Category Archives: OTT

Netflix Threatened if Net Neutrality Dismantled

Can fixed broadband providers control what services flow through their networks? Verizon, One of the largest US internet providers is challenging the Open Internet rule adopted in 2010 by the Federal Communications Commission called “Net Neutrality”, which forbids Internet broadband providers from blocking or discriminating against services or content.

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Here is some of the dialogue taking place about his debate:

Sohn said that if Verizon has its way, it and other providers like Comcast or AT&T could “play favorites,” by blocking or degrading services such as YouTube or Netflix to promote their own offerings or that of their partners.

“Every user every day benefits from this rule (Net Neutrality) for the services they use, whether it’s YouTube or Twitter or something else,” Sohn told AFP.

But Verizon and its allies argue the FCC lacks authority to interfere with their business, and that Congress never decided these companies were regulated utilities or “common carriers.”

“It is not up to the FCC to decide these issues on its own,” said Verizon lawyer Helgi Walker, arguing the case before the US Court of Appeals in Washington earlier this month.

“It has no implied authority, no express authority…and it’s highly unlikely that Congress would have delegated authority in such a convoluted way.”.

The 2010 Net Neutrality decision only won by a 3-2 vote. It is therefore conceivable that as this new debate heats up, it could possibly be overturned. The ramifications could have a ripple effect throughout the rest of the world.

The European union is already also having it’s own debate. According to the New York Times:

European countries are similarly struggling with whether and how to regulate Internet service. The Netherlands has some wireless regulations in place, and France this year introduced strict anti-discrimination measures. But while European Union officials have voiced support for what is known as net neutrality, a recent proposal gives Internet providers great leeway.

Here is Wired Magazine’s article about the original suit filed by Verizon, and here is a recent article by Raw Story concerning where the issue resides.

Singapore Hotel Television Solution at-visions

Last year, the German company at-visions sparked a deal with Singtel for its ONEvision suite of services, to sell television solutions to hotels throughout Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. SingTel Group is Asia’s leading communications firm with operations and investments in more than 20 countries.

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According to the press release posted at the at-visions website:

With the partnership, at-visions and SingTel hope to bring even greater synergy to the hospitality markets that they both serve. This partnership will translate into greater value and savings for its customers. And we would offer greater variety and integration of content, especially for hotels in the (Singapore) market.

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How has this partnership manifested?

We had the chance to utilize the hotel TV product in one particular Singapore venue, and found that, the product platform hardware is actually from a company called Pivos, located in Fremont California. Specifically, the product platform is an IPTV set top box called the Pivos XIOS DS Media Play, which is essentially an android app device.

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The Gadgeteer wrote a good comprehensive review of the Pivos XIOS DS Media Play after having put it through the wringer for over a month. In summary, they conclude the following:

If you’re looking for something to play your media on a TV, there are better  options available.  We’ve reviewed several here at The Gadgeteer.    This box is not for the technically challenged and is definitely not  plug-and-play.  However, there may be a market for the DS  Media Player.  The device could be a platform for techies that want to  experiment with Android in a box, and it can be used as an XBMC device by  downloading the Linux XBMC firmware.  Just be prepared to spend a lot of  time on the vendor’s forums and website.

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The remote control however is from at-visions, and while it is a sleek, elegant, precision engineered, finely crafted remote. It is however a bit complex, with many buttons that don’t function (or are not activated). It is also not easy to know what buttons you are pushing in the dark, and unable to read the labels.
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The channel content changed in just the five days we test drove device. Currently, the channels available are 6 MediaCorp FTA channels: Ch 8, CNA, Okto, Ch U, Suria, and Vasantham, and also 3 sports channels Fox Sports, Mio Stadium and Star Sports.

However, three days ago, it also contained MediaCorp Channel 5, Asia Travel Channel and Bloomberg. All 3 of those channels just vanished a couple days ago.

The picture quality is good, but often “jumpy”, like as though it is skipping an occasional few frames. There is a long delay between switching channels, perhaps 4 seconds on average. And on occasion, the picture freezes, requiring the box to be rebooted. But this is not clear if it’s a problem with the box, or the internet connectivity, I suppose the latter.

Yahoo Screen Mobile Application

Re-imagining Video For Mobile with Yahoo Screen

Yahoo launched a new mobile application called “Yahoo Screen,” which runs on Apple iOS devices such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The Yahoo Screen app will become Yahoo’s media content portal, offering a simple, swipeable user interface for browsing through the video channels.

yahoo-screenThe Yahoo Screen app allows users to browse through trending video clips, granular searches for specific programs, and includes gesture-based navigational controls – for example, swiping left and right skips between the episodes, while swiping up and down flips through channels.

The idea, the company explains, is to re-create the feeling of channel surfing on the TV on mobile. The navigation controls are on the left side of the screen, where you can scroll up and down through the available content channels, tap a search button, or access a side bar where you can navigate in between other Yahoo apps like Mail, Flickr, Fantasy Sports, and more.

To kick things off, Yahoo Screen has announced a deal with Viacom to offer clips from some of Comedy Central’s best shows, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. Along with an exclusive digital clip archive of Saturday Night Live, Yahoo Screen offers access to a lot of comedy video content.

More information from Techcrunch and Yahoo.

TWC TV App for Xbox Live Now Available

Xbox-360-TWC-TV-app-640x393Time Warner Cable TV’s application for Xbox live is now downloadable at the Xbox Live Marketplace. Microsoft and Time Warner Cable’s partnership is critical in positioning the Xbox 360 as a one-stop solution for streaming TV and movies.

The TWC TV app will allow users to access up to 300 TV channels, including AMC, BBC World News, Bravo, the Cartoon Network, CNN, Comedy Central and the Food Network, depending on their specific subscription. It also enables users to navigate through TV shows, music and movies using voice and gesture control through the Kinect peripheral.

Xbox 360 owners already have access to apps from content providers including Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video, as well as streaming live TV through networks like HBO GO, Fox News, NBC News, MTV and Nickelodeon.

Full story at Techcrunch.

TiVo’s Roamio Opera SDK Partnership

tv-store-largeTiVo’s new Roamio platform launched last week and will allow developers to build and provide HTML5 web apps to TiVo device owners via a developer SDK.The new TiVo DVR hardware devices also improve considerably on the amount of content that can be recorded, and there’s a new feature allowing the streaming of both live and recorded content.

Roamio devices already offer access to pre-installed apps including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and Spotify. The introduction of the Opera TV store, which TiVo is aiming to deploy early next year, will bring a whole catalogue of new HTML5-based apps to the service, broadening the type of app-based content users have access to exponentially.

Opera’s TV Store is already available on millions of shipping devices, and the Opera Devices SDK made its way onto over 25 million connected TVs in 2012 alone. That means that TiVo customers will be getting access to a platform that’s already mature when the Opera Store goes live on its devices; there won’t be any waiting while a new store is set up and curate the way there would be if TiVo had started from scratch.

TiVo says the new partnership will also enable it to provide pre-loaded software to its set-top DVRs, as Opera has become a key partner for businesses switching over to HTML5 in order to attract market share to connected home entertainment platforms.

Read more about TiVo’s Roamio Opera SDK Partnership at Techcrunch.

Singapore Based Viki Acquired by Rakuten

viki_logo_500Rakuten, the Japan based e-commerce giant, acquired Viki, a Singapore based global streaming video platform that crowd sources foreign language translated subtitles, for a reported $200 million.

Based in Singapore, Viki operates similarly to Hulu.com by offering premium content such as primetime TV shows and movies. Its advantage over other on-demand video services is crowdsourced subtitles from 22 million users in more than 160 languages, which allows Viki’s content providers to quickly enter new markets.

Rakuten has acquired Kobo, an Android based tablet e-reader services provider that competes with Amazon Kindle, and Wauki.tv, a European streaming video platform that competes with Amazon’s LOVEFiLM.

Full story at TechCrunch

Will OTT Kill Pay-TV?

kill-tvAnalysts have been wondering if the availability of every-increasing free Over The Top television content from online sources will eventually kill the Pay TV industry… The answer is, “no”, at least not in the Western European Union.

According to a recent report by Analysis Mason research house as posted in Telecomms EMEA,Pay TV subscribers are set to grow from 9.2m to 113.3m over the next 5 years from 2013 to 2018. During this time period, OTT services will indeed grow faster, but only to approximately 5.6m users.

Cesar Bachelet, senior analyst at Analysis Mason, explains that users are unlikely to abandon pay-TV services for OTT equivalents, but notes the effect of OTT services will be most heavily felt on secondary TV sets.

IPTV users will grow from 6.2m to 27.6m and satellite users from 1.1m to 31.6m. Analog Cable subscribers will contract by 2.9m, from 46.5m down to 43.6m, while Direct to TV (DTT) users will drop by half a million users from 5.4m to 4.9m.

STP for OTT and IPTV Projects

ABOX42-NORMALA new player from Germany in the development of Television Set Top Boxes has entered the scene. The company is called ABox42, and their product is an STB platform for IPTV,  OTT and CloudTV projects.

The ABOX42 B and M Series Smart STB product lines offers both, cost effective and high performance STBs for even the most demanding IPTV, OTT and CloudTV services for all kinds of applications, requirements and feature sets.

ABOX42 saw that the convergence of Internet and TV is opening up new opportunities for new business models in the OTT field for already established operators as well as for new market players.

In this changed world of TV and new Internet technologies ABOX42 has become a leading player and experienced manufacturer of next gerneration OTT and IPTV STBs.

ABOX42 has 4 years expertise and knowledge of managing end-user mass-market products. ABOX42 is specialized in developing customized STB solutions for international customers and has already deployed over 100 OTT services.

Future of Linear Scheduled Television

story-of-televisionThe Future of Innovation in Television Technology (FITT) just came out with it’s second report for August 2013 that predicts the 2025 television landscape. The report evaluated transformations to the music industry as a result of the analog to digital shift in order to draw many of it’s conclusions. Here are some of the noteworthy predictions:

  • Mobile devices in 2025 will contain processing power greater than todays fastest and most powerful desktop computers.
  • The storage capacity of SD cards has been doubling every year for a decade, by 2025, it is predicted that an SD card will 2 Petabytes, enough space to store 500 million MP3 songs.
  • Broadband internet speeds will be up at 2.5,GBPS while currently in Singapore, a range of 5mbps to 100mbps is most common.
  • Linear TV with a desire to watch high quality live TV content will still be dominant. Even when the content is not live, sharing a cultural experience with others by tuning into the same content, at the same time, is a powerful phenomena.
  • Expect an increase in catch-up TV and video on demand at the expense of live and time-shifted content.
  • There will be an industry in search, just for TV content, ability to perform granular searches on 40 years of linear TV content.

The report goes on to discuss the future of TV Networks and Infrastructures, data management and the evolution of devices and applications. It is an excellent, fact filled and well written report, a must-read for those in the TV industry.

While most of the 2025 predictions seem like safe bets, we believe the demand for linear scheduled TV, as highlighted above, is greatly overstated, if not just plain wrong.

When the VCR was introduced, many predictions called for the demise of movie theaters, but that never happened, due to a phenomena pointed out by John Naisbitt termed High Tech High Touch.

The high-touch phenomena has allowed movie theaters to thrive over the years, despite technological advances that have rendered it obsolete, but can this phenomena hold together linear scheduled broadcast television? We say no.

Live TV and broadcast sporting events will of course will thrive, due to the high touch phenomena of this experience. However, linear scheduled TV programming is becoming increasingly fragmented as time-shift devices such as bhaalu allows consumers to watch what they want, whenever they want.

Unlike a movie theatre, where you are surrounded by others, watching linear scheduled Television is an alone experience, with nothing more than a perception that others are out there watching it along with you. The first time you experience time-shifted television, you will know just how thin that perception is.

With the growth of time-shifting DVR devices, the perception that others are watching the same program along with you dissolves. We believe by 2025, scheduled linear TV programming will continue to exist, but there will be little if any demand for it, it will have no high-touch cohesive power and will be unable to draw cultural phenomena feelings. In essence, we believe it will be as bland and one dimensional as FM radio is today.

Arrested Development  pioneered a new way of consuming television, which through social media platforms, did in fact draw together a cohesive cultural movement, offering a new model for the future of high-touch television.

Full FITT report here.