Friday, December 30, 2005
Turner Network Television takes this year’s crown for total viewers in key demographics among all basic cable networks for 2005, according to Nielsen Media Research data. The channel's "The Closer," the most-watched original cable series of the year, was credited with pushing the network to the top. USA Network placed second for the year increasing overall viewership by 2 percent over 2004, followed by Nick at Nite (up 4 percent), ESPN (down 3 percent) and Fox News Channel. Links: Chicago Sun-Times – TNT Claims basic cable crown, Adweek – TNT, USA Win Cable Ratings with Original Series, Yahoo!TV – TNT Wins cable race for a 4th year
2005 Cable News Ratings
Speaking of FNC, in 2005, they were still #1 and CNN was still #2 while MSNBC and Headline News battled for #3. O’Reilly leads the pack, with the most viewers overall and among the 25-54s. Fox News had 11 of the top 12 shows in 2005. Only CNN’s Larry King Live busts in, at #6. This is the fourth year in a row at the top for FNC. Link: Mediabistro.com - TVNewser 2005 ratings
Monday, December 26, 2005
One door closes and another is opened. Tonight, the NFL bids farewell to ABC, with the New England Patriots playing the New York Jets. This is the second longest-running series on network TV and it will shift to ESPN beginning next season. ESPN is reported as paying approximately $1.1 billion over eight seasons for the Monday night contract.
This is a true win for Cable for ratings and advertising revenues. As the industry continues to gain more high profile programming, hopefully they will also improve their ability to sell out premium inventory.
UPDATED - 12/27/05: Although Frank Gifford stated during the broadcast that "It's going to cable, what's the difference?" Madden disagreed and argued that the shift to ESPN is a milestone. "It's a big deal"! ABC Sports was once what new generation thinks of ESPN. It was the most innovative and biggest force in Sports Television. But those days are gone and the pass off of this program marks the final torch being handed down to ABC's younger sibling and new King of Sports TV.
(Picture above - Courtesy of Mike Segar/Reuters) Fans at the Jets-Patriots game paid tribute to the late Howard Cosell as ABC broadcast its final "Monday Night Football" game last night. ABC hands off the franchise to ESPN next season.
Link: New York Times Dec 27 - With a Dandy Curtain Call, ABC Signs Off on 'Monday Night Football'
Friday, December 23, 2005
Nielsen//NetRatings announced the fastest growing Web sites among the top 10 Web brands for November 2005. Apple ranked No. 1 according to year-over-year growth in November 2005, climbing 57% over November last year, Driven largely by the popularity of the iTunes music service and software. Google and Amazon also saw significant year-over-year increases, growing 29% and 16%, respectively. Longtime leader Yahoo attracted the largest unique audience, garnering nearly 104 million unique visitors during the month, and growing 10% year-over-year. "Among the top Web brands, fierce competition for share of online visitors continues to be a catalyst for the launch of new products and features," said Gerry Davidson, senior media analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings. "These additions appear to be spearheading much of the top Web brand growth, because they keep visitors interested and engaged," he continued.
Comparing all sites with at least 1 million visitors in November, the PhotoBucket photo-sharing site saw the largest growth — a 16-fold increase to 15.6 million visitors, from 983,000 last year. Social networking sites MySpace and Facebook had the second- and third-highest growth, respectively. Wikipedia, an encyclopedia that lets volunteers add and change entries regardless of their expertise, was ninth on the list, nearly quadrupling its traffic. Link: Nielsen//NetRatings Full Report
The shift of advertising dollars from passive, broadcast media to interactive and on-demand media is taking place at a faster clip than earlier shifts from radio to network TV or from network TV to cable.
For those companies that didn’t get it a year ago, let’s hope that they get it now. Consumers are finally in control of content: they are creating it, consuming it and retransmitting it. Very soon, just about every type of content is going to be sliced, diced and presented to consumers in whatever format they want, whenever they want it, wherever they want it." In the coming year there will be an increased push to customize content for VOD and the broadband platform with the question still to be answered: Just how best do we monetize these new assets in the digital marketplace.
Link: Adweek 12/19/05 – They want the world, and They want it now
Thursday, December 22, 2005
“Will VOD Kill the DVR?” (posted on ReplayTVBlog.com) was something I ran across the other day that got me thinking. Obviously the answer will vary depending on your perspective. There are some great advantages to both of the technologies and I’ll be the first to admit that the DVR has TOTALLY changed the way my household consumes television. My 6 year old believes that all “live” television broadcasts can be paused, rewound and forwarded. Tivo and Replay executives certainly are not betting that the DVR is going away anytime soon however Cable industry honchos see it a little differently. For the MSO’s the DVR is currently providing them with a small revenue stream and presenting them with a much larger opportunity. For those of us, which have opted to upgrade to a set top box with a DVR integrated into it, we have also upgraded to the cable operators digital platform. This has fueled the industry’s recent revenue growth and opened the door for the subscribers to utilize the systems VOD offerings. Getting consumers to feel comfortable with using VOD has been one of the businesses bigger challenges during the past 24 months. Although U.S. cable television subscriber growth will remain flat through 2009, digital cable penetration is estimated to grow at a compound annual rate of 11%, reaching a total of 43 million households by 2009. The big opportunity for MSO exists in converting DVR users into VOD buyers. According to a study done by Lyra Research, people who own digital video recorders (DVR) are more likely to watch video on demand (VOD) than those who don't. Times are changing and one day the DVR may seen as old and unused as the VHS machines are becoming in my household!
Related Posts: Apple’s iTunes grows again & TV That you'll want to Pay For?
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Ad Age - NEW YORK - Nielsen Media Research’s first week to deliver new ratings figures that include time shifted viewing will be Dec. 26, and for the first time the ratings service will offer information showing whether viewers skipped ads. The first overnight ratings will be available to Nielsen clients Dec. 28. I’m in disbelief at the amount of time it took for them to acknowledge the revolution that was occurring in TV households across the US. I guess better late than never? Link: AdAge Dec 21 - DVR Ratings to Debut next week from Nielsen
UPDATE 12/22 2:30PM - The dust has yet to settle and meaningful data will not truely be availible for months but concerns over the pricing models for these new rating are already heating up. Link: WSJ Dec 22 - New TV Ratings Will Produce Ad-Price Fight
After months of dancing with a number of potential partners, Time Warner and Google made public the terms of their continued partnership yesterday, with Google, as expected, paying $1 billion for a 5% stake in America Online and $300 million in advertising credits for AOL to promote its content across the Google network. The deal also includes using AOL's 300-strong advertising sales force to sell ads on Google sites and integration between the two firms' instant messaging tools.
Microsoft, which had also been negotiating with AOL, dropped out of talks, in a major blow to the Redmond, Washington Company. A deal with AOL would have cut off Google and provided a major advertising conduit for Microsoft, particularly for its AdCenter search engine, which it has spent $100 million developing. A partnership with Microsoft, whether total or partial, seemed to offer a number of tantalizing possibilities. A real third option in search, a power to challenge Yahoo! in CPM ads and a web traffic monster. Although this new deal with Google is to return AOL back into the vanguard of web companies, the biggest winner may just end up being Google!
More on this topic: CNET – 12/20 Google, Time Warner Strike $1 Billion deal
BusinessWeek – 12/21 AOL-Google: Who gets What
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Outdoor Advertising ratings took a major step forward earlier this month with the public release of data from Nielsen Outdoors' outdoor ratings service in Chicago. The company, which is well known for its ratings for TV and radio, has been testing a mobile phone-size gizmo it calls the Npod, or Nielsen Personal Outdoor Device. The unit uses the satellite-based global positioning system to track the wearers' locations, and Nielsen matches their courses of travel with a coded map of 12,000 outdoor-ad units in the area. The data, which does not provide board-by-board detail, provided persons-level demographic about exposure, which could be used in reach and frequency schedules.
As outdoor advertising business continues to surge, the industry has been working to develop a ratings service that would put the outdoor medium on the same playing field with other forms of media. Certainly no surprise to industry insiders, the Chicago test showed that outdoor, one of the fastest growing media other than the Internet, is less cluttered than the electronic media with the average adult exposed on average to 40 outdoor messages per day. Among all demographic groups, men 35-54 had the highest exposure to outdoor advertising with an average of 54 exposures to outdoor advertising per day. Among women, 18-34 year olds led all other female groups with 39 exposures per day. Not surprising, exposure to outdoor advertising peaks during morning and evening commutes.Links: SMM Past Post 12/11 – Outdoor Advertising Surge, ACNielsen – Measuring the Great Outdoors, Chicago Tribune – Nielsen views billboards as ratings source, MediaWeek Dec 06 - Nielsen Outdoor Results
Monday, December 19, 2005
Television has traditionally been a mass marketing medium, but targeted TV advertisements delivered via VOD systems are now becoming more common place. Ford Motor announced plans to launch interactive video on demand advertisements for digital subscribers of the Cablevision and Charter Communications cable systems. The three-month campaign kicks off December 28 and has been spearheaded by JWT Detroit. Creative for the campaign mixes branded entertainment, 30-second ads, reviews and “video tours” that highlight car features. For the ultimate marketers dream viewers may opt in to receive more information. Television web style and a very effective way of turning the set top box into a sales lead generator.
For more on this topic see MediaWeek December 19, 2005 - Ford Test Drives VOD by: Steve McClellan
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Reuters - LOS ANGELES - Digital video recording pioneer ReplayTV plans to announce on Monday it will start selling software to allow personal computers to tune in and record live television next year in a deal with Hauppauge Digital Inc.'s Hauppauge Computer Works. Hauppauge's WinTV-PVR tuner-encoder card, which lets PCs tune in and record live television, will be sold with ReplayTV software starting next year in North America. Link: Dec 18 – Reuters
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Cingular's Rob Hyatt, executive director of mobile content, told BusinessWeek in October 2005, "Watching video on cell phones could eventually surpass [demand for games, ringtones and wallpapers], to reach 100% of the population". A perfect example of the current integration that is occurring right before our eyes in the TV-mobile phone-recording industry is; a new song by the band Coldplay rang as a ringtone on a "CSI: New York" character's phone in a resent November episode, followed by an on-air CBS promotion allowing viewers to download the same tone to their own phones. Obviously, some very big companies are working hard so that the wide world of entertainment can begin appearing on very small screens everywhere. Entertainment content could offer mobile carriers a rich new revenue stream - - and mobile phones could provide a compelling new platform for media companies and marketers. But there are problems. "With the US lagging other regions in mobile data usage, it's not even clear that consumers here want to be entertained by their phones," says Ms. Williamson." There are also technology and standards barriers to be overcome." The truth is that usage of mobile entertainment in the US is currently very minimal. According to M:Metrics, as of October 2005, less than 10% of US mobile subscribers had used their phone's browser to get news and information, photo message or purchase a ringtone. Fewer than 5% had purchased wallpaper or a screen saver or downloaded a mobile game. Our we just slower here verse Asia and Europe to embrace an adapt to new technology. What are your thoughts?
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
It appears ABC is coming up Roses this year! According to John Consoli’s December 12th article in Mediaweek, ABC has about 10 percent of its ad inventory left to sell for their Jan. 4 prime-time Rose Bowl telecast and the Network is aiming to maximize sales of the remaining units by packaging in-game spots with advertising across ESPN properties.
Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN/ABC Sports Customer Marketing and Sales stated that:
"We're not looking to just sell in-game spots, the USC-Texas match-up [both teams are undefeated] could be one of the highest-rated college football games ever, so we plan to use it to help drive advertising to our other media platforms".
He added that many of the other platforms in the packages would have synergy with the Rose Bowl. For example, ESPN The Magazine, in its Jan. 2 issue, will offer a BCS preview. Obviously Erhardt sales philosophy is similar to what many of us work towards in the media business, leverage your high valued inventory.
According to Nielsen, the 2004 Orange Bowl was the Bowl Championship Series (USC 55 vs. OU 19) game generated a household rating of 13.7 nationally. The four BCS games totaled a 43.0 household rating. In the year prior, the Sugar Bowl was the BCS championship game and produced a 14.5 household rating, and the 2003 Fiesta Bowl BCS championship produced a 17.2 rating. The BCS bowl games, while having declined in ratings, are still among the highest-rated prime-time programs during the first week in January.
John Concoli (Mediaweek reporter) went on to point out that; “Thirty-second spots in the Rose Bowl were selling for between $1.5 million and $1.8 million per unit prior to the USC-Texas match-up being determined”. Erhardt said “about 70 percent of the units were sold as part of multiyear, multigame packages while another 20 percent of the units were sold during the upfront as strips with ads in all four BCS games”.
Citi will present the game; other sponsors will include Cingular, Home Depot and Texas Instruments.
Read the full article in 12/12/05 Mediaweek: Bloom On The Rose Bowl GO TROJANS!
Monday, December 12, 2005
I was working with Time Warner during the merger with AOL and although I was shocked by the initial news, I did believe that the combination of the two company’s made great sense. This of course was years ago, when my 401K was worth something and I could have considered retirement at a reasonable age! Yesterday in an essay published in The Washington Post, my illustrious ex-leader Steve Case argues for the breakup of Time Warner, suggesting that its cable; print, film production and AOL units would perform better as stand-alone companies. Case believes the AOL-Time Warner merger failed in large part due to concessions made to the sprawling corporate divisions, which prevented company leaders from exploiting synergies in the combined company.
Maybe he has a point! Read – “It’s time to Take it Apart.” From The Washington Post Dec 11, 2005.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
I do my best to say abreast to all sectors of the Advertising industry because I enjoy spotting tends and studying how they effect each other. In the resent past the Outdoor Advertising business has been witnessing a lot of sizable growth. The leading companies in this group are Viacom, Clear Channel and Lamar. On Tuesday evening I caught a quick segment as Jim Cramer was commenting on the business, “Billboards are making a comeback” he said on his "Mad Money" CNBC show, and he is Bullish on Lamar Advertising.
“Lamar has ad space on billboards, buses, bus shelters and benches all places you can't miss, Cramer noted. Because of the increase in the use of digital video recorders such as TiVo, advertisers are moving away from TV advertising. Other forms of advertising, such as the Internet and billboards, are gaining share.
You can't TiVo a billboard," he said.
Lamar is adding digital billboards, which allow it to show multiple ads on one space and should increase sales. And Nielson is coming out with a rating system (more on this soon) for billboard advertising, Cramer said, which should make advertisers more comfortable as the can quantify the effectiveness of their ads. Enhancements and dropping cost on digital printing, flat panel displays and emerging technologies like electronic paper displays (see E Ink) will also revolutionize this industry in the not to distant future. Links: Lamar Advertising Company, OAAA’s – History of Outdoor Advertising
Saturday, December 10, 2005
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, "Search engines have become an increasingly important part of the online experience of American internet users." On average, nearly 60 million people use search engines daily. This represents a sharp just over this past year where the total number of people using search engines on an average day has jumped from roughly 38 million - an increase of roughly 55%, according to an Emarketer report. The company also recently released results of a study on Internet Portal usage and thanks to robust demand for online advertising, a broadband audience hungry for multimedia applications and an increasingly confident population of online shoppers, portals are hot properties again.
Measured by sheer size of audience, Yahoo continues to be the number one site on the Web, according to data from Nielsen NetRatings. MSN, Google and AOL trail Yahoo in terms of unique audience. During the week ended September 4, 2005, nearly half of all Internet users logged on to Yahoo and all of the Big Four portals had an active reach of more than 30% of all Internet users. This audience build up is having impact on many other industries. For example, AOL and Yahoo are the leading online music destinations - and AOL has partnered with iTunes and MusicNet to create a free and paid music service. News is one of the core content areas of the Internet, and as with music (and video), portals have captured the largest audience for news among the online audience. Yahoo! and MSNBC top the list.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Cable Penetration Hits 13-Year Low
In the latest PR move made by the Television Advertising Bureau (TVB) they are blitzing the ad agency community with the message that more American households are receiving subscription TV programming (TVB’s lingo for Cable TV) via an alternate delivery system (ADS) than ever before. MSOs lost 1.4 million subscribers and wired cable's penetration percentage hit a 13-year low, according to a TVB analysis of Nielsen Media Research data for November 2005.
Nielsen’s NTI data reflects national ADS penetration to have reached 20.8% in November 2005, up from 19.2% in November 2004. Over the same period, wired cable penetration fell from 66.4% to 64.8% - the last time wired cable was any lower was in February 1992. The number of wired cable subscribers dropped to 71.4 million in November from 72.8 million a year earlier.
Direct broadcast satellite (DBS) delivery, the largest component of ADS, is now estimated at 20.2%, up from 18.9% in November 2004. ADS now represent 24.5% of subscription television customers. As a 20-year veteran of the Cable industry, this is certainly not surprising. This is the first small bit of red witnessed by an industry that has been blessed by decades of double-digit growth. What is important is make moves now to integrate this tend into the industries future business model. Satellite penetration will continue to chip away but the biggest threat looms in new distribution technology. As the telcos gain footing and begin to offer more TV services over wireless, phone lines, fiber. ADS penetration will grow at a rockets pace. Although cable Interconnects consolidated DMA’s and helped advertisers make cable a part of their media mix in the first decade of the century. I expect the waters to be murkier in the not too distant future. The MSO’s may not be allowed to own and operate alternate distribution systems but that doesn’t stop their ad sales companies from representing them and keeping “Cable” simple and easy to purchase by advertisers and agencies alike.
Review ADS penetration by DMA
To read more from the TVB Click here.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
USA Today - David Lieberman writes: "Here are two key questions for anyone who wants to run a TV network: Ten years from now, who'll pay for your new shows? And how will potential viewers discover that they exist? The answers got murkier in the past several weeks. Three major networks — ABC, CBS, and NBC — took small but important steps away from a business model that has served them for about 50 years but is being stressed by new technology. For the first time, they agreed to let viewers see for a fee current prime-time hits on cable and satellite video-on-demand (VOD) and via Internet download. ..." Link: USA Today.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Adding to the deal with ABC in October, Apple Computer struck a deal with NBC Universal to sell television shows a la carte on its online iTunes store. More than 300 episodes from NBC prime time, late-night and classic TV shows are now available for 1.99 each. This includes Law & Order, The Tonight Show, The Office, Surface, Late Night with Conan O'Brien and a number of "classic" popular shows of the past. NBC also recently signed a deal to begin selling replays of its most popular shows on an On-Demand basis with DirecTV and Last month announced a deal with Sprint Nextel to make Leno's monologues and sketches available on their mobile services. ABC may have been first to travel this path but NBC followed up with a larger content deal. I have no doubt that we will not see more deals like this soon. Viacom/CBS anyone?
More on this topic: Disney, ABC & Apple announce deal, USA Today - ABC affiliates feeling uneasy, SMM Oct Post - TV That you'll want to Pay For? and Reinvent TV's - Steven Jobs stars...
Friday, December 02, 2005
You may not realize it but there is a high-stakes technology arms race going on for control of your living room. Broadband growth has been the catalyst for the Internet as it has matured into more of an entertainment platform and video is playing a key role. Although it is becoming more routine for consumers to load audio, video and other data to our new network of Internet-connected gadgetry the key to success will be in finding relevant files.
The current technology used by today’s most popular search engines look for text like ".mov" or ".avi," and for keywords or links that might be in a document which give a sense of what type of content is there. Unfortunately this identifies only a small percentage of the video that’s currently available. Yahoo is trying to address the problem with new standards like “Media RSS” however how much can we rely on video providers to “submit” feeds. Google’s plan to search the closed-caption text is fine for present and future video but that is still text based and relies on a technology that is not used in many video productions. At best these approaches are workarounds and are only going to scratch the surface when it comes to identifying the millions of video files (growing exponentially) on the web.
AOL, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others have each been quietly developing new search tools for digital video. They all realize that searchable video is an extremely attractive new market and this new tool is extremely relevant to consumers hungry for multimedia. From a financial standpoint it also helps the companies appeal to brand advertisers, which spend about $60 billion annually on TV commercials. Recently I have taken notice of Truveo.com. They’re approach to video search is new an unique and its generating quite a buzz. It’s worth some research and perhaps a follow up post on this topic. I’d be interested in hearing your POV. Link: ZDNet Nov 29, 2005 – Striking up Video Internet Search, Previous SMM Posts: Oct 6, 2005 - Video over the Internet
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
A new milestone for the online advertising industry
It appears that online advertising has become mainstream as Corporate marketers have made it a standard part of media budgets. Spending on online advertising is projected to reach $12 billion in 2005 as more marketers lose confidence in the effectiveness of traditional ads and spending looks set to accelerate further as we enter into 2006.
According to a study released in May by Forrester Research, nearly all of the marketers surveyed said they plan to cut spending in traditional channels such as print and direct mail to fund increases in online ads. Tim Armstrong, Google's advertising sales vice president, believes that 2005 marks the turning point when advertisers switched from testing to investing in the decade-old medium. "The experimenting and testing phase begun in the 1990s has ended. Corporate ad buyers are investing now.” According to Armstrong, there are two primary factors are driving advertisiers interest and realocation of their ad budgets. First, consumer adoption of the Web has far outpaced advertisers' commitment to the medium and secondly, Madison Avenue executives have begun advising clients to close the gap by committing more dollars online.
These shifts are not just benefiting Google but the entire industry. Greg Stuart, IAB President and CEO states that “On average, people today spend about 14 percent of their "media time" on the Internet, up from basically zero ten years ago, and advertisers are reacting to this change. When consumers shift like that, marketers are sure to follow".
Jupiter Research estimates the U.S. online advertising market will grow 28 percent over last year, to $11.9 billion in 2005 (the IAB concures), moving to $13.6 billion in 2006 and $15.1 billion in 2007. Industry estimates put Google's market share at 30 percent of overall online ad spending, with as much as 40 percent of the category it dominates--paid search. Estimates vary however analysts believe about 5 percent of U.S. advertising dollars will be spent online this year, up from about 2 percent just a couple years ago. In short order, 10 percent or more could move online. After years of fighting an uphill battle, it appears that the business can finally carve out a piece of the media budget pie that they can call they’re own. The question that is yet to be answered for the years to follow is just how much of it they will leave for the others!
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Who Are The Real Pirates?
Written By: Shelly Palmer, Chairman
Advanced Media Committee
The Emmy Awards
We hear the content industry and rights holders complaining about piracy everyday: file sharing, physical piracy, theft-of-services, derivative works, etc. But has anyone stopped to think about how many times consumers are asked to pay for the same content?
Computer files may be the final form factor, but that is not stopping media companies from extracting every last bit of value from each file. Because most media is delivered through walled gardens or physical copies, even files can be resold. For example: first you pay 99¢ to purchase a song on iTunes. Then you pay $2.49 to download a portion of that song as a ringtone. You can then pay $1.99 to use a portion of that song as a ringback tone--and $1.99 on iTunes to purchase a download of the video for that song.
Next comes a charge of $1.49--for a still image of the artist to use as wallpaper on your mobile device. You would rather download it for free from the Internet, but you can't get it into your phone. (Some people actually take a picture of the computer screen with their cell phone cameras to avoid this charge, but not many.) You may pay $14.99 for the DVD of the movie that features that song and, if you are truly out of your mind, you will pay $19.99 for the CD of the album that includes that song. Then you will pay $3.95 to watch the pay-per-view or video-on-demand version of the movie--and another $6.95 for the HD VOD concert that features the same song.
If the media company has its way, you will pay $12.95 per month for the subscription to HBO that will broadcast the movie and the concert on the cable company¹s linear and VOD channels. Ultimately, part of your basic cable or satellite package will go to pay a per-subscriber fee to Music Choice, where you will hear the song. You may also pay $12.95 per month to a satellite radio company where you can hear the song and, if Apple continues its world dominance over the personal music player world, you will ultimately purchase a co-branded iPod with the complete collected works of this artist (including this same song) for about $200.
How many times can you sell the same master file? There doesn’t seem to be any limit. You just have to keep the walls in the walled gardens up and keep the formats incompatible. How many times will you buy the same master file? That question is being answered every day on P2P networks, via email and podcasts. Obviously, some consumers are willing to pay for the convenience of not having to bother converting their own files to be used in all of their devices. But there are far more consumers who would rather not pay for the same thing over and over again. Is there a middle ground? I doubt it, but I'd like to hear your thoughts.
Read more from Shelly Palmer: Advanced Media Committee Blog
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
The AOL announcement this past week about its deal with Time Warner sister company, Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution, that enables it to offer a free, Web-based VOD service, they will call In2TV. The service will offer over 3,400 hours of archive programs from 100 series of Warner Brothers productions. While the deal is exclusive for one year, AOL executives have stated that they are in negotiations to secure content from other studios as well. In2TV is expected to eventually increase the amount of WB content it offers: It is rumored that they have secured agreement from rights owners to offer up to 14,000 episodes from 300 series on the service.
“This builds on what has been our programming focus
for many years and aligns well with our move to the open Web,” says Kevin
Conroy, AOL Media Networks executive VP. “Our focus is on building a media
business and driving advertising revenue.”
The service will also include interactive features, such as games, quizzes, polls and trivia contests. AOL states that In2TVthe will serve as a "cornerstone" of the AOL.com Web site's commitment to delivering broadband video through AOL Video on Demand and AOL Video Search as well as through AOL Television. AOL Video Search now draws on an archive of over 18,000 licensed and original content assets that is maintained by AOL VOD, as well as on over 1.5 million pieces of video content on the Internet indexed through AOL's Singingfish.
"This service will bring an unprecedented collection
of popular TV series to a totally new platform, revolutionizing the distribution
of television programming," said Eric Frankel, president of WB Domestic Cable
Distribution. "It will enable users the opportunity to be entertained and to
interact with the programming that has groundbreaking interactive features.
Visitors will be able to program their own personal network."
At Launch In2TV’s six original channels will be:
- LOL TV (comedies such as Welcome Back Kotter & Perfect Strangers)
- Dramarama (Falcon Crest, Sisters & Eight Is Enough)
- Toontopia (animated shows like Beetlejuice & Pinky and the Brain)
- Heroes and Horrors (Wonder Woman, Lois & Clark & Babylon 5)
- Rush (action shows such as La Femme Nikita, Kung Fu & The Fugitive)
- Vintage (Growing Pains, F-Troop and Maverick)
In2TV will be supported by advertising: AOL says that it will offer instream broadband advertising and site sponsorships with banner ads. However, the company says that :15 and :30 second spots will take up no more than one to two minutes within each episode and viewers will not be able to fast-forward through commercials. This strategy allows Time Warner to bring more content online faster. That, in turn, means more eyeballs, which in turn drive ad revenues and additional content. AOL now and Google, Yahoo and others soon to follow, it’s easy to see where this is going. Will my children’s offspring ever know the difference between a television and a computer?
Monday, November 14, 2005
It was only a short time ago Apple announced it would sell some of ABC-Disney television programs via iTunes and by the end of October, the company’s customers had already purchased over 1 million videos. If we can get television content online, on demand, whenever we want it, how will networks convince us to tune in on their schedules? For that matter, how can they be certain we'll tune in at all?
This new online distribution model presents the networks with an enormous opportunity to change the traditional network business model. Allowing viewers to purchase individual episodes would free the industry from the current strangle hold of advertising revenue. Imagine a new era in broadcasting where fans have the power to keep their favorite series in production and producers have the opportunity to create more elaborate, controversial, and innovative programs.
Network television has followed a predictable pattern with programming, no ratings, no airtime. Many of the most innovative shows of the last two decades, shows that generated critical acclaim and cult followings, have been early casualties of the ratings wars. When these programs are canceled, there are generally two explanations: Either the network didn't know how to market or schedule the show, or the series grew too complex and unwelcoming for casual viewers and latecomers. The problem is that there's still an assumption that if a show is good enough, a sizable audience will be sitting in front of the television when it airs. In an age of TV series being widely available via DVDs, the Internet and DVR, such a belief is fatally flawed.
As iTunes and its future competitors offer more video content, producers will no longer need to depend on the networks “prime time” viewers as their only audience. The compromises that they currently make to meet broadcast requirements will also disappear. Episode lengths can vary as needed, content can be darker, more topical, or more explicit. If the network execs are clever, these changes can supplement broadcast programming rather than replace it. Viewers already have been programmed to expect director's cuts and deleted scenes from DVDs. It's certainly conceivable that in the future networks might one day air a "broadcast cut" of an episode, then encourage viewers to download the longer, racier director's cut the next afternoon.
The industry was quick to introduce “end of season” DVDs of hit series and consumers have purchase and rented them by the millions giving viewers the chance to catch up between seasons. In a online, on-demand world, anyone can catch up at any time, quickly and legally. Producers will no longer have to choose between alienating new viewers with a complex storyline or alienating the established audience by rehashing details from previous episodes. Forward thinking networks will realize this is not only feasible but also extremely profitable. Rather than recapping relevant details from previous episodes, we could soon be encouraged to buy our way up to speed.
On-demand television will allow audiences to take an active role in programming the networks. We've seen several examples of fans banding together to save their favorite programs in the past few years. On-demand and direct downloads give fans of endangered shows the chance to vote with their wallets while a show is still on the air. And if a program is cancelled, revenue direct from the viewers might provide enough revenue to keep it in production as an online-only venture. Assuming that the average half hour show costs $1 million per episode and downloads will cost around $2 per viewer, shows would only need a few million viewers to turn a decent profit. Would a few million viewers pay $2 a week to download their favorite show? The concept is certainly possible.
Henry Jenkins has written extensively on potential business models for online, on-demand television. Jenkins outlines a subscription model where viewers pay in advance for an entire season of downloadable episodes, providing the startup capital needed to fund production. Episodes would also be available at a higher cost on a per-episode basis, providing a steady stream of additional revenue. The Apple iTunes business model proves that audiences are willing to purchase their media when it is simple, affordable, and convenient. With Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft set to join Apple in the television distribution wars, it's a safe bet that you'll see more major-network content for sale in the near future.
Monday, November 07, 2005
(I ran across this recently and felt it would make you smile. For all of us tangled in the present and future of this medium… this read is well worth the reprint. Hit the link for the balance of the article from Newsweek’s May 30 issue. -SM)
By Conan O'Brien
I have been on television for almost 12 years, and in that relatively short time I've seen the medium change exponentially. Naturally, this seismic upheaval has bred fear and uncertainty in our industry, but throughout it all I have remained calm. Like an old fisherman I have weathered countless storms and kept my tiny skiff afloat. And now, my face cracked and my nut-brown hands rubbed raw by the salt air, I know the mysteries of the inky deep. I've stared into the unblinking eye of modern television and I alone know her startling future.
To begin, the trend toward larger and larger televisions will continue as screens double in size every 18 months. Televisions will eventually grow so large that families will be forced to watch TV from outside their homes, peering in through the window. Random wolf attacks will make viewing more dangerous. And, just as televisions grow larger and more complicated, so will remote controls. In fact, changing channels will soon require people to literally jump from button to button. Trying to change the channel while simultaneously lowering the volume will require two people and will frequently lead to kinky sex.
We will also see a stunning increase in the number of televisions per household, as small TV displays are added to clocks, coffee makers and smoke detectors. Manufacturers will even place a small plasma screen inside car airbags so that accident victims will have something to watch while they wait for help. Toddlers' bowls will have a television at the bottom, and children will be encouraged to eat all of their mush so they can see Morley Safer. Televisions will even be placed inside books and, before long, books will evolve into no more than hundreds of small flat-screens stapled together. Reading the opening chapter of "Moby Dick" will include watching 10 hours of "Gunsmoke."
TiVo, the digital recorder with a brain, will continue to evolve with alarming speed. Super-TiVos will arrange marriages between like-minded viewers and will persuade mismatched couples to throw in the towel and start seeing other people. Tough-talking TiVos will even confront viewers, saying, "You've watched 40 straight hours of 'Sponge- Bob'—get off the weed!" One of TiVo's best loved features—its ability to provide viewers with commercial-free television—will inevitably force TV advertising to go extinct. As a result, celebrities will be forced to find new and creative ways to compromise their integrity. (At this moment, the writer pauses to slake his thirst with a delicious Diet Peach Snapple... now with less aspartame!) The sudden loss of ads on television will push many companies to stage their pitches live on Broadway, revitalizing the theater in America and garnering Patti LuPone a Tony award for her work with Geico.
Meanwhile, computers will continue to be used more and more to watch digital streaming video, eventually turning them into televisions. With no..... (see the rest of Conan’s thought’s)
Special Thanks to Newsweek… © 2005 Newsweek, Inc.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Hot off the wire this AM… Viacom's CBS is buying College Sports Television Networks (CSTV) for 325 million bucks. Congratulations to Brian Bedol and his staff for a job well done. CSTV was launched in April 2003 and quickly grew its distribution to reach over 65 million homes as it simultaneously developed itself in to a well recognized brand and leader in televising collegiate sports. Bedol is not new to developing ideas into profitable television ventures. He previously co-founded what's now ESPN Classic and sold it to Disney/ABC for a substantial profit.
CBS Corp. will close the deal post-split as its first entry into cable television. This is an outstanding brand extension for CBS, pairing CSTV & its online product with CBS Sports and CBS SportsLine. Founder and CEO Brian Bedol will stay on to run CSTV and will report to Les Moonves, in his soon-to-be role as CEO of CBS Corp. "I am very excited about this acquisition, which brings a new dimension to our efforts in sports and the digital space as well. We're not only getting hugely valuable assets here, we're acquiring a superb management team that has a proven record in building lucrative sports television franchises. College athletics and the online community it generates represent one of the biggest sectors in sports television, and CSTV has made tremendous strides in capturing this market. We think it's a natural fit for our company and we're confident that, as part of CBS, it will continue to grow and compete even more aggressively," said Moonves. The deal is not just about cable, but also the Internet. Moonves claims that by adding in CSTV.com to those that CBS Sports and CBS SportsLine already have, CBS will have a "larger sports Web audience than any other online medium - - 19 million unique users" Apparently this is his first chance to take an obvious swipe at ESPN.com.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Imagine a landscape of video entertainment that is nonlinear, user-controlled, global and online. According to an increasing number of online video producers and distributors, this is the future of TV. Read this eye-opening article written on 10/31 by Marguerite Reardon for CNET News.com. “The Internet and the future of TV”.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Comcast's Roberts Outlines Strategy for a Broadband TV World
(10/25/05 itvt – Newsletter) In an address before the Executives' Club of Chicago last Wednesday, Comcast CEO, Brian Roberts, provided some insight into how the cable MSO plans to stay competitive in a media world where content providers can offer video directly to broadband-equipped consumers. According to a report on the address published in the Chicago Tribune, Roberts conceded that broadband Internet video-on-demand will eventually render the traditional cable TV business obsolete, and said that Comcast's increasing focus on VOD should be seen as part of its efforts to adapt to this emerging reality: "We really do believe in change," Roberts said. "Other operators looked at on-demand and backed away because it's disruptive. We said 'Let's do it.'" According to the Tribune report, Roberts stated that Comcast needs to adapt to the emerging media landscape of on-demand, Internet-delivered video by becoming more like Google--i.e. by providing sophisticated yet easy-to-use video search services.
The MSO says that over a billion programs have been viewed on its Comcast On Demand VOD service this year to date--well ahead of previous forecasts that a billion programs would be viewed on the service over the course of the entire year. Last year, Comcast subscribers viewed approximately 567 million VOD programs. Comcast's VOD service currently offers around 3,800 programs, 95% of which are offered free of charge (note: Comcast's focus on free on-demand content has irked some content providers) According to the company, which launched its VOD service in its home market of Philadelphia in late 2002, its most-viewed VOD categories include music, movies, sports and children's programming. Its most-watched free VOD program this year has been "1,2 Step," a music video from pop artist Ciara, which has garnered a total of 3.2 million views to date. Another Ciara video, entitled "Oh," has been the second-most popular VOD offering on Comcast this year. The most-watched children's program for 2005 has been "The Chaperone," an episode of the show, "SpongeBob Squarepants," which has garnered 1.3 million views. (Note: Comcast defines a "view" as beginning when a customer selects a program from its VOD menu and ending when the program is deleted from the saved programs file; pauses, rewinds and fast-forwards are counted as part of the original view.)
Time Warner Cable, NBC Universal in "Start Over" Deal
("Start Over" Service is Based on MystroTV Technology)
(10/25/05 itvt – Newsletter) Programmer, NBC Universal Cable, and MSO, Time Warner Cable, have signed a wide-ranging carriage agreement, which, among other things, gives Time Warner Cable the right to offer certain programs from NBC, USA Network, CNBC, MSNBC, Bravo, Sci Fi and other NBC Universal channels on its Start Over service. The latter, which is expected to launch later this year, will allow Time Warner Cable customers to restart TV shows that are already in progress; however, it will not allow them to fast-forward through commercials. The service is based on technology that was developed under the auspices of Time Warner Cable's now-defunct MystroTV project. The deal also gives Time Warner Cable the rights to VOD content from NBC News (including its flagship shows, "Nightly News" and "Meet the Press") and (for the first time) its various cable properties including MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews", "The Abrams Report," and CNBC's "Mad Money" and "Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo"). In addition, it calls for NBC Universal to develop "interactive opportunities" for Time Warner Cable and to participate in several of the MSO's new technology trials. NBC Universal Cable president, David Zaslav, said in a prepared statement:
"This multi-faceted agreement with Time Warner Cable demonstrates our commitment to providing our affiliates with the services they need to drive their businesses... Customers will continue to have access to one of the top-rated cable networks on television, USA, while also having the opportunity to utilize new technologies like Start Over. Additionally, we expect Start Over will help deliver more engaged viewers to our advertisers. From HD to VOD and interactive TV, our customers will get to watch the valuable programming we have to offer, from news to entertainment, in new and exciting ways."
Monday, October 24, 2005
Why BitTorrent is a threat to cable and what to do about it. After hearing so much about popular file-swapping program BitTorrent, CableWorld reporter Shirley Brady decided to try it out for herself. What she found was that most cable shows are easily accessible for free online and very easy to download. What, if anything, should cable do about it? Operators and networks are taking various approaches, ranging from aggressive efforts to stamp out P2P sites to starting their own file-sharing networks. CableWorld – Stealing Is Believing
Monday, October 17, 2005
I must say I truly enjoy the media industry. During the twenty years that I've had the good fortune to be involved with it, I have seen enormous growth and change. For many people, they are not comfortable with the "change" aspect. For me, it's an area that I flourish in, it's in my blood and charges me through to the next project, fire or dilemma. A perfect example of this is the industries current state. It is rapidly evolving and morphing right before our eyes. Technologies like DVR's, VOD and video streaming from the internet are finally placing the power in the viewers hands to see what they want, when they want. For me, that just pulls me into another world however as excited as I get about this stuff, I also know that there is a lot more to life. To keep myself grounded I need to reel myself in and take in all the other important things. Truly, it'd this facet of my life that re-charges, re-centers and makes me whole.
This past weekend it was time for a much needed family getaway and we made a run for the North Carolina Mountains and all that they have to offer. Autumn is a beautiful time of year in this part of the country. I had no idea of that fact until moving here from California in late 2001. I have always enjoyed beaches and mountains, hiking fishing and camping however it was an enormous undertaking to get to anywhere nice (and away from people) yet quickly when we were living in Los Angeles, CA. The move from West coast to East has help solve that little life dilemma and we now spend a great deal of weekends (and those long southern summer evenings) out experiencing life and Mother Nature. Here's a little snapshot of our past weekend.
Are you ready to re-charge? Keep in mind that you will never be at your best if you don't take care of number one! For some it may be the gym or run maybe its time with friends and family. As long as it's a big step away form the daily stress and issues it is time well spent.
"If A equals success, then the formula is: A = X + Y + Z, X is work. Y is play. Z is keep your mouth shut."
Friday, October 14, 2005
US Penetration Estimates:
- Nielsen estimates 21 million VOD HHs today, expected to reach 30 million next year.
- Nielsen found that 42% of VOD-accessible homes in the NPM sample watched VOD for at least 60 minutes during at least one week in April-May 2005. The current prime time rating is about 0.15%.
- MAGNA Global’s On-Demand Quarterly 1st quarter 2005 review estimates 24.5 million VOD-enabled subscribers in 2005 and projects 66 million by 2010.
- Kagan Research estimates that by end of 2005, 23.9 million U.S. homes will have access to VOD from their local cable operator.
- Edison Media Research & Arbitron’s Internet & Multimedia 2005 study showed 10% of the U.S. population 12+ watched VOD last month.
Factors Affecting Development of VOD
- Nielsen’s plans for measuring VOD in 2006 are favorable for establishing pricing for ad-supported VOD content.
- Disney plans to pursue distribution of “A” grade ABC VOD product with cable operators.
- MSOs and programmers don’t agree on pricing models, with programmers wanting revenue based on the incremental value of content for cable operators, and MSOs believing that they’ve paid for content once and shouldn’t have to pay again for time-shifted delivery.
- Growth of direct download (Internet-based video) and P2P-based (peer-to-peer) file-sharing of television programming could limit the appeal of VOD because they compete directly with VOD services.
Source: MAGNA Global On-Demand Quarterly, June 2005
CBS conducted research on potential VOD usage with its Entertainment Panel (sample of 2457) in December 2004.
- 44% had access to VOD product.*
- Among those having VOD access, 21% had ordered something in the past month.*
- With the choice of ordering VOD for $1 with the ability to fast forward through ads or $.50 without that ability, 62% chose the $1 capability and 38% chose the $.50 alternative.*
- Among CBS’ TV City New Technology Focus Groups (18 groups in Dec. 2004), 95% found at least one program that they would consider purchasing, and the average number of programs selected was 7.5 programs.*
- PricewaterhouseCoopers projects 15 million cable subscribers will spend $1.35 billion on pay products this year.**
- The average share of cable subscribers using VOD at any one time ranges from 6% to 10% – and that is expected to rise to 20% as VOD gains popularity.**
- Top 10 to 15 titles on most systems account for 50% of all VOD requests.**
- Movement is toward peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, which allow people to play games with each other or send videos or phone calls.**
Sources: * CBS Research, ** Broadcasting & Cable 03/28/05
Friday, October 07, 2005
Carolinas Sports Entertainment Television
October 16, 2004 – June 30, 2005
A little before her time… but taken way before her prime.
June 30th 2005 – a sad day for me as the clock struck midnight marking the end of a young television networks existence. As the last show faded to black, what took months to develop soon became nothing more than white noise and static. What a waste it was after all of the hard work and effort that had gone into its creation and the development of its programming. To achieve what we had accomplished, it took a dedicated team and the one that we assembled, I quickly grew to admire and respect. As networks go, I believe that we were scrappers, but each of us was determined, creative and passionate about the common cause we came to know as C-SET. The enthusiasm that we had for what we were creating was infectious and each new employee that joined the group quickly caught it.
In hindsight, it now is so clear. We were the nations first digital – regional television network. We had immediate distribution to all of the Time Warner Digital Cable subscribers (700,000+ in the Carolinas) and the few other cable operators in the region seemed interested in launching the network as well. Our on-air look was superb and the programming was compelling and had the strong regional appeal that it needed. Digital cables penetration in the markets that we served was higher than most areas in the country and was growing at a break-neck pace. Everything seemed posed for growth and success right? Wrong, this little network never had a chance!
It was only a small part of a multifaceted company that consisted of a new NBA franchise (Charlotte Bobcats), a struggling WNBA team (Charlotte Sting) and a brand new $265 million dollar Charlotte arena. In this very young yet very dysfunctional company, the focus was all on the Bobcats. This was understandable, as the team was the flagship of the business. In theory, the Bobcats’ success would be like a tide, it would raise all boats and hence all companies in the family would benefit. Unfortunately the first year NBA franchise was struggling due to many internal and external problems and these issues were overwhelming the senior management team that the network directly reported to. Although those leaders were ultimately responsible for nurturing and growing the total business, they lacked the foresight, knowledge and desire to be concerned with anything other than the NBA franchise. This was the catalyst to the young networks demise.
Such a shame, millions invested in creating it’s programming, building the infrastructure and securing its initial distribution and the few in charge had a different agenda. They made the decision to shut it down after just 8½ months of operation. I wonder what they would have done if it had actually been their personal investment. This is ludicrous to me however in this case, it was not my personal investment nor was it my call to make. For me, this experience was another one of life’s many lessons. One like several others that I have had the benefit of learning from during my career that could be great material for a business schools textbook or master’s thesis paper. My final takeaway on this is that it truly was a challenging and rewarding experience. I’m extremely proud that I played a major roll in developing the business and for having the good fortune to work with some of the industries finest talent. To my X-CSET peers, I wish each of you the best and if I can ever be of any help to you in anyway, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
(from the September 14, 2005 post at www.reinventtv.com)
If you are interested in either the Akimbo PVR to receive quality video streams through the Internet or the Slingbox to to "place shift" their own content over the Internet, you might want to check out Maury Wright and Matthew Miller at the EDN's Digital Den.
"... assuming some form of a home network, the products and services won't bust the bank. Remaining obstacles include distributing digital video in a home, the rather narrow choice of Internet content, and, of course, the business models involved. Still, our evaluation suggests that digital video is in the nascent stage and will still offer designers and entrepreneurs many opportunities in the future."
Unlike TiVo or DVR's, which records from a broadcast source, subscribers instruct Akimbo to get the desired content, and then watch it later. A 30-minute show can take only a few minutes to arrive by means of a cable modem. Akimbo is selling its Internet PVR for $100, including three free months of service (normally, $10 per month).
"Still, to survive, Akimbo may need to tweak its business model. It provides much of its content on a pay-per-view basis on top of the $10-per-month subscription fee. Perhaps an extra charge for adult content is legitimate if the company feels it must offer such programming. But subscribers interested in subjects from wine to golf are likely to feel that they are being nickel-and-dimed to death."
With Slingbox, you are able to watch or listen to anything available on your home TV or stereo from any high-speed Internet connected device anywhere in the world. So, if you are staying in a hotel in Los Angeles but want to see your beloved Yankees airing on YES back in New York, it is still possible to view what airs on your TV back home. This is known as place shifting.
"In all [EDN test] cases, it [was] best to view the video stream as a relatively small window. At one-quarter to one-third of a 19-in. display set to 1024×768-pixel resolution, the video quality looks good. ... Overall, the Slingbox experience was positive, but the company could do so much more with just slightly better software."Read their review for more in-depth information.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
- The broadcast networks are all in discussions with cable operators to offer their programs on a VOD platform.
- Some networks could launch on-demand products as early as next summer or at the start of the 2006-07 season.
- Broadcasters think that revenue from VOD could offset some of the production costs for scripted programming.
- Cable operators are interested in deals with broadcasters because of the need for more content on VOD and the potential alternative of using the Internet as a plausible VOD vehicle.
- CBS research shows that the average TV viewer would purchase about 100 hours of VOD programming a year, and watches about 1,000 hours of TV in that time.
- There are questions about consumers agreeing to pay for broadcast repeats in VOD, but broadcasters have to pay rights fees for talent and music, etc.
Monday, October 03, 2005
Magna Global reports that in the second quarter around 965,000 subscribers signed up for DVRs, down from 1.15 million in the prior quarter and 1.32 million in the fourth quarter of 2004. There are currently around 8 million DVR subscribers in the U.S.
“We believe this quarter’s decline reflects the gradual
maturation of the marketplace for DVRs,” read the report, written by Brian Weiser director of industry analysis at the Interpublic Group of Cos.-owned research unit.
“If predictions of large numbers of DVR subscriptions in the
next couple of years are unfounded -- and the data we are seeing shows the rate of growth is slowing, not increasing -- our point of view is that DVRs appeal to higher-end subscribers,” Mr. Weiser told AdAge.com.
Time Warner Cable added 132,000 DVR subscribers with its current total standing at 1.1 million or 22.4% of its digital cable homes. Comcast has a total of 775,000 DVRs in the market.