Microsoft Puts Pay-TV Plan on Pause
An apparent case of pay-TV sticker shock for Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) leads off today's cable news collection.
Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) has mothballed its plans to create a subscription TV service of its own and has put talks with studios on hold, reports Reuters. The cited reason: The licensing costs were too high for even Microsoft to swallow. Instead, Microsoft's been busy forging deals directly with service providers, including Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), to pipe VoD and (in some cases) live TV channels to the Xbox 360, and score some one-off content deals with media giants such as News Corp. (NYSE: NWS). (See Comcast, Verizon Connect With the Xbox 360.)
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Robert McDowell has questioned what Comcast's intentions were when it bought Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum at auction in 2006, reports Deadline.com. "Were they [the airwaves] purchased under false pretenses?" he asked at 2012 International CES Wednesday, noting that Comcast's CFO recently told an investors conference that the MSO had no plans to build networks for the spectrum. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), by the way, was among the original members of the SpectrumCo LLC joint venture that obtained the AWS spectrum in question. McDowell's remarks come as the FCC seeks public comment on the recent spectrum deal struck between Comcast and other MSOs with Verizon Wireless . The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice , meanwhile, is said to be preparing an investigation into the deal. (See DoJ Sniffs Around VZ Wireless-Cable Deals .)
Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) is developing an app for Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC) Viera TVs, a move that will eventually allow the MSO to stream video services to those sets without a separate set-top box, reports NewTeeVee. At last year's CES, the MSO announced similar deals with Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) and Samsung Corp. , but has yet to launch the apps. (See CES 2011: TW Cable, Sony Make IPTV Connection and CES 2011: Samsung Puts MSOs in the Picture.)
CableOne is testing EchoStar Corp. LLC (Nasdaq: SATS) Aria, a white-label platform that includes a cloud-based IPG (interactive program guide), access to a library of authenticated TV Everywhere content, and the company's line of set-tops, reports CED. EchoStar, which has set a goal of securing 1 million subs for Aria by the end of 2013, was not immediately available for comment. Light Reading Cable reported in mid-2010 that EchoStar and TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) were in the running for CableOne's next-gen box business. (See Cable ONE Sizes Up EchoStar, TiVo Set-Tops and EchoStar's Cable Target: 1 Million Subs .)
Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) is lending its support to Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem LLC (DECE) 's UltraViolet, adding a big retail name to a "digital rights locker" that lets consumers buy DVD or Blu-ray titles and stream them on tablets, PCs and other connected devices. So far, UltraViolet has attracted 750,000 households since its launch last fall, says Bloomberg. (See UltraViolet Reviewers Sing the Blues .)
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable