Move towards OTT causing upheaval in content, telecom markets; Comcast in the middle of it all

Tom Paine

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Media convergence (an overused term), you might call it, seems to be reaching a fever pitch. Mostly, its pushing content companies together with more technology oriented enterprises.

Exhibit A is AT&T's approach to Time Warner, which resulted in an agreement this weekend under which AT&T would acquire Time Warner for $85 billion. AT&T was said to want to push the process quickly to a conclusion to keep Time Warner out of the arms of others (maybe Google, even Apple perhaps).

At&T acquired DirecTV for $49 billion last year, but is said to be planning to phase out the satellite business in 3 to 5 years and banking its future distribution on a large-scale OTT service, DirecTV Now, to be launched by the end of this year (actually November).

AT&t also appears to be deemphasizing its U-verse wired broadband service. What its ultimate network technology strategy will be - some combination of wired and wireless presumably - is not clear now.

As Fortune reported, "the logic behind AT&T acquiring Time Warner would likely be to counteract moves by Comcast, the cable giant that also owns NBC Universal, some analysts said."

Meanwhile, Comcast doubled its bet on new media darling BuzzFeed, according to Recode, increasing its investment from $200 million to $400 million. BuzzFeed is seen as a vehicle for Comcast's ambitions in non-linear video, on YouTube and other platforms outside the traditional cable stack. BuzzFeed's valuation for the deal is $1.7 billion, slightly more than it was for Comcast's first investment. There were reports, unconfirmed, that BuzzFeed badly missed its revenue targets last year.

But Sam Landman, a managing director at Comcast Ventures, is holding off on backing some recent media start-ups he’s seen, according to an LA Times article, until they demonstrate more revenue-generating ability.

Google has gained rights to all of CBS' content for its OTT service, including live NFL games, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal reported last week. The new "Unplugged" OTT service, scheduled for an early 2017 launch, will be part of Google's YouTube platform.

Also, reports last week suggested that NBCU is close to coming on board with Google's Unplugged, for much if not all of its content.

Last week also saw Comcast announce its new Comcast Technology Solutions division, a combination of its Comcast Wholesale, thePlatform and This Technology business units. Comcast Technology Solutions encompasses an Ad Platform, Video Platform and Wholesale Platform. The new unit will support the market for third-party OTT platforms and related media technology services; publisher Time Inc. is an initial client.

Verizon's results last week underscored the impact of increased wireless pricing pressures and slowing growth, and also was a reminder of its relatively weak position in content. I'll be contrarian, however, in taking the position that owning tons of content may not be an optimal course for a telecom company, and that Verizon may not be off track in its strategy.

From AT&T's point of view, however, some of the thinking behind the Time Warner deal is that the more valuable content you own, the more reciprocal power you have in negotiating for rights to other's content.

Links 10/24: Moffett: Comcast Verizon MVNO plans could be good for both companies; T-Mobile jumps 9% on speculation

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Moffett: Comcast Verizon MVNO Plans Could Be Good for Both Companies (Telecompetitor)

AT&T/Time Warner deal could be approved without any FCC merger review (Ars Technica)

AT&T Exec Blogs Case for Time Warner Merger
(Multichannel News)

Michael Wolff on AT&T's Time Warner Deal and the Coming Game of Dominoes (Hollywood Reporter)

AT&T Clarifies Its Intent to Buy Time Warner (Not a Similarly Named Cable Company) (Hollywood Reporter)

T-Mobile Jumps 9%. Could It Be Bought?

76ers lab chooses a fantasy sport site as first startup (

Fantasy Sports Companies Near Settlement With New York State (NY Times)
Both FanDuel and DraftKings are reportedly close to running out of cash, though in the past they've always been able to gin up more when needed.

TD Ameritrade faces scrutiny over Scottrade purchase (Reuters)
TD Bank also buying Scottrade banking business.

NetSuite reduces loss, but revenue outlook withdrawn (Diginomica)

Chance encounter with an AT&T DirecTV distributor

Tom Paine

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I happened to run into a DirecTV contractor (I assumed he was an independent, as most are), quite by chance this weekend.

When I mentioned to him that AT&T (which acquired DirecTV last year for a mere $49 billion) was acquiring Time Warner for $85 billion, he assumed I meant Time Warner Cable. I explained to him that TWC had been spun off from Time Warner a few years back, and was more recently acquired by Charter.

He seemed even more surprised that AT&T was spending all that money on programming content, like the Cartoon Network.

What really threw him was when I said AT&T was planning to get out of satellite distribution over the next five years or so, and rely on an OTT (over the internet) model. "That's our business," he responded. They serve the rural mountain counties around here where cable companies don't go, and there are few other options. One person I spoke with recently couldn't even get DSL.

Since I didn't mean to upset him, I told him that AT&T probably would make arrangements to continue to serve such customers by satellite, either by itself or by spinning off the rural areas to a separate company, as Verizon has done with its outlying territories.

Unless, I said, AT&T can come up with a robust enough LTE service for areas like that; then all bets are off.

Sunday Highlights: Shutter Three Mile Island?; Is Netflix taking over Hollywood?

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America’s Nuclear Problem (Bloomberg)
Close Three Mile Island? Absurd!

Netflix Is Taking Over Hollywood, and Hollywood Isn’t Thrilled (Bloomberg)

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff: I love Twitter, but shareholders didn't want to buy it (CNBC)

AWS 'fesses up to cloud bill shock worries with budget calc update (The Register)

Cloudamize Adds New Platform Enhancements to Speed and Simplify Large Enterprise Migrations to the Public Cloud

Watch out Accenture, Deloitte – here comes Wip-pirio (Diginomica)

AT&T to buy Time Warner for $85 billion (Highlights & Opinions)

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AT&T to buy Time Warner for $85 billion, create telecom-media giant (Reuters)

AT&T to buy HBO, CNN, and the rest of Time Warner for more than $80 billion (The Verge)

AT&T to Buy Time Warner for $107.5/Sh in Cash and Stock; $85 Equity Value (Barron's Tech Trader Daily)

Regulatory Microscope Lies Ahead for AT&T and Time Warner (New York Times: DealBook)

AT&T strikes $85B deal to buy Time Warner (New York Post)

How Aggressive AT&T Has Out-Maneuvered Verizon, Comcast (Investor's Business Daily)

AT&T’s Time Warner deal looks like bad news for Verizon (Washington Post)

The ghost of AOL will haunt the Time Warner-AT&T deal (Recode)

Trump: Would not approve an AT&T / Time Warner deal, and would seek to break up Comcast / NBCU

Tom Paine

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In his speech at Gettysburg today, Donald Trump began by criticizing, among other things, what he sees as a concentration of power in a few media companies.

He said that if an AT&T / Time Warner combination came before him as President, it would not be approved. He also said that Comcast + NBCU was too powerful, and his administration would move to break it up.

"Additionally, Comcast's purchase of NBC concentrates far too much power in one massive entity that is trying to tell the voters what to think and what to do. Deals like this destroy democracy," Trump said.

"We'll look at breaking those deals up like that and other deals like that. This should have never ever been approved in the first place. They are trying to poison the mind of the American voter."

Trump also attacked Amazon for not paying (he must have meant not collecting) taxes. Amazon customers are now required to pay sales tax on their Amazon purchases in 29 states.

Trump comment's followed his complaints about media bias, against his campaign specifically.

Trump has several gripes against NBC (including, presumably, whomever leaked that video), and has been a frequent critic of the coverage of him by CNN (Time Warner) and the Washington Post, owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia Launches Expansive Virtual Reality Experience ; Most Comprehensive for Museums Worldwide
Major Public Launch Event: October 25, 2016

The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia Launches Expansive Virtual Reality Experience
Most Comprehensive for Museums Worldwide

Major Public Launch Event: October 25, 2016

The Franklin Institute.
The Franklin Institute
Oct 21, 2016, 10:42 ET

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia is transforming the way museums use digital technology to engage audiences with the launch of the most comprehensive, multi-tiered virtual reality initiative of museums worldwide.

The key components of The Franklin Institute's initiative include two museum firsts: the creation of a virtual reality content library loaded with premier science content curated from all over the globe—including the exclusive debut of one of the first 360-degree videos from the bottom of the deep ocean—all housed on the museum's first-ever mobile app; and an innovative virtual reality demonstration and lab space for immersive room-scale VR visitor experiences. This will be paired with mass distribution of thousands of free Google Cardboards to visitors, as well as virtual reality experiences within such iconic exhibits as The Giant Heart, Your Brain, and Space Command, culminating in The Franklin Institute leveraging this expertise to host conferences and workshops to allow for knowledge sharing among museums educators and various audiences.

A free public launch event at The Franklin Institute is planned for the evening of Tuesday, October 25. Experts from all across the country (United Nations, MIT, Surgical Theater) will showcase the most cutting-edge VR technology to illustrate the breadth of virtual reality applications. Guests can attend a live virtual reality sporting event (Drexel University Men's Soccer), tour a space shuttle, watch a brain surgery being performed in virtual reality, and even watch as a drone takes a photogrammetric survey within the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial—and then explore inside of it through an HTC Vive. In addition, they will be among the very first to experience The Franklin Institute's all-new virtual reality platform.

The Institute embarked on its transformative digital strategy in 2015 with the hiring of Chief Digital Officer Susan Poulton and the formation of a dedicated digital innovation team. This next phase of the strategy further solidifies The Franklin Institute as a leader in advancing digital in the museum community. "I am excited by the enormous potential museums have to be a catalyst for bringing emerging technologies to the public," Poulton said. "The Institute will develop unique virtual reality and mobile content experiences and deliver them to expanded audiences, demonstrating that museums can take risks and lead the way digitally in ways they may have been reluctant to before."

The Franklin Institute is leveraging its strengths as one of the premier science centers in the world, specialized in providing access to high-quality, hands-on exhibits and rich STEM-based experiences, to launch this new digital platform. The efforts around virtual reality support the Institute's long-term digital strategy which include enhancing the core visitor experience, and developing new approaches for the creation and distribution of original and curated science content that expands its reach and mission to a national and global audience. The Franklin Institute has long been a leader in bringing the latest technologies to the public as the first place they could experience film, live television, and a telescope.

"The Franklin Institute is making a strong commitment to helping advance museums digitally. Our mission is to inspire a passion for learning about science and technology and immersive virtual reality is a way to do that like never before," said Larry Dubinski, President & CEO of The Franklin Institute.

The Institute will become the first cultural organization in Philadelphia to fully embrace virtual reality in a deep and transformative way, positioning itself and the Greater Philadelphia area as a key cultural destination for cutting-edge virtual (and soon augmented) reality innovation. The VR initiative will offer easy access to technology experiences for the broader Philadelphia public, and allow the Institute to form new mutually-beneficial relationships with local content creators and universities by providing an on-site testing environment through the "holodeck".

The Franklin Institute's comprehensive approach to virtual reality will solidify its role as a global leader among museums and non-profits by demonstrating the variety of experiences, from educational to engaging, that can be achieved with virtual reality.

Virtual Reality at The Franklin Institute

Virtual Reality Demonstration Space: "The Holodeck"
A first for museums nationwide, The Franklin Institute's own virtual reality facility equipped with HTC Vive and Oculus Rift and rotating science content for a complete, room-scale immersive experience. It will also serve as a testing zone providing developers across the region with a captive audience for their latest virtual reality software.

Virtual Reality Content Library
Housed within The Franklin Institute's first-ever mobile app and catering to offsite visitors, is a powerful virtual reality science content library featuring experiences curated by The Franklin Institute from all over the globe within the categories of Space, Planet Earth, Human Body, Technology, Physical Sciences, and History.

In-Exhibit Virtual Reality Experiences
The Franklin Institute is leveraging three of its core exhibits—The Giant Heart, Your Brain, and Space Command—to provide topical virtual reality experiences for visitors. The experiences will be tailored based on available virtual reality content, as well as future VR content developed by The Franklin Institute.

Virtual Reality Knowledge Sharing
With the goal of promoting knowledge sharing and best practices on digital trends and applications, The Franklin Institute will cultivate partnerships, develop and host related conferences, symposia, and workshops for a variety of audiences, including the general public, museum experts, educators, journalists, and professionals.

The Franklin Institute's mobile app is made possible by support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. To download the app, please visit Images are available: using the password: presspass.

Located in the heart of Philadelphia, The Franklin Institute is a renowned and innovative leader in the field of science and technology learning, as well as a dynamic center of activity. Pennsylvania's most visited museum, it is dedicated to creating a passion for learning about science by offering access to hands-on science education. For more information, visit and follow The Franklin Institute on Twitter @TheFranklin and Instagram @FranklinInstitute, hashtag #franklininstitute.

Logo -

SOURCE The Franklin Institute

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:

Links 10/21: Report: AT&T Agrees In Principle To Buy Time Warner; SAP Raises Sales, Profit Forecast on Improved Cloud Outlook

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Report: AT&T Agrees In Principle To Buy Time Warner (Reuters via Fortune)

Peter Chernin Poised for Top Time Warner Role If $85 Billion AT&T Deal Closes (Hollywood Reporter)

AT&T Is in Advanced Talks to Acquire Time Warner (Dow Jones via

Why Wall Street Is Split Over a Possible AT&T-Time Warner Merger (Fortune)
"The logic behind AT&T acquiring Time Warner would likely be to counteract moves by Comcast, the cable giant that also owns NBC Universal, some analysts said."

SAP Raises Sales, Profit Forecast on Improved Cloud Outlook (Bloomberg)

INTERVIEW - SAP may mull dividend hike, modest share buyback - CFO (Reuters)

Infor Draws Full Buyout Interest From Advent, Apax, CVC (Bloomberg)

Many sites including Twitter, Shopify and Spotify suffering outage (TechCrunch)
Particularly along east coast.

Internet outage swoops in and out of the US this morning (CNET News)
Still appears to be some problems as of this afternoon. Twitter still unreachable as of 3:20pm.

DDoS on Dyn Impacts Twitter, Spotify, Reddit
(Krebs on Security)

Verizon: Street Rattled by New Signs of Vulnerability (Barron's Tech Trader Daily)

D&Z's Yoh buys $100M Starpoint Solutions

Links 10/20: AT&T Discussed Idea of Takeover in Time Warner Meetings; NBCUniversal doubles its bet on BuzzFeed by investing another $200 million

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Vanguard Sways Financial Advisers to Bring $1 Trillion on Board (Bloomberg)

NBCUniversal is doubling its bet on BuzzFeed by investing another $200 million (Recode)

Alibaba to fast-track expansion of cloud business with key partners
(South China Morning Post)
Managed services providers like Jersey City-based Datapipe help Chinese firms growing overseas and global companies entering China to move their applications online.

Verizon Stock Falls, Q3 Revenue And Wireless Subscribers Disappoint
(Investor's Business Daily)

Verizon "Still Evaluating" What Yahoo Hack Means for $4.83B Deal, CFO Says (Hollywood Reporter)

Verizon Touts Cable MVNOs, Yahoo Deal (Multichannel News)

AT&T Discussed Idea of Takeover in Time Warner Meetings (Bloomberg)

Salesforce target Tableau explored sale earlier this year: sources (Reuters)

Wipro acquires US-based firm Appirio for over $400 million, says report (American Bazaar)

Oracle’s Cloud, Built by Former AWS, Microsoft Engineers, Comes Online (Data Center Knowledge)

Salesforce's hacked & leaked acquisition target list included Qlik, Veeva Systems (Update: Tableau explored sale)

Tom Paine

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This is a screenshot of a chart in an email sent by Salesforce in May to board member Colin Powell, which was leaked in September by DCLeaks and published yesterday by the Wall Street Journal. It contained a list of 14 possible Salesforce acquisition targets.

A statement sent by Salesforce to Business Insider read: "Salesforce has a disciplined and thoughtful M&A process where we routinely survey the industry landscape across a wide range of companies, but acquire very few. The presentation is a broad survey of publicly traded companies in May 2016, and the appearance of company names on the list doesn't imply Salesforce ever intended to acquire them."

Radnor-based Qlik Technologies, and Veeva Systems, the life sciences cloud vendor which has considerable operations and many customers in the Philadelphia region, are both on the list.

I had wondered whether whether Qlik might provide the structured analytics engine that Salesforce's Analytics Cloud was largely lacking. Qlik competitor Tableau was also on the list. Reuters reported on Wednesday that Tableau actively explored a sale earlier this year. Qlik, though, was taken private by Thoma Bravo in a $3 billion buyout that closed in August.

Veeva built its original product, Veeva CRM, on top of Salesforce's CRM, and Salesforce has often used Veeva as a primary reference point for Salesforce's potential in vertical markets. However, Veeva's fastest growing product, Vault, is based on Veeva's own proprietary technology and it is gradually becoming less dependent on Salesforce.

Veeva (NYSE: VEEV), which has a market capitalization of $5.4 billion, finished up slightly on Wednesday.

Veeva commented today, saying it remains focused on building its business and can't comment on other's plans.

"While we don't comment on other's plans, we can tell you we remain focused on building the industry cloud for life sciences and creating a multi-billion dollar company over the long-term," said a company spokesperson.

Links 10/19: Vanguard CEO McNabb Says Staying Private Is 'Competitive Advantage'; Comcast combines backend services into new ‘Technology Solutions’ unit, touts Time Inc. OTT launch as new client

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Vanguard CEO McNabb Says Staying Private Is a 'Competitive Advantage' (The Street via

Facebook wants you to buy movie tickets and order pizza from its app (Recode)
Comcast's Fandango one of Facebook's partners.

Comcast combines backend services into new ‘Technology Solutions’ unit, touts Time Inc. OTT launch as new client (FierceCable)

Google Nabs CBS As AT&T, Amazon, Hulu Seek OTT Partners (Investor's Business Daily)

Snapchat and Facebook have a new rival in their sights: television (LA Times)

DreamWorks agrees to pay $50M to end no-poaching suit (Bloomberg via

Travis Kalanick: 'I've never sold a single Uber share' (Business Insider)

JetPay Corporation Announces Investment and Board Appointment of Industry Veteran Larry Stone (Marketwire)