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Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Analysis for 'DVR'

  • TiVo to Bring Out-of-Home Streaming With New Roamio DVRs

    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.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #186 - 4K TV & HEVC Rollouts; DVR vs. SVOD; Curved TVs

    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)




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  • Watching TV Shows on DVR is More Than Twice as Popular as SVOD

    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.

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  • Hitting `Delete`: Motorola Survey Says Lots of DVR Video Never Gets to the Screen

    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.

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  • TiVo Stream's Downloading Feature is a Bona Fide Killer App

    "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.

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  • VideoNuze-TDG Podcast #152 - Boxee TV and the Evolving DVR Landscape

    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)




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  • What Is Up With All the Innovation Around Broadcast TV and DVR?

    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.

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  • VideoNuze-TDG Podcast #150 - How On-Demand Viewing is Disrupting TV Viewership and Advertising

    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)




    Click here for previous podcasts

    The VideoNuze-TDG podcast is available in iTunes...subscribe today!

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  • Motorola Showcases Benefits of nDVR [VIDEO]

    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).

    Watch the interview

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  • Auto Hop is Charlie Ergen's Way of Saying the TV Ad Model is Irreparably Broken

    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.

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  • TiVo's New iPad Video Downloader is a Winner for On the Go Viewing [VIDEO]

    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.

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  • PlayLater Brings DVR Capability to the Online Video World

    Ever find yourself in a situation where you want to watch online video, but you can't actually get online or can only get a sub-par connection? In these cases, it would have been convenient to pre-record the videos you want and watch them at your convenience, as is the norm with DVRs. This is the simple, but highly compelling use case that PlayLater, a new product being released in closed beta today, addresses.

    With PlayLater, you first download the client software (PC-only for now) and are then presented with an interface where you can search and select your desired programs from a variety of the most-popular free and paid online video sources (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc.). I gave PlayLater a try and was able to easily find and record the latest episode of "Glee" on Hulu. Because PlayLater is recording, not downloading, the program, it requires as much time as the duration of the program and episode - just like using a DVR with TV, and of course the PC must be on while recording.

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  • DVR Capability Would Make Online Video Even More Compelling

    The BBC's announcement late last week of its new "Series Record" feature, which enables iPlayer users to subscribe to download future episodes of specific TV programs just as they might do with a DVR, caught my attention because it adds compelling new value to the current online video streaming model. That's because, as valuable as it is to have premium content available online, it still requires the user to actually be online and have a robust broadband connection (and soon enough to also be adhering to their ISP's usage cap).

    For many, meeting these criteria isn't a problem. However, there are lots of others, particularly those of us who travel frequently, for whom these streaming prerequisites block many potential viewing opportunities (try streaming over a MiFi card or on a hotel's wireless network or on an airplane!). As a result, if we want to watch an episode of our favorite network TV program freely available online, or something from the Netflix streaming or Hulu Plus catalog, the only option is likely to have to pay to download it from iTunes or Amazon or another provider.

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  • NDS Leads $20 Million Investment in BlackArrow for Advanced Advertising

    Amid all the coverage that online video advertising receives, it's also important to remember that advanced advertising in on-demand and pre-recorded TV continues to evolve. News today that NDS, one of the largest technology providers to multichannel video programming distributors ("MVPDs") is leading a $20 million Series C round in BlackArrow, a provider of advanced advertising solutions, is a reminder of progress. Last week I spoke to Todd Narwid, VP of New Media for NDS and Dean Denhart, BlackArrow's CEO, to learn more about the deal.

    To put the deal and its upside in context, it's important to first understand there's a big difference between how online video advertising against free streams in the open Internet works vs. how advertising against VOD and DVR programs in paid, subscription-based services run by MVPDs works. In the Internet world, there are pretty well-established standards, allowing significant interoperability among sites and ad servers. While measurement challenges persist, the act of getting video ads inserted where they're supposed to be is now pretty straightforward.  

    Conversely, in the MVPD world, the first challenge is just getting ad serving systems approved and deployed. Because ads are served from within the MVPD's own infrastructure, new ad servers must be tested and integrated with existing video delivery infrastructure residing in distribution centers often called "headends" in the cable world. Unlike MVPDs' broadband deployments, much of MVPDs' TV delivery architecture pre-dates the Internet and therefore is heterogeneous and often difficult to integrate with. In addition, there are the tens of millions of deployed set-top boxes which also differ in their capabilities and openness. MVPDs have made significant progress in creating their own standards and in deploying advanced services, but as anyone who's ever tried to implement any kind of advanced service in the MVPD world can attest, it's hard work and has ground down many promising technology start-ups.

    When I first wrote about BlackArrow, on its launch in Oct, '07, I liked its vision of delivering advanced advertising in VOD and DVR programs, but I noted the above challenges gave it a steep hill to climb. Since then, BlackArrow has made progress, deploying with Comcast in Jacksonville, FL and with other operators (though Dean isn't able to mention them due to MVPD restrictions). Still, MVPDs have so many priorities and their resources for testing and integrating new technology are limited. Further, there's a lingering sentiment that MVPDs have only made a half-hearted attempt to really monetize VOD and DVR.

    Given these circumstance, the NDS deal appears to offer BlackArrow a lot of upside. As one of the largest technology providers to MVPDs globally ("conditional access" systems that provide secure MVPD video delivery are its main product line, among others), NDS immediately gives BlackArrow both credibility and significantly improved sales and support reach, particularly outside North America. The companies also announced a joint solution offering, which will be key to realizing actual sales  Importantly, NDS gives BlackArrow improved financial footing for what promises to be a very long-term process of deploying advanced advertising by MVPDs. Conversely, for NDS, as Todd explained, BlackArrow provides the monetization piece of the puzzle that MVPDs need to create business cases to help them justify NDS's advanced technology delivery systems.  

    For MVPDs, who are witnessing the rapid adoption of online video and the threat of cord-cutting down the road, it is essential to be able to offer subscribers more flexible viewing options like VOD and DVR and to give their content partners opportunities to effectively monetize these views. This has been the Achilles heel of VOD and DVR to date, and the scarcity of ad-supported programs in VOD (particularly relative to what's available online) is a direct reflection of this.

    Going forward, the challenge for MVPDs will only intensify as content providers face escalating choices about where to optimally monetize their programming. This is where BlackArrow fits in. Plus the company has always had a multi-platform vision, so once it's enabled for TV and DVR, BlackArrow could also provide a pathway to online monetization, which given MVPDs' TV Everywhere initiatives, is also a growing priority.


    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).

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  • 4 Industry Items from this Week Worth Noting - 7-2-09

    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.

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  • DVR Usage is Making Broadband Video Ads Look Better for Broadcast Networks

    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.

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