Cable360AM — News briefing for Tuesday, August 14 »
Reversing its "more is more" stance for so-called free video-on-demand content, Comcast scaled back its free VOD lineup in Massachusetts on Aug. 6. Comcast’s Boston-based spokesperson Shawn Feddeman confirmed to New Bedford’s Standard-Times that the operator is now matching VOD channels to the linear channels digital customers receive and restricting their access to the full VOD library, which she called a "preview" that has now ended. Subscribers still get access to free movies, kids’ programing and local content on demand.
TLC is the new TV home of the Miss America pageant, which it will air on Jan. 26. A reality series will preview the contestants, a twist that CMT tried before dropping the pageant in March despite record ratings over two years. TLC’s new deal, the first major programming announcement by the channel’s new president and GM, Angela Shapiro-Mathes, runs through 2010.
Adelphia founder John Rigas arranged a last-minute switch in jails to serve time with his son. The elder Rigas did not turn himself into the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, MN, as scheduled but started serving his sentence yesterday in the same prison with son Tim: the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina, reports the Rochester, MN-based Post-Bulletin. Adelphia’s former cable system in north Mecklenburg and south Iredell counties, NC, was yesterday sold to the town boards of Mooresville and Davidson for $39 million. [Charlotte Business Journal]
Google named Comedy Central talent Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to its list of Viacom employees it’s calling to testify. The Viacom/YouTube suit’s third-party depositions starts Nov. 7 while Google/YouTube and Viacom staffers (including the heavily-downloaded Stewart and Colbert) depositions begin March 7. [Forbes]
Pali Research analyst Rich Greenfield is calling on Cablevision shareholders to challenge the company over discrepancies in its full-year outlook, which was lowered on its 2nd quarter earnings call last week: "we find it all too convenient that management is lowering forecasts in the midst of the market/sector volatility and only five weeks after their last proxy filing that made no mention of a more difficult operating environment, with a shareholder vote likely to occur before the company reports another quarter," Greenfield wrote in a research note this morning.
Is there a looming Web video crunch — and too many broadband users? The Wall Street Journal examines the issues, including: "access providers often don’t have the gear in place to provide the bandwidth they promise to DSL or cable Internet customers. They practice oversubscription in the way airlines overbook planes with the expectation some people will fail to show up. Cable companies are particularly susceptible because their network design shares bandwidth among neighbors, allowing a few Internet users to degrade service by using more than their fair share. …. Telephone companies face another challenge. Many own networks that are a hodgepodge of older equipment, much of which is inefficient at handling new forms of traffic like video."
• IN OTHER NEWS
Charter Communications‘ new worldwide calling plan ($20/250 minutes monthly) is aimed at the "$4 billion-a-year prepaid card business" used by immigrants in the U.S. to call home. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
Comcast launched high-speed Internet and digital voice service in Houston, a former Time Warner Cable market.
Time Warner Cable‘s Start Over network DVR service in San Antonio has more than 80 networks on board with this week’s addition of Clear Channel-owned NBC affiliate WOIA-TV. This week’s CableWorld looks at TWC San Antonio’s fight against AT&T’s U-verse in the telco’s backyard. [Release | San Antonio Business Journal]
Vyyo‘s technology has been tested at Comcast and Charter Communications, Vyyo CEO Wayne Davis revealed during yesterday’s 2nd quarter earnings call; its biggest U.S. cable customer to date is Cox Communications. [Light Reading]
Court TV‘s Inside American Jail series will run on MyNetworkTV starting Sept. 4 under a different name, Jail. [Variety]
Discovery Kids yesterday pledged to only license its brand and characters to healthy food and beverage products.
driverTV is now on Charter Communications‘ VOD lineup, putting the virtual tire-kicker in 6 of the top 7 MSOs including Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications and 85% of VOD homes in the U.S.
ESPN Deportes‘ SportsCenter and Futbol Picante expanded to an hour while former Mexican player-turned-coach Rafa Puente joined as a commentator.
HBO yesterday cancelled John From Cincinnati, a day after its 1st season finale, but is still developing other projects with creator David Milch. [Hollywood Reporter]
Lifetime greenlit Matters of Life & Dating, starring Ricki Lake as a breast cancer survivor. The original movie, pegged to its "Stop Breast Cancer for Life" campaign, airs Oct. 22. [Variety]
Lifetime Movie Network greenlit Desperate: The Search for the Green River Killer. The four-hour mini-series co-stars Tom Cavanagh and Sharon Lawrence.
MSNBC premieres three-parter Dead Men Talking, a look at crime investigators, on Aug. 21 at 11pm ET/PT.
MTV debuts yet another reality series about teens, Newport Harbor: The Real Orange County, tomorrow at 10:30pm ET.
NFL Network vs. cable operators? San Jose Mercury News calls it for cable.
SCI FI‘s Flash Gordon premiere Friday night was its highest-rated original series debut this year, delivering a 1.5 HH rating and 2.1 million total viewers.
Travel Channel licensed its content, including series featuring Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern and Samantha Brown, to Tele Atlas for digital maps on mobile, online, in-car navigation systems and other platforms.
VH1‘s Celebrity Rehab, a reality series slated for next year featuring Tom Sizemore, Andy Dick and others undergoing rehab at the Pasadena Recovery Center, was slammed as a barrel-scraping concept by the Houston Chronicle.
USA Today critic Robert Bianco kicks sand in cable’s summer ratings, grousing "it’s hard to argue that this has been some kind of grand passing-of-the-torch triumph for cable when the numbers say that it hasn’t." He offers a 7-point remedy for what he describes as TV’s "summer deep freeze."
41% of Facebook users in a survey by Sophos PLC were willing to divulge personal information to a stranger, giving email addresses, home addresses and phone numbers to a fake Facebook member set up by the researchers. [Wall Street Journal]
MySpace teamed with Rogers Wireless for its first mobile social networking foray, in Canada. [Dow Jones]
National Geographic Channel‘s NGC Wild! broadband channel added content from the Bronx Zoo’s Wildlife Conservation Society.
The Wall Street Journal looks at the search for the "holy grail of Web advertising," including Discovery‘s use of tickers and video-in-video ads to plug TLC‘s LA Inked series premiere and Heavy.com’s new online-video ad network, Husky.
Microsoft named former aQuantive CEO Brian McAndrews head of its new ad sales unit, Advertiser and Publisher Solutions, in the wake of its just-closed aQuantive acquisition.
MSG Media named Chris Monteleone to VP, distribution marketing for MSG Interactive.
MTV Networks named Kelleigh Dulany VP of public responsibility for Comedy Central and Spike TV, from VP of promotions at Comedy Central.
Worldwide Biggies‘ founder Albie Hecht hired some former MTV Networks staffers for his digital studio: Scott Webb, former Nickelodeon EVP, joined as chief creative officer; former MTV CFO Robert Gibilterra was tapped as CFO; Nick Online veteran Christopher Romero was hired as chief technology officer; Blaine Graboyes was hired as media architect to oversee interactive games and software producton; and Kari Kim was named VP of production and development.
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