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Retrans Fees Take Center Stage at ACA Summit

Mari Silbey

  • Europe's cable operators have the specifications and the will to enable Wi-Fi roaming, says Cable Europe Labs chief Peter Percosan.
  • Getcha popcorn ready! Comcast's "Watchathon Week" gives video customers access to the full VoD libraries of HBO, Showtime, Starz and Cinemax from March 25-31.
  • The American Cable Association (ACA) held its annual summit in Washington D.C. Wednesday, and rising programming costs were at the top of the agenda. The CEO of WideOpenWest Holdings LLC (WOW) Colleen Abdoulah stated that as much as 70 percent of her customers don't watch football, yet all subscribers have to subsidize the cost of National Football League coverage. Also, according to Abdoulah, broadcasters are colluding on licensing fees in 20 percent of TV markets, and that's driving up retransmission costs by at least 22 percent. Meanwhile other topics of discussion at the event included: how to support cable's transition to IP -- Senator Dean Heller of Nevada wants to promote private investment in better infrastructure; whether to move toward usage-based broadband billing -- Commissioner Ajit Pai from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has nothing against it; and whether over-the-top video should be regulated like traditional TV -- everyone at the ACA would prefer fewer regulations for cable instead.
  • thePlatform Inc. announced a major win today with news that U.K. MSO BT Group plc has chosen the company's mpx video publishing solution for its newest IPTV services. Both BT Vision and YouView from BT are reportedly operating on the cloud-based delivery system, which includes technology for managing video workflow, subscriber content rights, and integration with content recommendation engines. thePlatform notes that the solution for BT is similar to the one used by Comcast Corp. with the X1 platform, and by Telstra Corp. Ltd. with the T-Box in Australia. (See Telstra Picks thePlatform for TV Everywhere.)
  • Video streaming on game consoles is up. The Nielsen Co. reports that users now spend 22 percent of their console time on average watching TV and movies on the PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox360. That's up from 19 percent in 2011 and only 13 percent in 2010. PS3 users led the trend in 2012 with nearly 25 percent of their time spent streaming content.
  • Netflix Inc. has decided to get social. The video rental company announced yesterday that subscribers in the U.S. will soon be able to connect with friends through Facebook to share favorite Netflix shows. Once connected, users will see a "Watched by Your Friends" row of titles on the Netflix menu, and will be able to track what programs are rated highly. The company emphasizes, however, that users can still hide any embarrassing viewing habits by clicking on a "Don't Share This" button. The new feature will roll out to all U.S. subscribers by the end of this week.
  • Would-be Netflix competitor Redbox Instant by Verizon may be ready to go public as early as today. GigaOM has learned that the new movie streaming service, offered as part of a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. and Redbox Automated Retail LLC, is about to make the jump out of its early testing phase. Redbox Instant pricing starts at $8 per month. A baseline subscription includes streaming access and four credits for one-night DVD rentals from a Redbox kiosk. (See Verizon/Redbox Take a Swing at Netflix.) — Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable
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