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Industry News

If TV Weren’t Everywhere Before, It Is Now

@johnsolit

April 15, 2014

Yesterday, CTAM, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, announced a new, aggressive and first-of-its-kind campaign to promote the idea, the brand, and the value of tv everywhere.

For many, tv everywhere – the idea that we can watch cable content on myriad devices in any location – has been a part of the television experience for a number of years. Products like Comcast’s Xfinity and devices like tablets and smartphones have made tv everywhere possible for millions of early-adopter customers. But for others, it’s an entirely revolutionary concept – one that will take time and effort to incorporate into their TV watching routine.

To-Use

Shifts in TV habits precipitated by new technologies aren’t new to cable. In the 1970’s, pay-per-view became an entirely new way of enjoying live programming at home. In the 90’s, broadband, perhaps the ultimate entertainment disruptor, established itself as the new standard for Internet speed and access. And in the 2000’s, DVRs and on-demand technology freed us from time constraints, allowing customers to watch what they want, when they want. tv everywhere has the ability to change content consumption in the same way. When we’re no longer tethered to our home TVs – not even tied to being in our homes – the TV experience becomes limitless.

The tv everywhere campaign (purposefully left lower-case) will focus on educating consumers on the value and usage of watching programming across multiple devices and platforms both in and out of the home. The end goal of CTAM’s campaign is simple, but aggressive: Increasing awareness and adoption by 150%. Specifically, by year-end 2014, CTAM wants 50% awareness by cable customers (compared with roughly 20% today) and 50% usage.

Creating a true tv everywhere experience was once a hefty goal – it was practically unimaginable five years ago. But today we can take TV with us almost anywhere. Changing tv everywhere from a promise to a phenomenon relies on more than just technology deployment – it depends on successful campaigns like this one to lead customers to take full advantage of their cable subscription not just at home, but everywhere.

Industry News

Behind the Numbers: How More Online Video Makes Cable Better

@juliannetwin

April 11, 2014

TV has been a part of American life for generations, giving viewers an escape into the world of make-believe, a chance to laugh or cry, or front row seats to the ball game. For many years, the experience of TV was the whole family coming together around the living room television tuning in to their favorite show. That still happens today, to a degree. But now the idea of TV and entertainment is a radically different experience – and a profoundly better one to be a part of.

In the past, traditional TV was the only game in town. But take a quick glance at the chart below and you will notice the wide spread of video subscribers among a diverse landscape of providers. It’s a healthy and competitive video marketplace that continues to evolve.

NCTA-Charts_VIDEO

How is this better? A few ways.  First, several providers are developing new ways for customers to enjoy video content on their terms.  From cloud DVRs to huge video on demand libraries to TV Everywhere, video providers are enabling their customers to be in charge.

The rise of online video services has also led to more demand for quality content.  The content being produced today is better than ever before – we’re smack in the middle of a golden age with lots of high-quality programming. With so much competition for audience eyeballs, the pressure is on to create spectacular shows.

This competition also generates diversity in content. Not only is there a channel for everyone’s unique tastes on cable, but the other providers on this list also add to the wonderful grab bag of diverse content.

We’ve talked before about how these different players complement each other and work together. And it’s important to highlight that although there’s more choice, consumers don’t feel forced to pick one option over another. They have the flexibility to combine traditional with online sources.

As technology continues to improve and competition in the video distribution marketplace becomes ever fiercer, consumers always win. It’s a healthy environment that provides many options for enjoying high-quality, diverse, and widely accessible content.

Behind the Numbers is a blog series sharing key cable industry data points, charts, and graphs from our Industry Data page and elsewhere and providing commentary and an insiders take on what the data means and why it’s important. 

 

Industry News

What Planet Money Got Right (and Wrong) About Cable

@johnsolit

April 8, 2014

Last week, Zoe Chace and Jacob Goldstein, co-hosts of the popular blog-and-podcast Planet Money, interviewed NCTA President & CEO Michael PowellParts of the interview were used in a just-released episode of the show about why broadband ISPs in the U.S. aren’t regulated the same way as those in the UK, titled “The Last Mile.” You can listen to it here.

Planet Money generally does a good job demystifying complex economic issues while preserving their crucial subtleties. And the show’s ability to build narratives around things that would normally be cripplingly boring is impressive. But I also know they – like many content creators under creative constraints – have to tell a tight story. And telling cable’s complicated tale of deep infrastructure investment and incremental success over time via structural innovation is very difficult, especially when “Cable: The Culprit Behind Those Occasional Netflix Pixels” is so much more compelling. I was worried the show’s narrative was heading into a spot where, rather than revealing what works, would highlight what could be better. I was partially right.

Planet Money didn’t get it all wrong. In fact, they honed in on a few clutch points often missed by many. But they neglected to properly address a few others. One thing they missed on was suggesting that the 2002 decision to classify cable as an information system was a singular moment that determined the fate of the Internet. It was actually a continuation of a bipartisan approach to treat the Internet in a way that wouldn’t burden it with the same regulation that had discouraged investment and innovation in the telephone business for so many years. This approach started with then FCC Chairman William Kennard (a Clinton appointee) and continues today.

Planet Money got it right when they uncovered the roots of the current system. They identified the FCC decision in 2002 was based on a vision of developing more competition, not less. By not compelling ISPs to share their infrastructure like telephone lines, the FCC was establishing a system where competition had to come from new innovation rather than settling for a single, shared solution. This is incredibly important. The ISP marketplace was – and still is – fundamentally designed to foster competition through high innovation.

But the show got it wrong on the results of this system. Planet Money suggested that over the last 12 years, the anticipated competition from the 2002 decision never arrived. Not so. Competition isn’t limited to a single delivery mechanism, and the US is one of the few nations where three different technologies are widely competing (cable modem, DSL and wireless) and that new technologies are encouraged to enter the market.

A system where companies resell the same infrastructure (as is done in the UK and suggested by the show to be a better system) isn’t real competition. It’s like five pen companies all selling the same pen but in different colors for different prices. There’s no innovation and no incentive to make the pens better. There’s only the motive for providers to squeeze marginally more market share through nominal benefits.

We want real competition through substantial innovation. The U.S. system requires a bigger commitment but also has a bigger payoff, resulting in more profound advances in Internet and broadband technology. When fiber, 5 GHz Wi-Fi, advanced copper, cable, and yet-unimagined broadband solutions fight for market share, we become able to advance in leaps and bounds – not just incremental product adjustments. For an example, just look to the work being done developing unlicensed spectrum for better Wi-Fi. These kinds of technological jumps define the U.S. marketplace and are an essential benefit to classifying broadband as an information service instead of a telephone line.

We always welcome conversation and questions about broadband – cable in particular – and the role it plays in Internet innovation. Planet Money provided a compelling but incomplete story that missed some opportunities, but we’re pleased that they’re encouraging dialogue. If only we could get them to tell the story of DOCSIS 3.1

The Cable Show

Imagine Film Challenge, Interactive Launch Competition Boost Excitement for #Cable2014

@juliannetwin

April 3, 2014

In just under four weeks, the cable industry will take over downtown Los Angeles. As news rolls in, we’re learning more about what to expect from The Cable Show 2014.

Imagine Park, the bustling centerpiece of the show, will showcase a bigger and better event space, taking over almost 10,000 square feet in the center of the exhibit show floor. As you make your way around the park, which includes the Internet of Things Lounge, you’ll get an insiders look at the very latest in cable innovations. There will be interactive demonstrations, devices and tech toys to play with, charging stations and even a happy hour! Plus, for four hours a day, sessions on the Imagine Park stage will showcase everything from ultra 4K televisions to the cable smart home to unique broadband user experiences.

Imagine Park will also be home base for the Imagine Film Challenge. Here students have dedicated space for producing and editing their short films. The student teams come from Columbia College Chicago, Loyola Marymount University, New York Film Academy and UCLA. The films will be judged live by Charles Segars, CEO of Ovation Network, Carter Pilcher, CEO of ShortsHD, film legend and Golden Globe Winner, Rutger Hauer, Dominic Patten of Deadline Hollywood and Academy Award winning producer, Nick Reed. We can’t wait to see what the students come up with. Don’t miss the finals live in Imagine Park on Thursday, May 1st at 11:45 am.

We’re also excited to announce the teams and judges for the Interactive Launch Competition, on Monday, April 28th, one day prior to the start of the Show – so plan your travel accordingly! Current MBA student teams from USC, UCLA, UC Irvine and University of Denver will present competitive marketing presentations before a judging panel. Hosted by Craig Leddy of Interactive TV Works, the competition will also feature judges and mentors from Fox Networks, Bright House, Samsung, ARRIS and other companies.

There will be lots more to share in the coming weeks so keep checking @CableShow (#Cable2014), this blog, and the official The Cable Show 2014. for more news and information for The Cable Show 2014.

Industry News

It Was a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad March

@juliannetwin

April 1, 2014

With some of the networks already having their 2014 upfront presentations, March was full of new network products and loads of new series to look forward to. Here, we highlight the cable entertainment and programming news of the past month that includes anything from insider information on TV ratings to show-runner updates. Also, for previews…

Public Policy

Now Is the Time for Congress to Eliminate the Integration Ban

March 31, 2014

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is holding a hearing tomorrow on legislation to reauthorize the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, commonly referred to as STELA. Sitting on the panel of witnesses will be NCTA President and CEO Michael Powell. We expect the hearing to highlight several important issues, but one in…

Technology & Devices

Is Better Wi-Fi Coming? FCC Expected to Take Steps on Monday

@johnsolit

March 28, 2014

On Monday, the FCC will act on a proposal to free up 100 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz frequency band for outdoor unlicensed broadband uses such as Wi-Fi. If adopted, the Commission’s action will mark a critical milestone in our continuing efforts to alleviate Wi-Fi congestion and to satisfy growing demand among businesses…