Video services

Cable ITV Watch: VoD Gets MSO, Studio Boost

Cable MSOs and movie studios push the video-on-demand (VoD) envelope; Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH)'s spat with TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) could cost the satellite TV firm billions; Canoe Ventures LLC needs a bigger boat; and early adopters make a grab for 3DTV sets.

Here's a snapshot of recent news from the world of interactive TV:

  • A group of eight cable MSOs and eight movie studios are launching a $30 million marketing campaign to promote set-top-box-fed VoD services, according to Variety.

    The 12-week campaign, called "The Video Store Just Moved In," will attempt to promote awareness of VoD via a series of video, print, and Web ads. Meanwhile, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) is sponsoring a Cable Video Store site that highlights cable's VoD offering.

  • "Dish is now negotiating with the proverbial gun to the head," Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. analyst Craig Moffett wrote in a note Thursday, citing the recent string of losses Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) has seen in its legal battle with TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO). (See TiVo Stock Skies on Latest Ruling.)

    "Simply shutting down 7M to 8M infringing DVRs would be a death sentence," Moffett wrote of Dish's situation. "Even replacing them with non-infringing units – were there such a thing (today there is not) – would cost billions, and would immeasurably disrupt operations." If that were to happen, he estimates that Dish would face more than $3 billion in costs, when factoring in the replacement DVRs, truckrolls, and churn.

    But he doesn't buy the argument that TiVo simply wants to play hardball with Dish. Instead, he thinks "TiVo's real game is simply to entice the rest of the Pay TV industry into licensing agreements." Coercing license deals appears to be a strategy TiVo's trying to employ via its DVR patent suits against Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). (See TiVo: AT&T and Verizon Won't Strike a Deal .)

  • Canoe Ventures LLC , the cross-MSO advanced ad consortium, is getting ready to move into a larger building as it expands to 135 employees by the end of 2010, up from the 68 with which it started the year, according to Multichannel News. (See Cable's Canoe Seeks More Rowers .)

    Canoe, which is getting ready to launch an Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF)-powered request for information (RFI) campaign this spring, recently signed a lease for 40,000 square feet at 1251 Avenue of the Americas in New York City, the report says.

    Since Canoe needs more space as it gets ready to enter shark-infested ad waters, we'd be remiss not to share a famous clip of yore:

  • Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC) sold out its 3DTV sets the first week they were available, offering hope that the new technology will help juice TV sales, Bloomberg reports.

    Panasonic's offerings include a $2,899.99 bundle that includes a 50-inch 3DTV bundled with a pair of specs and a 3D Blu-ray player. (See Panasonic Starts Selling 3DTVs.)

  • Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) has been out in front on interactive advertising with its "Optimum Select" product, so perhaps it's only natural that the MSO wants to put its own stamp on it. (See Cablevision's Interactive Ads Click With Subs.)

    The MSO has obtained a registered trademark for "Power 30," a descriptor for the interactivity it's layering onto a number of TV commercials, Cablevision EVP of advanced platform advertising sales Barry Frey noted during the TV of Tomorrow Show, held earlier this month in San Francisco.

  • Charter Communications Inc. says it expects to have half of its households EBIF-enabled by year's end. It reported having 3.2 million digital customers and 4.8 million set-tops deployed by the end of 2009. (See Charter Names ITV Partners.)

    Here are a few other recent nuggets from the ITV world:

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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