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14 Feb

DirecTV Will Fight US Antitrust Suit Over The LA Dodgers Channel

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DirecTV executives recently said that they have refused to pay for the Time Warner Cable Inc’s Los Angeles Dodgers channel, as they have been “burned” before, overpaying to air Lakers games, and not because they are conspiring with others to get advantage on competitors.

That is the defense DirecTV, the biggest satellite TV provider of the Unites States, will use while asking a judge to throw away a Department of Justice lawsuit, which accuses DirecTV of joining hands with competitors in 2014 to get an edge over TWC in the licensing negotiations.

As per the government, DirecTV was the leader of a conspiracy among the distributors in Los Angeles area, which left almost 70% of the pay TV users in the second largest media market of the US without access to the Dodgers games in 2014. This happened two years before Charter Communications acquired Time Warner Cable. The deal made it the Los Angeles provider of Dodger games and as a result of the deal, thousands of fans of the games still do not have access to the live broadcast of the games, the Justice Department said.

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LA Dodgers Channel

Charter Communications said in a statement that they do not expect any other pay TV provider to offer SportsNet LA by opening day of baseball season. DirecTV provided a gentler explanation for why no LA pay TV distributor picked up the channel of the local Major League Baseball franchise. “TWC’s exorbitant prices and bargaining intransigence.” DirecTV had paid a premium to carry TWC’s Lakers channel only to see the NBA team’s ratings and performance tank and after that, they resolved not to commit the same mistake with the Dodgers channel.

The case is in Los Angeles federal court and it is playing out a delicate time for AT&T, as they are trying in Washington to acquire permissions to buy Time Warner. President Trump voiced opposition to the deal earlier during his campaign and after taking the President’s office, Trump is said to have told people privately that he still opposes the move.

The dueling narratives on the channel will be debated at hearing that is set for March 13, 2017. In the hearing, a judge will decide whether the lawsuit should be permitted to proceed.

09 Feb

AT&T Extends NetBond Service To Offer Secure IoT Connections

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AT&T NetBond Service

The surge in internet usage is the thing that made IoT happen, offering a common protocol to take place of the separate and specialized networks. However, the public internet may not always be the best path between the cloud and a connected device. Businesses can now connect their mobile IoT devices to the back end systems, making use of the NetBond, which is a private network service that is offered by AT&T, instead of the internet.

NetBond sets up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) from a remote device to the cloud. The service is capable of connecting to sixteen different public clouds, which includes Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, or any other hybrid cloud. AT&T announced NetBond for IoT in an event that was meant to showcase the benefits of the software defined network of AT&T. About one-third of the infrastructure of AT&T is virtualized now and more than half will be virtualized by the end of the year, says AT&T.

AT&T has combined NetBond with their Control Center IoT services platform, which is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform that helps to manage connected devices. Control Center is based on the IoT provisioning and management technology that is offered by Jasper technologies, which was acquired by Cisco last year. AT&T said that about six hundred customers of AT&T are currently using Control Center.

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IoT Connections

NetBond service from AT&T shields IoT traffic from the common internet threats like the DDoS attacks and offers a portal to control things like latency and bandwidth on links that are made between the remote device and the cloud. NetBond is designed to make IoT connections meet the requirements of different applications in areas like healthcare, manufacturing and city infrastructure.

GlobalData analyst Peter Jarich says that the NetBond offering plays into the various concerns that many businesses have about the IoT. Surveys conducted by GlobalData proves that many of the enterprises hold back from using IoT due to the worries about security and some get even more concerned after using it. NetBond for IoT works well with devices that are on the AT&T network in the US and their partner carrier systems in countries other than US, as NetBond is available across the globe.

23 Jan

KTXS, ABC38, MeTV Channels Blacked Out On Dish Network

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Dish Network Subscribers

Dish Network users in the Abilene area will lose access to KTXS, MeTV, and ABC38 programming soon. Reports say that the parent company of these stations, Bonten Media Group, blacked out the local channels from Dish Network in Abilene and seven other markets due to their contract expiration.

David Caldwell, who is the vice president and general manager of KTXS, said that they would eventually reach an agreement with Dish Network. He also added that both the companies renegotiate the agreements every three years. As per the agreements, cable and satellite companies can transmit the KTXS signal to their subscribers, for which, they need to pay KTXS an agreed charge for the right to transmit their signals. This price is the point of contention.

As per the news release from KTXS, they asked Dish Network for a part of the fee that they charge the customers to help KTXS pay for the local network, news, and other programs that they provide. However, Dish Network executives said that Bonten Media Group made use of channel blackout in order to “gain leverage” on the deal.

According to a news release from Dish, the broadcaster seeks “above-market rate increases nearly double the current Dish rate.” Yet again, Bonten representative told that they are asking Dish for compensation like what other satellite and cable companies offer.

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Bonten Media Group

“Bonten chose to turn its back on its public interest obligations and use innocent customers as bargaining chips” with Dish willing to grant an extension – said Warren Schlichting, Dish programming executive vice president.

Dish Network offered Bonten a short-term extension on the contract. The extension would allow users of Dish Network to access Bonten stations while the negotiations continue. Both Bonten media and Dish Network are working to resolve the issues, but this interruption of service can be long term if an agreement is not reached between Dish Network and Bonten media.

“We are actively working to negotiate an agreement that promptly returns this content to Dish’s programming lineup,” Schlicting said. The action of Bonten Media Group has affected the Dish Network subscribers in eight markets, but the users can still access the stations over the air making use of an antenna.

04 Jan

ESPN Rolls Out Their App On DirecTV Set Top Boxes

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DirecTV Users

ESPN recently announced that they have begun the national rollout of their app on DirecTV set top boxes. This app lets users to switch between ESPN live and On-Demand videos on television making use of a hybrid interface. This is the first time that ESPN has offered an app like service, which combines both streaming and linear content on set top boxes.

“In today’s dynamic media landscape, simplicity is key,” said Sean Breen, who is the senior VP of affiliate sales, Disney & ESPN Media Networks. “This hybrid experience seamlessly blends what customers traditionally get from a set top box with the features and content of standalone streaming devices.”

“We’re fortunate to have long-standing relationships with collaborators like AT&T/DirecTV that work with us to offer more choice and flexibility to customers for a video experience that fits their needs – whether that’s streaming only or through a traditional pay TV subscription that now delivers the best of both worlds,” Breen added.

DirecTV users with set top boxes that are broadband enabled will be able to stream many live events from SEC Network+, ESPN3, and ACC Network Extra. Highlights from ESPN.com and short-form On-Demand clips will also be available to the users. It is reported that the set top box will be authenticated automatically for the online content, meaning that the users will not have to log in to access the contents.

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DirecTV Set Top Boxes

“ESPN’s technology team worked closely with DIRECTV to develop a next-generation content experience for customers through their set top box,” said Mike Andrews, ESPN VP, media engineering. “Fans want to turn on their television and watch great sports content with as little friction as possible.”

“With the ESPN App on the DIRECTV box, they get exactly that – a dynamic user interface, seamless automatic subscriber recognition and all of ESPN’s networks and streaming content presented in one place, all without the need to change television inputs or log in,” Andrews added.

As of now, the app is available to DirecTV users in Alabama, North Carolina, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Ohio. However, officials from ESPN said that the service would be expanded to the other states through early 2017. Upon availability during the rollout, DirecTV users will get an automatic firmware update that will offer access to the latest ESPN app.

22 Dec

AT&T’s Latest Chatbot Will Improve Your Binge Watching Experience

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AT&T’s Latest Chatbot

If you like to binge watch TV programs, then you will be probably doing it alone. Some people may enjoy this solitude, but for some, this will eventually get boring and they might even stop watching the TV series or movie that they love. However, having a watching companion to share jokes and to discuss about the plot twists will certainly bring a much more better viewing experience.

The recently launched chatbot from AT&T, named Atticus, is “built to talk entertainment.” You can consider Atticus as you perfect girlfriend or boyfriend. In a recent statement, AT&T said that, “If he [Atticus] had any more entertainment knowledge, he would have his own show. He’s here to test your knowledge and share fun facts about your favorite shows, from Scandal to Kingdom to The Big Bang Theory. Truthfully, it’s hard to believe he’s not real.”

However, AT&T subscribers should initially have a messenger installed either on their mobile devices or on their personal computer in order to test run AT&T’s latest digital friend; and it is only the necessary requirement. After completing the installation process, customers can chat with Atticus just as they chat with their Facebook friends.

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Chat With Atticus

Atticus is very useful for those viewers, who love to watch movies and television series a lot, as the chatbot provides you with fun facts about your favorite television shows that are currently being aired on TV as well as those that were aired years ago. Atticus offers you fun facts about popular television series such as American History, The Office, Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Pretty Little Liars, etc.

In addition to that, Atticus also keeps you entertained throughout the TV show. A chatbot, which gives you company throughout a day of binge-watching, is undoubtedly an excellent idea. This latest feature from AT&T has already become widely popular among many customers and they have shared that using Atticus significantly increased their TV watching experience.

In his own words defining himself, Atticus said, “If the Dunphy family is looking for another kid, I’d be happy to join them. I’d be no trouble. Especially since I don’t physically exist. We’d be a real Modern Family.” Modern Family is actually a television sitcom featuring Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ariel Winter, and Sarah Hyland.

20 Dec

T-Mobile Offers Free DirecTV Now Deal

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T-Mobile One Plan

T-Mobile has been releasing many interesting deals for their users. However, experts say that T-Mobile has been rolling out offers that are never what they seem. Their free iPhone 7 and great discounts on the Pixel Android phones are a few examples. And now, they have made a new announcement.

T-Mobile has just announced their plans to win AT&T customers by offering them a free year of DirecTV Now subscription. Many experts in the field say that the DirecTV Now service is weaker than the other similar streaming services in the market though, as DirecTV Now service offers only limited content, does not have any option to record the programs, and has many technical glitches.

Moreover, the content streamed in the DirecTV Now service is limited to 480p quality. This resolution might be enough when you stream on a smartphone or a tablet, but it will not be enough when you stream media on a large monitor or television screen. The video will be blurred on large size displays owing to the low resolution.

The advantage of the service is that streamed DirecTV content will not be eating into the monthly data allotments of the new T-Mobile subscribers. If you are thinking on switching to T-Mobile, then with the new deal, this is the best time to do so. The network of T-Mobile is solid, especially in the major metro areas, and their services are generally cheaper than those offered by AT&T.

T-Mobile’s DirecTV Now Offer

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DirecTV Now Offer

To get the DirecTV Now offer from T-Mobile, you need to be an AT&T subscriber, should port your existing phone number to T-Mobile, and sign up for a T-Mobile One plan for at least two different lines. The DirecTV Now plan that is included free as part of the T-Mobile offer is worth thirty-five dollars a month. The users will get this as a credit on 12 bills totaling to 420 dollars.

T-Mobile users will be getting the lowest tier of DirecTV Now service, Live a Little pack, which includes 60 channels. If you are an AT&T user, DirecTV Now will cost you thirty-five dollars a month for the base package and you can watch as much as programming as you wish on mobile devices without counting against your data cap.

12 Dec

DirecTV Now Prices Likely To Go Up

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DirecTV Now Pricing

AT&T released their DirecTV Now service recently and they are offering the new 100 channel bundle for just thirty five dollars a month. Experts say that this price will go up to sixty dollars per month in the near future, but the early subscribers of the bundle will be locked in for the thirty dollars pricing deal. Some say that the catch here is that AT&T has the rights to make adjustments in pricing as needed when the content expenses go up.

AT&T seems to be interested in offering a complete bundle and their current strategy could leave the price conscious users looking around for other options. Some of the other streaming services follow a different approach in pricing and this could make their packages more enticing to the users who are looking to spend less. It should be noted that Sling TV from Dish and PlayStation Vue from Sony have made efforts to keep the subscription charges low by working with the different media companies to make changes in what is offered and the charges.

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DirecTV Now Subscribers

The cost estimates for DirecTV Now by analysts indicate that it will be almost impossible for AT&T to make profits on their standard thirty-five dollars per month pack of sixty channels. Analyst Craig Moffett says that the programming cost for the base package is thirty dollars per month. This, together with the subscriber acquisition costs, processing fee of the credit card, and the streaming costs, will give only negative margins to AT&T.

Experts also say that AT&T will not be able to drop some of the channels from their low priced packages. Dropping channels would risk the customer base and would likely break contracts made with the various media companies. Many networks like ESPN from Disney have pushed to include their channels in to lowest tier of pay-TV bundles to control the loss of subscribers. If AT&T wishes to keep the prices low and make more profit, then they will need to drop a whole list of channels.

During their press conference, an AT&T spokesperson said that the DirecTV Now service targets the 20 million Americans who are not part of any of the pay TV services. These are people who do not have credit scores to qualify for any pay TV subscription plan, live in buildings where U-Verse or DirecTV does not serve, or make changes to their living conditions and situations too often for long term contracts to work. DirecTV Now looks to serve those who look for cheap television options, and want cable, but cannot get one.

08 Dec

AT&T Thrilled With The Early Demand For DirecTV Now

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Demand For DirecTV Now

AT&T launched their latest streaming service, DirecTV Now, a few days ago. The major telecom company had earlier promised that the new streaming platform would deliver contents without any lags or technical errors. However, customers experienced a few technical errors during the launch of DirecTV Now and it raised concerns among certain analysts and subscribers. Nevertheless, AT&T recently stated that they are thrilled and happy due to the initial interest shown by subscribers towards DirecTV Now.

In a recent conference, AT&T’s CEO and president, Randall Stephenson, said that, “The early demand has been rather dramatic we’ve been pleased with it.” He also added that the CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group, John Stankey, informed him that the company has already met their target for December subscribers on the launching day of DirecTV Now.

He said that the demand is “exceeding expectations”, particularly in the apartment buildings. In addition to that, Stephenson also stated that he was highly pleased with the addition of Cinemax and HBO, which will be available to the subscribers at an additional price of $5 a month.

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DirecTV Now Service

Stephenson added that AT&T is “perfectly content” with “lower, thinner margins.” He said, “Early on, I do expect the margins to be fairly thin.” AT&T officials have also claimed that approximately half of DirecTV subscribers will stream a few of their content by the end of this year.

“The advertising opportunity here we think is rather significant,” Stephenson said. He continued by stating that one of the top priorities of the company next year is to “really begin to scale those advertising models” for DirecTV Now. Reports say that the company is also hoping to pair their offerings such as wireless and DirecTV or broadband and wireless.

Stephen added that when this happens, “churn goes down precipitously” referring to the customers, who do not review their services. “We have high expectations for churn reduction in this environment,” Stephenson said. He also added that the latest streaming platform is “a 5G service being launched on a 4G network.”

Stephenson hopes that the launch of these new products will boost the efforts to bring 5G, but he refused to shed more light on AT&T’s merger with Time Warner during the conference. “We do not compete. This is a classic vertical merger,” AT&T CEO commented.

30 Nov

Cloud DVR From Sling TV Won’t Record Disney, ABC, Or ESPN Channels

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Cloud DVR

Dish Network has now announced a network DVR beta testing for the subscribers of Sling TV. As per the reports, the DVR offers up to hundred hours of storage. However, the DVR feature of Sling TV will not be available for ESPN or ABC channels, as the Disney owned networks distribution agreement for Sling TV does not allow recording the programming in the internet television service. The cloud DVR beta program will be available first to subscribers using Roku TVs and Roku streaming players starting from December 2016.

The DVR will be available at no extra charges to users with either the multi-stream Sling Blue package or single-stream Sling Orange package. “Unlike other OTT services, we’re delivering a true cloud DVR with no 28-day restriction on your recordings, marking another win for Sling TV and our customers,” Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch said. “Two years ago we became the first live OTT provider, and we continue to innovate and bring the best experience to our customers.”

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DVR Beta Testing

Analysts say that the “28-day restriction on recordings” is a reference to the PlayStation Vue service from Sony, which saves the recorded shows for just 28 days after airing. In addition to the cloud DVR, Sling TV has also launched a new promotion offering the subscribers a free Roku Streaming Stick, when they sign up for a month of service. This move from Dish to make Sling TV subscribers happy, as OTT services will face some new competitors soon.

These include DirecTV Now service that will be released on Nov 30, and the service from Hulu that is to be released early 2017. It is also expected that Google will launch a YouTube-branded “skinny bundle” soon.

The cloud DVR feature on Sling will allow users to record more than one program at the same time without any issues in recording. The DVR will manage the space automatically to make room for the new recordings by removing the oldest recordings when the capacity is full.

The recordings of the DVR will be integrated directly to the “My TV” screen of Sling TV. Dish Network will continue to develop the cloud DVR throughout the test phase. The development of the DVR will be based on the feedback of the customers and usage behavior.

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