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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #241 - Debating Apple's Priorities: Choosing Watches Over TVs

    I'm pleased to present the 241st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week Colin and I debate Apple's priorities, as the company has chosen a major push into the smart watch category instead of pursuing smart TVs and more robust connected TV devices.

    Earlier this week I wrote how I find it confounding that Apple hasn't been more proactive about staking a claim in the digital living room, even as Roku, TiVo, Google, Amazon and many others have. To me, it's a big missed opportunity for Apple that the company hasn't laid down as big a bet on the digital living room as it now has on watches.

    Conversely, Colin thinks Apple has its priorities right. He articulates numerous reasons why the watch play is savvy and why Apple hasn't yet pursued the living room more aggressively. It's a solid debate with no clear right or wrong answers. Listen in and let us know what you think!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 20 seconds)


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  • VideoNuze Podcast #240 - NFL Now Looks Brilliant; Ericsson Data Highlights OTT's Edge

    After a 2 week hiatus while I was traveling in France, nScreenMedia's Colin Dixon and I are back with the 240th edition of our weekly podcast.

    The NFL season is now officially underway and with the launch of the NFL Now app, the league is promising to deliver an unprecedented fan experience. Though it's still quite early, Colin and I discuss why NFL Now looks like a very smart move. We're especially impressed with how the NFL is threading the needle between preserving the value in its multi-billion dollar broadcast/cable TV deals while aggressively pursuing online/mobile opportunities. However, for watching live games online, we also note how convoluted the TV Everywhere experience will be this season.

    Before we get to the NFL, Colin shares insights on a new report from Ericsson Consumer Lab, which found that OTT providers are surpassing pay-TV providers in customer satisfaction. Colin compares the data for four criteria - price, quality, mobility and content. I think the report is directionally correct, but question how valid it is to compare OTT services that cost around $8/month with pay-TV that can cost 10x this amount. It's worth noting another key takeaway from the report, which is that almost as many people now watch streaming video per week (75%), as watch scheduled broadcast TV (77%).

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 23 seconds)


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  • VideoNuze Podcast #239 - Digging Deeper Into FreeWheel's Q2 '14 Video Monetization Report

    I'm pleased to present the 239th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Today we dig deeper into FreeWheel's Q2 '14 Video Monetization Report. Yesterday I briefly highlighted the data around TV Everywhere, and first we discuss that, with Colin adding data from other sources that tempers the picture a bit.

    We're also both intrigued by the lengthening ad loads FreeWheel found and discuss viewers' tolerance levels for more ads. Finally we examine the distribution of viewing devices FreeWheel found, including a comparison to distribution in the UK and other data Colin shares.

    Once again the report can be downloaded here.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 40 seconds)


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  • VideoNuze Podcast #238 - Fox, Time Warner and the Imperative of Investing for the Future

    I'm pleased to present the 238th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we talk about the now fizzled Fox-Time Warner deal and the imperative of investing for the future.  As I wrote, I think the deal's collapse is actually a positive outcome for Fox, as it was a risky bet to double down on the saturated and stressed pay-TV ecosystem. A more forward-looking, growth-oriented investment strategy would capitalize on changes being driven by online and mobile video.

    Two of the biggest changes are among viewers and advertisers. Illustrating how younger viewers' attitudes are quickly evolving, we discuss new data showing YouTube stars are now more influential among American teens than Hollywood celebrities.

    Meanwhile, underscoring how advertisers are now able to take their messages directly to consumers, we note that Nike dominated World Cup branded video viewership even though it wasn't even an official event partner. Another great example is Acura's creative sponsorship of Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee."

    Last but not least, this week brought news that Netflix's subscription revenue for Q2 '14 edged out HBO's for the same period - an important milestone showing how OTT business models are coming of age.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 47 seconds)

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #237 - Is YouTube Indomitable or Is It Vulnerable to New Competitors?

    I'm pleased to present the 237th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we dive deep into the question of whether YouTube is indomitable or vulnerable to new competitors. Colin observes that the 45% revenue split YouTube keeps has opened the door for everyone from Vessel (former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar's startup) to Yahoo to others to approach YouTube stars about better deal terms. Major MCNs like Maker Studios (acquired by Disney) and Fullscreen (rumored to be acquired by Otter Media) are expanding beyond YouTube with their own properties.

    However, I don't see much changing with the revenue split, except maybe the largest players getting improved terms. For both established and startup content providers, YouTube offers unparalleled audience reach, publishing tools and monetization. I offer a few examples as proof of YouTube's power: PewDiePie (which now has an astounding 29 million subscribers), Vice News (a pure YouTube news channel now able to take over the NYTimes.com's masthead ad) and Sorted Food (a British startup that has gained 870K+ subscribers on YouTube and now tops its Food category).

    For all of these content providers and tons of others, YouTube provides an open, flexible distribution platform unlike anything before it in the media business. Ad splits will continue to be a bone of contention, but YouTube is poised to only get stronger going forward.

    (Related, Colin has a complimentary new white paper on how to win and retain OTT customers available here.)

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 19 seconds)


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  • VideoNuze Podcast #236 - Demise of Qplay and Xbox Studios

    I'm pleased to present the 236th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we discuss the demise of two online video businesses that were short-lived, Qplay and Xbox Entertainment Studios. Qplay was founded by 2 TiVo founders and backed by blue-chip venture capitalists, but lasted in the market just 6 months. Colin provides a cogent analysis of the 4 key challenges the company faced, which it couldn't surmount.

    Xbox Studios was shut down for completely different reasons, and, as I wrote last week, it is just the latest lesson in how difficult it is to create high-quality, long-form content.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 53 seconds)

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #235 - World Cup Streaming Recap; NBA to Drive "Sports Tax"

    I'm pleased to present the 235th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    First up this week, Colin recaps how well the recently wrapped-up World Cup did with live-streaming. As Colin notes, the final game delivered 1.8 million concurrent live viewers. Also interesting was how mainstream streaming mid-day games seemed to become. Unlike March Madness games, which have always been streamed in the workplace somewhat surreptitiously, World Cup streaming seemed completely acceptable.

    Continuing our sports theme, we then turn to a WSJ article this week which revealed that the NBA is seeking to double the approximately $930 million per year in TV rights fees it receives from Disney/ESPN and Time Warner/Turner when these deals expire after the 2015/2016 season.

    If the NBA were to succeed, and gain $2 billion or so in fees, that would translate into around $20 per year for each of the approximately 100 million U.S. pay-TV subscribers (even more when you factor in the pay-TV operator's retail margin).

    The dirty little secret of these super-expensive sports deals is that ALL subscribers pay - whether you're a fan or not - meaning the "sports tax" on non-fans is getting bigger all the time. With escalating pay-TV bills, the big question is whether non-fans will become heavier cord-nevers and cord-cutters.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 5 seconds)



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  • VideoNuze Podcast #234 - Yahoo, CBS, Seinfeld/Crackle and More

    I'm pleased to present the 234th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we touch on a few different topics that caught our attention, including Yahoo's deal to pick up another season of "Community," after NBC dropped it (plus we discuss Yahoo's other video moves). Then we turn to CBS's research head's reveal that the network generates up to 20% more revenue per viewer online than on TV.

    We also review whether HBO premiering the first episode of its new series "The Leftovers" on Yahoo (plus similar efforts by other premium networks) will succeed. Finally, we're both impressed with Jerry Seinfeld's new Acura ads and how they blur the lines between content and advertising. Seinfeld is a huge online video enthusiast as I noted earlier this year.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 41 seconds)



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  • VideoNuze Podcast #233: Implications of Aereo's Supreme Court Loss

    I'm pleased to present the 233rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week the Supreme Court ruled against Aereo, essentially ending the ambitious startup's dream of providing low-cost, flexible online access to broadcast TV. Colin and I have discussed Aereo many times on previous podcasts. Both of us are disappointed by the decision and we discuss some of its many implications.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 5 seconds)



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  • VideoNuze Podcast #232: World Cup Streaming Records and Mobile Video Adoption

    I'm pleased to present the 232nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    The World Cup is in full swing and as many predicted beforehand, live-streaming is a crucial part of how fans are following the action. Colin notes that Akamai (which is responsible for a lot of the live-streaming globally), said that back in the 2010 World Cup, the peak bandwidth used was 1.4 terabits/second. Akamai was expecting that level to quadruple this year.

    Sure enough, in current group play, the Brazil-Mexico game already almost reached that target, registering 4.59 Tbps. That level will surely be exceeded as play moves on to the knockout stage (in which Colin's beloved England is unlikely to be participating).

    A key part of the World Cup's streaming success is due to the proliferation of mobile viewing devices, and we next discuss data Ooyala released this week revealing that mobile's share of online views increased from 3.4% in Q1 '12 to 21.5% in Q1 '14. Live-streaming in particular was a big-driver, and that's mainly sports. We dig into the details.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 28 seconds)



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  • VideoNuze Podcast #231: More Questions Than Answers Around the "Appification of TV"

    I'm pleased to present the 231st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we explore the concept of the "appification of TV," which means accessing TV programming and experiences via apps on a set-top box or connected TV device vs. through a typical linear or even on-demand/DVR model. Of course apps are already hugely popular on tablets and smartphones, but not nearly so on TV, as they require either a connected TV device or a set-top box that can run apps.

    In the latter category is Comcast's new X1, which the company is aggressively rolling out and which currently has a limited assortment of apps available (back in February I shared a video demo of how the NBC Olympics "Live Extra" app works on X1). This week Colin saw a demo of another example - CNNx - a recently announced app from CNN, which we use as a jumping off point for our discussion.

    As we discuss, the appification of TV raises a slew of questions, including whether it's a net positive for the broadcast/cable network, the pay-TV operator and the viewer. Colin believes that competitive pressure from online providers will spur the appification process forward, though I think caution will be the watchword particularly given uncertainties around monetizing apps on TV. We raise more questions than we have answers around this provocative topic, but it's all great food for thought.

    Listen in to learn more!


    Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 42 seconds)



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  • VideoNuze Podcast #229: Cord-Cutters are Satisfied; TV Everywhere Lags

    I'm pleased to present the 229th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Earlier this week Colin's firm nScreenMedia released new research, finding among things, that cord-cutters are mostly satisfied without pay-TV service. Colin provides his take on the data, noting in particular that just 9% of respondents missed sports, which suggests cord-cutters are mostly self-selected non-sports fans.

    We also zero in on millennial cord-cutters and their attitudes. Both of us believe the data counters a quote from Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes this week related to millennials, that "Once they take the mattress and get it off the floor, that's when they subscribe to TV." That's been true in the past, but it will get a lot harder given the range of video choices now available.

    We then turn our attention to TV Everywhere and recent research showing that while it is valued by those who use it, adoption still remains relatively low. We dig into why this conundrum is likely to continue.

    Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 18 seconds)



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  • VideoNuze Podcast #228 - Broadband Closes In On Pay-TV; Netflix's European Expansion

    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.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 57 seconds)



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  • VideoNuze Podcast #227 - Why Dynamic Ad Insertion in VOD/TVE is a Game-Changer

    I'm pleased to present the 227th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we dig into the Turner-Comcast deal from earlier this week, under which Turner is providing past seasons' and full current season's episodes to some of its most popular programs to Comcast for viewing on VOD and TV Everywhere.  As I wrote earlier this week, a key enabler of the deal is Turner's ability to dynamically insert ads in the on-demand streams.

    Colin and I agree that, to the extent the deal becomes a template for others, it could have a wide-ranging impact on the ecosystem. To date, Netflix and other OTT providers have been able to aggregate huge libraries of past seasons' episodes, which have fueled binge-viewing.

    But as advertising in VOD/TVE grows and improves, it could become the financial foundation for operators to gain far greater content rights. That in turn could change the negotiating balance for content and perceptions of pay-TV operators. Colin and I explain what could be ahead.

    Listen in to learn more!

    (Note also Colin is hosting a free webinar next Tuesday on Fox Sports Go TVE app. Sign up here.)

    Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 49 seconds)


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  • VideoNuze Podcast #226 - Maker Studios and the Short-Form Opportunity

    I'm pleased to present the 226th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week we focus on Maker Studios and the broader trend around short-form online video and its appeal to millennials.

    The Maker NewFront earlier this week in NYC, which I attended, underscored for me how well the company is differentiating itself from traditional TV. Rather than trying to emulate HBO (as Netflix is doing) or chase Netflix itself (as Microsoft, Yahoo and others pursuing TV projects seem to be doing), Maker is carving its own path, focused on delivering breakthrough short-form content that resonates with millennials.

    A key success factor is the creative freedom Maker talent has, allowing authenticity which appeals to millennials. Unvarnished and sometimes wacky, Maker's programming exemplifies how unconstrained the web is for the next generation of talent. Of course a key question is if or how things will change under Disney (whose CEO Bob Iger offered his first public comments on the deal this week).

    (Note there's an approximately 5-second dropout in my audio about mid-way through. We're still wrestling with Skype's quality.)



    Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 13 seconds)

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #225 - NewFronts, Cable Show and More

    I'm pleased to present the 225th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week the NewFronts got underway in NYC while the Cable Show was happening in LA. We discuss some of the highlights from both.

    Starting with the NewFronts, per new IAB research, we were both impressed with the rising esteem of online video advertising in the eyes of ad buyers. These are the people being courted at the NewFronts, and they now see TV and video as being essentially at parity importance for major product/service campaigns.

    Moreover, 2/3 of respondents see their online video spending increasing in the next 12 months, with 67% citing TV budgets as the top source of funding for online video. All of this is certainly good news for the content providers unveiling new programs at the NewFronts this week.

    Colin then discusses his observations from the Cable Show where executives cited concerns about creators being drawn to the YouTube ecosystem instead of traditional TV. Meanwhile these classic distinctions are getting blurrier, as evidenced by last week's integration of Netflix with 3 cable operators. It's not just Netflix though - clearly Hulu has aspirations to be integrated as well, and surely YouTube and others are right behind.

    Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 3 seconds)



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  • VideoNuze Podcast #224 - HBO-Amazon; Apple TV; Netflix, Comcast, Time Warner Cable Q1 Results

    I'm pleased to present the 224th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This was an unusually busy week with many industry announcements, so today's format is a roundup discussion of four items that seemed most significant to us.

    First up is HBO's exclusive new licensing deal with Amazon, which is the latest evidence of the surging value of high-quality content libraries. Second is Apple's reveal that it has sold 20 million Apple TVs to date, making it more than just a "hobby." Next, we turn to Netflix, which reported stellar Q1 results earlier this week. Finally, we look at Comcast's Q1 and Time Warner Cable's Q1 results. Both companies reported healthier video subscriber numbers (though Verizon reported a much smaller quarter for FiOS video subscribers). The question still looms how meaningful cord-cutting is in reality.

    (Note, we had major technical issues with Skype this week, so in the last one-third of the podcast I sound like I'm in a fish tank. Apologies in advance.)

    Click here to listen to the podcast (17 minutes, 46 seconds)


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  • VideoNuze Podcast #222 - How Long-Form Online Originals Are Changing the Game

    I'm pleased to present the 222nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week we first discuss Sesame GO, a new SVOD service from Sesame Workshop, as a starting point for a broader discussion about the increasing proliferation of high-quality online content.

    Colin points out that new entrants to long-form content, like Xbox Studios and Yahoo (per a report from WSJ earlier this week) are adding to the volume of TV-style content online. Just this week at MIPTV, online providers Vice Media, Maker Studios and Dailymotion all did first-ever screenings at the international TV market. Colin sees this trend starting to impact pay-TV, as users still must use different inputs on their TVs to watch online content.

    All of this is part of the broader topic of whether OTT services, with high-quality long-form content, will actually find their way into the pay-TV world at some point. I've been skeptical of this in the past, but as programming costs continue to soar, I'm evolving my thinking.

    We wrap up with Colin providing an update on Fire TV, which he's now had a chance to use.

    Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 14 seconds)



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  • VideoNuze Podcast #221 - Pros and Cons of Amazon's New Fire TV

    I'm pleased to present the 221st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week we assess Amazon's new Fire TV connected device. As I wrote earlier this week, I see it as a double, but not a home run, and I further explain some of my main points.

    Colin believes Amazon also over-stated the problems with existing connected TV devices in its effort to differentiate the Fire TV. Those 3 differentiators were Fire TV's openness, improved search and better performance. Colin only sees the performance as meaningful, with Fire TV's new "ASAP" content pre-loading feature - but with the caveat that it has to actually work (and not just for Amazon's own video).

    We also discuss Fire TV's gaming features, which Amazon is clearly betting on, though we're not quite certain exactly where they'll fit in the market. On the positive side, Colin likes how Fire TV will prioritize searched-for content by price and availability.  

    Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 9 seconds)



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  • VideoNuze Podcast #220 - Apple-Comcast is a Head-Scratcher; Aereo Defends the Cloud

    I'm pleased to present the 220th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. First up, we discuss the WSJ report from earlier this week that Apple and Comcast may be collaborating in some way to deliver video through a "managed service" from Comcast. Neither Colin nor I can understand why Comcast would enable anything in its territory that would be remotely competitive with its own video services, but since the WSJ was thin on details, we don't know enough yet to fully judge.

    We're also dubious about the fit for Apple given the company's emphasis on global scale for its products and also its premium positioning. And we're both struck by the regulatory red flags a "managed service" would raise for Comcast, at the very time they're trying to gain approval for the TWC deal. More of my thoughts are here.

    We then turn quickly to Aereo's Supreme Court filing this week. As expected, it paints the case as being about cloud services in general, not just copyright specifically. We agree it's a clever strategy that positions Aereo as pro-innovation and pro-consumer, making it harder for the Supreme Court to rule against Aereo this summer.

    Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 58 seconds)



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