Light Reading
10:45 AM The place-shifting pioneer might open up a new revenue stream as it gets sue-happy. The strategy worked for TiVo, anyway

Sling Media Opens the TiVo Playbook

Jeff Baumgartner
The Bauminator
Jeff Baumgartner
1/9/2013
50%
50%

10:45 AM -- When the Slingbox came on the scene in 2004, I thought it was a great idea. It delivered TV Everywhere years before the term was coined by almost every pay-TV operator under the sun.

I also remember thinking it would only be a matter of time before someone, somewhere would try to sue the pants off Sling Media Inc. for retransmitting video signals.

Discovery Communications Inc. has complained about Sling, but has yet to file a formal lawsuit. Back in 2006, former HBO CTO Bob Zitter openly wondered if Sling's approach was on the legal up-and-up. Yet, through it all -- including its US$385 million acquisition by EchoStar in 2007 -- Sling is still standing, as a company and on legal grounds. (See HBO Exec: Sling Slags Copyrights and Why Is Sling Getting a Free Pass?)

But it was Sling that went on the offensive this week, targeting Belkin Corp. and Monsoon Multimedia Inc. in lawsuits filed in California claiming that they are infringing on five Sling patents:

  • No. 7,725,912 -- "Method for Implementing a Remote Display System with Transcoding";
  • No. 7,877,776 -- "Personal Media Broadcasting System";
  • No. 8,051,454 -- "Personal Media Broadcasting System with Output Buffer";
  • No. 8,060,909 -- "Personal Media Broadcasting System"; and,
  • No. 8,266,657 -- "Method for Effectively Implementing a Multi-Room Television System."


Belkin and Monsoon both make video place-shifting devices. Monsoon is complementing a retail strategy with a direct-to-MSO approach that lets the operators decide which channels are eligible for place-shifting and whether video streams can be sent beyond the customer's home network. That's not a bad idea, since cable operators tend to take programmer copyrights extremely seriously (some MSOs own or have stakes in programmers, after all). But I haven't seen any evidence that Monsoon's had success with this strategy. (See Monsoon Pitches MSO-Managed TV Place-Shifting.)

Still, this legal attack is an interesting play for Sling Media, considered a pioneer in video place-shifting.

Sling ultimately answers to Charlie Ergen, who, as we all know, recently got taken to the woodshed by TiVo Inc., a DVR pioneer that has successfully reaped millions from lawsuits centered on its powerful patent portfolio. (See Dish, EchoStar to Pay TiVo $500M to Settle Suit.)

Ergen, perhaps still smarting from the TiVo beatdown, is now trying the same thing on two competitors. If he's successful, will he stop there?

If not, would that make Motorola Mobility LLC (and soon, by M&A extension, Arris Group Inc.) a possible target? Moto's Televation product (Comcast Corp. markets it under the AnyPlay brand) is a video transcoding device that uses a CableCARD. It keeps video on the home network, but a firmware upgrade, I've been told, can enable the device to sling video outside of the home, too. Obtaining the rights to ship those streams outside the home network is likely the big hang-up.

If Sling wins its case against Belkin and Monsoon, it could push more pay-TV operators to pay tribute to Charlie Ergen and Sling -- either through a straight-up license or one that comes way of Sling's integration in Broadcom Corp.'s new video gateway SoCs. (See Broadcom Video Gateway SoC Gets 'SlingLoaded' and EchoStar Puts Sling Out To License.)

And the lawsuit route could create a new revenue stream for Sling, which has a cult-like fan base and a solid consumer brand, but has yet to take the world by storm. It's a strategy that has worked in TiVo's favor, anyway, so Sling might be onto something here.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from The Bauminator
Don't expect anything more to pop for a while, but one analyst sees John Malone & Co. as the 'logical, ultimate acquirer of Ziggo' if the price is right
Cable operators will need to free up at least 24MHz of spectrum for Docsis 3.1. But why is that the magic number?
Liberty Media's rumored plan to snag a 25% stake in Charter for $2.5B could aid the MSO's M&A strategy
Top US cable operators lost 1.41 million video subs in 2012, but the bleeding continues to show signs of slowing in a saturated pay-TV market
Aereo streams its 'no cable required' tagline into the video world. Will consumers tune in to the message?
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Is your network built on 'The Old IP,' or are you part of 'The New IP' revolution?
LRTV Documentaries
A Cultural Shift for an OTT World

9|26|14   |   01:41   |   (3) comments


Telcos need to embrace a new approach to partnerships if they are to generate extra revenues quickly and give customers what they want.
LRTV Documentaries
New Skills Needed as Telecom, IT Collide

9|26|14   |   4:07   |   (1) comment


As telecom and IT collide, new technologies are emerging, new skills are needed and new opportunities for women are arising.
UBB Forum News
Do IP Networks Need An Overhaul?

9|25|14   |   02:01   |   (0) comments


As traffic levels ramp, do IP networks need new technologies and topologies?
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint Wields Its Influence in the Valley

9|25|14   |   3:09   |   (11) comments


Anne-Louise Kardas, Sprint's connection to startups in the Valley, explains how telcos can be innovative and find new opportunities with partners.
LRTV Documentaries
SDN, NFV & The Future of XO's Network

9|25|14   |   3:47   |   (1) comment


XO Communications COO Don MacNeil explains how cloud, SDN and NFV are altering its network requirements as well as changing data centers of the future.
UBB Forum News
The OTT Conundrum

9|24|14   |   01:39   |   (0) comments


What is holding back prosperous partnerships between telcos and the OTT players?
LRTV Documentaries
Putting Broadband to Work

9|24|14   |   01:26   |   (0) comments


High-speed broadband network rollout is key to telco strategies, but it's what happens after the network is built that counts.
Light Reedy
Light Reading's Women in Telecom Recap

9|24|14   |   0:55   |   (4) comments


Our first Women in Telecom breakfast was a huge success, and we hope you'll join us in London for the next event on November 6.
UBB Forum News
Monetizing Ultra-Broadband

9|24|14   |   01:43   |   (2) comments


Ultra-broadband networks need to be built, with fiber-to-the-premises the ultimate goal, but they need to be monetized, too.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Media Solutions Are Here to Stay

9|19|14   |   4:35   |   (0) comments


The current media revolution requires rapid upgrades in technology. New formats (HD, 3D, 4K etc.) and the subsequent explosion of file sizes demand sophisticated network and storage architecture. Social media and the multiple distribution channels require a robust asset management system. Gartner analyst Venecia Liu speaks about the current technological trends in ...
Upcoming Live Events
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Half of the world's population will be connected to the Internet by 2017, but not just by smartphones and desktops.
Hot Topics
Facebook Pokes Around LTE Direct
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/25/2014
Sprint Wields Its Influence in the Valley
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/25/2014
Is Redbox Instant Shutting Down?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/30/2014
US Ignite Cultivates Gigabit Apps
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 9/25/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed