I'm pleased to present the 262nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. Today we candidly discuss the potential impact of the FCC's new net neutrality regulations.
Over the past 20 years we've all benefited from a continuous improvement in wired and mobile broadband connectivity (albeit not perfectly consistent by geography or provider), fostered mainly by a "light touch" regulatory environment that spurred private sector ISPs to invest tens of billions of dollars in network upgrades. Content and services have flourished across both wired and mobile networks.
Although I strongly believe we should continue to have an open Internet, and have no issue with rules that would have ensured that, I explain why using the 80 year-old Title II model to classify broadband as a utility was incorrect. Mainly I believe it will drive lots of litigation and create lots of regulatory uncertainty for broadband ISPs, which translates into disincentives to invest and further upgrade their networks. As a result, ongoing innovations in content and services, which rest on the foundation of broadband improvements, will inevitably be impacted.
Further, I'm always wary of the risk of "unintended consequences" that accompany any new regulations. As such, preemptive regulation - such as yesterday's - where no fundamental problem even yet exists, makes me even more anxious. In short, my attitude is "don't fix what ain't broke."
I fully recognize that I hold a minority opinion on this because I've discussed the topic with many people in the industry already. Colin disagrees with me, for example, because he believes the disincentive to invest argument is overblown. Unfortunately, I think the whole net neutrality debate has become so confused and politicized that any real purpose of potential government intervention has long since been lost.
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Yesterday Viacom announced Noggin, a new $5.99/month ad-free, mobile-centric OTT service for preschoolers that will launch on March 5th. Viacom said that Noggin's content will be solely library-based, making it distinct from what's already available on-air on Nick Jr. Noggin will include programs such as "Blue's Clues," "Little Bear" and "Ni Hao, Kari-lan," plus others. In addition to the OTT offering, Viacom said it's talking to pay-TV operators about Noggin being a premium offer for authenticated subscribers.
Noggin is the latest response by TV networks to the dramatic market changes currently playing out. As I recently described, disruption has been particularly acute in the kids' space, where kids' cable TV networks' ratings are plunging as OTT services have avidly built out their kids offerings. Just since writing that piece 2 weeks ago, YouTube has launched a kids-focused app, Netflix has added 5 new kids series and Amazon has renewed 4 others, all amping up the pressure on kids TV networks even further.
With the ongoing dialogue surrounding measurement, brands are eager to embrace any metric that can help evaluate video content in today’s digital world.
However, most marketers are still using the number of video views as a key performance indicator to assess video initiatives – a method of measurement that is severely flawed. Video views in a vacuum – or alone – are not only misleading but also potentially damaging when it conceals poorly performing content and drives wrong investment decisions.
More evidence of TV Everywhere's momentum today, as FreeWheel's Q4 2014 Video Monetization Report found that 56% of long-form and live ads were viewed via authentication. That's more than 4x greater than the 13% authentication rate for long-form content in Q4 '13. Total long-form viewing was up 43% in Q4 '14 vs. the prior year.
The new data follows Comcast's news last week that 30% of its Xfinity TV subscribers use TV Everywhere monthly. (Note Comcast owns FreeWheel).