AT&T has plenty to think about as year closes
AT&T's announcement last week that it was scaling back the number of homes that will have access to its U-verse service wasn't a total shocker, especially since the San Antonio-based telco has previously revised the U-verse rollout schedule several times.
Instead of the service being available to 18 million homes by next year's end, AT&T has lowered that estimate to 17 million. This past May, the company said the service would be available to 19 million homes by the end of next year.
AT&T also raised its estimate on the price tag of deploying U-verse by $500 million for this year and next, for a total bill somewhere between $4.5 billion and $5 billion.
The initial delays were reportedly due to equipment problems with vendors, most notably set-top boxes, but, according to AT&T, the current revised estimate is due to a shift in resources toward the former Bell South footprint that AT&T forked out $86 billion for last year.
At last month's TelcoTV show in Atlanta, AT&T's Peter Hill said that AT&T had more than 126,000 current subscribers for its U-verse service. AT&T started the year with 3,000 video subscribers and then grew that base to 16,000 and 60,000—respectively—in the first and second quarters.
"We're past the point of last year, where the question was, 'Will IPTV scale?'" said Hill, VP of converged services at AT&T Labs Research. "You can't get to that number (126,000 subscribers) without significant flow through and automation. We do have a competitive service, and we can do it to scale."
On the one hand, while AT&T is telling us that the decrease in the number of homes passed is due to shifting resources, on the other it is reportedly pursuing some sort of acquisition deal with DirecTV or EchoStar Communications. AT&T has co-branded bundling partnerships with both DirecTV and EchoStar that couple video, voice and broadband services.
DirecTV president and CEO Chase Cary said during last week's earnings call that his company has talked to AT&T about the bundling deal, while The Wall Street Journal has reported that AT&T is sounding out the atmosphere in Washington on whether the pickup of either satellite company would gain regulatory approval.
Either way, AT&T is expected to make some sort of announcement regarding its DBS partnership before the year is out. With the John Malone-led Liberty Media trying to close on News Corp.'s controlling interest in DirecTV, AT&T might be better off trying to strike a deal with EchoStar founder, chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen instead of crossing swords with Malone.
Who knew Charlie would seem to be the voice of reason for a telco that is doing a little holiday shopping?
— Michael Robuck, Senior Editor, CED
Level 3, Move Networks form strategic partnership
Level 3 Communications' Content Markets Group has partnered with Move Networks, enabling Level 3 to distribute Move's Media Services, and enabling the integration of Move's technology into Level 3's content delivery infrastructure.
"The Level 3 network was conceived and built for the inflection point we're seeing in the market today—the definitive move toward delivery of high-definition, high-quality video via the Internet," said Brady Rafuse, president of Level 3's Content Markets Group.
Level 3's Vyvx broadcast services introduced HD transport in 2004 to help usher in the HDTV age. Now more than 60 percent of all TV programs that Level 3 transports across its network are HD.
AnswersMedia launches online HD network: AnswersTV
AnswersMedia has launched AnswersTV, a cross-platform HD network that enables consumers to view and interact with informative, searchable video content.
AnswersTV features original TV series on its Web site, for free, on its Health, Food and Magic channels. The Garden, Wine, Pet, College and Jewelry channels are in development. In the coming months, AnswersTV will also be available via multiple syndication channels, including cable VOD, radio and broadband.
Comcast on-demand channel helps fight crime
Comcast has published a testimonial from the FBI, attesting to the usefulness of Comcast's Police Blotter on-demand channel, which was launched in Philadelphia last December. The free channel features video profiles of bank robbers, missing persons and individuals from the Philadelphia Police Department's "Most Wanted" list.
According to Comcast, one of its customers recently contacted the FBI with a tip involving a bank robber after seeing his profile on-demand.
AOL names EVP of global ad strategy; acquires Quigo
AOL has named Dave Morgan EVP of global advertising strategy. Morgan will focus on advertising strategy and partnerships, both in the U.S. and abroad, and on communicating AOL's value proposition to the market.
Morgan joins AOL from Tacoda, which he founded in 2001, and which AOL acquired in September. Morgan was CEO and chairman of Tacoda until AOL acquired the company. He was also the founder of Real Media.
AOL is also set to acquire Quigo —a site- and content-targeted online advertising company—which will allow AOL to offer contextual advertising that pairs ads with relevant Web page content.
Quigo is the fourth advertising company that AOL has acquired this year. Other acquisitions include Third Screen Media, a mobile ad player; Adtech, an ad-serving platform; and Tacoda. Also, in September, AOL formed Platform-A, a digital display ad platform that reaches more than 91 percent of the online audience, the company said.
IAB adds 3 execs to management team
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has added three new executives to its management team.
Sherrill Mane has been appointed SVP of industry services, Patrick Dolan joins the IAB as SVP and chief administrative officer, and David Doty has joined the organization as SVP of thought leadership and marketing.
"These three appointments are an important step toward strengthening the IAB's management team to respond to the explosive growth of the interactive industry in the increasingly important role that the IAB takes as the voice of the industry," said Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of the IAB.
TiVo adds first Power||Watch partner
TiVo Inc. has added its first media agency partner, Starcom USA, for the company's Power||Watch Consumer Panel, which provides advertisers with access to anonymous demographic and viewing behavior data for the 20,000 volunteer households.
"The Power||Watch Consumer Panel is a landmark step in gaining deeper insights into audience behavior in the growing world of DVR-based television consumption and how best to earn the attention of consumers in a time-shifted world," said Tracey Scheppach, Starcom's SVP and video innovation director.
Ensequence lands iTV 'Passions' deal with DirecTV
Ensequence has been selected by DirecTV to deliver iTV programming. Viewers of NBC's soap opera "Passions," who have an iTV-capable STB, will now be able to interact with the programming via their remote control.
Daily, on-screen questions during the show will serve as launch points for the iTV experience, and key viewer metrics—such as the number of viewers opting in and what content they interacted with—will be available. DirecTV is using Ensequence's on-Q Publish suite to maintain the application.
Additionally, Ensequence has appointed TV-industry vet Peter Low as its president and COO. Low will be based in New York and will work directly with cable and satellite providers, TV programmers and advertisers.
OpenTV settles Liberate lawsuit
OpenTV Corp. has settled its lawsuit against Liberate Technologies Inc. The suit was originally filed in February 2002.
On Wednesday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order permanently restraining and enjoining Liberate from infringement of two OpenTV patents related to iTV, OpenTV said.
Liberate acknowledged that OpenTV's patents are valid and enforceable, and the company admitted infringement, according to OpenTV.
• IBM study quantifies ad-spend shift, according to Adweek.
• Internet users also watching TV, according to MediaPost.
Company: Kiptronic Inc.
Headquarters: San Francisco
CEO: Bill Loewenthal
Claim to fame: Kiptronic is a leader in downloadable media services. The company's Media Services Platform is a workflow and ad-serving solution that allows media customers to manage, measure and monetize their video and audio assets.
Recent news of note: Mirror Image Internet entered into a customer referral and reseller agreement with Kiptronic. Mirror Image combines a global network with content delivery solutions to help customers deploy, monitor and refine online strategies.