Verizon Advances Video Agenda with Cloud TV, iPad and FiOS TV Online

Verizon is extending its FiOS video service beyond the living room to tablets, PCs and mobile devices.

Late last week Verizon CIO Shaygan Kheradpir hosted an event in New York City and offered a sneak peek of new features coming soon for FiOS customers, as well as some of the company’s long-term plans for FiOS TV. Verizon plans to offer live video programming as well as video-on-demand services to new platforms.

The service provider announced several new initiatives which rely on the concept of “cloud TV.” Flex View gives customers the ability to rent, purchase and watch video-on-demand programming on FiOS TV, the PC and select mobile devices. Flex View will initially support RIM’s BlackBerry Storm 2, the Droid 2 and Droid X and all Windows Mobile 6.5 devices, with more devices following soon. When it launches this fall, Verion plans to offer 3,000 movie titles, with rental and purchase prices ranging from $2 to $18. TV programming will follow soon after. Videos can be streamed over Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G.

Instead of local storage, Verizon will store customers’ video libraries in the cloud. Verizon’s Media Manager cloud application will provide remote streaming access to purchased VoD files, as well as personal video, photo and music files. Any content stored on the cloud can be viewed or listened to anywhere with an Internet connection. At launch, customers will be given 70 GB of allocated storage.

Verizon also is developing an application for Apple’s iPad which will likely be extended to other tablets. The “What’s Hots” app will allow the iPad to function as a mobile TV, essentially turning the device into a “software set-top box” which streams live cable programming. Instead of a traditional media guide, the application will feature a mosaic of popular channels which subscribers can browse through.

Initially, the app will work only inside the customer’s home over a WiFi connection, and allow FiOS TV customers to watch what they want on their iPad screen, while someone else in the home might be watching a different show via Verizon’s traditional set-top box. It will capture the channel as an IP stream being delivered through Verizon’s fiber network. The long-term vision is for consumers to utilize the iPad application outside the home, streaming FiOS TV wherever there is WiFi.

While the application was functioning for the live demo, it’s still under development, and there’s a long road ahead before it can be released to FiOS customers. Most importantly, each content provider has to agree to allow their content to play on this additional screen, and Verizon is hoping that it will not have to pony up additional compensation.

Time Warner and Turner Broadcasting have both expressed an interest in the TV Anywhere strategy.

In related news, Verizon announced last Thursday that it will be making more popular programming from Time Warner available online in an on-demand fashion. Verizon, which has been offering online content from TNT and TBS since June, will now offer shows from Adult Swim, Cartoon Network and truTV. Programming will be available on “FiOS TV Online” within 24 hours after an episode airs on live television.

For more, see Broadcasting & Cable, Reuters and PC Magazine.

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