Light Reading

Is Cable Stifling OTT Video Competition?

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Welcome to the broadband news roundup, Hump Day edition.

  • The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation to determine if cable operators and other pay-TV providers are using TV Everywhere business models and broadband consumption caps to stifle video competition from Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and other over-the-top (OTT) providers, reports The Wall Street Journal.

    Under the authenticated TV Everywhere model, programming from cable networks is being made available via broadband only if the viewer also subscribes to a pay-TV service. As caps go, the probe is reportedly coming into play amid complaints from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings that the caps are unfair to OTT providers and that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s data policy for its VoD app for the Xbox 360 might violate the terms of its acquisition of NBCUniversal LLC . Comcast has argued that data sent via the Xbox app is exempt from data caps because it's delivered over the operator's private IP network and that it views the game console as just another set-top box. (See Netflix Cranks Up the Net Neutrality Heat , Netflix CEO Keeps Whining About Comcast and Comcast Denies It's Prioritizing Xbox Video .)

  • The cable industry claimed victory Tuesday as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously voted to do away with a "viewability rule" in six months that currently requires operators to deliver must-carry digital broadcast TV signals in digital and analog format to customers. The cable industry wants to reclaim analog channels for other uses, such as Docsis 3.0 Internet services and more HD programming. The catch is that operators will have to provide digital-to-analog converter boxes for customers that are currently receiving analog cable TV signals without a set-top box.

  • TorrentFreak says HBO's Game of Thrones has the dubious honor of being the favorite TV show of pirates, averaging almost 4 million illegal/unauthorized downloads per episode during the spring television season. CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother was second, at 2.8 million per episode. HBO has so far resisted the urge to unbundle its TV Everywhere app and let consumers buy access directly from the premium programmer. A recent survey suggests that consumers would be willing to pay $12 for HBO Go as a standalone service.

  • Motorola Mobility LLC has tweaked its APEX3000 universal edge QAM ("universal" in the sense that it can handle both QAM and IP traffic at the same time) for the European market by adding support for the Digital Video Braodcasting (DVB) standard. Moto claims the APEX3000 is "compliant" with Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP), a dense, next-gen architecture that cable's pursuing as it starts to migrate to IP video and looks to put all its services on a single platform. (See Motorola Pushes Ahead on Cable Access and CCAP Market Is Cisco's & Arris's to Lose .)

  • Clearleap has added The Nielsen Co. C3 ratings system to a video and media publishing platform it's pitching to programmers to handle video delivered over-the-top and via more traditional VoD platforms. Introduced by Nielsen in 2007, C3 measures the average commercial minutes viewed during a broadcast, and includes DVR, VoD and Internet playback data over a three-day period. Programmers are turning to C3 so advertisers can better track viewership of shows that are recorded or viewed on-demand.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:30:11 PM
    re: Is Cable Stifling OTT Video Competition?

    I've been pondering why the DOJ launched this probe so stealthily -- and I'm taking it as a sign that the department hasn't made up its mind on this issue yet. If you publicly launch a formal probe, you have to put some spin on why you're doing it. And perhaps the DOJ hasn't decided what that spin is yet, just that this is something they want to keep an eye on.

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