The battle continues over streaming rights. That and more in today's cable news roundup.
Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) was the first MSO to offer live TV on the iPad, but it's still fighting content owners over online distribution rights. Last month the operator tried to do an end-run around Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA) by arguing in court that the conglomeration's CMT channel no longer adhered to its original mission of focusing on country music programming. Because of the shift, Time Warner claimed Viacom was in breach of its contract, and therefore the operator was within its rights to stream CMT content to tablets. Viacom hit back yesterday with a pair of motions suggesting that the move by Time Warner Cable was a political tactic, and that the service provider should not be allowed to "tack on to a federal court action a completely separate and unrelated garden variety contract dispute." (See TW Cable, Viacom Take iPad Fight to Court .)
Elsewhere, Time Warner Cable completed the acquisition of NewWave Communications systems in Kentucky and Tennessee. The deal gives TW Cable about 70,000 basic video subscribers, 44,000 high-speed data customers and 28,000 phone subs.
In addition to news of rising profits, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) also released a couple of juicy tidbits in its third-quarter earnings call yesterday. Comcast President Neil Smit alluded to the expanded rollout of its Xcalibur service to a "major market" in the first half of 2012. Currently the service is being trialed in Augusta, Ga. MSO CEO Brian Roberts also referred to a new cloud-based app Comcast is testing to allow instant access to several live sports events at once on an iPad. (See Comcast to Swing Xcalibur Wide in 2012.)
DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) had a banner third quarter, thanks in no small part to record subscriber additions in Latin America. The company reported 574,000 net new subscribers in Latin America, an additional 327,000 new subs in the U.S. (thank you, NFL Sunday Ticket promo), plus 238,000 new customers coming way of Sky Mexico.
Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) says its Horizon hybrid gateway is on track to launch early next year, starting in the Netherlands. The platform includes a 3-D-rendered interface and a search and recommendation engine that combines cable, Internet and personal content. (See Liberty Opens an IP Gateway.)
This is a test. This is only a test. TV providers across the country, including cable MSOs, will participate next Wednesday in the first ever test of the Presidential Emergency Action Notification (EAN) system. The EAN system is part of the larger Emergency Alert Service, and next week's test will be jointly conducted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. ET. Cable customers will see an onscreen message for about three minutes accompanied by an audio feed with an explanation of the new notification system.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a decision it made last June stating that cable and satellite subscribers did not have a case with their class-action suit aimed at getting providers to unbundle pay-TV programming. Multichannel News reports the court withdrew that decision on Oct. 31, leaving open the door for further legal debate over à la carte. No reason was given for the reversal.