Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group and I are back for the 150th (whoohoo!) edition of the weekly VideoNuze-TDG podcast. This week Colin and I talk about how on-demand viewing - through both DVRs and online - is changing the landscape for TV networks and advertisers.
First up, Colin shares some eye-opening numbers from the start of this year's TV season, as reported by the NY Times. Certain shows like NBC's "Revolution" and "The New Normal" plus CBS's "Hawaii Five-o" gained a whopping 40% more viewers due to DVR-based viewing in the 3 days following their premieres. This new viewing dynamic, particularly among the coveted 18-49 cohort, underscores the new reality of on-demand's importance in assessing a show's potential. Premiere night alone is no longer determinative (if it ever was!).
On-demand viewing is also a conundrum for advertisers and agencies when creating media plans. And that's why this week's announcement by Nielsen of its Cross-Platform Campaign Ratings solution is a big step forward in monetizing audiences across screens. Online has emerged alongside DVRs as a legitimate viewing alternative, and advertisers need to harness its potential. Colin and I discuss how Cross-Platform helps create a "common currency" measurement with TV, which will appeal to TV ad buyers, while helping content providers better value their online ad inventory. It's a complicated topic, but as Colin notes, the shift from "broadcaster-centric to consumer-centric" is causing huge ripple effects in the ecosystem.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 9 seconds)
I TiVo'd the "60 Minutes" interview with Mark Owen (his pen name), one of the Navy SEALs who shot Osama Bin Laden and has now written the new book, "No Easy Day" about the operation. As luck would have it, because of the U.S. Open women's finals, my TiVo stopped recording a third of the way into the interview. Frustrating, but not the first time this has happened. No problem, I figured I'd just go online to 60 Minutes' web site and the interview would be right there, front and center. Right? Wrong.
Oddly, if you visit the 60 Minutes site, you will see a large picture and the headline "SEAL's first-hand account of bin Laden killing" (in rotation with 2 other unrelated stories receiving equal prominence), but not the video itself embedded. In fact, if you scan the home page to try to find the link to watch the full episode, a thumbnail for it can't be found until about a quarter of the way down a lengthy page, well below the fold and after a group of related behind-the-scenes videos from 60 Minutes Overtime.
I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 145th edition of the VideoNuze-TDG Report podcast. In this week's podcast Colin and I talk about what resonates most for us about Aereo, based on my interview with its founder and CEO Chet Kanojia, earlier this week (Part 1 here and Part 2 here).
Foremost for both of us is Aereo's simplicity and ease of access. Aereo aligns with the expectations of digital natives, people who expect self-service offerings that have low entry barriers and commitment levels. Aereo capitalizes on key vulnerabilities of today's pay-TV services - not just that they are expensive, but that they are complicated, with various tiers, channels, fees, clunky set-top boxes and special offers tied to extended contracts, all of which are confusing and burdensome to many people, especially digital natives.
Embedded in Aereo's simplicity/convenience value proposition is its focus. Aereo is not trying to be all things to all people; rather it is starting by offering flexible broadcast TV reception, mainly for use on iPads, for a low daily cost. We were both struck by Chet's comparison of Aereo to the early days of cable TV. While their architectures are fundamentally different, their core initial offer of improving reception and access to broadcast TV programming, is similar. In this respect, you gotta love the durability of broadcast TV as a value driver.
However, cable's early model of cleaning up broadcast signal delivery eventually gave way to retransmission consent fees. For both Colin and me, this is the area that remains murkiest for Aereo. While it won the first round in court, it faces a long journey of legal challenges ahead. In particular, Colin is not convinced of Chet's belief that should Aereo adversely impact retrans fees, cross ownership of broadcast assets would enable media conglomerates to remain whole by shifting around fees to cable assets.
Finally, we are both impressed with how Aereo is capitalizing on so many of today's key technology and consumer behavioral trends. These include the declining cost of IP video delivery, storage costs and processing power, along with the rise of cloud computing, mobile devices (namely the iPad) and the shift to on-demand viewing. Chet views Aereo as a "platform" that unites all of these into a compelling consumer offering. We agree. In particular, its low, "success-based" capex model means Aereo should be able to rollout quickly and inexpensively. I draw a contrast with Google's costly fiber buildout in Kansas City.
Chet downplays Aereo's disruptive impact, but Colin and I agree it's potentially significant. Time will tell.
Listen in to learn more!
In the second part of my interview with Aereo's founder and CEO Chet Kanojia, we begin by discussing how the company relates to the pay-TV industry, and whether it is incenting cord-cutting and cord-nevering, or is simply benefiting from this activity. In fact, Chet believes Aereo is a retardant for cord-nevering, because it helps people inclined in this direction to get accustomed to paying for video. Down the road he envisions how that helps them to become pay-TV subscribers.
Chet sees cable as an inspiration for Aereo, in the sense that it too started off providing a simple convenience service, namely improved broadcast reception. Cable's model of layering on subsequent services is one that Aereo could follow as well.
Of course much has been made about how Aereo potentially relieves pay-TV operators from the burden of expensive retransmission consent fees. No surprise, it was hard to pin Chet down on this issue, but generally he believes that given the cross ownership between broadcast TV networks, cable TV networks and cable TV operators, any pressure on one revenue stream would simply get resolved by adjusting the others.
Other topics we talk about include Hulu, Netflix, net neutrality, bandwidth caps, Barry Diller's role, the composition of Aereo's team, expansion plans and its success-based capex model.
Watch Part 2 of the interview below. Part 1 is here.
There's likely no online video startup that has created quite the stir this year that Aereo has. But what's been lost in the coverage of its legal wrangling with broadcasters and high-profile backing from Barry Diller is a clear understanding of Aereo's business strategy: Who are its target customers? What is its real value proposition? How will it compete in a crowded video landscape? What new business opportunities is it trying to create for the TV ecosystem? And how are things going so far?
These are among the questions that Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia addresses in a 47-minute interview I did with him at the company's offices earlier this week. Chet looks at today's TV ecosystem and sees a world filled with inconvenience, irrational pricing/bundling and misalignments with emerging consumer expectations/behaviors. Like all can-do entrepreneurs, Chet's reaction is to see opportunity; in Aereo's case, that means delivering a "simple, rationally-priced, convenient" service to people who have become accustomed to these types of benefits in other areas of their lives.
As Chet explains, some of Aereo's prospects are "cord-nevers" - younger, Internet-centric users who place a huge value on convenience and are cost sensitive. And others are cord-cutters, who are ready to move on from taking myriad pay-TV channels they don't watch or value. Importantly, Chet doesn't see Aereo incenting these emerging behaviors, but rather benefiting from them.
In part 1 of our wide-ranging interview below, we also discuss Aereo's marketing approach and why sampling is so critical, the breakthrough antenna technology that enables Aereo's service and of course the dynamics with the broadcasters who are so determined to shut Aereo down.
Tomorrow I'll post Part 2.
Variety is reporting on an internal Hulu memo indicating that the imminent buyout of Hulu's private equity partner may spark a series of changes, including the possible departure of CEO Jason Kilar and modifications to its content licensing arrangements with its broadcast network TV owners. Kilar has done an excellent job with Hulu, creating a top-notch user experience that is monetized through both ads, and more recently through subscriptions at Hulu Plus. Kilar has more than defied the skeptics who dismissively labeled Hulu "Clown Co." prior to its launch.
Nonetheless, there can be no disputing the fact that Hulu's essential asset from the outset has been exclusive next-day access to programs from Fox and NBC (now Comcast) and more recently, Disney/ABC. Broadcast TV is still by far the most popular programming around, and even though Hulu has added dozens of content partners, including a high-profile deal with Viacom, the reality is that for many Hulu users, it's a destination to catch up on their favorite broadcast programs.
NBC was justifiably crowing late yesterday that the London Olympics was the most-watched TV event in U.S. history with 219.4 million viewers, but a more profound long-term takeaway from this year's games is that digital distribution of most of the competitions did not seem to hurt tape-delayed on-air viewing at all.
That was not a foregone conclusion, and given the billions in broadcast rights fees it paid, NBC made a sizable bet that with most competitions live-streamed and available on-demand, audiences would still tune in during ad-rich, prime-time hours, despite already knowing (or having seen) the results. The impact of digital distribution could have gone wrong, driving lower prime-time ratings, creating disgruntled advertisers and embarrassing NBC Sports executives. The fact that it didn't buttresses the argument that for sports in particular, digital delivery is a compliment, not a substitute, for on-air.
I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 142nd edition of the VideoNuze-TDG Report podcast. In this week's podcast Colin and I first discuss NBC's Olympics video streaming. Despite some high profile criticism, we agree that NBC has actually done a pretty good job and has laid a foundation for live streaming to be an expected part of all Olympics coverage in the future.
Next we review Q2 '12 results from some of the largest pay-TV operators. Video subscriber losses continue, although Q2 is historically a soft quarter. Colin notes that recent TDG research shows the pay-TV value proposition is increasingly challenged and he believes that means higher churn is ahead, with bigger opportunities for OTT options.
Speaking of those options, Aereo announced new low-cost plans and both Colin and I agree that they're a clever way to reduce entry barriers and increase viewing flexibility. It's still early, but we like Aereo's odds of success.
Last up, we note the early demise of the Nexus Q media streaming device, a product that both us called a dud a couple of weeks ago.
Listen in to learn more.
Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 43 seconds)
I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 139th edition of the VideoNuze-TDG Report podcast.
Breaking with tradition, we're posting this week's podcast a day early to share our thoughts on Aereo's big legal victory - the decision by U.S. District Judge Judith Nathan to deny the broadcast networks' request for a preliminary injunction to block Aereo's service. As Colin and I agree, though the broadcasters have promised to pursue an appeal, for now it's a very significant milestone for Aereo, as it validates the company's assertion that the Cablevision precedent should hold.
Our discussion focuses on the ruling's implications. Certainly it opens up a whole new option for pay-TV operators to avoid paying hundreds of millions in retransmission consent fees by either partnering with Aereo or developing comparable technology (patent issues notwithstanding) to deliver broadcast programs. It also opens up opportunities for OTT providers to potentially beef up their services in partnership with Aereo. While Colin sees Aereo as offering some benefits for the broadcasters, I view the ruling as key setback to their strategy to develop a secondary revenue stream.
The ruling also comes in the context of two other significant developments - the decision by DirecTV to drop Viacom's networks and the news that Netflix's usage surpassed 1 billion hours in June. Both underscore the impact that evolving consumer behaviors are having on the relationship between pay-TV and online video delivery. The Aereo decision scrambles that dynamic even further. No question, we are living in very interesting times.
Listen in to hear all of the details.
Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 17 seconds)
A new report being released today from London-based video ad technology provider Videoplaza, and research firm IHS Screen Digest adds to the case that broadcasters must diversify into IP-based delivery of their content to multiple devices in order to achieve continued growth. The report, "A Future for TV: IP-delivered Video Advertising in a Connected World" presents new data on adoption of connected devices by TV and PC households in North America and Western Europe, share of ads now being delivered by non-PC devices and video ad loads by device, among other data.
Since I read Dish Network's press release last month announcing its new Auto Hop feature, I've been scratching my head, wondering (like many others), what Dish's cryptic CEO Charlie Ergen was really thinking about with the move. Auto Hop is such a blatant poke in the eye to broadcasters' ad-based business model that Ergen surely knew it would evoke a legal and business response - as it has.
Therefore, I was hoping an article in last Friday's WSJ, based on the first interviews with Ergen about Auto Hop, would clarify his motivations. While some have called Auto Hop a negotiation tactic with broadcasters over retransmission consent fees (which, in part it is), rather, I think Ergen's larger message with Auto Hop is that the traditional TV ad model is irreparably broken and it's urgent the industry figure out what's next. Not doing so risks the ultimate unraveling of the great American broadcast TV industry.
Topics: Dish Network
I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 134th edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for May 25, 2012. This week's topic: Comcast's new "X1" TV platform and experience. Yesterday I posted a video interview I did with Comcast's SVP, Digital and Emerging, Matt Strauss discussing details of X1, and today Colin and I get into the details of what it means for Comcast and for the larger TV industry and future landscape.
Two other quick notes related to prior podcast topics. On last week's podcast we discussed Dish Network's "Auto Hop" ad-skipper and the likely legal backlash from broadcast networks. Sure enough yesterday CBS, Fox and NBCU filed their lawsuits. And back in Feb. we discussed Aereo's disruptive potential. This week the company won a minor battle in its legal wrangling with broadcasters, while looking ahead to a big day in federal court next Wed.
Click here to listen to the podcast (24 minutes, 24 seconds)
I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 133rd edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for May 18, 2012. This week's topic: Dish Network's new "Auto Hop" feature, which automatically skips ads in DVR-recorded broadcast TV.
Topics: Dish Network
Here's a measure of just how all-important big-time sports have become in driving the entire TV ecosystem: in NBCU's latest court filing against Aereo (embedded here), it cites as one of the harmful consequences of Aereo's potential success that NBCU would be unable to fund its programming. But what single example of expensive programming does NBCU call out? Not its news or entertainment - staples of the traditional broadcast network program agenda - but rather its 9-year, $10 billion Sunday Night NFL rights deal.
Sports are considered so critical to broadcasters because they're primarily viewed live and therefore immune to DVR-based ad-skipping (see yesterday's DISH Network "Auto-Hop" news for more on why DVRs are so threatening). As a result, the networks have aggressively bid for sports rights, led of course by the pursuit of NFL and Olympics deals. But those deals have been partly funded by burgeoning retransmission consent fee payments negotiated from pay-TV operators. These payments give broadcasters another revenue stream beyond just advertising (and just like cable networks, as pay-TV operators pay more in retrans fees, rate increases are passed along to ALL their subscribers, whether sports fans or not).
I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 131st edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for May 4, 2012. This week Colin and I discuss how fundamental battle lines have been drawn between the traditional TV ecosystem vs. the numerous digital outlets that are launching online-only original programs. To be more specific, the former group seems intent on erecting ever-higher paywalls to access its programs, which is in turn opening up a gigantic opportunity for free, ad-supported programs to be provided by the latter group. How this battle unfolds will have far-reaching and profound implications for everyone involved.
For the traditional TV ecosystem, there appear to be two core drivers at work; first, the desire by broadcast TV networks to morph themselves into cable TV networks, and second, the role that TV Everywhere is taking on as a foundation of paywall economics.
At the NABShow last week, I interviewed RAMP's CEO Tom Wilde about why closed captioning is coming to online video as a result of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act from 2010. The Act specifies that any video broadcast on-air after April 30th must have closed captioning by September 30th if it's placed on the web.
Tom explains that given broadcasters' existing analog and digital work flows, creating closed captions for the web creates huge challenges, which RAMP's Media Cloud addresses. The good news is that research shows that closed captions give viewers more control and therefore are also more engaged, driving a higher ROI.
See video below (5 minutes, 19 seconds)
Video ad technology provider FreeWheel added another big content provider to its customer roster yesterday, announcing that it will be powering video ads for a group of NBCU's broadcast and cable networks' properties.
In particular, the deal also covers NBCOlympics.com, the network's destination for the London games this summer. FreeWheel noted that as a result advertisers will be able to make specific digital ad buys and combined broadcast/digital packages, which NBC will be able to deliver. This opens up potential targeting at a more granular level than has been available with traditional TV.
Brightcove is powering NBCU's recently-launched Emmy screener app for the iPad dubbed "NBCU Screen It" with its App Cloud and Video Cloud platforms. The app allows 15,000 members of the Television Academy who vote on the Emmy awards to gain authenticated access to view NBC's programs.
I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 123rd edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for Mar. 2, 2012. This week's podcast has a different format; instead of discussing one topic in depth, we touch on three areas - the new lawsuit against Aereo, Netflix's deal with Starz ending (and whether the "flix" is coming out of Netflix) and UltraViolet's strategy of using discs to drive adoption.
I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 121st edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for Feb. 17, 2012. In this week's podcast we puzzle through Aereo - a new broadcast TV over IP / DVR-in-the-cloud provider, which this week announced a $20.5 million financing led by IAC's Barry Diller, plus a March 14th launch date in New York City.
I happened to be in NYC this week, and aside from "Linsanity," Aereo seemed to be the hottest topic around. But talk about a lack of consensus on its prospects! Some believe Aereo is going to be a major disruptor to the existing broadcast and pay-TV ecosystem, while others see it as a total non-starter, whether because broadcasters will succeed in shutting it down or because consumers won't be compelled by its proposition.