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

Friday, March 08, 2013

Fox's Big Bet!

Certainly one of this year’s worst kept secrets is finally… no longer a secret! This week at the Fox upfront for media buyers in midtown NYC, executives at News Corporation formally unveiled the new concept and their plans to convert Speed Channel this coming August to a new national sports network called Fox Sports 1.

According to the release, Fox Sports 1 (FS 1) will be available in 90 million cable and satellite TV homes when it debuts on Aug. 17, making it the biggest sports network launch in U.S. history, Fox Sports Media Group boasted.  The bulk of FS 1's 90 million subscriber count will come from the distribution Fox has already achieved for Speed, which is available in about 87 million homes. Obviously FS 1 will challenge ESPN's 800 pound gorilla of sports  however says Billy Wanger, the head of programming for Fox Sports, “quite frankly, ESPN is a machine, we are coming in trying to take on the establishment; it is no different than what happened with Fox News, or Fox Broadcasting back in the 80s. We are going to have to scratch and claw our way all the way to the top.”

The company has been preparing for this for some time. In recent months News Corp. has increased its investment in sports programming like it’s November deal with the New York Yankees which may allow it to take an 80 percent ownership stake in YES Network within three years.  Major League Baseball games (including playoff games beginning in 2014) will be available on the channel, as will NASCAR races, UFC fights, college football and basketball and UEFA and World Cup soccer.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

The Good, Bad & Ugly of the Second Screen

Yahoo's INTO Now
Ok full disclosure... in my paying job, during the past year I have worked with more and more companies that are involved in the Second Screen space. As a connoisseur (insert nerd) of all things tech, I've collected quite a few of them but in general my overall feeling is that most tend to lack intuitive UI's and frankly are just poorly thought out from a user’s perspective. So it brings me to ask, do they actually offer anything to the viewer? Well that's the question TV and movie critic Noel Murray recently explored for Grantland.  A self-professed second screen novice, Murray spent the month of February trying out various apps.  After using them to accompany his both live and pre-recorded viewing, Murray's general perspective was that they didn't really enhance his viewing experience as promised.  Read his story: 03/05 - The 'Second Screen': Is This App Really Necessary?

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Value of Pay-TV Diminishes

Although pay-TV penetration remains high, new research from TDG has revealed that the perceived value of traditional pay-TV service like cable, satellite, and telco TV appears to be on the decline as subscribers increasingly questioning the value of what they sign up for.

TDG's Benchmarking the Connected Consumer survey data found that this fall occurred regardless of what competitive services were available, regardless of which operator was running the best deal at the time, and regardless of regional price advantages. Considering that prices are on the rise and the growth of OTT with services like Hulu, Netflix and other's the data should act as wake-up call to the industry. Sounds great in theory doesn't it?