RCN Launches HBO Go on TiVo Devices

RCN Launches HBO Go on TiVo Devices

RCN said it’s among the first cable operators to provide access to the authenticated HBO Go app on set-tops/DVRs powered by TiVo.

RCN said it is supporting HBO’s TV Everywhere offering on TiVo boxes it has deployed to customers in Chicago; New York; Boston; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley, Pa., eliminating the need for subs to access HBO Go on other types of TV-connected devices.

RCN noted that HBO Go content is integrated into the TiVo Search and OnePass platforms.

TiVo announced this week that it has begun to offer HBO Go on its TiVo Bolt, Roamio and Premiere retail product line, and that it would also extend support for the app on select TiVo devices that are distributed by its MVPD partners. Other TiVo U.S. MVPD partners include Buckeye CableSystem, Atlantic Broadband, Midco, Armstrong, GCI, Grande Communications, Suddenlink Communications (now part of Altice Group), and Mediacom Communications, among others.

“Watching popular content from the HBO GO app just became a lot more convenient,” said Chris Fenger, RCN’s COO, in a statement. “Our customers can now easily enjoy all HBO GO programming from either the big screen in their living room or on mobile devices – anytime, anywhere.”

”RCN remains at the forefront of innovation in the cable TV industry, and we are very excited to partner with them to provide their users with easier access to HBO GO and our incredible line up of programming,” added Joseph Bahr, VP, worldwide digital distribution & business development for HBO.

“TiVo is proud to continue to enhance the entertainment experience for RCN customers by establishing content partnerships that further their access to top-quality programming,” said Tara Maitra, SVP, GM of content and media sales for TiVo. “By partnering with HBO to offer the HBO GO app, TiVo is enabling their operator partners to provide premium content to their customer base in a single set-top box.”

TCM Movie Series to Present Films ‘Condemned’ by Catholic Church

TCM Movie Series to Present Films 'Condemned' by Catholic ChurchThe Catholic Legion of Decency took a dim view of Billy Wilder’s “Kiss Me, Stupid,” starring Dean Martin and Kim Novak, on tap for TCM’s “Condemned” programming stunt.

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will present in March a month-long programming event focusing on films found objectionable by the Catholic Legion of Decency.

The event, Condemned, will air consecutive Thursdays beginning in March and will focus on 27 films that the Catholic Legion of Decency said had inappropriate content, mostly of a sexual nature, as perceived by the Catholic Church, according to TCM.

The series will include primetime screenings hosted by Sister Rose Pacatte, member of The Daughters of St. Paul, founding director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies and celebrated film reviewer.

Key films featured as part of Condemned include Baby Face (1933), And God Created Woman (1956), Kiss Me, Stupid (1964), and The Carey Treatment (1972), said the network.

“We’re always looking for creative ways to explore film history through various viewpoints and this month-long programming slate provides fans with a different perspective in order to view these films through a new lens,” said Charles Tabesh, senior vice president of programming for TCM.

Cox Dousing ‘Flare’ Product Line

Cox Dousing ‘Flare’ Product LineCox began to market a subscription gaming service, called flarePlay, in early 2015

Unable to turn them into sustainable businesses, Cox Communications said it has opted to shut down its remaining “Flare”-branded services – myFlare (cloud storage), FlarePlay (an OTT subscription gaming service), and FlareKids (a curated Web video offering tailored for youngsters).

Those efforts, aimed at helping consumers discovery and consume digital entertainment, “attracted more than 300,000 users,” Cox said in a statement. “However, as market conditions within which these services continued to harden, we were unable to monetize the user interest and web traffic to the level we needed to sustain the business. As a result, we’ve made the decision to shut down all Flare products and will begin to notify customers today.”

Cox said it will endeavor to make it a smooth transition, noting that it will start to shut down those Flare-branded services next week, with Flare services expected to be turned down by mid-May.

Word of those shut-downs followed Cox’s decision not to launch MeTV, an aggregated OTT video service (originally called Flare MeTV) that was being designed to appeal to millennial audiences, and come on the heels of other services such as go90 from Verizon, and Watchable from Comcast. Notably, Cox is preparing for a national launch of a next-gen video service that’s based on Comcast’s X1 platform, which Comcast is using today to deliver Watchable OTT videos to the set-top.

Cox had also kicked the tires on an IPTV service in Orange County targeted at cord-cutters called flareWatch, but shut down that brief trial in the fall of 2013.

Cox said it will remain open to exploring a diverse array of new businesses, particularly those that rely on or work with its broadband platform.

“The nature of our new growth organization is to explore and aggressively pursue new ideas, products and businesses and then quickly adjust as needed,” Cox added. “While we have successfully incubated several new businesses (e.g., Cox Homelife, Cox Business Security and Surveillance, Cox Tech Solutions, and our initial foray into remote health management with the acquisition of Trapollo), the ability to fail fast is the other side of an effective innovation process.”

Fox Sports Gears Up for VR, 360 Video

Fox Sports Gears Up for VR, 360 Video

Fox Sports is revving up virtual reality-facing initiatives at Sunday’s Daytona 500.

The network said Toyota has hopped on board to sponsor a set of VR elements for the race in partnership with Next VR, including a “broadcast-quality” live VR feed of the Daytona 500, which gets underway Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. That broadcast will be available for free via the NextVR portal. Additionally, Samsung Gear VR owners can access it by downloading the NextVR app on any Gear VR-compatible smartphone.

RELATED: Fox Sports Goes Full Throttle To Drive Viewers To ‘Daytona Day’

Fox Sports, which just announced a new, five-year deal with NextVR, said it also plans to operate VR cameras situated on the track wall inside the “robo-cage,” within a pit stall, and as part of pre-recorded features from the garage, team hauler and television broadcast truck.

Coverage also includes multiple closed-circuit VR streams from the speedway on Friday and Saturday, and a VR kiosk manned by Fox Sports and NextVR personnel at the Toyota Fan Injector stadium entrance area.

Fox’s Lab will also capture 360-degree video from a camera embedded in the No. 78 Furniture Row Toyota team of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Martin Turex Jr., which will be shared across multiple Fox Sports platforms.

“Virtual reality is the next great frontier in storytelling and we are thrilled that Toyota is working with us to bring this experience to race fans,” Eric Shanks, Fox Sports president, COO & executive producer, said in a statement.

Elsewhere on Daytona 500’s tech front, Arris said it will provide carrier-class WiFi to most popular fan locations at the speedway’s new motorsports stadium.

Daytona International Speedway, Arris said, is the first NASCAR racetrack to feature carrier-class WiFi. Arris’s platform at DIS will use the Aptilo Service Management Platform, Benu Networks Mobile Edge Gateway, Ruckus ZoneFlex access points and virtual SmartZone WLAN controller, and Skyline Communications Dataminer OSS platform.

Spike, Nick Set ‘Lip Sync Battle Jr.’

Spike, Nick Set ‘Lip Sync Battle Jr.’Spike’s “Lip Sync Battle” is becoming a franchise. (Pictured: Channing Tatum)

Spike TV will team with sister Viacom service Nickelodeon to produce a kids-themed spinoff of Spike’s popular Lip Sync Battle series, the networks announced Monday.

The special, Lip Sync Battle Jr., will offer a “fresh take” on Spike’s star-studded series and will celebrate kids’ love of music and comedy. While it will feature lip syncing battles made famous by its parent series, it’s unclear whether the special will feature celebrity-kids battling against each other.

In addition, other Viacom brands will develop special editions of Lip Sync Battle events, but Spike would not reveal specifics.

Lip Sync Battle is currently averaging more than 4 million viewers (Nielsen Live+7).

Spike Orders Pilot For Stephen King’s ‘The Mist’

Spike Orders Pilot For Stephen King’s ‘The Mist’

Spike TV has teamed with Dimension Television to develop a pilot for a suspense series based on a Stephen King novella, the network said Wednesday.

The series, The Mist, follows the exploits of a small town infected by a seemingly innocuous mist, according to network officials. Christian Torpe will serve as the executive producer for the series.

“We are thrilled to join forces with the incredibly creative Christian Torpe and Dimension Films to develop Stephen King’s enthralling novella to a compelling series unlike anything else on television,” said Sharon Levy, Executive Vice President, Original Series, Spike.

ESPN Aboard New FiOS Skinny Tier

ESPN Aboard New FiOS Skinny Tier

FiOS TV, which shook up the pay TV universe last year with the introduction of Custom TV, a skinny bundle without sports juggernaut ESPN, has revamped that offering, introducing a new Custom TV package – Sports & More – that includes the Worldwide Sports Leader for the same price.

Custom TV subscribers still have the option of selecting a sports-free package — which FiOS is calling Custom TV Essentials. The difference is now they also have the choice of selecting an option that includes sports channels — Custom TV Sports & More — for the same monthly price.

ESPN had chafed at being left out of the original Custom TV package, and even went as far as suing Verizon over breach of contract, but that suit never seemed to move forward.

But dropping ESPN from Custom TV seemed to fuel speculation that the once must-have cable network was losing steam, which was exacerbated by Nielsen data that showed the channel had lost about 3 million subscribers in 2015.

Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger hinted that ESPN had worked out a deal with Verizon on the media giant’s fiscal first quarter conference call, adding that the sports channel was in talks with several skinny bundle and OTT service providers. While Iger and other content and distribution CEOs have pointed out that fatter bundles still appear to be the most popular with viewers, ESPN seemed pleased with its addition to the Custom TV tier.

“We are encouraged by the changes that Verizon has made to Custom TV,” ESPN said in a statement. “We expect the vast majority of Verizon subscribers to continue to get ESPN as part of their Extreme HD or Preferred HD package and we welcome the opportunity for additional subscribers to enjoy ESPN and ESPN2 as part of the new entry-level Custom TV offering.”

After all the hype, Verizon said it will introduce new Custom TV bundles this Sunday (Feb. 21) aimed at appealing to a broader range of customers, adding that the new packages are designed with the same goal as the original: “to give customers the flexibility and choice to only pay for the types of channels they want and not the ones they don’t.”

The new plans are:

Custom TV – Essentials: Including about 75 channels such as Discovery Channel, Lifetime, History, Bravo, Fox News, Nickelodeon, MSNBC, CNN, Hallmark Channel, FX, Food Network, Disney Channel, MTV, Spike, USA and Turner Classic Movies.

Custom TV – Sports & More: All the regional sports channels in the customer’s service area, as well as about 55 channels such as ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox Sports 1, NBC Sports Network, the NFL Network, and non-sports channels including Cartoon Network, CNBC, Syfy and TNT.

After choosing their plan, customers can enhance their channel lineup by selecting up to three additional, genre-based add-on packs for only $6 each – Movie Lovers Pack, Kids Teens & Family Pack, and the Global Sports Pack.

Custom TV customers will also receive the Fios TV Local package, which includes the customer’s local broadcast channels and other local programming.

“For many customers, less is more – they would rather pay less and get more of the content they are actually interested in,” said Verizon Consumer and Mass Business Group president Tami Erwin in a statement. “The original Custom TV has proven very popular since we launched it last year, and we’ve incorporated our customers’ feedback to make the next generation of Custom TV even better with a simpler choice and a much wider variety of channels available.”

Custom TV triple plays with Fios Digital Voice and Fios Internet with symmetrical upload and download speeds of 100 megabits per second, start at $69.99 per month online. Standalone versions of both packages are prices at about $54.99 per month each.

Customers that want the most content can also still purchase Verizon’s more traditional Fios TV plans such as Preferred HD, Extreme HD or Ultimate HD.