| 04.01.15 | Suddenlink, Mediacom, Cable One may be next Charter purchase, analysts say

April 1, 2015
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This week’s sponsor is Microsoft.

See how NGSN & Fuji TV Next implemented their streaming strategy in a matter of weeks. Register Now

Today’s Top Stories
1. Bright House gains much-needed leverage with programmers through Charter buyout
2. Verizon’s ‘managed services’ plan for video streaming could violate net neutrality rules
3. Dish inks new deals with Turner, HBO; reportedly allows Sling TV users to access premium network
4. Rumor mill: Comcast tells FCC it shouldn’t have to sell NBCU programming to rival OTT services
5. Netflix is fast-tracking 4K, HDR to push Open Connect, beat cable

Also Noted:
Spotlight On… Netflix’s plan for beating VPN masking: make content the same around the world
Suddenlink hit with Media General blackout threats; Huawei part of CableLabs DOCSIS 3.1 tests and much more…

Online video piracy: Ways the industry could address the growing problem
Once thought on the wane thanks to inexpensive SVOD services like Hulu and Netflix, online piracy is showing that it’s still a resilient foe, according to recent findings. To combat illegal downloads and streaming, industry players may need to toss out old solutions and adopt tactics that seem, on the surface, a little crazy. Special Report

Blackout warning: The 5 biggest potential pay-TV carriage wars in 2015
As media news stories go, licensing renewal battles between pay-TV operators and programmers always produce provocative quotes. But it can be difficult to parse out the truth of who is really being unreasonable in carriage negotiations. Get the backstory on five of 2015’s biggest upcoming retransmission deals before the blackouts start. Special Report

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join our LinkedIn group to discuss today’s news!

News From the Fierce Network:
1. Verizon, Deloitte jointly deliver cybersecurity services to businesses
2. Wireless providers make OTT strategy key to future profitability, report says
3. VSG: Fiber penetration gap in U.S. businesses narrowed to under 60%
More headlines…

This week’s sponsor is Kaltura.

[Webinar] Better Learning with Video — Insights from Century 21
Thursday, April 2nd, 2pm ET / 11am PT

Join David Birnbaum, Vice President, Learning of Century 21 University and Vitaly Shter, Director Product Marketing, Kaltura to see current trends and best practices in online video for enterprise learning and training and to see how video can cut costs and improve learning results. Register Today!

Sponsor:

FierceLive! Webinars

> Resolving Common Sources of Interference in LTE Networks – Now Available On Demand
> Better Learning with Video – Insights from Century 21 – Thursday, April 2nd | 2pm ET / 11am PT
> Exploring the Benefits of License Assisted Access (LAA) – Monday, April 13th | 2pm ET / 11am PT
> Overcoming Backhaul Challenges – Thursday, April 30, 2 PM ET/11 AM PT
> WiFi Calling – Enabling a Seamless Customer Experience – NOW AVAILABLE ON-DEMAND

Events

> TIA Network of the Future Conference – June 2-4, 2015 – Dallas, TX
> CONNECTIONS: The Premier Connected Home Conference – May 19-21 – San Francisco
> TV Connect – Monetising the evolution of TV everywhere. – 28-30 April 2015 – ExCeL, London

Marketplace

> eBook: Big Data Insights
> Upcoming Webcast: Azure Live brings NGSN and Fuji TV Next to “Live”
> eBook: Overcoming the 5 Biggest Challenges to Launching OTT Services

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Today’s Top News

1. Bright House gains much-needed leverage with programmers through Charter buyout

The Wall Street community has reacted positively to Charter Communications’ (NASDAQ: CHTR) decision to pursue a $10.4 billion purchase of Bright House Networks, sending the MSO’s stock up 5.3 percent as of the close of the Nasdaq Tuesday.

Privately owned by billionaire Si Newhouse, Jr.’s Advance Media, Bright House also received a notable nod from investment bank Jefferies, noting that the MSO needed to be purchased by a bigger cable operator because it’s about to lose a valuable resource if the federal government approves Comcast’s $45.2 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC).

As part of the deeply interwoven relationship between Bright House and TWC includes the latter uses its sizable video services reach to negotiate program deals for the former.

“We believe that Bright House would not be forging on this path if its management did not believe that the Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable deal would likely gain regulatory approval,” Jefferies told its investors Tuesday. “Under its current relationship with Time Warner Cable, an entity partly owned by Time Warner Cable purchases programming on behalf of Bright House, allowing it to benefit from greater scale in content negotiations in exchange for a management fees. The company is also able to procure equipment at Time Warner Cable’s rates. It is uncertain that regulators would allow this relationship to exist post the Comcast/Time Warner Cable transaction close…”

Brighthouse currently touts around 2.1 million subscribers. But combining with Charter creates an operation with more than 10 million pay-TV customers–reach approaching what TWC has before the Comcast merger.

“Scale has always been important in this industry, especially as a way to get good deals on content, which is the single biggest cost driver for these companies,” said Jan Dawson, an analyst with Jackdaw Research. “Given the scale benefits, it’s natural that they want to combine.”

Overall, media analysts have reacted positively to the deal. Most believe its close will follow the successful completion of the Comcast-TWC merger, and that an aggressive Charter will soon swallow even smaller operators, such as Suddenlink, Mediacom and Cable One.

“I think it is inevitable most of the rest of the cable industry not owned by Comcast is sold to Charter,” Pivotal Research Group analyst Jeff Wlodarczak told Reuters.

With Charter acquiring cable systems that are largely converted to digital in fast-growing Florida regions, Moody’s noted, “The acquisition of BrightHouse would bring an upgraded asset base and footprint with higher customer penetration than Charter’s existing footprint.”

For more:
– read this Associated Press story
– read this Reuters story
– read this Bloomberg story

Related links:
Bright House buy augments Charter’s biz services strength
Bright House purchase leaves Charter poised to jump on TWC if Comcast merger fails
Charter to buy Bright House for $10.4B
Charter in talks to buy Bright House, report says
Charter CFO Winfrey: We want to bundle programming by genre
Charter more ready than ever to go after TWC if Comcast can’t close deal, Liberty’s Maffei says
Charter, Dish executives among new pay-TV industry stars to watch in 2015

Read more about: acquisition, Bright House Networks
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This week’s sponsor is Ooyala.

[Webinar] Making Multiscreen Content More Personal
Tuesday, April 28th | 11am ET / 8am PT

How can analytics data be used to improve/personalize the content viewing experience? In this webinar, we take a look at how service providers are using analytics today to fine-tune their content discovery platforms, create relevant metadata, and target the right audiences with the right content on the device of their choice. Reserve Your Spot Today!


2. Verizon’s ‘managed services’ plan for video streaming could violate net neutrality rules

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) is aggressively moving forward with a streaming pay-TV service targeted to younger mobile video enthusiasts. This service will leverage the wireless giant’s 4G cellular network, and Verizon will have to remove data caps from what it classifies as a “managed service” in order for its customers to use the offering.

The question: Can Verizon legitimately classify such a video product as managed service without running afoul of new Federal Communications Commission mandates?

“It would be a very provocative move,” analyst Craig Moffett told Investors Business Daily. “I don’t think the FCC would be pleased.”

If the FCC were to have issues with Verizon’s strategy, the wireless giant would seem to have company, with AT&T (NYSE: T) also preparing a streaming service that will rely heavily on its cellular network.

For its part, AT&T is building its service around an app-based sponsored-data model, whereby data charges are billed to a sponsoring company and not the customer. Analysts say this strategy appears to have less risk of running afoul of the FCC.

Verizon has hinted at a summer release for the new video service, which will target younger, mobile consumers with short-form video.

The company has been quiet about its programming deals for the new offering, but did announce a deal in March with DreamWorks Animation-owned AwesomenessTV, whereby the YouTube multichannel network will supply Verizon with 200 hours a year of short-form live-action and animated video content.

Last week, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said the new video product might rely heavily on advertising.  

For more:
– see this Investors Business Daily article

Related links:
Verizon bulks up for mobile video competition with AwesomenessTV deal
Wireless providers make OTT strategy key to future profitability, report says
Report: Verizon to let CTIA, NCTA lead legal fight over FCC’s net neutrality rules
Pay-TV’s revolutionary OTT services are coming up short on revolution

Read more about: FCC
back to top


3. Dish inks new deals with Turner, HBO; reportedly allows Sling TV users to access premium network

Turner Networks announced that has signed a long-term carriage agreement with Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH), and that its Time Warner Inc. pay-TV sibling, HBO, has done the same.

“Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting and HBO have successfully completed separate distribution agreements with Dish. We’re pleased that the Dish customers we all serve can continue to enjoy Turner and HBO’s popular programming on multiple platforms,” Turner said in a brief statement.

Neither side disclosed details about the agreement, which came as a short-term extension of Turner’s earlier contract, signed in November, expired. However, quoting unnamed sources, the Wall Street Journal said the new HBO contract allows users of Dish’s $20-a-month OTT service, Sling TV, to access an HBO subscription.

However, under the agreement, Dish reportedly will not distribute HBO’s new over-the-top service, HBO Now.

Reps for Time Warner Inc. and Dish have yet to confirm this for FierceCable

According to a Turner representative, Turner’s deal with Dish calls for distribution of every one of the conglomerate’s networks except FYI.

The Turner deal comes after Dish blacked out its CNN and Cartoon Network channels in November, then threatened to take TNT and TBS off its program guide.

“When we take something down, we’re prepared to take it down forever,” Dish’s chairman and CEO told investors in November, alluding to the possibility that the Turner channels would never be back on Dish. “We would prefer to get a deal done. We have a time frame we look at, but if we don’t have a deal, we might make a long-term decision to go another direction.”

For more:
– read this Wall Street Journal story

Related links:
Blackout warning: The 5 biggest potential pay-TV carriage wars in 2015
Dish loses 12K TV subscribers, misses Wall Street forecasts
Dish in another RSN kerfuffle, won’t show 35 Timberwolves games on Minnesota’s Fox Sports North
Ergen ‘digging his heels’ in on ‘now expendable’ CNN, report says
Dish pulls CNN, Cartoon Network, other Turner channels

Read more about: Time Warner, Cartoon Network
back to top


4. Rumor mill: Comcast tells FCC it shouldn’t have to sell NBCU programming to rival OTT services

In a closed-door hearing, Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) executives reportedly told FCC officials that it should not be forced to sell NBCUniversal programming to the OTT services of rivals beyond 2018.

This is according to the New York Post, which quotes anonymous sources within the Federal Communications Commission. Comcast representatives have yet to respond to FierceCable‘s inquiry for confirmation and/or statement.

As a regulatory condition of its 2010 purchase of NBCU, Comcast must, through January 2018, provide the conglomerate’s networks and shows to any pay-TV service that touts at least one major broadcast network.

According to the Post, Comcast is arguing that the numerous over-the-top services that have launched or are soon to launch–Sling TV, Sony PlayStation Vue, Apple’s upcoming service–don’t need NBCU in order to survive.

In March, it was revealed that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) was in discussions with Disney, Fox and CBS about launching a new OTT service, but that Comcast was left out of those discussions.

Responding last week to a letter to the FCC sent by a group opposed to Comcast’s $45.2 billion buyout of Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), Comcast said it had not even been approached by Apple.

This is all juxtaposed amid rumors that Comcast is preparing its own OTT service.

Another interesting note from the Post story: An FCC source describes the Comcast/Time Warner Cable review process as being “in the sixth inning.”

For more:
– see this New York Post article

Related links:
Comcast says it hasn’t even been approached by Apple about new pay-TV service
Comcast to invest $4B in new strategic spinoff, CFO Angelakis to run it
Comcast promotes customer service czar Herrin, 19 other execs
Comcast’s secret online video plans compete directly with TWC, merger opponents tell California regulators

Read more about: Comcast
back to top


5. Netflix is fast-tracking 4K, HDR to push Open Connect, beat cable

Despite nascent consumer demand for 4K/Ultra HD, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) has been the most aggressive supplier on the programming end, driving up the already high cost of producing original series like House of Cards by shooting them in 6K, for example.

The SVOD service is notoriously cryptic about its long-term strategic goals. But Wired writer Brian Barrett has some cogent theories about where Netflix is going with all of this.

First, there are competitive reasons–4K represents a chance to get a jump on pay-TV, which is slowly increasing its 4K wherewithal. As Current Analysis research director Avi Greengart noted, “4K requires more bandwidth than many cable and satellite systems have available.”

Netflix “could and its competitors can’t,” he added.

Operators including DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) are ramping up fledgling 4K services, with the pay-TV company preparing to launch a new satellite in May that will greatly expand its 4K programming capabilities. But overall, this ramp-up won’t be cheap or fast for the pay-TV industry.

In March, Philip Goswitz, senior VP, video, space and communications for DirecTV told a D.C. conference that 4K is the “killer app” and that DirecTV expects to have 50-70 4K channels in operation by 2020. With DirecTV on the leading edge of pay-TV adoption of the resolution standard, a five-year time frame seems like plenty of time for Netflix to develop a decisive edge.

Another possible reason Netflix has been aggressive in pushing 4K, as well as High Dynamic Range (HDR): “The company may also see 4K as a way to push so much data through ISP pipes that its partners have no choice but to sign on to the Netflix Open Connect Initiative, an effort to deliver its shows and movies from machines as close as possible to the viewer,” Barrett writes.

For more:
– see this Wired article

Related links:
Netflix’s master plan is global content licensing
Netflix’s Aussie strategy: Let ’em VPN, at least up until launch
Cable’s ratings collapse: Latest research reports provide more conclusive evidence that it’s SVOD’s fault

Read more about: Avi Greengart, Brian Barrett
back to top


Also Noted

This week’s sponsors are Brightcove, Inc. and Vindicia.

eBook | Overcoming the 5 Biggest Challenges to Launching OTT Services

Viewing patterns of consumers are dramatically shifting toward watching content on IP-based mobile devices. This eBook delves into how ad insertion is evolving and improving, what can be done to make a more elegant user experience for OTT content and more! Download today.

SPOTLIGHT ON… Netflix’s plan for beating VPN masking: make content the same around the world

The process of VPN masking as it relates to Netflix–fooling the network about your IP address so you can access the SVOD company’s lineup in another global territory–doesn’t exactly count as digital piracy. One still has to subscribe to Netflix in order to pull it off. But the leading video streamer isn’t cool with it, just the same. But Netflix has a strategy to head off this annoying global consumption trend–make its content the same around the world, so that users have no incentive to perform VPN masking. FierceOnlineVideo has a complete report on the SVOD provider’s response here

More cable news from around the Internet:

> Starz will launch SVOD service Starz Play Arabia across 17 territories in the Middle East and North Africa on April 2. Press release

> Media General is threatening to pull its stations off Suddenlink Communications systems if a renewal agreement for a retrans deal that expires April 7 isn’t made. Story

> Dish Network says it will once again offer the MLB Extra Innings for out-of-market Major League Baseball games. Press release

> Alaskan operator GCI has added five channels to its TV Everywhere service and 11 networks to its VOD offering. Press release

> After cratering 6 to 9 percent this year, Moody’s expects TV advertising to rebound in a big way in 2016. Story

> Chinese telecom supplier Huawei Technologies says its Distributed Converged Cable Access Platform (D-CCAP) participated in CableLabs’ first two interoperability tests for DOCSIS 3.1. Story

And finally … Comedy Central is publicly backing its new Daily Show host, Trevor Noah, after old tweets surfaced featuring sexist and anti-Semitic jokes. Story

News From the Fierce Network:
> Frontier serves up 150 symmetrical FiOS service for Washington state users Post
> Google Fiber’s presence pressures AT&T to adjust 1 Gig pricing plans Post
> Twitch updates mobile app with multitaskers in mind Post
> U.S. Cellular to expand LTE network cover 98% of its customers by end of 2015 Post
> GM expects $350M in profit over next 3 years due to AT&T LTE deal Post


Webinars

* Post listing: Click here.
* General ad info: Click here.

> Resolving Common Sources of Interference in LTE Networks – Now Available On Demand

This webinar focuses on the most common sources of interference found in LTE networks throughout the United States, using real-world examples from actual issues encountered and resolved in the field. In addition, the impact of interference on more recent LTE enhancements such as VoLTE, carrier aggregation, and in-building/DAS systems will be discussed. Register to watch now!

> Better Learning with Video – Insights from Century 21 – Thursday, April 2nd | 2pm ET / 11am PT

Join David Birnbaum, Vice President, Learning of Century 21 University and Vitaly Shter, Director Product Marketing, Kaltura to see current trends and best practices in online video for enterprise learning and training and to see how video can cut costs and improve learning results. Register today!

> Exploring the Benefits of License Assisted Access (LAA) – Monday, April 13th | 2pm ET / 11am PT

License assisted access, is currently being tested by various vendors as a way to improve indoor coverage and overall network performance. This webinar will look at the various pros and cons of LAA and will provide some insight into the status of this burgeoning technology. Reserve Your Spot Today!

> Overcoming Backhaul Challenges – Thursday, April 30, 2 PM ET/11 AM PT

This webinar from FierceWireless will delve into the various backhaul options available to carriers and provide some insight into how N. American operators are currently coping with the growing demand for backhaul. What can operators do today to prepare for tomorrow’s demands? Register Today.

> WiFi Calling – Enabling a Seamless Customer Experience – NOW AVAILABLE ON-DEMAND

Learn how to enable a seamless experience while implementing WiFi calling not only with other IP based technologies such as VoIP and LTE but also with non-IP based technologies such as GSM and UMTS. Register to watch now!



Events

* Post listing: Click here.
* General ad info: Click here.

> TIA Network of the Future Conference – June 2-4, 2015 – Dallas, TX

The Telecommunications Industry Association will host TIA 2015: The Network of the Future – the industry’s leading conference focused on the most critical issues facing global communications – June 2-4 in Dallas, Texas. Over three days, TIA 2015 will gather global thought leaders, top executives, and policy decision-makers for a unique look at mobile networks, big data, tech policy, emerging technologies, new business models and more. The conference will also spotlight new services and solutions that are allowing network operators and enterprises to more powerfully connect with customers, increase revenues and take advantage of new profit pools. Register today! 

> CONNECTIONS: The Premier Connected Home Conference – May 19-21 – San Francisco

Consumers have an average of 7.5 Internet-connected devices. Join Samsung, Comcast, Verizon & Nest at the premier connected home conference. CONNECTIONS explores the best strategies to engage consumers through innovative offerings in the Internet of Things, connected entertainment & the smart home.
Register Today & Save 20%: www.connectionsus.com

> TV Connect – Monetising the evolution of TV everywhere. – 28-30 April 2015 – ExCeL, London

TV Connect London is the world’s leading event in connected entertainment. Taking place on 28-30 April 2015, the event will bring together leading service providers from across the globe to meet, network and discuss the future of connected TV entertainment. Visit our website for more information: http://bit.ly/TVConnect2015



Marketplace

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> eBook: Big Data Insights

Big data is one of this year’s hot-button topics for CSPs. There are any different angles to the big-data saga, most of them focused on the pact on telecoms customer relationships. But there’s an impact on the etwork operations side as well. As our cover story observes, we’re starting to hear terms like “network sibility,” which leverages big-data analytics to see not just every nook and anny of the network, but what customers are doing on it – all the way own to the application level – and responding to that. Download today!

> Upcoming Webcast: Azure Live brings NGSN and Fuji TV Next to “Live”

Microsoft’s Azure Live streaming services are now live! Join us on April 7 to learn how Next Generation Sports Network and Fuji TV Next implemented their streaming strategy in a matter of weeks instead of months and the impact this is having on growth revenue and customer loyalty. Register today.

> eBook: Overcoming the 5 Biggest Challenges to Launching OTT Services

Viewing patterns of consumers are dramatically shifting toward watching content on IP-based mobile devices. This eBook delves into how ad insertion is evolving and improving, what can be done to make a more elegant user experience for OTT content and more! Download today.



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