"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…"
If you’re looking for a stark illustration of the diverging fortunes of the online video and pay-TV industries - as well as the generational attention/passion gap between the two - then comparing the buzz out of last week’s 6th annual VidCon with the poor early Q2 video subscriber numbers from big pay-TV operators is about as good as it gets.
For those not familiar with VidCon, it’s the annual convention of YouTube creators, fans and increasingly advertisers that want to weave themselves into this community. This year VidCon drew somewhere between 20K-30K attendees (up from 1,200 just 5 years ago) to the Anaheim Convention Center, with the vast majority being teenagers seeking to get up close to their favorite YouTube celebrities for a coveted selfie.
Disney CEO Bob Iger was interviewed on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” this morning (see below embed) and offered a surprising long-term vision for ESPN, saying, “Eventually, ESPN becomes a business that is sold directly to the consumer, where there’s an engagement that ESPN will know who their consumers are, will use that information to customize the product to enable personalization, to engage more effectively and offer advertisers more value as well. That’s longer-term. I think there’s an inevitability to that, but I don’t think it’s right around the corner.”
It was the first time that I’ve heard Iger articulate so clearly how he sees ESPN’s future unfolding. Iger made the comments in the context of describing the huge distribution, promotion and consumption changes roiling the media landscape. Iger observed that despite a fall-off in pay-TV subscriptions, he doesn’t see the ecosystem changing significantly in the next 5 years, and that it was impossible for anyone predict with conviction how the media world will look 10 years from now.
I'm pleased to present the 283rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Yesterday Comcast reported its Q2 ’15 results, including the best Q2 video subscriber numbers in 9 years. Comcast lost just 69K subscribers, vs. 144K in Q2 ’14. Comcast’s performance is in contrast to Verizon’s dismal Q2 video subscriber results. I’m eager to see what trend emerges from the whole pay-TV universe in Q2, given Netflix’s breakout Q2 U.S. subscriber performance and whether cord-nevering is accelerating.
Comcast gave a lot of the credit for its Q2 subscriber improvement to its X1 set-top box. Comcast said it is now shipping 30K X1 boxes per day and expects to ship 6 million in 2015. Comcast noted that X1 improves churn, viewing time, DVR penetration and other metrics.
As VideoNuze readers know, I’ve been an X1 subscriber for 3 years now, and continue to be very impressed with its modern web-like experience. But as I discuss on the podcast, the big missing piece in X1 remains access to OTT apps like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and others. In fact, the app section of X1 is devoid of video options, instead offering utilities like horoscopes, weather, traffic, stocks, photos, Pandora and Facebook (note Comcast recently announced a new gaming service for X1 with EA).
This lack of OTT access stands in stark contrast to TiVo (which we use for our primary TV), where all major OTT apps are integrated, and searching for a TV show returns results across all services. Comcast has a huge opportunity to please its X1 subscribers with OTT integrations. Last Fall I noted the timing seemed right for a Comcast-Netflix partnership and it’s mind-boggling to me there’s been no visible progress on OTT in 3 years since X1’s launch.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 23 seconds)
Programmatic is one of the most important trends in the online video advertising industry, with eMarketer forecasting that in 2016 nearly $4 billion of online video advertising will be transacted programmatically. At last month’s Video Ad Summit, one of our sessions focused on programmatic video advertising from the advertiser/buy side and another from the content provider/sell side.
The advertiser/buy side session included Larry Allen (SVP, Business Development, Xaxis), Jim Caruso (VP, Product Strategy, Varick Media Management), Neeraj Kochhar (Managing Director, Buy-Side Platforms, Tremor Video), Troels Smit (Head of Demand Sales, LiveRail), with Gain Dunaway (Senior Editor, AdMonsters) moderating.
The content provider/sell side session included Doug Fleming (Director of Programmatic, Hulu), Manny Puentes (Chief Technology Officer, Altitude Digital), Sorosh Tavakoli (SVP, AdTech, Ooyala), Tim Trevathan (SVP, Publisher Solutions, Defy Media), with Ashley Swartz (CEO and Founder, Furious Corp.) moderating.
The session videos are included below. Taken together they provide a wealth of insights about where programmatic video advertising is today, the key opportunities and challenges for advertisers and content providers, what’s ahead, plus lots more.