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A cable industry merger that’s (mostly) about scale

That's probably not the way Comcast would prefer to characterize its proposed combination with Time Warner Cable, but when the Economist speaks, we like to listen. Here's the magazine's take on "the season finale" of the U.S. cable industry, with an interesting closing quote from think-tanker Blair Levin: Comcast, he says, is “not the best at innovating, but I could argue that they are the best at scaling others’ innovations." 

Social TV: an idea in search of a reason to continue

GigaOm's Janko Roettgers takes an Emperor-wears-no-clothes look at the social TV category, which has withered away as consolidation and exhaustion deplete the remaining cast of independent players. Roettgers (rightly) castigates the early idea of check-in applications that "rewarded" users with digital stickers for watching TV shows, and points out the folly of auto-detection apps that recognized what was playing on TV. "It's like Shazam -- only it tells you something you already knew." Great piece here. 

Baseball, television and the end of the bundle

The Motley Fool's Eric Bleeker weighs in with a very well-researched and data-decorated think piece suggesting the pay TV bundle is fraying at the edges, with sports programming a big contributor to what may be an impending collapse. Here's a quote: "The paradox is that baseball's newfound riches come from lucrative new television contracts, yet the sport's popularity on television has actually been declining in recent years. How is that possible?"

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Thursday, February, 27 2014

Making a case for digital downloads

By: Stewart Schley Thursday, February, 27 2014

With a new digital movie delivery service, Disney and Apple this week joined the burgeoning movement to cloud storage and retrieval of media stuff. Similar to the Ultraviolet platform that Disney has shunned in favor of its own solution, the Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA) service lets users buy and watch movies on digital devices, in this case iPads, iPhones and iPods. It’s sort of a Disney-fied, miniature version of iTunes, and if you sign up you get Disney’s animated feature “The Incredibles” for free.

 

One of the appealing elements of DMA, Ultraviolet and other digital delivery platforms like Amazon Instant Video and Apple TV is a warm and comforting acquiescence to the cloud. Thanks to the pairing of mega-server arrays and fast broadband connections to them, we’re quickly becoming liberated from the do-it-yourself handiwork of the old days, when we had to manage the downloading of files to devices or personal storage systems.

 

This new migration skyward is apparent everywhere in personal media and in computing. From Apple’s iCloud for music to Dropbox for computer files to Amazon Instant Video for purchased movies, providers are leading us to the cloud to manage our stuff so that’s it’s ever-present and so that it’s available, as Disney’s new app attests, “anywhere.”

 

Except when it’s not.

 

Contrarian view
A contrarian view about cloud-streamed media springs from the idea that cloud-streaming systems are only as good as the Internet connection that tethers us to them. If that connection is poor, or if no connection is available, it’s like somebody has shut the door on our prized content collections. (If you’ve ever had to explain to a toddler why “The Land Before Time” is suddenly no…

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