Charter Spectrum Services Launch Filipino Channels in USA

Charter Spectrum TV broadens its channel selection with the inclusion of two Filipino-language channels: ABS-CBN’s the Filipino Channel (TFC) and Lifestyle Network. These channels are part of the Filipino View package, available nationally.

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TFC is a 24-hour general entertainment channel featuring Filipino-language daily news, popular dramas, top game and reality shows, and children’s programs.

Lifestyle Network, a 24-hour linear network, features a mix of entertainment, food, travel, culture and lifestyle programs in both English and Filipino. Lifestyle Network is the first network specifically geared towards first and second generation Filipino-Americans.

Jun del Rosario, head of carriage and marketing for ABS-CBN Global, said that with over 20 years of experience, TFC has become and continues to be the global brand of excellence in Filipino content.

“Together, TFC and Lifestyle Network create a strong and compelling package that appeals to the fast-growing Filipino-American community. We are grateful to Charter for including both networks as part of their Filipino View package,” said del Rosario.

The channel selection of both English-language and foreign-language channels with Spectrum TV continues to grow, as the service provider is home to the largest HD cable TV lineup in the United States.

HBO Tests New Streaming Option Without Cable TV in Spain

HBO is making a bold move in Spain which could signal its intentions for the rest of the world in coming years. The premium cable TV network announced that it will cut ties with cable TV in Spain when its current licensing deals end this year, and its new internet service will be the only way to access HBO programming in the country.

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The initiative is an ambitious play, but it makes sense. Spain has lower cable subscriber rates than the US and a large amount of online piracy. So HBO is sacrificing its licensing revenue to appeal to homes that either gave up on cable or never bought it in the first place. “We follow the money,” HBO chief executive Richard Plepler told Bloomberg. “We’re making a determination of where we think the most profits lie.” The company has 138 million subscribers, two thirds of which are located outside the US, where broadband-only rates are far higher than the US, according to research firm Parks Associates.

The Time Warner-owned network has made similar moves in the past. The company’s US streaming service, HBO Now, launched in April of last year, although US customers have been able to access a subscriber-only web service, HBO Go, since 2010. It also launched a streaming service in Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden in 2012 called HBO Nordic, which has about 650,000 subscribers and also offers shows from AMC, Starz, and Showtime. HBO now has a similar service in Colombia that it hopes to expand to other Latin American countries.

Outside of these services, HBO has only made its content accessible outside of cable TV subscriptions in the form of paid downloads on platforms like iTunes and streaming of select shows on Amazon Prime Video. The launch in Spain is different because of HBO’s plans to discontinue its cable option and force customers toward the online service. “Spain is not the first and Spain is not the last,” Simon Sutton, HBO’s president of international and content distribution, told Bloomberg. The company wouldn’t say where else it’s planning a streaming service.

If “following the money” works in Spain, it could lead to HBO becoming an online-only subscription service in other locations, and free it from the need to be tied to cable TV providers in areas where Time Warner does not monopolize control. It could also lead other popular pay cable networks to follow suit, as many of the people who binge watch shows like Game of Thrones are not interested in the large selection of channels you’re stuck with when subscribing to cable TV.

Al Jazeera America Will Not Last as Cable TV Channel

Formerly known as Current TV, Al Jazeera America sought to remake cable TV news by making it respectable again. Instead of becoming CNN for young people, or CNN for smart people, as were its goals, it is now going under, killed by its lack of ratings and its inability to make its own brand in America, a place not really open to its Arabic origins.

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In a memo to the staff, Al Jazeera America’s chief executive, Al Anstey, said the “decision by Al Jazeera America’s board is driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace.”

“I know the closure of AJAM will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future,” he continued, using the company acronym. “The decision that has been made is in no way because AJAM has done anything but a great job. Our commitment to great journalism is unrivaled.”

At the companywide meeting, Al Jazeera America staff members, some in tears, were told that the decision to shutter the network had not been unanimous. Some of the channel’s leadership argued that the network provided an important service, and continued to win awards for its coverage. But in the end, the decision was an economic one. The channel, it was felt, had fallen victim to the lack of a business model beyond continuous support from Qatar, the energy-rich country that owns Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera America’s real problem, however, was that the audience it sought—young, willing to accept differing worldviews beyond the partisan Fox News and MSNBC and the lowest-common-denominator “journalism” of CNN—tends to get its news and watch video online. Young, media-savvy people don’t wait for the news to come to them on TV, they look to find it themselves online, where companies like Vice Media have been more successful in bringing quality content right to them. Al Jazeera America—beyond its branding problem—had potential, as did its predecessor, Current, but both failed because they wanted to do something new, but wound up just doing something very, very old.

Super Bowl I to Re-Air on Cable TV

NFL Network will re-air Super Bowl I to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Super Bowl this Friday at 8pm EST. The ninety-minute program will include NFL Films footage of the game, along with the original NBC Radio call by Jim Simpson and George Ratterman, with an introduction by Chris Rose at the beginning of the broadcast and at the beginning of the second half.

This re-airing is not the first, but the second re-airing of the game this year by NFL Network, the first of which was botched by the network. More from Awful Announcing:

In an article in the New York Times, a producer for NFL Network promised, “We’ll make sure we don’t ruin anything with the chatter.” Well, apparently after that article was published, NFL Network decided that chatter is exactly what America needed for the Super Bowl I  broadcast. Choosing to downplay the footage and the Jim Simpson call, NFL Network elected to have host Chris Rose carry the broadcast with a panel of six analysts including Steve Mariucci, Steve Wyche, Willie McGinest and Elliot Harrison. Instead of allowing the audience to hear the NBC Radio broadcast overlaid on top of the NFL Films footage, viewers heard the NFL Network panel talk over the footage with a few instances to listen to Simpson.

It went like this for most of the broadcast which lasted for three hours. It was a big disappointment for viewers who were hoping to see what the fuss over the lost footage was about. There were interviews with former Chiefs players like Len Dawson, Mike Garrett and Fred Williamson, but those segments were interspersed with the talk from the panel. Those studio segments went too long and failed to add any perspective to the game. Asides from Mariucci who grew up a Packers fan and watched Super Bowl I and Steve Wyche, none of the panel could give any personal historical anecdotes. In addition, NFL Network did a screen showing SB I footage in one box, a smaller box in the upper right hand corner showing the panel and below that, some tweets or facts about the broadcast.

NFL Network did add a scorebug that appeared at times over the footage, but that only made rare appearances. Overall, the Super Bowl I program turned out to be a three-hour highlight program rather than a re-broadcast of the NFL Films footage and it evolved into a chat fest between Rose and the analysts. After being quite excited to see what NFL Network had promised to be a look at the lost footage, it resulted in what could have easily been confused for a local cable access discussion.

Here’s hoping this time around, the archival footage will be allowed to stand on its own. NFL Network is channel 212 on DIRECTV.

Landline Phones Can Now Send and Receive Text Messages

It wasn’t long ago that every home had a landline phone. It wasn’t long before that when every landline phone was attached with a cord. But cordless phones have given way to cellular phones, and no many homes do not even have a landline, with residents preferring to use their cell phones. Cable companies bundle landline phone at almost no charge with internet and TV services, so low has the value of landline phone gone.

AT&T is trying to put a little bit of value back into landline home phone service, with its new Android app allowing customers to send and receive text messages via landline phone.

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The latest official AT&T Android app is essentially just a text message service, but it’s exclusively for those customers who pay extra to be able to send and receive text messages from a landline. And boy, do they pay extra – according to this page, it’s $10 for 100 messages a month, $25 for unlimited, on top of whatever they’re paying for the line in the first place. The app is a virtual message bucket, but it does include some advanced features like scheduled texts, auto-reply, and (apparently) a call function, though it isn’t clear if this is some VOIP or reroute solution that uses the landline number or if the user simply calls using his or her cell phone.

This makes a lot of sense if you’re running a business, especially if your clientele skews young. I know some people on the opposite end of the spectrum from dear old Mamaw who would rather poke themselves in the eye than leave a voicemail, so this pricey add-on would allow business owners to cater to their very specialized communications needs. The app is free, but of course it’s only useful to AT&T landline customers.

Other landline home phone providers have yet to capitalize on this technology. Many will probably wait to see how AT&T’s does before creating similar apps of their own.

ESPN Cable TV Ratings for National Title Game Drop 15%

Even though last night’s game was a hard-fought battle that remained in the balance until well into the fourth quarter, the ratings for cable TV powerhouse ESPN dropped 15% for the College Football Playoff National Championship Game this year. The game garnered a 15.8 overnight rating on television with a combined rating of 16.0 with television viewers and those streaming online added together.

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The ratings drop wasn’t nearly as precipitous as ESPN’s for the College Football Playoff semifinal games held on New Year’s Eve. The overnight ratings for those broadcasts were down more than 36% from the prior year.

ESPN reported record-high numbers for a non-World Cup contest on its WatchESPNapp. The network reported more than 1.9 million unique viewers via the app, 500,000 more unique viewers compared to last year’s title game between Oregon and Ohio State.

ESPN and sponsors are pushing the College Football Playoff to abandon New Year’s Eve semifinal games. Currently, the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., and the Peach Bowl in Atlanta are scheduled for Dec. 31.

Another factor that could possibly have worked against the title game was that it occurred a full 12 days after the semifinal, right after an exciting NFL Wild Card Weekend that may have stolen some of the thunder of the ultimate college football event. With highly-rated NFL games on Saturday and Sunday, viewers may have just been overdosed on football, and no longer pumped about the potential of an epic title game after such a long wait.

On the other hand, the streaming numbers can be seen as a win for that aspect of the business. If it continues to grow, ESPN and its family of networks may not need to worry as much about the television ratings in the future.

Realtors Have Trouble Selling Homes Without High-Speed Internet Access

Real estate has always been about “location, location, location.” The reason for that now is different than before, however, as in parts of the United States without high speed internet access, realtors are having trouble selling homes. What was once seen as a luxury is now a necessity, and areas where high speed internet providers do not already have infrastructure set up for service are suffering.

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Nearly one in three rural Americans lacks access to broadband Internet service, compared to one in 100 urban Americans, local officials said, citing the Federal Communications Commission’s latest Broadband Progress Report.

The FCC defines high-speed Internet as 25 megabits per second or more. Fiber can deliver speeds of 1,000 megabits per second.

“Within the last two years, we’ve really seen a push [in a desire for high-speed Internet],” Close said. “It’s almost more important to have high-speed Internet as opposed to fiber TV.”

That’s because people are watching television online or want to work from home. They want to be connected to the rest of the world, he said.

The Wall Street Journal article cited a study from researchers at the University of Colorado and Carnegie Mellon University.

The report also indicated that fiber optic connections, the fastest type of high-speed Internet available, not only entice buyers but also add significant value to the price of a home.

Unlike telecom companies, which are legally obligated to make telephone service available to every residence in their service area, there is no law requiring the same of Internet providers, local officials said.

There are a number of initiatives taking place at the local, state and federal level to bring high speed internet to hard-to-reach areas, much as once electricity and then phone service were universalized. But until that happens, homes outside the realm of internet service providers will continue to be a harder sell.