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Verizon FiOS could be available soon on just about any connected TV

Verizon gave a press briefing this week, reported in several US papers and blogs, showing that it has advanced plans to bring VoD programming, though

By PETER WHITE

Published: 26 May, 2011

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Verizon gave a press briefing this week, reported in several US papers and blogs, showing that it has advanced plans to bring VoD programming, though not full TV channels, to connected TVs. The service was depicted as pre-launch with a lot of work to be done, but it was shown working on a Roku box – now no-one is going to develop an implementation on another device unless it plans to launch it.

We have continually said that MSOs such as Comcast already know that they have to go to market outside their footprint using OTT TV Everywhere services, and here we see Verizon practicing to do just the same. Already TV channels have been put out on tablets by both Time Warner Cable and Cablevision, with neither of them having pre-negotiated content rights for the service.

The key is that these are only experiments which deliver the service for consumption in the same homes where pay TV is being already delivered. By tying the service to existing broadband lines both TWC and Cablevision think they are breaking no copyright rules. And they probably aren’t, but it’s a great big warning sign to content businesses that unless they act fast, they will have the public consuming more of their content, for the same amount of money. They have all been in huddles ever since trying to work out new prices for content that can be delivered both inside and outside the footprints of the various pay TV operators.

We understand that Comcast has been working on adjusting its contracts for some years and is almost ready with TV channels that can go to tablets and connected TVs outside its cable footprint – but it hasn’t yet launched such a service. This looks like a similar experiment, but Roku is not limited to Verizon FiOS reach and this is the clearest indication yet that FiOS programming will soon be on TVs outside of the FiOS regions.

Verizon’s Senior VP product development, Shadman Zafar demonstrated its Flex View VoD service running on a Roku set top box and also discussed the issue openly, a move which would suddenly make content negotiations the last hurdle to overcome in a universal, US wide TV service delivered OTT, which would take it up against Netflix, Hulu Plus and others such as iTunes, Amazon Video and Vudu.

We get the impression that most of these moves are being prepared, just in case open OTT war breaks out. It’s a show of weapons so that investors don’t think they’ll be caught with their trousers down. But the more weapons on show we see, the more scared these companies will become of launching last – OTT right across the US, from all the major pay TV operators, is coming and coming soon. Verizon said that rollout dates and pricing still needs to be determined. Existing Verizon FiOS customers have been able to get Flex TV on PCs and smartphones since last year, but no-one has suggested before this briefing that it could go outside the FiOS footprint.

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