The Online Reporter

Research, Trends and Insight into the Digital Media, Consumer Electronics & Broadband Industries

Roku Targets Pay TV for Potential Partners

-Will Give It a Big Advantage in International Markets
-Apple Is Being Left in the Dust

Roku is looking to expand its relationships with the pay TV providers of the world. It is now licensing its streaming platform technology to pay TV providers that are interested in developing a streaming and on-demand service for their subscribers. The program is directed specifically to pay TV providers outside the US.

The announcement is shrewd for two reasons: First, as the net-top box market becomes more crowded, consumers will place more emphasis on the type of content each box can offer. By partnering with the pay TV providers in markets where Roku is available, the company will be assuredly able to offer viewers content that no other NTB can compete with.

Second, the program aims to integrate linear TV and OTT content services more fluidly, which Roku knows is the next frontier in the NTB market. Apple and Roku (and the other NTBs makers) are quietly competing to be the first to do successfully.

Steve Shannon, general manager of content and services, said Roku is “an ideal strategic partner” for pay TV providers looking to bring their TV services into the 21st century. “There has been incredible demand from pay TV providers for a simple way to address the increasing consumer interest in Internet-delivered entertainment,” he said.

Roku first partnered with BSkyB for the launch of Sky’s Now TV box, a streaming video service that offers a slimmed-down Sky pay TV package, available online. The partnership…

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In This Week’s Edition of The Online Reporter…

THIS WEEK’S HEADLINES

NanoTech Lands Its First Big One: Sony

Roku Targets Pay TV for Potential Partners

Correction: HomePlug Is an IEEE Standard

The Cable Show Changes Its Stripes

Sony’s Financial Woes Continue

UHD

6 Things We Learned in Retail Stores This Week about UHD

Everything You Need to Know about Prices of UHD Sets

Cable TV’s Shared Neighborhood Broadband is a Problem

Sony’s Big Screen UHD Display Shows up for Game Time

Sony to Offer Amazon’s UHD Content

Panasonic UHD TVs to Get Netflix’s UHD

Sony’s UHD Player to Play on Any Brand of UHD TV

LG Launches OLED UHD Sets

Samsung’s New UHD Media Player Hits Store Shelves

Praise Spreads for UHD

BSkyB Successfully Tests Live Game in UHD

TP Vision Offers Retrofit for UHD Sets that Lacked HEVC and HDMI 2.0

Samsung Shows 105-inch TVs

Samsung Squeezes Content Industry to Provide UHD Content

The Pay TV Ecosystem Gears Up for UHD

Want More UHD? Make Your Own

Everything Looks Better in UHD (Almost)

CEA Issues New 4K UHD Logos

Studios Didn’t Know UHD Was Coming

NanoTech Lands More UHD Content

OTT SERVICES, APPS AND SCREENS

Netflix Finds Pay TV Partners in France, Germany

More Details and Speculation about Verizon’s OTT Service

Netflix Now Worth Almost as Much as CBS

Disney Hopes to Get New Subscribers with Dish’s Online Pay TV Packages

Moonves: Showtime, CBS Could Go OTT

Starz Eyeing Life Outside the Pay TV Bundle

ORIGINAL ONLINE VIDEO

Netflix Signs Its Version of HBO’s Girls’

BROADBAND BEAT

Storm Brews over US Net Neutrality for Cellcos

HOME NETWORKING

What’s Happening at the HomeGrid Forum?

Netgear’s Wi-Fi & Ethernet Extenders Are a Preview of the Future

Celeno Shows 4X4 MIMO & Dynamic Airtime Allocation

LTE BROADCAST

Verizon: Video Will Explode’ over Wireless with Help from LTE Broadcast

NET-TOP BOXES

Google Tells Broadcasters: We Are Not the Enemy

WIRLESS BROADBAND

Comcast & Liberty Global Agree to Free Wi-Fi Sharing for Subscribers

LIES, DAMN LIES AND STATISTICS

CEA Expects $5bn in US Sales of UHD Sets in 2015

FTTH Communities Have More GDP Growth

Roku Has Sold 10m NTBs over Last 6 Years

Europe Has Bigger Potential for Netflix than the States

DIGI GRAMS

UHD Is Not a Revolution

3D Was Not Ready for the Home

Disc Rental Services to Make a Return?

More Shoes to Drop at Sony?

Wheeler: 4 Mbps Doesn’t Cut It Anymore

Verizon’s Shammo: Wireless Video Will Be Much Different from Linear TV

Blu-ray UHD Videos Will Be Far Superior to Streamed UHD

Content Owners Are Interested in Mobile Video Services

OTT Executive Summit: November 11, New York (Last)

Sony Makes an Announcement about Its Secret Streaming Service

-No Word from Dish about Its Streaming Service, Due Out by Year

-End -Verizon Says Its Online Video Offering Will Appear in 2015

Viacom and Sony have gone public with the online streaming license deal for the streaming pay TV service. Sony announced the “cloud-based pay TV service” at CES earlier this year, but has been silent on the project since then. Sony now has online streaming rights to 22 of Viacom’s pay TV channels, which includes MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and BET, along with access to Viacom’s TV Everywhere apps and its VoD platform. Rumors of the deal between Viacom and Sony first surfaced a year ago in a piece that appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said Viacom is interested in new distribution platforms for its “young, tech-savvy audiences.” Dauman also said Viacom was one of “many programmers that will help power Sony’s new service and advance a new era for television.”

Sony hasn’t indicated who those other programmers might be. We’re betting Disney will get involved at some point, as it has already broken through the streaming pay TV gate with the online streaming deal it recently signed with Dish Network. Dish also signed up A&E Networks for the service.

Another candidate for both Dish and Sony is Time Warner’s HBO, which would practically ensure the success of either service, if either is able to offer HBO Go bundled with a few other online channels, for a reasonable price.

Time Warner may be warming up to the idea. Earlier this week, CEO Jeff Bewkes said broadband-delivered online video services present a big opportunity for content owners. Pay TV providers have included HBO channels in a number of their pay OTT experiments over the last year.

Verizon’s CEO Lowell McAdam told investors this week at the Goldman Sachs conference that his company plans to launch an online video service in the first half of 2015. Verizon purchased Intel Media’s OnCue technology for a hybrid linear and OTT video service earlier this year.

McAdam said…

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BDA: There Will Be a UHD Version of Blu-ray Players & Discs

- King Content Exerts Its Power over Technology
- Players & Physical UHD Discs by the End of 2015

Who’d have thought that Blu-ray would still be alive this far into the digital media era? And here it is riding to the rescue of owners of UHD TVs with the promise of enormously increasing the library of native UHD entertainment.

Videos on today’s Blu-ray discs look outstanding on UHD TVs that have decent upconversion capability. The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) has gone the next step by committing publicly to have a UHD version of Blu-ray discs on the market next year. The resulting surge in native UHD content will serve to increase sales of UHD sets that are already plummeting to affordable prices for the working class — less than $2,000 now for brand name UHD sets and probably less than $1,000 by the end of the year, at the latest by summer 2015.

Until now, UHD set owners have had to rely solely on Netflix and soon Amazon for native UHD content. The BDA promises that its UHD videos will be better than the ones that are streamed.

At the IFA this week, Victor Matsuda, chairman of the BDA’s global promotions committee, said that most of the specifications are done for a UHD version of an optical disc. It’s being developed jointly by a number of its members and that technology will appear in the spring or summer of 2015. He expects the first UHD Blu-ray players by 2015’s year-end shopping season.

Reportedly, the studios have loads of UHD content that’s ready for distribution in the UHD format so there will certainly an immense increase in the amount of UHD content that’s available 14 months from now. The availability of UHD-capable Blu-ray discs mean the OTT services will have strong competitors for acquiring content; they won’t be the only ones distributing UHD to the home.

It’ll be interesting to see how much UHD entertainment is available from OTT services in a year — as well as from pay TV companies.

Matsuda said UHD Blu-ray discs mean viewers won’t have to rely on sometimes balky Internet and home network connections for watching UHD video. Additionally, under the UHD premise of “not just more pixels but better pixels,” the UHD version of Blu-ray (or whatever it’s ultimately called) will dramatically improve the color gamut and provide a higher dynamic range so details in shadows and highlights are visible. It can also support UHD videos at 60 frames per second, which some say is needed for fast-action scenes.

According to CNET, Matsuda said that packaged media and its stable environment will contribute to the UHD Blu-ray disc “being the best of the best” — a clear criticism of broadband delivered UHD video.

UHD-capable Blu-ray discs: we hope the Association selects a more striking marketing name that doesn’t tie it too tightly to the current Blu-ray. From everything we’ve heard, consumers will need to buy a new disc player for UHD discs — unless the Association decides to allow UHD movies to be put on two or more of the current Blu-ray discs because of their large volume of data. Current Blu-ray disc players do not have HEVC and so cannot take advantage of HEVC’s increased compression. That would not be a user-friendly move but neither would it be if they force consumers to buy a new disc player. But that’s what consumers are doing with their TV sets — buying new UHD sets.

The digital media generation believes that, long term, streaming is the way. So did Steve Jobs who stopped putting disc drives in Apple products years ago and with no detriment to sales of Apple products. But there’s a lot of native UHD video that’s not now being made available and the studios may feel more comfortable and secure putting it on physical media. They may also believe they can make more money by having separate release windows for UHD discs and UHD streams.

Matsuda said…

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Apple’s ‘Historic’ Announcement Ignores TVs & Tablets

Apple wooed its fans this week with the launch of the highly anticipated Apple Watch device, and a new slate of iPhones, but failed to impress – or even mention – its iPad tablets or its Apple TV device, much less an Apple TV set.

The new iPhone 6 has a few noteworthy features. It uses carrier aggregation technology with 200 LTE carriers around the world, can support 150 Mbps throughput data, and uses VoLTE. It also has an 802.11ac Wi-Fi chip inside, which Apple said is three times faster than the 11n Wi-Fi chips in earlier iPhones. The new iPhone 6 supports Wi-Fi calling, and Apple said it is rolling out Wi-Fi calling with carrier partners T-Mobile in the US and EE in the UK. Apple said its hand-off from Wi-Fi to cellular is seamless.

We’re betting that 11ac chip is from Broadcom, which is a long-time partner of Apple and just happened to announce a new 5G 802.11ac Wi-Fi chip last week, a few days before the Apple announcement. Broadcom said its new chip, called BC4358, will be shipping in mobile devices available during this year’s Q3, which lines up nicely with Apple’s iPhone 6 release dates later this month.

Broadcom’s 11ac Wi-Fi- chip uses 2×2 MIMO and supports data throughput speeds of up to 650 Mbps. Broadcom says it’s the highest performing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-combined chip that’s available today.

That’s sure to increase demand for 11ac routers and make 11ac the de facto standard in wireless home networking. 11ac only reaches its top speeds when both devices have it.

The ‘One Last Thing’ Wasn’t an Apple TV
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook used the Steve Jobs line, “Oh, and one last thing” during his keynote address to unveil the Apple Watch, indicating both how important Cook thinks the product will be to consumers, and that Cook wants Apple Watch to be his breakout device as the (relatively) new CEO. We at The Online Reporter were a bit disappointed that Cook wasn’t unveiling an updated Apple TV net-top box, which is sorely needed.

There was in fact only one brief mention of Apple TV, when Cook said the Apple Watch can control an Apple TV box as a remote.

Apple has fallen into a quandary with its net-top box. The field of competitors has grown significantly over the past year. Google entered the market with its popular, $35 Chromecast, and then Amazon launched its own Fire TV box; Microsoft has become aggressive in the living room, too, with its entertainment-focused Xbox One and suite of entertainment-focused services such as Xbox Video and Xbox Music; and Sony has launched a PS TV NTB that connects to its own digital media stores and streaming services. There will be even more competition in the NTB space when Google’s Android TV launches.

Apple has tried to keep its device up-to-date and relevant to consumers by adding more and more content apps to the platform – a little late, if you ask us – but it has largely ignored updating the Apple TV interface. The truth of the matter is that Apple TV isn’t particularly the best NTB available to consumers any more: there are now more alternatives with more content, more features, and for less money.

We’ve read, and in some cases reported on, the countless rumors that Apple is looking to reinvent TV, much the same way it reinvented music: a new device, and a new way to consume the content. The longer that takes for Apple, the more pressure there will be to launch the game-changing device that Apple wants to launch. The longer it waits, the more time its competitors – Google, Amazon, Sony, Microsoft – have to establish themselves as the living room’s primary entertainment devices.

We think Apple’s new TV device will need to do two things to…

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In This Week’s Edition of The Online Reporter…

THIS WEEK’S HEADLINES

MoCA: the King of Coax

Vodafone: UHD Set-Tops Will Be Standard for All TV Subs

Apple’s Historic’ Announcement Ignores TVs & Tablets

Time Warner’s Bewkes: Broadband Opportunity Is Big

UHD

Broadcom Lands UHD Chip Deal with TiVo

The One Word That’s on the Lips of Every Broadband & Home Network Company: UHD

BDA: There Will Be a UHD Version of Blu-ray Players & Discs

Sigma Systems Joins the HEVC Chip Brigade

OTT

China’s Sohu Will Distribute The Simpsons’ Exclusively Online

HBO Expands Its Streaming Empire with New Deal in Canada

Fox and NFL Take More Football Online

Magine Moves to Subscription Model in Germany

Sony Makes an Announcement about Its Secret Streaming Service

BROADBAND BEAT

Deutsche Telekom’s DSL-LTE Router Aims at Redundancy

Samsung Joins Secure Content Storage Association

Broadcom Continues Winning Streak for HEVC Chips

AirTies Answers a Few Questions about Its Casting STB

Rovi Uses Conversation Technology for Content Discovery

Verimatrix Confirms Swisscom Deal, Hopes to Corner UHD Market

HOME NETWORKING

STMicroelectronics Shows MoCA 2.0 Chips

Teleste Offers Whole-Home MoCA/Wi-Fi Adapters

The ITU Factor in Home Networking

Sigma Designs Demonstrates G.hn Coexisting with HomePlug

G.hn Has Two Modes to Prevent Interference

On the Front Lines of the Home Network Battle

Entropic Extends its Strength in Building-Area-Networks

What Else Could a Pay TV Service & Its Subscribers Ask For?

 
NET-TOP BOXES

Size Matters! New TiVo Holds 24 Terabytes

Telco Selects TiVo’s Whole Home DVR & Streaming Technology

50% of Japan’s Broadcasts Will Be UHD by 2020

Pay TV Companies Are Slow to UHD

DIGI GRAMS

Bye-bye Apple TV and Other NTBs

IBC Goes OTT with 24/7 Online Broadcasts

Samsung & LG Should Fear Chinese Set Makers Under-Pricing Them

Net Neutrality Disputes Are Dragging Broadband Companies’ Reputation Down in the Mud

AT&T: Consumers Don’t Need More than 10 Mbps

What Does Maker Studios Mean to Disney?

Breathless’ Leaves Viewers Breathless

New Calix Gateways Provide Fastest Wi-Fi & 1 Gbps Wireline Home Networking

Calix says new technologies allow broadband networks to extend their reach beyond traditional demarcation lines at a point in the home — the modem — and into the entire subscriber home. This location has emerged as the most strategic location in the broadband network and becomes the heart of the gigabit experience for the subscriber.

Equipment maker Calix says its new fiber-based 844G and 854G GigaCenter gateways will transform the way gigabit broadband services in the fiber-connected home are managed and delivered both to and within the home. It said they are “the first fiber products in the world to unleash the power of carrier class Wi-Fi in the home, delivering unprecedented in-home wireless broadband coverage, quality of service, and speed.” In addition to providing the fastest Wi-Fi speeds and ubiquitous Wi-Fi coverage to Wi-Fi connected devices, both mobile and fixed, throughout the home, they also provide symmetric broadband data rates up to 1 Gbps to wireline-connected devices.

The service providers, typically telcos that have deployed FTTH networks, put their own brand and label on the Calix gateways.

The Calix gateways have the latest wave 2 version of 802.11ac, which provides 5 GHz band Wi-Fi technology with 4×4 MU-MIMO and beamforming. The speeds allow Wi-Fi to be used for delivering high-definition video to TV sets and mobile devices.

It said the gateways serve as “an extension of the broadband access network.” They establish a new strategic location for service providers in the home, allowing them to quickly introduce advanced broadband services and network functions virtualization (NFV), and dramatically change the deployment economics of services like IPTV while maintaining extensive control and visibility.

Calix said, “Testing of this technology has shown that the combination of less interference with concentrated power means that GigaCenters can reach virtually ubiquitous coverage of even traditionally challenging home environments, providing significant improvements over previous technologies, while reliably delivering nearly three times more bandwidth. Armed with the GigaCenters’ enhanced wireless coverage and performance, video service providers like Venture have the potential to accelerate their average number of new video subscriber installations each day by double or more, while simultaneously lowering labor costs, increasing subscriber satisfaction, and reducing time-to-revenue – significantly improving the business case for fiber deployment.”

Randy Olsen, assistant general manager of Venture Communications Cooperative in Highmore, South Dakota, said…

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Netflix Zeros in On Must-See TV

-Bought Streaming Rights to 3 Series before Seeing Them on Linear TV
-Is Securing Exclusive Content for International Markets

Netflix made three recent high-profile TV series streaming deals for US series, and has announced original series projects in France and Germany.

As competition for content from other SVoD services amplifies, Netflix has begun signing up streaming deals at higher prices per episode, and earlier in the series’ life. Netflix recently signed three series, for example, that haven’t even yet aired a single episode on TV.

This week, Netflix acquired global streaming rights for the Batman spin-off series “Gotham,” produced by Time Warner’s Warner Bros. The series will air on Fox in the States, and is set to premiere there this fall. It’s the latest in a string of TV deals to grab headlines. It’s notable because it’s the first time Warner Bros has licensed a series for streaming rights in multiple territories in one deal with one distributor. Netflix has rights to stream the series across all of its markets in Europe, North America and Latin America.

“In this era of new business models and expanding windows, this is an unprecedented deal for our company and our industry,” said Warner Bros Worldwide Television Distribution president Jeffrey Schlesinger. “While we typically license our programming country by country, we have licensed this very special series to Netflix on a multi-territory basis.”

The deal is also of note because Netflix has acquired the rights to the series before it has been broadcast on linear TV. Netflix has signed two other such deals this summer:
-Netflix has global streaming rights to AMC’s “Breaking Bad” spin-off, “Better Call Saul,” which will air on AMC starting in February 2015.
-It has exclusive streaming rights to the James Patterson series “The Zoo,” slated to appear next summer on CBS.

Netflix also recently acquired exclusive streaming rights for Sony Pictures Television’s “The Blacklist,” which airs on NBC, for a record $2 million per episode – another headline-grabbing acquisition for Netflix because it represents the most anyone has paid for streaming rights to a TV series to date.

Netflix Is Collecting Original and Exclusive Content for International Markets
Netflix is thinking seriously about its international expansion and prospects, which is why it was important for Netflix to acquire the international streaming rights to “Gotham.”

Netflix needs to build up its library of exclusive content in the new markets where it will be launching this fall, especially in France and Germany, which have local streaming services already well-established. Netflix will only be able to break into those markets if it can offer exclusive content, whether that be Netflix original series or American TV shows that Netflix can distribute exclusively overseas.

That’s also why Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings announced that the company plans to produce original series in France and Germany.

The company plans to produce original series in Germany and France, according to Hastings, in interviews ahead of launching in those respective countries. He told German newspaper Der Spiegel that…

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Samsung Launches 3 Under-£1,000 UHD TVs in Europe

Samsung has launched an entry-level line of UHD sets — the HU6900 series — but they are only available in Europe. Samsung’s low-cost line in the States is the HU6950 series.

The Samsung HU6900 series has three models. Their retail prices are comparable to US prices for Samsung’s HU6950 series. All are less than the magical £1,000:

Size & model number Price at Amazon.co.uk
40-inch UE40HU6900 £589 ($968)
50-inch UE50HU6900 £960 ($1,580)
55-inch UE55HU6900 £988 ($1,625)

We point out the small price difference between the 50-inch and 55-inch sets and think it could be due to the 50-inch model being newer to the market. Retailers like to sell the first ones to enthusiasts at higher prices and then reduce prices to attract the mass market.

The 6900s are available for purchase now in the UK but we did not check their availability in other European countries.

Samsung says the 6900s have a new Quad Core Plus ARM-designed processor that is twice as fast as its previous A15 ARM processor, which among other things allows the TV to upscale any source material to 2160p, which is UHD’s resolution. It’s assumed it’s the same upconversion technology Samsung uses in its other UHD TV models.

It says the 6900s support the three new standards that are necessary for UHD:
- HEVC to decompress Internet-streamed UHD content and broadcast UHD signals. 
- HDMI 2.0 that allows the set to play UHD video at up to 60 frames per second — which many say is needed for fast-moving events such as sports. 
- HDCP 2.2 to ensure that any copyrighted UHD content is read and played by the TV.

The 6900s have Samsung’s Smart Touch remote and voice and gesture control, Smart Hub for selecting…

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China’s Youku Tudou Opens Film Production Company

-Joins Online Firms in Entering Video Biz in China


Youku Tudou, China’s largest online video platform, is opening a film production division called Heyi Film, which will produce and distribute original films both online and in movie theaters.

There has been a surge of online companies investing in film studios in China over the last year. Internet firms Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent have all entered the movie-making business in China. Alibaba took a majority stake in ChinaVision Media Group; Tencent, a social media and gaming company, also has a stake in ChinaVision; and online search company Baidu has acquired two online video platforms, PPS and iQiyi, the latter of which has an in-house film production company and currently has eight films in development.

Youku Tudou has distributed and marketed a number of films in the past, but is hoping to focus on its film production more seriously. Heyi Film will use the data it has from the Youku Tudou platform to develop feature films on topics that will resonate well with viewers, a la Amazon’s and Netflix’s big data approach to original content.

“As a continuation of Youku Tudou’s effort to build a multi-screen media and entertainment ecosystem, Heyi Film will leverage the big data generated by Youku Tudou’s over 500 million multi-screen users to produce films to the tastes of the Chinese audience in the multi-screen age, and improve film marketing and distribution,” the company said.

Heyi Film already has five projects in place to adapt its popular Web series into full-length films. It also has in the works three film productions, in conjunction with other studios and production companies, such as Beijing Century Partner Culture & Media and Universe Entertainment. Heyi Film will distribute domestic and international films online, as well.

Youku Tudou offers an ad-supported OTT service and a premium…

 

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