DirecTV Goes Big With Satellite Broadband

Welcome to Thursday's cable news snapshot.

  • DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) has inked deals with ViaSat Inc. (Nasdaq: VSAT) and Hughes Network Systems Inc. that give the company a national satellite broadband footprint capable of delivering speeds of 10 Mbit/s or more -- about what DirecTV needs to deliver its complementary over-the-top video-on-demand (VoD) service. DirecTV said it tapped ViaSat's new Exede service and the HughesNet Gen4 platform to offer satellite broadband in rural areas, augmenting the wired broadband services it can bundle thanks to existing partnerships with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL). DirecTV will detail pricing and other packaging details when it launches its new satellite broadband bundles later this year. (See DirecTV Cuts WildBlue From Its Broadband Future and ViaSat to Phase Out WildBlue .)

  • Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA) have resolved pending lawsuits tied to the cable op's live TV streaming app for tablets and PCs, meaning the cable operator can now add channels such as Comedy Central, MTV and VH1 to the lineup. They didn't disclose terms of the settlement, but Viacom had claimed that the MSO's carriage deal didn't include rights for devices such as iPads, even if viewing is restricted to the customer's home. TW Cable had argued that the iPad is just another TV screen in the home. (See Viacom & TW Cable Renew iPad Fight and TW Cable, Viacom Take iPad Fight to Court .)

  • TW Cable now lets MoviePass customers access about 300 titles from the Vutopia library via PCs, augmenting what it already offers on set-top boxes. Vutopia launched in 2010, and offers classic movies such as Easy Rider and A League of Their Own. Cox Communications Inc. , one of Vutopia's early customers, stopped offering the service in January 2012.

  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is pressing Verizon Wireless to explain what steps it's taken so far to deploy mobile services using the 700MHz A and B block spectrum that it's now proposing to sell if the government allows it to acquire a swath of Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum from cable operators. The FCC letter also asks the carrier to assess any "challenges" it sees with the 700MHz licenses and whether the carrier intends to abandon its sales plan if the Commission doesn't allow the AWS deals to go through. The FCC wants those answers by May 22. (See VZ Wireless to Sell Some 700MHz Spectrum.)

  • Jerry Genova has returned to Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) as EVP of network management and field operations, reporting to Wilt Hildenbrand, the company's senior advisor, engineering and technology. Genova first joined Cablevision in 1975 and left in 2000 to become a consultant to the cable operator and other clients. Genova is rejoining Cablevision amid a recent exodus of key execs. (See Another Ex-Cablevision Exec Lands at Charter.)

  • Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) plans to introduce a multi-stream membership tier later this year that will let more than two subscribers view movies and TV shows concurrently, setting the table for a new type of "family-level" subscribership grade, CFO David Wells said at the JPMorgan Chase & Co. investor conference in Boston. Word of the strategy comes as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) launches Streampix, a subscription-based video streaming service viewed as a budding Netflix rival. (See Comcast Goes OTT to Target Netflix, Hulu Plus .)

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

  • msilbey 12/5/2012 | 5:32:46 PM
    re: DirecTV Goes Big With Satellite Broadband

    Somehow I'm not surprised that TWC and Viacom decided to settle their streaming/retransmission issues behind closed doors. It keeps everyone else from seeing their dirty laundry, and it also keeps the courts out of the argument. Too bad. I would have liked to see this one debated in public, and streaming rights better defined. 

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