Level 3: Comcast Lied About Dispute, Broke NDA

In the latest salvo over its interconnection dispute with Comcast, Level 3 is taking aim at the cable provider’s proposed deal to merge with NBC Universal. In a letter to the FCC, Level 3 accuses Comcast as acting as a gatekeeper to competing online video services.

Vid Biz: ESPN 3-D, YouTube Playlist Bar, Facebook Trailer

Today on the Net: Akamai has a new president, Swisscom uses your Facebook friends in a personalized movie trailer, local libraries loan more DVDs each day than Netflix, YouTube is playing with a new playlist bar, and more.

Comcast-NBCU: An Oil Spill Waiting to Happen?

Participants of a public FCC hearing on the proposed Comcast-NBC Universal joint venture warned today that a lack of regulation could be a catastrophic for the online video space. They made references to BP’s oil spill, but also pointed to Comcast’s interference with BitTorrent transfers.

Friends and Foes Weigh in on Comcast-NBCU Deal

Comcast and NBC secured a number of well-know supporters for their proposed merger, but today’s FCC comment filing deadline was also used by a number of companies, labor unions and public interest groups to express opposition to the idea of both companies joining forces.

Next Up For Boxee: A Blu-ray Player?

The Boxee Box isn’t even on the shelves yet, but Boxee is already working on plans to bring its software platform to other devices as well. Boxee’s vice president of marketing Andrew Kippen sat down with me a few days ago to talk strategy, and he told me that the company wants to have another Boxee-powered device available to consumers before the end of the year. He declined to provide further details about partnership deals, but told me that the company is eyeing Blu-ray players as a logical next step.

Kippen also told me that Boxee has seen 110,000 new users since the launch of its beta software at CES in January, and that his company is pleased with the scrutiny with which Washington is investigating the merger between Comcast (s CMCSK) and NBC Universal (s GE).

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Vid-Biz: Lost Premiere, Olympics, Rovi

Online Video Views Are Not “Lost” on ABC.com; over 580,000 episode starts were reported for last Tuesday’s season premiere. (WebProNews)

CBS Sports Coverage of Super Bowl XLIV Scores Highest Rating in 23 Years; ratings for this year’s game were up 10 percent over 2009. (TVByTheNumbers)

NBCU’s HD Leap Into Vancouver; the network plans a leaner approach to producing this year’s games despite broadcasting all events in HD for the first time. (Broadcasting & Cable)

Microsoft Readies “Smooth Streaming” Online Video Viewing of Winter Olympics; Microsoft principal evangelist Jason Seuss discusses Microsoft’s team-up with Akamai to deliver high-quality streams for this year’s games. (Beet TV)

Shorter Spots See Higher Completion Rates; according to an analysis of video ad network YuMe, clickthrough rates trended steadily downward, to 0.74% from 1.88%. (eMarketer)

Rovi and FourthWall Media to Collaborate on Enhanced TV Platform Solution; the company formerly known as Biap will help Rovi implement EBIF technology in its interactive program guide. (release)

Veeple Launches Search Engine-friendly Video Embed Codes; the web video platform has modified its video embed codes to allow placement of text content for SEO purposes. (ReelSEO)

Will Obama Keep Hulu Free?

Hulu clocked more than a billion video views in December, according to comScore (s SCOR) data reported by USA Today this morning. The paper took this as an opportunity to look into Hulu’s future plans for premium pricing, but Hulu CEO Jason Kilar kept his lips shut (as usual). Kilar would say only that he has never ruled out a paid model, but the paper also quotes Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey betting that Hulu would have already moved forward with premium plans if it weren’t for the proposed Comcast/NBCU (s CMCSA) (s ge) merger.

Indeed, the wedding between the cable and the content giant has fallen under increased scrutiny from Democratic lawmakers. Is it possible that we have the Obama administration to thank for keeping Hulu free for now?

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Vivendi and GE Both Publicly Ruminating on NBC IPO

A media IPO — in this market?? That’s the idea both Vivendi (s VIV) and GE (s GE), co-owners of NBC Universal, are floating publicly. In remarks made in London today, Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy reportedly said of an IPO for NBCU “Why not?” and “Maybe that’s what will happen.” Sure, his wording was casual and non-committal, but he did get as specific as saying that an IPO, if it did occur, would probably be in New York.

Here’s the actual quote:

“It’s part of the thinking we had back in 2003 when we created NBCU. One way for Vivendi to exit would be through a flotation on the stock market and maybe that’s what will happen.”

While Levy’s vague comments have been broadly picked up already, it’s worth noting their proximity to something similar said by GE CEO Jeff Immelt at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco last week. Immelt’s GE owns 80 percent of NBCU, while Vivendi owns 20 percent. Asked about a widely discussed potential deal to sell a majority stake to Comcast, Immelt replied, instead, about an IPO: “We’ve done all our planning to see whether or not an IPO would make sense,” he said (see video from the session embedded below; the stuff about NBC comes after minute seven). “That would be fine.”

Vid-Biz: YouTube, Conviva, RollingShutter

Music Videos Back Online on YouTube in the UK; video site reaches agreement with the PRS for Music rights collection society; premium videos to return in the next few days. (YouTube Biz Blog) Speaking of online music videos, Vevo is reportedly in talks with NBC and CBS to develop original programming for its forthcoming music video site. (Reuters)
NBCU CTO Leaves for Conviva; Darren Feher will be CEO of the online video distribution company, which has a multi-year agreement with NBCU. (paidContent)
RollingShutter Removes Video Wiggle; plug-in tool for After Effects straightens objects that get tilted because of the CMOS sensors. (The Foundry)

Livestation and Telestream Pick Wowza for Multiple Screen Streaming; the Wowza Media Server 2 streams live entertainment to devices like the iPhone. (emailed release)
NDS and TNS Team Up for Individual TV Tracking; the opt-in service is able to monitor viewing habits of individual users. (Multichannel News)
Cable Cos Cry Foul Over Franchise Fees; they are lobbying hard to get a law passed in California that would require satellite operators to pay up to provide service. (The LA Times)