September is here and that means summer 2014 is in the rear-view mirror. For online video and the broader video ecosystem, it was another busy few months, as viewers around the world continue to shift their consumption patterns, with many companies scrambling to keep pace. Below I've distilled my list of the 10 biggest online video stories of the summer - read on and let me know if I've missed something!
I'm pleased to present the 238th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week we talk about the now fizzled Fox-Time Warner deal and the imperative of investing for the future. As I wrote, I think the deal's collapse is actually a positive outcome for Fox, as it was a risky bet to double down on the saturated and stressed pay-TV ecosystem. A more forward-looking, growth-oriented investment strategy would capitalize on changes being driven by online and mobile video.
Two of the biggest changes are among viewers and advertisers. Illustrating how younger viewers' attitudes are quickly evolving, we discuss new data showing YouTube stars are now more influential among American teens than Hollywood celebrities.
Meanwhile, underscoring how advertisers are now able to take their messages directly to consumers, we note that Nike dominated World Cup branded video viewership even though it wasn't even an official event partner. Another great example is Acura's creative sponsorship of Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee."
Last but not least, this week brought news that Netflix's subscription revenue for Q2 '14 edged out HBO's for the same period - an important milestone showing how OTT business models are coming of age.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 47 seconds)
Late yesterday, Fox retracted its $80 billion proposed acquisition of Time Warner. The combination of a recalcitrant Time Warner, falling Fox stock price and need to significantly sweeten the deal all clearly deterred Rupert Murdoch from further pursuit.
From my perspective, this is a good outcome for Fox. Why? Because the deal was mainly premised on certain key assumptions about the pay-TV business that, in reality, are unlikely to play out as Fox hopes. It was dubious that Fox was ready to pay $80 billion for Time Warner and not even gain any entry to new growth markets, but that was basically the case.
I'm pleased to present the 235th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
First up this week, Colin recaps how well the recently wrapped-up World Cup did with live-streaming. As Colin notes, the final game delivered 1.8 million concurrent live viewers. Also interesting was how mainstream streaming mid-day games seemed to become. Unlike March Madness games, which have always been streamed in the workplace somewhat surreptitiously, World Cup streaming seemed completely acceptable.
Continuing our sports theme, we then turn to a WSJ article this week which revealed that the NBA is seeking to double the approximately $930 million per year in TV rights fees it receives from Disney/ESPN and Time Warner/Turner when these deals expire after the 2015/2016 season.
If the NBA were to succeed, and gain $2 billion or so in fees, that would translate into around $20 per year for each of the approximately 100 million U.S. pay-TV subscribers (even more when you factor in the pay-TV operator's retail margin).
The dirty little secret of these super-expensive sports deals is that ALL subscribers pay - whether you're a fan or not - meaning the "sports tax" on non-fans is getting bigger all the time. With escalating pay-TV bills, the big question is whether non-fans will become heavier cord-nevers and cord-cutters.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 5 seconds)
I'm pleased to present the 234th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week we touch on a few different topics that caught our attention, including Yahoo's deal to pick up another season of "Community," after NBC dropped it (plus we discuss Yahoo's other video moves). Then we turn to CBS's research head's reveal that the network generates up to 20% more revenue per viewer online than on TV.
We also review whether HBO premiering the first episode of its new series "The Leftovers" on Yahoo (plus similar efforts by other premium networks) will succeed. Finally, we're both impressed with Jerry Seinfeld's new Acura ads and how they blur the lines between content and advertising. Seinfeld is a huge online video enthusiast as I noted earlier this year.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 41 seconds)
In an interview with Recode on Tuesday, Sony Computer Entertainment America President and CEO Shawn Layden said the company is still planning to launch a "revolutionary" OTT pay-TV service by the end of 2014.
However, as Intel learned with its own misguided OnCue foray, the big cable network owners aren't enabling any revolutions to occur in the pay-TV industry. To the contrary, they're working hard to extend the status quo. This, plus other factors, means the odds of success for Sony's nascent OTT pay-TV service are extremely low.
Binge-viewing is surely one of the most notable cultural phenomena of the past few years. Barely registering as a concept less than 3 years ago, many recent research reports now cite binge-viewing as having been adopted - if not regularly practiced - by a majority of TV viewers (examples here, here, here, here, here, here).
The shift toward binge-viewing has immense implications for the TV and video industries, touching everything from the creative process to programming/distribution decisions to monetization approaches. Some companies are fully embracing binge-viewing and riding its wave, while others are taking a more cautious approach.
Stepping back though, how exactly did binge-viewing become such a cultural phenomenon? I believe there are at least 5 key contributing factors, with the relationships among them creating a perfect storm of growth.
TV Everywhere's conundrum continues. Data from Viacom late last week again showed that people who actually use TVE appear to really value it, plus it improves their perceptions of their pay-TV operator. Nonetheless, other recent research and comments from industry executives themselves show that relatively few people have tried TVE and still fewer use it consistently.
First the Viacom data. Sampling 1,300 Viacom viewers ages 13-49, and 600 kids, ages 2-12, Viacom found that TVE users watch 64% more TV (72% for millennials), as 98% said TVE adds to their pay-TV subscription and 93% said they're more likely to stay with their pay-TV operator as a result of TVE. Respondents said the main reasons for TVE use were to re-watch/replay TV episodes, view flexibly and be an early adopter of new services.
I recently had the pleasure being interviewed by my former colleague Howard Homonoff for his weekly "Media Reporter" show at the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information which he produces in addition to his consulting practice. In the interview we touch on a broad range of topics including how technology is helping traditional TV, the impact of online video on pay-TV operators and networks, online originals, NewFronts, rise of devices and mobile viewing, net neutrality, industry deals and much more.
The interview runs about 28 minutes.
Topics: Net Neutrality
I'm pleased to present the 227th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week we dig into the Turner-Comcast deal from earlier this week, under which Turner is providing past seasons' and full current season's episodes to some of its most popular programs to Comcast for viewing on VOD and TV Everywhere. As I wrote earlier this week, a key enabler of the deal is Turner's ability to dynamically insert ads in the on-demand streams.
Colin and I agree that, to the extent the deal becomes a template for others, it could have a wide-ranging impact on the ecosystem. To date, Netflix and other OTT providers have been able to aggregate huge libraries of past seasons' episodes, which have fueled binge-viewing.
But as advertising in VOD/TVE grows and improves, it could become the financial foundation for operators to gain far greater content rights. That in turn could change the negotiating balance for content and perceptions of pay-TV operators. Colin and I explain what could be ahead.
Listen in to learn more!
(Note also Colin is hosting a free webinar next Tuesday on Fox Sports Go TVE app. Sign up here.)
Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 49 seconds)
Turner Broadcasting will provide Comcast with VOD and TV Everywhere access for some of its most popular programs across all of its cable networks, under a deal announced this morning. A significant aspect of the deal is that it gives Comcast rights not only to past seasons' episodes, but also to all current season episodes - what's known as "stacking rights." The deal is a big win for Comcast and also underscores the emergence of dynamic ad insertion in VOD/TVE streams as an important new revenue driver.
I'm pleased to present the 225th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week the NewFronts got underway in NYC while the Cable Show was happening in LA. We discuss some of the highlights from both.
Starting with the NewFronts, per new IAB research, we were both impressed with the rising esteem of online video advertising in the eyes of ad buyers. These are the people being courted at the NewFronts, and they now see TV and video as being essentially at parity importance for major product/service campaigns.
Moreover, 2/3 of respondents see their online video spending increasing in the next 12 months, with 67% citing TV budgets as the top source of funding for online video. All of this is certainly good news for the content providers unveiling new programs at the NewFronts this week.
Colin then discusses his observations from the Cable Show where executives cited concerns about creators being drawn to the YouTube ecosystem instead of traditional TV. Meanwhile these classic distinctions are getting blurrier, as evidenced by last week's integration of Netflix with 3 cable operators. It's not just Netflix though - clearly Hulu has aspirations to be integrated as well, and surely YouTube and others are right behind.
Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 3 seconds)
The latest evidence supporting the craze around binge-viewing was released by consultancy Miner & Co., finding that 70% of U.S. TV viewers now consider themselves binge-viewers. Miner defined binge-viewing as watching 3 or more episodes in a single session. For most, binge-viewing is still a monthly activity (90%), followed by weekly (63%) and daily (17%).
The survey found that 55% of binge-viewers and 61% of frequent binge-viewers were millennials. It also defined three categories of binge-viewers: "Streamers" (35%) who use services like Netflix/Hulu Plus/Amazon; "Marathoners" (18%) who watch TV marathons and "DVRers" (16%) who mostly binge-view using their DVR.
I'm pleased to present the 224th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This was an unusually busy week with many industry announcements, so today's format is a roundup discussion of four items that seemed most significant to us.
First up is HBO's exclusive new licensing deal with Amazon, which is the latest evidence of the surging value of high-quality content libraries. Second is Apple's reveal that it has sold 20 million Apple TVs to date, making it more than just a "hobby." Next, we turn to Netflix, which reported stellar Q1 results earlier this week. Finally, we look at Comcast's Q1 and Time Warner Cable's Q1 results. Both companies reported healthier video subscriber numbers (though Verizon reported a much smaller quarter for FiOS video subscribers). The question still looms how meaningful cord-cutting is in reality.
(Note, we had major technical issues with Skype this week, so in the last one-third of the podcast I sound like I'm in a fish tank. Apologies in advance.)
Click here to listen to the podcast (17 minutes, 46 seconds)
Signs of online video's growth and vibrancy are everywhere these days, but certain startup content providers still believe the surest road to success is by landing old school distribution (or "carriage") deals with large pay-TV operators. That was the message at last week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger from Jamie Bosworth, Chairman and CEO of golf lifestyle focused Back9 Network.
When asked at the hearing why Back9 Network couldn't just operate as an online video service, Bosworth said that "while online viewership is increasing, the average American still watches 20 times more video content via television and the advertising rates mirror that as well." Bosworth's issue is that because Comcast's NBC Sports group owns and distributes Golf Channel, the big cable operator has little incentive to add another golf-oriented network. Further, if the TWC merger were approved, it would stifle TV competition to a vast part of the American population.
I'm pleased to present the 219th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia, who was at the TV Connect conference this week in London. First, up, Colin shares some of what he heard from Francisco Varela, YouTube's global director of platform partnerships. Francisco talked about YouTube taking back development of their apps from Smart TV manufacturers so users can have more immersive experiences.
We then turn our attention to the settlement of the Google-Viacom litigation, over alleged copyright infringement by YouTube, dating to 2007. It's legitimate to ask if there was ultimately any point to the litigation. As I explain though, I agree that at a minimum the litigation accelerated the development of YouTube's Content ID system which has been very valuable to the entire ecosystem.
Last, we also discuss new research from Vubiquity which found that 58% of respondents said they're interested in downloading TV shows and movies included in their pay-TV subscription. This echoes my bullishness on TiVo Stream's download feature which I've found extremely useful.
Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 24 seconds)
Big media companies are often cast as lumbering giants, slow to recognize change and even slower to embrace it. But for Disney, that stereotype looks increasingly inappropriate, as the company continues making moves to better position itself for the vastly different upcoming online video era.
Yesterday's report that Disney is mulling an acquisition of Maker Studios for $500 million, one of the biggest of the YouTube multichannel networks ("MCNs") with over 500 million videos viewed/month in January, is the latest sign that Disney recognizes the future rules of the road in the media industry will be far different than they were in the past. Maker - and other big MCNs - underscore 3 of the biggest emerging rules: (1) that talent can now break big without the backing of the traditional media, (2) that YouTube is a bona fide new distribution platform and (3) that traditional media's grip on millennials may be slipping.
I'm pleased to present the 217th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. In today's podcast, we interpret this week's DISH Network - Disney deal, the highlight of which was DISH gaining OTT distribution rights for ABC-owned stations, ABC Family, Disney Channel, ESPN and ESPN2. The networks would become a foundation for what Colin has dubbed a "VPOP" or virtual pay-TV operator.
Colin notes that for DISH in particular, a VPOP offering would let it acquire new subscribers far cheaper than it currently does. An easy in / easy out subscription model, akin to how Netflix operates, could sit well with the younger, cord-never audience. Still, as I've often said, the biggest driver of success for any VPOP would be lower prices, in order to steal share from incumbent operators in the fully mature pay-TV market. Given the cost of assembling a competitive lineup of networks, DISH would have limited ability to offer bargains.
Following our DISH-Disney discussion, Colin also shares highlights of new research his firm released this week, "Store My Stuff - Consumer Digital Media Storage" which provides data on how consumers are storing digital media including downloaded movies and TV shows. The report, which was sponsored by PLEX, is available for complimentary download.
Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 14 seconds)
In the session "Is TV Everywhere Finally Breaking Through?" at the recent VideoSchmooze, industry executives discussed an important long-term objective for the pay-TV industry: turning TV Everywhere into TV, Everywhere. The insertion of that little comma would convert a key industry initiative into a practical, compelling and ubiquitous consumer experience.
For device-happy consumers, what's not to love about the idea of being able to watch all kinds of TV programming (sports, news entertainment, etc.) in any format (live, linear or on-demand), inside or outside their homes whenever they want?
But getting to that eventual goal involves resolving a lot of sticky business and technical challenges. In the wide-ranging panel discussion, our participants Michael Bishara (Synacor), John Harran (Turner), Marty Roberts (thePlatform), John Woods (Mediacom) and Colin Dixon (nScreenMedia and moderator) did a great job of sorting through all of the issues and articulating the opportunities.
For anyone interested in TV Everywhere, it's a highly informative 47 minutes. The video is below.
There are a lot of wild headlines these days proclaiming the death of TV and the prevalence of cord-cutting. But in a session I moderated at the recent VideoSchmooze event in NYC, Bruce Leichtman and Craig Moffett, two of the top video analysts around, shared their current data, which systematically debunks these mythologies. For anyone interested in what's really happening in the video business today, the session's video is a must-watch.
Bruce and Craig believe that both technology and mainstream media are ginning up these mythologies because they make great headlines. In fact, both cited instances where their data said "x" but the media coverage ended up being "y." All of this underscores how important it is to read media coverage of the industry with a very critical eye.