Cable360AM — News briefing for Wednesday, July 18 »

Comcast tapped Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi to animate a subversive new campaign (see his interpretation of the triple play, above) offering a Nintendo DS to new $99/mo. voice, video and high-speed online customers — click here to view the animated spot. The voiceover (by TV legend Gary Owens) mock-urges kids to bug their parents "at 2, 4 and 5am" so they can sign up for Comcast triple play "faster than you can say ‘irresponsible marketing.’" To quote TBS, very funny. Kricfalusi pays tribute to the spot’s crew (and agency, Goodby, Silverstein) on his blog.

HiWire and SES Americom announced the 24 programmers participating in their closely-watched mobile TV trial in Las Vegas: 7 Discovery Networks (including Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, Discovery Kids and Discovery Mobile), 6 MTV Networks (CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike TV and VH1), 2 Turner networks (CNN Mobile Live and Cartoon Networks/Adult Swim Mobile), plus Anime Network, E!, Fox News Channel, Travel Channel, The Weather Channel, MavTV and AccuWeather.com. HiWire, a subsidiary of Aloha Partners, is the biggest owner of 700 MHz spectrum in the U.S.

Dow Jones‘ board signed off on the company’s sale to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The deal now awaits approval by Dow Jones’ majority shareholders, the Bancroft family. [Wall Street Journal | New York Times | AP]

15 cable networks received 38 News and Documentary Emmy Award nominations; the winners will be announced Sept. 24 in New York. Cable’s nominees: Animal Planet, Cinemax, Court TV, CNN, Discovery Channel, Discovery en Espanol, Discovery HD Theater, Discovery Times, The Documentary Channel, HBO, HDNet, History Channel, National Geographic Channel, Travel Channel, VH1 and WE tv.

Eleven of the biggest food and beverage companies in the U.S. will adopt new rules to limit character-based advertising targeting children under the age of 12. The self-imposed rules from companies (such as General Mills, PepsiCo and Campbell Soup) representing two-thirds of TV food ads directed to kids, were announced ahead of today’s FTC hearing into marketers’ role in the childhood obesity epidemic. [AP | New York Times]

Motorola yesterday combined its cable television equipment division with its mobile phone equipment business. Dan Moloney, EVP and president of Motorola’s cable business unit, will lead the merged division. [Chicago Tribune]

Charter Communications‘ Charter.net high-speed online portal relaunched with Web video from FX, HBO, IFC, Showtime and MTVN’s Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, VH1 and MTV. Charter.net serves 2.5 million subscribers.

Verizon is rolling out its FiOS TV interactive media guide across its footprint. The FiOS IMG was previewed at CES in January (click here for a demo with Verizon’s Joe Ambeault) and was tested in Boston and Dallas before being deployed in Indiana, Rhode Island and New Jersey. FiOS TV also launched this week to 122,000 Indiana households and is seeking franchise approvals to serve 19 SW Pennsylvania communities.

The 2007 Walter Kaitz Foundation Dinner (Sept. 19 in New York) will honor ESPN and Rep. Adolphus Towns (D-NY). Click here for tickets.

DirecTV‘s next HD and local channel satellite, DirecTV 11, is scheduled to launch in December. [Engadget]



• RESEARCH

Web video: About 63% of all U.S. Internet users (roughly 81 million people) watch broadband video at work or home, according to research conducted by Nielsen for the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing. The CTAM report [click here for a PDF] estimates this number increased 16% in six months, from 70 million in Sept. 2006 to 81 million in March. Online video usage enhances (not cannibalizes) traditional TV viewing, the report concludes, with 33% of respondents saying their broadband video usage increased their TV viewing time vs. 13% who said their Web video habit decreased their traditional TV viewing. Another 32 million "light" broadband video users said they’re open to viewing more TV programs online.

DVR: the Carmel Group projects DVRs will be in roughly half of cable homes by 2010, to roughly 32 million DVRs from 17.6 million at present. Satellite-television customers with DVRs are projected to increase to about 17 million, from today’s 10 million, by 2010. Carmel’s report also estimates about 1.3 million consumers purchase DVRs from retail outlets or phone companies, a segment it sees growing significantly. Carmel Group chairman Jimmy Schaeffler tells the Wall Street Journal, "this is the first time we’ve noticed this turnaround" in DVR usage. Satellite broadcasters "got into DVR technology early, tried to hold the high ground," but after six or seven years are now steadily being overtaken in this arena by cable rivals, he said. "The bottom line," according to Mr. Schaeffler, "is that this is not a good trend" for satellite broadcasters.

HDTV: The Digital Entertainment Group projects 52 million HDTV homes by the end of next year. DEG also found that high-definition media devices, including set-top box and game consoles, are available in about 10,000 North American retailers, with nearly 2 million units sold to date. [Hollywood Reporter]



• PEOPLE

Cedar Point Communications hired Donald Halsted as CFO, from CFO of 3Com.

MTV Networks promoted Greg Clayman to EVP, digital distribution and business development, from SVP, MTVN Mobile Media; Alice Kim to SVP, digital distribution and partner relations, from VP, carrier relations and wireless distribution; and Jeremiah Zinn to SVP, syndication and operations, from VP, mobile operations and product development. MTVN also promoted Reginald Williams from VP to SVP, music strategy.



• PROGRAMMING

AMC‘s swingin’ Mad Men profiled in today’s New York Times ahead of tomorrow night’s premiere; more here.

Comcast today launches four high-definition channels in Chicago: A&E HD, Food Network HD, HGTV HD and National Geographic Channel HD.

Cox Communications today adds A&E HD, National Geographic Channel HD and Starz HD in its Hampton Roads, VA, market, and bumps Cinemax, Showtime and HBO2 to digital. On Aug. 2, the market adds Bloomberg Television, The Pentagon Channel and Go Scout Autos to its digital lineup. [HamptonRoads.com]

ESPN doesn’t plan to adopt the 1080i HD format or launch an outdoors channel anytime soon — but it is ramping up mobile (and NASCAR) content, intends to keep producing original content (such as The Bronx is Burning) and is struggling to maintain a balance between commercials and programming, according to a leaked memo posted on the Deadspin blog from ESPN’s latest employee town hall.

HDNet‘s Emmy-nominated (see above) Dan Rather Reports welcomes Discovery‘s Ted Koppel to join in a roundtable discussion on the state of U.S. TV journalism, being taped today and televised at a date TBD.

Lifetime‘s hit series Army Wives and new dramas, Side Order of Life and State of Mind, averaged 2.3 million viewers and a 2.5 household rating Sunday (July 15), with a cumulative audience of more than 10 million viewers between 8pm-11pm. Sunday’s Side Order of Life and State of Mind premieres each nabbed a 2.1 HH rating, while Army Wives (in week 7) garnered a season high 3.3 HH rating — marking the first time, according to Lifetime, three freshman dramas on one ad-supported cable network all scored over a 2.0 HH rating. Separately, Lifetime Presents, a series of downloadable online games, will be available on RealNetworks‘ RealArcade and on lifetimetv.com starting July 25th.

TV Guide Network’s reality series, America’s Next Producer, premieres tonight at 8pm.



• ONLINE

JumpTV acquired XOS Technologies‘ broadband unit for $60.25 million. XOS runs official Web sites for collegiate and professional sports teams, streams over the Internet thousands of U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association football, basketball, volleyball, baseball and track & field games, and has more than 150 official and exclusive relationships with U.S. colleges.

Jupitermedia acquired Mediabistro, whose network of media websites includes TVNewser, for $23 million. [New York Times]

Veoh videos are now available on Verizon‘s V CAST mobile TV service.



• IN OTHER NEWS

AT&T and Verizon were chided in a Los Angeles Times editorial for raising prices after being freed of statewide regulations. "California’s largest telcos quickly hiked the fees they charged for many of their custom calling services, such as caller ID and call waiting … AT&T has upped the monthly charge for caller ID service from $6.17 to $9, an increase of more than 45%. And call waiting is up 55% to $5."

SunRocket‘s VoIP subscribers will lose any pre-paid fees (the now-shuttered phone service offered a year of unlimited calls for $199 upfront), reports the New York Times. Rival VoIP firms Vonage and Lingo are offering discounts to former SunRocket customers, while BusinessWeek comments that SunRocket’s demise doesn’t bode well for the already troubled Vonage.

Click here for Tuesday’s 360AM news briefing »

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

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