& cplSiteName &

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        ADD A COMMENT
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?
From The Founder
Download our complete guide to de-risking NFV deployment in 2016, including:
  • An eight-step strategy to deploying NFV safely, based on input from the companies that have already started virtualizing their production networks.
  • Interviews with leading executives at Colt, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Cisco, Nokia, ZTE, Ericsson and Heavy Reading.
  • Flash Poll
    Live Streaming Video
    Prepping for the Future: Upskill U Explained
    During this short kick-off video, Doug Webster, Vice President of Service Provider Marketing, Cisco, and Light Reading’s CEO & Founder Steve Saunders give an overview of Upskill U.
    LRTV Interviews
    Ditching the Slash & the Orchestration Wars

    5|3|16   |     |   (2) comments


    SDN and NFV have been inextricably bound with each other for so long that on a conceptual level, smooshing them together into one catch-all phrase – SDNFV – is now justifiable, according to Dan Pitt, executive director of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). Light Reading spoke to Pitt at the NFV World Congress, where he explained that the next ...
    LRTV Custom TV
    ZTE TV Connect Highlights

    5|3|16   |     |   (0) comments


    ZTE gives us a tour of its booth and new products at TV Connect in London.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Deluxe's Unified Delivery Solution

    5|3|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Join Alan Breznick of Light Reading and visit the Deluxe booth at NAB! Here you'll find Deluxe's Unified Delivery Solution, OTT video, virtual reality, HDR, 4K and much more!
    LRTV Interviews
    Verizon Puts Gray Boxes in the Shade

    5|2|16   |   04:33   |   (1) comment


    When it comes to the white box trend, "gray" boxes, which have a slight proprietary twist, don't give service providers and end users the advantages they're seeking, according to Verizon's Vice President of Product and New Business Innovation Shawn Hakl.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Dealing With a Disrupted Video Market

    5|2|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Ericsson's Simon Frost discusses how traditional pay-TV providers can cope with the big changes wrought by the rise of OTT video and IP technology.
    LRTV Custom TV
    The VNF Responsibility of Red Hat

    5|2|16   |     |   (0) comments


    At MWC, Caroline Chappell of Heavy Reading visits the Red Hat booth and sits down with Chris Wright to talk about the responsibility the VNF needs to take on in order to ensure the operators get the carrier-grade performance they expect for their network.
    LRTV Interviews
    AT&T Expert on the Key Pillars of UC

    4|29|16   |   03:58   |   (0) comments


    Vishy Gopalakrishnan, AVP of product marketing at AT&T, talks about the three developments that are making unified communications and collaboration secure and reliable for enterprise users.
    LRTV Documentaries
    LRTV Report: Mobile Core Innovation

    4|28|16   |   25:32   |   (0) comments


    Hear from multiple industry experts from Deutsche Telekom, SK Telecom, Heavy Reading, Huawei, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, NEC and many more about developments in the mobile core as operators virtualize their IMS and evolved packet core systems and prepare for a 5G world.
    LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
    NFV World Congress Highlight

    4|26|16   |     |   (0) comments


    The highlight of the NFV World Congress contains exciting telecom news. Join us for an inside look at Huawei's ICT 2020 plan and its latest collaboration with industry leaders.
    LRTV Interviews
    Unified Comms Finds Its Voice

    4|25|16   |   03:44   |   (0) comments


    Peter Quinlan, VP of UCC Product Management at Tata Communications, talks about the evolution of the unified communications and collaboration services sector and how voice is now a big part of current developments.
    LRTV Documentaries
    So... What Do We Do Now?

    4|25|16   |   03:24   |   (0) comments


    After a long hiatus, Max Dingman, the CEO of a GeeGhiz, returns for a motivational board room pep talk.
    LRTV Documentaries
    NAB 2016 Highlights

    4|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Light Reading's Cable/Video Practice Leader Alan Breznick climbs down from the slots to tell us about the latest news in broadcast technology at NAB 2016 in Las Vegas.
    Upcoming Live Events
    May 23, 2016, Austin, TX
    May 23, 2016, Austin Convention Center
    May 24-25, 2016, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
    December 6-8, 2016,
    June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    All Upcoming Live Events
    Infographics
    A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
    Hot Topics
    Ultra-Broadband Summit, Hong Kong
    Iain Morris, News Editor, 4/27/2016
    WiCipedia: Woman Cards & Bitch Switches
    Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 4/29/2016
    Amazon AWS Reports $2.6B Quarterly Revenue, Up a Colossal 64%
    Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 4/28/2016
    Sprint CEO: Our Spectrum Is for 5G
    Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/3/2016
    Amazon & Other 'Big 4' Cloud Providers Crushing Competitors
    Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 4/29/2016
    Like Us on Facebook
    Twitter Feed
    BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
    In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
    Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
    Animals with Phones
    Sloth Mail Click Here
    Sloth mail -- somehow even slower than snail mail.
    Live Digital Audio

    Of all the tech companies in the Valley, Intel has made the most aggressive commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. It's doing so by taking concrete, measurable steps, making a large financial investment and through a commitment to complete transparency about its progress. In this radio show, WiC Director Sarah Thomas will be joined by Shlomit Weiss, Intel's Vice President, Data Center Group, and General Manager of Networking Engineering, who will share with us why Intel is tackling this huge challenge, how and to what effect. She will also discuss her unique experiences leading development of Client SOC development in the past and today leading development of all of the chipmaker's silicon hardware for networking IPs and discrete devices and managing a team of 600 engineers across Israel, Europe and the US.