MediaFile

Cablevision also joins Time Warner Cable with HBO Go offer

True Blood actors Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin (Photo: Reuters)

After months of speculation we now know ad nauseum that cable markets of New York and Los Angeles will soon have HBO Go, HBO’s much acclaimed online video service. New York cable operator Cablevision said on Monday it will start offering HBO Go to its HBO subscribers in the next few months. Time Warner Cable, which dominates the New York City and Los Angeles markets, made a similar announcement late on Friday.

It’s worth repeating that HBO Go’s slick Web service and extensive library of exclusive TV shows and movies is only available to verified paying HBO cable subscribers and not as a standalone service. But even then it is significant for the strategy of HBO parent — Time Warner — to counter Netflix’s rise by offering a more flexible and mobile HBO service wherever and whenever subscribers want it.

The delays to offering the service to Time Warner Cable and Cablevision subscribers, was down to money (Quelle surprise!). While cable operators recognize the importance of offering additional value to programming packages by putting authenticated programming online — beyond the traditional TV package — they don’t always feel they need to pay too much extra over what they already pay.

At the end of the day of course it’s in the interest of both parties to come to terms or customers will indeed ‘cut the cord’ and go to Netflix to watch some of their favorite four-year old shows. But if Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes has his way that won’t include even a five-year old “Entourage” or “True Blood”.

Tech wrap: Verizon feeds hunger for cable spectrum

Verizon Wireless plans to pay $3.6 billion for wireless airwaves from a venture of cable companies Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Comcast said that the deal represented a 64 percent premium over the $2.2 billion price the cable consortium paid in 2006 for the wireless spectrum being sold to Verizon Wireless.

U.S. Representative Edward Markey asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether software maker Carrier IQ violated millions of mobile phone users’ privacy rights. Carrier IQ makes software that companies including AT&T and Sprint install in mobile devices. It runs in the background, transmitting data that the software maker says its customer companies use to better understand their devices and networks.

Zynga, which plans to go public in two weeks, slashed its value by more than 30 percent to $9 billion, hoping to avoid the fate of other recent Internet IPOs that have disappointed after stock market debuts. Just two weeks ago a filing listed the Facebook game maker’s value, based on a third party assessment, at $14.05 billion. CEO Mark Pincus, a serial entrepreneur before he founded Zynga, will hold a class of shares with 70 times more voting power than the common stock that will be sold in the offering.

Time Warner Cable’s iPad app runs into trouble: the price of popularity

Time Warner Cable, the No. 2 U.S. cable operator, isn’t a fancy company. Ever since its spin-off from Time Warner Inc it has photo 2focused on being a steady-as-she-goes friendly neighborhood telecommunications provider with video just being one of the services it carries through its pipes alongside Internet and voice.

Well, perhaps feeling a bit of cable envy as larger rival Comcast got all the press with its fancy digital businesses and fast growing cable networks — and well, NBC — Time Warner Cable decided to venture a little bit more into the 21st Century with its roll-out of a free iPad app yesterday. The app allowed iPad owners to view 30 channels in their homes, which was well received by most technology bloggers and deemed a success.

However, it just might have been too successful.  The company said the app’s popularity ”unfortunately overwhelmed the system” meaning some customers could not download it Tuesday evening. To make matters worse Time Warner Cable had to “temporarily” reduce the number of channels to just 15 to ease strain on the authentication process used to verify the user as a paying cable subscriber.

Time Warner Cable’s unique ESPN Web deal

Many media business journalists let out a collective sigh of relief at the news that Time Warner Cable had finally inked its deal WorldCupwith Walt Disney to keep carrying its programming, including ABC, Disney channels and various ESPN networks.  The programming fee negotiations had gone late into the night past their Wednesday midnight deadline and hacks, who had seen this movie before, were just starting to tire of waiting for another midnight watch.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the deal is that Time Warner Cable’s ESPN customers will now have access to ESPN3.com, a website ESPN uses to show more than 3,500 live events, including  matches from the World Cup this summer.

This is unlike other ESPN3 deals which have typically been tied to the cable operator’s Internet service provider. In those cases, ESPN3 would only be accessible to ISP customers of the cable operator.

Telcos are winning the cable TV battle but are they losing the broadband war?

War scene

The latest quarterly numbers from AT&T and Verizon Communications points to steady addition of TV customers which they are very likely winning from the cable companies as well as satellite players. AT&T said it posted its first ever billion-dollar revenue quarter for its U-Verse services (which includes Internet).  It added 209,000 U-Verse TV subscribers and now has 2.5 million in total. Meanwhile Verizon said it added 174,000 FiOS TV subscribers and now has 3.2 million in total.

Together the telcos, wh0 only launched their competing services less than five years ago now have a more than 5 percent share of U.S. pay-TV homes.

So well done to the telcos! Or is that the whole story? Analysts at Bernstein Research point out that both phone companies lost a combined 65,000 Internet access subscribers (after netting out additions from U-verse/FiOS and losses of DSL customers).

Soccer goes premium in US with new Fox footie HD channel

ArsenalvsEverton

Football, sorry, soccer has never quite been a big money maker for the U.S. cable TV industry. But Fox Networks has long wagered that the popularity of the game with the  little leaguers and the changing demographic of the country will eventually translate into the kind of big bucks that parent News Corp is used to in the U.K. with Sky Sports.

Fox said today it’s launching a new high definition soccer channel called Fox Soccer Plus, which is being offered to cable and satellite distributors as a premium channel for a selected tier or as a standalone channel for a monthly fee.

No deals have been struck yet with distributors but one hopes that the Fox programming team included Fox Soccer Plus as part of  its long negotiations with Time Warner Cable into the New Year. But as a premium channel it’s unlikely to reach as many as the 35 million households of its flagship sister network Fox Soccer Channel.

Fox vs Time Warner Cable: Soccer channels go dark for a bit, coincidence?

SOCCER-ENGLAND/

We were not completely surprised when Fox Soccer Channel went dark on Sunday afternoon while we were watching West Ham take on Chelsea. (It’s not that the cable bills hadn’t been paid). Seemed the most likely cause was the  really bad snowstorm here in New York and the rest of the U.S. northeast.

But when we noticed that Fox Soccer Espanol, Speed Channel and, for a short while, FX were also down…  well, we couldn’t help wonder if the ruckus between Time Warner Cable and Fox Networks had come to a head and that the great dark screen battle of 2010 had started early.  (Adding to our conspiracy theory: Fox’s news channels were unaffected yesterday, and neither Fox News nor Fox Business are part of the current carriage fisticuffs between TWC and Fox. Hmmmm).

After all, Fox said last week that TWC might pull its broadcast network and entertainment channels because they’ve been unable to reach agreement on fees. TWC for its part thinks Fox wants too much money. And both sides are running marketing campaigns slamming the other. So the idea that everything went black because of a their dispute wasn’t all that farfetched.

Fox vs Time Warner Cable retrans dispute could get political

AmericanIdol-Fox (Photo: Reuters)

Fox Networks went public today in what it said has been a fruitless nine-month-long carriage negotiations with Time Warner Cable, the No.2  U.S. cable company. It said there is the very real possibility that popular shows like American Idol and NFL Football could disappear from the air if you’re one of the Time Warner Cable’s nearly 14 million customers.

Fox wants to get paid for giving Time Warner Cable the right to carry its free-to-air Fox broadcast network for around $1 a subscriber every month. The talks also include negotiations for Fox’s bevy of entertainment cable networks including FX, Speed and Fuel but does not include its news networks. See Fox’s marketing campaign website keepfoxon.com here.

Time Warner Cable executives don’t want to pay a buck for so-called retransmission rights and claims it is has recently agreed to pay affiliate broadcasters  around 25 cents per sub. See Time Warner Cable’s earlier marketing campaign warning customers of programmers plans here.

from Summit Notebook:

Like the ‘net? Pay your cable bill, says Time Warner’s Britt

If you want the Internet to keep doing what it does, keep paying your cable bill, and don't get carried away with the idea of free (free! free!) content.

The next big free idea (sort of) is "TV Everywhere", the cable industry's attempt to make cable programming available over the Web -- for no extra charge -- to paying subscribers. It's an important initiative for the industry, since Pay-TV companies are concerned that the recession-resistant subscription revenue of cable television could be undermined if cable shows became widely available over the Web.

We asked Glenn Britt, chief executive of Time Warner Cable, what he thinks about the plan, and while he didn't detail when it will hit the ground, he reminded us that its success is critical. Why? The guys and gals that run the delivery system must be compensated. Think what happens if people (like so many college students I know -- and several journalists) start to depend on "free".

Time Warner Cable ready to fight high program costs

Time Warner Cable, the normally placid No.2 U.S. cable operator, is getting ready for a fight with its programming partners at the cable networks and broadcasters over rising affiliate fees. In truth, TWC has always been ready for a fight with the programmers. This time, it wants to make the first move and get its 14 million subscribers behind it.

The New York cable operator is launching an ad campaign “on behalf of its customers” to target what it sees as unfair price demands by programmers. It argues that these price demands, which usually come around this time of year at the end of programming contracts, can sometimes be as much as 300 percent increases. TWC says programmers make the demands “secure in the knowledge that video distributors are the ones who have to pass those costs along to customers and take the blame.”

So what’s Time Warner Cable going to do about it? They’re going to launch a website — yes, a website with the catchy URL: www.rolloverorgettough.com. News Corp, Sinclair Broadcasting and cable networks must be quaking in their collective fee-hiking boots.