In the Future, Ads Will Skip You

TV networks and advertisers alike have long been looking for ways to make ads more relevant to consumers prone to skipping, or simply ignoring advertising. This quest has become even more urgent with the advent of new advertising opportunities online that are increasingly rivaling the 30-second spot. Personalized TV advertising is an obvious solution in theory; making it a reality however, has proven to be difficult, with major efforts to develop the technical infrastructure to serve different ads to different consumers stalling.

UK-based pay-TV solutions provider NDS has come up with a new approach to personalized advertising that’s not only much more feasible than previous efforts, but should also please privacy advocates worried about the implications of behavioral targeted marketing. In fact, the technology is so simple that it could easily be rolled out to millions of consumers tomorrow — if it wasn’t for the fact that it forces cable operators and TV networks alike to rethink a major part of their business.

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Cable Subs See Low Value For Their Money

Cable providers could find customers defecting for other services, or possibly even cutting the cord if they don’t find ways to provide more value to their subscribers, according to a new survey from Strategy Analytics. As many as two-thirds of cable subscribers said they would switch providers if they could find cheaper services elsewhere, which could be bad news for Comcast (s CMCSA), Time Warner Cable (s TWC), Cablevision and others.

At the heart of customer dissatisfaction is the fact that most don’t believe they are getting a lot of value for the money they spend on cable. According to Strategy Analytics, less than 22 percent of pay TV subscribers said their service exceeded or greatly exceeded their expectations of value for money. With the growth of online video services like Hulu and Netflix (s NFLX), Ben Piper, director of the Strategy Analytics Multiplay Market Dynamics service (MMD), sayd cable subscribers see less value in paying for traditional cable subscriptions.

According to the survey, more than two-thirds of cable subscribers stated they would switch providers if offered a 20 percent discount over their existing pay TV bills. IPTV providers fared better, with half as many saying they would churn if offered a lower-priced service. That is consistent with other findings of the survey; for instance, customer satisfaction among telco and IPTV customers was about 95 percent, compared to 67 percent for cable.

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Fox & Time Warner Cable Make Up While Scripps & Cablevision Face Off

Cable customers in Denver and Los Angeles didn’t have to miss last weekend’s Sugar Bowl after all: Time Warner Cable (s TWC)  and News Corp. (s NWS) announced a deal on Friday that allows the cable company to continue to carry the Fox network’s TV channels, after Fox had threatened to cut off Time Warner as part of a transmission fee standoff. The details of the deal were not announced, but  Staci Kramer over at paidContent calls it “unlikely” that Fox got anything close to the $1 per cable subscriber it had demanded.

All of that is of little consolation for Iron Chef fans in New York and New Jersey. Customers of Cablevision (s CVC) didn’t get to watch yesterday’s highly publicized special White House edition of the show because HGTV and Food Network owner Scripps Networks (s SNI) cut off access to the networks on January 1st after Cablevision failed to agree to higher retransmission fees.

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With MediaFLO Disappointing, Qualcomm Wants to Become a Mobile CDN

Qualcomm’s (s qcom) MediaFLO mobile television network hasn’t met the chipmaker’s expectations, according to COO Len Lauer, who spoke with me at the Mobilize 09 event last week in San Francisco. He said of Qualcomm’s FLO network for broadcasting mobile television, “We’re not where we need to be. We’re not meeting our expectations.”
He blamed the lack of success so far on the few  FLO-enabled devices available and the long wait for a nationwide network. While he was optimistic that FLO would be on more devices and noted that as of the DTV transition, Qualcomm had a nationwide network, he was also quick to portray the FLO network as more than a television delivery network. Yes, boys and girls, it’s a platform.
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Canadian Content Producers Take a Stand for Net Neutrality

Oh, Canada: Your health care is universal, your forests are green, and your creative industries are against BitTorrent throttling. The Canadian Film & Television Production Association (CFTPA) and two other trade groups representing filmmakers and TV producers testified in support of net neutrality in front of the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) this week. The CRTC has been conducting hearings to look into Bell, Rogers and other Canadian ISPs throttling their subscribers’ BitTorrent traffic.

Bell’s BitTorrent throttling is very similar to what Comcast (s CMCSA) tried in the U.S. until it got forced by the FCC to stop interfering with torrent transmissions. However, the reactions from entertainment industry representatives were very different on this side of the border. The MPAA and NBC Universal (s ge) came out in support of Comcast, making clear that they viewed BitTorrent throttling as the first step towards a world in which ISPs are proactively policing their networks against copyright infringement.

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Cablevision Says No To Analog TV

Cablevision (s CVC), the Bethpage, N.Y.-based cable operator, says it will only sell digital video services and say “sayonara” to analog television, so to speak. Existing analog cable customers will get analog simulcasts on television sets connected directly to Cablevision’s receivers. More than 91 percent of Cablevision’s 3.1 million television customers today receive digital service, and approximately 5 percent of the company’s cable television customers today receive analog expanded basic service. With the looming switch away from analog television over the airwaves, it looks like the bell is tolling for analog TV. Get ready for a future in which news anchors will be able to show their blemishes even more!

Amazon Web Services to Launch CDN Services

Akamai, Limelight, Level 3 and more than a dozen other startups should be worried about Amazon’s move into the content deliver business. Amazon Web Services’ latest offering will cause price pressure in an already commoditized business. In an email to its customers today, Amazon said that the service will be available later this year and will utilize the company’s points of presence in North America, Europe and Asia. This is good news for online video startups that are looking for CDN services but are on a budget. The company will charge its customers on usage instead of the long-term contracts current players foist on their clients. In addition, the company will publish its prices on the web and, most importantly, it is going to be inexpensive. You can read our full news analysis on GigaOM.

MobiTV Says It Has 4M Subscribers — Is Growth Slowing?

The first time Paul Scanlan, co-founder of MobiTV, showed me his service at a friend’s barbeque in Sausalito, it was nothing but a herky-jerky video transmission of CNN on a Sprint handset. I had just moved back to San Francisco, and this was before the current investment cycle had started. To be honest, I didn’t give it much of a chance, and wondered who would want this service. Oops!

Five years later, the Emeryville, Calif-based company that got going in 1999 has grown tremendously. Today it announced that its mobile television service now reaches four million subscribers, though it is not clear how many pay for the service. MobiTV seems to defy the conventional wisdom about mobile video.

I decided to look at MobiTV’s subscriber growth over the years to measure the trajectory thus far. I also added the number of months it takes them to add another million users, and from that yardstick, it seems like the growth has started to slow down a little.

  • April 2006: 1 million subscribers
  • February 2007: 2 million subscribers (10 months)
  • October 2007: 3 million subscribers (8 months)
  • August 2008: 4 million subscribers (10 months)

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Poll: Will Metered Broadband Make You Switch Your ISP?

While not so uncommon overseas, bandwidth caps and metered broadband are coming to the US market place. Time Warner is the first major cable company to announce its metered broadband strategy & prices for a small Texas market, in what can be described as draconian.

We have written about Bend Broadband of Oregon resorting to such tricks. Comcast, recently proposed bandwidth caps as well. What it means: get ready to pay more and get less for broadband. Will this spur into action, and switch ISPs or look for alternatives. Take our poll and share your opinion.

Comcast to Test Bandwidth Caps?

Comcast is reportedly considering monthly caps on bandwidth usage and may charge customers who go over these limits. DSLreports writes that users would get to use up to 250 GB per month and be charged $15 for every 10 GB over the limit. When contacted for comment a Comcast spokesperson told DSLreports:

“Comcast is currently evaluating this service and pricing model to ensure we deliver a great online experience to our customers. We have not made any changes to our current service offerings and have no new announcement to make at this time.”

Comcast has said it will start targeting bandwidth hogs, and this could be the way they do it. If you’re wondering if you’d have to pay extra, Silicon Alley Insider did some quick math and here are a few highlights of what 250 GB represents:

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