Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The new Fox Digital Syndication Network

Fox announced Tuesday that it is launching a syndication network that will allow outside second-screen TV app providers to use Fox's sync-to-broadcast experiences, which are currently only available in Fox Now apps. The new digital network is also designed to allow Fox to create, manage and syndicate content to smart TVs, connected TVs and television service providers looking to increase audience engagement. Most importantly, this is significant news to leading second-screen companies like: Shazam, Viggle, ConnecTV and NextGuide which will gain access Fox's social, behind-the-scenes and interactive content around Fox shows while synced to the broadcast.

According to Viggle's press release (linked at bottom), "Fox has some of the most loyal, invested fans on the planet, so we want them to have the richest, most immersive experience possible with our shows and our brand partners -- no matter which TV app or platform they use," said David Wertheimer, president, digital, Fox Broadcasting. "By syndicating the content we've built around our show broadcasts, we're extending the Fox experience to viewers across all digital platforms and providing our partners with new and valuable opportunities around our content." See More:
Viggle - 02/26 - FOX LAUNCHES NEW DIGITAL CONTENT SYNDICATION NETWORK or B&C - 02/26 - Fox to Launch Digital Content Syndication Network by Tim Baysinger

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Betsy Morgan, President & Chief Strategy Officer TheBlaze

Betsy Morgan and I met back earlier in her career when she was SVP of CBS Interactive. She's built an outstanding track record and has experienced a lot since then spending the majority of her time in the "wild west" times of the digital age's new video landscape. Currently she is the president of TheBlaze (Glenn Beck's media company). A network that's "blazing" (pun intended) new trails in today's cross-media multi-platform world. Today there is no longer a one-size fits all model; rather what's needed is a flexible approach that serves consumers however and whenever they want to access content. She believes that the big problem with legacy media companies is that they’re trying to preserve audience. By choosing to protect particular businesses at the expense of experimenting with new models those content provider will ultimately be the ones that will ultimately lose.

This morning I ran across this insightful interview of her at NAPTE done by Will Richmond @ Take a look: Conversation with The Blaze's Betsy Morgan

UPDATE 05/02/13 - Cablevision, beginning late this month, will add Glenn Beck's online channel TheBlaze to its Optimum TV lineup. Cablevision, which has about 3 million customers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, is the biggest provider to program Beck's channel, which launched an effort in March to gain carriage on pay-TV systems. The New York Times - Cablevision Picks Up Glenn Beck’s Internet Channel by Brian Stelter

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Erik Huggers on Intel's TV Plans

Since this year’s CES show in early January, Intel has been receiving a lot of press on it's up and coming Web TV service. In a recent conversation with Peter Kafka and Walt Mossberg at D: Dive Into Media, corporate VP of Intel Media Erik Huggers tried to make the case that yes, the hardware company can make a compelling case to market Web TV to consumers. Can they succeed where other industry giants like Apple and Google have not? Hugger's admits that it's an uphill battle. The Intel service will require consumers to purchase a new box (the name of which is yet to be announced), which is necessary to deliver what he deems “the full experience” that the company wants. "I think we can bring an incredible television experience via the Internet to consumers,” Huggers said. “What this is not about... is a value play.” Don't expect them to offer “a la carte” programming, either. In other words, expect bundles of programming like those offered with other major TV packages. But Huggers’s pitch is for a better bundle, smarter and more well-curated. “If bundles are bundled right … I think there is real value in that,” he said.
No doubt Intel’s most difficult sell with this new product/service will be with the integrated camera. According to Hugger, it watches your movements and TV viewing habits with the aim of personalizing the way your each member of the household watches television (not to mention it’s ability to highly target advertisements). Ultimately, he said, being able to identify an individual TV viewer will provide a better overall user experience. So in a nutshell, Huggers wants you to buy a great-looking box with a superior UI and potentially personalized content streams for roughly the same or more than you currently pay. From my perspective that’s going to be a difficult pitch, to say the least. Over the past five years I've worked with the majority of companies that are trying to carve out a share of this space. This is definitely one to keep an eye on. More on this to come!

See the interview on Aol:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Monetizing Second-Screens the Zeebox Way

Second-screen apps have been trying to figure out how to turn a profit from the growing chatter around TV and Zeebox thinks they have the answer. Earlier this week they launched an automated advertising platform called SpotSynch that will show users targeted digital advertisements simultaneously with specific TV programs and commercials. The goal of the new product is to create an immediate path to engagement, said Jason Forbes, exec VP-managing director of Zeebox USA. Traditional TV ads create demand and are a call to action, ads on Zeebox let viewers go to brands' websites, get more information, enter a sweepstakes or take a poll or quiz. The hope is that playing Zeebox ads off commercials will increase the impact on viewers while creating a monetization model the company can bank on.

First launched in the App Store in September, Zeebox is a second-screen TV app. Using it, viewers can see comprehensive TV listings, information about favorite television personalities, and, of course, it comes with a social element. According to the company, Zeebox has been downloaded about 1.2 million times since it arrived in the U.S. Full disclosure, I use Zeebox on a ongoing basis, at to onset, I do not have any issues with the concept behind SpotSynch. I actually feel it will add to my viewing experience and I like the idea of having consistent ads on two platforms providing they are relevant. Second screen apps, by their very nature, are supposed to add to the TV viewing experience however, if SpotSynch becomes too obtrusive to my television viewing experience, my opinion and future usage of the app is very likely to change.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Netflix Effect

Television viewing of both cable and broadcast networks fell among adults under age 50 in the fall season. According to Nielsen, the major broadcast networks lost an average of 15% of their viewers in the 18-49 demographic compared with the prior season. In contrast, A record 456.6M online videos were watched in 2012 by more than 182M users. The switch is obvious in my test lab (aka: household) where my tech savvy wife and highly connected teens stream 90% of the video they watch from the web. While this all makes sense I have also noticed the ginormous audience growth that each new season of shows like "Breaking Bad", "Sons of Anarchy" and the resent return of "The Walking Dead" were seeing. Is there a snowball effect to new seasons viewing because of the easy access to past episodes? Just how are streaming services like Hulu, Netflix and others effecting the viewership of television? In a quest for quantifiable data to answer these questions, I uncovered two 2012 studies, one done by Bernstein Research and the other by GfK North America that confirmed my theory and shed some light on my questions.

The Bernstein Research analysis of viewing patterns was conducted in Tivo homes during the first quarter of 2012. What the study identified was that ratings for AMC, which exclusively licenses several of its original series to Netflix, were actually 15% higher in homes with Netflix than non-Netflix homes. Tie this back to the lift in viewers for the new season of "The Walking Dead" where it recently returned for the second half of its already much-improved third season to even higher ratings than before: 12.3 million viewers. Impressive numbers especially when you consider that it was up against the Grammys on its premier night.

Netflix itself seems to back up the finding by contending that its service gives viewers more opportunities to sample programming in its first window by providing older episodes that let them see what they've missed hence, they are more likely to watch new episodes of those shows when the new seasons return.

The GfK study concurs, stating that more than half of the Netflix subscribers in their focus groups said that it had no effect on their viewing from more traditional sources. But what’s even more interesting is how many respondents said they watched scheduled TV even "more" than they did before subscribing to the service.

Singling out first-run dramas, for example, reveals 22 percent of respondents said they watch more new episodes of dramas on scheduled TV than they did before getting Netflix, with 10 percent who said they watch less (See GfK chart below for more details on viewing patterns.)

Saturday, February 02, 2013

"House of Cards" - The Game Changer?

Netflix is betting the house that "House of Cards" will become the juggernaut that propels the company onto the next level. The company reportedly spent $100 million to secure the rights to the series starring Kevin Spacey, out bidding other mainstream networks like AMC and HBO. This is the first TV series developed/distributed exclusively on Netflix and the company has decided to also take a nontraditional approach by releasing all 13 episodes at once.
This trend is not new for legacy programming as services like Netflix, Hulu, as well as digital video recorders, have transformed the TV viewing experience by enabling viewers to devour multiple episodes or even entire seasons in marathon viewing sessions. Since the inception of television Hollywood has always fed audiences on a steady diet of, "Wait a week and we'll give you new episodes, then wait a season, we'll give you another season," Netflix Chief Content Office Ted Sarandos said. "The Internet is attuning people to get what they want when they want it," Sarandos said to an LA Times reporter. "'House of Cards' is literally the first show for the on-demand generation." If successful, the strategy could begin to unwind 60 years of serialized television but what else could it change? Potentially everything... the way we talk about what we watch, the way we share it, the way reviewers critique shows, and even the way the industry monetizes content.
In the meantime, will "Cards" be a success? We may never know since Netflix does not divulge ratings or numbers, following in the footsteps of the pay cable networks, which only like to discuss actual data when it suits them. Will this non-conventional launch approach stick? I bet it will!! Let’s be sure to revisit this topic later in the quarter when the independent research groups or Netflix begin to release their findings.