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HBO, Netflix Set for OTT Video Clash

Welcome to the broadband and cable news roundup, T.G.I.F. edition.

  • HBO and Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) will soon lock horns in the Nordic region as HBO takes the unprecedented step of offering a standalone, over-the-top subscription streaming service in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland in mid-October. HBO Nordic, a joint venture of HBO Inc. and Parsifal International, will also pitch HBO's traditional subscription service and TV Everywhere platform to the area's pay-TV operators, but expects its streaming-only service to sell for less than €10 (US$12.58) per month. The Nordic offering will provide access to new episodes from HBO originals, as well as all past seasons, and subtitle them in the local language. While HBO gets ready to test the waters on this distribution model as it enters a new market, the premium programmer has so far resisted the urge to offer a standalone, direct-to-consumer OTT service in the U.S., where it's still highly reliant on its MSO relationships.

  • Word of HBO's entry into those countries caused Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to take a jab via Facebook: "Excited to see HBO join us in offering standalone streaming service in Scandinavia. ... What about the USA? We thought the first match-up would be in Albania." Hastings is talking some trash because his company's preparing to launch its streaming service in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland before the end of 2012. (See Netflix Adds European Targets .)

  • Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) will show off a Docsis 3.0 modem prototype at next week's IBC show in Amsterdam that can bond 24 downstream channels and leverage the full "media gateway" configuration of Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)'s new Puma6 chipset, the company tells Light Reading Cable. Hitron Technologies Inc. is the only D3 modem vendor so far to introduce a device that uses the full capabilities of the Puma6, which puts cable within shouting distance of a (shared) 1Gbit/s downstream pipe. Arris won't say when it plans to release its first 24-channel modem, but the vendor has already unveiled a data/voice gateway, the TG1652, that uses a Puma 6 with a 16-channel downstream. (See Intel's New Docsis 3.0 Chip Guns for 1-Gig .)

  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) will shut down its TV AdWords business in the "next few months," reasoning that video distribution is spreading to a wide range of devices. Google will instead amp up its efforts involving more Internet-centric clients, including Web publishers and corporate cousin YouTube Inc. . As for the boob tube itself, Google says it still sees some opportunities coming via way of its Google TV platform. Google TV Ads in AdWords launched in 2007, and did manage to sign on several partners, including Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH), Cox Media, DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV), Suddenlink Communications and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), among others.

  • There were some scary moments Wednesday at Charter Communications Inc. 's St. Louis headquarters when the building was evacuated due to a bomb scare. The building was cleared out after someone wrote the word "bomb" on the door of a break room refrigerator, the St. Louis Business Journal reported, noting that no explosive devices have been found, but the investigation is still ongoing.

  • The summer Olympics postmortem continued this week with Verizon noting that its 4.5 million FiOS TV subs launched the NBC-branded iTV app more than 3.5 million times during the games, and spent more than two minutes on average per session with the enhanced content. The vast majority used the iTV app, powered by Ensequence Inc. , to access news headlines surrounding the games, while just 10 percent used it to watch on-demand videos.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

  • shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:22:23 PM
    re: HBO, Netflix Set for OTT Video Clash

    Jeff -- re the iTV user stats during the Olympics: Is that as unimpressive as it seems?

    AESerm 12/5/2012 | 5:22:22 PM
    re: HBO, Netflix Set for OTT Video Clash

    The press release said 60% were repeat users, but I can't work backwards into any more meaningful number. Might be worth comparing with previous Olympics (Ensequence has a track record here, so to speak) to see if there are comparables worth fitting to a trend line.

    Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:22:21 PM
    re: HBO, Netflix Set for OTT Video Clash

    Yeah, a comparison would offer some help, but i'm sorta meh on interactive apps delivered to the TV screen these days... nice novelty thing to have and it'll be table stakes, but I think synched up interactivity on secondary devcies like tablets and smartphones makes a lot more sense.   Like all this whoopdidoo about having a Facebook app on the set-top... meh, again. I'd guess that many more people would rather update on Twitter and FB using those devcies while they're watching TV rather than having that crap take up real estate on the TV screen and using a remote control (or even a wireless keyboard for that matter) to type stuff. JB  

    AESerm 12/5/2012 | 5:22:20 PM
    re: HBO, Netflix Set for OTT Video Clash

    Knowing how oddly secretive some of my family members are about FB (sharing with dozens while trying to keep Dad at a distance) I've always thought FB on a family TV was a mis-match, even apart from the hassle of another keyboard.

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