It was a good news, bad news day for AT&T on the video front. A few short hours after the company announced yesterday that it would become the latest pay-TV provider to offer over-the-top video service from Hulu, word surfaced that Cox Communications is suing AT&T for patent infringement over elements of its U-verse IPTV deployments.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s announcement of its deal with Hulu LLC follows similar announcements from Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) and five smaller cable operators, including Armstrong Cable , Atlantic Broadband , Mediacom Communications Corp. , Midcontinent Communications (Midco) and WideOpenWest Holdings LLC (WOW) . Unlike those MSOs, AT&T is planning to offer access to Hulu through its websites and mobile apps later this year. While cable companies have already said they plan to deliver Hulu directly to consumer set-tops, AT&T only noted that it is "exploring the possibility of bringing a Hulu app to TV." (See AT&T Strikes Deal to Stream Hulu and Cablevision Embraces OTT With Hulu.)
Hulu integration still requires AT&T subscribers to pay a monthly Hulu subscription fee. AT&T made the point in its press release that the Hulu deal complements the company's other over-the-top initiatives, including its Otter Media joint venture with The Chernin Group, which has purchased a majority stake in the online media company Fullscreen. (See AT&T, Chernin Invest $500M in OTT Video.)
In the bad news department for AT&T, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported yesterday that Cox Communications Inc. has filed suit against the telecom for infringing on three of its video patents with the wireline U-verse TV service. Those patents are for technologies described as "Method and System for Multicast Using Multiple Transport Streams," "Generating a personalized video mosaic in a cable services network" and "Access system and method for providing interactive access to an information source through a television distribution system."
Cox is seeking financial compensation for damages incurred.
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading