Video services

Xbox Delays Debut of Verizon, Comcast Content

Monday’s cable news roundup kicks off with word that the Xbox 360 is getting a bunch, but not all, of the anticipated bells and whistles right out of the chute when Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) releases the latest upgrades for the broadband-fed gaming machine.

  • Microsoft will unleash a range of custom video apps for the Xbox 360 Tuesday, but this round will not include access to some live and video-on-demand (VoD) fare from Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) FiOS TV and a library of VoD titles from Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK). Support for FiOS TV and Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) VoD (Canada) is expected later this month, with Comcast, MLB.tv, and the HBO Go app coming on board in "early 2012." Some of what made Tuesday's cut: the Kinect-powered user interface and content from premium channel EPIX, ESPN and Hulu Plus in the U.S. and LOVEFiLM International Ltd. in the U.K. (See Microsoft Updates Xbox 360 and Verizon Takes FiOS TV to the Xbox.)

  • In comments posted at the company's Untangled blog, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) CEO Glenn Britt aimed to justify and defend the company's decision to join other SpectrumCo LLC partners in selling Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum to Verizon Wireless and securing a number of other related mobile product and service deals. "We'll continue to compete vigorously against Verizon FiOS," he said, noting that Verizon FiOS and Verizon Wireless are operated as two separate entities. "By working with the leader in wireless services, we will be able to compete effectively with all wireless and landline competitors," Britt noted. "We do not believe it is feasible to enter the wireless market as a free-standing new entrant." (See MSOs Sell AWS Spectrum to Verizon for $3.6B .)

  • Pending Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval, the SpectrumCo MSOs look to profit handsomely from their AWS spectrum holdings. That's caused Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) shares to jump in recent days because the strategic value of its own spectrum holdings -- obtained by the acquisitions of two bankrupt wireless/satellite firms -- are now looking even more attractive should Dish decide to sell them, as well. Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. analyst Craig Moffett believes T-Mobile US Inc. is the most likely suitor for that spectrum, with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) viewed as a "logical partner" if the merger between the two carriers falls through. (See Charlie Ergen's Spectrum Grab .)

  • Canoe Ventures LLC , the cross-MSO advanced ad joint venture, has released the results of recent interactive advertising studies, finding that request for information (RFI) ads are effective as a brand-builder even when viewers do not click on the interactive overlay. The study found a 21 percent increase in unaided ad awareness between the study's test groups, which were exposed to RFI ads, and control groups that viewed the same commercial without the RFI overlay. The test groups also showed a 28 percent increase in "purchase intent" when compared to the control groups. Canoe's national iTV platform currently reaches about 25 million homes.

  • Shipments of broadband access gear as a whole remained or were close to record levels in the third quarter, according to Ovum RHK Inc. . Broken down, FTTx PON and cable modem termination system (CMTS) were up year-on-year, but DSL shipments were flat. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. kept its lead in the PON OLT and ONT/ONU categories, with 40 percent and 30 percent shares, respectively, and was also tops in DSL. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) kept its CMTS crown with 56 percent of the market, followed by Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) and Motorola Mobility LLC .

  • Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) plans to double the number of movies and TV shows it acquires for its Canadian streaming service in 2012, giving it "comparable content quality" to its U.S. offering. Netflix has more than 1 million subs north of the border.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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