The TV, Internet and Phone Blog

Information on Cable, Digital Television, and Internet Providers

Monthly Archives: March 2016

Google Fiber Officially Announces Home Phone Service

Google Fiber, where available, has been making inroads against traditional telecom companies, many of whom offer cable TV, high speed internet, and digital voice home phone services as part of a three-service bundle. Previously, the home phone landline service was not part of Google’s offerings, but now they have officially announced that they are going to provide phone service as part of their bundle as well.

More from the Washington Post:

For $10 a month, Google Fiber customers soon will be able to buy an add-on known as Fiber Phone — a service that, according to a company blog post, appears to mimic much of the functionality of Google Voice. Voicemail on Fiber Phone can be automatically transcribed and sent to your email. You’ll get unlimited domestic calling, as well as international calls at Google Voice’s rates. And you’ll have access to one phone number that can be set up to ring all of your phones — whether landline or mobile.

Google Fiber’s effort to draw in phone customers highlights how the company is becoming more like traditional service providers even as many telecom companies are looking to become more like Internet content firms. Even providers of cellphone service have been shifting their focus away from voice and toward the more lucrative provision of mobile data. Reports this week suggest T-Mobile may soon unveil new phone plan options that eliminate voice service entirely to give you a bigger bucket of data.

Fiber Phone fits within these trends in that it would help customers add some cloud-based functionality to their home phones. But it’s not immediately clear why consumers would pick Fiber Phone over Google Voice. The two services share many of the same features, but Fiber Phone carries a subscription cost and requires an at-home installation that you don’t need with Google Voice. In this respect, Google Voice might be considered a “better” service.

Google Fiber has been very successful in its pilot areas, but has yet to expand to the rest of the United States. It is hard to tell whether this phone addition will help or hurt the service as it looks to expand—currently Google Fiber is only available in one residential community near Stanford University in Palo Alto, along with the Kansas City, Austin, and Provo, UT metro areas, with plans to expand to Nashville, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Atlanta, and Southern California.

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Final Four Cable TV Schedule

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has reached its final weekend, with the Final Four occurring this Saturday and the championship game between this Saturday’s winners on Monday. Here is the cable TV schedule for the Final Four this Saturday (all times Eastern):

6:09pm:

  • Oklahoma vs Villanova – Main Broadcast on TBS
  • Oklahoma vs Villanova – Oklahoma Team Stream on TNT
  • Oklahoma vs Villanova – Villanova Team Stream on TruTV

40 minutes after end of first game:

  • North Carolina vs Syracuse – Main Broadcast on TBS
  • North Carolina vs Syracuse – North Carolina Team Stream on TNT
  • North Carolina vs Syracuse – Syracuse Team Stream on TruTV

As has become tradition, the national broadcast on TBS will be augmented by team-specific broadcasts on TNT and TruTV, allowing fans of the particular teams to watch coverage garnered toward them.

More from NCAA.com:

Jim Nantz, Grant Hill and Bill Raftery will call the games with reporter Tracy Wolfson.

Ernie Johnson will host studio coverage from the Final Four National Semifinals and the National Championship on Monday, April 4, from NRG Stadium in Houston with analysts Charles Barkley, Clark Kellogg and Kenny Smith. They will be joined by Greg Gumbel along with analysts Reggie Miller and Steve Smith and insider Seth Davis.

Enjoy the games.

NCAA Sweet Sixteen Schedule

The first weekend of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was a memorable one leaving many brackets busted. Though many of the teams behind first round upsets did not make it to the second weekend, the Sweet Sixteen will still provide some great matchups and possibilities for unexpected teams to head to Elite Eight.

Here are the network and cable TV listings. All times EDT:

Thursday, March 24

  • 7:10 CBS Louisville I
    2) Villanova vs 3) Miami
  • 7:37 TBS Anaheim I
    2) Oklahoma vs 3) Texas A&M
  • ~9:40 CBS Louisville II
    1) Kansas vs 5) Maryland
  • ~10:07 TBS Anaheim II
    1) Oregon vs 4) Duke

Friday March 25

  • 7:10 CBS Chicago I
    1) Virginia vs 4) Iowa State
  • 7:27 TBS Philadelphia I
    6) Notre Dame vs 7) Wisconsin
  • ~9:40 CBS Chicago II
    10) Syracuse vs 11) Gonzaga
  • ~9:57 TBS Philadelphia II
    1) North Carolina vs 5) Indiana

Enjoy the games.

Networks and Cable Channels Bid for Big Ten Conference Rights

Current contracts to air Big Ten sports end after the 2016-17 season, with the conference now taking bids for either new contracts from new network and cable TV channels or extensions to the current contracts, which currently belong to ESPN and Fox. ESPN has been airing football and basketball games, with Fox airing the Big Ten Football Championship and running the Big Ten Network.

More from Awful Announcing:

But as Sports Business Journal reports, both ESPN and Fox have been undergoing cost cuts due to cord cutting and increased sports rights fees so their bids may not be as high as the Big Ten would like.

CBS has a basketball contract that includes the semifinals and finals of the Big Ten Tournament and would like to retain that portion and possibly a smaller package of rights. The same goes for Turner Sports which would like to have some basketball games that would compliment its NCAA Tournament rights.

NBC which has been mostly shut out of college sports except for the CAA, Ivy League and Notre Dame plans to explore a potential bid, but it’s not known how serious it will be.

The Big Ten bidding will be watched closely and with a conference footprint that goes from the Midwest all the way to the East Coast, the league expects that it will see increased rights and a financial windfall that will carry it well into the next decade and possibly beyond.

Could this be the tide turning on live sports rights, which up to this point have been the last vestige of moneymaking unaffected by cord cutting? We’ll see.

Cable TV Viewership among Presidential Candidates’ Supporters

According to a Katz Media/Nielsen Scarborough Research Panel study, Bernie Sanders supporters are the least likely supporters of any candidate to watch cable TV, with Marco Rubio supporters the most likely to watch cable TV. Only 85% of Bernie Sanders supporters watch cable TV, and even fewer (32%) watch cable news, comparted to 92% of Marco Rubio supporters, 59% of whom watch cable TV news. Ted Cruz supporters and Donald Trump supporters are also among the most likely to watch cable news, at 49% and 47% respectively.

More from Politico:

Trump and Rubio supporters use the Internet more than other sources of media, with 92 percent of Trump supporters and 97 percent of Rubio supporters using the Internet. Ted Cruz had 96 percent of his supporters using the Web while undecided voters were at 93 percent.

Undecided Republicans and Democrats were more likely to use the radio than any other medium.

The study was conducted Jan. 25 to Feb. 22 based on interviews with 3,000 registered voters and 1,802 likely primary goers from Colorado, Texas, Virginia, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Cable TV, particularly Fox News, is also benefiting from the presidential race, with Fox News debates and related programming garnering the network huge ratings wins.

March Madness Schedule on Network and Cable TV

It’s that time of the year—the conference tournaments that begin March Madness have been completed, the selection show has aired, and the brackets are out in time for the beginning of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Get ready for the first week/weekend of games and set your DVRs. Here is the cable TV and network TV schedule for all of the games airing this week, via SportsMediaWatch:

FIRST FOUR
Tuesday, March 15
6:30 PM FGCU/Farleigh Dickinson TruTV
9:00 PM Vanderbilt/Wichita State TruTV
Wednesday, March 16
6:30 PM Holy Cross/Southern TruTV
9:00 PM Michigan/Tulsa TruTV
FIRST ROUND
Thursday, March 17
(Raleigh, Providence, Des Moines and Denver)
12:15 PM Duke/UNC-Wilmington CBS
12:40 PM Texas Tech/Butler TruTV
1:30 PM Colorado/UConn TNT
2:00 PM Iowa State/Iona TBS
2:30 PM Baylor/Yale CBS
3:00 PM Virginia/Hampton TruTV
3:50 PM Kansas/Austin Peay TNT
4:20 PM Purdue/Ark.-Little Rock TBS
6:50 PM Miami/Buffalo TNT
7:10 PM Indiana/Chattanooga CBS
7:20 PM North Carolina/TBA TBS
7:27 PM Utah/Fresno State TruTV
9:15 PM Arizona/TBA TNT
9:30 PM Kentucky/Stony Brook CBS
9:45 PM USC/Providence TBS
9:55 PM Seton Hall/Gonzaga TruTV
Friday, March 18
(Brooklyn, St. Louis, Spokane and OKC)
12:15 PM Dayton/Syracuse CBS
12:40 PM Villanova/UNC-Asheville TruTV
1:30 PM Oregon State/VCU TNT
2:00 PM Cal/Hawaii TBS
2:30 PM Michigan State/Mid. Tenn. St. CBS
3:00 PM Iowa/Temple TruTV
3:50 PM Oklahoma/CSU-Bakersfield TNT
4:20 PM Maryland/SDSU TBS
6:50 PM Wisconsin/Pittsburgh TNT
7:10 PM W. Virginia/Stephen F. Austin CBS
7:20 PM Texas A&M/Green Bay TBS
7:27 PM Oregon/TBA TruTV
9:15 PM Xavier/Weber State TNT
9:30 PM Notre Dame/TBA CBS
9:45 PM Texas/Northern Iowa TBS
9:55 PM St. Joe’s/Cincinnati TruTV
SECOND ROUND
Saturday, March 19
(Raleigh, Providence, Des Moines and Denver)
12:00 PM Second round CBS
2:30 PM Second round CBS
5:00 PM Second round CBS
6:00 PM Second round TNT
7:00 PM Second round TBS
7:30 PM Second round CBS
8:30 PM Second round TNT
9:30 PM Second round TBS
Sunday, March 20
(Brooklyn, St. Louis, Spokane and OKC)
12:00 PM Second round CBS
2:30 PM Second round CBS
5:00 PM Second round CBS
6:00 PM Second round TNT
7:00 PM Second round TBS
7:30 PM Second round TruTV
8:30 PM Second round TNT
9:30 PM Second round TBS

Enjoy the games.

FCC Circulates High Speed Internet Subsidy Proposal

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently circulating a proposal for a subsidy of $9.25 a month to help low income households pay for high speed internet access. The new plan is part of an overhaul of a phone subsidy program called Lifeline, with the intention to alter the existing plan to fit with today’s technological landscape.

More from the New York Times:

Public interest advocates have pushed for faster Internet speeds and unlimited data in the broadband subsidy proposal, arguing that homework and other tasks increasingly require downloading big files and streaming videos that gobble up the monthly allotments. The F.C.C. said the proposed speeds and data limits were in line with consumer averages.

Democratic commissioners at the F.C.C. have argued that there is an urgent need to update the Lifeline fund for broadband as homework, job searches, and health and other services increasingly move online. Seven in 10 teachers, for instance, require students to go online for homework, according to Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat. Mr. Wheeler and Mignon Clyburn, a Democratic commissioner, spearheaded the reform.

Senior officials at the F.C.C. who drafted the new Lifeline proposal say the agency hopes the subsidy will also encourage Internet service providers like Comcast, AT&T and Time Warner Cable to go into low-income areas where they may not normally make a profit.

More on this story as it develops.

Cable TV Networks to Cover Ohio State Football Pro Day

With as many as eight possible first round selections in the upcoming NFL Draft, Ohio State is holding its pro day on Friday, March 11, with both ESPN and the NFL Network planning to cover the workouts live. ESPN will broadcast SportsCenter live from the events beginning at 10am Eastern, and NFL Network will begin airing coverage at that time as well.

More from Awful Announcing:

Randy Scott will host the [ESPN] telecast with a crew of reporters and analysts providing coverage, including Marty Smith, Brock Huard, Todd McShay and former Buckeyes receiver Joey Galloway. Quarterback guru George Whitfield will also be a part of the broadcast, wearing a microphone as he works with players during drills.

No word on who will be on hand for NFL Network’s coverage, which will also begin at 10 a.m. Analysts Mike Mayock and Daniel Jeremiah would seem to be locks for the broadcast team, while Charles Davis, Charley Casserly, Bucky Brooks and Andrew Siciliano have been part of the network’s draft coverage.

The Ohio State players expected to go in the NFL Draft’s first round this year include defensive end Joey Bosa, running back Ezekiel Elliott, cornerback Eli Apple, offensive tackle Taylor Decker, safety Vonn Bell, outside linebacker Darron Lee and receiver Michael Thomas and Braxton Miller.

ESPN airs on DIRECTV on channel 206, and NFL Network on channel 212. Check your local listings for other providers.

All New Yorkers Will Have Access to High Speed Internet by 2018

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced the launch of a new program to provide access to high speed internet for all state residents by the end of 2018. Called the New NY Broadband Program, it will be completed by private sector companies bidding for this large and high-profile government project.

More from MyChamplainValley.com on the key aspects of the program:

  • New access to broadband speeds of at least 100 Mbps; 25 Mbps in the most remote areas of the state;
  • Public-private partnership with a 50 percent match in private sector investment;
  • High priority to underserved areas and projects that improve broadband internet access in underserved areas, including libraries and educational opportunity centers;
  • Applications will be chosen through a “reverse=auction” process. It will award funding to bidders seeking the lowest state investment;
  • Auctions will be held at each Regional Economic Development Council region to ensure statewide allocation of funding.

Check back with the TV, Internet and Phone blog for more on this story as it develops.

New Orleans Saints Likely for HBO Series Hard Knocks

One of the highlights of the time leading up to the NFL season is Hard Knocks, the HBO documentary series covering a particular team from the beginning to the end of training camp. Normally, franchises volunteer to appear on the series, but if no franchise comes forward, certain teams that do not have a new coach, have not been in the postseason for the past two years, and have not been a Hard Knocks subject within 10 years cannot say no if the NFL comes calling. The Saints fit the bill.

More from Awful Announcing:

Sean Payton hasn’t always been the most forthcoming coach with the media, so the word “bracing” might be the best way to describe their attitude towards being selected for the series.  However, the Saints would really be the perfect choice for Hard Knocks.

This is a franchise that has won a Super Bowl in the past decade and is coming off a couple of underperforming seasons with a star coach and quarterback under pressure to get back to their glory days.  Payton was the subject of several trade rumors throughout the season until the Saints finally committed to him as their coach for the foreseeable future.  Brees is (hopefully) going to get a new contract extension this offseason and at 36 still led the NFL in passing yards despite missing a game.

While Brees is still in his prime, this is a very young team that did everything to rebuild the team around him without publicly using the “r” word.  Some of those moves didn’t work (cough… Brandon Browner… cough) but young players like Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, and Stephone Anthony can be building blocks moving forward.  That process is already continuing this offseason with the Saints expected to part ways with all-time leading wide receiver Marques Colston and all-pro guard Jahri Evans.

Seeing under the hood of the Drew Brees-Sean Payton offense will be interesting for league fans, especially the type of fans who watch all-22 tape and try to catch at least a bit of every game, every Sunday on NFL Sunday Ticket. This viewer is cautiously optimistic.