I’m pleased to present the 358th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Apple and Facebook have contrasting ambitions in video, with the former pursuing a very modest approach while the latter appears to be embarking on an all-out company pivot to being video-first.
Earlier this week I wrote about Apple’s new TV series, “Planet of the Apps” and “Carpool Karaoke” spinoff. They each have their own appeal, but are far from the expensive undertakings we’ve seen from Netflix and Amazon, for example. That means that far from re-inventing TV as Apple was one predicted to do, it will in fact continue to play a very small role, which Colin and I see as a real missed opportunity.
Meanwhile, Facebook has confirmed it will launch connected TV apps as the company aims to have users expand how they engage with the social media giant. Colin and discuss some of the pros and cons of the CTV approach and also Facebook’s motivation, which is to attract TV ad dollars.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (24 minutes, 30 seconds)
Last night at the Code Media conference, Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services, shared thoughts about the company’s original video plans, which have been the subject of intense industry interest for years. Cue was joined on stage by Ben Silverman, Chairman and Co-CEO of Propagate, which is Apple’s co-production partner in “Planet of the Apps,” premiering on Apple Music this Spring.
Recode’s Peter Kafka interviewed Cue and Silverman about the show and broader plans Apple might have for investing more heavily in original TV shows.
“Planet of the Apps” is a “Shark Tank” takeoff for app developers that features Jessica Alba, Will.i.Am, Gwyneth Paltrow and Gary Vaynerchuk judging various app ideas for investment and cultivation. While Silverman highlighted a number of creative twists the show will include such as contestants pitching their app idea on an escalator, with judges swiping left or right if interested, at its core, “Planet of the Apps” is another in a long line of reality competition shows.
I’m pleased to present the 356th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week we explore the concept of “TV as an app,” which represents a paradigm shift in how TV is accessed by viewers. Of course the rise of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and others has paved the way for app-based viewing, but an entire TV lineup being delivered via an app to a connected TV device is still a significant change from conventional set-top box-based viewing.
“TV as an app” got a boost this week with Comcast’s beta release of the Xfinity TV app for Roku. I’ve given it an initial try and provide some observations. In addition, Colin was moderating a panel on video apps this week and shares further insights he heard.
We then shift focus to this Sunday’s Super Bowl, which will once again feature multiple free streaming options as well as localized dynamic ad insertion in the streams, which is a first. I’m keeping an eye on the ads to see if they offer any meaningful viewer engagement.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 8 seconds)
Comcast has announced that its Xfinity TV app is now available for beta use on certain Roku streaming devices and Roku TVs, with broad rollout planned for later this year. The partnership was initially unveiled in April, 2016. The Xfinity app for Roku is the first deployment of the Xfinity TV Partner Program, which Samsung also joined.
The “TV as an app” model means that Comcast subscribers will be able to get full access to linear and on-demand content plus DVR functionality via Roku, without having to take a Comcast set-top box, a first for the cable company. Comcast has positioned the Xfinity TV app on connected devices as beneficial for subscribers who want choices in how they access their subscriptions. The screen shot below shows a clean implementation reminiscent of what Comcast X1 users already see.
Talk about showing up late to the party: the WSJ is reporting that Apple is now planning to invest in original scripted TV shows and movies. Whether the move actually materializes though is unclear. But if it does, it would be happening years after countless false starts and rumors about the company’s plans to build out a content strategy. Importantly, it would also happen as the number of scripted TV shows rocketed to over 450 in 2016, marked by “Peak TV’s” escalating budgets and intense competition.
According the WSJ article, Apple is engaged with various producers and could be offering scripted TV shows by the end of 2017. Apple’s commitment still seems modest by the standards of Netflix, Amazon and numerous TV networks, with just a handful of productions planned.
Convergence has been one of the main themes in video during 2016, as more content traditionally delivered via broadcast channels is being converted to digital streams. The marketplaces of the future - programmatic or otherwise - are beginning to form as media owners piece together a range of sales techniques to maximize their yield. Some of the big trends and changes we expect to see in 2017 are:
Watching video on mobile and connected TV devices is exploding, particularly among younger audiences. Yesterday’s Q3 ’16 FreeWheel Video Monetization Report noted that 22% of video ad views were on connected TVs (up 63% YOY) with 17% on smartphones (up 39% YOY) and another 9% on tablets (up 15% YOY). Combined, that means nearly half of all video ad views are on mobile and connected TV devices.
To further explore video advertising on these devices and programmatic’s growing role, at our recent SHIFT // Programmatic Video & TV Ad Summit, we had two dedicated sessions, one on mobile and one on connected TV devices.
The mobile session included Brian Danzis (Head of Global Video Monetization, Spotify), Jeremy Hlavacek (VP, Global Automated Monetization, The Weather Company, an IBM Business), Frank Sinton (CEO and Founder, Beachfront Media), Sarah Warner (Managing Partner, Digital Investment Lead, Programmatic and Video, GroupM), with Alanna Gombert (SVP, Technology & Ad Operations, IAB) moderating.
The connected TV session included Sean Buckley (SVP, Global Revenue, SpotX), Scott Rosenberg (VP, Advertising, Roku), Seth Walters (Senior Partner, Interactive & Connected Television, Modi Media, part of GroupM) with yours truly moderating.
Below are the session videos.
Comcast announced on Friday that the integration of Netflix into its X1 set-top box would launch this week. But when I checked my X1 on Friday evening it was already available, so I spent some time over the weekend giving it a test drive. Below is a 12-minute demo video I created that highlights the key benefits of the integration and how expertly it was done.
As VideoNuze readers know, I’ve had the X1 since its debut, back in July, 2012. I was immediately enthusiastic about its clean and highly responsive web-like UI as well as its ability to quickly retrieve on-demand content. More recently, the voice-powered remote control has delivered even more value. But the biggest potential benefit I’ve always envisioned for X1 was its ability to handle IP apps, giving Comcast a breakthrough way to provide a seamless experience between its own video services and those delivered over-the-top via broadband (e.g. Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, etc.).
Each week brings more innovation, product announcements and new business models to the ever-changing video industry. This week was certainly no different, and news from 3 companies - Google (a deal with CBS for its Unplugged skinny bundle), VUDU (a new ad-supported on-demand movie offering) and LeEco (a range of new products from the Chinese giant, including TVs and content) - caught my attention. Each has the potential to cause further industry disruption, or amount to nothing. Below I share thoughts on each.
I'm pleased to present the 338th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Today we first dig into an idea Colin outlined earlier this week, that pay-TV could become a “dumb authentication service” as the trend of subscribers migrating their TV viewing away from set-top boxes and toward authenticated TV apps on connected TV devices gains momentum. This is an important shift that is already happening for many people (listen to our podcast 2 weeks ago for more).
In this model pay-TV operators still continue to authenticate viewers and manage billing, but do little else. In fact, the FCC’s current plans to “unlock the box” mean the scenario has even more credibility. We agree that’s a precarious place for operators to be and opens up opportunities for disruptors, like Amazon.
Speaking of Amazon, just this week it made 2 important updates to its Fire TV devices which reinforce the growing role the company is playing in the SVOD and TV ecosystems and why it so well-positioned. Building on this, just today Bloomberg reported Amazon is now eyeing live sports deals, which would push it even further into pay-TV’s turf.
Listen now to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 32 seconds)
Yesterday Amazon unveiled new search and recommendation features for its Fire TV and Fire TV Stick devices, aimed squarely at improving users’ experience with third-party SVOD services. The device updates are automatically downloaded and will enable universal voice search to over 75 video apps, including Netflix, HBO GO and soon HBO Now, as well as personalized recommendations across apps to be visible in custom rows on the Fire TV home page.
Both updates continue the evolution of Fire TV’s role as a hub for SVOD and free video services. That’s not a novel approach, as other devices like Roku, Chromecast and Apple TV are also aiming to be central hubs for online video. And arguably, Comcast is starting to take its first steps for X1 to also become a hub, by announcing plans to incorporate Netflix later this year.
More evidence today of connected TVs’ ascendance as a preferred viewing platform: Pivotal Research’s Brian Wieser released a new report revealing that 8.5% of all TV usage in July 2016 by 18-49 year-olds was through connected TVs (e.g. Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast). That was up from 4.9% in July 2015 and just 1.9% in July 2014 (Wieser didn’t share data prior to then, but it’s no doubt minimal).
Wieser said the share gain by connected TVs was approximately equal to the loss in viewing share of ad-supported cable and English language broadcast TV networks. For all households, connected TVs had a 5.5% TV viewing share, which was up from 3.3% a year ago.
Topics: Pivotal Research Group
Last Monday, in “Apple is Still Spinning Its Wheels in Video While Big Competitors Hit Their Stride,” I explained that while Apple continues to cast around for some type of coherent strategy to be a player in the fast-evolving video landscape, big competitors like Google, Amazon, Comcast and Facebook are all racing ahead and making substantial progress.
Then last Thursday, Peter Kafka at Recode reported that after failing in its attempt to put together its own TV service, Apple’s latest plan is to create some type of TV guide that would be able to discover and show what’s available in multiple video apps (e.g. HBO, Netflix, ESPN) and work on Apple’s devices. But as Peter noted, the new guide idea would mean Apple is focusing solely on an interface that would have no actual revenue stream.
Last week’s Q2 earnings reports provided another valuable window into how Amazon, Comcast, Google and Facebook have all hit on winning formulas in video (at least for now), while Apple continues to spin its wheels, under-optimizing its ability to capitalize on the massive shifts underway in video and TV.
To briefly review, Comcast lost just 4K subscribers in Q2, vs. a loss of 162K three years ago, as its sleek X1 set-top box gains further traction and satellite and telco competitors stumble. Facebook reported a blow-out quarter, with earnings of $2 billion, double what they were just 6 months ago. Facebook has become a mobile powerhouse and is now laser-focused on video, as Facebook Live becomes widely adopted (though still under-monetized).
The use of connected TVs and mobile video continues to increase, particularly among younger audiences, according to new data from Frank N. Magid Associates.
Connected TVs were used by 74% of respondents vs. 59% in 2015 Magid research. Video game consoles continued to have the highest share at 33% (up from 30% in 2015), but the biggest increases were recorded by Internet streaming devices (31%, up from 20% in 2015) and Smart TVs (26%, up from 16% in 2015). 42% of respondents said they now have a Smart TV, up from 25% in 2015 and just 17% in 2013 as falling prices have steadily fueled purchases.
Cisco has released the 11th edition of its Visual Networking Index (VNI), forecasting that video will account for 85% of North American Internet traffic by 2020, the highest of any geographic area. Video traffic in North America will grow at a compound annual rate of 21%.
Globally, video-related traffic will account for 82% of Internet data, up from 70% in 2015. In a briefing, Thomas Barnett, who oversees the VNI, characterized video as the “king of all content.” In fact, video dwarfs every other Internet application, with the second biggest - web/data usage - representing just 14.4% of traffic in 2020, a fraction of video’s 82%.
In today’s on-demand culture, the days of passive television viewing are over. People prefer to choose the exact content they want to watch when they want to watch it. It’s no longer about who controls the TV remote – it’s now about controlling our individualized viewing experience and schedule.
It’s no surprise, then, that more than half of all U.S. homes own a Connected TV (CTV), a set that plays traditional TV programming yet is also connected to the Internet through a stand-alone streaming device. These devices, such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, etc., enable access to over-the-top (OTT) services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, to name but a few, as well as ad serving and digital measurement.
I'm pleased to present the 325th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
It’s been nearly 5 years since the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson was published, in which Jobs said “I finally cracked it,” referencing a next-generation TV he envisioned. But despite incessant rumors since of Apple’s plans to reinvent TV, the reality is more sobering: Apple seems to be completely stymied in video and TV.
Sure, there’s iTunes and there’s a new Apple TV, which appears to be selling reasonably well, and soon an original TV show. But when you consider how Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, YouTube, Comcast, Snapchat and others have innovated and flourished in video and TV over the last 5 years, Apple’s progress seems pretty modest by comparison.
In today’s podcast we explore why Apple seems to have become an also-ran in video. We’re both surprised at this turn of events given Apple’s vast resources, superior design capabilities and omnipresent devices (see more of Colin’s thoughts here). Perhaps the famously secretive Apple has a video surprise just ahead, but from our current vantage point, Apple looks like it will just continue to fade further behind the leaders.
Listen now to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 5 seconds)
GroupM’s advanced TV unit MODI Media will use Innovid as its preferred ad server for all connected TV campaigns, the companies announced today. Seth Walters, senior partner at MODI, who oversees its connected TV business, told me that Innovid addresses a key pain point of delivering video adds into the highly fragmented connected TV space, while also offering real-time analytics on campaign performance across devices.
I'm pleased to present the 323rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Colin and I were both very impressed by the demo that Comcast CEO Brian Roberts did at INTX earlier this week of how the X1 set-top box will blend linear TV and online video streams from this summer’s Rio Olympics into one experience.
We both believe this will be a truly breakthrough viewer experience, showcasing X1’s broadband capabilities and the value of the two-way interactive network. We envision Comcast launching a massive marketing campaign in the months leading up to the Olympics highlighting how experiencing the Olympics will be “best on X1,” in turn driving new subscriber acquisitions and upgrades.
More broadly, we discuss how valuable X1 and Comcast’s back-end infrastructure are as a platform for launching new features and services. We touch on how Amazon too is leveraging its platform for its Streaming Partners Program, underscoring the anticipated competition between big video platform owners. The role of a robust platform in determining the ultimate video winners is becoming increasingly clear.
Listen now to learn more!
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