FCC to Include Online Video in TV Competition Reporting

The Telecommunications Law Resource Center is the most comprehensive reference and news platform for communications law, covering broadcasting, cable, broadband, telephony and wireless;...

The Federal Communications Commission is, for the first time, including online video distributors in its assessment of video competition. But the commission will treat web-based video as a separate category from other multichannel video services, indicating that it does not yet view over-the-top video as direct competition to traditional forms of TV access.

In a Further Notice of Inquiry, FCC 11-65, released April 21, the commission concluded that data it collected for its 2009 video competition report is insufficient, and wants more information to better assess trends. Specifically, the FCC documents calls on cable, satellite TV, broadcast, and telephone companies to share their own views on the competition that over-the-top video is likely to generate.

For its reporting going forward, the FCC plans to divide video programming into broadcast TV stations, multichannel video providers, and online video distributors (OVDs). The commission is asking MCVPs and broadcasters whether OVDs have reduced TV viewership, and what metrics should be used to compare viewership across the different platforms.

Reasearch by BNA's Broadband Advisory Services unit shows a dramatic rise in the consumption of video and other multimedia over the web in the past year. According to results from BBAS's recent nationwide survey, more than 49 percent of American households are regularly downloading or streaming video and music, up from 36 percent in 2010.

But MCVPs reporting solid growth in advanced TV subscribers are experiencing the largest rates of online video consumption, suggesting that subscribers who consume more video online are also more likely to be captured or retained as multichannel video customers.

By Scott Sleek