Don't expect the announcement of Cablevision's Freewheel Wi-Fi-only phone service to spin Randall Stephenson into reenacting the bunker scene from Downfall when AT&T delivers its fourth-quarter earnings report Tuesday afternoon. Freewheel is not a threat of any kind to the incumbent wireless industry.
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Monday's Dish Network press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show was as jarring as a ride across the outback in a pouch. It started off with CEO Joseph Clayton being escorted onto the Mandalay Bay stage by a small marching band of kangaroo-costumed players, a reference to the Hopper DVR the executive would soon laud.
It has been hard to observe all the 4K/Ultra HD hype at CES the last few years without a healthy dose of cynicism. With a multiscreen revolution going on outside, the touting of the television industry's next great resolution standard felt a little tone-deaf. Who is worrying about screen resolution at a time when we don't really know what the primary screen is anymore?
As anyone involved in the launch of HD a decade ago can tell you, getting a new resolution standard into the consumer mainstream isn't easy. And once again, we are embarking on an epic resolution upgrade quest, with the industry in the early stages of adopting 4K/Ultra HD. As consumed as we are with mega-mergers and OTT disruption, we all have to wrap our heads around 4K, because it's really happening.
It is now imperative for pay-TV operators to offer their customers slick user interfaces that intuitively help them search and surface programming among a vast selection of content choices that is becoming increasingly atomized.
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As he aggressively dragged a program licensing dispute into Dish Network's third-quarter earnings report Tuesday, I had to chuckle a bit at this particular Charlie Ergen barb: Choosing to permanently ditch Turner Networks' channels, he said it "would be a little bit tougher if their original programming was a success like AMC."
Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia Conference in New York on Sept. 10, CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves made it very clear. "We the networks should not be penalized because you the station do not negotiate retrans properly," he said.
The lightning-quick emergence of cable's carrier-grade Wi-Fi business is well timed, given the ongoing degradation of the business that built the cable industry, video services. Analysts predict cable Wi-Fi will grow, in about three years time, to become the primary mobile network, ahead of cellular. But what will the economics of these networks look like?