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Analysis for 'Cable Networks'

  • 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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  • VideoNuze Podcast #276: Roundup: Showtime OTT, NFL Live-Streaming, Netflix Ads, Apple's Non-News

    I'm pleased to present the 276th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    It was yet another busy week for industry news, with a highlight being Showtime announcing its new OTT service for $10.99/month. For entertainment-focused viewers who want inexpensive access to great content, the world keeps getting better all the time.

    Meanwhile for sports fans, the NFL announced it's partnering with Yahoo to live-stream a Jaguars-Bills game online in the Fall.

    In one piece of non-news, it appears that neither Apple's OTT service nor an upgraded Apple TV device are going to debut at WWDC next week. And finally, it appears that ads won't be coming to Netflix any time soon either.

    Listen in to learn more!


    Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 30 seconds)

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #271: Revisiting Comcast-TWC Deal Failure; Verizon-ESPN Spat

    I'm pleased to present the 271st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    We had recorded last week's podcast just prior to the news that Comcast was dropping its merger bid for Time Warner Cable, so first up this week we share thoughts on why the deal collapsed.

    In my view, the perception of the deal transformed from being cable-centric to being broadband-centric, largely due to the rise of online video usage. As a result, Comcast, post-merger, having 57% of American broadband connections under the new 25 mbps definition, became a sticking point (never mind that it actually has 56% on its own, reflecting its aggressive broadband infrastructure upgrades).

    This is a key irony of the deal's failure - Comcast has invested billions in technology, but its woeful customer service ultimately undermines these investments and defines its reputation. In a hypothetical world where Comcast was a "most admired company," (like Apple, Amazon, etc.), I think it's quite possible regulators would have actually welcomed the Time Warner deal.

    We then turn our attention to Verizon's "Custom TV" packaging and ESPN's lawsuit. As I explained in Has Verizon Put ESPN Into a Public Relations Headlock Over Opaque "Sports Tax?" I think Verizon is making a brazen move to reign in sports costs. Colin and I agree it's the most startling thing yet to happen in a tumultuous year for the pay-TV industry.

    Listen in to learn more!



    Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 6 seconds)

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  • Has Verizon Put ESPN Into a Public Relations Headlock Over Opaque "Sports Tax?"

    We've seen a lot of surprising moves in the pay-TV industry in 2015, but at the top of the list has to be how Verizon is trying to put ESPN into a public relations headlock with its new "Custom TV" packaging plan.

    If you haven't been watching this closely, Verizon announced "Custom TV" last week. Under the plan, Verizon FiOS subscribers can take a base package of 45 channels, including the 4 broadcast TV networks, for $54.99 per month, and get 2 "channel packs" which are smaller groups of genre-based such as lifestyle, Entertainment, News & Info, Sports, etc. Additional channel packs are $10 per month.

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  • NBC Sports Live Extra App Now on Roku and Apple TV, For Authenticated Viewers Only

    NBC Sports Live Extra app is now available on both Roku and Apple TV, with the caveat that only authenticated pay-TV viewers will be able to access the app's 3,000 annual live sports streams. The move bolsters TV Everywhere, the pay-TV industry's initiative to enable access to content when, where and how viewers want it.

    Last week, I shared new research showing that heavy TV Everywhere users rate pay-TV a much stronger value than lighter users. This is a core TV Everywhere goal - to get viewers watching more TV and feeling better about their expensive monthly subscriptions so they're not tempted to switch to cheaper OTT options. Live sports in particular have been a hugely successful genre in TV Everywhere, as measured by FreeWheel.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #270: Debating Whether Netflix is Friend or Foe to TV Industry

    I'm pleased to present the 270th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    (Note, we recorded prior to the demise of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal; we'll discuss that next week.)

    Early this week, in "Is Netflix Friend or Foe to the TV Industry? It's More Confusing Than Ever." I laid out both of the arguments. In today's podcast, Colin and I flesh out the debate further, bringing in additional perspectives and data. Importantly, Colin adds his thoughts on how Netflix should be seen internationally.

    It's a fascinating debate, which our friends at MoffettNathanson coincidentally weighed in on this week as well. Using Nielsen data, they believe Netflix's audience size is already 6% of all of TV's, double its level from 2 years ago, and has accounted for 40% of TV's audience declines. They also see Netflix's share rising to low double digits over the next 4 years.

    Listen in to learn more!



    Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 50 seconds)

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  • HBO Nordic Gets Full Revamp With Help From Clearleap

    The problem-plagued HBO Nordic service, launched in late 2012, has received a full revamp with help from U.S. technology provider Clearleap. Even though there's been a lot of recent focus on HBO Now's launch here in the U.S., the original standalone HBO streaming service was actually HBO Nordic, which is available in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

    Unfortunately for HBO Nordic, the service had issues from the start, including buggy apps, lack of support for key streaming devices, onerous terms and conditions, and an incomplete catalog, all resulting in disappointing reviews and frustrated subscribers.

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  • Is Netflix Friend or Foe to the TV Industry? It's More Confusing Than Ever.

    One of the great riddles of the past few years is whether Netflix is friend or foe to the U.S. television industry, including broadcast TV networks, cable TV networks and pay-TV operators. Over the years, Netflix has downplayed in many ways its disruptive potential to the TV industry (my personal favorite is when CEO Reed Hastings would say "We're more of a bicycle to their car" in comparing Netflix to pay-TV).

    But with Netflix tacking on another 2.3 million subscribers in the U.S. in Q1 '15, bringing its total to 41.4 million, the question is taking on increasing urgency. How should the TV industry REALLY think of Netflix? Below I share what I think are the best "friend" and "foe" arguments, concluding with my own assessment of what Netflix really is now.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #268: Batten Down the Hatches, the HBO Now Storm is Blowing In

    I'm pleased to present the 268th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    HBO Now launched this week and after giving it multiple tryouts, I'm very impressed. As we discuss, and as I've written previously (here, here and here) I think HBO Now is going to be a big winner, and is going to gain subscribers well beyond the 10 million broadband-only households that HBO CEO Richard Plepler relentlessly says are its target market.

    In particular, I think entertainment-focused, budget-minded and younger viewers will find HBO Now very attractive (especially in combination with Netflix and other OTT services). Inevitably this will accelerate cord-shaving, cord-cutting and cord-nevering.

    Colin agrees and shares his own HBO experience this week, using it via Sling TV. This is not HBO Now, but rather HBO content integrated into Sling TV (including the linear feed). Colin reports it too was a mostly positive experience. The ability to access HBO via a "skinny bundle" creates still further pressure on the traditional pay-TV model.

    All in all, Colin and I believe HBO Now will become a key driver of change in the pay-TV industry. The HBO Now storm is blowing in; just how much havoc it will wreak in the industry is the big open question.

    Listen in to learn more!


    Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 49 seconds)

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  • Dodgers Stalemate and Viacom's $785 Million Write-Down Epitomize OTT's Growing Impact

    Yesterday provided us with 2 excellent examples of how OTT is changing the video landscape and how the pay-TV ecosystem is struggling to adapt. The first example was the second straight LA Dodgers' opening day in which the majority of LA fans were not able to watch the game because SportsNet LA doesn't have deals with most of the area's pay-TV operators. The second example was the $785 million write-down announced by Viacom to cover the costs of an expected "strategic realignment."

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  • Report: TV Viewership Patterns and Economic Realities Indicate Difficult Path for "Skinny" Bundles

    So-called "skinny bundles" of TV networks face long odds of success given the dispersion of actual TV viewership, cross-ownership of broadcast-cable TV networks by media conglomerates and underlying economic realities, according to a new analysis by MoffettNathanson.

    The conclusions align with points I made in last Friday's podcast and previously, as I've asserted that the "Swiss cheese" channel lineups found in skinny bundles will lack broad appeal. This was a central finding from recent Bernstein research as well. Conversely, bulking up channel lineups with more TV networks (as Sony has done with its new PlayStation Vue service) eliminates the opportunity for a cost-savings value proposition that would resonate most with would-be cord-cutters or cord-nevers.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #265: Can Apple Succeed With a "Skinny" Bundle of TV Networks?

    I'm pleased to present the 265th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. There's been a lot of buzz this week about a WSJ report that Apple could at last be planning to enter the TV business, by offering a so-called "skinny" bundle of around 25 TV networks this Fall.

    In today's podcast, Colin and I debate whether Apple can succeed with this approach. Colin is relatively sanguine, and believes that if Apple ties the TV service's launch to a new device, it could get a lot of traction. Colin sees Sling TV's skinny bundle as a model for Apple to follow.

    I'm much more skeptical about the skinny approach, and despite Apple's formidable assets, I'm challenged to see how it works. My main issue is that by definition, skinny bundles result in a "Swiss cheese" channel lineup that is unsatisfying for many viewers (this was supported by Bernstein research I wrote about earlier this week). Another issue for Apple, which reportedly wants to include broadcast TV networks (which Sling doesn't include), is the near-certainty that it won't get full linear rights in all U.S. markets, undercutting the service's ubiquity.

    At a minimum it will be fun to watch what Apple does, along with everyone else. Reminder, to help us all gauge these new OTT services' potential, check out the handy scoring framework I shared yesterday.

    Listen in to learn more!


    Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 38 seconds)

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  • Why HBO Now is the Biggest Threat Yet to Pay-TV's Multi-Billion Dollar Sports Tax on Non-Fans

    In last Friday's podcast, Colin and I covered a lot of ground in assessing HBO Now's opportunities and risks. One of the points I raised, which I believe deserves much more attention in understanding HBO Now's disruptive potential, is how it threatens pay-TV's multi-billion dollar "sports tax" on non-fans.

    I've been writing about the sports tax - how non-fans effectively subsidize the cost of super-expensive sports networks such as ESPN and regional sports networks (RSNs) that they don't watch - for almost 5 years now. In a back-of-the-envelope analysis I did following a panel I sat on with Mark Cuban back in 2011, I estimated the annual tax on non sports fans amounted to at least $2 billion per year (4 years later, it's now much higher).

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #264: HBO Now Has Big Opportunities and Big Risks

    I'm pleased to present the 264th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. In today's podcast we dig into HBO Now's big opportunities and big risks.

    Colin and I agree that HBO has made a pretty aggressive bet with HBO Now. It is reasonably priced at $15/month and includes HBO's full library of original and licensed content. HBO partnered exclusively with Apple at launch, gaining the company's halo, and quite possibly very significant promotional support TBD (not to mention diverting from its traditional pay-TV operator partners).

    Importantly, HBO Now gives viewers their first-ever opportunity to access HBO's iconic content without first having to subscribe to an expensive pay-TV service. This "buy-through" has effectively capped HBO's growth, while Netflix zipped past it. We explain why we believe this flexibility has potentially significant consequences for non-sports fans, in turn impacting both cord-cutting and cord-nevering.

    There are so many fascinating angles to the HBO Now move. We cram in as much as we can, and will certainly be revisiting it as HBO Now launches in April.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (24 minutes, 9 seconds)

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