Video services

Comcast Ups Smit to Cable CEO

A big move atop Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) kicks off today's cable news roundup.

  • Comcast has elevated Neil Smit to CEO of the company's cable unit. Smit, already president of the unit, joined Comcast in March 2010 from Charter Communications Inc. The move, which comes days after Comcast and other MSO partners struck an important multi-faceted deal with Verizon Wireless , seems to fall in line with Comcast's corporate structure since its acquisition of NBCUniversal LLC . Steve Burke, for example, now serves as EVP of Comcast and CEO and president of NBCU. Smit, like Burke, reports to Comcast Corp. CEO Brian Roberts. (See Smit Leaves Charter for Comcast .)

  • Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is teaming with Redbox for the telco's purported over-the-top, out-of-footprint subscription video service that's expected to come out sometime in 2012, says TechCrunch. It notes that the partnership will tie into Redbox's Project Zoetrope initiative, which aims to support Roku Inc. boxes, and iOS and Android devices, including Google TV, when the Redbox play gets off the ground in May. (See Verizon to Stream After Netflix .)

  • Some Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) users view the streaming specialist's updated app and interface for the Xbox 360 as a downgrade, bemoaning that some helpful features they liked about the previous version, including the ability to re-start a title from the beginning, didn't make the cut, VideoNuze points out.

  • Speaking of Netflix, CEO Reed Hastings told investors at this week's UBS AG confab that "The competitor we fear the most is HBO Go," referring to the premium programmer's multi-screen TV Everywhere product. "HBO is becoming more Netflix-like and we're becoming more HBO-like," he said, referring to the fact that Netflix is applying more focus and dollars on exclusive, original programming. (See Netflix Shopping for Original TV Series.)

  • Mediacom Communications Corp. will stream free, ad-supported content later this month from Hulu LLC at Mediacomtoday.com, a broadband customer portal launched in tandem with the IPO-chasing Synacor Inc. . (See Synacor Guns for $75M IPO .)

  • Roku has inked a deal to offer NBC News content, including Meet the Press and Today, for free on its video streaming platform.

  • Dave Zatz laments that DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) will be using the "classic" TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) interface (instead of the hi-def UI that graces TiVo's Premiere line) in the satellite TV giant's new integrated HD-DVR. "So it's neither the best TiVo experience, nor is it the best DirecTV DVR," he says. It may not woo cutting-edge gadget-lovers, but Zatz allows that the decision could attract a subset of DirecTV users that "might find comfort in that classic TiVo experience (including the iconic peanut remote)."

  • Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem LLC (DECE) 's UltraViolet digital rights locker and electronic sell-through system, which lets consumers buy a movie once and play it out on a bunch of platforms, is going global, with launches slated in the U.K. this month, Canada in 2012, and in additional countries in 2013, says PaidContent.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

  • shygye75 12/5/2012 | 4:46:57 PM
    re: Comcast Ups Smit to Cable CEO

    All rabbit holes have one thing in common -- they all leave you underground.

    craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 4:46:57 PM
    re: Comcast Ups Smit to Cable CEO

    When it was reported that Verizon would launch an OTT programming service, essentially an "OTT cable overbuilder," the economics were immediately and widely questioned. Now comes the report that the plan really is to partner with Redbox on a Netflix-like VOD OTT service, which seems to make more sense.

    Or does it? It doesn't make much sense for Redbox to partner with Verizon if it excludes distribution on non-Verizon platforms because, like Netflix, OTT services want to be on all platforms with any distributors. And while Verizon could use the service as a complementary offering for FiOS customers, couldn't it also become a competitor of sorts to FiOS TV?

    Darn, just when I thought I had this new world figured out...


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