A roundabout step forward for set-top integration

The House Energy and Commerce bill grants cable operators’ wish by sunsetting the integration ban. However, it also gives the FCC authority to impose new set-top security rules in the future.

Securing control of the set-top box

The video industry has begun to move — haltingly but nonetheless — toward greater integration of linear and OTT services. How that integration happens, however, and on whose platform, and through whose UI, are no small questions.

Fanhattan (sort of) pulls a Microsoft

Fanhattan today unveiled Fan TV at the D11 conference, a nifty new set-top device with a very slick, touch-driven interface that, like the Xbox One, aims to integrate linear and OTT video. Unlike the Xbox, however, Fan TV will enable DVR functionality and access to on-demand content from your pay-TV provider.

Where have you gone, AllVid?

If the Xbox One comes up short as a true, all-in-one entertainment center, it’s due to the intransigence of pay-TV operators and the fecklessness of the Federal Communications Commission more than to any design decisions made by Microsoft.

Vid-Biz: Fox-Cablevision, Justin.tv, CableCARD

Today on the Net: the FCC proposed arbitration in the Fox-Cablevision retrans dispute, but Fox has declined, Justin.tv continues to grow UGC traffic despite the loss of business development execs and the FCC ordered some CableCARD reform that comes up short.

Vid-Biz: FCC’s AllVid Proposal, Brightcove, Imagine Communications

Goodbye CableCARD, Hello AllVid; The FCC has asked for feedback on a new video interface to replace its failed CableCARD policy — an “AllVid” adapter that would act as an intermediary between home theater gear and pay-TV services. (Ars Technica)
Brightcove Announces Facebook Support; the online video platform provider will provide support for the Open Graph and new set of Social Plug-ins that were announced by social networking giant Facebook. (InteractiveTV Today)
Video-Compression Vendor Imagine Communications Raises $10 Million; all previous and existing investors, including Court Square Ventures, Columbia Capital and Carmel Ventures, participated in the round, which brings total funding up to more than $34 million. (Multichannel News)
Dailymotion Integrates Facebook’s “Like” Button; the video site has enabled users to share videos in their Facebook profile, using a new Facebook Social Plug-In “Like” button. (InteractiveTV Today)
South Park‘s Depiction Of Muhammad Censored Again; This week’s episode, in which Muhammad was set to appear but was replaced by Santa Claus in a bear suit, is not currently available online at southparkstudios.com. (Huffington Post)

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.

Despite Big Talk, Tru2way Could Suffer the Fate of CableCard

Last week, the FCC announced that less than half a million standalone CableCards have been shipped into deployment; no one was particularly surprised. By now, most know the FCC’s vision of millions of CableCard-enabled TVs, Media Center PCs and consumer electronics — which would enable consumers to get cable content on their computer or TV without a set-top box — is dead in the water. Tru2way, the cable industry’s own solution for interactive cable services in set-top and consumer electronics, may not have a much brighter future.

CableCARDs: Cause for Joy, and Pain

motorola_cablecardI’ve been hearing about the CableCARD for years. How this little device — just about the size of an extra-thick credit card — will eliminate the need for a cable box. How it’ll cut down on the clutter surrounding my TV. How it’ll make my entire TV viewing experience easier, better.

And maybe it will. If I can ever get the darn thing working.

CableCARDs slide into the back of TVs, DVRs and other devices, delivering decrypted cable signals without a cable box. The newest version of a CableCARD is the multistream card, also known as an M-Card. An M-Card offers dual tuners, so you can, for example, record one channel while watching another. A single-stream CableCARD can tune in to only a single channel. You get CableCARDs from your cable company, just as you would get a cable box, and pay both an installation fee and a monthly rental fee that’s comparable to what you’d pay for a cable box, maybe a few dollars cheaper.

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Dell’s CableCARD Move Is Out of Tune

Although the adoption of CableCARD tuners has been relatively slow, Dell hopes it can jump-start sales by including CableCARD-enabled digital cable tuners across its high-end PC lineup. So far, the company has yet to announce all of the computers on which the tuners will be installed, but it did say that its XPS 420 will use ATI’s Digital Wonder.

CableCARDs, which plug into your computer and allow you to view programming offered by your cable company on your monitor, have always been on the minds of the people at Dell, according to the company, but they feel that now is the best time to get in on the CableCARD game and start offering computers with CableCARDs included, starting next year.

And while Dell may believe these tuners will help sell computers, I’m not so quick to agree. In an environment in which people are becoming increasingly portable, CableCARDs are not. According to Dell, CableCARDs are locked down and only work in a specific city. Once you venture outside of a cable company’s sphere of influence, they become practically useless.

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