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Saturday, February 28, 2015

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Analysis for 'Cable TV Operators'

  • VideoNuze Podcast #261 - TV Everywhere Advances, Linear TV Comes Online

    I'm pleased to present the 261st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week we return to the topic of TV Everywhere, which we've discussed on previous episodes. While TV Everywhere's challenges are well-understood, this week Comcast released encouraging adoption data, which we dig into.

    Comcast also announced it now offers over 70 linear networks via TVE, in addition to on-demand choices. Related, NBC said this week that it will offer authenticated access to its linear feed via its app, but only in its O&O markets. Colin notes that's a very different approach than CBS is using for linear, which is only available via its All-Access service that costs $5.99/month.

    Aside from improved content for TVE, Colin and I also observe that monetization is also improving, with technology providers BlackArrow and This Technology, as examples, recently sharing product updates on dynamic ad insertion (here and here).

    Listen in to learn more!



    Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 5 seconds)

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  • Perspective What's this? A Cord-Cutter Comes Back: Behind The Cost of A La Carte Video

    In 2014 I cut the cord. We live in Toronto, Canada, are not a sports family, and watch mostly drama. The kids watch only Netflix, so for them, cutting the cord really had no impact. We made the conscious decision to buy whatever we wanted to watch, as I suspected we would never come close to the monthly cable bill we had just shed.  But the truth is always more complicated, and in a surprising turn of events, I find myself back with Bell Canada’s Fibe TV a year later. 

    A look back at our purchases and motivations is quite revealing, considering the disruption going on in the video industry.

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  • Comcast: Over 30% of Xfinity TV Subscribers Now Using TV Everywhere

    Comcast said that in 2014 over 30% of its Xfinity TV subscribers used its TV Everywhere app ("Xfinity TV Go") on a monthly basis, representing a 20% year-over-year growth rate. The average Xfinity TV Go viewer watched over 7 hours per month via the app, up 40% vs. a year ago. Comcast said the Xfinity TV Go app for iOS and Android has been downloaded over 11 million times.

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  • BlackArrow Powers Dynamic Ad Insertion on Connected and Mobile Devices for Time Warner Cable

    Once again demonstrating the rapidly blurring lines between online video and TV on-demand, ad tech provider BlackArrow has announced that it will be powering dynamic ad insertion (DAI) in on demand content viewed on connected and mobile devices by Time Warner Cable subscribers. BlackArrow has already supporting DAI for TWC in traditional set-top box VOD and linear streams over IP.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #256 - Our 2015 Video Industry Predictions

    I'm pleased to present the 256th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week Colin and I share our predictions for the video industry in 2015. In addition, we look back at our predictions for 2014 and share how we did (yes, accountability!).

    Listen in to learn more!



    Click here to listen to the podcast (25 minutes, 38 seconds)

    Click here for previous podcasts

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

     
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  • VideoSchmooze [VIDEO] - Nielsen and LRG Analysts Dispel Video Myths

    Below is the full video of the opening season at the recent VideoSchmooze: Online Video Leadership Forum, featuring Dounia Turrill, SVP, Client Insights, Nielsen and Bruce Leichtman, President and Principal Analyst, Leichtman Research Group, with me moderating. It was a fascinating session with Bruce and Dounia dispelling many of the myths around the changing video landscape, while zeroing in on the trends that matter most.

    Among the topics we explored were cord-cutting and pay-TV seasonality, how SVOD is substituting for linear TV viewing, how Netflix is penetrated across different demographics, whether CBS All Access and HBO OTT will succeed, why too much attention is paid to millennials' viewing habits, why TV Everywhere is being marketed incorrectly, and how ad dollars are shifting from TV to online video, plus others.

    Watch the video now

     
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  • Net2TV's Channels Added to ARRIS Set-Tops As Cable Inches Toward OTT Convergence

    Net2TV has announced this morning that its 18 branded OTT programs will be added to ARRIS Market, a platform for cable operators to combine OTT and traditional linear programming. Arris Market was announced this past July, and is powered by Wurl, which offers an API and hosted HTML5 apps. ARRIS has not yet announced any ARRIS Market deployments.

    The significance of the news - and the ARRIS' Market initiative in general - is that cable operators are increasingly being presented with options to incorporate access to OTT content into their overall value proposition. This is an opportunity for operators to capitalize on viewers' ongoing shift from linear TV viewing to OTT viewing.

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  • BlackArrow Lands In Europe With Virgin Media

    Video ad technology provider BlackArrow has announced Virgin Media as its first European customer, signaling a broader international expansion starting in 2015. BlackArrow will be powering dynamic ad insertion on Virgin's VOD TV platform and its Virgin Anywhere multi-screen service. Virgin, which was acquired by Liberty Global last year for approximately $16 billion, has deployed its digital TV service to 5.3 million screens in the UK.

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  • YouTube Scores Big TV Success in Hungary, Further Blurring Pay-TV/OTT Divide (Part 2)

    Two months ago I wrote about the initial success cable operator UPC Hungary had in offering YouTube to its subscribers via existing set-top boxes. Since its May introduction, about 50% of those who could access YouTube had already done so at least once, and more than 50% of them had become repeat users. Now, 2 months later, 80% of those who have access have tried YouTube, with 80% of them returning.

    The new data was revealed by Arpad Jordan, CTO of UPC Central and Eastern Europe at the OTT World Summit in London. YouTube access was rolled out in a first phase in May to around 250K HD set-top boxes. In September Jordan said that these first phase YouTube users were watching over a million minutes per day with average session lengths of 45 minutes.

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  • 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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  • VideoNuze Podcast #247 - Hybrid Set-Top Boxes Poised to Play Critical Role

    I'm pleased to present the 247th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we talk about so-called "hybrid set-top boxes" and why we believe they're poised to play a critical role in the video ecosystem, especially for pay-TV operators. A hybrid STB can handle both traditional linear TV feeds and also broadband/IP/apps. Comcast's X1 is a great example, as are TiVo's boxes. Another technology approach which creates the same capability is from ActiveVideo Networks.

    Colin and I both like hybrid STBs because they give the operator the ability to blend pay-TV/VOD/DVR with OTT. One prime opportunity of this that I see is for Netflix to be included in Comcast's X1, as I explained earlier this week. Just to give one example of how compelling these integrations can be, Colin cites the example of UPC Hungary, which integrated the YouTube app. Within a few months, 72% of its subscribers have used YouTube, averaging 45 minutes per session.

    Colin notes the big win for subscribers here is convenience - it's just easier for people to use one device to access everything. We share additional thoughts on why we think hybrid STBs are beneficial and will become a big trend going forward.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 56 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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  • 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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  • Why the Timing is Now Perfect for a Netflix-Comcast Partner Deal

    If your head is still spinning from last week's HBO/CBS/potential cord-cutting news, then buckle up, because here's another doozy that seems ripe to be right around the corner: a partnership deal between Netflix and Comcast. You heard that right - two companies that have been sniping at each for years now have a perfect moment to strike a partnership deal with significant upside to both.

    First, as far as the deal itself, it would roughly follow the template Netflix has already established with large pay-TV operators in Europe and smaller ones in the U.S. All those deals' details aren't known, but at a minimum they include operators integrating Netflix's app into their IP-based set-top boxes'/devices' UI, certain co-marketing arrangements, and some type of revenue sharing by Netflix (i.e. one-time new subscriber bounties and/or ongoing revenue sharing).

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  • 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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  • 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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  • YouTube Scores Big TV Success in Hungary, Further Blurring Pay-TV/OTT Divide

    Here's more evidence that over-the-top video may be pay-TV's friend, not its foe, as conventional wisdom holds. As reported by Broadband TV News, YouTube is enjoying early and widespread success since its recent launch by pay-TV operator UPC Hungary to hundreds of thousands of subscribers there.

    Unveiled at the end of May as part of UPC Hungary's first phase rollout of multiple online apps, YouTube is already generating over a million minutes per day of viewing by UPC Hungary subscribers, the highest among the 20 different apps now available.

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  • Survey: Consumers' Cord-Cutting Intentions Remain Muted

    Interest in cord-cutting remains relatively muted according to new data from Frank N. Magid Associates. The firm, which has been surveying consumers' attitudes towards cord-cutting each of the past 4 years, found 2.9% of respondents agreeing they're "very likely" to cancel their pay-TV service in the year ahead, a slight uptick from 2.7% found in 2013, 2.2% in 2012 and 1.9% in 2011.

    Magid noted that the "very likely" level jumped to 4.9% for 25-34 year-olds, but dropped to 1.4% for those identifying themselves as ESPN viewers (live sports are widely believed to be the most formidable bulwark against cord-cutting).

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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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  • Perspective What's this? 5 Key Trends That Are Transforming the Cable Industry

    Through our ongoing work with cable operators and programmers on initiatives that range from technical infrastructure evolution to business strategy, IBB Consulting has identified five key trends that will collectively drive the video delivery industry.

    Over the next five years, there will be challenges and opportunities that span technological updates, deployment of new services, shifts in the marketplace and the ability to adapt to consumer behaviors.

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  • Broadband is a Booming Business, Especially for Cable Operators

    Broadband Internet access is a booming business in the U.S., especially for cable TV operators. According to data released last Friday by Leichtman Research Group, the top U.S broadband ISPs (accounting for 93% of the market) added nearly 384K subscribers in Q2 '14, the most since Q2 '09.  Q2 '14 additions were 29% higher than those in Q2 '13 and 16% higher than those in Q2 '12.

    Because the law of large numbers is working against broadband ISPs, adding even the same number of subscribers year-over-year is impressive, while adding more is even harder to do. For example, at the end of Q2 '12 there were 80.3 million broadband subscribers in the U.S., while at the end of Q2 '14 there were 85.9 million.

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