Homeland Security Shuts Down Sports Sites In Advance of Super Bowl
-- With so much attention going to piracy of music, television and film content, it's easy to forget that sports are a heavily pirated good as well. The fact hasn't been lost on the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which seized the domains of a number of sites that host or link to live sports broadcasts. Atdhe.net, Channelsurfing.net and Firstrow.net were a few of the sites snared less than a week before the biggest American sports event of the year, the Super Bowl.

The seizure affects only the domains, however, allowing the sites to quickly relocate. Atdhe.net, for example, can now be found at Atdhe.me. Channelsurfing.net moved to Channelsurf.eu.

( TorrentFreak, SportsGrid)

The Return of the Android
-- Here's an asterisk to a post in yesterday's Business Matters about Android's 22% share of the tablet market in the fourth quarter of 2010. The Samsung Galaxy, the main driver behind Android's tablet growth, has a 15% return rate (the iPad has a 2% return rate). The version of the Android operating system used in Galaxy tablets was not designed specifically for tablets. A tablet-specific version of Android is coming very soon. So a market share statistic based on shipments is going to overstate Android's tablet share unless the statistic is net of returns.

( NY Post)

Could Google, Apple or Verizon Buy EMI or Warner?
-- Now that EMI is in the hands of Citigroup, a new round of "Which Tech Giant Will Buy a Struggling Music Company?" has begun. Forbe's Zack O'Malley Greenburg has revived the idea that either Apple or Google could buy either EMI or Warner. After all, both companies have a lot of cash on hand - Apple had $10.7 billion as of December 25, 2010 and Google had $13.6 billion as of December 31, 2010 - and are involved in one way or another with recorded music. Either could buy EMI many times over.
In a Reuters article, however, analyst Claire Enders says BMG Rights is the most likely buyer of EMI. That sounds much closer to what will actually happen.

It's odd that telecoms get little attention in this game even though content companies make for the occasional strategic acquisition. After all, Comcast just combined content with pipes when it purchased the remaining stake of NBC Universal. Don't forget Verizon, which could theoretically benefit from adding content to its pipes. The company had $6.7 billion in cash on hand (as of December 31, 2010) and would make as good a strategic fit as either Google or Apple. Even so, don't expect either Comcast or Verizon to put in a bid.

( Forbes, Reuters)


Comcast's New
Xfinity iPad App
-- Speaking of Comcast, the company has unveiled an iPad app for its Xfinity triple-play service (digital cable, broadband and voice). The app allows subscribers to play movies and TV shows on the iPad using a WiFi connection. Ten networks are involved right now, reports Engadget, including HBO, BBC America, Cartoon Network, Starz, TBS and TNT.

Maybe you haven't noticed, but music subscription services are getting left in the dust by subscription video services. Aside from Netflix, which is a leader in the digital living room, Comcast's Xfinity shows that the typical American will become far more used to paying for digital video before he or she is exposed to robust, must-have music subscription service. And music services may run into difficulties when trying to convince consumers to access music on top of their existing TV and broadband bills. Remember that Netflix's streaming service costs only $8 a month. That's the price to beat, music industry.

( Endgadget)

Sleep & Peep: Starwood Hotels' New Partnership With Live Nation
-- Since there is value in exclusivity, this kind of partnership makes sense: Starwood Hotels & Resorts has expanded its global sponsorship with Live Nation. Members of Starwood's Preferred Guest program will be given access to unique items such as premium tickets, VIP experiences and exclusive performances. In the past, members have been able to watch a Sting sound check and have received drumming lessons from Nickelback's Daniel Adair.

( Press release)

Study Says: Nearly Half of All Indie Artists Not Copyrighting Music
-- A new online survey by digital distributor TuneCore shows that a good portion of artists are not registering the copyright for their music. About 56% of respondents said they have registered their music. However, 18% of respondents said they do not know how to register the copyright for their music and another 17% said registering their music is too expensive. Two percent of respondents said they do not see the need to do so. TuneCore did not say how many responses it received to the survey. But given the nature of TuneCore's business, it's safe to assume the survey was taken by independent artists.

( TuneCore blog)