Posts for 'Charter'

  • Inside the Stream: Charter-Disney Dispute Breaking the Big TV Bundle

    Blackouts have been commonplace in the pay-TV industry when operators and TV network owners are unable to come to terms on renewal terms. While the current dispute between Charter and Disney includes typical challenges like pricing and bundling, it also includes Charter’s desire to see its subscribers receive complimentary access to Disney’s DTC apps.

    Disney is of course reluctant to do so because it is trying to build a parallel revenue stream as pay-TV declines. Yet, the “pay once, access anywhere” approach was at the heart of the TV Everywhere initiative from years ago, which was meant to provide an elegant solution for subscribers. But that industry effort faltered and TV networks have since invested billions in DTC.

    Colin and I discuss what this dispute means for the future on the big TV bundle.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (27 minutes, 27 seconds)

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  • Comcast-Time Warner Deal Shows Promise and Challenges of TV Everywhere

    If you're looking for a template of how pay-TV operators and cable networks need to be working together if they want to successfully combat the rise of Netflix and other over-the-top entrants, yesterday's long-term agreement between Comcast and Time Warner is a great example. Under the agreement, Comcast digital subscribers will gain access to popular programs and movies from Turner Broadcasting networks like TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network and others, across multiple platforms, including Comcast's On Demand service, Xfinity TV online web site and companion iPad/iPhone and Android apps (which just last night began streaming full episodes). Importantly, Turner networks' viewers will also be able to view the same programs/movies on Turner web sites and online/mobile platforms.  No extra charges to the consumer are planned.

    The deal is a solid step forward in realizing the vision of TV Everywhere that both companies' CEOs laid out back in July, 2009 (see this video for more). And no doubt both companies want to make similar deals with others in the industry; Comcast with other cable TV network groups, and Time Warner with other pay-TV operators. Still, the fact that the two foremost proponents of TV Everywhere took a year-and-a-half to go from laying out their vision to actually announcing a deal underscores how arduous the full realization of the TV Everywhere model will be.

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  • TiVo Links Up With Charter

    TiVo scored a big deal this week, as Charter Communications, the fourth-largest U.S. cable operator, announced that it would be offering TiVo's interface and its latest Premiere boxes to its subscribers. Because TiVo has integrations with lots of online video sources (including Netflix, Amazon, etc.), the deal is significant because it blends the traditional cable experience with the new over-the-top competitors. The deal also suggests what I pointed out in my review of Cisco's "Videoscape " - that beyond the very largest pay-TV operators, partnerships are going to be the way to go for them to deliver competitive experiences. For TiVo, the Charter win follows recent deals with both DirecTV and Cox. No doubt more will follow.
  • Netflix Has Added 8 Times As Many Subscribers in 2010 As Top Pay-TV Operators, Combined

    Here's a pretty amazing factoid to end your week: in 2010 Netflix has added nearly 8 times as many subscribers as 8 of the top 9 pay-TV operators have, combined (#3 cable operator Cox is private and doesn't report). In the first 3 quarters of 2010, Netflix has added nearly 4.7 million subscribers while the top pay-TV operators have gained 609K.

    Breaking down the pay-TV industry net gain further, the 2 main telcos (Verizon and AT&T) have added over 1.2 million subscribers and the 2 main satellite providers (DirecTV and DISH) have added 563K, while the top 4 reporting cable operators (Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter and Cablevision) have lost over 1.1 million.

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  • Top U.S. Pay-TV Operators Post Narrow Subscriber Gains in Q3, Rebounding From Q2 Loss

    Eight out of the nine largest U.S. pay-TV operators have reported their Q3 '10 results, gaining a slim 66,700 video subscribers, a rebound from a loss of 47,600 subscribers in Q2 '10. The Q2 loss was the first on record for the industry and fueled speculation that "cord-cutting" due to adoption of Internet-delivered video alternatives was rising. With only mildly positive subscriber adds - and 5 of the top 8 operators actually losing subscribers in Q3 - fears that cord-cutting is rising will surely accelerate.

    The 8 operators (privately-held Cox Cable, the 3rd-largest cable operator does not disclose its results) represent more than 85% of all U.S. pay-TV households. Though they collectively showed a quarterly gain, if Cox and other cable operators lost subscribers at a comparable rate as the 4 large cable operators in the top 8 (Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter and Cablevision), the industry as a whole would have actually lost about 97K subscribers in the 3rd quarter.

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  • Charter Redesigns Portal, Emphasizes Video


    Tomorrow morning Charter Communications will announce a redesigned version of, the company's portal for its broadband Internet subscribers. I got a sneak preview of the press release and the new site along with a briefing with Himesh Bhise, VP &GM of High-Speed Internet for Charter, who oversees the portal.

    According to Himesh, this redesign is the first key milestone for three main themes the company is pursuing for its portal: improved functionality and feature accessibility on its home page, increased video availability and more extensive TV listings.

    I'm impressed with the direction Charter's taking. Charter's goals of enhancing the value of its bundle of video and online services is right on the money. I've said for a while that cable operators are potentially going to be the biggest beneficiaries of broadband video because they already have longstanding relationships with cable TV networks and video consumers, plus a huge base of broadband subscribers (Charter has over 2.5 million).

    Charter's in synch with this thinking. They've done deals with a range of partners from biggies like Nickelodeon, HBO and FX to smaller ones like IFC, and HAVOC. Charter's bringing selected video clips into its portal and will also offer some exclusive premieres of certain programming. Other cable operators like Comcast, Time Warner and Cablevision are already down this road with similar activities. Charter's initiatives add further momentum to this trend.

    While I'm a fan of these moves, I would love to see the cable guys step up their broadband video activities even further. For example, Himesh and I engaged in an interested mini-debate about the definition and value of "exclusive" broadband programming. To me there's an terrific opportunity for cable operators to negotiate and obtain the broadband rights, at least for a defined window, for certain programs exclusively for their Internet subscribers. This would mean their subscribers get video they just can't get elsewhere. (Btw, that's kind of the way the cable TV world used to work until Congress stepped in with the "program access rules" in the '92 Cable Act).

    Some kind of exclusive broadband programming would differentiate cable's portals from the Joosts and other next-gen broadband aggregators coming into the market. I think it's inevitable we're going to see some jousting for these kinds of rights, especially as things get more competitive.

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