Betsy Morgan, currently president of TheBlaze (Glenn Beck's media company) and former CEO of The Huffington Post and SVP of CBS Interactive, has a highly informed perspective of today's video landscape. And in a recent interview I did with Betsy at NATPE, she doesn't mince words, observing, among other things, that "all of the burdens of legacy media really suck" and that "advertising will be disrupted first" and that "cable still has enormous value."
In her role at TheBlaze, Betsy is on the front lines of defining a new kind of cross-media, personality-driven media company. TheBlaze has a free, ad-supported online property, a subscription service called TheBlaze TV that has 300K members (who pay $9.95/mo) and a distribution deal with Dish Network which it hopes to emulate with others. Betsy explains how in the new video landscape, there's no longer a one-size fits all model; rather what's needed is a flexible approach that serves consumers however and whenever they want to access content.
Today I'm pleased to share a video interview I did with Vuguru's Chief Creative Officer Kristin Jones at the recent NATPE Market conference in Miami, FL. Among other topics, Kristin describes Vuguru's business model, some of the successful originals that it has created, how she sees online distributors differentiating themselves and where the market for digital content is heading from here.
The interview runs about 7 minutes. (Note, I'm off camera and my audio isn't great, so the questions are overlaid in text.)
This morning at the NATPE Market and Conference in Miami, Jon Miller, Chief Digital Officer, News Corp and Ross Levinsohn, EVP, Americas, Yahoo participated in an interesting keynote conversation with Michael Nathanson, Managing Director, Nomura Securities. No surprise, 95% of the discussion focused on online video. Below I have paraphrased some of the key quotes and takeaways:
A highlight of last week's VideoSchmooze:NYC Online Video Leadership Forum was the leadoff fireside interview I did with Eric Kessler, HBO's co-president. Our conversation focused on HBO GO, the streaming app that HBO officially launched on May 1st, which has received approximately 5 million downloads to date.
In the interview, Eric offers a comprehensive explanation of how HBO's business model works and the value-added role that HBO GO plays in extending subscribers' life-cycle. He provides a slew of new data points on HBO usage by content type and device, as well as how it's changing subscribers' perceptions of HBO. Eric also notes that the most critical decision HBO made was to include virtually all of its programs' episodes in HBO GO, although the move undermined its lucrative home video/DVD business for a segment of buyers.
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to do a fireside chat with News Corp.'s Chief Digital Officer Jon Miller (also formerly CEO of AOL) at Akamai's Edge 2011 customer conference. The video is now posted here (note it's not embeddable, but it's the fourth thumbnail from the left labeled "04: Evolution Digital Media: NewsCorp 2011-10-13.")
Jon provides candid and thoughtful insights on the various "tensions" he believes premium content providers are experiencing with the rise of online and mobile delivery. Given his role at News Corp. and that he's on Hulu's board of directors, Jon has a very well-informed perspective. The interview is wide-ranging; among other things we discuss are the pressures on the pay-TV business model including the prospect of a la carte, cord-cutting threats, important distinctions between "TV Everywhere" and "authentication," Netflix's recent stumbles and the concept of a "good enough" value proposition and how premium-quality content licensing now often serves distributors' larger goals.
I learned a lot from our discussion so if you're interested to hear from one of the most plugged-in executives in the industry, it's well worth your time. Note there are some periodic stutters in the video, but they resolve themselves quickly.
(Thanks to Akamai, which is a VideoNuze sponsor, for making the video available.)
This morning the world remembers Steve Jobs, whose influence on the computing, music, film, communications and other industries is immeasurable. Jobs's ability to imagine how things could be - and then make them so - made him the most unique business leader of modern times. His personal philosophy, articulated in his memorable Stanford commencement speech in 2005, is likely the only career advice anyone should ever need. Setting the bar high, and never being willing to settle for less, was Jobs's mantra. His ability to infuse this in his Apple colleagues was the reason the company turned out one hit product after another.
Yet for all of Jobs's successes, one product he had yet to nail was the "connected device," the industry term for something that delivers personalized video, including TV shows and movies, to a large screen. To be sure, Apple has begun having success with its Apple TV, yet Jobs still considered that device a "hobby" (his words) because he saw that it fell well short of the revolutionizing impact the iPod or iPhone had in their respective industries.
A couple of weeks ago at the ELEVATE: Online Video Advertising Summit, Mike Bologna, head of emerging communications at GroupM did a fireside chat with Jack Myers, Chairman, Media Advisory Group, to discuss the agency view of online video advertising. For those not familiar with GroupM, it is a unit of WPP and is the world's largest media buying agency, accounting for over 32% of global media billings. Mike is the point person on all emerging media and has a front-row seat in the unfolding drama of online video's efforts to attract traditional TV dollars.
In the 25-minute video (after the jump), Mike provides a candid view of online video's opportunities and challenges. Among other things, he clarifies what constitutes "professionally created" content, explains that online video can be viewed as more economical than TV despite its higher CPMs, discusses how the strong recent upfront actually benefits online video, shares why he just advised a client to shift 4% of its TV spending to online video, describes why a single source of measurement is critical to the industry's growth and articulates the challenges YouTube has in attracting ad dollars.
I'm pleased to provide an audio recording of an on-stage one-on-one interview I did with Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos, at the NATPE Market conference on January 25th. I've been meaning to post this for a while, but experienced a few technical issues in getting it done. The interview is particularly timely given news this week that Netflix may be looking to distribute its first original TV series, "House of Cards," directed by David Fincher and starring Kevin Spacey.
In this wide-ranging interview, Ted and I discuss topics such as Netflix's content acquisition strategy, how it decides how much to spend on licensing, the critical role that data plays in informing Netflix's decision-making, the future of the DVD business and lots more. Of note, this is the interview in which Ted said that Netflix would bid against HBO for Warner Bros. films when those parties' distribution deal comes up for renewal in a couple of years and that Netflix had the resources to fully compete. That declaration was a departure from Netflix's traditional public posture about working closely with premium cable networks rather than disrupting them, and set off a raft of media coverage.
Not that Hulu's CEO Jason Kilar has asked for or needs my career advice, but in light of his controversial "speaking truth to power" blog post on the future of TV, which has wags all over the industry saying his tenure at Hulu is all but over, I'll offer it up anyway: he should go back to Amazon (where he was prior to Hulu) and run their soon-to-be-launched video subscription business that will compete directly against Netflix.
Please join me in Miami Beach next Tuesday, January 25th when I'll be doing an exclusive one-hour interview with Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos at the annual NATPE Market conference. The session is sponsored by William Morris Endeavor. The NATPE Market conference runs from next Monday to Wednesday at the luxurious Fontainebleau Resort.
Ted is Netflix's point person for the company's lengthy list of recent content deals (e.g. EPIX, Disney/ABC, NBCU, Relativity Media, etc.) that have powered the popularity of Netflix's streaming service. Among the topics we'll discuss include how Netflix decides what type of content to pursue, how these deals are typically structured, how big Netflix's budget is for ongoing content acquisition, which connected devices are most popular for Netflix streaming use, which competitors he's most worried about, and what's on the roadmap for 2011 and beyond.
Yesterday I had a chance to ask Melinda McLaughlin, the new Chief Marketing Officer at video ad network powerhouse Tremor Media, a few questions on her second day of work. Prior to joining Tremor, Melinda spent 10+ years at cable network group AETN and prior to that was with 2 ad agencies. An edited transcript follows:
VideoNuze: What attracted you to the online video adverting space and to Tremor Media?
Melinda McLaughlin: I spent the last 11 years on the traditional TV side, in many areas of AETN such as consumer insights, sales strategy and corporate strategy, always around monetizing the assets of that global platform. At a certain point, because I'm a closet geek, and am into what the future is going to look like and how media is going to evolve - plus what fundamental truths about how business models work will remain - I sort of hit a point where a company like AETN and competitors are just not on the cutting edge of where this area is going.
And so although it was a terrific job, for good reason companies like AETN aren't going to lead in terms of changing consumer behavior or how advertisers are going to change the way they think. I see Tremor bringing together all of the benefits marketers have been saying they require in order to take the online video advertising space seriously. Tremor, together with ScanScout, is the one that can give advertisers the platform and set of tools to do targeting at scale, with real-time intelligence and content screening. Throwing myself into where the revolution is happening is an exciting next step.
HealthiNation, an independent provider of health-related online videos, is announcing this morning that online industry veteran Doug McFarland has joined as Chief Digital Officer to oversee digital strategy and operations. McFarland was previously co-CEO of Dimestore Media (acquired by Knowledge Networks), CEO of online video ad network ScanScout, EVP/GM of Eyeblaster and EVP/GM of Advertising.com. He's also been on HealthiNation's board for the last two years.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini is plenty bullish on Google TV. In a short video interview with CNNMoney.com's Poppy Harlow, he praises Google TV's vision, saying that "we're just at the beginning of the smart TV revolution" and that "the holy grail here is a seamless proactive integration of this content." Of course, Otellini has a vested stake in Google TV's success as Intel is supplying its Atom chip to power Google TV.
Otellini is decidedly more bullish on Google TV than he is on Apple TV, though he's cautious in noting that Apple is an Intel customer too. He says that Apple TV is "a streaming device for protected content, and there's a market for that," but quickly adds, "I think there's a bigger market for a deeper integration of the Internet into content." I think he's right on both accounts. It depends on what the user values - an open Internet experience on their TV, or a closed, but easy-to-use way of accessing a high-quality library (not to mention the price for each). There isn't one right answer, yet anyway. See "For Connected Devices, To Browse or Not to Browse - That is the Question" for a deeper discussion.
Here's an interesting executive change: Google has apparently nabbed Netflix VP, Digital Content Acquisition Robert Kyncl to be its new VP, Content Partnerships. AllThingsD.com is reporting the move, though neither side has confirmed. The Google role has been open since David Eun moved over to AOL as President of Media last February.
Assuming the move is true, it would be a key step forward for Google - and more specifically YouTube - in gaining access to premium content. Kyncl would bring not just his relationships with Hollywood, but an insider's understanding of the economics behind all of Netflix's streaming deals with partners such as Epix, Warner Bros., Universal, ABC, Starz and others. That kind of credibility and insight would be a huge boon to YouTube, which has made some progress with premium content providers (e.g. Univision, WWE, etc), but has still had trouble breaking through. Google certainly has the stature to be a major distributor of premium content, but actually getting things done in Hollywood is notoriously tricky for outsiders.
Following is the latest update to VideoNuze's new Friday feature, highlighting 5-6 of the most intriguing industry news items from the week that VideoNuze wasn't able to cover. Ads skipped by 86% of TV viewers, but TV ads still most memorable A new Deloitte survey unsurprisingly finds high rates of ad skipping among DVR users watching time-shifted programs, yet also notes that 52% of respondents say TV advertising is more memorable than any other type (only 2% cited online video advertising). Is there a love-hate relationship with good old TV advertising?
Endemol USA Plans Kobe Bryant Web Series Online video continues attracting celebrities, with the latest being LA Laker star Kobe Bryant, who will be featured in 8 episodes teaching Filipino kids about hoops. The series is being produced and promoted by powerhouse Endemol. More evidence that independent online video is gaining.
NFL Sunday Ticket To-Go, Without DirecTV DirecTV unbundles its popular NFL package, selling online access to non-subscribers for $350. It's not clear there will be many takers at this price point, but it does raise interesting possibilities about unbundled subscribers connecting to their TVs and also how sports will be impacted by online and mobile viewing.
TiVo Launches Remote with Slide-Out Keyboard TiVo is enhancing navigation with a long-awaited keyboard that slides out of its standard-shaped remote control for $90. With TiVo's new Premiere box offering more video choices than ever, quicker navigation is required. As other connected devices hit the market, it will be interesting to see what clever solutions they come up with too.
MTVN's Greg Clayman Heads to News Corp to Lead iPad Newspaper Amid the ongoing shuffle of digital media executives, MTV Networks lost a key leader in Greg Clayman, who's moving to News Corp to head up their new iPad newspaper. Greg's been on VideoSchmooze panels and we've done webinars together; he always brings great insights as well as a terrific sense of humor.
Last week when I was in CA for the Cable Show, I did a side-trip to Los Gatos to meet with and interview Netflix CEO Reed Hastings at the company's headquarters. We met up in the "Green Acres" conference room, one of the building's many meeting spaces named for popular TV shoes and movies. As I've written over the past several months, Netflix is on a huge roll, having grown its subscriber base 25% in just the last 2 quarters from 11.1 million subs at the end of Q3 '09 to almost 14 million subs at the end of Q1 '01.
Watch the interviews to learn more about topics like what Reed thinks is really driving Netflix's rapid growth, what Netflix pays to stream a movie online vs. deliver a DVD, whether streaming will remain unlimited, why Reed thinks TV Everywhere is "frustratingly brilliant," who the real competition is, what's on Netflix's streaming product roadmap, why sports are so important to cable, how net neutrality will be resolved and importantly, why Netflix's message to Hollywood is "our checkbook is open."
Daisy Whitney and I are pleased to present the 51st edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for February 26, 2010.
First up this week Daisy discusses the Beet TV online video roundtable in which she participated this week. Beet got a bunch of industry executives together for a discussion moderated by Kara Swisher of AllThingsD. Daisy talks about what she learned and the one-on-one interviews she conducted which will be available soon at the Beet site.
Then we discuss my post from yesterday, "Sezmi is Slick; Marketing It Will Be the Big Challenge," in which I reviewed the opportunities and challenges that Sezmi, the recently-launched next-gen video service provider is facing. Sezmi is now available in the entire LA area, with expansion to other U.S. geographies in store for later this year. I delve into why I think the skeptics are getting ahead of themselves in their downbeat assessments.
Click here to listen to the podcast (14 minutes, 52 seconds)
For those of you who read my words each day, but haven't actually heard or seen me, Beet.TV has a short interview with me below. Daisy Whitney asked me a few questions about the future of online video at the recent NATPE conference in Las Vegas and I offered up 3 key trends to watch. Please, don't throw any virtual tomatoes at me!
1. Goodbye to RealNetworks' Rob Glaser - For broadband veterans like myself, this week's news that RealNetworks' founder and CEO Rob Glaser is stepping down from the CEO role after 16 years brought to mind how far the online video and audio worlds have come, in a relatively short time. Having done a fair amount of work with Real back in my Continental Cablevision days, some of my first memories of seeing video delivered through the Internet were with the RealPlayer.
There is no question Rob was one of the pioneers of the online video industry, and everyone working in the industry today owes him and Real a debt of gratitude. In the Internet's first wave, Real was out ahead of everyone in audio and video. Unfortunately for the company, Microsoft's decision to roll out its own media player (and to bundle WMP with Windows) scrambled Real's future and set off years of antitrust litigation. Over the years Real has tried many things, some of which worked and some of which were serious head-scratchers (Ryan Lawler recounts 5 of the company dumbest moves here).
Personally, it's been a while since any video I wanted to watch required the RealPlayer download. And the last time I did download it, I was so incessantly bombarded with offers that I uninstalled it and swore I'd never download it again. Nonetheless, Real remains one of the largest digital media and technology companies, with $140 million in Q3 '09 revenues and almost $400 million in cash and short term investments. The new CEO will inherit all this, plus the challenge of how to make Real a more significant player in a broadband-dominated world that Rob envisioned so many years ago.
2. ESPN: "Mobile will be bigger than the web" - I'm always on the lookout for insights from content executives charged with building their company's mobile initiatives (and mobile video more specifically) and so I found MocoNews.net's interview with John Zehr, ESPN's SVP and GM of Mobile a worthwhile read. ESPN has made a ton of progress in mobile since its MVNO was shut down and the post provides growth stats on some of ESPN mobile's most successful efforts.
Reflecting the key shift in mobile away from "on-deck" carrier-focused distribution deals to a more open Internet-like environment, Zehr said ESPN's mobile revenue model is built on payments from aggregators like FLO TV and MobiTV, advertising and app sales. That sounds a lot like the traditional cable model of affiliate fees, advertising and ancillary revenues like commerce. And just like in cable ad sales, ESPN sells all of its mobile ads itself, avoiding third-party ad networks that it believes would commoditize the ESPN brand. ESPN is clearly bullish on mobile, with Zehr saying "Not too far in the future, mobile will be bigger than the web." With the Apple vs. Google mobile war getting underway there's a lot of momentum building. Still, to keep things in perspective, we're a long way from mobile eclipsing the web.
3. Does broadband help the economy or not? - I was intrigued by this piece in Network World, reviewing a new study, "Does Broadband Boost Economic Development?" which makes the case that where broadband connectivity is available, it helps local economies, though it doesn't necessarily help the individuals who live there. I'll admit, this is pretty wonky stuff, but as broadband becomes ever more central to our economy and to video in particular, it's important to understand broadband's impact. This is true all the more so as we have a major net neutrality debate looming this year, which could have far-reaching consequences for both content providers and network operators.
4. Vail introduces 360 degree video, it's almost like being there - Finally, on a lighter note, if you've been itching for that ski trip to Colorado this winter, or just want to escape the daily grind for a few minutes of pleasure, check out Vail's new virtual video clips, shot in 360 degree splendor with partner Immersive Media. The company's Dodeca spherical camera system captures video from 11 different sensors, allowing the viewer to click on the controls to switch angles.
Immersive caught my attention recently with music concerts they've captured and plus their work with brands like Red Bull, Armani and Mercedes. The company offers a full suite of capture, production and distribution services. In Vail's case, you get to experience some of the mountain's best runs alongside other skiers. It's great marketing for Vail and though it's no substitute for actually being there, your legs won't hurt afterwards either!
Enjoy the weekend!
(Note - The VideoNuze Report podcast with Daisy Whitney will resume next week)
VideoNuze is the authoritative online source for original analysis and news aggregation focused on the burgeoning online video industry. Founded in 2007 by Will Richmond, a 20-year veteran of the broadband, cable TV, content and technology industries, VideoNuze is read by executive-level decision-makers who need to get beyond the standard headlines and achieve a deep understanding of online video’s disruptive impact.