4C - leaderboard - 4-25-18

Analysis for 'SVOD'

  • VideoNuze Podcast #458: DirecTV Now Changes Packaging; Fact-Checking Netflix

    I’m pleased to present the 458th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Earlier this week, DirecTV Now changed its packaging and pricing by introducing 2 new tiers, DirecTV Now Plus and DirecTV Now Max. They are both anchored by HBO, but also lose popular networks from Viacom, Discovery and AMC.

    On today’s podcast Colin and I discuss the likely rationale behind the changes and what impact they’ll have. One thing seems clear: given the spectrum of TV networks they carry, Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV are poised to become leaders in the virtual pay-TV industry.

    Next, Colin updates us on several statements a Netflix executive made earlier this week that he believes need further clarity. Colin delights in “keeping them honest” and his watchdog role benefits all of us trying to understand industry data.

    Listen in to learn more!

     
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  • Corporate Priorities Test Creative Freedom In “Peak TV” Era

    Large corporations’ priorities are testing creative freedom as more shows than ever compete for attention in the “Peak TV” era and video becomes a critical C-level focus. Exhibit A is Apple, which according to a report yesterday from the NY Post, is vexing creators with an abundance of suggestions (or “notes” in industry parlance) on their shows. The notes, which apparently include some from CEO Tim Cook himself, tend to emphasize Apple’s desire to keep shows “family friendly.”

    The goal makes perfect sense; nothing is more important to Apple than its brand image. The prospect of seeing an “Apple Original” icon in the opening credits, followed by an opening scene including profanity, violence or nudity, would be a jarring juxtaposition. Yet this is the “Peak TV” world we now live in; with so many shows competing for viewers’ time, those that are most original and creative, and yes, often include attention-grabbing early scenes, stand out (for a point of reference recall that in the first minutes of Netflix’s “House of Cards” pilot, Kevin Spacey’s character puts a wounded dog out of its misery with his own hands).

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  • 5 Reasons Why Netflix Will Maintain Strong Subscriber Retention Despite Boosting Rates

    Wall Street cheered last week when Netflix announced rate increases across all of its tiers. Meanwhile, analysts weighed in on how higher rates could impact subscriber retention. Coincidentally, The Diffusion Group released research detailing potential downgrades, cancellations and retention levels at $1, $3 and $5 rate increases (the breakout is at bottom and TDG head Michael Greeson concluded the new rates won’t lead to a mass exodus of Netflix subscribers).

    Obviously it’s impossible predict exactly how well subscribers will absorb the rate increases, though Netflix’s track record is very strong. From my vantage point there are at least 5 interdependent reasons to believe Netflix will weather the new round very well:

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #451: Sling TV and Hulu Offer SVOD Services; NBCU to Launch DTC

    I’m pleased to present the 451st edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    First up this week we talk about Sling TV’s new initiative to promote third party SVOD services, including to consumers who aren’t  subscribers to its underlying virtual pay-TV service. Colin and I differ about its potential and whether Sling TV has “permission” to pursue this. We debate the upside of a separate new Sling TV initiative to provide a layer of free on-demand content. We also dig into Hulu’s new emphasis on SVOD aggregation which seems promising to both of us.

    We then shift to discussing NBCUniversal’s plan to launch its own direct-to-consumer (DTC) service for non pay-TV subscribers. Colin is somewhat underwhelmed, while I think it’s a step in the right direction and too early to tell how aggressive the offer will turn out to be.  

    Less than 3 weeks into the new year, it’s clear that big video providers are continuing to experiment and jockey for position.

    Listen in to learn more!

     
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  • Hulu’s Success Should Have a Big Impact On Launch of Disney+

    Earlier this week, Hulu announced stellar 2018 results: 48% subscriber growth (8 million additions), bringing year-end subscribers to 25 million. Ad revenue of almost $1.5 billion, up 45% in 2018, with 50% growth in the number of advertisers. And median average viewer age of 32, which is 25 years younger than the average broadcast TV viewer.

    All of this continues to come at a huge cost; by some estimates Hulu is losing upwards of $400 million per quarter. With Disney set to assume a 60% stake in Hulu after the Fox deal closes, managing Hulu’s growth and financial performance is going to be very important for Disney. Fortunately for Hulu, Disney is highly incented to see Hulu succeed because the company is poised to play a linchpin role in what is certainly Disney’s biggest 2019 priority, the successful launch of Disney+, its new SVOD service.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #449: Why Most Subscription Video Services Will Trend Away From DTC Model

    I’m pleased to present the 449th edition of the VideoNuze podcast (and our first of the new year!), with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On this week’s podcast, Colin and I discuss why we both believe most subscription video services will trend away from a pure direct-to-consumer (DTC) model and instead embrace large platforms for distribution. Roku’s plan to support subscription services (following Amazon Channels and Apple’s TV app) bolsters the trend.

    There are numerous benefits to third party distribution for both content providers and consumers. DTC will still have a place in go-to-market strategies, but it will become smaller, except for major players like Netflix and Hulu.

    Listen in to learn more!

     
    Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 10 seconds)



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  • Subscription Video Services Turn to Third Party Platforms for Growth

    Yesterday’s announcement by Roku, that it would begin offering SVOD and ad-free premium cable TV networks (what Roku calls “Premium Subscriptions”) within The Roku Channel, is the latest sign that subscription video services are turning to bigger third party platforms to add and retain paying subscribers. Despite all the industry excitement over direct-to-consumer (“DTC”) business models, third party distribution remains critical.

    Roku’s move evokes what Amazon has been doing with its Amazon Channels program for just over 3 years, which I've been bullish on from the beginning. Prime subscribers are able to choose from dozens of different small and large SVOD services and premium cable TV networks and have the fees billed directly to their credit card on file with Amazon. Free trials are commonplace and the content is viewed seamlessly within the Prime Video app on multiple devices.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #448: The Top 10 Video Stories of 2018

    I’m pleased to present the 448th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Continuing our tradition for our final podcast of the year, this week Colin and I discuss the top 10 video stories of 2018 - at least in our humble opinions. Once again it has been a very active 12 months, with lots of innovation and change. Colin and I have had a great time analyzing and discussing the critical industry trends each week and we hope you’ve enjoyed listening to our thoughts in 2018.

    Let us know what you think of our choices, whether you agree or disagree!

    Listen in to learn more!

     
    Click here to listen to the podcast (37 minutes, 16 seconds)



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  • VideoNuze Podcast #447: Classic Movie Services Struggle Online

    I’m pleased to present the 447th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    It’s been a tough couple of months for fans of classic movie streaming video services, with AT&T pulling the plug on FlimStruck while another independent/classic movie service, Fandor, is laying off most of its staff and putting its assets up for sale.

    On this week’s podcast we explore possible explanations for why these services  didn’t succeed, including relatively high monthly rates, lack of fit with target audiences, overall economics and more. Colin was a big FilmStruck fan, so he’s now going to have to find other outlets until the classic movies re-appear in the WarnerMedia’s SVOD service coming later in 2019.

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    Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 50 seconds)



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  • VideoNuze Podcast #446: YouTube Doubles Down on Video Ads

    I’m pleased to present the 446th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    YouTube has long been the 800-pound gorilla of online video advertising; now it is positioning itself for further gains in premium video. On this week’s podcast, Colin and I discuss a couple of the highlights: YouTube’s recent decision to add over 100 movies for free, ad-supported viewing and to shift its originals strategy from an SVOD model (YouTube Premium) to ad-supported.

    As we explore, there is another interesting angle here as well, which is the interplay between Roku and YouTube. As I wrote earlier this week, The Roku Channel’s success was no doubt an influence on YouTube’s decision to launch free movies. As well, Roku’s huge footprint of connected TVs (as well as others like Chromecast, etc.) has created a living room environment perfect for longer viewing times and a more TV-like experience that YouTube is capitalizing on.

    Listen in to learn more!

     
    Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 11 seconds)



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  • VideoNuze Podcast #438: Comcast’s Hulu Decision; Lessons From Now TV

    I’m pleased to present the 438th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On this week’s podcast, Colin and I take up the question I explored on Wednesday, whether Comcast should divest its 30% stake in Hulu to Disney, as CNBC reported it is interested in doing. Colin and I discuss the many benefits Comcast derives from having a front row seat with 3 senior executives on Hulu’s board. On the other hand, there are many reasons why Comcast would be compelled to sell.

    Meanwhile, as part of its acquisition of Sky, Comcast will also be inheriting Now TV, the innovative OTT service Sky runs. Colin shares his personal experience with Now TV and some of the specific things Comcast might learn and consider bringing to its U.S. operations. As always, rights are a central issue to surmount.

    Listen in to learn more!

     
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  • Should Comcast Divest Its 30% Stake in Hulu to Disney?

    In the wake of Comcast’s winning $39 billion bid to acquire Sky over the weekend, CNBC has reported that Comcast may be looking to swap its 30% ownership stake in Hulu (plus other consideration TBD), for Disney/Fox’s 39% ownership in Sky (a deal for Comcast to buy that was reported this morning). CNBC said that Comcast sees “only limited value in owning a non-controlling stake in Hulu” given Disney’s 60% share once the Fox deal closes.

    This logic is understandable and in addition, divesting the stake would also relieve Comcast of partly funding Hulu’s losses (reportedly almost $1 billion in 2017). On the other side of the coin, Disney would own 90% of Hulu and give up its non-controlling stake in Sky as Comcast takes control of it.

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  • SVOD’s Big Night at the Emmys

    If you’re looking for more evidence of how SVOD is changing the TV landscape, look no further than last night’s Emmy Awards. The 3 big SVOD providers, Amazon, Hulu and Netflix combined to win a record 35 Emmys, up from 32 in 2017. Netflix itself won 23 Emmys, tying HBO for top honors, with Amazon winning 8 and Hulu winning 4.

    Netflix’s big winner was “The Crown” which took home 5 Emmys. All of Amazon’s awards were for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” including outstanding comedy series, lead actress (Rachel Brosnahan), supporting actress (Alex Borstein) and writing and directing for Amy Sherman-Palladino. Maisel tied with Saturday Night Live for second place behind “Game of Thrones” which won 9, including outstanding drama series.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #434: Amazon Pursues TV Ad Dollars; Forecasting Hulu’s Growth

    I’m pleased to present the 434th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    First up this week, Amazon is said to be planning a free ad-supported video service, similar to Roku’s The Roku Channel. The new service, dubbed Free Dive, would be targeted to the nearly 50 million Fire TV users. Colin and I both like the move a lot, as we see multiple promotional and new revenue benefits, especially if Amazon can attract TV ad dollars. However, a key challenge is finding enough compelling content to make Free Dive interesting to audiences.

    We then transition to talking about Hulu. Colin has developed a forecast for subscriber and revenue growth for Hulu through 2020 which he explains. He sees much of Hulu’s revenue growth coming from its Live skinny bundle service, although its profitability will remain challenged due to high programming costs.

    Listen in to learn more!
     
    Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 10 seconds)

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  • Research: SVOD Adoption Rises to 69% of U.S. Households

    Major SVOD services’ popularity continues to expand, with new research from Leichtman Research Group finding that 69% of U.S. households now subscribe to either Netflix, Amazon Prime and/or Hulu. That’s up from 64% last year and 47% in 2014.

    Also noteworthy is the rise of multi SVOD service households. LRG found that among SVOD households, 63% now access more than 1 SVOD service, which is up from 38% in 2015. That means that 43% of U.S. households now access more than one SVOD service, more than double the 20% rate from 2015.

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  • Disney's Multi-App Approach is Forward-Looking and Savvy

    On Disney’s earnings call earlier this week, CEO Bob Iger was asked about the company’s video app strategy - would it be interested in launching one big “aggregated” app housing all of its content, or will it continue to pursue multiple apps with each targeting particular audience segments?

    It’s an interesting question because it goes to the heart of whether consumers prefer a big basket of content at one price (the way the pay-TV industry’s multichannel bundle has been effectively offered) or more discrete content services that consumers individually choose to pay for (as has emerged with streaming video and music services, plus a wide variety of other apps)?

    I believe Iger’s explanation of Disney’s app strategy was right on the mark:

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #430: Setting the Record Straight on Linear Viewing; Comcast Integrates Amazon Prime Video

    I’m pleased to present the 430th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week Nielsen released its Q1 ’18 Total Audience Report, which led to some media coverage that linear TV still dominates consumer viewing. However, Colin dug into the data and showed that while this is true for older consumers, for younger ones, the exact opposite is occurring: linear TV is becoming less and less relevant. Colin shares his analysis.

    On-demand viewing’s importance was underscored yet again this week by Comcast striking a deal to integrate Amazon Prime Video into its X1 experience. The move builds on prior Netflix and YouTube integrations, helping Comcast broaden X1’s value proposition. However, neither of us thinks the move materially addresses aggressive competition from skinny bundles that drove up Comcast’s video subscriber losses in Q2.

    Listen in to learn more!
     
    Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 28 seconds)



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  • Comcast to Integrate Amazon Prime Video Into X1

    Comcast will integrate Amazon Prime Video into its X1 platform later this year. Amazon becomes the third major streaming service to be included in X1, following Netflix in 2016 (see here) and YouTube in 2017 (see here). Comcast said it’s the first pay-TV operator to integrate Amazon.

    As with the other services, Amazon’s content will become available to X1 users as part of the X1 UI. Comcast is continuing to position X1 as a streamlined gateway to both its own content and also to third-party content. It’s a smart move by Comcast to build more value into the X1, helping justify subscribers spending $10 or more per month to rent the X1 set-top box (although Comcast has recently been emphasizing it sees X1 also as an interface, living on smart TVs and devices, as well).

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #428: Young Viewers in US and UK Shift Away From Traditional TV

    I’m pleased to present the 428th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week Colin and I discuss new research highlighting how younger viewers are shifting away from traditional TV and toward OTT sources. Colin recaps research from Hub Entertainment focusing on the US while I share highlights from Ofcom’s new Media Nations report covering viewing behaviors in the UK.

    While the numbers are slightly different, the general trends are similar. For example, in the US, just 26% of 18-34 year-olds consider live TV their default service. In the UK, for 18-34 year-olds, 54% of their video consumption is now from OTT sources.

    Listen in to learn more!

     
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  • Comcast Drops Fox Bid, Foregoing A Major Opportunity With Hulu

    Comcast has officially dropped out of the bidding for the 21st Century Fox assets, clearing the path for Disney to move forward. Comcast still plans to pursue Sky in the UK. But by dropping its Fox bid, Comcast has also foregone the opportunity to take control of Hulu (by virtue of combining its 30% stake with Fox’s 30% stake). Presumably now Disney will take control of Hulu.

    I believe this is a major missed opportunity for Comcast, leaving the company under-optimized in the fast-changing premium video industry. As we all know, today’s key industry themes include the rise of cord-cutting and consumers’ move to lower cost skinny bundles, the shift to on-demand viewing, with the accompanying growth of ad-free SVOD services (e.g. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu), the rapid adoption of connected TV and mobile devices for viewing and the nationalization/globalization of video services, among others.

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