined over the past few years, as subscriber growth has leveled off, while occupied housing in the U.S. has increased,” said Bruce Leichtman, LRG president and principal analyst. “Housing growth has been exclusively among renters, who tend to be more challenging for the pay TV industry than home owners because of their comparatively lower income, younger age, and greater likelihood to move.”

When You Come to a Fork in the Road….Take It!

Undoubtedly, the great American philosopher and 15-time All Star Yogi Berra wasn’t thinking of the cable industry when he first uttered the above bon mots, but the sentiment seems particularly applicable now, midway through the second decade of the twenty-first century.

The cable industry does, indeed, find itself at a crossroads of sorts. Cable providers face competition from all directions. Netflix has proven itself quite formidable, changing the game with respect to video-on-demand, user-friendly on-screen guides and—adding insult to injury—original programming. On the broadband front, Google Fiber has been a greater threat than previously imagined, offering customers higher-speed and lower-cost broadband service.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, the cable industry is facing a bit of a PR crisis. A recent American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) study found that customer satisfaction with subscription TV providers and ISPs continues on a downward trajectory. ACSI found that customers feel that they pay for more than they need in terms of cable television, and get less than they want in terms of Internet speeds and reliability.

All of which makes the general session discussion at the upcoming BroadbandVision show all the more timely. Those scheduled to share their expertise include Steve Cochran, President and CEO of WOW! Internet, Cable & Phone; Rich Fickle, President and CEO of NCTC; Robert Gessner, President of MCTV; and Matt Polka, President and CEO of The American Cable Association. Don’t miss this stellar panel as they share their insights into to the future—as Yogi once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.”

Glued to the Small Screen

Apparently, more and more of us are watching video in the palm of our hands: according to a new report from international research firm IDG Global Solutions, 75% of online viewers surveyed reported using a smartphone to watch online videos. That’s a 22% increase from the 61% who indicated they did so in the 2012 survey.

According to IDG’s 2014 Global Mobile Survey report, mobile is also displacing more traditional media: 50% of survey respondents use a tablet to read newspapers and 40% have replaced either their laptop or desktop with a tablet device.

New technology has allowed more people to bring their work home with them: 80% of survey respondents said that they use their tablets after hours to research business products or services.

And while mobile devices continue to generate e-commerce revenues, many consumers balk at the idea of making purchases via their smartphone. The top barriers cited by survey respondents were the lack of mobile enabled websites and security concerns.

“Mobile is disruptive–affecting how we live, shop, do business and consume media,” IDG notes. “Every minute of the day we are constantly interacting with brands at a conscious and unconscious level, and this is having a profound impact on the way that businesses are now communicating with their audience.”

Talking ‘Bout My Generation

The way an individual views his or her home network usage changes with age, a new report from The Diffusion Group (TDG) finds.

According to the report,”The In-Home Video and PC Ecosystem,” three-quarters of all millennials who use a home network describe their use as either equally or primarily media-related. By contrast, two-thirds of those home network users over the age of 65 describe their network use as data-centric.

While the percentage of media-centric users is approximately the same in the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups (74% and 73%, respectively), that percentage falls dramatically throughout each of the successive age demographics. Similarly, the percentage of self-described data-centric users begins at 21% for those between 18-24, then rises steadily, reaching 65% for those 65 and older.

“Most interesting is how rapidly this media orientation drops off as the age of the home network user increases,” said TDG president Michael Greeson. “Beyond Millenials, this emphasis shifts incrementally toward a more data-driven behavior characterized by the use of net-connected, networked PCs for ‘productivity’ or non-media needs.”

The TDG report also examines the type of televisions used in the broadband home, and their placement; the type of IP-enabled video platforms (such as Blu-ray players, DVRs, game consoles and Internet set-top boxes) used; and the specifics of home networks, including in-home router placement.

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