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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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Monday, May, 19 2014

With DirecTV deal, AT&T goes old-school

By: Stewart Schley Monday, May, 19 2014

AT&T’s big bet on old-school video delivery technology testifies to an inescapable reality of the telecommunications scene: pay-TV still rules.

 

At a time when everybody’s rushing to plant a stake in the online video delivery business, the $48.5 billion-plus-debt deal to buy DirecTV signals the enduring economic power of a tried-and-true formula: charging millions of people $100 per month for packages of TV channels.

 

The average monthly revenue per user (or ARPU) produced by DirecTV last year in the U.S. was just over $102. The large bulk of that money comes from subscription payments, although a small sliver reflects contributions from targeted advertising services and some specialized interactive stuff. 

 

Old-school pay TV is no longer considered a terribly sexy business in an era when online video seems all the rage and not a day goes by when somebody fails to write something either prescient or praising about Netflix Inc. or YouTube. The deal “sure seems backward-looking, as it completely misses the imperative of broadband and online video in all of our lives,” argues Will Richmond at VideoNuze. 

 

Cash rules

But there’s trendy, and then there’s cash. DirecTV generates slightly more than…

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