PCs outsold by iOS devices, AT&T/DirecTV merger, AAPL vs AMZN and more
Another interesting week at MacNN brings us plenty to talk about on Episode 25 of The MacNN Podcast, ranging from the FCC approval of the AT&T/DirecTV deal for no clear reason (but with a bunch of conditions), to our new column "My Stupid Fault." We also include a full report on Apple's fiscal Q3 and the uncalled-for drop in the stock, the results of our testing of Apple's new third-party SSD Trim support, and more.
Company must grow FTTP, provide low-income broadband, among others
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has conditionally granted approval of the transfer of control of licenses and authorizations from DirecTV to AT&T. The approval will allow AT&T to acquire DirecTV and merge the two companies into one combined entity.
New satellite quadruples 4K bandwidth over entirety of North America
DirecTV has expanded its satellite fleet in both the US and Latin America with the dual launch of new spacecraft that will significantly increase HD capacity. One of the satellite launches, DIRECTV-15, will pave the way to future 4K UltraHD programming on the service, and backup DirecTV's existing satellite fleet.
Platforms include iOS, Apple TV, Android, Windows
DirecTV has announced a partnership with Fox Networks, giving subscribers to the satellite-based TV service access to all the content in the Fox Now, FXNow, and Nat Geo TV apps on multiple platforms. This includes iOS, Apple TV, Android, and Windows devices. In effect, the change means that the apps have simply added DirecTV as a service authentication option, joining other TV providers such as cable operators.
Replies in Comcast-TWC merger due December 23, AT&T-DirecTV by January 7, 2015
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced December 3 that it is restarting the informal "shot clocks" in the review of the $45 billion Comcast-Time Warner Cable and $48.5 billion AT&T-DirecTV proposed mergers. As the FCC is now allowing parties to review confidential information once again, it restarted the pleading cycles with new deadlines for each merger.
Move makes DirecTV the first video provider with 4k
This weekend, satellite television provider DirecTV will become the first multi-channel video provider to offer 4K Ultra HD programming direct to customers. At launch, the company will begin offering 19 movies and documentaries from both Paramount Pictures and Havoc, with more titles to be announced soon. Customers will need an Internet-connected Genie HD DVR model HR34 and above, and a Samsung UHD TV that is DirecTV 4K ready. Pricing for 4K movies will range from $4 to $16, and will be on a per-movie basis.
Confidential programming agreements requested in early October source of the delay
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has stopped its "180-day informal time clock" in the review of the merger proposals for Comcast and Time Warner Cable, as well as AT&T and DirectTV. The reason for the stoppage involves the modified joint protective orders that the FCC created at the beginning of October, which content companies are now using to bar outside sources from reading confidential programming agreements.
Procedures created to protect public interest, alleviate media firm confidentiality concerns
In the review of the proposed mergers between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, or the proposed AT&T-DirecTV deal, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) believes that reviewing the contracts and agreements made by the merger applicants and media companies is important. Last month, the FCC requested that media firms turn over information about deals with Comcast, something that the provider and media companies fought back on. However, the FCC now has plans in place to address some of their concerns in both mergers.
Reduces obstacles to cord-cutting
Satellite TV provider DirecTV has announced its first digital-only subscription plans for NFL Sunday Ticket. Subscribers will have to wait until September 7th for the first games, and will only be able to watch out-of-market events, but will have access to them on phones, tablets, computers, and/or consoles without also having to have a satellite or cable package. Costs begin at $200 for a subscription covering phones, tablets, and computers. A separate console-only plan is $240; the $330 Max plan covers all devices, and further includes access to the Red Zone channel and DirecTV's new Fantasy Zone.
None of the savings likely to be passed to customers, will fund expansions
In the controversial process of merging with DirecTV, AT&T will have to file a great deal of regulatory paperwork with the federal government. One such document to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has revealed that AT&T believes it can save 20 percent on the cost of acquiring programming for its users. These savings are unlikely to be passed to the customer, and instead will be intended to fund rural broadband programs and other expansions planned by the mega-corporation, should the merger be approved.
Senator is 'skeptical' of the deal that will lead to higher prices, less choice for consumers
Appearing on CNN's New Day, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) voiced his concerns regarding the recent deal that would see AT&T purchasing DirecTV for $48.5 billion. Asked about the mega-merger, Franken pointed out that the deal would likely raise prices further for consumers, and likely treads on antitrust grounds.
Boards of both companies agree unanimously to the deal for $95 per share
Today, AT&T and DirecTV reached an agreement over the acquisition of the satellite provider by one of the nation's largest cellular carriers. The details of the deal, which will come to a total of $49 billion, will see AT&T conducting a stock-and-cash transaction based on the closing value of AT&T's stock on Friday. The deal was agreed upon unanimously by board members on both sides.
Deal's specifics not yet known, rumored to be near $50 billion
AT&T is reportedly ready to announce a deal for satellite communications company DirecTV on Sunday. Allegedly, DirecTV CEO Mike White has told senior executives that the deal with AT&T is finalized, and details are ready to be released to the public. The buyout, rumored to approach $50 billion, will give the combined broadcast entity over 26 million subscribers, rivaling that of Comcast and Time Warner's accumulated subscriber base.
Two sources claim between $95 - $100 per share for DirecTV
Discussions between AT&T and DirecTV are heating up, according to sources familiar with the matter. Reportedly, AT&T is looking at offering $48 billion for the satellite communications company in the next few weeks. Still to be negotiated are a "break-up" fee if regulators or other forces nix the deal, and the ultimate fate of DirecTV's CEO Mike White after the merger.
Combined company would be nearly the size of Comcast and Time Warner Cable
AT&T has reportedly contacted DirecTV about purchasing the satellite television provider, according to sources familiar with the matter. The deal, if ever pursued to completion, would generate a 26 million user-strong television network, rivaling the size of the combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable giant. A timetable for an offer is unknown.
DirecTV, Time Warner Cable interested in streaming TV service
Four parties have allegedly placed bids to purchase streaming service Hulu, with the first round of bidding apparently due to end this week. Guggenheim Digital Media, DirecTV, and Time Warner Cable are said to be interested in the company, following a bid from former News Corp president Peter Chernin for a reported $500 million.
Exede service boasts 12Mbps connection speed, capless periods
DirecTV has announced the packages for its satellite broadband service it has created with ViaSat. Dubbed Exede, the 12Mbps satellite connection is being aimed towards rural customers that lack cable or fiber broadband access, and is offering a $10 monthly discount and a refunded installation fee to initial sign-ups.
Company still in conflict with DirecTV
Viacom has finally returned The Daily Show and Colbert Report content to the web for online streaming. Both shows had been pulled from the company's various websites as part of an ongoing dispute with satellite television provider DirecTV, as both companies continue to disagree over contract terms in a battle that has made its way into the public view.
TiVo protects rights to patents by using them to countersue DVR maker Cisco
Very soon after Cisco sued TiVo to challenge TiVo's claims to patents used in DVRs, TiVo has gone ahead and sued Cisco back. According to a Tuesday report, there are four patents in contention and TiVo is involved in several lawsuits against a number of companies that bought the allegedly offending DVRs from Cisco. Cisco's Scientific Atlanta arm sells boxes to cable providers that include AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon Communications.
App update brings streaming, social features
Today's update to the official DirecTV Android app enables subscribers to stream content to enabled devices. The update also adds social networking aspects to the service, allowing users to find out what shows are popular.
Still limited to on-demand video
DirecTV has released a new version of its iPad app, v1.5.0. Users can now watch movies and TV shows over a 3G or 4G connection instead of just Wi-Fi. While live TV is still restricted to Wi-Fi, apps from other TV networks often block cellular support completely.
Letter urges FCC to reveal all data in AWS buy
The deal for AWS spectrum between Verizon and a number of cable companies is facing more troubles as several rivals not keen on the deal have written a letter to the FCC (PDF) asking for full disclosure. Authored by T-Mobile USA, DirecTV, and eight others, the petition asks for redacted evidence that will give them the ability to argue that the deal is anti-competitive. They argue against the parties involved in the deal with Verizon who say access to all the documents isn't in the public's interest.
DirecTV ships TiVo HD DVR nationwide
The long-awaited and promised TiVo-enabled HD DVR from DirecTV is finally available nationwide. Previously, the set-top was only available in 10 markets. The box is unique in combining the TiVo interface and peanut remote control with DirecTV's HD content lineup.
Samsung ties with DirecTV for cloud interface
Samsung in a post-event update revealed that all its 2012 Internet-aware TVs will have DirecTV intergration. Americans with the satellite TV service will only need one set-top box in the home for everyone to get access to the same content. A combination of the recent RVU standard and DLNA media sharing replicate DirecTV's interface on every Samsung set in the local network, letting them control the DVR and otherwise get the same access they would as if they were directly connected.
DirecTV TiVo DVRs delays over, due December 8
The much-delayed arrival of TiVo DVRs at DirecTV is finally slotted for a launch date of December 8, according to the satellite provider's forums. The TiVo HD DVR from DirecTV (THR22-100) The release is limited to just ten major US cities, however, with an expansion still being evaluated.
Users must already be DirecTV subscribers
DirecTV has posted a new version of its iPad app, v1.3.1. The app is normally intended to be used as a guide and remote control. The v1.3.1 update, though, introduces support for in-app viewing of live TV. Users must be DirecTV subscribers, and on the same Wi-Fi network as a compatible DirecTV HD DVR.
Time Warner Cable 3Q results show 128K TV loss
Time Warner Cable just posted its third-quarter subscriber numbers, which reveal there are 128,000 less subscribers to its video services this quarter. The total number of subscribers lost is just 16,000, though, thanks to the addition of 89,000 residential web subscribers. While the cord-cutting syndrome, which involves users getting rid of cable subscriptions in favor of web ones and accessing all multimedia content from the web and streaming video services or others, there are some arguments against this trend, AllThingsD argues.
Hulu says studios see it as too valuable
Hulu in a brief note said it had decided to stop its attempted selloff. The statement, which had the support of Disney, investor Providence Equity Partners, and Fox's parent company News Corp., claimed that each of the owners though there was too much of a "unique and compelling strategic value" for each of them to sell. It would instead center on existing plans.
Nomad costs $150, carries no monthly fees
DirecTV has introduced the Nomad device, which will let users send DVR recordings to mobile devices as well as PCs. Doing so requires a special app for desktop PCs or iPhone (free, App Store), with iPad, Mac and Android apps due out soon. The device can store as many as 20 hours of DVR content and connect to external hard drives for more.
DirecTV HR34 DVR in limited release, detailed
A new DVR coming from DirecTV has been thoroughly detailed thanks to DBSTalk. The five-tuner HR34 got an exclusive first look from the source (PDF), which reveals its technical specs. The DVR will have a 1TB hard drive that can store about 232 hours of MPEG4 HD recordings. The HR34 should be fully compatible with DirecTV's Whole Home DVR service, letting other connected set-tops access its recordings.
Jobs not expected to show at October 4
Possible content for the October 4 iPhone event came Monday through a late-breaking claim. Rackspace' social media presence Robert Scoble understood from unnamed sources that Apple was working on a presumably video-focused iPad app that "looks a lot like DirecTV without the dish." What it would involve wasn't said, but he linked it to the North Carolina datacenter's video hosting and that it would be "more expansive" than suspected.
US cable TV wants channels unbundled
US cable and satellite providers signaled Tuesday that they wanted to unbundle their channel packages to stave off the incursion of Internet video and a tough economy. DirecTV, Mediacom, Suddenlink, and others are pushing the FCC and others to alter retransmission fee systems and let them sell access by the channel so that they can lower the actual cost of selling TV services. At costs as high as $4 per month just for ESPN and now with normally free-to-air networks charging for access, they argued to Reuters and others that they were forced to charge high prices.
Leak tips DirecTV TiVo hybrid finally inbound
A leak has exposed what appears to be a training video pitched at the DirecTV sales force in order to get staff re-familiarized with the TiVo box and its functions. This and other details have emerged pointing to a September shipping date for the long delayed set-top-box DirecTV TiVo that promises to bring the best of satellite TV programming and combining it with a subscription service DVR. The only apparent downside for users is that the device will use older hardware, a legacy of its long gestation period, which started back in 2009.
Dish asks FCC to grant hybrid network permission
Dish Network is asking the FCC to allow it to combine the S-Band spectrum licenses it acquired with its $1.38 billion purchase of TerreStar Networks and DBSD North America to offer terrestrial-only devices. This is part of a larger goal of offering a satellite-terrestrial 4G network that uses LTE-Advanced. Dish claims this hybrid network that will use the 40MHz spectrum under a subsidiary called Gamma will help meet the FCC's goal of expanding broadband access. Dish cited the conditional waiver the FCC gave to LightSquared as a reason it should get its request granted.
PS3 owners to get access to NFL games for $340
DirecTV and Sony have joined forces to offer NFL Sunday Ticket subscriptions to PS3 owners. The deal gives the game console's owners access to up to 14 out-of-market NFL games every Sunday as well as DirecTV's Red Zone Channel. The special subscription is priced at $340 for those who don't have DirecTV's satellite service.
Hulu buyout offers to start in earnest by Aug 19
Sources revealed Thursday that bidding would start in earnest on Hulu's self-sale late next week. Potential buyers are expected to make first bids worth "at least" $1.5 billion for both Hulu itself and the content deals it has with three major TV networks. The AllThingsD tip warned the price could drop if Hulu's management doesn't want to reduce its stake or rise if a buyer wanted a longer license than what Hulu has today.
Netflix and Hulu mutually uninterested in deal
New tips Sunday ruled out Netflix as one of the candidates to buy Hulu. The movie streaming service hasn't been actively involved, sources for the WSJ said. Hulu also reportedly hasn't been actively interested, in part since it would create overlap and reduce the number of suppliers, not increase them.
HD-DVR shows up as shopping basket option
Zatznotfunny reports that a possible slip up on DirecTV's website gives some encouragement to DirecTV customers that a TiVo HD-DVR receiver may be available in the not to distant future. Screen shots from the DirecTV site show a TiVo receiver that can be added to a customer's shopping cart as a receiver option. The photo of the unit is marked "FPO" (for positioning only), indicating that the webpage is a placeholder for a future offering. Price is listed as $99.
Netflix-like streaming coming to DirecTV users?
DirecTV has issued a new web survey to its subscribers on Tuesday that is nearly entirely devoted to Netflix and users' experience with or knowledge thereof. The company openly said it was considering launching a similar service to existing satellite TV subscribers. Called a concept in the survey, it would only stream rather than mail physical DVDs.
Verizon gets rid of contracts for DSL services
Verizon on Monday announced significant changes to its cable Internet services. Chief among them is the elimination of contracts, along with related early termination fees. There are two tiers of service, with the first offering voice service at home for local and long-distance calls, along with web speeds of between 500Kbps and 1Mbps. It costs $35 per month.
Microsoft wields Amazon store vs Apple trademark
Microsoft in a response to the USPTO (below) on Tuesday cited the just launched Amazon Appstore as evidence that Apple couldn't maintain "app store" as a trademark. It used the launch last Tuesday as evidence that there was a "competitive need" from companies to use the concept of an app store generically. About 17 stores were already using it where Apple had claimed that use beyond its own shop was virtually non-existent, Microsoft said, and those that hadn't had primarily been intimidated into avoiding the name.
NPD gives Netflix 61pc of online movies
Netflix now has a dominant share of the online video on demand business, according to new NPD data. The subscription streaming service has 61 percent of all the movies downloaded or streamed in January and February. Apple, despite iTunes' reputation, was at just four percent and tied with both DirecTV and Time Warner Cable.
May partner to offer fixed-location 4G service
At an industry conference in San Francisco, DirecTV chairman and CEO Mike White hinted that the company was interested in partnering with other telecoms as LTE service becomes more widespread. He may have been referring to an ongoing test with Verizon of fixed location LTE service in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. Expanding that collaboration would enable Verizon to offer broadband service in rural areas without needing to hardwire new subscribers. DirecTV would bring its installation experience with roof-mounted hardware and would be able to offer customers high-speed internet service and additional support for on-demand programming .
DirecTV app for iPad now out for free on iTunes
The promised DirecTV iPad app is now available (free, App Store) for download. The app will let users control their DirecTV services but not watch streamed content. They can browse sports games, view scores, use the iPad as a remote control and schedule DVR recordings or change channels.
Utility coming soon to the App Store
DirecTV has announced plans to introduce an iPad app that integrates the company's range of satellite TV services. The utility allows users to organize favorite channels, browse sports games and view scores, tune into channels, or view additional information such as cast names or parental ratings. Playback controls and DVR management are also built into the interface.
3net all 3D TV network launches this Saturday
A network fully dedicated to broadcasting 3D TV signals will launch on February 13. Called 3net, it will be offered by DirecTV on channel 107 and is a joint venture between Sony, Discovery Communications and IMAX. On the 13th, the channel will air two one-hour long, original programs in native 3D, China Revealed and Forgotten Planet. A longer movie, Into The Deep 3D, will make its TV debut afterwards.
DirecTV TiVo hardware to arrive this spring?
The planned DirecTV TiVo HD receiver that dates back to 2008 and has faced numerous delays may have been shown off to a select few at the CES show last week. The hardware may finally show up in April or May,sources speaking to Fudzilla said. Unofficial rumors also indicate the device will not contain all of TiVo's latest features.
TiVo shifting from hardware to service delivery?
The DirectTV TiVo that was set to be delivered before the end of 2010 has now been delayed until 2011. CEO Tom Rogers has indicated that beta testing for the device will continue into next January. TiVo executives have also begun to suggest that TiVo will begin to shift towards service delivery, rather purely on manufacturing hardware.
Launch dates remain unknown
DirecTV and TiVo appear to be continuing beta testing for their updated DVR hardware, which has been delayed several times since its inception. Customers are still receiving rejection letters for participation in the private beta program, which is reportedly full, according to alleged correspondence posted by Zatz Not Funny.
TiVo still developing tru2way, DirecTV due 2010
During a quarterly earnings call this week, DVR maker TiVo revealed that it is still working on bringing tru2way technology to its set-top boxes. This would allow two-way interaction over cable set-tops, including services such as games, chat, web browsing and shopping. At the same time, CEO Tom Rogers said DirecTV TiVo is still scheduled for a 2010 release, but there is now some doubt as to whether this can happen before 2011.