59,700,000 Cable Cutters

On 8/2/2013, Time Warner Cable (TWC) stopped transmitting CBS programming to 3,200,000 subscribers in key markets.  Associated transmission fees top $400,000 per day.  For the time being, TWC seems to be in the drivers seat, but, if this drags on into the fall, fans of college footbal, the NFL, and CBS programming may look elsewhere for entertainment.  In the long run, TWC may lose more than CBS.

While other premium service providers have been reluctant to poach blacked out customers, Channel Master and RadioShack have both offered discounts to ‘victims’ of the blackout.  Time Warner has recommended its customers turn to broadcast and Aereo for blacked out programming and is giving rabbit ears to its customers.

CBS chief Les Moonves dismisses all of this as a charade…

“Right now over 85% of our viewing is done through satellite, cable, or the phone companies. The remaining 15% are not the most advertiser friendly, appealing to advertising.”

I don’t think Les is right.  I own a home, have two new cars, send a kid to college, and own seven high definition televisions, four desktop computers, three laptop computers, five tablets, three cell phones, and two antennas.  And I watch all the commercials broadcast along side the terrific CBS shows.

I’m not alone.  GfK estimates 22.4 million households representing 59.7 million consumers receive television exclusively through broadcast signals and aren’t subscribing to a Pay TV cable or satellite service.  in other words, seven times the number of households being blacked out choose to watch advertising that arrives through an antenna.  The percentage of broadcast only homes has increased from 14% in 2010 to 19.3% today.  More troubling for the premium service providers, antenna use is rising fastest among younger people and minorities.

According to GfK (via Andrew Dodson)…

  • 19.3% of all U.S. households with TVs rely solely on OTA signals
  • GfK estimates 22.4 million households representing 59.7 million consumers receive television exclusively through broadcast signals
  • Minorities make up 41% of broadcast-only homes
  • 49% of Latino households that prefer speaking Spanish home have a Pay TV service — down from 67% in 2010
  • 28% of TV households where the head of the house is 18-34 in age, exclusively watch TV via broadcast signals, up from 18% in 2010
  • 19% of TV households where the head of the household is 35-49 relies on OTA signals; 17% in which the head of household is 50 years or older
  • Two out of 10 younger OTA households have never purchased a pay TV service
  • 30% of TV homes with an annual income less than $30,000 rely solely on OTA TV — up from 22% in 2010
  • 11% of TV households with incomes of $75,000 or greater rely solely on OTA TV

Manufacturers and advertisers are paying attention. Fox has launched a new Movies! channel and Sony will roll out its own movie channel in the fall.  EchoStar is planning the release of two new OTA DVRs for this Christmas season.  Aereo, Skitter, and Filemon all offer broadcast television over the internet and Google/YouTube and Intel are talking about their own alternatives to terrestrial/satellite offerings.

If you are blacked out or dissatisfied with cable or paying too much for television this might be a good time to consider cutting the cable.  One thing is for sure — you won’t be alone!

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By Len Mullen Posted in News, OTA

EchoStar DVR Details!

I got an email from Shelley O’Connell (EchoStar Marketing) this morning providing details of the new Channel Master K77 DVRs.  It’s all good news…

  • Program Guide
  • USB Storage
  • Available Later This Year

Follow this blog for updates.  I’m a HUGE fan of EchoStar products in general and the DTVPal DVR in particular.  I’ve posted the email below.  Enjoy!

Hi Len, great to hear from you again!

We are so excited about this product. I can’t provide too much information just yet, other than what has already leaked through the FCC filings. J I can tell you that there will be two versions of the product – a lower-priced model for which you can supply your own USB external hard drive (no capacity limit), and a model with an internal hard drive (of a substantial size). Yes, it will include a program guide and both models are capable of extended USB storage – some people now save content libraries on USB hard drives the way we used to with VCR tapes! This product is perfect for that function.

Channel Master is an amazing partner to work with, they are the undisputed world experts on OTA. They actually still hold the original patent for the very first aerial TV antenna from 1949. Combine that with our DVR technology and it’s a match made in heaven for OTA DVR consumers. And from a design standpoint, this one’s a sports car. It makes our beloved DTVPal DVR look like a school bus.

Availability will be “later this fall”. Sorry for the cryptic answer! However, there will be an exclusive private pre-sale/promotional event prior to public launch. It should coincide nicely with the holiday shopping season. We’re only inviting a very select group and I will add your contact info to the list and pass along to Channel Master, that way you will be hearing directly from them as we get closer! This product is the flagship base from which Channel Master will continue to add exciting new features and services in the future – an Ethernet connection is highly recommended for the “full” experience beyond just great OTA/DVR functionality.

Always a pleasure,

-Shelley
Shelley O’Connell
Marketing Communications | EchoStar
http://www.echostar.com

Echostar to Release New OTA DVRs!

from 7/10/2013 FCC PUBLIC NOTICE

EchoStar states that the Channel Master K77 models will combine access to broadcast programming with over-the-top and DVR functionalities, promoting consumer choice in both retail equipment and in services for households seeking a non-MVPD option for video programming. EchoStar maintains that requiring an analog tuner “would dramatically increase the device’s cost, size, and energy consumption without any countervailing benefits to consumers.”

from 8/9/2013 Echostar Waiver Application

Specifically, waiver of the analog broadcast tuner requirement for the two models of the Channel Master K77 will provide consumers with access to new, competitive, cost-effective choicesthat combine over-the-air television content – including dual-tuner watch-and-record capability – with over-the-top streaming content functionality from providers such as VUDU and Pandora, all in a sleek, ultra-thin, energy-efficient form factor. As Ness Electronics noted, their “market studies demonstrate that low cost products that provide consumers with the ability to combine access to broadcast programming with over-the-top and DVR functionalities, such as the Channel Master K77, are needed to satisfy consumer demand.”

For these reasons, EchoStar respectfully urges the Bureau to waive the Section 15.117 analog tuner requirement for the Channel Master K77 models of HD ATSC receivers no later than September 1, 2013, before fall product line-ups in retail stores are finalized.

This is great news for those of us who have been in mourning since echostar left the OTA market.

TWC Facing Class Actions

from http://www.insidecounsel.com

Time Warner Cable Inc., which has engaged in retransmission consent disputes with both CBS Corp. and Journal Broadcast Group, now faces two class action lawsuits for breach of contract in Los Angeles and Milwaukee.

The suits allege that the blackout is a de facto breach of contract and demand compensation for loss of programming.   One suit demands a credit of one day’s service for each day of the blackout.  The suits may be legitimate as CBS has allowed continued broadcast during the negotiation process and TWC has unilaterally decided to stop the broadcast — in other words TWC has unilaterally decided to not provide services they advertise and promise.

If TWC loses any of these suits, aggregators will negotiate content contracts from a weaker position.  One possible outcome is that TWC offers to ‘carry’ CBS for a fee.  In this scenario, CBS sells content and pays TWC for delivery.  This, of course, opens the doors to a brave new world of a la carte programming and competition that will improve programming quality while driving down costs for consumers.  Right?

VideoBuzz: Open and Easy!

The popular banned Roku channel is now open source and it’s developers have automated the installation process.  Enjoy!

http://utmostsolutions.github.io/myvideobuzz/

What is VideoBuzz?  VideoBuzz is an opensource roku channel that plays videos from popular Internet video sites.

Why Would I Want Another Roku Video Channel?  VideoBuzz is a very well written Roku channel that provides easy access to YouTube including subscriptions and search.  Roku provides no official access to YouTube and has ‘officially’ banned private YouTube channels.  While Roku ‘insiders’ have access to YouTube via SECRET features of sanctioned channels, none compare in quality to VideoBuzz.

How Do I Install VideoBuzz?  Roku allows developers to install a single channel directly on their Roku.  This ‘side-loaded’ channel is not subject to Roku oversight.  VideoBuzz is a ‘side-loaded’ channel.  The developers have created a script that automates this process for you.  You can use this script or manually put your Roku in developer mode and side-load the channel yourself.

If you are interested in developing Roku channels, VideoBuzz makes an excellent template.  The developers have made the source and scripts available for analysis and modification.

Chromecast, Filmon Rescue CBS Fans

Unable to reach a contractual agreement by their Friday, 5 p.m. deadline, Time Warner Cable dropped the No. 1 primetime network in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas and several other markets.

USA Today is reporting that a contract dispute has left TWC customers in eight markets without CBS programming.  This includes six of Nielsen’s top ten programs and, potentially, NFL Football.  The affected markets are… Continue reading

Chromecast, Aereo Rescue CBS Fans

Unable to reach a contractual agreement by their Friday, 5 p.m. deadline, Time Warner Cable dropped the No. 1 primetime network in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas and several other markets.

USA Today is reporting that a contract dispute has left TWC customers in eight markets without CBS programming.  This includes six of Nielsen’s top ten programs and, potentially, NFL Football.  The affected markets are… Continue reading