Wednesday, December 04, 2013

TV Everywhere Viewing takes off

New data available from FreeWheel finally quanitifies the fact that TV Everywhere is finally real.  Since the inception of the concept, critics could confidently claim that the authentication of subscribers on non-TV devices was failing to materialize, however, in the past 12 months authenticated video viewing grew 217% and comprises an impressive 14% of all ad views on long-form content.

Brian Dutt, manager of advisory services at FreeWheel stated “Over time, we expect that this will drive increased monetization of half-hour and hour-long TV programs (as well as live streams) across all screens.  Late this year, the industry also achieved a 1:1 ratio between ad views and video views which, according to Dutt, indicates that monetization is finally catching up with viewing behavior.  Dutt beleive that all of this is proving that programmers are finally figuring out how to bring TV experiences to viewers across all devices while monetizing it at the same time. As such, the content mix is continuing to evolve with long-form growing most quickly (56%), led by scripted drama and sports. More: 12/03/13 FierceOnline Video -
TV Everywhere ad viewing spikes 9 percentage points between Q4 2012 and Q3 2013 - FierceOnlineVideo or Download FreeWheel's Video Monetization Q3 2013 Report

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

TiVo - To Roam or not to Roam

The DVR pioneers at TiVo are back with the recent launch of a new line of devices that promise closer integration of streaming services and personal recordings. Their cool new trick; out-of-home (OOH) streaming of both live and recorded shows, with the ability to download shows to to smartphones and tablets from anywhere. The company says that the new Roamio line combines the functionality of a DVR, Apple TV, Roku and Slingbox and even with all of those devices in a user’s entertainment centre; they still wouldn’t have access to everything a Roamio can do for them. It says that while doing what other cable set-top-boxes don’t do: combine all the best of linear TV with all the best over-the-top content, TV lovers now have the ability to roam free and both control and consume from out of the home through a mobile device. According to Colin Dixon, chief analyst and Founder of nScreenMedia, "The TiVo Roamio has reset the bar for what a DVR can do by making all that functionality and content available anywhere will allow users to get more value from the content they already pay for.” For now, the connectivity only works with iOS devices but the company has plans to roll out to Android sometime next year.
Now I'll admit that I've always have a soft spot in my heart for TiVo because truly, their early product was literally years ahead of it's time but now I must question.... is it enough to keep the company relevant? I guess only time will tell. As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Netflix in Discussions for U.S. Cable Carriage

In an effort to continue to expand their subscriber base and to create a second revenue stream, Netflix is in talks with Comcast, Suddenlink Communications and several other cable operators about integrating its streaming video service with leased set-top boxes. Obviously U.S. MVPD's have taken notice of Netflix’s new arrangement with Virgin Media and, more recently, with Sweden’s Com Hem and are weighing out the potential future impact those deals may have state side.  At this point the company's mix of original series and large catalog of TV shows and movies, has essentially become a new premium subscription service that can do battle with HBO, Starz and Showtime. According to the Wall Street Journal, Netflix doesn’t have all the distribution rights it needs to offer its entire service on leased boxes in the U.S., at least not yet.
According to industry insiders, at this point in the game, Netflix would not gain much from a U.S. cable deal. The current distribution of cable STB's with IP capabilities, is very small and the overwhelming number of boxes deployed in the field today don’t speak IP (which at this point is critical to support a Netflix app). While cable operators are starting to deploy IP boxes, they will represent a fraction of the market for the near term future.
Technology aside the WSJ reports the biggest holdup between Netflix and U.S. cable companies is cable providers' fear of losing viewers of its own services and advertising. Currently they are 30 million Netflix subscribers in the U.S. alone and they will continue to access the service one way or another – via gaming consoles, retail TiVo boxes, Roku boxes and smart TVs – with or without cable’s help. In my opinion having Netflix on the set-top box would at least keep subscribers engaged with the cable video platform and prevent them toggling to a different video input and a different video device. MORE: MediaDailyNews - Netflix May Cut Deals with Cablers - 10/14/13 and Adweek - Is Netflix Looking for Cable Distribution Deals? by Sam Thielman 10/14/13

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The Fight to Win the SocialTV Battle

 Discussion/debate about Twitter and Facebook usage on the second screens while watching TV around the blogosphere has been at all time highs recently.  What seems somewhat clear is that socialTV is helping to push viewers back to live viewing in an age when DVRs and on-demand programming have pushed down ratings. "It's a great symbiotic relationship where we drive the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, and that viral conversation drives people back to watch our shows," said Viacom chief Philippe Dauman in an interview with Bloomberg. He offered up MTV's recent Video Music Awards as a prime example, a show that generated 18.5 million tweets (personally I thought that was do to Miley Cryus's foam finger and twerking but I'll give them that). The topic is getting even more hype do to the very open efforts by both Facebook's and Twitter as they clammer for the attention of TV networks and producers. At the end of September Facebook announced it would start sharing weekly data reports with ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS. The "big data" being shared includes the number of likes, comments and shares TV episodes get on the social network.
Yesterday the antisipated unveiling of Nielsen and Twitter first list of TV show rankings and ironically there was little connection between most watched shows and most talked about shows. Twitter reported Breaking Bad took the most tweets for the week of Sept. 23-29 while the top primetime show in total viewers was actually NBC's NFL Football: New England at Atlanta. The only show that did appear in both top ten lists for the week was The Voice, which ranked number two on Twitter's list and number eight and nine on the primetime rankings.

Initial analysis of TV activity shows that the entire Twitter TV audience for per episode is, on average, 50 times larger than the authors. If, for example, 2,000 people are tweeting about a program, 100,000 people are seeing those Tweets. Those 100,000 aren’t necessarily viewers of that particular TV episode. Nielsen notes that Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings are a separate set of metrics to traditional National TV Ratings. They do not change traditional National TV Ratings. But many believe they will complement each other.  To me this sounds like typical audience inflation many have debated with Nielsen data for years. The numbers are however one chooses to interpret them however the questions the advertisers need to ask is, are the RIGHT people seeing this stuff and are they buying anything?

Friday, October 04, 2013

Amazon Plans OTT Set Top Box

Amazon is on track to release a video-streaming STB prior to the end of the year, according to the WSJ. The device code-named ‘Cinnamon’ is said to be similar to the Roku 3 or Apple TV players and is similarly styled as a platform to run applications and content from a variety of sources including the obvious choice, Amazon Prime. A set-top box would deepen Amazon’s reach into the living room, where it is currently dependent on other hardware makers to reach consumers watching video on TV sets. Providing a device of its own is a potentially crucial component to Amazon’s ambition of expanding beyond its core online marketplace business.
In recent weeks Amazon has approached a variety of app developers and cable TV providers seeking partnerships for the rollout of its set-top box. They have set a deadline of mid-October to submit apps for the device, said the Journal's sources. More: CNET 10/04/13 - Amazon recruits variety of apps for set-top box, report says and WSJ Online 10/03 - Amazon Readies Set-Top Box for Holidays

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Twitter's Amplify Scores a Touchdown

Twitter has made another TV partnership deal, this time with the National  Football League and in particular with its NFL Network. For the NFL the new deal it will enable fans to get customized NFL video content, created specifically for the Twitter platform, on PCs, tablets and mobile devices. The agreement marks Twitter's biggest sports-related commitment to date for its Amplify service. Amplify was formally unveiled last May as a way for Twitter, broadcasters and advertisers to capitalize on peoples' use of social media while they watch TV. Like Facebook, Twitter is pinning it hopes on advertisers looking to tap its member base of 200 million regular users. It is setting its sights on TV, the most lucrative advertising market, and playing up to media companies and major brands its appeal to viewers who use the 140-character messaging platform to discuss what they are watching. To date the program boost CBS, Viacom, AE Network and Bloomberg  as clients.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Online Video Viewing on the Rise

According to Nielsen’s 2013 OTT Video Analysis, released last week September, viewers are streaming video at a breakneck pace - up 38% year over year, largely direct by the rapid growth of tablets and smartphones.  The data also surfaced details that some 38% of Americans are users or subscribers to Netflix, 18% are Hulu users (including 6% who subscribe to Hulu Plus) and 13% are Amazon Prime Instant Video users. The report also found that 88% of Netflix customers and 70% of Hulu Plus customers are binge users who stream three or more episodes of the same TV series in one day. This new ability to watch multiple episodes or even entire seasons of certain programs in one sitting is shifting the way viewers consume content and demonstrating incredible binge appetites for programming available anytime and anywhere on services such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime. MORE: 09/18/13 - "Binging" is the New Viewing for Over-The-Top Streamers

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Facebook vs. Twitter in the battle over Media Exposure

It looks like Facebook is going back into the ring in the fight for television exposure with Twitter. On Monday the company released two new conversation search tools designed to give news, sporting, TV entertainment organizations and marketers more insight into the real-time social conversation occurring on Facebook.  This effort is part of a partnership they have with tech company Mass Relevance to help its media clients utilize the new tools. As reported here in an earlier post, with Facebook having also launched hashtag support to unify topical conversations, along with testing trending topics, it not be far-fetched to believe that producers would gladly utilize these tools to integrate discussions that people are saying right into their shows. Certainly for some, importing user comments from Facebook could be a welcome improvement over Twitter since there aren’t any character limitations. Will viewers be open to hearing more significant discussions instead of trying to interpret the statement based on 140 characters? Time will tell.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

TV's, Bluerays & STB's... Watching You!

In what is said to be the first global study on smart TV ad effectiveness, research from smartclip and LG Electronics has revealed that customer demand for connected TV is opening a "booming" platform for advertisers. Why you ask, because television, STB's and blueray manufacturers are beginning to produce devices that contain digital sleuthing technology that tracks the live and recorded programs that viewers choose. Knowing details about what an individual is watching could better pinpoint which ads to display, opening the door to new ad revenue

Leading the charge on the technology side company's like Cognitive and Gracenote are working with the manufactures to integrate the software into the various platforms. In a interview with Bloomberg earlier this week Cognitive chief Michael Collette stated that the software could provide manufacturers with annual revenue that would boost the one-time-only amount of around 5 percent that they make on the sale of a TV set, which averages around $4. The 4 bucks they make on a set, they can at least double with the $5 they may make a year from the new recurring revenue.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Trendrr Aquired, Twitter Continues To make Television a Foundation of its Business

Less that two weeks ago we were reporting on Twitters continuing moves into television with a trending product experiment and highlights on how they have been acquiring companies and commissioning studies to make television a bedrock of its business.  Today news broke out on a blog post by Trendrr founder Mark Ghuneim, "Twitter has acquired Trendrr". If your not yet familar with Marks company, Trendrr tracks and analyzes conversation about TV shows on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.  Taking it one step further, Trendrr  not only tracks conversations, but offers curated tweets on a certain subject or from certain sources through its Twitter certified product, the aptly-named Curatorr.  Currently they list ABC, MTV and Univision as clients and state that they will honor its existing contracts, but won't be signing new ones. The deal comes a month after a Trendrr study reported that Facebook has five times more TV chatter than Twitter - a study that likely won't be repeated!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

STB & Dongle Sales Higher than forecast Thanks to Chromecast

According to ABI Research senior analyst Michael Inouye, the smart set-top box and dongle market is expected to pass 18 million units in 2013 – higher than originally forecast, thanks to strong, early demand for the Google Chromecast streaming dongle. The initial stock of Chromecast devices at online sources such as Amazon sold out rapidly thanks to the low price ($35) and a promotion that included three free months of Netflix.  Meanwhile, customers who purchased the Chromecast at Amazon after the cut won’t get their hands on the product until mid-September, or longer.
Inouye expects more dongle form factors in the smart set-top box market. The price of these devices will also allow lower tier TV manufacturers to separate the connected TV component, keeping prices lower and enabling customers the option to upgrade the connected platform as desired without replacing the TV. Competition from a range of connected CE devices will still remain stiff as the smart set-top box and dongle market offers an equally compelling user experience often at significantly lower price points. At this point “Google’s Chromecast device in particular sets a new low price bar for the connected CE market and as more applications are added to its library its value to price ratio will continue to grow,” according to analyst Michael Inouye.

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's Official, Cord-Cutting is No longer a Myth

Leichtman Research Group released its latest analysis of the pay-TV industry today. What did their findings uncover?  Their review of the 13 largest multichannel video providers in the U.S., representing 94% of the market, lost a combined 345,000 net video subs in the second quarter. That compares to the 325,000 subs those providers lost in the second quarter of 2012 and 2011.

In a separate report published this month by IHS, they identified that Internet pay TV is leaving cable and satellite providers in the dust.  From April to June, Verizon Fios and AT&T each boasted a 300,000 increase in subscribers, while cable and satellite providers lost a combined 750,000 subscribers. The report credits the decline to consumers' opting exclusively for over-the-top devices or services such as Netflix to watch TV.  Snip-Snip.... More: MCN - 08/19/13 Major U.S. Pay TV Providers Lost 345,000 Subs in Q2

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Twitter Testing TV Trending Feature

As we have reported here on SMM before, Twitter is getting even more cozier with the television industry. The move is hardly a surprising one: In February, Twitter acquired social TV analytics firm Bluefin Labs, a sign the site is doubling down on its social TV efforts. Twitter also teamed up with Nielsen in December to create the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating for the fall 2013 season, which will provide a "common benchmark" from which to measure a TV program's engagement.  So what Twitters next big bet on the TV business, a new feature that would see currently-trending television shows appear prominently within the timelines of users.

According to reports across the blogosphere, the 'Trending TV' experiment is currently being tested on a small percentage of iOS app users who are seeing a show-specific box at the top of their timelines when they refresh their feeds. In its essence, the proposition seems quite similar to second-screen apps like GetGlue and Zeebox that already use Twitter data to generate virtual chat rooms where viewers discuss ongoing shows.  Combine this with last month’s launch of Twitter TV Ad Targeting, a new service designed to enable Twitter and TV ad campaigns to be synchronized and its easy to see who is quickly becoming the next 800 pound gorilla?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

San Francisco Startup Stringwire Acquired by NBC

News gathering done at the source by Smartphone toting witnesses has been around for a while as the technology has grown and evolved. Twitter itself has become the go-to source for many kinds of widely witnessed breaking news, such as protests and plane crashes. Stepping up to the plate in support of this trend NBC News announced it has acquired the user-generated live video service Stringwire as part of an effort to beef up its newsgathering efforts. “Stringwire is at the leading edge of user-generated video products, with immediate value to our on-air and digital businesses,” explained Vivian Schiller, senior VP and chief digital Officer at NBC News. “You could get 30 people all feeding video, holding up their Smartphone’s and then we could look at that,” Schiller told the NY Times. “We’ll be able to publish and broadcast some of them.” For breaking news and stories, Stringwire has the ability to recruit and direct contributors based on geographical location via Twitter and then to instantly access their live footage. According to Schiller NBC will utilize Stringwire’s technology to provide its TV and digital platforms with new tools for newsgathering and for using eyewitness user-generated video content.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Nielsen: Tweets Actually Influences TV Viewing... Really!

No surprise but this week Nielsen released research that conclusively states that an increase in Twitter commentary about a TV show can increase viewership of that same show as it airs live.  By analyzing minute-to-minute trends in Nielsen’s live TV ratings and tweets for 221 broadcast primetime program episodes using Nielsen’s SocialGuide, the study found that live TV ratings had a meaningful impact in related tweets among 48% of the episodes sampled.  The results also showed that the volume of tweets caused significant changes in live TV ratings among 29% of the episodes.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Google Glass for Movie Making & other Possibilities

What would you do with $1,500? Well over 10,000 so-called Google Glass explorers are using them to search the Internet, write emails, check schedules, take pictures and shoot video in new ways never conceived. Now Google is enlisting film students from five Film colleges to help it explore how its wearable computing device can be used to make movies.  The participating schools are American Film Institute, California Institute of the Arts, Rhode Island School of Design, University of California, Los Angeles, and University of Southern California are the participating schools. As part of its moviemaking experiment, Google will lend each school three pairs of Google Glass which the company says the schools will explore how to use Glass for documentary filmmaking, character development, location-based storytelling.

Obviously there are no limits to what they might do and according to Norman Hollyn, a professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, "students will be encouraged to use Glass to tell stories incorporating the first-person point of view." He elaborated by stating that one model that students might follow is one explored in the film, "Timecode," by director Mike Figgis, which uses multiple cameras to capture different people simultaneously. Students will also be encouraged to try to use Glass's data overlays as a way of revealing elements of a story. At least two short films are expected to be done by the beginning of next year and Google plans to share an update in the fall of how the students have progressed.

Students are not the only ones experimenting with Glass. Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America wants to integrate Glass into its cars to give consumers a door-to-door transition between pedestrian directions and in-car GPS. Earlier this month Qualcomm Life and Palomar Health announced an incubator they have called "Glassomics. The goal of the project is to explore the potential of wearable computing in medicine by designing and building a Glass app which empowers physicians with real-time access to information about their patients, such as laboratory results and genomic information."

 Dan McNelis, co-founder of Dito, a company involved in application development for Google glass said that "a client has them working on using Glass to build information modeling", basically allowing to move from the whiteboard to an in the field 3D imaging system. Dan when on to say "imagine the benefit that a Google Glass’ point-of-view system offers to a construction worker who could walk around a work site, look at a support column and confirm through Google Glass that it’s in the right place and set at the right angle."

I would be remiss if I didn't mention this here. We talk about the "second screen" here on SMM quite a bit and those interactive apps for television, movies and videogames are very likely to finally take off through Glass. Currently, most of us (except me and some of my readers) don’t want to be messing with their smartphones or tablets to get the second screen information, because they have to look away from the program they are trying to watch. Google Glass eliminates this challenge by displaying the information through an overlay. Social interactions, box scores, actors information, popup video style content, all delivered over what you are watching personalized by what you choose to see and know.

Bottom line, this is game changing technology and it has many potential uses. Google Glass will ultimately speed up and personalize the way we receive and process information in ways we never thought possible. It is an exciting technology that will continue to evolve until it becomes firmly entrenched in our everyday lives. Like any new, game changing, technology, there will be bumps in the road as technical’s get ironed out and people adjust to new social norms. This will only serve to improve Glass and make it an even greater experience.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cord Swapping replaces Cord Cutting

Interesting data has been made public in the FCC’s annual video competition report released this past Monday.  Comcast, Time Warner Cable and other cable operators lost about 2.5 million video subscribers between 2010 and 2012. As anticipated the Satellite and Telco side of the industry are still in the growth mode for the most part.  AT&T's U-verse TV posted the biggest video subscriber gain, growing its subscription base from 3 million to 4.1 million during the same period. Verizon's FiOS TV expanded from 3.5 million to 4.5 million subscribers during the same period while DirecTV Inc. grew its subscriber base by 700,000 to 19.9 million during the same period, and Dish Network  remained flat at 14.1 million.
Total gain of 2.8 million reflects a modest net gain of 300K for the overall industry, so is it safe to assume that the feared cord cutting rumor is untrue and frankly should be renamed cord swapping.
Other note worthy items listed in the report:
 The FCC said cable operators installed 38,000 CableCARDs in retail devices such as TiVo DVRs and connected TVs in 2012.
  The number of households that rely solely on over-the-air antennas to watch TV remained flat at 11.1 million in 2012.
  Deployments of DVRs in pay TV homes increased to 50.3 million in 2012, up from 46.3 million in 2011. DVR penetration in TV homes has increased to 43.8 percent.
 More on this topic: See the FCC Report.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Aereo Can Stream in New York for the Foreseeable Future

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied a broadcaster request that the full court review a three-judge panel of that court's April decision not to stop Aereo from delivering broadcast signals over the Internet while a lower court considers a broadcaster challenge to the service's legality. The central issue in the Aereo case is whether the start-up’s decision to provide one antenna for every subscriber makes it a legal private transmission under copyright law or, instead, an illegal public broadcast so the broadcasters claim.
Meanwhile Fox Broadcasting isn't taking no for an answer, "We will now review our options, and determine the appropriate course of action," said a statement from Fox. CBS has also vowed to fight the company wherever it launches its service, which is available in New York, Atlanta and Boston (where it's already been sued by Hearst).
Aereo is a well funded startup that is challenging the current broadcasting model. While this ruling is another win for Aereo in its ongoing battle against broadcasters, their time in court is far from over. More on this to come...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Intel's TV service is named OnCue

Hot scoop from Gigaom is out today. According to Janko Roettgers, Intel's forthcoming TV service, which is expected by the end of the year, will be called OnCue. Branding and advertising for the service will likely be handled by OMD, Roettgers adds. The patent applications also reveal a logo and a potential tagline: "TV has come to its senses." More: 07/12/13 - Scoop: Intel’s upcoming TV service is going to be called OnCue

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Malone's Liberty Global - Now the worlds largest cable TV provider

Yesterday U.S. cable pioneer John Malone's Liberty Global officially closed it acquisition of British cable provider Virgin Media for $24 billion cash and stock. The deal expands Liberty Global's total subscriber count to 25 million customers in 12 countries in Europe now bigger than Comcast Cable which counted 22.3 million subscribers at the end of the first quarter.

Malone, is also looking to boost profits from U.S. cable systems. In March, Liberty Media agreed to pay $2.62 billion for a 27.3 percent stake in Charter Communications. That deal also gave Malone and three of his Liberty lieutenant’s seats on Charter's board of directors. I sure it's also no coincidence that Charters top brass consists of some of the cable industries best and brightest and I have no doubt they will be jumping at the chance to drive consolidation in the U.S. cable industry. I’m sure it will not be long before we hear much more from Liberty and Mr. Malone in the future.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

SocialTV comes to Dish Hopper Subscribers

Dish Network has been creating a stir in the broadcasting business this year with the launch of their Hopper Whole-Home ad skipping DVR system has announced the launch a new app called "Social" that it says is the industry’s “first and only set-top app that delivers on-screen social content relevant to the show or channel a viewer is watching.” The app enables customers to join social media conversations about shows that they are currently viewing allowing them to effectively multitask between watching a show and following social media posts about that show on the same screen. Accessible via Dish's "quick launch" bar, Social lets customers link up to four Twitter and four Facebook accounts to the app. Viewers have three options for the type of content displayed in the status bar: Now Watching shows the Twitter feed relevant to the show or channel the user is currently watching. My Twitter gives full Twitter functionality, and My Facebook displays the user's personal Facebook feed with full functionality. Perhaps even more interesting, the Social app contains a data bar at the bottom of the TV screen that displays information related to the program being watched like stats about the top areas in the country where people are tweeting about the program, the program's sentiment rating and percentage of Tweeters by gender and frequency of tweets. Two thumbs up for Dish on this new addition. I believe users will really enjoy this new apps as they have empowered consumers allowing them to follow social conversations and post in real-time without leaving their TV screen.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

DirecTV considers OTA to reduce Programming costs

In 2008 the Sezmi Flexcast video distribution technology was being tested. It's design was revolutionary at the time because of it's combination of the use of antenna and a broadband connection to receive content. The antenna captures the digital signals from the major networks broadcast publicly over the air for free. Unfortunately for the company it never really gained any traction and eventually was purchased by KIT Digital. Interesting news surfaced earlier this week when DirecTV announced that it is considering testing a new set-top that incorporates an antenna allowing customers to pull over-the-air (OTA) broadcast signals, which could allow the satellite giant to avoid paying millions of dollars per year in retransmission consent fees. Patrick Doyle the company's CFO stated that they had used the integrated antenna solution early in its history, before it began offering local broadcast channels via satellite. Once the satellite giant began offering local-into-local broadcast signals on a wide scale basis, the antenna solution didn’t make economic sense.

Business evolves and the economics are changing. Companies like Aereo and look a like Aereo Killer are challenging the broadcasters traditional business model and traditional Satellite & Cable providers are seriously weighing their options. For the past several years retransmission consent and the huge fees that some broadcasters charge have been a growing concern multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD). NBC alone expects to see a 400 percent rise in retransmission revenue this year, which translates into steep cost increases for pay-TV providers, and subsequently their subscribers. According to SNL Kagan, retrans fees could top $6 billion annually by 2018.

DirecTV is not alone in their quest to rein in explosive programming cost increases. Time Warner Cable's CEO recently stated publically that they were diligently watching the Aereo legal challenge and perhaps they would also invest in a technology that could eliminate retrains fee's. At this point it's not clear just how many other MVPD's, are considering options like these. According to an article in Light Reading Cable's 05/16 issue - DirecTV Weighs OTA Tuners. They state that one industry source has only heard similar discussions in international markets, while a second confirms there have been some domestic conversations, but nothing suggesting any near-term action.
In any case, no matter which side of the fence you stand on retransmission consent and the revenue stream/programming expense issue, it is rapidly coming to a head.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Turner To Launch Live Streaming for TNT, TBS

Not to be out done by yesterdays ABC live streaming announcement, Wednesday Turner Broadcasting released news about their newly created "Watch TNT" and "Watch TBS" apps for tablets and smartphones . The networks will both stream on-air content live across multiple platforms 24/7, available via the networks' websites as well as the apps.  Turner continues its push to become a year-round home to original programming as they also announced their upcoming new scripted and unscripted fare including series from top producers like Steven Spielberg, Diablo Cody, Denis Leary, Sylvester Stallone, Dick Wolf and Jamie Foxx.

I expect many more networks to soon join the ranks of HBO, Turner and ABC as more programmers and distributors reach "TV Everywhere" deals. Obviously these are designed to make content more available to subscribers and stave off competition for new OTT rivals. For now all of this seems great speaking from the perspective of one who travels a great deal. At some point however I see an upcoming post about the frustrations of manage 100's of individual apps in order to see my favorite shows while on the road. That app from DishTV looks like it will be the benchmark for other video providers in the future and these separate networks app's are simply a short term work around.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Breaking News: ABC Launches Live Linear Streaming

Marking a first for a broadcast network, today ABC announced the launch of its "Watch ABC" app to allow pay-tv subscribers access to live, linear streaming of viewers’ local ABC station programming, including network, local and syndicated content. The service will launch first as a free preview on May 14 and will be available to all viewers through a special open access preview with WABC-TV (NYC) and WPVI (Philly) through the end of June. In their press release they state that the app will roll out in the other six ABC-owned station markets this summer.  MORE: Multichannel News 5/12/13 - ABC Sets Live Streaming Service Launch

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Yahoo eyes Hulu

Add Yahoo to the growing list of Hulu-suitors. According to reports, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Chief Operating Officer Henrique De Castro recently met with executives at Hulu, the premium video service whose owners have been considering selling it for some months. Hulu would make a powerful weapon to add and they also have mobile applications for their premium subscribers, making the company a natural fit. Mayer's drive into the mobile & digital content spaces seem to offer this deal synergies that could justify the enormous cost of this acquisition. She has made it no secret that her company has been looking to expand its video assets, recently acquiring the exclusive rights to all of SNL's classic clips from 1975 through 2012 while expanding their original exclusive programming. While speaking this past Tuesday during the Wired Business Conference, Mayer's stated that "video is important across all of the company's properties" and that Yahoo is becoming a "mobile-focused firm".

Hulu's board still has a lot of decisions to make and Yahoo has not made and offer. One thing does seem clear at this point and that is that if Yahoo is to pick up the video company, it will fundamentally change the online video landscape, and put Yahoo into competition with a host of new firms.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Cable Spectrum Allocations - less video for more internet

I’ve spent a lot of my career in and around cable operations and it might come as surprise to you but there is not very much profit in the video side of their businesses anymore. The programmers have eaten it up with rising rates and bundling. The Broadcaster have received their share through retrains fee's and the spiraling cost of Sports content… let’s not even bother to start that discussion. So where are the profits? Well for the past 7-8 years it’s been from voice and data services.

So it’s become obvious to cable operators that internet access bandwidth increasingly is more valuable than video entertainment bandwidth.  That is reflected in the growing recognition that it is broadband access which is becoming the foundation service for cable operators, gradually replacing television revenues. Eventually, as linear TV is viewed less, the spectrum it now uses on cable and fiber will be reallocated to expanding data transmission.  Netflix and other streaming video services now are driving bandwidth consumption in the U.S. ISP business. Since at least 2011, real time entertainment content has represented at least 49 percent of peak hour traffic in North America.  Industry statistics reflect that by the end of last year, video had grown to represent as much as 75 percent of peak hour broadband traffic. With gradual attrition of video revenues, it will at some point make sense to allocate more cable bandwidth for Internet access, and less for linear TV.

This kind of evolution to the cable business is not new.  Operators in past decades had prioritized analog signal delivery over digital. As the need to support Internet access grew, operators gradually shifted to “more digital” in the mix, and finally to “all digital,” as doing so freed up additional bandwidth for use for Internet access. The future is yet to be determined but the signs are strong. MSO's have always fought with the "dumb pipe" label but now it is exactly that pipe that holds the keys to power over the consumer's household.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Reed Hastings - 10 Reasons why Internet TV will continue to gain popularity

After Netflix’s blockbuster earnings sent its stock soaring yet again earlier this week, Reed Hastings, the company’s CEO made a bold prediction: TV as we know it is coming to an end.  “As Internet TV grows from millions to billions, Netflix, HBO, and ESPN are leading the way,” Hastings wrote in an 11 page manifesto about Netflix’s future. “Internet TV will replace linear TV.”

He's obviously not sharing his perspective alone because numerous networks and stations have agreed with his views on the limitations of linear television and have launched their own apps. Although Hastings cites WatchESPN, HBO GO and the BBC iPlayer as leaders in this arena, we must also acknowledge the industry disrupters in streaming television technology; Aereo and the Dish's Hopper. Each of these also have huge potential to cause a dramatic shifts in the TV business as it heads into the future. Case in point at the opening of this year’s NAB when News Corp (FOX) COO Chase Carey threatened to take their programming off the broadcast airwaves and convert to cable channels. This was followed later by Univision and later CBS. While viewed largely as saber-rattling, the idea that the networks could be converted into cable channels gained attention in the television world because such a move would have wide-reaching implications for viewers and station owners. The point may be mute if Hastings predictions hold true and we move from broadcast and cable to an unbundled & streamed viewing environment.

Feel free to look at his letter to shareholders earlier this week and the 10 reasons he believes why Internet TV will continue to gain popularity, concluding that “over the coming decades and across the world, Internet TV will replace linear TV. Apps will replace channels, remote controls will disappear, and screens will proliferate”.

Let me share them with you here:
  1. The Internet will get faster, more reliable and more available
  2. Smart TV sales will increase and eventually every TV will have Wifi and apps
  3. Smart TV adapters (Roku, AppleTV, etc.) will get less expensive and better
  4. Tablet and smartphone viewing will increase
  5. Tablets and smartphones will be used as touch interfaces for Internet TV
  6. Internet TV apps will rapidly improve through competition and frequent updates
  7. Streaming 4k video will happen long before linear TV supports 4k video
  8. Internet video advertising will be personalized and relevant
  9. TV Everywhere will provide a smooth economic transition for existing networks
  10. New entrants like Netflix are innovating rapidly
Update 05/01 - A view from Michael Grotticelli at Broadcast Engineering - Netflix unveils plan to replace broadcast television

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Amazon will soon enter your Living Room with their own OTT/STB

Online retail giant Amazon is developing a set-top box device that will stream video content from the web to your TVs, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The STB device, which is due later this year, will provide access to Amazon’s expanding video services, which include Amazon Prime Instant Video, a service which provides access to more than 37,000 feature films and TV episodes for free. Users will also be able to buy/rent film and TV titles via Amazon Instant Video. Much like other streaming devices from Boxee, Roku and Apple, Amazon's box will also offer access to video services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, though Amazon's video offering will likely be heavily integrated into the device.

Some could say that Amazon is late to the OTT game, but the reasons for doing a set-top box are obvious, with its original content being the most popular on the platform since it launched. As Amazon finds its way to more niche shows that it can present exclusively, the reasons to grab an Amazon-branded device for your TV makes more sense. In the same way that Apple leverages each of its devices to sell new ones, Amazon is learning how it’s done. Jeff Bezos leads his company by taking smart, calculated steps all the while capitalizing on mistakes made by others. Kindle-TV anyone?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Netflix - Masters of "Backward Integration"

This past February Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said during an interview with GQ magazine “the goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.” The company, once the leader in the DVD mail order rental business has masterfully reengineered itself into the leader in online video streaming. A strategy that appears to be paying off when yesterday the company released its first quarter results and they were much better than analysts expected. Its stock soared 24% in after-hours trading to $215.40 after they announced that it had gained two million new U.S. customers in the first three months of 2013, a total of 29.2 million and a additional 1 million internationally.

At $7.99 per subscription, revenue nearly equaled the full price of the $100 million "House of Cards" series that debuted early this year. So did "House of Cards" lure 2 million more people, alone? That's doubtful and as Piper Jaffray analyst, Michael Olson, told the New York Times, ”It appears original programming may be driving better subscriber numbers. At the least, we believe original exclusive programming is reducing subscriber churn.” A very important factor in the subscription business and a strategy that helped them to edge out HBO in total subs for the first time. That said, Netflix has a ways to go before catching up worldwide. According to SNL Kagan, HBO has 114 million subscribers across the globe, a far cry from the 7.14 million Netflix has outside the U.S. Now... I must get back to my binge-viewing... popcorn anyone?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Time Warner Cable adds Live Programming to TV Everywhere App

Following the lead of rivals Comcast and DIRECTV, Time Warner Cable has announced that today it is adding live programming to its TWC TV app.  Currently content is only available to subscribers who own Apple tablets or smartphones but they will introduce the new programming to other platforms later this year. As of today the live channels include; the Big Ten Network, the Pac-12 Network, BBC America, beIN Sports,  FearNet, GMC and some local outlets.
Time Warner Cable COO Rob Marcus told analysts on an earnings call in January that Time Warner was working on signing deals with programmers that include rights to out-of-home viewing. He said the TWC TV app generated more than 750,000 unique users in December. Many of the largest programmers, including Walt Disney Co. and TWC sister company Turner Networks, have not made agreements yet which include content streaming however as content deals come up for renewal this cable-industry shift toward "TV Everywhere" will prevail as the MVPD's push the content providers for broader carriage deals. MORE - 04/17/13 Rapid TV News - Time Warner Cable adds out-of-home access to TV everywhere app

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Twitter Shopping TV Programming Deals

It's no secret that Twitter has recognized the power of video. In 2012 they developed a partnership with Disney/ABC's ESPN to offer highlights and sports clips on the site. Earlier this year it announced a deal with The Weather Company to offer weather-related videos (ouch... AccuWeather!). Today according to a report from Bloomberg, the San Francisco-based company is close to reaching partnerships with television networks that would bring more high-quality video content and advertising to the social site.  The deals (potentially with Viacom and NBCUniversal) are said to be for short clips, not full-length episodes, similar to the company's current partnerships. Frankly it makes sense that Twitter would continue to develop partnerships of this kind.  Videos from Viacom properties i.e. The Daily Show, Colbert Report, MTV, etc. are some of the most shareable on the social network.

According to Bloomberg which first broke the story, the partnerships would let Twitter stream videos on its site and split the resulting ad revenue with the networks. 
Obviously the rapid rise of Netflix, Amazon Prime and the cable industries moves to the TV Everywhere concept and Hulu's future up in the air as its owners contemplate selling, the marketplace could be giving Twitter a good entry point that they can monetize.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Primary Growth drivers for OTT - Amazon, Hulu & Netflix

The over-the-top video market grew 60% last year to pass US$8 billion, driven by companies like Netflix, Hulu, Apple, and Amazon, according to new figures by ABI Research. The research found that the three largest markets – North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific – experienced year-on-year growth in excess of 50% in 2012.  ABI predicted that as mobile devices like tablets and other connected devices continue to spread, the market will pass US$20 billion by 2015.  “The shift to digital and OTT distribution is accelerating, particularly as content providers increasingly warm up to these channels,” said ABI senior analyst Michael Inouye.  Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) services, like Netflix, will continue to dominate the OTT business. But newer business/consumer models will also gain ground. In 2012, ABI says 58% of OTT video revenue came from subscription services. It estimates that subscription's share of the business will drop to less than 32% in five years.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Aereo Continues to Push Forward

Barry Diller's streaming video service Aereo continues to win its courtroom victories. Last year, a federal judge in New York rejected TV networks' request to prohibit the service from launching its new video-on-demand offering. Today the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to issue an injunction that would have shut down Aereo, the streaming service that delivers broadcast signals to customers willing to pay $8 a month. Meanwhile, according to the Wall Street Journal, the company is bolstering its programming with ATnT, which is talking about packaging high speed Internet service with Aereo’s programming and Dish Network is looking at ways to use Aereo as a way of offering low-cost programing packages to its customers.

“Today’s decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals again validates that Aereo’s technology falls squarely within the law and that’s a great thing for consumers who want more choice and flexibility in how, when and where they can watch television,” said Chet Kanojia, Aereo CEO and Founder. “The ruling to uphold Judge Nathan’s decision sends a powerful message that consumer access to free-to-air broadcast television is still meaningful in this country and that the promise and commitment made by the broadcasters to program in the public interest in exchange for the public’s spectrum, remains an important part of our American fabric.”

Broadcasters have argued Aereo violates copyright rules by streaming over-the-air signals to customers so the court decision is a major set-back. Moreover, other pay TV distributors could be prompted to create similar services to avoid paying broadcasters retransmission consent fees. In the U.S. almost $2 billion dollars were paid by TV distributors last year for broadcast programming, up 33% over the prior year according to SNL Kagan. More: Deadline 04/01 - Aereo Exploring Alliances With Pay TV Distributors: WSJ  Also See: SMM Post from 1/13/13 – Aereo: An Industry Disrupter!

UPDATE 04/03/13 - In a surprising move given ongoing legal challenges between the respective services, FilmOn.TV founder and CEO Alki David – the billionaire media entrepreneur – has congratulated the legal team at Internet TV streaming service Aereo on what he describes as its “hugely significant” win in court against the Major Networks… More: AdvancedTelevision 4/03 - FilmOn welcomes Aereo ruling

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Intel's Pay-TV Service

Can Intel, best known for its computer processing chips succeed where Apple and Google couldn't? The company is said to be in discussions with Time Warner, NBC-Universal, News Corp, Viacom and others to obtain TV shows and films in preparation for the launch for its upcoming online pay-tv service. Intel’s Erik Huggers (see 2/16 post - Erik Hugger’s Intel Plans), well-known to European players for his work at the BBC, Microsoft and at Endemol, confirmed Intel’s overall plans in February and although he was vague about his programming plans it now seems that those discussions are advancing. He is betting that Intel can create a more flexible service (unbundled networks), delivered through consumers’ broadband accounts, that gives subscribers more choices over the channels they receive and offers an easier-to-use electronic programming guide. More power to them if they can do it. Perhaps the timing was just not right for their predecessors! 3/26 Bloomberg - Intel Said to Be Nearing Media Deals for Pay-TV Service 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Roku App Coming to the Second Screen

Streaming video provider Roku is currently testing a second-screen application for tablets that the company hopes to release in the "near term," according to Ed Lee, vice president of content acquisition for Roku. He stated in a presentation at this week's OTTCON conference that the company is "thinking about the second screen quite a bit." He declined to provide specifics on the Roku's plans for the product, but said it would work on Roku owners' tablets and allow them to obtain additional information on the content they watch via their Roku device.

“We're evaluating it right now,” Lee said of the tablet application. “It's certainly coming in the near term.
More at: Media-Saver Tech Blog - Roku planning second-screen tablet app

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NCAA March Madness Live App Breaking Records

Yes it’s that time of year again when college basketball captures the imagination of the country, brackets are filled out, brackets are busted, and fans everywhere are tuning in to all the excitement. With 68 teams, seven rounds, and 67 games, it’s no surprise that one screen just isn’t enough. Last year March Madness accounted for over two million tweets and Comscore reported that Turner Digital and drew 20,012,000 and 15,938,000 million unique visitors.

No doubt those are all records that are about to be broken because CBS and Turner Sports relaunched the latest iteration of the NCAA March Madness Live App today. In addition to the app’s availability through the App Store and Google Play platforms, fans can access this content online via the ncaa.commarchmadness,, and websites. The major features comprise: full game replays, real-time game alerts, video highlights, real-time tournament brackets, and personal channel lineup facets, and live radio broadcast.
Hear and see all about it right from Turner Sports and CBS executives as they discuss their multiscreen coverage plans for the "March Madness" NCAA men's college basketball tournament: MCN Original Video -- CBS, Turner Sports Ready For 'March Madness' or better yet, get the app: Apple or Android

UPDATE 03/26 - Apparently I wasn't the only one that love's this year’s app. I found that I was so impressed with it that many times it was acting as my primary screen as I quickly switched between games in the second and third rounds. As linear TV coverage produced the best Nielsen numbers for the first week of the tournament in 20 years, the digital presentation of NCAA March Madness Live was also setting new all-time highs through the tournament’s first week, generating 36.6 million live video streams across online and mobile, (tablets and smartphones), double the 18.3 million for the entire event in 2012, according to Turner digital officials. That equated to than 10 million hours of live video consumed across digital properties during the opening week of the tournament, up 198% from 2012.

Friday, March 15, 2013

CBS Connect 2.0

Leslie Moonves, President/CEO of CBS has historically been the most resistant of the big networks to offer its content to alternative platforms. With this launch as well as the recent licensing deals with Hulu Plus and Amazon, the network is now pushing hard into the digital circle. Back in January, the company launched CBS Connect app, which offered up social media real-time conversation and synced second-screen experiences -- but no full episodes. Finally yesterday they announced a new iOS app that allows users to stream full episodes of the network's primetime lineup (8 days after broadcast), along with daytime and late night programming the day after broadcast. Android and Windows 8 versions will be released later this year. The the company said it will integrate with the existing CBS Connect app by the start of the fall season, so viewers can access a slew of second-screen features, including social feeds and bonus content tied to TV shows like CSI, Criminal Minds, NCIS: Los Angeles, and Hawaii Five-O. More @MediaDailyNews 3/14 - CBS Starts CBS App, And Full-Episode TV Player

Thursday, March 14, 2013

TV Everywhere - Boom or Bust?

Slingbox HD
I travel to almost an excessive level for work and that put me in a position very early on for adopting some kind of a "TV Everywhere" mindset. If my providers could not deliver it, technology would, hence I installed a slingbox about 3+ years ago. It of course was not the perfect solution but it was a reasonable work around while the industry came to grips with getting the consumer's the product that they wanted.  It was slightly before that time bellwethers Comcast and Time Warner proposed the TV Everywhere initiative and cable executives were hailing it a savior for the industry amid new kinds of competition.

So where are we now? Well earlier this week during a panel about TV at the 4A's conference in New Orleans the general consensus of an esteemed panel industry leaders was that the TV Everywhere initiative hasn’t worked so well. “It's awful from a consumer standpoint and I'm embarrassed," said David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports at Turner Broadcasting System.  Although the premise of TV Everywhere seems like a is a fairly straightforward one, NBCUniversial's new EVP, Lauren Zalaznick said that "TV Everywhere's biggest problem is that no one can agree on what TV Everywhere really means".

 A growing number of network executives have been moaning about the disparate iterations of TV Everywhere. Every network seems to have a different way to handle it and frustration abounds.  From a consumer perspective, knowing that all the video -- live and recorded -- is truly available from any access point goes a long way in clarifying the confusion that seems to stymie usage. If the user doesn’t have to second-guess whether and where each piece of content resides, then TV Everywhere has a shot at becoming a reflex.  There is a big market here Netflix, the Super bowl, Olympics and no doubt this year’s March Madness are all proof to this.  TV networks, producers and video service providers need to work together to figure this out — before someone else does! For now I guess I'll just have to stick with my good ole Slingbox. Now where's that suitcase?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Netflix Adds Facebook Integration

Netflix has finally released a new feature that allows subscribers to let their Facebook friends know what television shows and movies they are watching while also seeing friends’ viewing activity. The company has been trying to integrate Facebook elements in the U.S. for quite some time spending over a year lobbying Congress to amend a 1988 law called the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) that previously made such an app illegal in the United States. This past December that all changed when Congress passed a bill which updated the VPPA to accommodate the Facebook integration. According to Facebook, international users have had a sharing option for some time but the application restricted the sharing functionality. Now international users will be able to upgrade to the new version as well.
The video link at the top of this post (provided by Netflix) explains the new features.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mass Relevance - Dynamic Mosaic

One of many cool products unveiled at this week's SXSW comes from social curation technology provider Mass Relevance. They released Dynamic Mosaic a product which integrates real-time social content from multiple sources - including Instagram, Facebook, Vine, Twitter and Google+ - into a branded experience with depth and motion and the best part is it's all in real time. The company says the product allows brands to determine placement of sponsored and named accounts. Aiming to mimic the real-time flow of social conversations, a steady stream moving right to left will bring forth the latest social content. It will slow down when necessary to play Vine videos and highlight photos, before moving to the next piece of content. According to Ann Sommerlath, IMAX's VP of Corporate Communications, they have signed on to be one of the first Mass Relevance clients. She states: “We are very excited to partner with Mass Relevance to debut an entirely new kind of visualization and experience. We believe this experience is a great way to capture real-time conversations occurring at the conference while also engaging fans worldwide.” See the SXSW IMAX Dynamic Mosaic Live demo