Today in Connected Consumer

Frost & Sullivan analyst and streaming media guru Dan Rayburn stirred things up over the weekend with a strongly worded post dismissing TV Everywhere as nothing but hype to justify cable rate hikes. While he’s right that most consumers probably aren’t willing to pay extra for online access, that doesn’t mean its all “just” hype. It’s hype with a purpose. With the exception of Comcast’s Xfinity push, most of the heat around TV Everywhere is coming from programmers, not MSOs. Their goal? To establish the predicate that programmers add value to MSOs’ broadband platforms so the networks can ultimately demand a piece of operators’ broadband subscription revenues as well as their video subscription fees.

Cord-cutting? Hold the Phone

TV programmers are too invested in the economics of bundling to let a la carte access become an effective substitute for bundled service, unless compelled to by regulators.

Today in Connected Consumer

Cable and satellite TV service providers are rightly concerned about the threat that over-the-top video delivery poses to their core subscription business, and have responded by developing TV Everywhere platforms to try to keep online video within the subscription garden. But a deal announced this morning to bring Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-view events to the Roku box poses a new challenge. Though PPV events are a big business for cable and satellite operators, PPV packagers do no need to worry about protecting an ongoing revenue stream from per-subscriber distribution fees as traditional, ad-supported pay-TV networks do. So TV Everywhere is not going to protect service providers’ PPV franchise.

Today in Connected Consumer

TV Everywhere is the talk of the National Cable Show in Los Angeles this week but not all of it is friendly. On a panel of top moguls, Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes says it’s already paying off, while Fox’s Tom Rothman thinks maybe it’s not the best idea. Comcast’s Brian Roberts, meanwhile, said service providers need to accelerate the pace of innovation and showed off his company’s upcoming iPad remote app. On cue, Verizon offered a new twist on TV Everywhere authentication: FiOS subscribers can log in once to access pay-TV content online and it’s good for 30 days.

Today in Connected Consumer

While there has been plenty of connected consumer news in the wireless space lately today the action shifts to the home front. The Wireless Gigabit Alliance this morning published its long-awaited “WiGig” spec that will enable home network transmission speeds of up to 6Gbs, enough to handle buffer-free video between components. Meanwhile, the country’s No. 3 cable operator, Cox Communications, is finally ready to roll out its tru2way-enabled IPG and full-home DVR, while the fifth-largest operator, Cablevision, is introducing more than a dozen new interactive channels powered by ActiveVideo Network’s Cloud TV platform across the MSO’s entire digital footprint. So we’re staying in tonight.

Why Cable Operators Need an Apps Strategy

Embedded app stores are finding their way onto connected HDTVs, Blu-ray Disc players and set-top boxes, where streaming video apps are likely to predominate. With the number of connected devices expected to grow rapidly over the next five years, cable and satellite providers could again find themselves facing the threat of disintermediation.

The iPad: Cable TV For Publishers?

For the avid news consumer, the monthly cost of using the iPad could quickly mount to $100 or more–cable TV territory. Those using the 3G version will need to tack on $15 to $30 a month more for 3G service. That’s going to force consumers to make some tough, and probably pretty narrow, choices as to what content they get on their iPad.

Today in Connected Consumer

Apparently, Google feels that stumbling around in the mobile space isn’t enough of a stretch, so it has decided to go where others, including Microsoft, have failed before: bringing the full web experience to the TV set. That puts it on a collision course with the likes of Yahoo, Rovi, DivX and Wal-mart/Vudu, which are taking an Apple-like app store approach to Internet TVs. For programmers and cable operators, however, the big question will be: How will Google’s advertising system work on Google TV?

The Paradox of Thinking Outside the (Set-Top) Box

The FCC issued its keenly anticipated National Broadband Plan this week, and the biggest immediate impact of the plan could come from its proposal to replace traditional cable set-top boxes within two years with simple “gateway” devices that handle conditional access and tuning but leave all other functionality to other devices or services. One of the paradoxes inherent to the FCC’s set-top plans is that the Internet will actually make it easier for cable and satellite providers to deploy scalable new services and functionality without incurring the capital costs involved in upgraded equipment already in subscribers’ homes. Combined with their existing relationships with subscribers, that will allow cable operators to quickly erase any competitive advantage gained by third-party STB makers from introducing new features or functionality.

For Wal-mart, There’s More to Vudu Than VOD

The initial reaction to Wal-mart’s acquisition of digital movie service Vudu last week, reportedly for $100 million, included a sizable helping of skepticism. And, if video-on-demand movies were all there were to the deal, those criticisms might be warranted. But the acquisition of Vudu has more to do with technology than movies on demand, and it’s both audacious in its ambition and potentially far-reaching in its implications.