Video services

The Friday Five

Here's a handful of other things that happened in the world of cable this week that deserve some notice:

  • Apart from Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s legal tiff with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) , apparently this whole set-top waiver business isn't over just yet. Multichannel News reports that Mediacom has filed an "emergency" waiver request for rural systems representing less than 9 percent of its sub base, arguing that , short of a waiver, it might have to shutter some "isolated" systems.

  • DSL Reports notes that Charter Communications Inc. accidentally deleted emails from 14,000 user email accounts, blaming it on a "routine maintenance" snafu. Apparently the data was not backed up. Ooops. Well, at least the MSO is giving those customers a $50 credit for their troubles.

  • Over at Unstrung, Dan Jones sends word that provisional winning bids for the 700 MHz wireless auction have reached $3.2 billion. No official word yet if any of cable players involved -- including Cox Communications Inc. , Advance/Newhouse, or Bresnan Communications LLC -- are among the leaders in the early going.

  • Following a string of delays, Comcast has expanded the availability of Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) set-tops outfitted with a trimmed down version of the TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) digital video recording service in Greater Boston. (See Comcast Boots Up TiVo.) The good news: It supports OpenCable/Tru2way, so it can pipe in Comcast's video-on-demand (VOD) service and other interactive cable apps. Not as good: It costs $2.95 more than Comcast's generic HD-DVR offering, and there's no option for piping in video from the Internet and it generally lacks some of the cool features found in TiVo's stand-alone DVR products.

  • Comcast is among the first MSOs to sign up for NORA (Nielson On Demand Reporting & Analytics), a new service that measures VOD usage at the set-top box level. If the numbers look good, programmers might be convinced to loosen availability windows for movies and offer more of their best TV shows and series on cable's VOD platform, perhaps for "free" using advanced advertising models. If the numbers suck, that'll be a big setback for cable as it sees more video (and advertising dollars) migrate to the Internet. (See Nielsen Taps Comcast and Plugging the Ad Drain.)

Til next week...

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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