A whole-home differentiator
While Verizon uses cable-like RF technology to deliver much of its video service, the telco continues to try to set itself apart in other ways.
This time around it's pushing the needle with a whole-home DVR system from Motorola. Motorola's so-called "QIP" series features a primary box called the QIP6416, a dual-tuner DVR with a 160 GB drive that serves as the primary media hub.
The system then leverages IP-based Multimedia over Coax Alliance home networking technology to ship and share content over the home's existing coax wiring to QIP2500s, which are standard-def boxes, or QIP6200s, which support HD. Because HD content recorded to the primary box can't be down-converted and then sent over the home network, the QIP2500 cannot access those programs. Anything the QIP2500 accesses from the QIP6416 must be in native SD format.
Rooms with a view: Motorola's set-up uses MoCA technology to ship and share
video and other content around the house.
So, what can cable do to respond if they have systems brimming with "DCT"-class boxes, which do not have built-in support for MoCA?
According to John Burke, the corporate VP and GM of digital video solutions at Motorola, the "majority" of the company's DCT-class DVRs can also act as a media hub and feed content to a "good portion" of DCT 2500s.
However, that setup will require a separate Network Interface Module (NIM) that essentially serves as a MoCA adapter. They are pricey, however - about $70 for one module, which is why operators are keen on having the technology embedded down the road.
Burke said cable operators had put multi-room DVR plans aside in order to focus on VOD and HDTV, but are now in "various stages" of tests and trials with the NIM.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Editor in Chief, CED magazine and xOD Capsule
EchoStar loses TiVo patent case; can still sell DVRs
A jury decided late last week that a good number of DVRs deployed by EchoStar Communications infringe on a key TiVo Inc. patent.
Following the verdict, the U.S. District Court in Eastern Texas assessed over $89 million in penalties against the DBS giant. The District Court also ruled EchoStar must immediately halt sales and manufacturing of DVRs and shut down installed DVRs in 30 days, but EchoStar managed to get a stay in appeals court within 24 hours on those injunctions.
The suit, filed in 2004, hinged on TiVo's claim that EchoStar was infringing on its "time warp" patent, which covers simultaneous playback and recording.
After securing a stay in appeals court, EchoStar will appeal the entire District Court decision. The DBS company clung to the silver lining that the District Court concluded EchoStar did not act in bad faith and did not copy TiVo's technology.
EchoStar also said it is continuing to work on modifications to both its new DVRs and to its DVRs in the field intended to avoid what it called "future alleged infringement."
TiVo, meanwhile, issued a statement saying, "This decision recognizes that our intellectual property is valuable and will ensure that moving forward EchoStar will be unable to use our patented technology without our authorization."
One company sure to have plenty of authorization is Comcast Corp., which in addition to offering rather generic versions of the DVR, already has a non-exclusive, multi-year deal in the bag with TiVo. That agreement was announced last March.
with Walter Cronkite' is one of
several series Charter will
offer on-demand following
a distribution deal with
Charter Communications has expanded its video-on-demand library with fare from ResearchChannel, a non-profit media and tech organization with a video vault that brims with 3,000 titles.
Charter marks the first cable VOD partner for ResearchChannel, which offers university-produced titles and series such as "A Conversation with Walter Cronkite," and business specials like "Google: A Behind-the-Scenes Look." Other programs from ResearchChannel come courtesy of institutions such as The Johns Hopkins University, the University of Washington, Stanford University Medical Center, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
More shows to ride CBS 'innertube'
CBS has tagged a few more shows for its broadband, ad-supported innertube service.
Starting in September, innertube, a service launched in May, will offer prime-timers such as "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "CSI: Miami," "CSI: NY," "Jericho," "NCIS," "Numb3rs," and "Survivor."
Each episode of the three CSI series, plus "NCIS" and "Numb3rs" will be available for "free" (read: with ads) on innertube for four weeks following their initial showing on CBS.
When innertube started out, it offered Web-exclusives such as "InTurn" and "Animate This!" as well as a talk show called "House Calls," and the full season of "Big Brother: All-Stars."
Comcast wrestles with subscription-VOD
Comcast Cable has launched a new subscription video-on-demand service that offers a raft of content from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
The new SVOD service, dubbed "WWE 24/7," will feature about 40 hours of wrestling fare each month, including "classic" matches, behind-the-scenes coverage and wrestler profiles. In addition to WWE programming, the platform will also provide archival footage from the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), American Wrestling Association (AWA), and Smoky Mountain Wrestling. The new service sells for $7.99 per month.
"WWE 24/7 On Demand will bring The Iron Sheik, Sgt. Slaughter, Jesse Ventura and Greg Valentine back to life for the seasoned fans and introduce our massive archive of rarely seen material to a whole new generation. This is the first of many ways we hope to bring more new content to our fans with partners like Comcast," said WWE EVP of Global Media Shane McMahon, in a release.
Comcast, whose VOD library now includes more than 7,500 programs, said customers have viewed more than 2 billion on-demand programs since 2004.
HBO warms up to iTunes
Now available as a free download from the iTunes Music Store is HBO's original documentary, "Too Hot Not To Handle" - the first offered gratis by the premium programmer.
The film, a guide to the effects of global warming in the United States, features leading scientists not only explaining the greenhouse effect, hurricanes, snowpack, hybrid vehicles and alternative power sources, but going the next step of showing how businesses, local governments and citizens are taking positive actions to reduce global warming emissions.
Over the past century, the documentary points out, consumption of carbon dioxide-emitting fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) has risen to staggering levels, especially in the United States, where five percent of the world's population is responsible for 25 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions.
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Web-based "living" deployment chart. If you have a new deployment to report for the VOD Scorecard and the Web-based deployment chart, please contact CED Editor Jeff Baumgartner.