Tesco sells Blinkbox Music to Guvera and kills off ebook platform

As part of its bid to get its financials back on track, U.K. supermarket chain Tesco has been dismantling and selling off its Blinkbox digital media business. First to go was the Blinkbox video streaming service, sold to ISP TalkTalk earlier this month.

Now it’s the turn of the Blinkbox music streaming service, which began life as We7 (jointly founded by music legend Peter Gabriel, no less) before Tesco bought it in 2012. My former colleague Robert Andrews accurately described We7 as “a much valued, indigenous U.K. online music player,” but now it’s owned by Australians – the music streamer Guvera.

According to a statement, the acquisition (terms for which were not disclosed) will give Guvera more technical expertise and help it expand into western Europe. The Spotify competitor is already available in 20 countries and comes preloaded in Lenovo handsets.

Meanwhile, the third plank in the Blinkbox platform – ebooks – looks like a write-off. British book retailer Waterstones had been in talks to buy that business off Tesco but, according to a Monday piece in The Bookseller, those discussions came to naught. Blinkbox Books, co-founded in 2012 by author Andy McNab as Mobcast, will now shut down by the end of February.

AT&T tackles LTE-Broadcast at college football championship

On Monday we didn’t just see the debut of the first College Football Playoff Championship Game. We also witnessed the first appearance of AT&T’s new LTE-Broadcast technology, which uses the 4G network to send the same content to multiple devices simultaneously.

While the Oregon Ducks got crushed by the Ohio State Buckeyes at [company]AT&T[/company] Stadium at Arlington, Ma Bell used its hometown advantage to run a limited trial of the new technology. AT&T and partner [company]MobiTV[/company] broadcast two ESPN video streams from the game showing replays from different angles as well as a data stream that delivered a constantly updating feed of stats and trivia, according to FierceWireless.

AT&T sent those streams from its cellsites in and around the stadium, which network supplier [company]Ericsson[/company] upgraded for the event. But as with Verizon’s demos at the Super Bowl last year, regular AT&T customers couldn’t access them as their phones don’t yet support LTE-Broadcast technology. Instead AT&T, [company]Qualcomm[/company] and [company]Samsung[/company] rigged up a few dozen Galaxy Note 3 devices with the necessary firmware to receive the multicast signal and demoed them at the event. LTE-Broadcast, however, is part of the LTE standard so future smartphones and tablets should support the technology natively.

AT&T LTE-Broadcast graphic

So why mess around with LTE-broadcast when 4G networks are perfectly capable of delivering the same content over individual streams to today’s devices? It’s a much more efficient way to deliver high-bandwidth content to masses of people in the same place.

Consequently big events like football games are the ideal use case. Everyone wants to see the replay of that touchdown. Instead of thousand devices requesting the same content as individual streams from the same few cell towers – overloading the network in the process – the LTE-Broadcast network sends it as a single transmission. Everyone sees a high-quality video and the network uses only a fraction of its overall bandwidth.


The other side of net neutrality

The danger in laying down hard and fast net neutrality rules now is that they could lock in structural dynamics in the market for online content when we don’t really know how those dynamics will ultimately evolve.

OTT going live

At the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas this week video streaming service providers were clearly preparing for a major expansion in the breadth and volume of content broadcast over-the-top.

Movies without borders

With the shift to streaming, the movie studios have attempted to sustain the old territorial exclusivity system by requiring the use of geo-blocking technology to restrict unlicensed access to their content.

How Dropbox streams your videos almost instantly

This is a pretty fascinating read for all you multimedia geeks out there: Dropbox detailed its approach towards video streaming in a blog post this week that dives deep into the technical details of codecs and transcoding pipelines. In short, Dropbox takes the first few seconds of each and every video its users upload and preps them for streaming onto a variety of devices. When a user starts to stream a video, it serves up those transcoded bits, and immediately starts to transcode the rest on the fly. Also interesting: A comment by Drobox engineer Pierpaolo Baccichet hints at plans to bring Dropbox video streaming to TV devices.