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SBC: 'Let Us Entertain You!'

SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC) announced a joint venture on Monday with 2Wire Inc. as it launched a home entertainment service to DSL and satellite customers.

The joint venture is called SBC Media Solutions LLC, and its new CEO will be Ed Cholerton, the VP of DSL for SBC. Brian Hinman, 2Wire's president and CEO, will assume the role of president of the new venture, which exists to develop and market the MediaPortal set-top box.

The new SBC Home Entertainment Service (HES), expected to be rolled out in SBC’s territories by mid-year, will integrate satellite TV programming, video on demand (VOD), music on demand, digital video recording (DVR), caller ID, and digital photo sharing through 2Wire’s MediaPortal set-top box. The MediaPortal box is a satellite and digital TV receiver, a digital video recorder, and a PC-type device that allows Web surfing, emailing, and CD/DVD burning.

A future enhancement to the MediaPortal box will include remote access through Cingular Wireless phones. That feature allows a consumer to listen to music and view photos stored on his MediaPortal devices (or his home network) from a cell phone (or any Web-connected device).

SBC, which already offers satellite TV service through a partnership with EchoStar Communications Corp., sees the new service and joint venture as a way to improve the customer experience by tying together the TV and the PC through the DSL connection. “We’re always looking at ways to make our service even better,” says SBC spokesman Michael Coe.

Coe says that a content partner for the VOD service has not been announced yet.

"For this type of integrated [entertainment] service, there’s lots of moving parts and everything needs to work together -- Echostar, Yahoo, DSL -- and that’s not our core competency, and we wanted to make sure the end user experience is good,” Coe says. The new home entertainment service is the first step in SBC’s plans to offer users access to IPTV services over an advanced fiber network (see SBC Sheds Light on 'Lightspeed').

The ultimate goal for SBC -- and its cable competitors -- is to get as much of each customer's entertainment and communications budget that it can. That's what's causing the carrier to partner with consumer electronics vendors, online content providers, and other companies that push it further out of the world of being just a phone company. It also has led them to tease future features such as SBC Unified Communications, a service that combines all of a customer's wireline and wireless voice mail, email, and faxes into one mailbox.

Coe says pricing for the complete entertainment package, including SBC Yahoo DSL, SBC|DISH satellite TV service, SBC phone service and the 2Wire set-top with DVR has not been determined, but “just like all our services, the more you buy, the more you save.”

— Chris Somerville, Senior Editor, Next-Generation Services

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alchemy 12/5/2012 | 3:30:58 AM
re: SBC: 'Let Us Entertain You!' eltooguru writes:
Anyone who tinks the "cable cos" are brilliant strategists who are set to disembowel the RBOCs knows nothing about the cable tv business.

Consider how much of the programming content is owned or partly owned by the MSOs. Time-Warner has huge holdings. The Discovery Channel is owned by Liberty, Cox, and Advanced Newhouse. Comcast owns E! and the Golf channel. It's no surprise that Comcast tried to buy Disney last year to add to their porfolio.

The RBOCs seem to be positioning themselves to offer a dumb pipe that mostly offers content owned by the MSOs. Which position would you rather be in?
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:30:57 AM
re: SBC: 'Let Us Entertain You!' Consider how much of the programming content is owned or partly owned by the MSOs. Time-Warner has huge holdings. The Discovery Channel is owned by Liberty, Cox, and Advanced Newhouse. Comcast owns E! and the Golf channel. It's no surprise that Comcast tried to buy Disney last year to add to their porfolio.

The RBOCs seem to be positioning themselves to offer a dumb pipe that mostly offers content owned by the MSOs. Which position would you rather be in?


The following gives one answer to your question.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C...

Content is Not King
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Content is Not King is a paper by Andrew Odlyzko in which he argues that:

o The entertainment industry is a small industry compared with other industries, notably the telecommunications industry
o People are more interested in communication than entertainment
o And therefore that entertainment "content" is not the killer app for the Internet
jim_smith 12/5/2012 | 3:30:57 AM
re: SBC: 'Let Us Entertain You!' ... Content is Not King ... Andrew Odlyzko ...

We have been down this road before, with Prof. Odlyzko himself contributing to the discussion. I don't remember the title of the thread, but I came away convinced that content is not only the king, but it is also the emperor, master, and overlord.

I think Prof. Odlyzko's article was in the context of the Internet. If we are talking about web surfing, then I agree, content owners are not king, connectivity is. That's why ISPs that have a large customer base are so powerful.

But, as far as video content is concerned, content providers are totally in charge. That's why cable cos. that have the best programming are so powerful.

Also, creating a web page that is worth visiting is much cheaper than creating a video that is worth watching. So, even if everyone is connected via fiber, I don't think the content providers are going to lose their power.

Here's my prediction: 99% of the non-media-conglomerate video traffic will be amateur porn.
alchemy 12/5/2012 | 3:30:51 AM
re: SBC: 'Let Us Entertain You!' jim_smith writes:
I think Prof. Odlyzko's article was in the context of the Internet. If we are talking about web surfing, then I agree, content owners are not king, connectivity is. That's why ISPs that have a large customer base are so powerful.

If those web sites you surf to had no content, you wouldn't surf there. If you flip to a TV channel and it's displaying a test pattern, you don't watch that channel.

All that programming content is aired on a fee basis. If the RBOCs offer the Golf Channel or E!. Comcast gets money. It ain't like the web and an RBOC would get sued for offering copyrighted programming without payin the appropriate royalties.
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