Sling TV has received an enormous amount of attention since being announced last month at CES. Some hyper-enthusiastic observers have heralded Sling TV as a sign that traditional pay-TV is on the verge of crumbling. But, having now spent some time with Sling TV, I think a more accurate assessment of Sling TV is that it is fundamentally an old school linear TV service, modestly freshened up with a new online wrapper. In its current form, Sling TV looks very unlikely to gain much traction.
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.
TiVo Research has released data indicating that time-shifting by viewers of 10 broadcast TV primetime programs to between 4-7 days following their initial airing resulted in approximately $88 million in total lost ad revenue by their respective networks (see chart below).
For these 10 programs, TiVo found that the 4-7 day period increased ratings between 4.1% ("American Idol") to 10.9% ("Modern Family"). Because "American Idol" had the highest average number of ads per episode (61), it had the highest level of lost ad revenue in the 4-7 day period for the full season ($14.4 million). Conversely, "The Good Wife," which had an average of 29 ads per episode, but had the second-lowest 4-7 day ratings increase, had the lowest level of lost ad revenue ($3.6 million).
TiVo has introduced its new line of DVRs dubbed "Roamio," and among other new features, the highlight is out-of-home streaming (note the caveats below). Out-home-streaming means that users with a Roamio DVR will be able to access their stored content on iOS devices (and Android at some point too), effectively unlocking content from the DVR itself.
Out-of-home streaming extends in-home streaming and downloading that have been available via the TiVo Stream device. I've been using Stream since last year and is one of my favorite devices, enabling me to download content before making a trip and then watch when not connected, a great benefit. The 2 higher-end Roamios (Plus and Pro) have TiVo Stream built in, while the base model does not.
I'm pleased to present the 186th edition of the VideoNuze weekly podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. Colin attended a CDN conference earlier this week first shares observations on the potential long-term rollout of 4K TV and HEVC, along with the deployment of Netflix's Open Connect CDN based on conversations with Netflix and Time Warner Cable.
Next we turn to data from NPD earlier this week indicating that for watching TV shows, DVR usage is more than twice as popular as SVOD services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon, which I wrote about earlier this week. Colin caveats the data, noting that in SVOD-specific homes he believes the usage is stronger than NPD suggests.
Lastly we touch on news that Samsung will be selling curved TVs, for $13K apiece. Colin and I are skeptics, to say the least.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (16 minutes, 28 seconds)
SVOD services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime Instant Video are all the all the rage these days and a core part of their popularity is their ever-expanding library of TV series. No question, binge-viewing a TV season or series on an SVOD service is now one of life's little pleasures.
In SVOD's wake, one technology that always seems to get overshadowed is the DVR. But, according to data from NPD, watching TV shows on DVRs is actually more than twice as popular as watching them on SVOD services like Netflix. When asked how they watched TV shows in Q1 '13, viewers cited DVR/TiVo 42%, and SVOD 16%. As seen in the chart below, DVR/TiVo was in third place, after linear viewing on the TV network itself.
As DVR penetration and usage have steadily climbed, it has seemed inevitable that one day internal disks wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand to store more and more video. Now, judging from Motorola Mobility’s latest Media Engagement Barometer, that day might be here.
The study out today shows that even though one-third of U.S. TV viewing involves recorded programs, 41% of the video saved to DVRs never gets watched. Often, that’s because people have to delete stored programs to make room for new ones. 55% of U.S. DVR users said they’ve had to kill off recorded shows to add capacity for new programs, and 81% (women more so than men) said they’ve been frustrated over having to do so.
"Killer app" is surely one of the most cliche terms in technology and one I try hard to avoid using. But today I'm making an exception because, in my opinion, the new TiVo Stream device actually has a bona fide killer app: the ability to wirelessly download recorded programs from a TiVo Premiere DVR to an iOS device for offline, high-quality playback. I've been using Stream mainly for this purpose for the past month and have absolutely fallen in love with the device.
The ability to download recorded programs is huge for several reasons. First and foremost, often when out of the home, it just isn't possible to stream video. A high-quality WiFi network may not be available (for instance, when flying). And even if it is, it may be over-shared, lacking necessary capacity for streaming. Wireless carrier 3G aircards similarly lack capacity, and with 4G aircards, data usage plan caps quickly kick in, making streaming an expensive proposition.
Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group and I are back for the 152nd edition of the VideoNuze-TDG podcast. This week Colin and I first share our reactions to the launch of Boxee TV earlier this week. Colin is struck by Boxee TV's unlimited video recording feature, the first that either of us have seen. Colin also points out potential challenges with upstream bandwidth that could be a challenge for Boxee TV recording programs at HD quality. Overall though, Colin likes Boxee TV's direction and believes it's a better strategy for the company than the original Boxee Box.
As I wrote earlier this week, I see Boxee TV in the context of innovation happening with broadcast TV and DVR. Along with Simple.TV and Aereo, consumers are gaining more control of their broadcast TV experience. In addition, they're all overlapping to an extent with Hulu and Hulu Plus which already offer unprecedented access to broadcast TV programs. It's still too early to tell which of these approaches will succeed, but Colin and I share our predictions.
Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 39 seconds)
Odd as it may seem on the surface, the intersection of broadcast TV and the DVR has become a hotbed of innovation. Yesterday brought the latest player in this space, Boxee TV, which followed news earlier this week that Simple.TV has begun shipping, which itself followed the launch earlier this year of Aereo.
While each has its own unique approach, they all fundamentally provide viewers more flexibility to record and play back broadcast TV programs by leveraging over-the-top, broadband delivery, while seeking to undercut the price of a monthly subscription to pay-TV. They are all segmenting the consumer market, pursuing a cohort of "cord-cutters" and "cord-nevers" open to alternatives to pricey multichannel TV bundles.
Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group and I are back for the 150th (whoohoo!) edition of the weekly VideoNuze-TDG podcast. This week Colin and I talk about how on-demand viewing - through both DVRs and online - is changing the landscape for TV networks and advertisers.
First up, Colin shares some eye-opening numbers from the start of this year's TV season, as reported by the NY Times. Certain shows like NBC's "Revolution" and "The New Normal" plus CBS's "Hawaii Five-o" gained a whopping 40% more viewers due to DVR-based viewing in the 3 days following their premieres. This new viewing dynamic, particularly among the coveted 18-49 cohort, underscores the new reality of on-demand's importance in assessing a show's potential. Premiere night alone is no longer determinative (if it ever was!).
On-demand viewing is also a conundrum for advertisers and agencies when creating media plans. And that's why this week's announcement by Nielsen of its Cross-Platform Campaign Ratings solution is a big step forward in monetizing audiences across screens. Online has emerged alongside DVRs as a legitimate viewing alternative, and advertisers need to harness its potential. Colin and I discuss how Cross-Platform helps create a "common currency" measurement with TV, which will appeal to TV ad buyers, while helping content providers better value their online ad inventory. It's a complicated topic, but as Colin notes, the shift from "broadcaster-centric to consumer-centric" is causing huge ripple effects in the ecosystem.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 9 seconds)
At the recent Cable Show, John Holobinko, VP of Strategy for the Network Infrastructure Group of Motorola Mobility, stopped by for a brief video interview. We primarily discuss "nDVR" which Motorola was demonstrating at the show. nDVR allows viewers to record programs and store them in the network/cloud, vs. locally on their own DVRs. The obvious benefit to the viewer is not having to worry about limited storage capacity. In addition, as John explains, nDVR also opens up out-of-home, multi-device on-demand viewing. It also offers operational improvements for the pay-TV operator and new ad opportunities for content providers. Watch the interview below (6 minutes, 6 seconds).
Since I read Dish Network's press release last month announcing its new Auto Hop feature, I've been scratching my head, wondering (like many others), what Dish's cryptic CEO Charlie Ergen was really thinking about with the move. Auto Hop is such a blatant poke in the eye to broadcasters' ad-based business model that Ergen surely knew it would evoke a legal and business response - as it has.
Therefore, I was hoping an article in last Friday's WSJ, based on the first interviews with Ergen about Auto Hop, would clarify his motivations. While some have called Auto Hop a negotiation tactic with broadcasters over retransmission consent fees (which, in part it is), rather, I think Ergen's larger message with Auto Hop is that the traditional TV ad model is irreparably broken and it's urgent the industry figure out what's next. Not doing so risks the ultimate unraveling of the great American broadcast TV industry.
Topics: Dish Network
Streaming video is awesome, but of course it requires you to have a robust broadband connection. Once you're outside your home or business, that's an iffy proposition. WiFi hotspots aren't always available, and even when they are, they're often over-shared so connection quality is too low for video. Wireless 3G or 4G cards are better, but their relatively low data caps seriously crimps viewing. And if you're on a plane, forget streaming entirely, Gogo doesn't cut it at all.
These real-world mobile limitations mean downloading video in advance, rather than streaming it, is the key to on the go viewing. This has been one of the value props of iTunes, Amazon and other services. But the reality is that lots of great content is already sitting on your DVR (and if you're like me, 30K feet is when I most often actually have time to watch any of it). Further, you've already paid a lot of great content with your pay-TV subscription. The problem is that DVR video has been pretty much locked in your home, without an easy way to take it with you. All of above problems are solved with TiVo's new "Stream" companion device, which TiVo announced last week.
Clearleap announces Atlantic Broadband as first public customer - Clearleap, the Internet-based technology firm I wrote about here, announced Atlantic Broadband as its first public customer. Atlantic is the 15th largest cable operator in the U.S. I spoke with David Isenberg, Atlantic's VP of Products, who explained that Clearleap was the first packaged solution he's seen that allows broadband video to be inserted into VOD menus without the need for IT resources to be involved. Atlantic initially plans to use Clearleap to insert locally-oriented videos into its local programming lineup. It also has special events planned like "Operation Mail Call." which allows veterans' families to upload videos, plus coverage of local sports, and eventually filtered UGC. By blending broadband with VOD, Isenberg thinks Clearleap gives him a "giant marketing tool" to raise VOD's visibility. As I've said in the past, VOD and broadband are close cousins which can be mutually reinforcing; Clearleap facilitates this relationship.
New Balance's "Made in USA" video - Have you seen the new 3 minute video from athletic shoemaker New Balance? Yesterday I noticed a skyscraper ad for it at NYTimes.com and a full back-page ad in the print version of the Boston Globe. New Balance's video promotes the fact that it's the only athletic shoemaker still manufacturing in the U.S. (though it says only 25% of its shoes are made here). There's also a fundraising contest to win a trip to one of its manufacturing facilities. Taking ads in online and offline media to drive viewership of a brand's original video is another way that advertising is being reimagined and customers are being engaged.
Joost - R.I.P.-in-Waiting - There's been a lot written this week about Joost's decision to switch business models from content aggregation to white label video platform provider. Regrettably, I think this is Joost's last gasp and they are in "R.I.P.-in-waiting" mode. Joost, which started off with lots of buzz and financing ($45M) by the co-founders of Skype and Kazaa, is a cautionary tale of how quickly the broadband video market is moving, and how those out of step can get shoved aside. Joost made a critical strategic blunder insisting on a client download based on P2P delivery when the market was already moving solidly in the direction of browser-based streaming. It never recovered. Given how crowded the video platform space is, I'm hard-pressed to see how Joost will carve out a substantial role.
Cablevision wins its network DVR case - Not to be missed this week was the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to refuse to hear an appeal from programmers regarding cable operator Cablevision's "network DVR" plan. The decision means Cablevision can now deploy a service that allows subscribers to record programs in a central data center, rather than in their set-top boxes. This leads to lower capex, fewer truckrolls, and more storage capacity for consumers. There's also an intersection point with "TV Everywhere," as cable subscribers will potentially have yet another remote viewing option available to them. Content is increasingly becoming untethered to any specific box.
Data that TiVo released last week indicating that nearly 60% of broadcast TV programs in the 8pm and 9pm primetime slots are timeshifted for later viewing should be interpreted as another positive for broadband video advertising for two reasons.
First, because the high propensity of DVR users to skip ads means that broadband delivery can be increasingly considered the only way for big brands' ads to be guaranteed to be seen. And second, because all that ad-skipping is making the effective cost of each TV ad more expensive, thereby making broadband-delivered ads look like a better value.
In prior posts (here and here) I've outlined how a top network show drives around $.50-$.75 of ad revenue per on-air viewer. Said another way, advertisers are willing to pay $.50-$.75 to reach that show's audience. But now factor in that nearly 60% of the targeted viewers are watching via DVR, and that of this group maybe only 10% watch any ads at all. That means maybe only half or so of the intended audience actually see the ads. With half the audience, an advertiser is effectively paying 2x the CPM it thought it was.
Advertisers understand this as well, and as we know from newspapers' current plight, expecting they'll pay more to reach shrinking audiences is not a sustainable strategy. So, on the assumption that smaller and smaller targetable audiences long-term reduces the demand for on-air network ad inventory, CPMs should decline as well. On a relative basis that means that for broadcast networks, broadband video ads, which can't be skipped, have better targeting and more interactivity (all of which already drives higher broadband CPMs), start looking better and better. In short, DVRs' surging popularity is very good news for broadband video ads.
But as I explained in the posts cited above, the problem for networks today is that higher CPM broadband ads still result in lower total revenue per program for broadband vs. on-air. That's because networks are inserting a far smaller number of ad in a broadband-delivered program vs. an on-air delivered program (my estimate is somewhere around 3 minutes for broadband vs. 20 minutes for on-air). Hence the broadcasters' challenge - get total broadband ad revenue up while DVR usage acts to drive on-air revenue down.
Doing so requires better strategy and better execution. On the strategy side, I've said it before (and it always pains me to say it again), but broadcast networks have to increase ad avails in their broadband-delivered programs. That probably means more ads per pod, but could also mean other types of non-intrusive units like banners. On the execution side, it means more attention to each stream to ensure well-targeted ads that are actually delivered.
With broadband revenue still accounting for a miniscule amount of total broadcast network revenue, it's tempting to deprioritize addressing these issues. I think that would be a mistake. TiVo's stats on DVR usage in primetime (combined with other shifting consumer behaviors) should be a major wake-up call for networks about how their business models need to change. Fortunately for them, broadband offers an even-higher value delivery option if it is exploited properly.
What do you think? Post a comment now.