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Can Cable Break DirecTV's 'Sunday Ticket' Grip?

Jeff Baumgartner
1/30/2012

Welcome to Monday's cable news snapshot.

  • Can cable loosen DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV)'s exclusive hold on Sunday Ticket, the satellite TV giant's popular package of out-of-market NFL games? Current antitrust laws coupled with fresh consumer complaints could help MSOs and other pay-TV service providers break up that deal and the NFL's "residual rights" to games that are broadcast on "sponsored telecasts," according to this article (PDF) by Ariel Y. Bublick, a Juris Doctor Candidate at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. "It would behoove the NFL to voluntarily terminate the exclusive contract for publicity purposes, instead of being forced by Congress or a lawsuit," Bublick concludes. The current DirecTV/NFL deal runs through the 2014 season. (See Cable: DirecTV's 'Ticket' to Broadband Content.)

  • Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) workers in Brooklyn voted in favor of unionizing and joining the Communications Workers of America Local 1109, claiming the move will bring wages and benefits in line with those from Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). The vote may spur cable installers and technicians to consider the same move in other parts of the country. The Communications Workers estimate that fewer than 4 percent of cable workers in the U.S. belong to unions. Cablevision, which was against the move, told The New York Times: "In the worst economy in memory, Cablevision has not laid off a single technician."

  • TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) is rolling its new hi-def user interface and multi-room streaming capabilities to all flavors of the company's Premiere DVRs sold at retail with the availability of the company's 20.2 platform. The upgrade also includes a new mini-guide/overlay that lists three channels at a time, and software that aims to enhance the speed of applications running on the devices, notes Digital Trends.

  • The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) 's Canadian Summit in Toronto will be preceded by the organization's first Wireless Symposium, a one-day conference on March 26 that will focus on cable's interest in Wi-Fi, Long Term Evolution (LTE) and cell backhaul. The Symposium will coincide with the Summit, which runs March 27-28.

  • Aneesh Chopra, the U.S.'s first White House CTO, is stepping down and is expected to take a run for lieutenant governor in Virginia, reports The Washington Post.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable



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    AESerm
    AESerm
    12/5/2012 | 5:44:02 PM
    re: Can Cable Break DirecTV's 'Sunday Ticket' Grip?


    So this young J.D. candidate is leaning not so much on antitrust as the Sports B'casting Act of 1961 and really seems to be proposing a lawsuit against the NFL, similar to one (Shaw v Dallas C'boys) that affirmed the right to sue. A dispute was evidently settled out of court. Wonder if he's got any takers for another go. Meanwhile, the guys in the locker room at the gym this morning cocked their ears when they heard Comcast's pitch for the 'most Super Bowl coverage' and recaps of every Super Bowl ever played on the on-demand lineup. Now with NBC, Comcast will do well this week even without the Ticket.

    kaps
    kaps
    12/5/2012 | 5:44:01 PM
    re: Can Cable Break DirecTV's 'Sunday Ticket' Grip?


    If the contract renews in 2014, sounds like there isn't enough time for a lawsuit to work its way to any place that matters. Wonder if the rights contract makes DirecTV more attractive as an acquisition candidate?


    In the end it will all be about the rights, and who will be able to outbid ESPN going forward. Maybe ComcastNBC? Either way, it's a good time to own a franchise.

    kaps
    kaps
    12/5/2012 | 5:44:01 PM
    re: Can Cable Break DirecTV's 'Sunday Ticket' Grip?


    If the contract renews in 2014, sounds like there isn't enough time for a lawsuit to work its way to any place that matters. Wonder if the rights contract makes DirecTV more attractive as an acquisition candidate?


    In the end it will all be about the rights, and who will be able to outbid ESPN going forward. Maybe ComcastNBC? Either way, it's a good time to own a franchise.

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