October, 2010

The time for the networks to fish or cut bait on OTT video is fast approaching

Over-the-Top Video On one level, it’s neither surprising nor inappropriate that the broadcast networks would try to block Google TV from accessing their free streamed content at this point. Google is looking to build a new business for itself, after all, by leveraging the network’s content and it makes perfect sense that the networks would want to secure a piece of that action before getting with the program. Striking now, moreover, when almost no one has Google TV yet and there’s no risk of angering a large number of viewers with the black out, is simply smart tactics on the networks’ part. Their leverage with Google will only diminish with time and the growth of Google TV users.

Yet on another level, there is something fundamentally untenable in the networks’ whole posture. While it might make sense for the networks to want to carve out a piece of Google’s future TV ad revenue for themselves, their real issue with Google TV concerns their relationships with incumbent service providers. Cutting a deal with Google for a piece of the ad pie isn’t going to resolve that deeper problem. Read More »

Fox and Cablevision partner on TV Nowhere

Cable TV Perhaps Fox has calculated that Congress or the FCC will soon change the rules regarding must-carry and retransmission consent in any case, and the current round of negotiations with cable and satellite distributors will be the high water market of their leverage. So they might as well go for broke now. If it’s to be downhill from here, might as well try to set the baseline as high as possible now.

Such a calculation might explain why Fox would risk the wrath of regulators — to say nothing of viewers — by letting Channel 5 go dark for Cablevision’s 3.1 million viewers in the New York area on the eve of a NY Yankees playoff game and an important mid-season match for the NY Giants. Maybe Fox thinks this fight really is for the ages and so it simply has to win it. Read More »

NBC dumps Google’s TV ad network; a sign of things to come?

Google TV The first Google TV-enabled devices haven’t even hit stores yet but the technology may already be shaking things up in the TV business. On Wednesday, Adweek reported that NBC Universal has discontinued the ad-sales partnership it formed with Google two-plus years ago.

“We’re not currently contributing inventory into the Google marketplace, but we continue to work with Google on multiple projects involving advanced advertising,” NBC said in a statement.

In a separate statement, Google added, “While we are no longer offering NBC Universal inventory through Google TV Ads, NBC Universal continues to be a great partner to Google. Both NBC and Google are committed to bringing more relevance to TV viewership and advertising.” Read More »

Three-strikes whiffs in Ireland

Three-Strikes Three-strikes will not be coming to Ireland. A High Court there on Monday ruled that it did not have the authority under Irish law to order an ISP to disconnect subscribers caught repeatedly downloading copyrighted content illegally. Any attempt to amend the law to give courts that authority, moreover, would likely not be enforceable in Ireland because it would conflict with European Union copyright directives, the court said.

The ruling is a major blow to the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) which had brought the case against UPC, the Emerald Isle’s third-largest ISP, seeking to force it to adopt a strict three-strikes regime. Although the judge in the case, Mr. Justice Peter Charleton, made it clear he found UPC’s existing ¬†anti-piracy efforts wholly inadequate to the task, he nonetheless found that “The Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000… has made no proper provision for the blocking, diverting or interrupting of internet communications intent on breaching copyright.” Read More »

I want my tablet TV

Tablets Considering the well-earned skepticism that clings to Microsoft in the mobile arena the introduction yesterday of Windows Phone 7 (WinPho 7? WinPhoSev?) is getting very solid notices. But it didn’t do media producers any favors by optimizing the new mobile OS for smartphones at the expense of tablets. According to Microsoft, there are no current plans to port WinPho 7 to tablets. Instead, the company will continue trying to adapt full-blown Win 7 for the tablet form factor.

There may be sound strategic and technical reasons for Microsoft’s decision. It needs to get the mobile phone OS category right this time and trying to focus on tablets as well could be a distraction. It may also be, as Microsoft claims, that at some point in the future people really will want tablets that can run more PC-like applications than Apple’s iPad can support, requiring a bigger OS. But for media companies looking for an alternative to Apple-captivity in the tablet category today, it has to be disappointing news. Read More »