Comcast May Disintermediate Cable; The Rovi CEO Succession; Are Set-Top Box Days Numbered?

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Comcast Co-Opt

Comcast and every other cable company is sick to death of hearing about how over-the-top services like Google TV or Roku or Boxee or some other startup is going to encourage viewers to "cut the cord." Still, the talk isn't likely to go away. So Comcast is going to try to prove that if anyone is going to disintermediate the cable business, it's going to be the one. The WSJ's Jessica Vascellaro describes a test the number one MSO will embark on this fall with MIT to deliver TV channels over the Internet instead of just through the coaxial cable connected to the set-top box. The plan is to deliver the programming live to subscribers, besting the OTT services, which generally have relatively limited access to shows and are prevented from running shows as they're being aired live.

Rovi CEO Succession

Digital entertainment tech firm is looking for a successor for president and CEO Fred Amoroso, who informed the company's board that he plans to retire at some point before June 30, 2012, Multichannel News' Todd Spangler reported. He picked a good time to announce it. Formerly known as Macrovision until three years ago, Rovi is best known for being a behind-the-scenes force in everything from metadata to copyright protection. But the company has been expanding beyond the back-end work recently and appears to be vying for greater consumer recognition.

About two months ago, the company launched, a search-and-recommendation engine for entertainment content, and bolstered that effort with the acquisition of, a leading source of links to TV content online. Before that, the 61-year-old Amoroso had been on an acquisition spree since arriving at the company in 2005. The former investment banker made a number of purchases, including Gemstar-TV Guide International and the $720 million acquisition of Sonic Solutions, which broadened Rovi's stable of guide, discovery, metadata and video technologies. The company needs someone who can build on the technical aspects of the business, while maintaining strong relationships with key partners like Samsung and somehow manage to raise Rovi's profile with the public. So far, analysts at Piper Jaffray expect the transition to be a smooth one. Read more.

Tuning In

Getting viewers to tune-in to a particular broadcast via online ad methods has proved to be an elusive concept for broadcasts, writes MixPo CEO Anupam Gupta in a ClickZ guest column. Now that display ads carry some kind of interactive, rich media format, the people in charge of promoting shows have no excuse. On top of that, it's seems obvious to those immersed in tech everyday, but for those used to doing things the old way, you have to get on Twitter and Faceook. At this stage in the life of the web and the era of time-shifting, anyone who us not using all the web tools at their disposal to drive higher ratings has absolutely no excuse for not jumping on all this a lot sooner than now. Read more.

So Long Set-Top?

In a perfect world, our connected homes would have one magic box that provides perfect broadcast reception and broadband Internet access. Both Comcast and Cisco are working on offering on some form of hybrid, "God Box." But digital TV vet Michael Collette believes the set-box's days are numbered, even if a wifi-chip were added to it. Writing on Interactive TV Today, Collette offers the reasons: for one thing, such a device is too costly. Aren't people already thinking of cutting the cord because cable bills are too high? Still, even if it is successful, it will take years to deploy. There are already plenty of smart TV's and other Internet-enabled devices on the market and more are coming. According to iSuppli, says 200 million Internet-enabled TV's will ship in the next five years. Still, considering that a company like AOL can still make millions in revenue off its dial-up service, we wouldn't bet that the set-top box will fade from the living room any time soon. Read more.

For those interested in how the rollout of addressable TV is evolving, start looking at the Dallas/Waco, Texas area, where Rentrak, the entertainment and VOD measurement company, will be collaborating with The Richards Group on the use of set-top box data for media planning. Dallas based Richards Group represents the latest expansion of Rentrak's StationView Essentials set-top box database measurement service for its local TV ad planning. Although the MSOs have been working for years to rollout these kinds of ad planning programs nationally for years, the varied technological advances made across the country has made that impossible. So the piecemeal approach as seen here has seemed slower than industry observers had hoped. But steadily, these types of deals are accelerating. With the local economy improving in the Dallas market, this should be an interesting test case for these kinds of partnerships. Read the release.

But Wait! There's More

  • Cablevision Petitions FCC For Retrans Reform - Mediapost
  • Blockbuster switches to Redbox-style single day rental pricing - LA Times
  • AOL Announces Relaunch Of AOL TV And Strategic Partnership With i.TV - press release
  • Cox Communications will test interactive commercials with Tulsa-area digital subscribers - Tulsa World
  • AT&T serves up French Open Tennis with Multiview option - FierceIPTV
  • Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty and Cablevision/Optimum Homes Team Up to Make Real Estate and Community Information Available - press release
  • Next MeeGo TV Platform May Boost Connected Sets - PC World

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May 31, 2011 – 12:03 am

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