Remember when catching up on a TV show required numerous trips to Blockbuster in a single weekend? Us neither. For years we’ve been mainlining our television shows entire seasons at a time, thanks to the glories of video streaming. How else would anyone have made it through the dismal nadir of season three of “Lost”? What do you think got Americans addicted to “Downton Abbey”?
So when I sat down to watch the first episode of “House of Cards” on Saturday, as a way of killing laundry time, I didn’t expect I’d stretch the show out over the next 13 weeks, like I was watching “Dallas” circa 1982. But I also wasn’t planning to find myself awake at 2 a.m. last night, polishing off the last episode and frantically googling “house of cards season 2 please oh please tell me it’s coming soon.”
When last we checked in on creepy technologies that wholly encroach on your sense of personal privacy, Microsoft had registered a patent that would allow the Kinect to detect how many people are in a room and stop playback on a movie if it sensed more people than the copyright allowed. But a new patent filed by Verizon takes that concept a step further by allowing a set-top box to observe what’s going on in your house and serve you ads based on what it hears.
Internet Wants to Be Free
When not pissing off the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Time Warner Cable execs apparently take to their evil lair to devise new schemes to wring every last penny out of their hapless customers. The latest pocket gouger? A monthly modem fee.
The New York Times reports that Time Warner is planning to charge a monthly fee of $3.95 to rent a modem from them. If you want to avoid paying the monthly fee, you can purchase a Time Warner-approved modem for $50-$137. Time Warner will then promise to set the modem up during the Harvest Moon but then not show up until the spring thaw.
Cable the Final Frontier
Stars, they’re just like us! When confronted with the monumental annoyance of having to install Time Warner cable in their apartment, they, too, resort to nihilistic thinking. Thus is the case with Sir Patrick Stewart, famed Shakespearean actor and Star Trek star, who recently moved to Park Slope.
We assume he doesn’t live in a building equipped with Verizon Fios, because the actor has signed up for that dreaded, monstrous monopoly Time Warner Cable, notorious for having fewer stars on Yelp than cannibal murderer Jeffrey Dahmer.
Law and Order
Looks like even big money and a mob-like grip can’t keep one New York startup down. A cluster of broadcast companies filed an injunction against online TV startup Aereo back in May, claiming that its very existence threatened their big, bad business.
Today, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan threw out the injunction, siding with Aereo’s argument that its business would also be harmed if the injunction went through.
According to Reuters, “Nathan concluded that the so-called ‘balance of hardships’ did not tip ‘decidedly’ in the broadcasters’ favor.”
Hey, look: The cable companies all went in together to get something nice for you. The Wall Street Journal reports that Comcast, Time Warner, Cable Vision, Bright House, and Cox are banding together and opening their Wifi hotspots to each other’s customers. That means more than 50,000 hotspots around New York, Los Angeles, Tampa, Orlando and Philadelphia. Nor will users have to remember umpteen different brand names; providers will now take the marvelously generic ”CableWiFi” as their network name.
A magical thing happened at IAC’s headquarters this morning. A startup called Aereo displayed the most compelling argument for cord-cutting we’ve heard in awhile. It came in the form of a thumbnail-sized HD antenna. Sign up with Aereo and users get the right to license their own antenna, which are stored in a local warehouse. Then, log on via any web-enabled device (smartphones, iPads, even AppleTV) and ta-da, members can access major networks like CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC, CW, and PBS, as well as other local channels. Better yet, you also have the ability store up to 40 hours of programming on their remote DVR.
“No cords or cable required,” the company’s press release says pointedly. The service is limited to New York City right now, but only costs $12 a month. Throw in a Netflix account, Hulu, and you’re probably good to go. Happy Valentine’s Day, Dying Cable Industry!
Aereo (formerly called Bamboom Labs) also anounced a $20.5 million series A round led by IAC.
The Third Degree
About a week ago, a GigaOm writer Janko Roettgers stumbled across something big: an integration that would allow anyone who owns a Boxee Box to watch live broadcast TV over the device without having to switch back-and-forth between inputs.
Now, Boxee is finally prepared to speak about the feature. In January, the company will start selling a USB dongle that transforms the antenna on the Boxee Box into a tuner to capture free over-the-air HD TV signals from channels like ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. The dongle is a one-time cost of $49 and the company is currently taking pre-orders.
So that’s a little more expensive than your typical digital converter box, which also lets you get free live broadcast TV. But you get some special social juice with Boxee, plus everything in one unit with one remote control.
Betabeat spoke to Boxee founder and CEO Avner Ronen yesterday about why he thinks this could be a tipping point in getting consumers to cut–or at least shave–the cord.
In the parlance of the data-center crowd, 111 Eighth Avenue is New York’s premier “CoHo”, or “Carrier Hotel”.
The building’s enormous size and position directly over an important fiber optic line make it one of the “world’s choicest pieces of Internet real estate.”
Wall Street caught on to this early, moving electronic trading units in Read More