Streaming a Subset of Live TV?

2:30 PM -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has said precious little about its coming plan to stream live TV to iPad and Android tablets later this year, other than to say that it will start off by limiting access to that content only in the home. On-demand content, by contrast, will be accessible from anywhere, so long as the customer is authorized to view it. (See Comcast to Stream TV to iPads, Android Tablets .)

It all ties into the MSO's evolving TV Everywhere strategy, but, in the case of live TV streaming to tablets like the iPad, it's limited to everywhere in the customer's home. They'll still need to buy a Slingbox or something like it to bring all their TV goodness with them.

We suggested that Comcast likely isn't saying much about the live TV aspects of its iPad app because it's trying to get the rights hammered out -- something that this Mediaweek story appears to confirm, with one "affiliate chief" telling the mag that its carriage deal with the MSO doesn't cover distribution to "any sort of third-party app."

The same argument might also end up applying to cable's attempt to offer services via IP to broadband-connected TVs. (See Comcast, Networks Spar Over iPad App , CES 2011: TW Cable, Sony Make IPTV Connection and CES 2011: Samsung Puts MSOs in the Picture.)

But during our travels at International CES last week, an industry source who claims to have some knowledge of Comcast's iPad plans suggested that the MSO may start off by offering access to about 45 channels -- obviously limiting the offering only to networks for which Comcast has rights to redistribute... even within the customer's home. From there, we're told, Comcast will add channels as it obtains more rights.

Consider this speculation at this juncture because Comcast hasn't said anything about how much of its live TV slate will or won't be offered on the iPad when the app is updated sometime later this year. In fact, Comcast may end up holding off until it can replicate its entire linear lineup (or the bulk of it) on tablets and other IP-connected displays.

However, such a situation does symbolize the kind of business barriers and resistance that MSOs, along with other video service providers, will face as they look to flesh out their TVE strategies.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:15:35 PM
re: Streaming a Subset of Live TV?


Maybe we should come up with a lexicon for Net Neutrality advocates.  I think everyone I know believes in some form or other (even me!).  Just we all believe in different things and all call it Net Neutrality.



Cooper10 12/5/2012 | 5:15:35 PM
re: Streaming a Subset of Live TV?

You could certainly argue that, and many net neutrality advocates take it even further and believe that broadband infrastructure should not be privately owned at all.  Not trying to inject politics into this, but there was a little noticed editorial in the WSJ prior to the holidays with some simply astounding details about the history of Free Press, one of the primary advocates of net neutrality - an excerpt is below, the article can be found in the WSJ archives from 12/21/10.

The net neutrality vision for government regulation of the Internet began with the work of Robert McChesney, a University of Illinois communications professor who founded the liberal lobby Free Press in 2002. Mr. McChesney's agenda? "At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies," he told the website SocialistProject in 2009. "But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control."

A year earlier, Mr. McChesney wrote in the Marxist journal Monthly Review that "any serious effort to reform the media system would have to necessarily be part of a revolutionary program to overthrow the capitalist system itself." Mr. McChesney told me in an interview that some of his comments have been "taken out of context." He acknowledged that he is a socialist and said he was "hesitant to say I'm not a Marxist."

Judge for yourself what the ultimate goals of the net neutrality advocates are.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:15:37 PM
re: Streaming a Subset of Live TV?

The way understand the rules the FCC makes a distinction between a managed IP video services like U-verse and  FiOS VoD and services that come via the public Intertubes, such as a DBS-offered OTT VoD service.  But definitely agree that it muddies things and opens plenty (too much?) to interpretation. JB



paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:15:39 PM
re: Streaming a Subset of Live TV?





I could argue that the QAM channels not running DOCSIS violate Net Neutrality in a sumilar vein.




Cooper10 12/5/2012 | 5:15:40 PM
re: Streaming a Subset of Live TV?

This question helps illustrate why net neutrality provisions will ultimately prove meaningless.  AT&T's U-Verse service is 100% IP - should all viewing of U-Verse content count towards any metered usage that U-Verse might implement for high speed internet?  Similarly, FiOS OnDemand content is delivered in IP.  Should that count?  How about services delivered in MPEG4 over a broadband connection to a DBS receiver?  Does moving bits in MPEG2 vs. MPEG4 somehow fundamentally change the rules that apply to moving those bits?

Good luck to the FCC on defining this...after all, they've fared really well on defining obscenity so far.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:15:51 PM
re: Streaming a Subset of Live TV?


I have looked hard at my Comcast documentation and can not locate the place where they either do or don't charge my bandwidth cap for Xfinity services.  Do they?  If they don't could this be construed a Net Neutrality violation (as they promise to degrade my service if I go over my 250 Gbyte cap).




Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:15:51 PM
re: Streaming a Subset of Live TV?

Great question. They haven't made a comment one way or the other with respect to this particular application coming for the ipad, but the bits for the Xfinity TV Online app on the PC have always counted toward the monthly cap on "excessive use."  But I suspect any bit sent to the ipad via this new video streaming version of the Xfinity app will count too in part because of the big net neut reason you stated. JB

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