Light Reading

Sling Media Opens the TiVo Playbook

Jeff Baumgartner
The Bauminator
Jeff Baumgartner

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
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?
From The Founder
The comms industry is rallying to the cause of open, independent interoperability testing.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Chiosi on the Potential of Open Source

10|6|15   |   06:27   |   (0) comments

AT&T Distinguished Network Architect Margaret T. Chiosi talks to Light Reading's Carol Wilson about the potential for open source technology to liberate communications service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Network Security in a Gigabit World

10|6|15   |   05:52   |   (0) comments

Masergy's James Harrison talks about some of the network security and data center issues network operators need to consider as they expand their broadband services portfolios.
LRTV Documentaries
Telefónica: In Search of Virtual Simplicity

10|5|15   |   07:30   |   (0) comments

Francisco-Javier Ramon Salguero, head of Telefónica's NFV initiative, admits virtualization initially means greater complexity, but with the right abstraction layer, it is possible to create a services-driven network architecture. He explains how Telefónica's current trials and initiatives are aimed at doing that, and what his company and other carriers need to ...
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit Europe Takeaways

10|5|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Participants from the inaugural Gigabit Europe event in Munich share their key takeaways from the conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Intel Urges Women to Take Advantage of Their Seat at the Table

10|5|15   |   4:27   |   (1) comment

Have inclusive and constructive conversations, attach a bigger meaning to your work and get involved in the cause, Intel's Monique Hayward advises women in comms.
LRTV Interviews
BT Updates on Plans

10|2|15   |   03:16   |   (2) comments

Peter Bell, CIO at Openreach, the access network division at UK incumbent BT, provides an update on the operator's trials and how Openreach is planning to deploy the broadband technology in its street cabinets.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Sonus Shakes Up SD-WAN

10|2|15   |   7:22   |   (0) comments

Sonus CTO Kevin Riley sat down with Light Reading to discuss the trajectory of the company, its SDN ambitions and why Sonus is taking a market-disruptive approve to SD-WAN.
LRTV Interviews
CityFibre's Gigabit Vision

10|1|15   |   03:18   |   (1) comment

Mark Collins, director of Strategy & Public Affairs at competitive UK city network operator CityFibre, talks about his company's plans to help build Gigabit Cities.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Automate, Scale & Create With Juniper's vCPE Solution

10|1|15   |   6:34   |   (0) comments

Join Kireeti Kompella, Juniper Networks CTO, and Steve Saunders, Light Reading Founder and CEO, as they discuss Juniper Networks' approach to NFV showcased with a turnkey vCPE solution, which demonstrates how service providers can use automation to rapidly deploy services.
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit Europe: Day 1 Takeaways

9|29|15   |   05:47   |   (5) comments

Light Reading's Ray Le Maistre and Iain Morris sup a beer and discuss some of the key takeaways from the first day of Gigabit Europe 2015.
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit in Europe

9|29|15   |   04:24   |   (0) comments

At the Gigabit Europe 2015 event in Munich, Heavy Reading's Graham Finnie talks about the availability of gigabit broadband in Europe.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
AT&T's Band of Women

9|28|15   |   4:36   |   (0) comments

Brooks McCorcle, the president of AT&T's partner solutions divisions and a mathematician by trade, shares stats on AT&T's diversity and advice on how to create your own band of women at work.
Upcoming Live Events
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Communication service providers realize that an ICT transformation is critical to their long-term survival, but most haven't yet committed to making it happen.
Hot Topics
Verizon's Go90 Is Live – Will Anyone Watch?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/1/2015
Eurobites: Dunroamin'
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 10/2/2015
Sprint to Cut Up to $2.5B in 6 Months
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 10/2/2015
McKinsey: Women Less Likely to Advance at Work
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 10/1/2015
TiVo Takes Aim With Bolt
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/30/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With so many new and exciting communications technologies now under development, it's easy to get caught up in the industry's escalating hype cycle. That's why the ...
Last week saw a big day in the 15-year history of Light Reading when Editor-in-Chief Ray Le Maistre and I were invited to interview the Deputy Chairman and Rotating ...
Cats with Phones
Hold My Calls, Indefinitely Click Here