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News you may have missed

As the end of 2009 nears, the following is a compilation of industry news stories you should know about.

Boob tube still dwarfs YouTube

Watching Web video is popular and growing, but people still watch remarkably more video on their TVs than on their computers or cell phones, according to Nielsen.

And when looking at average time spent watching each, TV viewing actually grew more — per hour, per person, per month — over the last year than Web video. Last quarter, the average U.S. Web video viewer watched three hours, 11 minutes per month, up about one hour each, year-over-year. But the average U.S. TV viewer watched over 40X more video: 141 hours per month, up about two hours year-over-year.

FCC seeks comment on STBs for Internet video

The commission is looking to tighten the connectivity between the Internet and television sets. On Dec. 3, it issued a request for comment on “Video device innovation.” As previous notices and comments have shown, this too is directed toward Genachowski’s plan for national broadband. In this request, the FCC wants to see how STBs could be improved to enable easier viewing from the Internet. Unfortunately, this notice, like the one covering spectrum, allowed only 19 days for responses. This inquiry closed today. What’s the hurry?

As the previous story shows, Americans still prefer to watch video on their televisions. However, if Internet connectivity is improved, that could change.

Key questions asked in the notice include:

• What technological and market-based limitations keep retail video devices from accessing all forms of video content that consumers want to watch?

• Would a retail market for network-agnostic video devices spur broadband use and adoption, and achieve Section 629’s goal of a competitive navigation device market for all MVPDs?

• Can the home broadband service model be adapted to allow video networks to connect and interact with home video network devices such as televisions, DVRs and home theater PCs via a multimedia home networking standard?

• What obstacles stand in the way of video convergence?

The FCC’s previous attempt to improve cable interoperability has proven to be a dismal failure. Think CableCARD. MSOs effectively stymied any large-scale success at allowing television sets to bypass the monthly STB subscription cost. Do we really think this will be any more successful?

Perhaps, but only because cable now controls virtually all broadband into the home. Pay me now or pay me later.

YouTube launching iTunes killer

Google is in talks with TV networks and studios to stream episodes of television shows for a fee on YouTube, Peter Kafka reports.

YouTube wants to sell streams of individual episodes for $1.99 a pop. It would be akin to what Apple offers through iTunes, or Amazon offers on its site. The main difference: You can only stream the episodes, not download them.

Study: Redbox will destroy the entertainment industry

If you thought the movie "2012" was disaster porn, just wait for the entertainment apocalypse that Redbox’s dollar-a-night movie rentals will bring about. That, in a nutshell, is the bottom line of a new report (hat tip to Video Business) from the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. that says Redbox’s low-cost movie rental will cost the entertainment industry $1 billion in revenue. It’s a disaster!

Forget DTV; FCC now planning "all-IP" phone transition

If you thought that the digital TV transition, with its billion-dollar coupon program for converter boxes, was a migration nightmare, wait until it's time for the phone system to dump its legacy circuit-switched system and move to an all-IP communications network. That day could be coming sooner than you think; the Federal Communications Commission has just requested comment on its planning for the transition.