June 11, 2013
Intel is making progress in its talks with media companies to buy content for its upcoming television service, reportedly offering to pay up to 75% more than traditional cable rates. The chipmaker has yet to close any programming deals, Reuters said in a report Monday, but CBS, News Corp. and Viacom have come to terms with Intel on certain details over how content will be distributed on the service.
Reuters added that Comcast's NBC Universal continues to talk with Intel but is not as far along in negotiations as other content providers. Intel's TV service is expected to launch later this year. In February, the company said it plans to compete with Apple, Amazon.com and Google by providing a set-top box and service that would give users live and on-demand programming. It also indicated that its TV service will offer customers smaller bundles of content compared to offerings from cable and satellite operators. However, the service has been billed as a premium service as opposed to a low-rate option.
Since talks began, Intel has become more flexible on subscriber fees it is willing to pay, according to the report. The company has also suggested it could prevent viewers from skipping commercials on the first run of a show. Media companies normally give better prices to operators with more viewers, such as large cable companies. Smaller operators or new entrants typically pay higher prices. Reuters cited sources as saying Intel can expect to pay a premium since its TV service has yet to launch. Intel is said to be basing its 50% to 75% premium on listed average SNL Kagan subscriber fees. According to SNL Kagan, a research firm that publishes the average subscriber fees paid by cable and satellite TV operators, last year's highest per-subscriber fees were charged by Walt Disney's ESPN at $5.15 per month. Shares of Intel were up 1.46% at $24.95 in early trading Monday. Fox Business
Comcast Corp. says it will build out millions of neighborhood WiFi hot spots through gateway devices in the homes of Xfinity Internet subscribers. Neighborhood hot spots are the latest prong of a multiyear strategy at Comcast to dot the nation with WiFi availability for its subscribers who would like wireless Internet access away from home but who don't want to pay big bills to cellphone companies. Tom Nagel, Comcast senior vice president of business development and strategy, said the idea was to have a "relatively thick" WiFi network in homes, public spaces such as train stations and parks, and businesses.
Comcast believes it can provide about 70 percent to 80 percent of Xfinity subscribers' wireless accessibility to the Internet through WiFi hot spots. Comcast markets its TV and Internet services under the Xfinity brand. WiFi is becoming more important as wireless devices such as tablets and smartphones proliferate in the home, though some worry such bounding use could congest the free WiFi spectrum. "We love the idea of expanding the world-class Internet product we have inside the home," Nagel said. Comcast is the largest U.S. residential Internet provider, with almost 20 million subscribers. The neighborhood WiFi hot spots announcement is timed for the annual cable show in Washington, which runs Monday through Wednesday.
A year ago at the industry show, Comcast and other major cable companies announced they were cooperating to create a national WiFi network. That network now has about 150,000 hot spots in public places and small businesses in about a dozen cities. The neighborhood WiFi hot spots would allow friends, visiting family, contractors, and others wireless customers access to the Internet via their own Xfinity accounts, without other subscribers having to give away their network log-ons and passwords. "WiFi is at the center of our strategy to offer our customers the best online experience," Nagel said. Philadelphia Inquirer
Time Warner Cable, the second-largest U.S. cable provider, will test its cloud-based video guide in New York City, Los Angeles and Syracuse, New York, starting in September, Chief Operating Officer Rob Marcus said.
The Internet-connected video guide, which will give customers a faster and easier way to search for programming, will be rolled out officially to many of Time Warner Cable's markets by the end of the year, Marcus said in an interview yesterday. A new set-top box will first be offered to Signature Home customers and new customers, he said. Time Warner Cable is following Comcast Corp., the largest cable operator, in releasing an Internet-connected set-top box. Comcast began installing its X1 guide last year to mimic the search functionality and personalization of online video platforms such as Netflix Inc. and mobile applications such as HBO Go.
Time Warner Cable's Signature Home subscribers pay about $200 a month for premium customer service along with high-speed Internet, multiroom digital video recorder and unlimited landline telephone service. Time Warner Cable has about 12 million video subscribers, trailing Comcast's 22 million. The company's shares rose 0.9 percent to $95.74 yesterday at the New York close. They have fallen 1.5 percent this year, compared with a 15 percent gain in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index. Bloomberg
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