Posts Tagged ‘directv’

Give The People What They Want

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Interesting piece in The Drum on how Netflix does their research…

Vice president of content acquisition for Netflix, Kelly Merryman, revealed this week that the company she works for routinely use piracy sites to determine what television shows the company will buy. By gauging the popularity of shows on sites like The Pirate Bay, the company is able to determine which shows are really popular and help assist in making licensing decisions.

That’s brilliant. And it seems to be working well. The article goes on to cite “BitTorrent traffic in Canada dropped 50% after Netflix started there three years ago.” Their market skews younger, and they’re far more likely to be “cord-cutters” and view their favorite video entertainment online. Pay TV’s base is eroding and they know it.

Surely it won’t be long before pay TV services — cable, satellite and fiber — finally get smart by offering real à la carte service and dispense with the increasingly-annoying table d’hôte way of doing business. Their customers don’t want 15 shopping channels or 12 faith-based networks. They want CNN, The Weather Channel, ESPN and The Food Network — and maybe some locals. Offering packages of 200 channels for a fixed price is getting old.

Watch this video edit (4:55 RT) of actor Kevin Spacey speaking at the James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival last month. He concludes content should be served/offered any way the customer wants it — movie theater, TV screen, iPad, streamed, iPhone et. al.

Here’s the full video (46:01 RT). Either one will lead you agree with his conclusion.

UPDATE: this report from Ian King of Bloomberg really gets into the details…

…a generation of technology-savvy, budget-conscious consumers who are taking advantage of the availability of high-speed Internet connections and the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, lower-cost TVs and other gadgets that make it easy to consume downloadable shows in a snap.

The shift in viewing habits is putting pressure on cable, satellite and phone companies by pinching subscriber numbers, which may have a knock-on effect on revenue growth. The impact on the $80 billion pay-TV industry is already being felt, with 2013 on pace to be the first year ever that total U.S. pay-TV subscriptions will decline, falling to 100.8 million from 100.9 million last year, according to researcher IHS.

And while 3.2 million new U.S. households were set up in the last three years, the paid-TV industry only added 250,000 subscriptions in that same period, according to market-researcher SNL Kagan.

Eles adoram brasileiros no Luxemburgo

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Nice daytime launch of a Proton-M (Протон-М) with SES-6 as the the payload. It’s a big boy: weighing in at 6,100 kg, with lots of transponders: 43 C-band and 48 Ku-band. It’s replacing the 806 spacecraft, one of the few remaining “brick” birds (LM/AS-7000). That’s a good thing to do because you never know when these might go on ya.

Besides filling it partially with what’s on 806, what are you going to do with all that capacity? You could probably wait until the 2014 World Cup to help fill it with 6 weeks of occasional business. Then what? Hey, how about a DTH business? And the players are:

  1. Net/Embratel with 8,638,984 subscribers
  2. Sky (DirecTV) = 5,144,946
  3. Oi = 792,107
  4. Telefónica/Vivo = 586,152
  5. GVT = 451,605

Oi waits for launch, then signs the contract. Anchor customer, probably. Large? Good enough.


Not in Comcast’s Backyard

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Section 207 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has been around for a while, obviously, but that hasn’t prevented the City of Philadelphia from passing a bill last fall to limit installation of satellite dishes. As Philly is Comcast’s corporate home, I’m not surprised.

It should come as no surprise that the SBCA is preventing the law’s enforcement, according to a report by the Philadelphia Daily News:

Enforcement of a bill passed by City Council last fall to regulate placement of TV satellite dishes has been stalled due to a petition filed with the Federal Communications Commission by the satellite-dish industry.

The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association is fighting the bill, approved in October and sponsored by current Council President Darrell Clarke, prohibiting satellite-dish companies and installers from placing dishes at the front of homes unless putting them elsewhere would cause signal reduction or significant extra cost.

A petition filed in November by the association, and pending before the FCC, alleges that the bill violates a 1996 over-the-air reception-device rule that blocks restrictions of satellite-dish installations without a public-safety concern or historic-preservation justification.

“We feel that it isn’t just a matter of taste, but a matter of fairness,” said Lisa McCabe, the association’s director of public policy and outreach. “It’s a burden. It would increase the costs of doing business in the city and would ultimately fall on the users.”

The city’s two major dish companies, DirecTV and Dish Network, argue that the city uses “aesthetic concerns as a pretext to restrict consumers’ access to satellite television.”

But the city disagrees.

“There’s no consideration,” said William Carter, Clarke’s director of legislative affairs. “We simply ask that they don’t do in our community what they wouldn’t do in theirs.

“We were noticing a disparity in areas of the city inundated with satellite dishes. You don’t see this in Chestnut Hill, Society Hill,” Carter said, adding that more dishes are seen in areas with more renters.

Philly has more than 100,000 dish users and was the first city to pass such a measure.

Under the bill, dishes installed in the future must match the colors of homes, and hundreds of inactive dishes will be removed.

I doubt Philly will get its way. People simply refuse to pay higher rates for TV entertainment, and urban neighborhoods with a high concentration of new immigrants will always opt for satellite TV service and their international programming options. I’ve seen more satellite antennas in cities than ever before. You can’t argue with popular preference.

How about above-ground cables and wires strung from utility poles? Now that’s ugly!


“Get Charlie on the phone!”

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

The barriers to entry into the satellite business are legendary, but I suppose you could pull it off if you have a really good business plan — and the right people to execute it. Sure, it would take a few years to get off the ground (pun intended).

However, it assumes you have what the whole business depends on: spectrum. That’s right, we’re talking about radio spectrum. Without that, you don’t have a business. Trouble is, spectrum is a scarce resource — there only so much to go around. Unlike time, which is the scarcest resource because you can’t make more of it, additional spectrum becomes available once the FCC (U.S.) or ITU (Globally) determines available spectrum is fully utilized. Or someone makes a business case, with supporting technology, for using new spectrum. Case in point: modern DBS services using the Ku-band. DirecTV and DISH Network are generating significant cash flow, they employ lots of people and serve millions with excellent TV services.

So what do you do will all that money besides reinvesting in your own business? You buy — or lease — more spectrum. Does it have to be satellite? No. Evidence abounds that the folks at DISH Network get it. Charlie’s been acquiring spectrum at a discount and now people are justifiably speculating that AT&T wants it — especially after the T-Mobile acquisition went kaput.

This isn’t a poker game — more like chess. Charlie’s a few moves ahead of us here, so you’ll likely see a few key moves in the coming days, weeks or months. AT&T may buy DISH Network. A partnership between DISH Network and T-Mobile is a real possibility.

AT&T still has tons of bandwidth around the country, but what good is that if you can’t get more wireless spectrum?

Remember the old adage “content is king?” Well, in the wireless business, “spectrum is king.”


Shrimp TV

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Our friends at KVH Industries have been on a tear in recent years. We last read about their TracVision M1 system being a critical component in a boat’s entertainment system. And in September, their MiniVSAT Broadband service went global, licensed to operate offshore and in-port in 125+ countries.

Today we read the National Marine Electronics Association has named the TracVision M1 “Best Marine Entertainment Product” for the 3rd year in a row.

KVH Industries, Inc., and its TracVision family of satellite TV products are the choice of the National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) for the 14th consecutive year. The company’s TracVision M1, the world’s smallest maritime satellite TV antenna, was recently honored with its third consecutive “Industry Award” for best marine entertainment product — the product received this honor after its introduction in 2009 and again in 2010. Each year, NMEA members vote for their favorite products in a range of categories, and the product that receives the most votes in a given category is honored with that year’s Industry Award. These awards have become a trusted symbol of outstanding quality throughout the marine electronics industry.

Marine electronics technicians continue to bestow this honor on TracVision M1 both for its ease of installation and because it opened up a completely new market for maritime satellite TV.

“The TracVision M1 allows us to put live TV on boats for which it was previously out of the question financially, or on which larger domes would look ridiculous,” says Duncan Nevard of Intrepid Marine Electronics in Stamford, CT. “It weighs less than eight pounds, so we can literally replace someone’s little flying saucer over-the-air TV antenna — on the same bracket — with a first-class, in-motion satellite TV solution. That allows us to bring high-end marine electronics to a whole new group of boats.”

I agree: a shrimp-size satellite TV set-up for a couple “Grover Clevelands” ain’t bad. Look, you’re paying for the damn boat, so why not pay a little more for the good stuff.

Meanwhile, back in Middletown, Rhode Island, it’s all smiles at KVH.


Rain Fade Rights

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

As a satellite TV customer, there are times when the weather messes with your reception. The interference from rain/snow between you and the spacecraft with cause an outage and you can’t do anything about (rain fade or attenuation). I get that.

Now let me tell you why I’m pissed off.

I switched to Dish Network from cable in 2004 and we had some outages, but the storms had to be pretty big to knock out the signal (we were looking at 110°/119° West). Then I went back to cable so I could get MSG-HD. The Voom channels start going away to make room for a bunch of useless HD channels. Forget that — I went for the DirecTV bundle with Verizon DSL.

Big mistake. We had an outage every time it rained or snowed. I’d call DirecTV a half-dozen times to complain, hoping to get either a credit or a technician to come out an peak the antenna. No chance, valued customer. Either I sign up for a “maintenance” contract for $60 annually, or pay $50 for the tech to come out. Forget that.

Went back to Dish Network and I haven’t had a problem since (now looking at 61.5° West). Ever since I cancelled DirecTV, I’d had 3 or 4 “retention specialists” call and probably a half-dozen “come back” letters. Where were you during my moment-of-truth? Forget that, too.

Who cares about rain fade credits? Maybe trial attorneys should read up on it, in light of the current flooding around Old Man River. Prompted by the Alabama Attorney General’s office, cable and satellite TV providers are offering replacement equipment and suspending billing because of the flooding, caused by storms. The satcom statements, via WSFA-TV

DISH Network provided the following statement about its response: “Taking care of our customers who have been impacted by any disaster, including tornadoes, is our top priority. DISH Network has a disaster policy in place and works with affected customers on a case-by-case basis to determine the best solution. We normally provide several no-cost options for victims to suspend their satellite service, including a pause of service, with no equipment fees.”

Ellen Filipiak, Sr. Vice President for Customer Service at DIRECTV, stated, “We join all service providers in Alabama in a sincere expression of sympathy for the people of Alabama who lost loved ones and homes in the terrible storms that hit the state last month. We are working with both our customers and employees in Alabama to help them rebuild as well as reconnect their TV services.  And to ease the burden and worry for our customers who were affected by the disaster, we have suspended accounts for those who were without power, offered free service calls and have waived equipment replacement costs and all other fees. More broadly we are also providing support to all victims of the storm through the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity.”  Consumers may contact DirecTV by calling 1-800-531-5000.

Think about that. Will other storms that cause widespread outages in a particular area also become subject to crediting customers for service interruptions? Makes sense to me.