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Friday, October 31, 2014

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Analysis for 'Cable Networks'

  • FCC's Proposed Broadening of Video Rules Seems Unlikely to Spur Major Market Change

    Yesterday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wrote in a blog post that he intends to start a rule making proceeding to broaden the definition of what a multichannel video programming distributor (an "MVPD," or more simply, a cable, satellite, telco operator that distributes bundles of cable and broadcast TV networks) is, to include companies that don't actually own their own delivery infrastructure. My weekly podcast partner Colin Dixon and I call these non-infrastructure companies virtual pay-TV operators, or "vPops" for short.

    This "technology-neutral" change would mean vPops using the Internet/broadband to deliver linear TV networks would also be considered MVPDs, therefore entitled to the same regulatory-mandated benefits. Wheeler characterized the move as being pro-consumer and pro-innovation and on the face of it, it definitely appears to be. But, digging deeper, it's not clear that this type of regulatory change would overcome actual market forces that will still determine the average viewer's video choices.

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  • Comcast Throws Cold Water On HBO OTT's Disruptive Potential

    Following HBO's announcement of HBO OTT last week, a lot of the media coverage has focused on how disruptive it will be to the pay-TV ecosystem. But on today's Comcast Q3 '14 earnings conference call, company executives threw cold water on these prospects, highlighting the challenges and risks that HBO faces in going direct to consumer.

    Responding to analysts' questions, NBCU CEO Steve Burke said:

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #246 - Will HBO OTT Be Seismic or a Dud?

    I'm pleased to present the 246th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    HBO's big OTT announcement generated massive coverage this week. Following my initial 8 reactions I shared on Wednesday, in today's podcast, Colin and I hash out whether HBO OTT will be a seismic event (as many people want to believe) or whether it will be a complete dud.

    Given the scarcity of details HBO shared, it's still a lot of guesswork. But Colin and I do our best to frame things, including the all-important questions of what content will be included in HBO OTT and what the price point will be.

    These decisions put HBO executives in an extraordinarily sensitive position. It's no exaggeration to say HBO OTT has the potential to reshape HBO's future as well as its parent company Time Warner and more broadly, the contours of the entire TV, Hollywood, OTT and sports industries. Note however, that "potential" is the epically operative word here.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 24 seconds)



    Click here for previous podcasts

    Click here to add the podcast feed to your RSS reader.

    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

     
  • Why Proliferating SVOD Services Could Actually Be Very Good News For Pay-TV

    Between HBO's OTT announcement yesterday and CBS's this morning, there're intensifying buzz that the demise of pay-TV, with its expensive multichannel bundles, may finally be upon us. But here's a contrarian thought: what if all of the SVOD activity we're already seeing - plus more that's sure to come - is actually very good news for pay-TV? Before you scoff at me as a head-in-the-sand pay-TV defender, stop and consider the following.

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  • 8 Initial Reactions to HBO's New OTT Service

    HBO has dropped a bombshell, announcing plans to launch a standalone over-the-top service in the U.S. in 2015. The announcement was extremely short on details, except to say it was targeted to the 80 million U.S. homes that do not currently subscribe to HBO. Here are my 8 quick reactions to the news. Many more thoughts to follow as more details are released.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #245 - Debating Virtual Pay-TV Operators' Odds of Succeeding

    I'm pleased to present the 245th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Today we debate the odds of success for so-called "vPops," or virtual pay-tv operators - companies looking to deliver pay-TV services over-the-top. I expand on some of the points I made earlier this week for why I think the odds are against vPops succeeding. Fundamentally this comes down vPops' inability to cost-effectively access programming and package it in an appealing way to gain market interest.

    Colin sees it very differently, believing vPops CAN create skinnier bundles of channels and successfully target highly specific cord-nevers, cord-cutters and even some existing pay-TV subscribers. Colin believes these bundles can be created at a $30 retail price point and include a compelling array of channels. He also sees room for vPops to offer full channel line-ups at lower cost than today's pay-TV operators, complete with lots of user experience enhancements.

    It's a great debate and we're both eager to see what vPops actually DO come to market with over the next 6-9 months to see how things turn out.

    Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 50 seconds)



    Click here for previous podcasts

    Click here to add the podcast feed to your RSS reader.

    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

     
  • Why Virtual Pay-TV Operators Have Very Low Odds of Succeeding

    Lately there's been a lot of talk about so-called "virtual pay-TV operators," (vPops as my partner Colin Dixon at nScreenMedia likes to call them), which are also called "virtual MVPDs" (multichannel video programming distributors). These are companies that will deliver linear and on-demand broadcast/cable TV network bundles from the cloud, over broadband to connected/mobile devices, offering an alternative to traditional pay-TV services.

    Sony, Verizon and Dish Network have all publicly stated their interest in launching vPop services in either 2014 or 2015. Though it's still early and much is yet to be known about their actual offerings, there are already many reasons to be skeptical that they'll achieve any material success.

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  • Perspective What's this? The Future of TV: 4 Reasons Why It Will Keep Getting Better

    A new wave of viewers has emerged: they're connected, they know what they want to watch, when they want to watch it, and most importantly, how they want to watch it. They are chomping at the bit for premium content that is both accessible and affordable. At the same time, the advent of OTT and connected TV devices has made way for a whole new viewing experience where "television" simply refers to the largest screen in the house.

    We all know the TV ecosystem of tomorrow will look vastly different than today's current landscape, but what changes can we expect? Here are four predictions for what trends will emerge over the next few months and years:

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  • OTT Never Had a Real Chance of Getting NFL Sunday Ticket Deal

    Late yesterday, the NFL announced it renewed its "Sunday Ticket" deal with DirecTV for a reported 8 years at $1.5 billion per year, a 50% increase over their prior deal. Going back about a year, there were rampant rumors that the Sunday Ticket package could go to an OTT player, with Google being the name most often mentioned.

    In reality, though, there was virtually no chance Sunday Ticket was going to go to OTT, and so the DirecTV renewal comes as no surprise. As I wrote over a year ago, there were at least 5 big challenges to a Google-NFL deal in particular. These essentially boil down to a combination of online video not being mature enough yet to exclusively handle marquee sports broadcasts and the incumbent TV ecosystem desperately needing to retain marquee sports broadcasts like Sunday Ticket.

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  • The 10 Biggest Online Video Stories of Summer 2014

    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!

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #238 - Fox, Time Warner and the Imperative of Investing for the Future

    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)

    Click here for previous podcasts

    Click here to add the podcast feed to your RSS reader.

    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

     
  • Why Rupert Murdoch is Actually Fortunate That Time Warner Stiff-Armed Fox

    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.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #235 - World Cup Streaming Recap; NBA to Drive "Sports Tax"

    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)



    Click here for previous podcasts

    Click here to add the podcast feed to your RSS reader.

    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

     
  • VideoNuze Podcast #234 - Yahoo, CBS, Seinfeld/Crackle and More

    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)



    Click here for previous podcasts

    Click here to add the podcast feed to your RSS reader.

    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

     
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  • Sony is Still Planning to Launch an OTT Pay-TV Service That Has Little Chance of Success

    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.

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  • How Binge-Viewing Became a Cultural Phenomenon - A Brief History

    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.

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  • TV Everywhere's Conundrum Continues

    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.

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  • Will Richmond Interview at Columbia University [VIDEO]

    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.

    Watch the interview

     
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  • VideoNuze Podcast #227 - Why Dynamic Ad Insertion in VOD/TVE is a Game-Changer

    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)


    Click here for previous podcasts

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    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

     
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  • Dynamic Ad Insertion Helps Clinch New Turner-Comcast VOD/TVE Deal

    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.

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