FCC's AllVid Grows Less Relevant By the Day

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Just over a year ago, the FCC first floated its idea for “AllVid,” a rule that would mandate uniform technical specifications for all pay-TV providers.

And over that stretch of time, what’s becoming strikingly clear is that cable, satellite and telco TV operators are moving exactly in this direction — to give their customers access to their TV programming on more devices.

It’s undeniable: The market is moving this direction without any government mandates. Indeed, if the FCC moved ahead on AllVid, that would serve only to slow down the pace at which the pay-TV providers are delivering these multiscreen services. And the costs to comply with AllVid would be effectively an FCC-imposed tax passed on to consumers.

To pick just a few recent examples of how the industry is executing on the vision of delivering video across a range of devices: Time Warner Cable and Cablevision both launched iPad apps for viewing live TV in the home in the last two months; and HBO Go apps for Apple and Android devices have been downloaded more than 1 million times since their April 29 debuted (see Will the FCC Mandate IP Video Streaming to iPads? and HBOGo Apps Top 1 Million Downloads In First Week).

Fox noted in an FCC filing yesterday (May 11) that one of its pay-TV affiliates (not named) plans to make video available on a variety of devices in the near future.

“[I]n the course of renegotiating a contract with one of Fox’s multichannel video programming distribution (’MVPD’) partners, the MVPD has told Fox that it intends in the near future to make its subscription and on-demand video services available directly to widely-marketed consumer electronics devices, such as game consoles,” Fox told the commission.

Also check out the revamped deal between Comcast and TiVo. Instead of trying to bring the TiVo interface to subscribers, Comcast will open up VOD to customers who have bought TiVo Premiere DVRs at retail (see Comcast Scraps TiVo Set-Top Deal, But Will Open VOD Tap).

At this point, even TiVo, an ardent “AllVid” supporter that has agitated for stricter CableCard rules, has softened its stance on forcing pay-TV operators to meet some kind of AllVid requirements.

The Comcast VOD agreement “demonstrates that some pay TV providers are taking steps to work cooperatively with consumer electronics manufacturers in an effort to deliver exciting new solutions for their mutual customers,” TiVo said in a May 9 filing with the FCC. “We hope that other pay TV providers follow Comcast’s lead and enter into voluntary initiatives to deliver greater device choices to consumers without government intervention, to the benefit of consumers.”

Here’s more background on AllVid:

* The Weird Double Standard of AllVid’s Boosters

* NCTA: AllVid Should Not Mean Unbundling

* Cable Networks to FCC: AllVid Is AllBad

* FCC’s AllVid: Obsolete on Day One

* FCC AllVid Rule Would ‘Ban The Set-Top As We Know It’: Analyst

FCC’s ‘AllVid’ Gateway Would Require Six IP Video Streams

AT&T U-verse TV Would Not Meet FCC’s AllVid Gateway Requirement

* FCC Opens Gateway Proceeding

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Programming Note: Join execs from Samsung, TiVo, HBO, Warner Home Video, CEA and Rovi at the Connected TV & 3D: Supplying the Demand conference in New York on Tuesday, May 24. Click here for more info: www.multichannel.com/connectedtv

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