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CES 2011: Samsung Puts MSOs in the Picture

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

LAS VEGAS -- 2011 International CES -- Cable's new tru2way-free approach to the retail market took another positive turn Thursday with word that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) will begin to stream linear channels and video-on-demand titles later this year to Samsung Corp. Smart TVs and the company's new tablet computer, the Galaxy Tab.

The partnerships will give each MSO a branded "badge" or "button" on those devices and essentially offer all of their subscription cable TV services without the need for a separate set-top box. Comcast will, of course, promote its offering under its new "Xfinity" label. (See Comcast's 'Xfinity' Brand to Take Over the House .)

Boo-Keun Yoon, president of Samsung's visual display business, revealed the partnership here during his Thursday afternoon keynote address, and was joined on stage by Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, and TWC Chairman and CEO Glenn Britt.

Comcast and TWC developed the interfaces they're employing on the Galaxy Tab and on Samsung TVs (which house the the company's Smart TV application environment).

And they'll support a DVR option. Samsung's TVs and tablets don't build in a DVR, but they will be capable of ingesting content that is stored on an MSO-supplied HD-DVR that's hanging off the home network and connected to another TV.

The hookup with Samsung represents the cable sector's latest attempt to cozy up to the retail side of the consumer electronics industry after its earlier tru2way and CableCARD efforts failed to get the desired results. (See IP Will Trump Tru2way and Tru2way: Epic Fail at Retail.)

Among other, similar moves this week, TW Cable has forged a deal with Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) for certain Bravia models, and Comcast has teed up plans to offer on-demand and linear channels to Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPads and a range of Android-powered tablets later this year. The Galaxy Tab is the first announced Android tablet that Comcast intends to support. (See Comcast to Stream TV to iPads, Android Tablets and CES 2011: TW Cable, Sony Make IPTV Connection.)

How are they doing it?
The MSOs and Samsung, which also supplies TW Cable and other US cable operators with traditional digital set-top boxes, have not revealed many details regarding the technical aspects of the TV and tablet arrangement.

However, it's understood that the setup will use Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) (for device discovery) if the customer wants to view content stored on a DVR via the home network, and use DTCP-IP to keep that content protected as it travels around the home network. (See CableLabs Okays DTCP-IP.)

The MSOs involved in this deal happen to use Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) for their multi-room DVR deployments, so it's likely they will supply those customers with free MoCA-to-Ethernet bridges to set up the IP communications link between Samsung TVs and the DVRs.

The setup for the delivery of live, linear channels to the Samsung devices isn't so clear. It's believed that those channels will be delivered over IP using a "session-based" approach that acts like a traditional conditional access system, since that content is not being stored anywhere. However, it's possible that the MSOs could add a digital rights management (DRM) component later on.

Also, that live content will arrive to the Samsung TV in IP format through a Docsis cable modem. The operators aren't labeling this method as "IP video" yet, but instead refer to it as an "advanced digital cable platform."

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:15:59 PM
re: CES 2011: Samsung Puts MSOs in the Picture

This is turning into a regular Ce-and-Cable lovefest.  Samsung, Comcast and Time Warner.  Funai and ActiveVideo Networks.  Sony and Time Warner.  It's a beautiful thing.

Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:15:58 PM
re: CES 2011: Samsung Puts MSOs in the Picture

With apologies to REM, it's the end of the TV world as we know it, and looks like everyone feels fine. 

If cable can quickly secure more deals like this with other major TV manufacturers,  we've got a game-changer on our hands that tru2way only wish it could've been. also, we'll have to see if this is going to be the Comcast-TW Cable Show, or if other MSOs will be able to do the same, and soon.  Many don't have the same amount of resources and expertise  to throw at this approach.. so could open the door to integrators who know their way around this environment. JB

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:15:56 PM
re: CES 2011: Samsung Puts MSOs in the Picture

Hooray!!!! (We'll see.)

Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:15:53 PM
re: CES 2011: Samsung Puts MSOs in the Picture

This tru2way-free and more Netflix-like approach certainly appears to have more legs since it requires cable to become better partners and to relinquish control of the CE vendor's interface... and there's no cablecard.  But this really represents just a good start.  Will be intereting to see how quickly cable can start to work with other TV makers on similar deals, and if MSOs beyond  Comcast and TW Cable end up playing ball.  JB

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