[opendtv] Re: Punching Above Its Weight, Upstart Netflix Pokes at HBO - NYTimes.com

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2014 08:01:41 -0500

On Feb 25, 2014, at 8:39 PM, "Manfredi, Albert E" 
<albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Craig Birkmaier wrote:
> Once again, if the CE vendors designed proper "connected TVs," subscribers 
> who bought these connected TVs would be set immediately. It only becomes an 
> "key factor" if one assumes that the STB is the only way to solve what should 
> be a **non-problem**.

But a connected TV is still DIS-connected from the sources of "live" TV: the 
internal broadcast tuner in the TV and the MVPD STB. There is no unifying user 
experience. It takes five to ten button pushes on two remotes to move between 
cable and a service on AppleTV.

Cable card has been a fiasco; hardly anyone is using it. And the MVPDs still 
have near total control of their STBs, even as they begin to move to IP, and to 
support services outside their walled gardens. The CE vendors and the IT 
vendors cannot solve this problem as long as the regulators allow the MVPDs to 
control access to their systems and keep companies that want to develop well 
integrated, comprehensive solutions at bay.

>> Naw. These are all PONs feeding passive coax networks. Head end servers 
>> should have no problem determining how much aggregate PON bandwidth they are 
>> using, based on the number of local VOD clients at any given time. Sure, IP 
>> automates the process. But I see nothing particularly challenging doing the 
>> same automatic rate control without IP, in this case. Simple.

You have not been listening. The local VOD servers at cable head ends mostly 
play back pre-produced transport stream files encoded using MPEG-2. They are 
already encoded; the bit rate and QOS are predetermined. If a title is 
available in Sd and HD, there are two playout files.

With IP, the customer can affect QOS intentionally via user settings 
(preferences), or automatically, based on network bandwidth conditions.

> I seem to have to repeat myself a lot to Craig, these days. No, Craig, I 
> never insisted that the congloms must only sell directly to the public. I 
> have said many times that they can use whatever middlemen make sense to them 
> *TODAY*, and not those that might have made sense yesterday.

Let's just say that you repeat what is convenient to your arguments at the 

You condemn the legacy practices like MVPD bundles, and tell us the networks 
can cut out these "legacy" middlemen, then turn around and tell us they can use 
any middlemen they want.  You can't have it both ways...

> Broadcast is one point.

It was the only point in 1970. CATV systems were just shared antennas. Original 
programming was enabled by government deregulation of the cable industry in 
1972. The first "original content" came in 1976, when satellite distribution 
enabled Ted Turner to distribute his Atlanta TV station (ch17) to cable head 
ends around the country.

> 1970s technology also meant that a broadband local network capable of 
> bypassing the spectrum deficiencies of OTA delivery was *also* going to be a 
> one-way broadcast medium! And most importantly, these one-way plants 
> naturally become walled gardens. One guy only controls the source signals, 
> right?

I find it difficult to classify analog able systems as broadband. The 
technology of the day only allowed for broadcasting, unless you wanted to lease 
telco lines for private video distribution.

> The MVPD MPEG-TS broadcast bandwidth still fits this 1970s description.

Not at all. First it takes a fraction of the bandwidth of one 6 MHz analog 
channel digital compression made it feasible to deliver HDTV. The only 
similarity is that the MVPDs still use live streaming program schedules, just 
like broadcasters. 

> That's all, Craig. I understand all the bundling and dual revenue stream 
> points you repeat, but as I've said **countless** times, you don't have to 
> insist on MVPD MPEG-2 TS broadcast plants to get **either** bundling **or** 
> dual revenue streams anymore.

>> But CBS clearly stated on the panel that they prefer for people to
>> watch the live broadcasts.
> Or at least, the guy speaking for CBS said this, while instead, the people 
> designing their web site have figured it out. I don't take any of these 
> interviews with executives too seriously. Too often, they aren't doing 
> anything more than reciting the party line to the press.

They make the most money on live broadcasts. And these live broadcasts entitle 
them to retransmission consent, which means a second revenue stream, and the 
ability to tie less desirable channels to the bundles.

> We have been over this too, many times, Craig. The local broadcasters need to 
> reinvent themselves into local Internet server and local content services. 
> The DBS systems need to reinvent themselves primarily as ISPs for the 
> boonies, where their coverage is essential and their two-way bandwidth 
> limitations not as severe as they are in urban settings. The cabled MVPDs 
> need to quit wasting so much bandwidth on 1970s one-way broadcast streams.

By definition, you are saying that the FOTA broadcast model is dead; that 
broadcasters need to enter a new and different business. There was a time when 
large cities had multiple newspapers...

And yes, DBS is at a huge competitive disadvantage. They obviously want yo keep 
people watching the streaming channels in the bundles, rather than moving to 
> As far as I'm concerned, all of these players need to reinvent themselves. 
> It's really only the congloms that have it made, because they have the high 
> value content that all of these others require.

The distribution congloms control the pipes, and send the content congloms huge 
checks. Even if we assume that the bundles of streaming channels go away, they 
are still the providers of the broadband needed for the content congloms to 
reach the viewers.

The fact that Comcast is trying to reinvent the "Triple Play" - content, MVPD, 
and ISP - and will have control of nearly 1/3 of the homes in the U?S should 
give you pause to reconsider your 

>> More like just a BIG NO for you. Do you subscribe to ANY OTT service?
> Are you kidding me? I can go to my bank from anywhere, and access my account. 
> I can go to pay my lawn service from anywhere. I can go shopping or watching 
> movies and TV shows from Amazon, from anywhere. All of these need to 
> authenticate me. This is a no-brainer, Craig. Authentication that allows 
> access to different amounts of content is hardly a big deal.

From Wiki:

> Over-the-top content (OTT) refers to delivery of video, audio and other media 
> over the Internet without a multiple system operator being involved in the 
> control or distribution of the content.

Stop with these ridiculous diversions. Do you pay for ANY Over The Top video 

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