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Analysis for 'Cable Networks'

  • FilmStruck, A New Turner SVOD Service, Lures Criterion Movies From Hulu

    Turner announced this morning that it will launch a new ad-free SVOD service this Fall dubbed FilmStruck, which will be managed by Turner Classic Movies and exclusively draw on movies from Criterion Collection. According to the release, FilmStruck is targeted to “diehard movie enthusiasts who crave a deep, intimate experience independent, foreign and art house films.”

    A Turner spokesperson confirmed that Criterion’s 1,000 movie catalog will move over from Hulu in November, where it has been under an exclusive deal announced in February, 2011 and extended in April, 2014.

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  • Comcast-YES Network Standoff Puts Sports Rights Fees Back in Focus

    The never-ending tussle between pay-TV operators and sports TV networks over escalating carriage fees is back in focus due to the standoff between Comcast and the YES Network, which has the rights to broadcast New York Yankees games, among others. Comcast dropped YES last November, leaving approximately 900K of its New York area subscribers without access to YES. With the Yankees’ opening day one week from today, the standoff is going to gain much more attention.

    As with other sports TV carriage disputes, this one boils down to money and audience. Comcast is arguing that YES’s demand for a reported $6 per month per subscriber isn’t justified given its ratings. Last November Comcast said that over 90% of its subscribers didn’t watch the equivalent of even one quarter of the 130 games YES broadcast in 2015. Nielsen said that YES averaged 250K viewers in 2015, a decrease of 44% vs. its peak of 450K in 2007.

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  • Perspective What's this? TV Companies Must Build A Common Audience or Lose to Digital Giants

    TV programmers like Viacom and AMC are in the same position that print companies like The New York Times and Conde Nast were ten years ago. As consumers moved to reading content online, the legacy publishing companies figured they could replicate their business on a new channel. No one could believe that a tech company with no real content could compete for brand advertising budgets. We all know how that played out.

    Now, consumers are cutting the cord and moving to digital channels to watch TV. There is more to lose on both the buy and sell side during this time around. TV advertising is considered by advertisers to be the holy grail of inventory, and they don’t want to lose it any more than the TV companies do. However, the siren song of audiences at scale and with technical ease could change their minds.

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  • AT&T Partners With Videology for Programmatic TV Advertising

    AT&T has partnered with video ad tech provider Videology to enable advertisers to buy ads on linear TV across over 130 different cable TV networks in 26 million DirecTV and U-Verse homes. At Videology’s Full Frontal Video event in NYC this morning, I did an on-stage interview with Jason Brown, VP, National Advertising Sales for AT&T AdWorks about the new initiative and how it will be implemented.

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  • NBCU to Offer Programmatic TV Ad Buying on All Linear Networks

    NBCU made a big move to embrace audience-based buying yesterday, announcing that select advertisers and agencies will be able to use data and automation to buy ads on linear TV. The expansion of the company’s NBCUx platform represents the most significant step by a TV network group yet to adopt a programmatic approach to buying traditional TV ads. NBCU called its initiative “unprecedented.”

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  • HBO Now Reports 800K Subscribers As Marketing Lags

    On yesterday’s Time Warner Q4 ’15 earnings call, HBO CEO Richard Plepler said that HBO Now as at “about 800,000 paying subscribers.” It was the first specific subscriber number the company has shared since launching in April, 2015. While Plepler positioned the 800K as significant, no surprise, given HBO Now’s expectations, there’s been much debate about whether the 800K is in fact, disappointing.

    I’ve been bullish on HBO Now’s opportunity since its launch, but I think there are a number of things that held things back during the launch year. Most significant is lack of marketing and promotion. HBO Now came out of the gate strong, launching with Apple TV and establishing a presence both online and offline. In those first few months it was hard to miss an ad for HBO Now.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #295: Explaining Yahoo’s $42 Million Originals Bellyflop, Why HBO Now Distribution is Stymied

    I'm pleased to present the 295th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    First up this week we dig into Yahoo’s decision to write off $42 million related to 3 of its long-form original programs, including the high-profile “Community.” As Colin and I explain, Yahoo faced a lot of headwinds from the start in making these a success. Yahoo’s bellyflop is actually not a big surprise and it’s a yellow flag for others interested in providing long-form content.

    We then transition to talking about why HBO Now’s distribution with large pay-TV operators / broadband ISPs is stymied. At the WSJD conference this week, HBO CEO Richard Plepler lamented the company’s lack of progress. But as I explain, HBO Now represents more cord-cutting risk than upside opportunity to most operators (for more color on that, see here). Colin disagrees and thinks operators should be more aggressive. We have a healthy debate.

    Listen now to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (24 minutes, 29 seconds)

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  • Comcast Adds Short-Form Video From 30 TV Networks to X1

    The line between TV and online video is blurring still further, as Comcast has announced that it is adding short-form online video content from 30 broadcast and cable TV networks to its X1 platform and online at Xfinity.com. The beta launch means that millions of X1 customers will be able to surf the Web tab of the On Demand section on X1 to access the clips.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #290: Deep-Dive Q&A With Sports TV Expert Lee Berke

    I'm pleased to present the 290th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On this week’s podcast we do an in-depth Q&A with our guest Lee Berke, who runs LHB Sports, Entertainment and Media, Inc. Lee has helped dozens of teams create and implement sports TV networks. He has a wealth of insights into the role of sports in pay-TV and how online and mobile video are causing leagues and teams to adjust their traditional distribution strategies.

    Sports are a key driver of increased pay-TV rates and as VideoNuze readers know, I’ve been writing for years (examples here, here, here) about the billions of dollars non-fans pay each year in the form of a “sports tax” - subsidizing expensive sports networks they never watch. With the advent of robust, inexpensive OTT entertainment programming options, the pay-TV multichannel bundle has come under more pressure than ever, with subscriber losses peaking in Q2 ’15.

    In our Q&A with Lee we explore these issues and how he sees OTT impacting teams, leagues and sports TV networks. Lee believes TV will remain the most significant revenue source in sports for the foreseeable future, but also sees the leagues more aggressively experimenting online to serve a new generation of fans. Lee also describes how he’s advising teams, particularly on how to maintain flexibility and capitalize on new technologies.      

    Listen in to learn more!



    Click here to listen to the podcast (29 minutes, 26 seconds)

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  • In Wild West of SVOD Launches, EPIX Stays Disciplined and Signs On With Hulu

    Yesterday pay-TV network EPIX announced a multi-year distribution deal with Hulu that will kick in on October 1st, as EPIX’s current deal with Netflix phases out.

    Perhaps most noteworthy here is that in the current Wild West environment where everyone and their brother are launching standalone SVOD services, EPIX has remained disciplined in choosing to instead team up with a large SVOD player (EPIX has a separate SVOD deal with Amazon dating to 2012 as well).

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  • Sesame - HBO Deal Also Underscores Difficulty of Niche SVOD Model

    When Sesame Workshop announced its deal with HBO last week, everyone seemed to have an opinion about whether another “poor door” had been created, this time for Elmo and his iconic friends.

    It’s an interesting societal debate, but what was more intriguing to me was that Sesame’s deal with HBO signaled that its own SVOD efforts had not delivered material results (and with the new HBO deal, I’d guess will likely be phased out at some point). That in turn reinforced my belief that the niche SVOD model is extremely difficult given the rise of “super” SVOD services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

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  • Viacom Bulks Up Data Team With New Executives

    Viacom announced that it has added 3 new executives to its Viacom Vantage data-driven ad product, which was itself announced in late April. Joining Viacom are Bryson Gordon as SVP of Data Strategy, Gabe Bevilacqua as VP of Product Management and Kodi Foster as VP of Data Strategy. Together they’ll oversee development of new data products to micro-target viewers which are overseen by Kern Schireson, EVP of Data Strategy and Consumer Intelligence for Viacom Media Networks.

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  • Whoa, With NHL Deal, Did MLBAM Just Become the Most Disruptive Force in Sports TV?

    Yesterday, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball Advanced Media announced a multi-faceted 6-year deal in which MLBAM will pay $600 million to take over distribution and operations of NHL’s GameCenter LIVE and Center Ice online subscription services (including via pay-TV operators), manage all of NHL’s web sites, manage all of NHL Network’s operations (including taking over ad sales) and jointly develop new digital products. As part of the deal, NHL is reportedly getting a 7%-10% stake in MLBAM, which is also reportedly going to be spun off (finally) from Major League Baseball. (clarification, per MLBAM spokesman, NHL's stake is in BAM Tech, the technology arm of MLBAM)

    That’s a mouthful, but what it amounts to is a major expansion in MLBAM’s scope of business, instantly morphing the company from being primarily a provider of technology services supporting rights-holders to being a multi-platform distribution company in its own right. As such, MLBAM may have just become the most disruptive force in sports TV, signaling to every broadcast and cable TV network which has an interest in sports TV -  from CBS, ABC, NBC, ESPN and on down the line - that the ground just shifted underneath them. Here’s why.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #284: Online Video is Making ESPN’s World More Complicated

    I'm pleased to present the 284th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we turn our attention to ESPN, which was prominently in the news on Monday, when Disney CEO Bob Iger stated that he believes it’s inevitable that long term ESPN will be sold directly to consumers, instead of in the traditional multichannel bundle. To be fair though, Iger wasn’t ready to put any timeline on this move, so it’s clearly not happening any time soon.

    As Colin and I discuss, there are many online video trends unfolding that make ESPN’s world more complicated. These include a decline in the number of ESPN subscribers over the past few years due to the proliferation of OTT entertainment apps that are diminishing the appeal of the multichannel bundle,  pushback by pay-TV operators focused on cost containment and skinny bundles (e.g. Verizon’s Custom TV), the aggressive moves by leagues to roll out their own online-only streaming packages, the wide availability of sports-related information online and more.

    We hash out what all of this means to ESPN and where things are likely heading from here.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 53 seconds)



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  • VidCon vs. Pay-TV: A Modern Tale of Two Cities

    "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.

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  • Disney CEO: Long-Term, There's an "Inevitability" to ESPN Being Sold Directly to Consumers

    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.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #281: Pay-TV’s Programming Costs Spiral While Kids’ Interest in TV Wanes

    I'm pleased to present the 281st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Earlier this week SNL Kagan released an updated forecast of fee increases for pay-TV operators to carry broadcast and TV networks. Using that data Colin modeled what DirecTV’s programming costs would be and how they would translate into higher subscriber rates and lower margins.

    No surprise, Colin’s analysis further highlights how expensive pay-TV is becoming. Colin and I discuss how this directly translates into more cord-cutting and cord-nevering given the range of inexpensive, high-quality OTT options.

    All of this is happening against a backdrop of kids abandoning TV altogether. That trend was illustrated by new research from Miner and Co. Studio, which revealed that 57% of parents of kids age 2-12 say their kid prefers a device OTHER than the TV to watch video. Worse, almost half of these parents said sometimes as a punishment they take their kid’s device away and instead make their kid watch TV. We discuss the implications. (make sure to watch Miner’s video interviews too)

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 1 second)


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  • Modernizing the Monetization of Video: The Content Provider's Perspective [AD SUMMIT VIDEO]

    These are complicated times for video content providers, with more opportunities to monetize their video inventory and partner with advertisers, yet more complexity as well. How to succeed in this rapidly evolving environment was the topic of our Video Ad Summit panel, “Modernizing the Monetization of Video: The Content Provider’s Perspective.”

    The session included Lorne Brown (Founder & CEO, Operative), Sean Holzman (Chief Digital Revenue Officer, Bonnier), Stephano Kim (SVP, Ad Operations & Chief Digital Strategist, Turner Broadcasting), David Morris (Chief Revenue Officer, CBS Interactive) and Lisa Valentino (Chief Revenue Officer, Conde Nast Entertainment), with Tom Herman (CEO, DashBid) moderating.

    The wide-ranging discussion touched on various topics including how campaign success metrics are changing, why performance and engagement are paramount, how content providers are creating their own data management platforms and selectively exposing their first-party data, why the consumer is really in the driver’s seat, the role of branded entertainment, the challenges of moving to a direct-to-consumer approach at scale, ad-blocking and much, much more.

    Watch the session video now (32 minutes, 36 seconds)

     
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  • VideoNuze Podcast #279: Industry Change Illustrated Well by 6 News Items This Week

    I'm pleased to present the 279th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Change is everywhere in the video and TV industries and this week 6 different news items hit our radar, which Colin and I think illustrate how quickly things are moving. In today's podcast we discuss each of them and why we think they're significant.

    The items include continued falling linear TV ratings as measured by Nielsen, Hulu distributing Showtime, new research showing that Netflix's audience is size larger than those of broadcast TV networks, Tennis Channel's converged TV Everywhere-OTT model, HBO premiering 2 new shows on Facebook and Ooyala's new data showing that 42% of video views are now on mobile.

    (note: Colin wanted to clarify one point - when citing Netflix viewership, he said it was 10 million hours streamed per quarter when it's actually 10 billion hours)

    Listen in to learn more!



    Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 45 seconds)

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  • Tennis Channel is Succeeding With Converged TV Everywhere-OTT Model

    With talk of cord-cutting everywhere these days, independent ad-supported cable TV network Tennis Channel is showing early signs of success with a compelling new model in which linear, TV Everywhere and OTT converge to super-serve audiences and reinforce the value of sports on pay-TV.

    At the 2014 French Open, Tennis Channel launched "Tennis Channel Plus" which runs $12/month or $80/year. Tennis Channel Plus now provides access to over 650 live events per year and over 1,000 hours of on-demand viewing. This means Tennis Channel adds broader coverage of tournaments it already broadcasts on linear, plus streaming of tournaments it hasn't previously covered.

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