Verizon announced this week that it’s serving up more of its FiOS TV service to residents in the Long Island town of Oyster Bay, including the Oyster Bay hamlets of Bethpage, Hicksville, Jericho, and Plainview. Verizon started offering its TV services in other hamlets of Oyster Bay on June 27. Verizon will be going toe-to-toe with Cablevision in some of the hamlets in a slugfest over video customers, but in order to win the battle for cable and DBS video customers, Verizon will need to do more than offer “me too” services. “They have to switch people over, whereas cable has been out there with its 60 to 70 percent penetration rate,” said Digdia analyst Gary Sasaki. “They’re (cable) the ones with a fortress built around them, and Verizon has to figure out ways to bust in.” As of late June, Verizon had rolled out its FiOS TV service in 50 markets across seven states. One method for Verizon to make its mark with video services is through its VOD offerings, and while it may not match Comcast’s wealth of offerings, Verizon is putting an emphasis on VOD right out of the starting blocks, “We have 2,300 (VOD) titles, and that puts us in second place in the industry,” said Joe Ambeault, Verizon’s director of interactive TV applications, and who formerly worked for SeaChange. Verizon expects the number of on-demand titles to grow to 3,500 over the next few months, and it also offers an interactive programming guide that integrates HD programming, on-demand content and a digital video recorder with broadcast TV. With content king in the realm of VOD, Verizon needs to offer compelling VOD titles and programming. On that note, Ambeault says Verizon has on-demand content for CBS shows such as “Survivor” for free, while some cable operators charge for the same programs. News clips that are available for viewing on Verizon’s wireless V Cast service could also be viewed in longer form through its VOD service. Ambeault said most of Verizon’s studio deals are done through TVN Entertainment. “For nonstudio types of content, those deals are done directly, and the content distribution is flowing through TVN,” he said. “As we ramp up our operations, we’re putting in connectivity to each of the programmers. “We have more Disney content than probably anyone else on the planet. We have content from ABC News, Disney, ESPN and in some cases content that is only available to Verizon broadband TV customers.” Verizon also has a karaoke service for $7.99 a month that allows users to purchase and use mixing boards and microphones as well as utilize video backgrounds similar to those used in karaoke bars. “We also have an offering called Community Studio,” Ambeault said “This is done with partnerships like the American Association for People with Disabilities and the Black Leadership Forum. As part of our free on-demand content, we’re offering a large collection of content that is really focused on public interest and civil rights.” Verizon has an HD VOD offering in the works that is slated for release in the third quarter of this year. “It’s a competitive advantage of the FiOS network that we can deliver a huge amount of VOD content,” Ambeault said. “We feel that is extremely important for our networking going forward, and (HD) VOD will be nothing different. It will be an extremely aggressive foray as opposed to one or two IMAX titles being offered up symbolically.” The F in FiOS The obvious difference for Verizon’s network is that its fiber goes all the way into customers’ homes. It’s a hybrid approach, involving quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) modulators for broadcast delivery and Internet protocol (IP) for on-demand programming. Verizon uses Microsoft TV Foundation Edition, which some cable operators have deployed, but modified for Verizon’s hybrid network. It uses Motorola DCT 2500 (SD), DCT 6200 (HD), and 6416 (HD/DVR) set-tops and leverages other on-demand digital gear that cut its teeth in cable networks. “The cable industry has been headed down the track of bringing more and more IP services into their networks because of the cost reductions and flexibility,” Ambeault said. “They’ve made some interesting strides, so we did get to take advantage of some stable technology for VOD that is related to IP. It’s easier, where it makes sense, for us to have highly centralized VOD services, where in some situations, our competition has more expensive distributed infrastructures.” Unlike AT&T, which is provisioning its video service through very high data rate digital subscriber line (VDSL), Verizon’s fiber solution can serve multiple TV sets in a home. Ambeault said the network can “pretty easily accommodate four VOD or other interactive sessions in a home.”

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WarnerMedia Distribution Shakeup

WarnerMedia distribution heads Sofia Chang and Rich Warren are departing WarnerMedia as part of a larger organizational change. Head of commercial operations Tony Goncalves is creating a new sales and

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