Today's cable news roundup kicks off with the latest numbers on the few, the proud, the consumers who use CableCARD modules in retail video devices.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's ban on cable boxes with integrated security in July 2007 still hasn't spawned much of a retail market for the devices. In fact, it appears to be shrinking. The top ten incumbent U.S. MSOs have deployed just north of 554,000 CableCARDs for use in retail devices such as TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) DVRs, versus a whopping 32 million of the removable security modules in MSO-supplied set-top boxes, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) said in its latest report to the FCC. Interestingly, the number of deployed CableCARDs for retail devices among top MSOs is 28,000 fewer than the figure the NCTA reported in June 2011. The NCTA is urging the Commission to scuttle the security ban as the FCC chews on AllVid, a potential successor to the current CableCARD rules.
Sky will launch a broadband-fed, over-the-top video service in the second half of 2012 that looks poised to take on LOVEFiLM International Ltd. and Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), which launched its offering for the U.K. earlier this month. The service will offer a range of Sky content, including "hundreds" of films from Sky Movies, with some sports fare on tap. Sky isn't revealing specific pricing yet, but it will allow for monthly unlimited access and let consumers pay-as-they-go. Sky, which serves about 10.4 million homes in the U.K. and Ireland, expects to offer the OTT service on a range of PCs, tablets, smartphones, game consoles and connected TVs. (See Netflix Launches in UK & Ireland.)
Most of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s business services revenues are still coming from small businesses, but its move up market with Metro Ethernet technology is starting to make some hay. Comcast Business Services said Widener University of Chester, Pa., has tapped the MSO's MetroE platform to enhance its disaster preparedness initiatives. The school has four campuses across Pennsylvania and Delaware and also serves as a central technology hub for several local K-12 school districts. (See Comcast Hones 2-Pronged Business Attack.)
Docsis CPE specialist SMC Networks Inc. has appointed Joseph Wytanis to EVP and COO. Wytanis is late of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)/Scientific-Atlanta, where he was VP and GM of the company's Cable Home Networking business unit.