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Thursday, October 23, 2014

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  • VideoNuze-TDG Podcast #154 - Explaining YouTube's Declining Market Share; Update on Nordic OTT Activity

    I'm pleased to present the 154th edition of the VideoNuze-TDG podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon, senior analyst at The Diffusion Group. This week finds Colin in Copenhagen, in the middle of the Nordic region which is seeing a lot of OTT activity from Netflix, HBO Nordic and others. Colin provides an update on what he's learned.

    In addition, we discuss YouTube's declining market share, which in September stood at 33.2%, down from 53.1% as recently as July. I delved deeply into all of the year-over-year data this past Monday. Colin adds another dimension to the analysis, saying that this reflects a shift away from viewing short clips, toward longer-form viewing.  

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  • NeuLion to Stream London Olympics in China in HD

    Video technology provider NeuLion is powering China Network Television's (CNTV) streaming coverage of 5,600 hours of live coverage of the London Olympics, via a new premium service called CNTV 5+ VIP. The service, which is free, has exclusive streaming rights in China. CNTV 5+ VIP is yet another example of how central streaming will be to this summer's games, which start later this week.

    Chris Wagner, NeuLion's EVP and co-founder, told me last week that while streaming is ubiquitous in China, what's noteworthy about CNTV 5+ VIP is that it is adaptive and will deliver an HD experience, streaming at an average of 1.6 mbps, compared to most online video in China which is 300-500 kbps. NeuLion is ingesting the linear broadcast and specific event video, encoding and distributing via its CDN as well as providing the video player technology.

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  • VideoNuze-TDG Report Podcast #140 - Sky Launches NOW TV, Lessons for U.S. Market?

    I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 140th edition of the VideoNuze-TDG Report podcast.

    In this week's podcast Colin and I discuss NOW TV, which Sky, the big British satellite-based pay-TV operator, launched on Tuesday. Initially the service allows unbundled access to Sky Movies, a collection of around 600 early window movies, on either a monthly subscription or a la carte rental basis. The big breakthrough here is that traditionally Sky Movies was only available if you first subscribed to the basic service, which costs around 60 pounds/month.

    Colin views the move as an attempt to re-start growth at Sky, moving the company beyond the approximately 10 million subscribers it has, mainly by appealing to broadband-only households. Clearly in NOW TV's cross-hairs are both Netflix and LoveFilm. More broadly, Colin and I discuss how NOW TV might or might not be a model for U.S. pay-TV operators to consider. I wrote earlier this week that with the cost of pay-TV service continuing to rise and consumers' expectations shifting, it's time for the industry to present more flexible pricing and packaging options to subscribers.

    Listen in to learn more.

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  • VideoNuze Report Podcast #126 - Sky's NOW TV; iPad's Data Cap Problems

    I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 126th edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for Mar. 23, 2012. This week finds Colin in London, providing him an even better perspective on our first topic this week, Sky's new over-the-top service called NOW TV, which it will launch this summer. Colin is bullish on NOW TV and likes the lessons it provides for U.S. pay-TV operators.

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  • VideoNuze Report Podcast #125 -- Colin Reports From Brazil About Netflix

    I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 125th edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for Mar. 16, 2012. This week finds Colin on business in Brazil, and he's been doing some sleuthing on how Netflix's rollout is going there. Back on the domestic front, we also discuss Intel's rumored TV plans and the latest on Aereo's rollout.

    Colin reports that anecdotal feedback on Netflix's content selection in Brazil is underwhelming as it is perceived as mostly older titles. He raises the critical question of whether Netflix was wise in choosing not to partner with any established players which might have brought content as well as an understanding of local conditions. Colin points out that the landscape is very different in Brazil vs. the U.S., with pay-TV penetration of just 20% and over-the-air broadcast viewing dominant. All that said, Colin has heard that Netflix is advertising heavily to build its brand. And Brazil is of course an enormous market, representing big long-term opportunities.

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  • Liberty Global to Use thePlatform for Video Delivery and TV Everywhere

    Liberty Global, the largest international cable operator, with over 17 million subscribers in 14 countries, has chosen thePlatform's mpx system to power its online video delivery and TV Everywhere initiatives. Liberty plans to phase in services in select regions before expanding globally. The move underscores how video delivery to multiple devices is becoming an imperative for pay-TV operators around the world as consumers continue to adopt new viewing behaviors.

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  • Hulu Japan Subscription Service Goes Live

    Hulu Japan has gone live, marking Hulu's first international expansion. Hulu Japan runs 1,480 yen per month, or about $19, which is more than double the $8 per month that Hulu Plus in the U.S. runs. However, Hulu Japan is ad-free, whereas Hulu Plus includes the same ad load as the free Hulu.com site. The initial content line-up includes films and TV shows from CBS, NBCUniversal International Television Distribution, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, The Walt Disney Company (Japan) which includes content from Disney/ABC Television Group and The Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Bros. Hulu indicated that additional content is forthcoming, including Japanese-produced plus other Asian content.

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  • Chinese Video Site Tudou Sees Tough Timing With IPO

    With the Dow down almost 400 points today, and investors running for cover from risk, Chinese video site Tudou is looking at some pretty tough timing for its IPO. In an updated SEC filing, Tudou has proposed selling 6 million American Depositary Shares for between $28-30 each, raising up to $180 million.

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  • Netflix Expands to 43 Latin American Countries But Faces New Broadband Challenges

    A major piece of news from Netflix during this typically slow July 4th holiday week: the company posted on its blog this morning that it intends to expand its service to 43 countries in Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean later this year.

    The 43 countries weren't specified nor was an exact timetable for rollout. And no mention was made of DVDs, so it appears that this will be a streaming-only offering. In another first, the service will be available in Spanish, Portuguese and English, the first time to my knowledge that Netflix will offer additional language options.

    Netflix observers have been eagerly awaiting news from the company on international expansion plans beyond Canada, which launched last September. By the end of Q1, Netflix said it had approximately 800K subscribers in Canada, but the service has been hindered a bit by extremely low data caps by broadband ISPs. The Canadian experience, along with other broadband-related factors, makes the choice of Latin America a bit surprising as Netflix's next move and introduces new challenges.

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  • FreeWheel Lands British Sky Broadcasting, Opens New U.K. Office

    Video ad management provider FreeWheel has landed British Sky Broadcasting (Sky), the U.K.'s largest pay-TV operator, as a new customer, and it is also announcing the opening of its London office. Sky is using FreeWheel's Monetization Rights Management (MRM) platform as its exclusive ad manager for online and mobile video delivery.

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  • thePlatform Powering Telstra's BigPond TV Multi-Screen Rollout

    In another sign of how online video platforms (OVPs) are expanding the scope of their management and publishing services, this morning thePlatform is announcing a multi-year deal to power the big Australian telco Telstra's multi-screen BigPond TV service for TVs, set-top boxes and the web. The announcement follows news earlier this week that Ooyala will be supporting Yahoo! Japan's multi-screen video efforts and that Brightcove has integrated with LG connected Smart TVs for direct publishing. Marty Roberts, thePlatform's VP of Sales and Marketing caught me up on the BigPond details yesterday.

    The central component of BigPond TV, which Telstra announced last June, is what the company calls the "T-Box," a hybrid IP set-top box from Netgem that handles both linear channels and on-demand video. Telstra is promoting the T-Box in its bundles and it is meant to replace traditional set-tops over time. Importantly, Telstra doesn't impose any consumption caps for online video viewing via the Telstra broadband ISP. In addition to the T-Box, Telstra is also delivering the full BigPond TV service to connected TV and Blu-ray players from LG and Samsung. Telstra's goal is to have content selection on the T-Box, connected devices and online be completely synched up. For now mobile options, like an iPad or Android app aren't available, but they'll be coming soon.

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  • Ooyala Lands Yahoo! Japan In Big Customer Win

    Online video platform Ooyala is announcing this morning a big customer win, with Yahoo! Japan. Under the multi-year deal, Yahoo! Japan will standardize on Ooyala across all of its hundreds of sites and will also sell and support the platform to its ecosystem and to the broader Japanese Internet market. Yahoo! Japan is majority-owned by Softbank and is affiliated with Yahoo!.

    The deal is significant to Ooyala because of the size of the Japanese Internet market and the fact that Yahoo! Japan, with 80 million monthly unique visitors, is the dominant player. Ooyala's CEO Jay Fulcher brought me up to speed on the deal last week.


    Though there wasn't a formal RFP, Jay said that Yahoo! Japan stress-tested the Ooyala platform with millions of streams. Jay believes that while robust content management and publishing capabilities are now table stakes in big deals like these, it was Ooyala's analytics and monetization tools that were the differentiators. Yahoo! Japan is looking to take insight around consumer behavior and use it to drive monetization strategy across PCs, mobile devices and connected TVs.

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  • mDialog Powering Video Ads in Shaw Media's Global TV iPad App

    Mobile video ad platform mDialog has been selected by Shaw Media of Canada to power video ads in its Global TV iPad app. The app was released on December 4th and quickly rose to the top of the free chart of the Canadian version of App Store. The app allows full episode viewing of various TV programs.

    With mDialog, Shaw will be able to insert targeted, real-time, non-skippable ads into its programs. Given the iPad's superior touch-screen engagement, more interactive ad executions will no doubt follow. The mDialog platform also provides real-time reporting and analytics.

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  • Amazon Acquires LOVEFiLM Making Netflix's European Expansion a Lot Harder

    Amazon announced this morning that it has bought the remaining 58% of European DVD-by-mail and online subscription service LOVEFiLM. Amazon gained its stake in 2008 when LOVEFiLM acquired Amazon's European DVD rental business (Amazon also invested in LOVEFiLM as part of the deal). Given Amazon's position, the new deal, said to be worth around $320 million, was widely rumored.

    Though the companies offered no insight in the press release as to what prompted the move, I think it can be interpreted as a bid by Amazon to make Netflix's expansion into the European market much harder. Netflix expanded into Canada last September with a streaming-only service and has continued to beef up the content selection offered there, even as stories have emerged that Canadian broadband ISPs' consumption caps can generate incremental fees for heavy Netflix users. Nonetheless, Netflix has been bullish about its near-term profitability expectations in Canada and executives have made no secret of the company's intention to expand further internationally, with Europe certainly in the bullseye.

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  • 5 Items of Interest for the Week of Jan. 10th

    Even though I was very focused this week on the CES "takeaways" series, there was still plenty of news happening in the online and mobile video industries. So as in the past, I'm pleased to offer VideoNuze's end-of-week feature highlighting 5-6 interesting online/mobile video industry news items that we weren't able to cover this week. Enjoy!

    Level 3 fights on in Comcast traffic dispute
    Level 3 is showing no signs of relenting on its accusations that Comcast is unfairly trying to charge the CDN for Internet traffic it delivers to Comcast's network. In an interview this week, Level 3 said it may use the "Open Internet" provisions of the FCC's new network neutrality rules to press its case. Level 3's challenge is coming at the 11th hour of the FCC's approval process of the Comcast-NBCU deal; it's not really clear if Level 3 is having any impact on slowing the approval, which appears imminent.

    Comcast-NBCU deal challenged over online video proposal
    Speaking of challenges to the Comcast-NBCU deal, word emerged this week that Disney is voicing concern over the FCC's proposed deal condition that would force Comcast to offer NBC programming to any party that had concluded a deal with one of NBC's competitors for online distribution. The Disney concern appears to be that the condition would have an undue influence on how the online video market evolves and how Disney's own deals would be impacted. While the FCC should be setting conditions to the deal, the Disney concerns highlights how, in a nascent, fast-moving market like online video, government intervention can cause unintended side effects.

    YouTube is notching 200 million mobile video views/day
    As if on cue with my CES takeaway #3, that mobility is video's next frontier, YouTube revealed this week that it is now delivering 200 million mobile views per day, tripling its volume in 2010. That would equal about 6 billion views per month, which is remarkable. And that amount is poised to increase, as YouTube launched music video site VEVO for Android devices. YouTube clearly sees the revenue potential in all this mobile video activity; it also said that it would append a pre-roll ad in Android views for tens of thousands of content partners.

    Google creates video codec dust-up
    Google stirred up a hornet's nest this week by announcing that it was dropping support for the widely popular H.264 video codec in its Chrome browser, in favor of its own WebM codec, in an attempt to drive open standards. Though Chrome only represents about 10% market share among browsers (doubling in 2010 though), for these users, it means they'll need to use Flash to view non-WebM ended video. There are a lot of downstream implications of Google's move, but for space reasons, rather than enumerating them here, check out some of the great in-depth coverage the issue has received this week (here, here, here, here).

    Netflix usage drives up Canadian broadband bills
    An interesting test of Canadian Netflix streaming showed that a user there might have to pay an incremental $12/month under one ISP's consumption cap. That would be more than the $7.99/mo that the Netflix subscription itself costs, leading to potential cord-shaving behavior. This type of upcharge hasn't become an issue here in the U.S. because even ISPs that have caps have set them high relative to most users' current consumption. But if streaming skyrockets as many think it will, and the FCC allows usage-based billing, this could fast become a reality in the U.S. as well.


     
  • Will China's Successful Youku IPO Spark US Online Video Offerings in '11?

    Yesterday, China's Youku, which started as a YouTube-style user-uploaded video site, but has evolved to a Hulu-style distributor of professional video, went public on the New York Stock Exchange. It offered 15.85 million American Depositary Receipts, or "ADRs," which represent ownership shares in non-U.S. companies, at $12.80 apiece, raising over $200 million. When the market closed, the ADRs stood at $33.44, up 161%, the best one-day performance for a U.S. IPO in the last 5 years (they're up another $5 today as well). Youku, which recorded $35 million in revenue for the first nine months of this year (and a $25 million loss), had an end of day valuation of $3 billion+.

    Yes, I know what you're thinking - this is crazy, the bubble days have returned and there's a huge "China factor" multiplier at work for Youku. All of that is no doubt true. But here's something else that's true - while the global economy and stock markets have undergone wrenching change and volatility over the last 2+ years, the online video market has boomed. For certain kinds of investors (both professional and non-professional) who value growth over everything else, there are few sectors which have more appealing characteristics. As tens of millions of people have adopted online and mobile video, devices for viewing online video on TVs have proliferated, premium content has become available and business models have firmed, investors have taken notice.

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  • British OVP vzaar Gets Investment From Oliver Stone

    vzaar, an online video platform company based in England has announced the director Oliver Stone has invested an undisclosed sum as part of its most recent financing round. Stone was so enthusiastic about the company that he recorded a short commercial for no fee (see below) in which he says that "vzaar is one of those lightning bolts that hit me right between the eyes" in a serious yet somewhat menacing tone.

    vzaar's CEO Stephen McCluskey told me that Stone got involved via one of vzaar's key investors John Moreton. Stephen himself joined the company in March of this year and turned its focus onto profession and mid-sized users in vertical markets including fashion, media, corporate communications, sports and government, as well as for direct marketing applications. The company recently raised its entry tier from $15/mo to $49/mo and 60% of its customers are in the U.S. Stephen said that monthly revenue is growing by 20-30% and is already more than the whole of last year.



     
  • Brightcove Opens Korea Office, Lands New Customers

    Brightcove is announcing this morning an expansion of its Asia-Pacific operations, with a new sales office in Seoul, Korea to be led by James Yoon, a former 24/7 Real Media sales executive. He'll report into VP of APAC Dennis Rose. Separately Brightcove reported adding 4 new Korean customers, Autodesk Korea, Cheil Worldwide, Overture Korea and Proctor & Gamble Korea.

    Korea seems like a natural place to expand given its historically high broadband penetration (ranked #5 in the world), leadership in mobile and headquarters for both Samsung, which is making a very strong push into online and mobile video, and LG. There should be no shortage of opportunities for helping manage online and mobile video.

     
  • Sezmi Expands to Malaysia With YTL Partnership - Template For 4G Carrier Deals in U.S.?

    Sezmi is expanding into Malaysia, partnering with YTL Communications to provide the digital television service component of YTL's hybrid broadcast-wireless 4G "quadruple play" that also includes voice and data services. For Sezmi, the move is its first significant international deal, and could serve as a template for partnership deals in other developing countries that don't have or can't affordably build extensive wired broadband networks.

    Importantly, the YTL deal also provides a possible glimpse of Sezmi's value as a partner to domestic U.S. carriers rolling out 4G service who might seek to offer a competitive over the top TV service. 4G is gaining momentum in the U.S. Just last week Verizon announced that it would introduce its 4G "LTE" service in 38 markets around the U.S. by the end of the year, with data speeds of 5-12 megabits per second. Both Clearwire and Sprint have already rolled out 4G services to over 50 market each and T-Mobile is in over 60 (albeit none of these always have 100% market coverage just yet). AT&T is planning to launch an extensive 4G network by mid-2011.

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  • Netflix Makes Canadian Streaming Service Official

    As expected, this morning Netflix officially announced its first non-U.S. offering, a streaming-only service in Canada, priced at CDN $7.99, including a 1-month trial. Netflix also announced Canadian content licensing deals with U.S. studios Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Universal, plus Canadian distributors Alliance Films, Maple Pictures, eOne and Mongrel. In particular, Netflix called out the availability of movies like "Superbad," "A Beautiful Mind" and "Slumdog Millionaire" plus back episodes of AMC's "Mad Men" which are not available in the U.S. Conversely, some content available in the U.S. for streaming won't yet be available in Canada.

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