NBC Secures Premier League Rights

Rob Harris, reporting for the Associated Press:

NBC's network will televise the English Premier League under a $250 million, three-year deal that begins next season.

The network will show every match from the world's most popular soccer league, taking coverage away from Fox and ESPN.

NBC's English-language networks will televise six live games a week. One or two of the company's other cable channels will be used along with NBC Sports Network, Lazarus said, but which ones have not been determined yet as schedules are evaluated. Other games will be streamed live online.

Combining NBC's announcement with the Boxee TV making its way to me in the very near future, the obstacles facing a full cable-cutting scenario in my house are depleting.

Honestly, now, the only lingering troublemaker is HBO — a company that has repeatedly expressed its unwillingness to open up a streaming-only option in the United States.

Nevertheless, despite HBO's disinterest in change, I find myself rather excited by the prospect of shedding a largely unused three figure bill each month.

"Sorry Cheapskates"

HBO GO

Dan Frommer:

This isn’t to say that HBO and Time Warner shouldn’t study or consider the idea of selling subscriptions direct to consumers. But do you really expect one of the biggest cable giants to lead the attack on cable — with no popular, promising alternatives?

This, of course, opens HBO to potential disruption by the likes of Netflix, YouTube, etc. And piracy, yes. So, studying the TV industry’s evolution and reacting when it’s time will be crucial for networks like HBO. (Many will inevitably react too slow, and will die. That’s why Netflix went nuts with that whole Qwikster thing, remember?) But Time Warner simply has too much invested into the cable industry — which is still very strong — to flip today.

At this point, it would still probably be more lucrative for HBO to squeeze a little more out of the Comcasts of the world than to lead the charge against them.

In many respects, I admire the candor of the TakeMyMoneyHBO campaign. Being relatively young, I certainly sympathize with those that are unwilling to spend the hundreds of dollars requisite for a competent cable package with HBO inclusion.

And yet, for all of the legitimacy of the cause, the opening statement on the TakeMyMoneyHBO site serves to profoundly undercut the credibility of the petition:

We pirate Game of Thrones, we use our friend’s HBOGO login to watch True Blood…

This juvenile attitude toward a truly impressive and powerful content creation network strikes me as utterly meaningless. Perhaps HBO should look into opening the doors to the broader public, but I doubt it will make such allowances based upon the whims of self-confessed pirates.

If you deem HBO to be worth your attention, then there is one legal manner to attain the content. If you want to legally watch such content, there is no reason in the world — aside from reticence to spend money — that any individual should not be able to have access to HBO. It would, indeed, be wonderful if content creators and providers would open their gates to novel new avenues for accessibility and revenue, but such is not the current state of the marketplace.

The market will, of course, move in that direction in due course, but it will not be for the adolescent cries of people on Twitter. Knocking on the door of a shop you admire and telling them you would stop robbing them if they allowed for an entirely new way to purchase their wares is not likely a path toward measured, polite discourse, but rather the inflammation of an already delicate situation.

HBO Go Arrives for Xbox 360 and Roku for Time Warner Cable Customers

Time Warner Cable

Jeff Simmermon for the official Time Warner Cable Untangled Blog:

And now, it thrills me to announce that Time Warner Cable customers can use the HBO Go app on the Roku, Xbox, and Samsung smart TVs. We’ve lit up access, though it may be a few hours as the commands propagate across servers nationwide.

Although I’ve traditionally been an outspoken opponent of the word “finally” in technology journalism, that’s just about all I have to say about this item of news.

"AT&T Plan Would Let App Makers Pay for Subscribers' Data Use"

Anton Troianovski for The Wall Street Journal:

AT&T Inc. is preparing a service that would let content providers and developers of mobile applications pay the wireless carrier for the mobile data its customers use, the carrier's network and technology head John Donovan said in an interview Monday.

Mr. Donovan likened the service to toll-free calling for the mobile-broadband world. The move comes as carriers are hunting for new ways to make money on the rising data traffic on their networks, while mindful of limits on what consumers are willing to spend.

If AT&T can persuade some data-heavy culprits (i.e., streaming video services) to get on board, this could be of enormous significance for the end-user. Although that's a rather steep challenge, it certainly seems possible. Unlimited use of Netflix on the go, for instance, would be quite a positive selling point for both Netflix and AT&T.

Having said that, for smaller up-start services, such consumer-benefitting costs will be impractical. Facilitating unlimited mobile use will become expected, but many will not be able to stomach the initial expense, thus harming their chances.

It is important to remember that the cost of data does not dissipate, AT&T would merely redistribute it. Rather than giving your money to AT&T for your service, it would just be charged by data-heavy services - particularly as this would increase their data costs. Furthermore, reliance upon such a system would likely give AT&T license to reduce data package size, thus harming the average smartphone user.

Although AT&T might frame this as innovation, such maneuvering is transparently self-serving. Evidently tired of having the customer blame them for high costs and decreasing data allowances, AT&T can place the blame elsewhere.

Knowing AT&T as we do, the potential for good in this model is somewhat woefully undercut by its obvious potential for bad.

Still, if this is the way the market is set to turn, it's interesting to consider how this might affect the mobile landscape in the coming years.

"Dear HBO"

M.G. Siegler:

If you could remove your lips from the cable company teet for a minute, you’d find hundreds of thousands — and likely millions — of customers happy to pay a premium for access to HBO Go without the cable requirement right now. That number is only going to grow. And fast.

Content is king, and you have the best content. If you do go cable-optional, a few of the cable companies may try to boycott you. But the ensuing customer relations shitstorm will only prove your value and will hasten the arrival of the post-cable world. You can lead this revolution.

Couldn't agree more.