TiVo Debuts IP Set-Top, Streaming to Tablets

TiVo, one of the pioneers of recording, rewinding and pausing live TV with DVR services, has announced some new technology meant to bring cable and satellite TV providers the ability to extend live TV and DVR like content to tablets and smartphones both in and outside of the home.

As reported by Multichannel News, the new TiVo Stream device provides transcoding features built in to enable content viewing on multiple devices while working with a TiVo Premiere DVR. Content is enabled on mobile devices, such as iPads and iPhones. This device, along with an IP Set-Top box, will be released both to retail and to some select cable providers to whom TiVo already provides DVR services. The advantage of the TiVo streaming device over the competitor Slingbox from EchoStar Technologies is that it enables streaming or download of shows simultaneously to multiple portable devices without interrupting what’s playing on TV, and allows users to transfer shows to mobile devices for viewing outside of the home.

These products will likely be available to cable and satellite TV providers who already use Premiere DVRs from TiVo as part of their service and product offerings. These include Virgin Media in the United Kingdom, along with DIRECTV and Charter Communications in the United States. Pricing for the products has not yet been released, but according to a statement by TiVo President and CEO Tom Rogers, they are designed with the low-capital costs operators demand.

No word on whether this announcement has been rushed to market to further compete with EchoStar, which has been pitching use of the Slingbox for set-top boxes from cable and satellite TV providers. Check back often for more news about these new products and when they will hit the market in the United States with DIRECTV satellite TV and Charter Communications cable television.

Satellite TV World News: Belly Dancing Channel Purveyor Arrested in Egypt

Showing that some of the rest of the world does not have the same freedom when it comes to satellite TV that is experienced in the United States with providers like DIRECTV, the owner of a TV station featuring 24 hours a day of belly dancing was arrested in Egypt on Thursday for inciting licentiousness and facilitating prostitution, according to the Associated Press.

This satellite TV station in Egypt, called ElTet, broadcasts videos 24 hours a day featuring scantily clad belly dancers performing their dances to live in-studio music. The station has become quite popular over the past year of availability because it presents a quintessential Egyptian art form that has become harder and harder to experience in person due to the country’s increasingly conservative atmosphere. The police raided the apartment of Baligh Hamdy, the owner and operator of the channel; many of the videos had been filmed there. Police confiscated tapes and arrested the owner.

This raid has many people scared that the Islamist political class growing in influence will push for more censorship and use vague public decency laws to clamp down on the arts and freedom of expression. Though belly dancing can be salacious, it is still an art form that many women of the older generations teach their daughters and granddaughters, and is an important part of Egyptian culture.

The raid was performed because of the complaints of viewers, said an Egyptian police official.

Charter Communications Adds New COO

Charter Communications, the MSO based in St. Louis, continues to add new talent at the top. A new CEO, Tom Rutledge, formerly of Cablevision, was named to the top position in December and now, according to Multichannel News, Rutledge has added his former second in command at Cablevision, John Bickham, to the position of COO at Charter Communications.

At Charter, Bickham will manage all operations across the MSO’s customer base of 4.8 million customer relationships. Bickham has years of experience in the cable television  and service provider industry, having spent 18 years at Time Warner Cable before serving under Rutledge at Cablevision. Bickham will be the first COO to hold the position since 2010. Adding Bickham to the team will relieve some of the day to day pressure of work on the CEO, freeing him up to develop more plans moving forward for the company rather than handling the day to day operations.

John Bickham will likely receive as much as $30 million over the next four years in his role running day to day operations for Charter Communications. The cable company serves nearly five million customers in the Midwest and across the country, with the customer base most concentrated around the company’s flagship in St. Louis, MO.

In the St. Louis area in particular, there are many businesses that work with Charter Communications to bring cable, internet, and phone service from Charter to customers in the area. It is not yet known if John Bickham will be working to expand the service of these businesses, like The Charter Bundle. Strategy and operations from the new CEO and COO are likely to come out more in the year to come as they both have settled into their roles atop the communications giant.

Check back often to keep up to date on the comings and goings with Charter Communications, DIRECTV and other media giants at the TV, Internet and Phone Blog.

DIRECTV Everywhere Platform Allows Subscribers to Watch Programs Anywhere

Satellite TV provider DIRECTV has added the new DIRECTV Everywhere platform, which allows DIRECTV customers to watch TV shows, sporting events and movies anywhere, on home televisions, laptops, tablets and smart phones. This service is available to DIRECTV subscribers at no extra charge. It is available for both PC and Mac computers, and iPhone functionality will be added soon. DIRECTV Everywhere works over any wireless broadband connection.

Free software to watch instantly is available from the DIRECTV.com website, as well as the app stores for various platforms, including the Android store and the Apple App Store for iPad.

By adding this functionality, DIRECTV now offers subscribers the same capabilities they would get from being able to watch TV shows and movies online using Hulu or streaming from Netflix. Now DIRECTV subscribers can eliminate those extra expenses and still watch programs while they’re on the go; whether out of town or just away from the house, DIRECTV subscribers now have the capability to watch their favorite shows, sporting events, and more on portable platforms, making DIRECTV not just a satellite TV solution, but a complete entertainment solution.

DIRECTV Cinema is available with DIRECTV Everywhere, allowing DIRECTV customers to check out the latest Hollywood releases before they hit other cable packages free of charge. Premium cable favorites are also available; some of the most often streamed programs on DIRECTV right now are premium cable hits like Starz’s Magic City, HBO’s Girls, Veep, and Game of Thrones and classics like The Sopranos and Entourage.

Pay Per View events are also available with DIRECTV Everywhere. Upcoming events include UFC 146, airing May 26 at 8pm Central Time, featuring heavyweight fights between Junior Dos Santos and Frank Mir and Cain Velasquez and Antonio Silva.

Midwest customers should check out the DIRECTV packages from Mid America Satellite to get access to DIRECTV Everywhere now, with great deals available.

Additional High-Definition Channels Available from Charter Communications

Over the past month, Charter Communications serving the St. Louis, MO metro area and surrounding areas has altered its channel lineup, adding 28 new HD channels. The new complete channel lineup for Charter in St. Louis is available here.

Some of the newly available HD channels from Charter TV include Fox Business, Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the Tennis Channel, and the ID Channel. The addition of these channels further increases the wide array of high-definition programming available from Charter TV. In addition to the new channels, Charter Communications has restructured the current channel lineup to group channels together more intuitively for a smoother, more pleasant television watching experience.

The new HD choices further fill out the HD channel lineup available from Charter. Here is some information on the new HD favorites:

  • Fox Business – This additional Fox News channel rivals CNBC for business coverage, but in the style of presentation that the Fox News empire is known for. Fans of Fox News will find this new business channel indispensible when keeping up with financial news and economic opinion.
  • Turner Classic Movies – This channel has access to all the movies in the Turner Archive, bringing classics from the silent era up to the second Golden Age of film in the seventies. Programming focuses on classic movies related to what’s going on in the world, broadcasting WWII movies around the anniversary of D-Day, and star tributes around the birthdays of iconic film stars. Any film fan will be glad to have this channel.
  • The Tennis Channel – The Tennis Channel brings tennis action from across the world. For tennis fans who want to watch tournaments other than the four Grand Slam tournaments, this channel is essential for keeping up with the men’s and women’s tennis rankings.
  • ID Channel – ID stands for Investigation Discovery. This Discovery Channel offshoot focuses on true crime shows like Hollywood Crimes, Deadly Women and 48 Hours.

Customers interested in the new Charter lineup can obtain Charter cable service.

DIRECTV is Growing: Satellite TV Company Reaches 20 Million Subscribers

Earnings reports for cable and satellite TV companies are now available for the first quarter of 2012, and while some cable television companies like Comcast are losing subscribers, satellite TV providers in the United States are growing, with DIRECTV adding around 81,000 subscribers to reach a total of 20 million in the United States, according to the Associated Press. DIRECTV has also added more than 500,000 subscribers in Latin America, where 8.5 million subscribers are now using DIRECTV for satellite television.

There are a number of reasons for the growth of satellite TV in the US. For one, equipment has gotten better and more advanced, so that bad weather no longer causes television outages (at least not as often as it once did). With DIRECTV satellite TV, and some other services, subscribers now get local channels and regional sports networks along with the cable channel package; this was not often available in the past.

The major reason for the increase in subscribers to DIRECTV, though, is the exclusive contract DIRECTV has for NFL Sunday Ticket. NFL Sunday Ticket is the satellite TV package that brings every NFL game every Sunday to the homes and businesses with the package, and it’s the only way to have every NFL game available for viewing each week, and DIRECTV is the only satellite TV provider that can get its customers access to NFL Sunday Ticket. Additional features of NFL Sunday Ticket include the RedZone channel and the ability for home viewers to plug in their fantasy team info to get updates and watch the players from their fantasy teams live.

DISH Network satellite TV and AT&T U-Verse cable TV are also growing, with Comcast Cable losing 37,000 cable subscribers. Cablevision Systems made minimal gains. Check back often for industry news about cable television and satellite TV.

The Cable Show 2012 Hits Boston This Month

Each year, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association puts on a conference called the Cable Show, a convention and international exposition for the cable television industry. Representatives from leading cable providers like Time Warner, Charter Communications, Comcast and others will be present May 21-23, 2012 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, participating in panels and hearing symposia with cable news personalities, television stars, filmmakers, and industry leaders.

Guests for the cable television convention include:

  • Conan O’Brien, late night talk show host on TBS, who will be speaking one on one with interviewer Piers Morgan of CNN on Wednesday, May 23 at 9:30AM Eastern Time
  • Edward Burns, film director, writer and actor, who will be talking Tuesday, May 22 at 9:30AM as part of a panel on digital distribution and how it can have an effect upon the cable industry and other entertainment venues
  • Darren Rovell, CNBC’s sports business reporter, who will be moderating a panel about the economics of sports and how it all relates to social media and developing technologies, also on May 23. The sports panel will feature:
    • David Hill, Chairman & CEO of the Fox Sports Media Group
    • David Levy, who handles sports for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
    • ESPN President John Skipper (one of the most powerful men in sports and media)
    • David Stern, NBA Commissioner

Other informative panels include one on cable news and campaign coverage featuring Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s Hardball, and more. Those interested in the cable television industry who cannot attend will be able to watch the panels at live.thecableshow.com.

This conference will not only be of interest to cable industry professionals, but cable customers as well, as many discussions impact how cable television providers will continue to deliver content to viewers around the United States and the world.