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Cable Show: Sean Combs Says MSG Used Revolt TV To Bid Up Fuse Sale Price

By | Thursday May 1, 2014 @ 11:55am PDT

sean-combs-revolt-tv-finalizes-national-deal-with-time-warnerRapper and style icon Sean Combs, who’s chairman and co-founder of Revolt TV, says that the music channel was “used as a pawn” in the auction for Fuse, which the parent of Jennifer Lopez’ NuvoTV agreed to buy last monthHis bid in March, estimated at $200M, fell short when Fuse owner MSG agreed to SiTV’s offer of $226M and a 15% stake in the company. “It’s cool. That’s the way business works,” Combs said at a panel at Revolt TV Diddy TCAThe Cable Show in LA. (Fuse today is laying off staffers as it prepares to merge with NuvoTV.)

Still, Combs is optimistic, promising to make Revolt “the No. 1 brand in music worldwide” — potentially rivaling ESPN and CNN — as he urged distributors to pick up the channel. Television ”was a natural evolution for me,” especially as he saw that “music was homeless” on the medium. That “left a wide open space for the No. 1 form of entertainment, especially among Millennials.” Read More »

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Cable Show: Cox Chief Talks Up Prospects For WiFi Collaborations After Mega-Deals

By | Thursday May 1, 2014 @ 10:45am PDT

CoxCox Communications President Pat Esser says he doesn’t feel like the odd man out in all the deals underway among Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Charter. The agreements “help us move along that continuum of the industry working together,” he said today on a panel at the Cable Show in LA. That’s important because cable needs to move to a common platform both in TV and broadband — including public WiFi hot spots. With 250,000 of them, “we have more nationwide hotspots than anyone.” That could help cable to compete with wireless companies. “For the majority of usage that you do on a daily basis you’d be surprised” at how much goes over WiFi, he says. Read More »

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Cable Show: Charter CEO Slides By Question About His Change On Comcast-Time Warner Cable Deal

Tom Rutledge 1Charter CEO Tom Rutledge seemed a bit like Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel talking about his amp going to 11 when CNBC’s Jon Fortt asked exactly the right question in a panel today at the National Cable Show: What changed to make him support Comcast’s $45B acquisition of Time Warner Cable, which Charter opposed last month saying would leave Comcast controlling “nearly 40 percent of the broadband market, around 33 million TV subscribers and a major programmer in NBCUniversal”? The real answer is that Charter logoCharter was bought off this week when Comcast agreed to sell it many of the subs it had already promised to divest, making Charter the industry’s No. 2. Rutledge couldn’t say that, of course. Instead he avoided the core issue and said that “It’s a smaller deal from Comcast’s perspective and from an organization of the industry perspective it’s a much better outcome.” The companies “are committed to serving their communities and their employees and their customers.”

Related: Cable Show: FCC Chair Says “All Options” Open For Net Neutrality

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts was a little smoother in addressing a question about concentration concerns raised by critics including Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). “When you net this all out, we’re buying 7M net customers” — Read More »

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FCC Commissioners Have Little Appetite To Regulate Cable Pricing: Cable Show

By | Wednesday June 12, 2013 @ 1:07pm PDT

Cable operators who feared that the FCC might mandate a la carte TV pricing, or restrict companies’ ability to charge broadband customers based on how much they use the Internet, probably felt comforted by comments that two of the three current FCC members made today at the annual Cable Show. Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel indicated that she’s reluctant to promote a la carte — a key part of a bill sponsored by Sen. John McCain. “Consumer practices are changing,” Rosenworcel says. “The ways that they access content are different today than they were even a year ago.” As a result, if there’s pressure for change it’s “going to be driven by consumers and not necessarily by legislation or regulation.” Her Republican colleague, Ajit Pai, added that people may be wasting their breath if they talk about regulations that might affect whether broadband providers base their pricing on how much bandwidth a consumer uses. “It’s a commonly accepted aspect of the consumer experience in this country in virtually every other field — the more you consume of something the more you should pay,” he says. What’s more, “the FCC’s authority here is relatively limited.” Read More »

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Jennifer Lopez Says NUVOtv Will Feature Scripted Programming: Cable Show

By | Wednesday June 12, 2013 @ 8:35am PDT

The multimedia celebrity — in her new role as Chief Creative Officer of NUVOtv — spoke in broad terms at the cable industry confab this morning about plans for this summer to reignite the English-language network that targets young Latinos. Channels such as MTV and BET attracted viewers “with music first and the network grew from there,” she says. But for NUVOtv scripted programming is “a big thing for me…One show can launch a network. One amazing show.” Her production company, Nuyorican Productions, will be in the mix, and she’ll appear on air “because I was available.” In addition to star power, Lopez says she can help the network with her relationships, including with CAA, which she called “a great agency with a wealth of writers, directors and actors.” Lopez says her title at the network isn’t just ceremonial. “I had a lot of ideas about the network and what it should be.….It represents something bigger than television. It represents a community” that’s been ignored, she says. But Lopez declined to discuss whether she might play a role in the revival of American Idol. “That’s just a rumor,” she says. “I have no announcements to make on that.”

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Time Warner Cable CEO Warns That Price Hikes Might Backfire: Cable Show

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt, cable’s Jeremiah when it comes to the industry’s rising prices, appeared more worried than ever today — and still out of step with his colleagues — when he discussed the issue with Wall Street analysts at the annual Cable Show taking place this week in DC. “People are starting to pay attention to the fact that the multichannel TV package, the big package which is in 90% of the homes, is starting to get too expensive for lower-income people,” he said. Broadcast networks, sports channels and others who have stepped up their demands for higher rates shouldn’t become cavalier just because “nothing is going to happen” with Sen. John McCain’s bill to promote a la carte pricing. (Britt added, “And he doesn’t think so either, by the way.”) The bill is “just the beginning of it. It would behoove the whole industry including the content companies who are all crowing about their pricing power to pay attention because it will come to some end that we may not like if we all keep behaving the way we are.” It was hard to find others at the industry love fest who’d publicly agree. Read More »

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Time Warner Cable Offers TV Service To Samsung Sets Without A Box: Cable Show

By | Tuesday June 11, 2013 @ 1:31pm PDT

While Comcast talks up the virtues of its new, high powered set top boxes, Time Warner Cable used this week’s Cable Show to showcase a different approach: It will launch an app for Samsung Smart TVs that will enable owners to watch pay TV programming without a box. The No. 2 cableco says its TWC TV app is part of its TV Everywhere strategy. In additional to their conventional channels, users will be able to access the company’s 5,000 video on demand titles from about 100 networks. Owners of 2012 Samsung Smart TVs will have first crack to download the free app; those who bought this year’s models will be able to download it “soon afterward,” the companies say. Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt told analysts here today that the arrangement with Samsung is possible because “that TV has enough intelligence” to replace the functions of a set top box. He adds “that’s where I think we’re headed. … The technology is actually pretty easy. And I think that’s going to kind of reinvigorate the industry. I think all this over-the-top stuff is largely about functionality that’s enabled by technology that people haven’t been able to get with our traditional technology.”

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Brian Roberts Vows New Box And Network Features Will Set Pace For Innovation: Cable Show

By | Tuesday June 11, 2013 @ 8:36am PDT

Cable operators seem to have finally realized that their clunky set-top boxes and user interfaces are hurting them as they increasingly compete with Silicon Valley’s slick-looking TV devices and services. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts used his annual presentation at The Cable Show, taking place this week in DC, to announce that his company will introduce a set-top box, called XI3, that’s four times faster and three times smaller than conventional boxes — and this fall will roll out an operating system, called X2, that offers “a seamless experience” to navigate a TV set and digital devices. It will provide six guides — for general listings, kids, movies, sports, personalized recommendations, and upcoming shows based on the user’s interests. Movie listings will include Rotten Tomatoes scores and TV shows in the guide will indicate the Twitter buzz measured in tweets per hour. There’ll be a button to call up the last nine channels watched. The company also added features to help about 20% of the population that has a disability. For example, visually impaired people can receive audio feedback telling them what’s going on when they push a button on the remote. The service also will accommodate spoken search commands. Read More »

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Epix-Commissioned Survey Supports Value Of TV Everywhere: Cable Show

By | Monday June 10, 2013 @ 9:01pm PDT

Epix stands to benefit if cable operators conclude that they need more options for subscribers who want to stream movies. And the survey results released at the annual Cable Show in DC seem to help the premium channel’s cause. It found that 71% of pay TV subscribers consider it to be an “excellent/good” value when they can view their content on three devices in addition to the tube. In Epix’s case, 62% of its subscribers are satisfied with the service when they just receive it on TV. The number rises to 80% when they can watch the channel’s shows on two or three devices — and rises again to 94% when shows are available on four or more devices. “Flexibility is really important in the delivery and packaging of programming services and those distributors who recognize this will be able to increase the satisfaction levels of their customers,” says Epix Chief of Staff Nora Ryan. “We remain committed to working closely with our operating partners to provide our authenticated subscribers access to the best content and extra features in all the ways they want it.” The numbers come from a survey that Hub Entertainment Research conducted in March among 1,936 TV viewers ages 16 to 64 who also have home broadband.

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TV Everywhere Remains A Jumble For Most Consumers: Cable Show

By | Monday June 10, 2013 @ 1:32pm PDT

The cable initiative to stream any TV show, anytime, and anywhere remains spotty and confusing — and is progressing slowly — execs acknowledged in a panel on the subject today at the Cable Show in D.C. Thus far “it’s not a success,” says Fox Networks’ Mike Biard. NBCUniversal’s Ron Lamprecht rated the progress at no more than a 5 out of 10. There’s no turning back, though. “We see our consumers expecting that our content be everywhere,” he says. “There really isn’t any other choice. We have to be there.” But the industry faces a gauntlet of negotiations before it can hope to provide a service that will look the same across all TV networks, cable providers, and technology platforms. For example, Watch ESPN — the sports channel’s TV Everywhere service — “is almost exactly like what you see on ESPN, but there are blackouts because they don’t have the underlying rights” to all the games, Comcast Cable’s Marcien Jenckes says. Consumers also will find different shows when they use a network’s app compared with a cable company’s, and whether they’re used in or outside the home. “In a TNT application within the home you’re accessing TV Everywhere, but in an Xfinity application it could be [just the cable company's] VOD” programming, says Turner Broadcasting’s Jeremy Legg. “Explain to a consumer why they can get TNT in the home but not out of the home.” Read More »

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Big Media Chiefs Tell Cable Operators To Speed Up ‘TV Everywhere’

Cable Show TV EverywhereTime Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes and News Corp COO Chase Carey took the message to The Cable Show this morning, urging attendees to jump on the Internet video bandwagon — even if it means relaxing their grip on the relationship with their customers. “We’ve just got to do it faster,” Bewkes says about TV Everywhere, the service that enables subscribers to watch TV shows on mobile devices. Carey agreed that “it should go faster,” adding that “we get too hung up on protecting the rules of the past.” That was a subtle swipe at pay TV distributors who covet their gatekeeper role. Many fear that they could lose control once subscribers begin to use an iPad or other device to access shows directly from programmers — without a need for the operator’s set top box or on-screen guide. ”We’ve got to find a way to make all of these experiences easier to use and more accessible,” Carey says. “That requires us to work together.” Bewkes agreed. “Let consumers use the interfaces they want,” he says. “You’ll still have your subscriber relationship. We can’t develop the best, world-class interfaces at the scale that a distribution company has. Silicon Valley, the Internet industry, is a global industry and that’s what they do. We should harness that….Don’t try to hold that back. Consumers won’t allow it.” Read More »

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Does Cable News Clarify Or Confuse The Public’s Political Thinking?

By | Tuesday May 22, 2012 @ 9:08am PDT

Chris Matthews HardballThat was the provocative question three newscasters debated this morning at the cable industry’s annual convention on the eve of what MSNBC‘s Chris Matthews predicted will be “the most exciting political season we’ve ever had” — in part because of the growing importance of cable news. As you might imagine, the boisterous host of Hardball With Chris Matthews sucked up most of the oxygen in the Cable Show panel that also included CNN‘s John King and Univision‘s Maria Elena Salinas. She lamented that people “now have designer news. They want to listen to people they agree with.” That’s dangerous, she says, because “they don’t know the difference between a news person and a commentator.” King says that while “there’s nothing wrong with advocacy journalism, there’s nothing wrong with objective journalism, too.” But Matthews says viewers understand what they’re watching. For example, when Fox News bills itself as “fair and balanced,” its audience knows that the slogan is “ironic and fun loving and they’re in on the joke.” He contrasted today’s sharp-edged approach to the old days when “people like Andy Rooney were always with the (government’s) embedded thinking…. Without cable it’s just network thinking and embedded thinking which is dangerous for democracy.”

Related: CNN Hits 20-Year Weekday Primetime Low Read More »

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Cable Execs Warn That Dish Network’s Ad-Zapping DVR Could Lead To Higher Costs

Cable Show DVRBroadcasters received moral support this morning from cable in the looming battle against the new Auto Hop feature on Dish Network‘s Hopper DVRs, which enables the machines to automatically recognize and skip over ads on recorded shows. “In the end a technology like that could create real carnage for the industry,” Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav said in a panel opening this week’s annual Cable Show. And he put Dish Network’s Charlie Ergen on notice that his programming costs could soar if he continues to sell the ad-zapper. “He needs our content,” Zaslav says. “If there isn’t going to be advertising, then there needs to be a lot higher subscriber fees.” He says the pay TV industry needs to be “disciplined” to protect the current system built around ads and subscriber payments. Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said that in the long run it could hurt consumers. “Either subscription prices are going to go up or there’s going to be less content made,” he said. “Destroying the revenue isn’t going to have the effect people think.” But AOL chief Tim Armstrong said that Dish’s initiative puts more pressure on advertisers and media companies to develop commercials that people will want to watch. “The reality is you have a superengaged consumer,” he says. “How do you make more engaging advertising tied to how people are using the media?” He urged pay TV providers to recognize … Read More »

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Will Cable Execs Embrace Their Adversaries At Next Week’s Trade Show?

By | Friday May 18, 2012 @ 4:43pm PDT

If there was a cable industry in the Bizarro World then it might have an annual trade show like the one that will take place Monday to Wednesday in Boston. For starters, only someone from the planet in Superman comics where everything is backward — police commit crimes, sanitation workers throw garbage around, etc. — would think execs might enjoy trying to book a hotel room in Boston in the middle of college graduation season. What’s even stranger, though, is that some of cable’s biggest champions won’t be there, but some of its most nettlesome adversaries will. No-shows start with the King of Cable, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts — who lately has used the annual event to evangelize the latest gee-whiz technologies. Also, for the first time in memory Viacom’s MTV Networks won’t have a presence on the trade show floor. It couldn’t justify the expense at a time when cable operators are more interested in dumping channels than in paying for new ones. Others seem to feel the same way: The show will have more than 200 exhibitors, down from about 277 last year, and they’ll take up 120,000 square feet, down from 140,000. Read More »

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Cable Show: Comcast CEO Brian Roberts Says Super-Fast Broadband Services Will Make TV More “Relevant”

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts closed the annual National Cable Show this morning by giving executives a glimpse of their future transmitting TV shows via the broadband cloud. He says that some of his systems over the next several years will offer transmission speeds of more than 1 gigabite per second — fast enough to download an entire 39-episode season of 30 Rock in 1 minute and 39 seconds. “We are demonsrating a whole new level of speed,” he says. ”It’s where the future of broadband is headed.” The demo came as he unveiled some of the features of his company’s Xfinity TV service. The most distinguishing feature for consumers is that it enables viewers to search for movies and shows much they way they would via a search engine such as Google. It also can make recomendations based on data from a user’s Facebook account. “The guide becomes what your friends tell you to watch, not the linear alphabet,” Roberts says. Calling cloud-based TV a “game changer,” Roberts says that “we need to make the television feel as relevant as all of these other products” such as smartphones and iPad tablet computers.

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Cable Show: Ari Emanuel Comedy Gold As Confab Begins On Light Note

Hollywood is very much on the minds of cable executives meeting in Chicago this week at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s annual trade show. Introducing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for his welcoming remarks, Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav said that “in our industry he’s known as Ari’s brother” — referring to WME co-CEO Ari Emanuel. The mayor picked up the theme by offering a mock apology on behalf of his family. “You know him as an agent,” he said. “We know him as a brother. We thought we got the worse end of the deal.” He said that when HBO introduced its series Entourage, Ari wanted to know what Rahm thought of the Ari Gold character who’s based on the super agent. “I like Ari Gold more than I like you,” Rahm says he replied. Read More »

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Cable Show: Ad Sales May Be Hurt By Economic Woes And Concerns About Effectiveness, Execs Warn

Ad sales are improving for cable but they may not pop as much as many in the industry had hoped, according to information presented at this morning’s opening session of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s annual trade show. ”The jury’s still out on what the economic outlook will be in the second half of the year,” Horizon Media CEO Bill Koenigsberg said. Although cable execs say that unit prices for their upfront sales are running about 11% higher than last year, Koenigsberg says “clients now are cautious. I don’t think the barometer of the upfront is a forecast for the future.” Initiative’s Tim Spengler added that he’s “cautiously optimistic” and has seen “no signs of a pullback yet.” The ad execs said that clients may warm to cable once they have a clearer sense of how many people watch their spots, what screens they they watch them on, and how viewers respond to the commercials. “Measurement is not keeping up with the technology,” Mediavest’s Bill Tucker said. “Getting data across screens is the new frontier, and we’re not there yet.” Koenigsberg says that in about six months the industry should have “a true consistent measurement that we can trade on.”

The advertisers followed a panel about the 2012 election on which President Obama political adviser David Axelrod said that broadcasters, especially local TV stations, will continue to receive the lion’s share of campaign ad dollars. Read More »

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Cable Show: Fix Consumers’ Cable Experience, Or Else, Analysts Warn

Cable Show: Will Economic Pressures Force Cable Operators To Offer Fewer Channels?

Wall Street analysts warned cable operators on Tuesday that they’d better fix their clunky user interfaces and lousy consumer service if they want to avoid a showdown with Internet and technology powers such as Google and Apple. The big threat “isn’t really Netflix. It’s something we haven’t seen yet,” Citigroup Investment Research’s Jason Bazinet said in a panel discussion about the industry’s financial prospects at the National Cable Show in Chicago. He raised one possibility that has grabbed many people’s imaginations recently — that Apple might design a TV set that would work with programming from a pay TV rival such as DirecTV. “That plays to Apple’s strength, which is not your strength, which is the operating system,” Bazinet said, calling cable’s user experience “a Rube Goldberg contraption.” Morgan Stanley’s Benjamin Swinburne says that although the Street is less concerned than it was a few months ago about Netflix becoming a major competitor, “that doesn’t mean what Netflix has done couldn’t be done by someone with a much bigger check book.” Deutsche Bank Securities’ Douglas Mitchelson also urged cable operators to improve the user experience before Internet services have a chance to establish themselves. He says that investors also are “pretty nervous” about the rising prices that cable operators are paying for programming — especially now that broadcast networks are demanding cash from systems that rebroadcast signals from their local stations. Read More »

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Cable Show: Will Economic Pressures Force Cable Operators To Offer Fewer Channels?

Some of the top executives in cable fear that the anemic economy will soon take a bite out of an industry that has weathered previous downturns without a problem. At a panel this morning for the opening session of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s National Cable Show in Chicago, several members of the audience applauded when Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said operators should begin to offer a low-priced service with fewer channels than they have in their expanded basic cable packages. “There clearly is a growing underclass of consumers that can’t afford (cable service) and they want it,” Britt said. Even though “the economics make it difficult” for channels that would be left out, if Netflix’s low-priced package of TV reruns ”makes consumers not want to buy the big package that we’re selling, then that’s a threat to all of us.” Cox Communications President Pat Esser says he’s also concerned that the poorest 40% of the population barely has enough money to pay for cable, although he says it hasn’t resulted in much cord-cutting yet. But Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman seems unconvinced. He says the country “lived through the worst recession and the last thing people cut back on is TV.” Read More »

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