Two months ago I wrote about the initial success cable operator UPC Hungary had in offering YouTube to its subscribers via existing set-top boxes. Since its May introduction, about 50% of those who could access YouTube had already done so at least once, and more than 50% of them had become repeat users. Now, 2 months later, 80% of those who have access have tried YouTube, with 80% of them returning.
The new data was revealed by Arpad Jordan, CTO of UPC Central and Eastern Europe at the OTT World Summit in London. YouTube access was rolled out in a first phase in May to around 250K HD set-top boxes. In September Jordan said that these first phase YouTube users were watching over a million minutes per day with average session lengths of 45 minutes.
The video ad tech consolidation trend continues on, with the latest deal seeing Ooyala acquire London-based Videoplaza for an undisclosed sum. The deal comes just 2 months after Ooyala itself was acquired by the big Australian telecom provider Telstra, which was a previous investor. Jonathan Wilner, VP, Product at Ooyala, told me in an interview that these are just the first 2 steps in Telstra's broader ambition to help content providers better monetize their video, particularly by using data.
London-based video ad tech provider Videoplaza has launched Konnect, a supply side programmatic platform intended for broadcasters and other premium content providers. Currently, over 50% of European broadcasters use Videoplaza's Karbon video ad serving platform, so the move into programmatic is a natural extension for the company.
In fact, Videoplaza's CEO and founder Sorosh Tavakoli told me that broadcaster customers have been asking for the company to enter the programmatic space. Sorosh said they're motivated to work with software providers that are already integrated with existing workflows and which offer enterprise level customer service plus full transparency and control. Sorosh believes all of these are Videoplaza differentiators vs. competitors.
While a number of YouTube multichannel networks (MCNs) have made lucrative exits recently, Kin Community, an MCN/female-focused lifestyle network, is instead aiming for long-term independent success, CEO and co-founder Michael Wayne explained to me.
Toward that end, late last week Kin raised $12 million, led by Canadian media company Corus Entertainment, with participation by Emil Capital and existing investors. It was the first financing in 6 years for the company, which has been profitable since 2012. Kin now generates 25 million unique viewers/month (and 4 billion lifetime views) with brands including Rosanna Pansino, Wayne Gross, The Ellen Show, Byron Talbot and the Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
Here's more evidence that over-the-top video may be pay-TV's friend, not its foe, as conventional wisdom holds. As reported by Broadband TV News, YouTube is enjoying early and widespread success since its recent launch by pay-TV operator UPC Hungary to hundreds of thousands of subscribers there.
Unveiled at the end of May as part of UPC Hungary's first phase rollout of multiple online apps, YouTube is already generating over a million minutes per day of viewing by UPC Hungary subscribers, the highest among the 20 different apps now available.
thePlatform has announced a larger multi-year relationship with existing customer BT under which its mpx system will provide video publishing for BT TV. Going forward, BT TV will be hosted at thePlatform's European data center. To date, BT has been using mpx to manage its IP-based TV service, which has over 1 million subscribers in the UK.
Late yesterday Australian telecom provider Telstra acquired online video publishing platform Ooyala, by increasing its ownership stake from 23% to 98%, through an investment of $270 million (the purchase of the incremental 75% stake implies a total enterprise valuation of $360 million. Though Ooyala's revenues are undisclosed, as one point of comparison, Brightcove's current public valuation is approximately $200 million).
Subsequent to the deal's closing Ooyala will become a subsidiary of Telstra and will operate as an independent business with existing management and brand. This is a model that has worked successfully for thePlatform, another major OVP which was acquired by Comcast back in 2006. Ooyala will become part of Telstra's new Global Applications and Platforms group, which is investing in companies that are "adjacent to Telstra's core business, where software disrupts traditional business models."
European broadcast and entertainment giant RTL Group has bought a 65% stake in online video ad platform SpotXchange for $144 million, plus an earnout based on performance and an option to buy the remaining 35%. SpotXchange will continue to operate as an independent company, with CEO Mike Shehan saying that funds will be used to accelerate growth, particularly in Europe.
I'm pleased to present the 228th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week we first discuss how broadband's penetration in the U.S. is closing in on that of pay-TV's. New research from Leichtman Research Group revealed the top providers added nearly 1.2 million broadband subscribers in Q1 '14 (the best quarter in 2 years), as compared with around 260K pay-TV subscribers. The biggest ISPs now have approximately 85.5 million broadband subscribers, whereas the top pay-TV operators have 95.8 million subscribers.
All of this is relevant because it demonstrates how broadband has become a de facto parallel video distribution platform - the fundamental underlying infrastructure for online video. Many of us take robust broadband almost for granted now, yet in reality it wasn't that long ago that broadband wasn't mainstream and high-quality online video quite scarce.
We then move on to talk about Netflix's big expansion into 6 new European countries. Colin lays out the case why to be bullish on the expansion, while also noting the new challenges Netflix will face.
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European video ad tech provider Videoplaza announced this morning that it has launched Aunia, a private, invite-only video ad marketplace for Spain's largest broadcasters. Videoplaza Founder and CEO Sorosh Tavakoli told me yesterday that Spain's challenging economic environment and the broadcasters' desire to tap into programmatic revenue motivated the initiative.
I'm pleased to present the 211th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
In today's podcast we review Netflix's stellar 2013 results, particularly focusing on international. Then we discuss how Verizon will use OnCue, part of the Intel Media assets it acquired earlier this week. Colin sees them as key to upgrading the current FiOS service. I think that's right short-term, but longer-term I see Verizon using the assets to launch a nationwide virtual pay-TV services delivered over both wired and wireless networks. If Verizon does, it could really shake up the industry.
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Late last week research firm IHS and video ad platform provider Videoplaza released a new report asserting that video content providers need to become "audience architects" - mining their user data to fully capitalize on the shift to programmatic trading of video advertising. The report is based on IHS's forecasts of the Western European video ad business, but many of its conclusions are equally applicable to US-based video content providers.
IHS believes the primary driver of change is the exploding array of video-capable devices, which in Western Europe it forecasts growing from 340 million in 2008 to 1.1 billion in 2017. As video consumption away from TVs increases, and in particular moves to mobile devices, new challenges around limited ad space and lower ad loads have arisen.
I'm pleased to present the 205th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Colin is in London this week and shares observations on the intense battle for broadband subscribers in the U.K. BT has been aggressively laying fiber in a bid for broadband subscribers. It recently spent about 1.4 billion pounds on soccer rights to supply its BT Sport channels. Colin says BT has seen lift in both broadband and pay-TV subscribers as a result. One wonders whether Google could try something similar here in the U.S. by bidding for NFL and other rights somewhere down the road?
Speaking of the NFL, it and Major League Baseball were in the news this week for filing a brief with the Supreme Court urging review of broadcasters' challenge to Aereo. The leagues basically asserted that if Aereo is deemed legal, more of their games will migrate to cable, which of course has been happening anyway. Meanwhile Aereo's lead investor Barry Diller said this week he could see a 35% adoption rate for Aereo long-term, primarily driven by millennials. This would be hugely disruptive if it were to happen.
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Akamai is announcing this morning that it has partnered with Turk Telekom to build and manage an operator content delivery network (OCDN) in Turkey. Turk Telekom will be deploying Akamai's Aura Spectra, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution whereby Akamai dedicates servers for the company's use, which are then maintained by Akamai along with its CDN software.
Teads.tv, a provider of innovative video ad units, has raised $5.2 million in a Series A round by Partech Venture and Elaia Partners. As I wrote several months ago, Teads' big differentiator is that it enables premium text-based web pages to carry video ads as well. So in other words, rather than a premium publisher having to create expensive video in order to tap into the booming demand for online video ads, it can monetize existing web pages this way. the video ads only become visible when a pre-determined about of content has been consumed. Teads ads can also run in slideshows, music, video and social media.
ActiveVideo Networks has scored a big win, announcing that Liberty Global, the largest international cable operator with over 24 million subscribers, has chosen ActiveVideo's CloudTV software to enhance Liberty's rollout of Horizon TV, its next-gen video platform. Sachin Sathaye, ActiveVideo's VP of Strategy and Marketing, told me that Liberty will use CloudTV as a complement to Horizon for existing set-top boxes and connected TV devices (i.e. where new Horizon STBs aren't deployed). Services will include cloud DVR, VOD navigation and advanced apps. Timing for rollout hasn't been disclosed yet.
Online video platform provider Ooyala has released its Q1 '13 Global Video Index, showing, among other things, that mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) accounted for more than 10% of online video views in the quarter, a new record. The total share of tablet video viewing alone grew by 33% in Q1.
It's not just the number of views that are up for mobile, but also time spent: watching long-form video (10 minutes or longer) on mobile devices grew from 41% of all time watched in Q1 '12 to 53% of all time watched in Q1 '13, an increase of 29%. Digging in deeper, for tablets, 25% of all viewing time was for content 60 minutes or longer.
Teads.tv, a French ad tech provider, has an interesting solution to the scarcity of premium video ad inventory: enable premium text-based web pages to carry video ads as well. In-page video ads and rich media units have been around for a while for a similar purpose, but Teads.tv's "InRead" unit is a different approach that I believe nicely balances advertiser concerns about viewability and performance with publisher/user concerns about experience.
U.K. based online video ad technology provider Videoplaza is unveiling Karbon 2, the next generation of its sell side ad management platform today. In addition, the company is launching Karbon Data Alliance, a network of data partners that enable Videoplaza content publisher customers to better analyze their audiences and create targeted monetizable segments. Karbon Data Alliance includes data management partners Nugg.Ad, Meetrics, Enreach, Eyota, Bluekai and others TBD.
It wasn't that long ago when the back-end delivery systems for traditional pay-TV services and those for over-the-top video services were quite distinct. Ditto for the in-home set-top devices that viewers use to receive these disparate video services. But as pay-TV operators continue to standardize on IP, the cloud becomes ever more pervasive and devices more powerful, those distinctions are melting away.
The latest example comes this morning from the UK, where thePlatform, a U.S.-based Comcast subsidiary, has announced that its mpx video management system is now powering key elements of BT's actual TV services, BT Vision and YouView from BT. According to thePlatform, mpx is supporting BT's video workflow, coordinating playback data with recommendations engines and enforcing video rights for subscribers. mpx has been integrated with BT's existing systems for content delivery, set-top boxes and user experience.