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