Since a report appeared in The Verge over the weekend about a new Google initiative called "Android TV" I've been puzzling over the question of whether the world (or even Google) really needs this device. Ordinarily I'm all for innovation, but the (admittedly preliminary) description of Android TV, makes it awfully hard to understand Google's bet here, especially as the momentum and adulation for Chromecast keep growing.
No doubt, Google's primary motivator is to gain the upper hand in the biggest gold rush since the advent of the Internet itself: ownership of the digital living room. Broadband's presence in the living room is getting stronger each day, putting everything up for grabs: how viewers will interact with programming and TVs, where their finite subscription dollars will be allocated, how advertising will work and importantly, which devices will control the experience. With tens of billions of dollars already sloshing through the living room, it's a massive market opportunity that appeals to giant companies as well as startups.
In a key test case of whether standalone SVOD services can succeed, even when well-branded and targeting appealing audiences, Sesame Workshop has unveiled its own service today, dubbed "Sesame GO." The ad-free service carries a $3.99/month or $29.99/year fee and includes the newest full-length episodes of Sesame Street, a catalog of Sesame Classics and two seasons of Pinky Dinky Doo.
Sesame GO uses Kaltura's MediaGO, a "Netflix-like" OTT solution for content and service providers to quickly launch SVOD services.
At first blush, Sesame GO's ad-free, child-centric UI, featuring popular content, would seem like a pretty strong bet. However, Sesame GO is entering an increasingly competitive landscape for online kids content created partly by Sesame's own licensing practices.
Topics: Sesame Workshop
Two key infrastructure players in the digital video ecosystem, thePlatform and Adobe, are announcing a strategic partnership to help accelerate major media and pay-TV operators' plans for multiscreen video delivery. The companies have integrated Adobe Primetime and thePlatform's mpx video management system to form a complete solution, which the companies will jointly sell.
In a briefing, Ian Blaine, CEO of thePlatform and Ashley Still, director or product management at Adobe, told me that the companies have been collaborating for some time, most recently on NBC Olympics' multiscreen delivery of the 2014 Winter Olympics. The new integrated solution is meant to productize these prior collaborations and provide customers with faster time to market, better viewer engagement and lower total cost of ownership.
The WSJ reported last night that Yahoo is joining the long-form original programming fray, looking to order four TV-style programs with budgets in the $700K-several million dollar range. Such a move could up the company's profile, yet it seems like further evidence of a very murky online video strategy.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has been saying that video is a priority for the company since she took the reins nearly 2 years ago. In that time Yahoo has been active, landing Saturday Night Live's catalog and certain shows from Comedy Central, recruiting Katie Couric as its "Global Anchor," and launching an excellent mobile video app Yahoo Screen.
Categories: Indie Video
Encoding.com and Harmonic have announced a partnership to offer unlimited cloud-based transcoding to content and service providers to convert broadcast-quality content into numerous other media formats for multi-screen delivery.
Jeff Malkin, president of Encoding.com told me that there are 2 principal benefits of the partnership: 1) existing Harmonic ProMedia Carbon customers can use their presets/profiles to easily augment their own on-premise encoding infrastructure when workloads increase by utilizing Encoding.com cloud capacity, and 2) for new customers who want to tap use cloud transcoding instead of building their own infrastructure, they can use Encoding.com. In both situations transcoding costs and time to market are reduced.
I'm pleased to present the 221st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week we assess Amazon's new Fire TV connected device. As I wrote earlier this week, I see it as a double, but not a home run, and I further explain some of my main points.
Colin believes Amazon also over-stated the problems with existing connected TV devices in its effort to differentiate the Fire TV. Those 3 differentiators were Fire TV's openness, improved search and better performance. Colin only sees the performance as meaningful, with Fire TV's new "ASAP" content pre-loading feature - but with the caveat that it has to actually work (and not just for Amazon's own video).
We also discuss Fire TV's gaming features, which Amazon is clearly betting on, though we're not quite certain exactly where they'll fit in the market. On the positive side, Colin likes how Fire TV will prioritize searched-for content by price and availability.
Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 9 seconds)
Among the apps launched this week on Amazon's new Fire TV was the ACC Digital Network, a joint venture between Silver Chalice and Raycom Sports. ACC Digital Network is the Atlantic Coast Conference's multimedia destination featuring live streaming and other original programming. In addition to being online, it also recently launched on Apple TV.
To get up and running quickly on Fire TV, SportsLabs, a division of Silver Chalice, turned to 1 Mainstream, a platform for deploying HD video services on a variety of connected TV and mobile devices that launched last December. I caught up with Rajeev Raman, 1 Mainstream's CEO (and previously head of product at Roku), to learn more about how the company is helping content providers quickly build and deploy apps.
The march of content providers into the living room is getting yet another boost as JW Player, whose video solution is used by thousands of content providers, will support Chromecast. JW Player's CEO Dave Otten and creator Jeroen Wijering told me yesterday that the beta is underway with 5 different content providers implementing JW Player with Chromecast support, which will go live over the next several weeks.
JW Player will support VAST-compliant advertising, so that video ads will be viewable on TVs when playing through Chromecast. As this demo video shows, JW Player has also enhanced its ad implementation by enabling companion banners to appear on the device driving the Chromecast, so users can engage with the advertiser as their video ad plays on the big screen.