I'm pleased to present the 309th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
First up this week we discuss Comcast’s robust Q4 ’15 earnings results. Despite all of the talk of cord-cutting, Comcast had its best year for video subscribers in 8 years, improving its loss to just 39K. In addition, both Charter and Time Warner Cable actually reported video subscriber gains for 2015.
Once again, Comcast cited its X1 next-gen set-top box as the key driver of success. Colin and I have talked about X1’s value in the past, and it’s clearly a game-changer for the company.
Ironically, Comcast’s success with X1 is happening even as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is calling for a new technology mandate on the pay-TV industry to give access to third-party set-tops. Colin and I discuss why we think market forces are a superior choice to government intervention.
Last, we’ll both be watching the Super Bowl this weekend, which will be a milestone in allowing cord-cutters and cord-nevers to stream for free to connected TV devices.
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GfK MRI has released results of a new study analyzing the amount of time nearly 6,000 smartphone users spend on different activities, finding that just 2% of time is spent watching video. Phone calls and texting are tied for first with 22% of time spent, followed by email and social media (both 10%). Overall GfK’s category of “Entertainment,” which includes web surfing, music, games, video, shopping and reading, accounted for 22% of time spent.
Categories: Mobile Video
Continuing the trend of making live sports available to viewers across a wide range of devices, CBS will stream live coverage of this Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 broadcast to viewers both online and through an expanded network of over-the-top connected TV devices, including Xbox One, Apple TV, Roku and Microsoft 10. This decision by CBS and the NFL to allow, and even encourage, the consumption of the premier sports event of the year through connected TV devices is significant for 5 reasons:
Cisco has released its 10th annual Visual Networking Index, forecasting that video will account for 75% of global mobile data traffic by 2020, up from 55% in 2015. The U.S. is forecast to have the highest level of mobile video at 77% of mobile data traffic, a 49% annual growth rate from 2015.
Globally, mobile data will account for 367 exabytes of data per year, an 8x increase from 44 exabytes in 2015. The growth is driven by an increase in the number of mobile users and smart mobile devices and plus faster network speeds. Cisco estimates that by 2020, 5.4 billion people, or 69% of the global population, will have mobile phones, eclipsing the 5.3 billion that have electricity and the 2.2 billion that have landlines.
Categories: Mobile Video
ISPs NetZero and Juno, both part of United Online, will deploy Synacor’s web portal, which includes syndicated content including “Don’t Miss” an original video program covering TV shows, the companies announced this morning. The portal also includes joint monetization opportunities. The portal uses responsive design for optimization across desktop and mobile devices. NetZero and Juno maintain over 1 million active accounts across broadband, mobile broadband and high speed dial-up.
Google’s parent Alphabet reported strong Q4 ’15 earnings late yesterday, with $21.4 billion in revenue (up 18% vs. Q4 ’14) and operating income of $5.4 billion (up 22% vs. Q4 ’14). On the earnings call, Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat and Google CEO Sundar Pichai repeatedly cited YouTube as one of the key contributors to the company’s very successful quarter.
But as usual, there were few specifics of YouTube’s actual financial performance disclosed, with Porat only saying “YouTube revenue continues to grow at a very significant rate” primarily due to the TrueView skippable ad unit.
The NFL announced yesterday that it was splitting broadcast rights to Thursday Night Football in 2016 and 2017 between CBS and NBC. The WSJ reported that each network will pay $225 million for the annual rights, a 50% increase over the $300 million per season that CBS alone had been paying.
But the higher broadcast fees are just the beginning of how the NFL will more fully monetize the upcoming seasons. More intriguing were the sentences from the NFL’s press release: "The NFL is in active discussions with prospective digital partners for OTT streaming rights to Thursday Night Football. A deal announcement is expected in the near future."
Late last week Roku announced it was developing a hybrid set-top box, expanding on the “Roku Powered” partner program it announced back in September, 2014. Roku’s hybrid set-top will give pay-TV operators a single, inexpensive device to deliver linear and OTT services. Variety also reported that Roku has raised an additional $45.5 million, bringing total funding to date to approximately $200 million.
Ironically (though perhaps not coincidentally), Roku’s hybrid set-top news came at the end of a week during which FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler unveiled a new regulatory initiative to “Unlock the Set-Top Box.” While his plan is light on details, it would essentially impose a new technology mandate on pay-TV operators to provide access to their programming to device manufacturers such that new interfaces and retail business models could be developed.