Cisco Systems Inc. is in talks to acquire video security specialist NDS Ltd. for US$5 billion, reports Calcalist, an Israel-based financial publication. NDS went private in 2009, and is 51 percent owned by Permira, a private equity firm, and 41 percent owned by News Corp.. NDS generates most of its business from VideoGuard, a video security and conditional access system used by pay-TV companies, and counts Cablevision Systems Corp. as its key U.S. cable MSO customer. Cisco has its own conditional access system, PowerKey, that came through its purchase of Scientific Atlanta, but NDS could help Cisco fill an important gap, as NDS has developed a downloadable version of its encryption system that can help lower the cost of set-top boxes and secure TV Everywhere services being delivered to tablets, PCs, TVs, smartphones and other connected devices. NDS would also give Cisco's video business a big boost as it looks to expand internationally. (See NDS Cracks the US Cable Code , Cablevision May Take Security for a Spin(off) and CableLabs OKs the Cablevision Way.)
Cablevision has added HBO GO and MAX GO, expanding its TV Everywhere mix to a dozen mobile services, including CNN, TBS, TNT, tru TV, Cartoon Network and HLN. New York-based Cablevision has also launched a Web-based TVtoGO portal that aggregates its channel offerings. The MSO played up the mobile aspect of the launch, noting that cable modem subs can tap in via one of the company's 35,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in Cablevision's tri-state service area. The MSO's live TV streaming component limits viewing to within the reach of the customer's home Wi-Fi access point, however. (See Cablevision, TWC Expand Live TV Streaming Plans .)
Aereo Inc. launched its live TV/network DVR service in New York City Wednesday, but would-be customers have to cool their heels after they sign up. Multichannel News notes that there's a waiting list and that the service is still only available "by invitation only." Aereo told the publication that New Yorkers who sign up should receive an email notification on how to access their account within 24 hours. (See Aereo Launches in NYC and Aereo Strikes Back.)
Those that wait it out should be pleased with the results, according to Gizmodo's review of Aereo, which uses thumb-sized antennas to feed digital over-the-air broadcast channels to customers who link in via broadband. "We took the service for a spin and it's good enough to make that cable contract feel even more useless," the reviewer notes. While Aereo might appeal to so-called cord-cutters, it should also be a draw to pay-TV customers who also want to access broadcast stations while they're on the go. But cord-cutters should be warned that Aereo's streams aren't in HD, though still "totally watchable" on 25-inch monitor, according to the reviewer.
American Cable Association (ACA) Chair and WideOpenWest Holdings LLC (WOW) CEO Coleen Abdoulah kicked off the organization's Summit in Washington, D.C., Wednesday with a call for modernized retransmission consent rules and action to curtail escalating sports programming costs for ACA's membership, which is primarily made up of Tier 2/3 cable operators. According to SNL Kagan, retransmission fees have jumped nearly 50 percent over a two-year period ending September 2011.
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