Verizon is letting FiOS TV subs access video on Samsung Smart TVs and Blu-ray players. But for now, the telco is supplying just 26 live TV channels, and not all of them in HD, as well as 20,000-plus paid VOD titles through its Flex View service.
Despite the limited lineup — no broadcast TV channels, no ESPN, no regional sports nets, no free VOD — it shows where multiscreen TV is heading.
The advantage? No additional set-top box (or STB fee) required for that second TV in the bedroom, kitchen or wherever. FiOS customers can access the same 26 live channels via Microsoft’s Xbox 360 game console, but not video-on-demand (see Nielsen To Rate FiOS TV On Xbox and Comcast, FiOS TV Tune Into Xbox).
Verizon is touting the fact that it’s the first U.S. pay TV provider to offer video content directly through Samsung’s Smart Hub App Store. But it’s not alone: Others including Comcast, DirecTV and Time Warner Cable are also working with Samsung to deliver similar functionality (see CES: Samsung Plugs Into Pay TV Services). And there are also IPTV services from TWC, Cablevision, Cox and others that provide access to video on iPads and PCs.
“We are continuing to develop more ways for our customers to enjoy their FiOS TV experience on their own terms, meeting the needs of their borderless lifestyle,” Maitreyi Krishnaswamy, FiOS TV’s director of product development, said in announcing the feature.
There are a couple of regulatory implications wrapped up in this whole trend of pay-TV services coming to non-operator-supplied (a.k.a. unmanaged) devices.
First: The consumer-electronics industry argues that such piecemeal extensions to third-party devices aren’t sufficient — the CEA and several of its member companies want MSOs (and ideally other MVPDs) to make TV services open and available in a standard technical format (see CEA Calls NCTA Encryption Proposal ‘Utterly Insufficient’ and AllVid Alliance: ‘Shiny’ Apps Aren’t Replacement For Open Video Standard).
Are private deals like the one between Verizon and Samsung preferable to a technical FCC mandate? I think the evidence is clear that pay TV providers — spurred by multiscreen options from the likes of Netflix — are already moving more quickly than any regulatory regime could force them to. And just look at how CableCards have bombed.
Second: Netflix and other critics complain that MVPDs’ own apps for Xboxes, TiVos, iPads and whatever should count toward broadband-usage caps — whereas Comcast and AT&T, for example, exempt their own IP-delivered video from usage limits (see Comcast Starts Billing Bandwidth Hogs, But Exempts Its Own VOD Apps). Verizon still offers unlimited bandwidth usage for broadband customers, so for now that’s not an issue for FiOS.
For Verizon FiOS TV customers, here’s the full list of channels available through the IPTV service: BET HD, Boomerang, Cartoon Network, Cinemax HD (East), CNN, Comedy Central HD, DIY, ESPNews HD, Food Network HD, Hallmark Channel, HBO HD (East), HBO 2 HD, HGTV, HD HLN, MTV HD, MTV2, Nickelodeon HD, Nick Jr., Spike HD, TBS HD, TCM, TNT HD, Travel Channel HD, truTV HD, TV Land and VH1 HD.
To download the FiOS TV App, customers can go to the “Smart Hub” on eligible Samsung devices. You can watch Verizon’s a promotional video for the app in this YouTube video.
Programming Note: Don’t miss TV’s Cloud Power, exploring how operators and media companies are tapping into cloud-based technologies, Thursday, Sept. 13, at New York’s Roosevelt Hotel. Scheduled speakers include Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia, IBM’s Bob Fox, SeaChange’s Steve Davi, PwC’s Gordon Castle, Verizon’s Maitreyi Krishnaswamy, and execs from ABC News, Hearst Television, the Mobile500 Alliance and Current Analysis. See multichannel.com/cloud for more info.