July, 2011

Rovi drops last-minute lawsuit on Hulu

Patents Very amusing timing to Rovi’s patent infringement suit filed against Hulu today in federal district court in Delaware. The litigation concerns the old Gemstar-TV Guide patents on electronic program guides, which have been the source of countless legal actions by Rovi in the past.

There are two ways to read today’s move. Either Rovi believes Hulu really will be sold, and it wants to get a hook in deep enough so that any deal to acquire the streaming service would likely need to include a provision to settle outstanding litigation. Or, Rovi believes Hulu will not be sold and it wants to get a hook in now while it’s is still a going concern and there’s still someone still there to collect from.

I guess it was now or never.


Wireless bandwidth bill on the last train out of Crazytown (Updated)

Bandwidth For those who can bear to look, the debt ceiling bill being humped through the Senate this weekend by majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) could turn out to be critical to the long-term prospects of the mobile video delivery business.

In an effort to find every possible dollar of deficit reduction without actually cutting federal programs, Reid has wedged a provision into the bill authorizing the FCC to conduct “incentive auctions” of slices of radio spectrum currently controlled by broadcasters for use as wireless broadband capacity.

The idea is that broadcasters would “voluntarily” relinquish frequencies they’re not currently using. Government agencies would also contribute some spectrum currently assigned to them by the FCC. Some of the newly collected spectrum would be allocated Read More »

Fox lifts curtain on sham Hulu sale

Online Video With Fox’s announcement yesterday that it will put new episodes of current-season shows behind an authentication wall I think we can fairly assume the sale of Hulu is now off, assuming it was ever really on. Whatever valuation a prospective buyer might have assigned to Hulu a week ago just went down significantly. Most of Hulu’s revenue comes from the sale of advertising in the shows it streams and the new authentication wall will have an immediate negative impact on viewership. And fewer viewers means fewer ad dollars

The only question now is whether Hulu can continue as a going concern. Given the recent rumblings that Hulu’s other network partners were mulling a move to an authentication window Fox’s announcement is likely just the first. ABC will probably be next to go; NBC is somewhat constrained by the merger conditions of the Comcast deal to following the lead of the other networks in matters related to Hulu. When all three go, and Hulu no longer has next-day access to its most popular content (save for subscribers to Hulu Plus) the jig will be up. Read More »

Walmart tries some e-commerce Vudu

Retail Walmart’s integration of Vudu into Walmart.com could help propel the online movie service the retailer bought 18 months ago into the first ranks of digital VOD providers, alongside Apple’s iTunes, Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Amazon VOD. Walmart’s web site gets over 5 million visits a day from shoppers, giving Vudu a high-profile platform on which to build up its user base. But there’s likely more behind the move than merely ramping up Vudu’s VOD business. Read More »

Netflix Facebook integration gets Borked

Legislation We’ll have more on Netflix’s Q2 earnings report shortly, but one odd item bears flagging because, unless you’ve been around the video business for long time, you might not get the reference.

According to CEO Reed Hastings’ shareholder letter, Netflix plans to introduce its long-planned Facebook integration shortly, probably before its next earnings announcement. But the integration will only be available to users in Canada and Latin America initially:

At this point, we plan to launch this initiative only in Canada and Latin America, as the VPPA (VideoPrivacy Protection Act) discourages us from launching our Facebook integration domestically. Under the VPPA, it is ambiguous when and how a user can give permission for his or her video viewing data to be shared. Read More »