You know all those promises by internet service providers that they don’t need any silly Title II rules to behave themselves? Those rules haven’t been repealed quite yet, but Charter is already using the likely FCC decision to argue its case against New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. As Daniel Frankel writes at FierceCable, “In its letter to the judge, Charter discussed how the FCC’s proposed ‘light-touch’ regimen dispenses of rules governing paid prioritization, thus damaging Schneiderman’s case regarding Netflix throttling.” Which leaves us with little reason to expect anything better than the worst-case scenario once ISPs can do whatever they want.
Jeff Baumgartner of Multichannel News hits the highlights of a report by The Diffusion Group predicting that legacy pay TV service penetration will fall to 60% by 2030. Meanwhile over-the-top pay TV will grow from 4% of U.S. homes to 14% by then. I remember when I encountered my first report like this at an old magazine job and immediately thought it was a big deal. The wise senior editor looked at me as the rookie I was and gently admonished, “They’re just guessing.”
On the other hand, as Jeremy Barr of The Hollywood Reporter and others noticed, ESPN laid off another 150 employees this morning. “The cuts represent less than 2 percent of ESPN’s 8,000-strong workplace, and the network is still hiring.” The wife asked me if this is the start of the network’s death spiral. I assured her that ESPN would endure, if ever so slightly more frugally. The real pinch should come in two or three years when sports rights fees will stop escalating, and owners and players will need to agree on the best way to divide a more stable revenue pie. I predict at least one major sports lockout by 2020, but I’m just guessing.
At my desk at FreeTVBlog World Headquarters, I’ve got a TV on either side of my monitor. The right TV is hooked up to my AirTV, Sling’s Android TV-based receiver. The left TV is attached to my Channel Master DVR+.
AirTV is great for dishing up all sorts of internet-based TV. Thanks to my distant cable TV subscription (long story, I’ll elaborate in a few days), I can watch Fox Sports, ESPN, and other cable channels through their apps. On the other hand, its integration of over-the-air TV is just enough to watch live; there’s no way to record it.
The DVR+ is the opposite – great at recording OTA but with a much weaker selection of internet-based channels. In fact, those channels haven’t changed in a very long time, so I’d been wondering whether Channel Master was focusing on something else. I also found myself wishing that the DVR+ were also based on Android TV, the better to add complementary functionality to its OTA recording.
Today I noticed, thanks to Jeff Baumgartner, that Dave Zatz of ZatzNotFunny had connected the dots and then some. Zatz said that Channel Master would introduce the Stream+ at CES in January 2018, and he posted the YouTube video above. It’s supposed to be based on the Technicolor Skipper, a 4K Android TV receiver. Technicolor makes the AirTV.
The Stream+ sounds like could be a worthy addition to one of my desk TVs. I wonder which box it will replace.
When Dish (probably) caved in late Thursday and signed a retransmission consent deal with CBS, that was as unexpected as a turkey sandwich on the day after Thanksgiving. It was never a matter of whether the two sides (mostly Dish) would give in, it was when.
So I was a little surprised to get settled in on Cyber Monday and see pundits still picking at the bones of this non-story. Daniel Frankel of FierceCable and Jon Lafayette of Multichannel News both noticed the same thing: CBS and its networks were still missing from Dish’s Sling TV despite the new contract. It might be a coastal bias, but they just don’t get it.
Despite occasional brave noises, Sling TV doesn’t carry any English-language affiliates in most of its subscribers’ markets. As Frankel himself wrote in January, “Sling TV has pointedly noted that its service is not a replacement for traditional pay-TV.” Exactly! By keeping its price very low, Sling has become the supplement for some otherwise-OTA cord-cutters. If they want a local station, they’ll pick it up over-the-air for free. If they want to watch the latest South Park, which they can’t pick up with their antennas, they’ll flip over to Comedy Central on Sling. In that context, it makes no sense for Sling to pay for CBS or any other OTA network.
On the other hand, Frankel ended his latest Sling story by writing, “Dish is expected to include Sling TV rights in its next program licensing agreement with CBS Corp.” So if those networks weren’t bundled with the CBS retransmission deal, those would be candidates for Sling to pick up. I could easily see CBS Sports added to Sling’s Sports Extra add-on, and Pop and Smithsonian could work in Comedy or Lifestyle. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
© winterling / DepositPhotos
First the good news – Dish has come to terms with CBS this morning. The bad news is that the rest of this post is a shameless money-grab. Maybe I’d have been better off waiting for Cyber Monday, but Fridays are often depressing (it’s still early as I type) and Mondays tend to be newsworthy. The following notes contain affiliate links to some of my advertisers. If you click on one and buy something, I’ll briefly get one of the coins in the photo before sending it along to my web host. (Hmm, adding to my Todo List: Get an affiliate link for my web host.)
Antennas Direct has a very interesting ClearStream TV™ Over-The-Air WiFi Television Digital Tuner that’s on sale as I type. I haven’t tried it yet, and I don’t expect that I’d prefer it to my HDHomeRun and Tablo devices, but yaneverknow.
On the other hand, I’m already very happy with my Roku, so much so that I bought a second little one to keep in my suitcase. If I break down and buy a 4K TV, it’ll probably be one with Roku built-in, so then I’d have a spare to send off to college with my kid.
If you’re one of the people who create those streaming videos to send out instead of just watching them, then you could do worse than use Vimeo, especially now that there’s 10% off Vimeo Live! Use Code LIVELAUNCH10.
Finally, for some serious coins, you could use TripAdvisor to book your next hotel in Las Vegas, maybe for CES or NAB next year. I love the reviews, and you’re going to see some hotels (cough downtown) that are convenient to the LV Convention Center at a lower price that most conference-based booking agencies. Then again, if you’ve got the cash for a really expensive, nearby hotel, you’re probably better off booking with at the conference site. Maybe I’ll see you there!
Sure enough CBS blacked out Dish customers Monday night. Dish responded with a press release that talked about over-the-air antennas. “In recent weeks, thousands of eligible DISH customers in CBS markets have made the switch to OTA … Customers with qualifying equipment, programming, and location can choose to receive local channels free over the air and save $10 per month on their bill.” And here’s another reason, if true, for me to dislike CBS’s tactics: “In addition to asking for significant price increases for local channels, CBS is attempting to ‘force bundle’ unrelated and low-performing cable channels (CBS Sports Network, Pop and Smithsonian Channel) at a premium.” I have always thought that retrans talks for OTA stations, which are designed to serve the public airwaves, need to be separate from pay-TV channels.
Last week, I wrote that BTV Phoenix was soliciting feedback for dropping its Katz diginets (Bounce, Escape, and Grit). It’s not asking for feedback any more. Those channels had been grayed out, with an invitation for viewers to profess their enthusiasm for them, but now they’re simply not present, just as happened with those networks on BTV Bay Area. Jeff Baumgartner at Multichannel News got a response from Didja, the BTVs’ parent, that it believed “the situation is temporary, and remains hopeful that they will be restored to its lineups.”
And on Tuesday, Dec. 5, Public Knowledge will host Net Neutrality & Competition: The Final Days of Internet Freedom at the Internet Archive in San Francisco. With the FCC likely to strike down Net Neutrality protections, AT&T looking to merge with Time Warner, and Sinclair trying to gobble up the Tribune stations, “Public Knowledge is coming to California to discuss these important political shifts with engaged individuals, and to build new connections with individuals who want to learn more about standing up for an open internet.” Sound like fun, in a depressing kind of way.