Welcome to today's broadband and cable news roundup.
Cox Communications Inc. is the first cable operator to launchStarz Play and Encore Play, two authenticated TV Everywhere services from Starz Entertainment LLC . Cox will also launch Movieplex Play, a third TV Everywhere service coming from the premium programmer. Starz says its "Play" trio will offer a combined 1,500 movies, originals and other TV programs each month, including 400 titles from the flagship Starz Play offering. Starz Play and Encore Play, available today on Web browsers and on iOS devices, will initially support only via Wi-Fi and wired broadband connections. Support for cellular connections, Android phones and tablets and gaming consoles will be coming later, said Starz. The company is trying to secure similar Play deals with other pay-TV providers.
Starz also had some news cooking outside the U.S., as its Starz Media Worldwide Distribution division struck a deal to license movies, TV series and originals to HBO Nordic, a new multi-screen joint venture that will target customers in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark. The deal is significant for a couple of reasons -- it's a partnership between two programmers that traditionally compete for premium pay-TV dollars in the U.S., and it's centered on the first standalone subscription streaming from HBO. HBO Nordic is expected to launch in mid-October and sell for less than €10 (US$12.58) per month. (See HBO, Netflix Set for OTT Video Clash .)
Charlie Ergen has scotched a plan to turn Blockbuster Inc. into a video streaming hub that would compete with Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX). The Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) chairman told Bloomberg that he envisioned using Blockbuster stores to help pitch the service, but the plan fizzled in part because the company's plan to offer mobile broadband services has been delayed as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decides how Dish can use its wireless spectrum. Dish snapped up Blockbuster out of bankruptcy in 2011 and is using the brand to push a premium subscription bundle. "I don't think Blockbuster is going to be a mistake, but it's unclear if that's going to be a transformative decision," Ergen told Bloomberg. (See Dish Bundles Up Blockbuster and Dish's Latest Buy Is a Blockbuster .)
FreedomPop has not marketed its national "freemium" wireless broadband service against wireline providers yet, but the company does view cable and telco wireline operators among its competitive targets, company COO Steve Sesar tells Multichannel News, noting that the company will introduce an "at-home offering in the next couple of months." FreedomPop recently launched a public beta service that taps the Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) WiMax network and offers up to 500 megabytes of data usage per month for free. (See FreedomPop Sparks Mobile Internet Free-for-All.)