BBWN Bites: CBS-Viacom Returns to Content Glory, Charter CEO's Peeve
Also today, Charter could be a key partner in the OTT market, New York State rural residents benefit from Verizon's CAF reversal, Vermont has grants for broadband biz plans, more Mississippi utilities tie into fiber, Swisscom's ray of earnings light and Quickline adds AirTies to get smart about connected homes.
The proposed CBS-Viacom deal could create a combined company capable of generating $13 billion in content spending, according to Michael Nathanson, analyst at MoffettNathanson in a research note on Wednesday. The mega-bucks could break down to $11 billion or so in programming -- $1.9 billion from film, $1.7 for sports and the remainder for TV, including OTT, he said. That would place CBS-Viacom behind only Disney, Comcast/NBCU and AT&T/WarnerMedia -- and allows it to move ahead of Netflix, Nathanson wrote in a research note. Fox, Amazon, Apple and AMC round out the list of top companies, by programming expenses.
MSO Charter Communications may become a key partner for some premium OTT services, under terms of a newly-signed deal between the cableco and the Walt Disney Co. The multi-year contract could incorporate Hulu, ESPN+ and Disney+ (slated for November 12 launch at about $7/month), wrote Light Reading's Jeff Baumgartner. Charter could use its Worldbox platform or, perhaps, move on from talks it's had with Comcast about licensing its X1, Baumgartner noted. Both Charter and Disney want to join forces on "piracy mitigation," a multi-billion-dollar headache for content creators, broadcasters and operators -- apparently password-sharing is a particular peeve of Charter CEO Tom Rutledge. (See New Disney Pact Paves Way for Charter to Offer Hulu, ESPN+, Disney+ .)
Areas of New York State will receive more than $16 million in federal funds for high-speed broadband, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced on Wednesday. In total, $16.2 million was reallocated to New York State after Verizon declined to take monies from Connect America Fund to enhance broadband in rural services; in addition to FCC and USDA loans and grants, funds will go to high-need rural and tribal areas, plus remote high-need areas, the New York politicians said. Western New York areas receiving expanded broadband include 26 locations in Erie County, 60 locations in Wyoming County, 42 locations in Livingston County, 2,883 locations in Cattaraugus County, and 3,005 locations in Allegany County.
Governor Phil Scott and the Public Service Department today unveiled the first of three anticipated rounds of funding for Vermont's Broadband Innovation Grant program, designed to help communities conduct feasibility studies and write business plans to aid in deploying the service in rural, unserved and underserved parts of the state. In the program, which includes total grant funding of $700,000, awards of up to $60,000 per grant will go to eligible grantees. These include non-profits, for-profit businesses, cooperatives, communications union districts and other government entities. Feasibility studies must propose a new broadband system with minimum speeds that meet current FCC broadband requirements. If a study shows a project could generate revenue in three years, the PSD will request an actionable business plan. Studies must conclude within six months of the grant.
Six months after legislators changed the law and now allow utilities to offer broadband in Mississippi, more power companies plan to do just that. Earlier this week, BBWN reported the Tombigbee Electric Power Association (EPA) unanimously voted to provide this service. Likewise, Tallahatchie Valley EPA announced it would do so a day earlier and now Prentiss County EPA Manager Ronny Rowland and Commissioner Brandon Presley confirmed to the Daily Journal it too will begin offering broadband to members -- indeed, it's already ordered fiber, they said. On Aug. 13, Alcorn County EPA members voted 904 to 0 to amend their charter to add the ability to offer Internet, Presley told the Daily Journal.
Broadband shone a ray of sunshine in an otherwise overcast earnings half-year 2019 for Swisscom. Fixed-line customer base, revenue and income grew: Swisscom's Italian broadband business Fastweb reported revenue growth of €38 million ($42.3 million), an increase of 3.8% year-on-year. In local currency, Fastweb's EBITDA grew 6.6% for the first six months of 2019 vs. the comparable year-ago period. Swisscom connects 68% of Swiss homes and offices via speeds of more than 80 Mbps; more than 40% of these premises connect at speeds of more than 200 Mbps, the operator said. By year-end 2021, Swisscom expects to provide ultra-fast broadband to all Swiss municipalities and 90% of all Swiss homes and offices, it said.
Quickline, a Swiss provider of Internet, TV and telco services, will use cloud-based AirTies Remote Manager for real-time visibility into residential WiFi performance. With the optimization tool, the operator will gain remote diagnostics and troubleshooting insight into connected devices and data consumption patterns it expects to use for analysis and proactive recommendations designed to cut truck rolls, enhance subscriber experience and reduce costs. Quickline customers also can purchase AirTies Mesh Extenders equipped with the vendor's WiFi software, which invisibly moves IoT and computing or communications devices like laptops and smartphones to the best available channel and band, based on current network conditions, the vendor said.
Password Sharing: Marketing vs. Stealing
During the 2015 Emmys, host Andy Samberg shared his log-on and password for HBO Now, a marketing ploy that benefited the service (and awards show). More typically, SVoD and pay-TV services look down on this practice.
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.
Here's where you can find episode links for 'The Divide,' Light Reading's podcast series featuring conversations with broadband providers and policymakers working to close the digital divide.
As we have for the past two years, Light Reading will present our Cable Next-Gen Europe conference as a free digital symposium on June 21.
Charter has sparked RDOF work in all 24 states where it won bids. The cable op booked about $19 million in RDOF revenues in Q1, and expects to have about $9 million per month come in over the next ten years.
As we have for the past two years, Light Reading will stage the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies conference as a free digital event over two half-days in mid-March.
Launch of 2-Gig and 5-Gig FTTP tiers in 70-plus markets puts more pressure on cable ops to enhance their existing DOCSIS 3.1 network or accelerate their upgrade activity centered on the new DOCSIS 4.0 specs.