Dish, the nation’s second-largest satellite TV provider, filed a suit of its own seeking a judicial all-clear for its “AutoHop” ad-skipping technology.
Dish said the unique service it launched this month doesn’t violate copyrights and that it is seeing a “groundswell of support from consumers.”
The fight is over a subtle but key question: Whether TV distributors can cut out commercials on consumers’ behalf, or if consumers hold that power alone with their fingers on the remote.
Since May 10, Dish has been advertising a digital video recorder service called “Primetime Anytime” that gives consumers access to the last eight days of prime-time programming from the four major broadcast networks — ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox — with the commercials stripped out. The service, available to Dish’s top-tier subscribers, uses technology called “AutoHop” to deliver the programming ad-free.
In a suit filed Thursday in a Los Angeles federal court, News Corp.’s Fox says Dish’s service is unauthorized and violates a licensing agreement between the two companies.
It says the service is a form of unlicensed video-on-demand because the recordings are kept on a portion of the DVR’s hard drive that is controlled by Dish. Fox only licenses its regular programs to Dish for playback on VOD on the condition that fast-forwarding of commercials is disabled.
If the service isn’t stopped, it “will ultimately destroy the advertising-supported ecosystem” that underpins TV shows, Fox said.
Dish maintains that the service is “user-enabled” and that it is fundamentally no different from how consumers use DVRs today. It filed its suit in a New York federal court.
“Viewers have been skipping commercials since the advent of the remote control,” said Dish’s senior vice president of programming, David Shull, in a statement. “We are giving them a feature they want and that gives them more control.”
Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal and CBS Corp. also filed suits against Dish on similar grounds on Thursday.
“Dish simply does not have the authority to tamper with the ads from broadcast replays on a wholesale basis for its own economic and commercial advantage,” NBCUniversal said in a statement.
CBS said in a statement: “This service takes existing network content and modifies it in a manner that is unauthorized and illegal. We believe this is a clear violation of copyright law and we intend to stop it.”
A spokeswoman for The Walt Disney Co.’s ABC declined to comment.
About 40 percent of the 115 million television households in the U.S. have a DVR. Watching programs recorded on a DVR accounted for about 8.4 percent of all TV viewing among adults aged 18 to 34 last year, up from about 7.9 percent in 2010, according to TV ratings and research provider The Nielsen Co.
Bad news for cable TV. According to a new report, some 2.65 million subscribers have abandoned cable or satellite TV since 2008 in favor of Internet and over the air delivery. Nearly half of that, 1.05 million, came in 2011 alone. Another million or so customers are expected to do so by the end of 2012. [Convergence Online via Bloomberg]
When on the hunt for ancient civilizations, it’s not all about Pyramids and monuments. Archaeologists have developed a method of spotting smaller human settlements using spy-satellite photos from the 60s, digital maps and modern multi-spectral images of the planet’s surface. The Scientists are looking for “anthrosols” which are left by decayed organic matter and mud-brick buildings. Containing a higher levels of organic matter, anthrosols impart a different texture and appearance to untouched soil, giving it a distinct visual signature. Software is used to spot these visual fingerprints from images over a 50 year period. Data from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission is also used to determine the volume of the matter, and therefore the likely length of survival of the settlement. To give an idea of how prolific the system is, it’s believed to have discovered 14,000 settlement sites in a 23,000 square kilometer area of Syria alone — none of them Atlantis.
Satellite images reveal 8,000 years of civilization, rooftop pranks originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 21 Mar 2012 20:42:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
In a shift that would see its familiar brand move from the inside out, Intel’s reportedly in talks to create an IPTV service that could rival current subscription offerings from cable and satellite. According to the Wall Street Journal, the venture would deliver programming via household internet connections and has the personal backing of CEO Paul Otellini, signaling a consumer-facing shift for the typically behind-the-scenes company. The proposed service, which would bear the Intel brand, is still far from a concrete reality, but the chipmaker has held several talks with content companies to secure carriage deals, as well as demo its proprietary set-top box and navigation UI. So far no programmers have signed on for the “virtual cable operator,” putting the outfit’s tentative end-of-year 2012 date into question.
Intel plans branded IPTV service, could launch by end of 2012 originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 12 Mar 2012 18:47:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
This chart (below) from ISI Group tells you all you need to know about the fate of cable TV in the age of the iPad: Since Q1 2010, 2.3 million people have stopped subscribing to pay TV as delivered by cable TV companies such as Cablevision, Comcast, DirecTV, Time Warner Cable, Dish, Verizon, and AT&T.
Currently, only 41.5 million Americans watch TV on pay cable.
I’ve been arguing for a while now that Americans are on the cusp of a dramatic change in how they watch video. They’re moving to video over the internet. Traditional TV is dying, in much the same way that in the mid-2000s we all largely stopped using hardwired telephones to make calls in favor of wireless mobile cellphones.
Hardwired phones are still a big business, of course, and most households still have them. But they’re really a vestigial offshoot of whatever bundled communications package you’ve bought.
It looks like cable is about to go the same way. Although its subscriber numbers are dwindling, subscriber numbers for satellite TV and broadband phone/internet service remain relatively healthy, as the second chart (below) shows. That suggests to me that there is a growing number of households choosing a broadband package with the internet as their top priority, and a dwindling number choosing it based on TV.
Ironically, the fall has come at a time when cable is making more ad money than ever. It’s a supply-and-demand issue: It may be that cable TV’s audience is dwindling, but it’s still one of the few venues that reliably delivers millions of eyeballs all at once.
First, the cable TV chart, based on numbers from ISI Group:
Here’s the market share situation. Note that 2011 was a threshold year, when cable slipped from having more than 50 percent of the market to less:
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Earlier in the week we asked how you tune into live television that you’re subscribed to on your mobile device or when you’re not in front of the big screen. You responded, and now we’re back to take a look at the top five, based on your nominations.
Photo by IK’s World Trip.
When you need to stream audio or video around the house, to your mobile device, or across the globe when you’re away from home, Orb can certainly deliver. We mentioned Orb several times, and it’s still a great way to stream your media from your computer to other devices in your home, or, if you’re willing to pay for an Orb appliance to connect to your cable box or HTPC, stream live TV or recorded TV to any other device on or off of your home network. Orb supports video up to 720p, and gives you the flexibility to watch live sports, prime time TV shows, or anything else that’s currently airing in your living room on your mobile phone, tablet, or laptop over Wi-Fi, 3G, or 4G when you can’t be in the living room to enjoy it. Pricing varies depending on whether you need hardware (between $79-$99 for the set-top box) to connect to your TV and home network, or you already have a TV tuner in your HTPC (the Orb Live and Orb Caster software are both free, but the mobile apps are $9.99.)
Where other live TV streaming solutions offer complexity, Slingbox offers elegant simplicity. The Slingbox from Sling Media is a set-top box that connects to your TV and your cable or satellite receiver that makes it easy for you to effectively log in to your TV at home and watch live TV on your computer or mobile device as though you were sitting in front of your TV. You can change channels, browse TV listings, and even set your home DVR to record TV that you won’t make it home in time to watch. The Slingbox comes in two flavors, the Slingbox Solo and the Slingbox Pro-HD (which predictably supports HD and additional devices connected to it) and will set you back $179.99 to $299.99 (not including extended support options). You’ll also need to drop $29.99 for the SlingPlayer app to control your Slingbox from your smartphone or tablet, but the price buys you one of the most feature-rich and hassle-free live TV streaming solutions on the market.
Elgato’s EyeTV line of TV tuners and live TV software were, for a long time, the only option for Mac users who were looking for an easy way to use their Macs as TV tuners or HTPCs. They’re not the only options anymore, but they’re certainly one of the best, and if you plug a TV source in to an EyeTV and then the EyeTV into your Mac via USB, you want watch live TV right there on your computer screen. Combine an EyeTV tuner or DVR with the EyeTV app on your mobile device, and you can stream live or pre-recorded TV on your mobile device when you’re out of the house. The EyeTV app will set you back $4.99 in the iTunes App Store for any iOS device, and the tuners vary in price from $99 to $199 depending on whether you need a DTV tuner, a DTV and HD tuner, a tuner with a DVR inside, or a Wi-Fi enabled tuner that can wirelessly stream TV to other devices in your home.
The Vulkano Flow may not be one of the most well known set-top tuners on the market, but it’s definitely one of the most powerful. For $99.99, the Vulkano Flow is an easy to install and set up device that connects to your cable or satellite tuner, supports HD video, and your home network to allow you to wirelessly watch live TV on your iOS or Android device on your home network or when you’re away via 3G or 4G. You get complete control over your home TV, so you can switch channels, browse a built-in programming guide (that you don’t have to pay extra to view), and even connect to other video inputs like a DVR or HTPC and control that as well. Vulkano offers desktop players for Mac OS and Windows (Free), and mobile players for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry ($12.99.)
Hauppage is an old name in TV tuners, and the company is still going strong by offering a range of products to HTPC enthusiasts who want to build their own devices to stream, save, and watch live and recorded television and to people who would rather buy a set-top box to handle the streaming for them. Those of you who nominated the WinTV mentioned that you can easily install a WinTV tuner in your HTPC and download the WinTV application on your HTPC and iOS or Android device to stream TV from your HTPC to your device. Pricing varies depending on which tuner you’d like, whether you want HD video, and whether you want an internal or USB tuner to install at all or you’d just prefer a set-top box like the Hauppage Broadway ($199), but the WinTV Extend app you’ll need to stream from your Tuner will set you back $9.95, and the mobile apps are free (although they only support Wi-Fi.)
Now that you’ve seen the top five, it’s time to put them to an all out vote for the winner.
Honorable mentions this week go out to streaming TV sites like Justin.tv, which many of you said you use to stream your own TV shows to the web so you can catch them when you’re away from home, and to The NFL’s website, which many of you noted is indeed streaming the big game on their own. Finally, since we mentioned that the Department of Homeland Security had shut down FirstRowSports‘ primary domain, many of you made note of the fact that the site is still up and running on a different URL.
Have a favorite method that didn’t get the nominations needed to make the top five? Want to make a case for it, or for your favorite of the nominees above? Sound off in the comments below.
Sometimes common “street smarts” fail you. Like when you ask the guy who’s selling you drugs if he’s a cop. Or when you encrypt your hard drive and refuse to unlock it for prosecutors while citing the self-incriminating clause of the Fifth Amendment.
A federal court judge has just ruled that being forced to decrypt one’s hard drive during prosecution does not violate the defendants’s Fifth Amendment rights. The ruling stems from a case against Ramona Fricosu, who is charged with mortgage fraud. She has refused to decrypt the contents of her hard drive arguing that doing so would require her to essentially testify against herself.
Nuh-uh, said judge Robert Blackburn, citing an earlier ruling against one Sebastien Boucher. In that case, the courts decided that, while Boucher’s encryption password was certainly protected, the information on his drive could be considered evidence in the case and was therefore not subject to the same liberties.
“I find and conclude that the Fifth Amendment is not implicated by requiring production of the unencrypted contents of the Toshiba Satellite M305 laptop computer,” Blackburn wrote in his opinion today. He also cited the All Writs Act, a 1789 statute, could be invoked as well to force Fricosu’s compliance.
Friscosu has until February 21 to comply or face contempt of court charges. Geez, it’s getting to the point that your secrets are better left on microfilm in pumpkin patches rather than on your hard drive. [CNet via The Verge]
Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.
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