Thursday, August 21, 2014

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Analysis for 'International'

  • 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 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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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  • Netflix Launching Canadian Streaming Service on Wednesday

    It looks like Netflix is set to launch its streaming-only service in Canada this Wednesday, according to a report in The Hollywood Reporter, which says CEO Reed Hastings will do the unveiling in Toronto. Netflix announced on July 19th that it would launch in Canada, its first non-U.S. market.

    There are pros and cons to Netflix entering the Canada without offering DVDs-by-mail. The main pros are that Netflix avoids the expense associated with both building out the DVD warehouses/delivery centers and the postage expense to send discs. The cons are that the content selection will be drastically lower than what's available in the U.S., which could disappoint Canadians eager to have the same American service. Even though Netflix has been aggressively adding to its streaming catalog, it's still a fraction of what's on DVD. And it's not clear yet whether all the streaming deals Netflix has recently cut include Canadian distribution rights.

    Hastings has been candid in the past that Netflix will proceed cautiously with international expansion. There are a lot of new variables outside the U.S., including competition. Over the weekend there was a report that Amazon may be looking to acquire the remaining part of U.K.'s LoveFilm that it doesn't already own.

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

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  • Auditude Scores in Asia with MLB International Ad Insertion Deal

    Video ad manager Auditude is announcing this morning that it has scored its first Asian deal, with Allied Pacific Sports Network, which in turn has exclusive rights to distribute certain Major League Baseball content in China and other Asian countries. Under the deal, APSN will use Auditude to dynamically insert video ads into live MLB games. Mike Gaffney, Auditude's Chief Revenue Officer explained to me yesterday that the deal mirrors one which the company has with Yahoo, in which the latter sells and places adds in live domestic MLB video streams.

    For Auditude, the APSN deal is its first foray into Asia. The move appears to be opportunistic as the company has been mainly focused on building up its European business through an office in London. Mike said that Dailymotion, the large aggregator site in France is a key reason for its European push. The APSN deal came about due to MLB's recommendation.

    Auditude is differentiating itself based on its ability to serve ads in live streams where there's more uncertainty around the length of each stream and the time allocated to ads, making pre-determined ad insertion harder to execute than in on-demand viewing. Live sports are a perfect example of this. Live streaming is expanding dramatically as comScore noted recently, and with YouTube now testing its technology to enable its partners to live stream more growth is surely ahead. As more video providers jump into live and require ad serving, Auditude is positioned to benefit.

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  • BT Wholesale Readies CDN Launch; Relies on Skytide for Analytics

    While most of my focus is on the U.S. market for online video, I recently had a chance to catch up with Simon Orme, GM, Content Services Group of BT Wholesale, who gave me a deep dive update on what's happening in the U.K. market. Simon's specific focus has been a 2-year long project for BT to roll out CDN services to broadband ISPs who lease BT's network. The project is now moving into trial.

    The U.K. video industry has robust satellite and cable competition, and more recently the BT Retail side has been rolling out its BT Vision IPTV service as a competitor to both. BT is also involved in "Project Canvas" a partnership of the major U.K. broadcasters and several communications companies to roll out broadband content.

    A key challenge for Simon has been how to enhance the value of these CDN services for the ISPs who in turn offer them to content providers. Simon believes that a key driver is end-to-end quality of service. To deliver this BT is using Skytide, a U.S. provider of reporting and analytics software.

    Simon explained that ISPs are already relatively sophisticated about how they manage their networks, yet traditionally they haven't had a lot of insight into what data is running on their networks. Therefore, the opportunity is to marry CDN services to these networks. In Simon's view, since most content providers are already using CDNs, the ISP must further distinguish itself in order to gain business. Doing so requires deeper insight about quality of service through a reporting and analytics layer. This is why BT is offering Skytide as part of its CDN service offering.

    Skytide ingests multiple data sources in real time and then crunches the data, presenting it in various dashboard views, which might include for example network capacity utilization, volume of traffic by customer and distribution of traffic. Having evaluated multiple options, Simon said BT chose Skytide as the best of breed. The goal is to give its ISP customers all the potential levers to adjust in order to maintain the highest quality of service to their content customers.  

    There are currently a lot of moving pieces in video delivery in the U.K. and it will be worth keeping an eye on to see how they unfold.

    (Note if you want to hear Simon talk in more detail about the U.K market and CDN dynamics, here is a recent interview he did with Murali Nemani from Cisco.)
  • Silverlight Team Offers 4 In-Depth Case Studies on 2010 Winter Olympics Online

    A heads-up that the Silverlight team has just posted 4 great case studies detailing different aspects of their international media partners' experiences delivering the 2010 Winter Olympics online. The partners are CTV (Canada), NBC (US), NRK (Norway) and France Televisions (France). All were using Microsoft's Silverlight and IIS Smooth Streaming.

    The case studies dig into 4 topics: online viewing times, effective ad monetization, broadcast reach and quality experience. I've only had an opportunity to skim each of the 4 case studies, but they are packed with in-depth information and details that I have not seen before. For those interested in learning more about how a high-profile live event like this was executed and some of the key performance metrics, this is super valuable info.

  • At Least $277.4 Million Was Raised by Global Private Video Companies in Q1 '10

    At least $277.4 million was raised by global private video companies in Q1 '10 according to company news releases I received and public sources I track. Of the $277.4 million, $175.4 million was raised by 19 U.S. companies and $102 million by 5 internationally-based companies. The financings ranged in size from $775K for Wistia to $50 million for Qiyi, which is the Chinese search engine Baidu's new online video company. Once again companies across the ecosystem, including content aggregation, chips, advertising, encoding, live streaming and consumer devices were represented.

    For the U.S. only, the quarterly total was in the middle of the last 3 quarters, coming in ahead of Q4 '09 ($150.1M) and behind Q3 '09 ($180.9M). Investments in the video space remain very healthy, as the economy gradually recovers from the recession and the opportunity for going public brightens a bit. In the last 4 quarters, U.S. video companies have raised at least $570.2 million.

    In addition to private financings, there were a number of video-oriented deals announced in Q1 '10. This list includes the acquisition of Quattro Wireless by Apple for $275 million, Vudu by Walmart for $100 million (rumored), StudioNow by AOL for $36.5 million and Multicast Media by KIT Digital for $18 million. In addition, during the quarter broadband equipment maker Calix went public, raising about $82 million, video ringtone company Vringo filed to go public to raise $64.3 million, independent video producer EQAL bought out its investor Spark Capital and Deluxe bought the assets of MediaRecall. The big negative of Q1 was Veoh's bankruptcy after raising more than $70 million. Looking ahead, Q2 '10 got off to a fast start with Vidyo raising $25 million.

    Following are the financings that I tracked during the quarter, the date disclosed and new investors identified if applicable. Links are provided to the companies' press releases, or to relevant media coverage if none could be found (note that I haven't verified media coverage with companies themselves). If I've missed anything or you find an inaccuracy, please post a comment.


    Mo-DV ($3.6M) - Jan 5 - Existing investors

    Transpera ($2M) - Jan 14 - Existing investors

    Beezag ($2.5M) - Jan 24 - Angel investors

    Ustream ($20M) - Feb 2 - Softbank (potential eventual investment - $75M)

    BrightRoll ($10M) - Feb 3 - Scale Venture Partners, existing investors

    IVT ($5.5M) - Feb 9 - Syncom Venture Partners, Barshop Ventures, existing investors ($1.25M) - Feb 10 - Metamorphic Ventures, angels

    Zenverge (Undisclosed) - Feb 10 - Motorola Ventures, existing investors

    TidalTV ($16M) - Feb 16 - Comcast Interactive Capital, NEA, Valhalla Partners

    YuMe ($25M) - Feb 17 - Menlo Ventures, existing investors

    Clicker ($11M) - Feb 18 - JAFCO Ventures, exiting investors

    Vook ($2.5M) - Feb 19 - Angel investors

    Quantenna ($15M) - Feb 24 - Existing investors

    ZillionTV ($10M) - Feb 24 - Qwest

    Ubicom ($1.8M) - Mar 8 - Existing investors

    SiBEAM ($36.5M) - Mar 9 - Foundation Capital, existing investors

    Panvidea ($2M) - Mar 18 - DFJ Gotham Ventures, existing investors

    Avaak ($10M) - Mar 22 - Qualcomm, existing investors

    Wistia ($775K) - Mar 24 - Angel investors


    Siano ($23.5M) - Jan 11 - Existing investors

    Guvera ($20M) - Jan 18 - AMMA Private Investment

    Voddler ($3.5M) - Feb 8 - Eqvitec Partners

    Qiyi/Baidu - ($50M) - Feb 26 - Providence Equity Partners

    Videoplaza ($5M) Mar 18 - Creandum, Northzone
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