360AM: DirecTV on Demand Launches Beta; Cable Picks Up Phone

Cable360AM — News briefing for Tuesday, August 28 »

Cable operators already shoring up their counter-marketing efforts against DirecTV‘s planned 100 HD channel assault this fall, they’re now facing a marketing battle on the VOD front with DirecTV on Demand getting ready for primetime. Although co-opting cable’s "on demand" label, it’s not "true" VOD in the cable sense. Instead, the now-in-beta pay-per-view service downloads titles onto a DirecTV HR20 (HD DVR) set-top via a Web connection, a feature enabled by Intellon, which detailed its DoD deal yesterday. DBStalk.com offers a sneak peek at DoD, including the landing page and interfaces for National Geographic Channel and Concert TV. It also shows how DoD allows subscribers to store three programs simultaneously (recording 2 titles while downloading another) or watch a trailer before ordering a movie. Subscribers are charged upon viewing paid content, not downloading; and titles from premium channels such as Starz are only available to subscribers of those channels.

Cable’s phone services are stepping up: Time Warner Cable yesterday introduced International OnePrice, a flat-rate international calling plan priced at $19.95/mo. (for 3,000 minutes) to its digital voice customers in New York and San Antonio, ahead of a gradual rollout across its divisions. Suddenlink Communications is now offering telephone service to more than three-quarters (1.8 million) of its homes passed, passed, expanding its phone rollout from 15% (in West Texas) of its footprint; it now has more than 50,000 phone subscribers. And having just launched Comcast Digital Voice advanced phone service in Colorado Springs, Comcast is seeking FCC approval to replace its older version of telephony in 13 Denver-area suburbs with CDV by the end of September. [Denver Business Journal]



• PROGRAMMING

ESPN tonight concludes its original drama The Bronx is Burning while Sundance Channel premieres docu-series The Education of Ms. Grovesclick here for Seth Arenstein’s reviews.

CNBC begins its run of sibling NBC‘s Deal or No Deal on Sept. 18.

CSTV‘s weekly college football pre-game show, Chick-fil-A SEC Football Tailgate, debuts Sept. 15.

E! Entertainment is producing E! News Now, a series of 12 daily short news reports for cellphones and nonlinear platforms.

Food Network premieres The Gourmet Next Door, featuring The Next Food Network Star winner Amy Finley, on Oct. 14.

fuse signed American Idol contender Jared Cotter to co-host The Sauce, its live daily magazine show; and launched a Wiki that permits user posting of photos, videos, blogs and other social networking features.

ION Media Networks announced a successful test of a new DTV transmission technology for broadcasters as an alternative to the "one big tower" transmission approach.

Lifeskool TV, Rainbow Media’s VOD service, is preparing a how-to dance series based on High School Musical and other movies. Disney Channel airs a special "dance-along" version of High School Musical 2 on Sept. 8 at 8pm ET, in which the movie’s cast will instruct viewers how to recreate their dance-steps.

MSG Network will televise at least two live regular-season Rutgers football games, including the Scarlet Knights’ season opener against Buffalo, plus three weekly series: Rutgers Football in :60, Rutgers Football Weekly and Inside Rutgers Football.

mun2 signed up for Nielsen national ratings, despite only being in 17 million homes. Nielsen yesterday announced it’s ending its Hispanic ratings service and merging English- and Spanish-language nets into the same ratings panel. [MediaPost]

NBC is developing two series written by British writers with Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun’s BermanBraun shingle: Mafia Wives, from Prime Suspect creator Lynda LaPlante, and an untitled sitcom from former South Park scribe Jane Bussmann. [Variety]


Real Hip-Hop Network (RHN) today announces (at a U.S. Open press conference) Richard Williams, father of tennis pros Venus and Serena, as spokesman for its Real hip-Hop Cares philanthropic arm.

Sundance Channel is hitching a ride on Virgin America.

The Tennis Channel debuted on DirecTV yesterday with the start of the U.S. Open, and will add an HD simulcast by year-end.

VH1 renewed its just wrapped (Sunday) reality series, Scott Baio Is 45 … and Single, for a second season.

Warner Bros. offers a video version of self-help tome The Secret, the Oprah Winfrey-touted bestseller, on VOD and PPV starting Aug. 31.



• ONLINE

The Wall Street Journal looks at targeted social networking for professionals, such as Sermo.com for doctors.

Joost CEO Mike Volpi opines for Wallstrip.

MySpace is worth an estimated $900 million to News Corp. through 2010, according to a 10-K filing. [Forbes]

Vadver, a video serach start-up, raised $1.7 million in first round funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson. [NewTeeVee]

Hackers are distributing a Storm Trojan virus sent via email messages disguised as YouTube Web video links. [ComputerWorld]

YouTube buzz clip at 3.9 million views in 3 days: why Miss South Carolina isn’t Miss Teen USA.



• IN OTHER NEWS

Sprint tapped Samsung for the New York City area (including Nassau-Suffolk and Jersey City, NJ) launch of Xohm, its WiMAX wireless broadband product launching in late 2008. Samsung was previously awarded Sprint’s WiMAX contracts in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, and Providence, R.I. [Release]

Verizon is butting heads with state regulators in Virginia, who are holding a Sept. 25th hearing to assess its quality standards for DSL and phone service outages. [Broadband Reports]

Interested in finding out how Cox Communications handles security? Cox’s chief information security officer, Deborah Robinson, addresses the Forrester Security Forum in a co-presentation with ArcSight CSO Brian Contos, Sept. 5 in Atlanta.

Anystream acquired Australian tech start-up Lectopia, which distributes university lectures online, to combine with its Apreso education division into a new media/education unit called Echo360. Anystream, which acquired Cauldron Solutions earlier this year, is helping the CTAM On Demand Consortium develop a best-in-class VOD interface, which it demoed at the CTAM Summit in July.

Ascent Media Group and HP are collaborating on delivering digital content for Hollywood studios and broadband portals. Tandberg and HP also announced a partnership for telepresence and videoconferencing.

Google‘s Internet evangelist Vint Cerf told attendees at the just wrapped Edinburgh International TV Festival that linear TV is a dying beast. "Eighty-five percent of all video we watch is pre-recorded, so you can set your system to download it all the time. You’re still going to need live television for certain things — like news, sporting events and emergencies — but increasingly it is going to be like the iPod where you download content to look at later." [Telegraph | Variety]

Ars Technica revisits FCC chairman Kevin Martin’s a la carte faux pas that outraged Black and Hispanic groups.

Video game sales rose 37% in July, boosted by discounted Sony PlayStation 3 sales, for $925.5 million in sales according to the NPD Group. [Reuters]

Click here for Monday’s 360AM news briefing »

Got a tip? Contact Shirley Brady at sbrady@accessintel.com

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