2011 Year in Review: Cable goes gaga for mobile

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Steve Donohue, FierceCableWith tablet computers such as Apple's iPad and Motorola Mobility's Xoom flooding the exhibit floor this year at The Cable Show and SCTE Cable-Tec Expo conventions, you didn't have to look far to see how the cable industry has become enamored with the potential of mobile devices. Operators are looking to tablets and mobile phones not only as a new distribution outlet for programming and advertising, but they are relying on mobile devices to help subscribers navigate thousands of hours of live TV and video-on-demand programming.

In this year-in-review edition, we take a look at the biggest trends of the year, including gateway devices that could replace DVRs and allow operators to deliver both digital video and Web-based applications to subscribers. In addition to mobile devices, programmers are using connected TVs and advanced set-tops such as Microsoft's Xbox 360 to deliver content.

Debate over cable cord-cutting was one of the hottest topics of the year. Cable and satellite dismissed the trend, but began to test lower-priced programming packages as online video providers such as Netflix and over-the-top video set-top providers like Boxee, Apple TV and Roku courted pay TV customers. Battles between programmers and distributors continued to dominate headlines, and with several distributors poised to lose the signals from local broadcasters when their contracts expire on Dec. 31, 2012 is likely to begin with a lively debate in Washington on the merits of retransmission-consent rules.

FierceCable will take a holiday next week, as we gear up for another wild year covering the pay TV business. Your next issue will arrive on Tuesday, Jan. 3. Have a great holiday. --Steve