Comcast Video Unit Targets Enterprise & More

Welcome to the broadband news roundup, Hump Day edition.

  • thePlatform Inc. , the Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)-owned Web video publishing unit, has made its hay by inking deals with major programmers and pay-TV operators, but it's moving more aggressively into the mid-tier market with mpx Essentials. The new, scaled-down publishing product, which starts at US$499 per month for 500 gigabytes of storage and 500 videos, puts thePlatform in closer competition with Web video players such as Ooyala Inc. , Brightcove Inc. and Kit Digital . "It's a very crowded space. It will be a sales battle for sure," admits thePlatform Director of Technical Sales Tim Sale, noting that the company will use mpx Essentials to target markets such as education, healthcare and enterprise. The Essentials edition runs on Akamai Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AKAM)'s HD network, with the ability to create adaptive bit rate streams (200 kbit/s to 2 Mbit/s) so video can be scaled for a range of screens, including smartphones, tablets and PCs, and connection speeds.

  • TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) has filed a countersuit against Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), alleging that Cisco is infringing on four patents related to DVR technology. The counterstrike comes soon after Cisco, which makes set-tops with on-board DVRs, filed a suit seeking to invalidate those four TiVo patents. (See Cisco Launches Preemptive Strike on TiVo.)

  • Recent valuations of privately held cable operators are out of whack, says Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. analyst Craig Moffett. The latest case in point is WaveDivision Holdings, which is being bought by two private equity firms for a reported $950 million, equating to about $4,400 per video customer -- radically higher than the public equity valuations of major MSOs. Comcast, for example, would have a share price about 51 percent higher than current levels if its valuation was in the neighborhood of what Wave's getting. While Moffett thinks a more active private equity market for cable could "be a significant catalyst for cable shares," he warns that recent lofty valuations in the private arena could dissuade major cable ops from purchasing more Tier 2/3 operators and prevent even more industry consolidation. (See TW Cable Buys Insight for $3B.)

  • Comcast and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) face a class-action lawsuit alleging that the operators retain social security numbers and credit card data even after customers cancel service, reports The Hollywood Reporter. The plaintiffs claim the retention of such data violates the Cable Communications Policy Act, and that the law allows individuals to collect $100 per day for each day of the alleged violation.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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