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Video services

Google TV Stumbles Out of the Blocks

The holidays are upon us, but there's no lull in news affecting the cable industry as DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) strikes deeper into the world of targeted advertising, while Sezmi Corp. and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s new TV efforts stub their toes. Here's today's roundup:

  • There apparently won't be many wide-screen TVs embedded with Google TV under Christmas trees this week. Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) says it has seen mixed reviews of new TVs embedded with Google TV, and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has asked other manufacturers to delay new models embedded with Google TV until it can tweak its software, according to The New York Times . (See Google TV Guns for Cable Deals , Google TV Comes Out, the World Tunes In , and Dish's Google TV Exclusive Will Be Brief .)

  • It's a big day for proponents of targeted advertising, as DirecTV strikes a deal with top media buyer, Starcom MediaVest Group , to deliver addressable advertising to subscribers with DVRs.

    The deal lets big Starcom clients such as Procter and Gamble, Coca-Cola, and General Motors target ads to DirecTV households based on "multiple factors including geography and customer segmentations, as well as third-party sources," DirecTV said. The companies plan to begin testing addressable advertising in 2011, and expect to place addressable ads on about 25 national cable networks that reach 10 million DirecTV subs with DVRs. (See DirecTV, Dish Connect on Interactive Ads and Cable ITV: Is It a Real Business Yet? )

  • Video services startup Sezmi has shown that it can raise funds from investors for a video service that competes with cable, but it's finding it’s a lot harder to get cable "cord cutters" to pay $20 per month for a hybrid broadband-broadcast TV service.

    Sezmi will scrap its "Select Plus" tier in Los Angeles on Dec. 28, and focus instead on its lower-end $4.95 "Select Tier," which provides feeds from a few local broadcast channels.

    "Select Plus" features nearly two dozen linear channels, including Nickelodeon and CNBC. The $4.95 package Sezmi will ride from here on looks similar to ivi Inc. ’s package of live broadcast channels distributed online, which costs $4.99 monthly. (See Sezmi Stacks More Cash , Sezmi Sets Big Expansion, and Q&A: ivi Inc. Founder & CEO Todd Weaver.)

  • It was another late Sunday night for Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)’s customer service and operations teams. The MSO’s Washington, D.C., system grappled with a “service interruption” last night, according to the "ComcastCares" Twitter account. That follows outages that the MSO suffered last month in D.C., Baltimore, and Boston on the eve of "Cyber Monday," and a major outage on Dec. 5 that affected systems in Chicago, Indiana, Michigan, and Minnesota. (See Down & Out and Comcast Hit by Regional Net Outage .)

  • While many US cable MSOs are still formulating their TV Everywhere strategies, Belgian cable operator Telenet has launched a TVE site called Yello, reports Broadband TV News. Subscribers can use the platform to access content from their pay TV subscriptions on a computer, an iPad, or an iPhone.

    — Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

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