Video services

Skype Founders to Target Netflix, LoveFilm

Here's what's turning cable's crank this morning.

  • Janus Friis and other Skype Ltd. founders have embarked on their next big project, called VDIO, and this one has the makings of a possible competitor to Netflix and LOVEFiLM International Ltd. , reports GigaOM. The service is currently in private beta and there's no word of a launch date, but VDIO will pipe TV and movies over the top, starting in the U.K.

  • Hulu LLC 's owners may again consider an initial public offering after the Web TV hub took itself off the sales block last week, reports Bloomberg, noting that the option would help Hulu raise funds to keep its executive team intact and add the kind of content it needs to compete with Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) and other over-the-top video players. Hulu nixed its original IPO plans last year, hopeful that a sale could fetch at least $2 billion. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Amazon and Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) were among those that were in the running for Hulu when the plug was pulled. (See Hulu: No Sale .)

  • Canoe Ventures LLC , the cross-MSO advanced ad venture, has released the implementation guidelines for "ExpandTV," a consumer-facing brand for interactive television (ITV) that's intended for use by cable operators, programmers and advertisers. ExpandTV, the replacement for SelecTV, is the moniker cable will use to indicate that an ad or program is interactive. Canoe is managing and licensing the brand on behalf of the industry. Here's the new logo:

  • Asheesh Saksena has left Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) to join Cox Communications Inc. as EVP and chief strategy officer, filling a slot that's been vacant since Dallas Clement left Cox's cable operations in January to become CFO of AutoTrader.com, a division of Cox Enterprises. (See Cox Cable Exec Heads to AutoTrader.com.)

  • AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) U-verse TV is going social with the launch of four new apps that run on smartphones and tablets and synchs up with what's on the tube: BuddyTV (personalized recommendations and customizable TV guide); Miso (content sharing, show discovery); TV Foundry (trailers, interviews, songs and other TV companion content that can be shared on Facebook and Twitter); and Wayin (a way to share opinions, photos and other digital content tied to what a user is watching).

  • In case there's any lingering doubt, the cable guys still don't think AllVid, a potential successor to the current CableCARD rules, is necessary. A group of service providers and programmers fired off a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) outlining an argument that the retail market for smart video devices is developing without further government interference, and that another mandate could chill innovation. In addition to Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and TW Cable, this letter also enlisted the support of DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV), HBO, Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

  • Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:51:04 PM
    re: Skype Founders to Target Netflix, LoveFilm

    But I wonder if this startup, despite the Skype pedigree, will run into the same issues Netflix has had to contend with lately, namely creating a biz model that works when the cost of good content continues to skyrocket.  Doing OTT voice and OTT video are totally different animals, and just figuring out the technical way to stream video every device on the planet is only a fraction of what they'll have to contend with in order to be successful here. Netflix's recent growing pains have shown that even successful OTT video players won't encounter some significant bumps on the road to glory. JB


    pmicali1 12/5/2012 | 4:51:04 PM
    re: Skype Founders to Target Netflix, LoveFilm

    I think the folks over at Netflix have to be even more concerned at this point, now that yet another competitor is putting their hat into the ring.  Gone are the days where Netflix could negotiate really attractive rates with their studio contacts as Hollywood is wising up to the fact that they aren't the only game in town anymore.  With all the new streaming services popping up, the studios are able to ask exponentially more for copyright fees and one doesn't have to look far to see the effect it's having on Netflix's bottom line.  It will be interesting to see how the red envelope handles this moving forward as the recent pricing changes seemed to incite folks enough to want to bring out the pitchforks...

    pmicali1 12/5/2012 | 4:51:03 PM
    re: Skype Founders to Target Netflix, LoveFilm

    I couldn't agree with you more Jeff.  Skype may be firmly established as an OTT voice and video provider but that an entirely different beast.  You're right too about the issues that they will inevitably run into down the road.  Netflix is how old at this point, 14 years?  For all intents and purposes, they were first to the game in terms of providing a large library of major Hollywood and studio television releases via instant streaming.  Getting in early meant not only were they able to handle growing pains without competition, they enjoyed first and cheap access to content.  With Hollywood becoming savvy to how much they "could" charge down the road, especially with every new player that enters the race, I think that everyone, including Netflix and Skype especially, will encounter high costs and a very competitive market.  Plus, we haven't even factored the moves by people like Microsoft to turn the Xbox 360 into a cable box down the road...

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