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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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Analysis for 'Predictions'

  • 3 Video Predictions for 2012: Irdeto's Jan Steenkamp

    Continuing the year-end series of industry executives sharing their top 3 video predictions for 2012, today's entry is from Jan Steenkamp, VP, Business Development for Irdeto, a leading software security and media technology company.

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  • 3 Video Predictions for 2012: AdoTube's Steven Jones

    Continuing our year-end series of industry executives sharing their top 3 video predictions for 2012, today's entry is from Steven Jones, Chief of Strategy and Operations for AdoTube, an in-stream advertising technology company. Exponential Interactive acquired AdoTube in September, 2011.

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  • 3 Video Predictions for 2012: YuMe's Jayant Kadambi

    Continuing the year-end series of industry executives sharing their top 3 video predictions for 2012, today's entry is from Jayant Kadambi, CEO and co-founder of YuMe, a provider of video advertising software and services.

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  • 3 Video Predictions for 2012: Jim Louderback, CEO, Revision3

    Jim Louderback, CEO of Revision3, an independent special interest video network, kicks of VideoNuze's year-end feature of posting the top 3 video predictions for 2012 from executives around the industry.

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  • Video Predictions for 2012: A Year-End Series

    Late December is when I typically look into my crystal ball and make my top online video predictions for the upcoming year. But this time, I'm turning the tables and trying something new. Instead of sharing my point of view, I've reached out to a number of media and technology executives to ask for their top 3 video predictions for 2012. I was very open-ended in my outreach: predictions can be big picture or small picture, business model or tech focused, serious or humorous, etc. They can be submitted as text or as videos.

    I asked that they not be blatantly self-serving (e.g. We'll become the #1 provider of blah, blah in 2012") though it's to be expected that each person's predictions will at least partially align with their company's goals. The series is meant to be very open-ended and inclusive, so if you have strong beliefs about what's ahead in 2012, send them on over and I'll try to publish them too. My attitude is that with all that's happening in online and mobile video, getting as many perspectives on what's coming is beneficial to all of us. At the end I'll aggregate all of them into one post, and yes, despite what I said, I will weigh in on what I see as the top 3. We can discuss them all on VideoNuze or at Twitter #3predictions.

    The series kicks off with predictions from Jim Louderback, CEO of Revision3, an independent special interest video network (see below).
     
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  • VideoNuze Report Podcast #82 - Dec. 17, 2010

    Daisy Whitney and I are back this week for the 82nd edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for December 17, 2010. This will be the final podcast of 2010 and we both want to wish our listeners happy holidays. Daisy and I have have had lots of fun cranking out 32 podcasts this year on all the most important industry topics. We're looking forward to continuing on in 2011.

    And speaking of 2011, in this final podcast of the year we turn our sights ahead and discuss the 6 key online/mobile video trends that The Diffusion Group's Colin Dixon and I outlined during Wednesday's webinar (replay and slides available here). Daisy and I focus the bulk of the podcast on two of these predictions: how Netflix will strain under its spectacular growth, and how pay-TV subscriber losses will mount and cord-cutting perceptions could become reality.

    Click here to listen to the podcast (13 minutes, 16 seconds)


    Click here for previous podcasts

    The VideoNuze Report is available in iTunes...subscribe today!
     
  • 6 Key 2011 Trends in Online and Mobile Video

    Yesterday Colin Dixon from The Diffusion Group and I presented a webinar describing our 6 key trends for 2011 in online and mobile video. Colin is one of the sharpest analysts of the pay-TV and online/mobile video industries and we had no shortage of ideas to sort through. Our list is a joint effort, and during the webinar we each presented the 3 trends we felt the strongest about. In today's post I share and explain each one. At the end of the webinar we conducted a poll asking attendees whether they agreed or disagreed with our predictions. I've noted those results in bold font. If you want to download the slides and/or hear more of our detailed discussion, just register for the on-demand version of the webinar and you'll be emailed a link.

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  • "Demystifying 2011" Complimentary Webinar is Tomorrow

    As a final reminder, tomorrow (Wed) Colin Dixon from The Diffusion Group and I will be hosting our final complimentary webinar of the year, titled "Demystifying 2011: Key Trends in Online and Mobile Video." The start time is 11am PT / 2pm ET.

    Colin and I will be sharing our 6 most important online/mobile video predictions for 2011 as well as thoughts on lots of other key industry trends. For anyone trying to get insights into what's in store for next year, it will be a valuable, interactive hour with plenty of time to ask questions. We're also planning to do a couple of surprise gadget giveaways in the holiday spirit! I hope you can join us.

    Click here to learn more and register for the complimentary webinar
     
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  • 4 Items Worth Noting for the Dec 14th Week (New pre-roll ad data, Paramount movie clips, Thwapr mobile, next week's preview)

    Following are 4 items worth noting for the Dec 14th week:

    1. New pre-roll data shows format's strength - Though many in the industry still scorn the pre-roll ad, this week 2 ad networks, ScanScout and YuMe, released data showing its continued prevalence as well as innovation that's improving its performance. ScanScout said its "Super Pre-roll" unit, which allows for integrating overlay graphics on the video that viewers can engage with, is driving 350% higher click-through rates compared with typical pre-rolls. In this example for Unilever's Vaseline, note how the creative nicely reinforces the messaging. The enhanced interactivity feels like the start of a new trend; another pre-roll that offers something similar is Innovid's iRoll unit. ScanScout separately announced this week a host of new premium publishers have joined its network.

    Meanwhile YuMe released its Video Advertising Metrics Report for Jan-Nov '09, which showed that, at least within YuMe's network, 90%+ of all ads served were pre-rolls, with 30 second spots generating a 1.8% overall click-through rate, a 50% higher rate than the 1.2% that 15 second spots achieved. The volume of 30 second ads also grew 50% faster than 15 second volume in Q3 '09. Kids age 6-14 achieved a 3.7% click-through rate, the highest of any group, which YuMe's Jayant Kadambi told me could be explained by the more engaging nature of child-focused ads (e.g. click to play games, etc.). Jayant believes the sizable amount of existing creative for TV ads that can be easily repurposed for online is a key reason pre-rolls continue to dominate.

    2. Paramount clipping site powered by Digitalsmiths is slick - I was impressed with a demo of Paramount Pictures' newly launched ParamountClips.com site that I got this week. The site is only open to Paramount's business partners, allowing them to either choose from an existing stock of clips from over 80 different Paramount movies, or to easily create their own. Desired clips are moved into a shopping cart and released for download, per previously determined licensing terms.

    The site is powered by Digitalsmiths, which indexed all of the scenes from the movies using their proprietary recognition process, and then generated meta-data for each, which makes searching a snap. The new self-service site replaces the laborious previous process of a Paramount staffer working with each partner to extract jus the scene they want. As a result, a new highly-scalable licensing opportunity has been created. Paramount is taking advantage of Digitalsmiths VideoSense 2.5 release announced last week that is focused on clip generation, for both on demand and live streams, improved asset management and more integrated reporting.

    3. Thwapr launches beta of mobile-to-mobile video sharing - Continuing the buildout of the mobile video ecosystem, Thwapr, a new mobile-to-mobile content sharing platform, launched its beta this week. Duncan Kennedy, Thwapr's COO told me that although there's been a proliferation of video capable smartphones, there's currently no easy, fool-proof way of sharing videos from one device to another (e.g. from an iPhone to a BlackBerry). Enter Thwapr, which lets the user upload videos to Thwapr and then have them shared with their contacts. Thwapr identifies the receiving phone's "user agent" so that it can dynamically decide the optimal format the video should be viewed in. The user simply clicks on a link and the video plays. I can attest that it worked beautifully on my BlackBerry Pearl.

    Thwapr's raised about $3 million from angels and has a very strong team, including Duncan and others who worked on Apple's QuickTime. I'm a fan of how video, social/sharing and mobile intersect to create new opportunities, though there are business model unknowns. For now Thwapr is focused on a free ad-supported model, with a particular emphasis on geo-tagging videos to make advertising especially appealing for local merchants. Still, YouTube has illustrated how difficult it is to monetize user-generated content. Thwapr also envisions a business-grade option for real estate, travel, dating type applications which sound promising. I wonder too about whether a freemium model should be explored, though Duncan said Thwapr's analysis suggested this would be a relatively small opportunity. We'll see how things shape up.

    4. Next week is 2009 wrap-up week on VideoNuze - Keep an eye on VideoNuze next week, as I'll be summarizing Q4 '09 venture capital investments and deals in the broadband/mobile video space, reviewing my 2009 predictions and looking ahead to what to expect in 2010. It's been an incredibly active year and based on the pre-CES briefings I've been doing, there's lots more to look forward to next year.

    Enjoy your weekend!

     
  • 4 Items Worth Noting for the Oct 26th Week (Counting online video views, Zappos prank videos, 3DTV, 2010 trends)

    Following are 4 items worth noting from the Oct 26th week:

    1. Online video viewership claims are murky - Props to Jim Louderback, CEO of Revision3, for his opinion piece in AdAge this week, "Where's the Outrage Over Online Video Viewership Claims" in which he cites multiple examples of how content providers' hyperbole and the media's lack of fact-checking/analysis allow all kinds of ridiculous viewership numbers to gain traction as fact. Compounding things is the inconsistent definition of what even constitutes a "view." Jim notes that a fraction-of-a-second play start often can be enough. For advertisers in particular, trying to understand where to place their spending in the emerging online video medium, it is "buyer beware." A great reminder of how immature the online video industry remains.

    2. Zappos's "world's fastest nudist" viral video campaign adds to media's gullibility - The NY Times had a great item this week on Zappos's "world's fastest nudist" campaign, a series of humorous videos on YouTube showing a guy named Donnie streaking around the streets of New York with nothing but a fanny pack on.

    While the videos are clever, the media that picked them up and ran with them as being real are now looking decidedly dim. CNN's Anderson Cooper surely tops the gullibility list, as he and anchor Erica Hill featured one of the videos (showing Donnie buying a taco at a food stand) on AC 360's nightly "The Shot" feature. Cooper blithely passes on that Donnie "holds over 400 nude speed records..." One suspects Walter Cronkite would have dug in and not have been duped by Zappos. However, I'm hardly one to talk, as I was taken in by the "Megawoosh Waterslide Video" this past summer. The old adage "don't believe everything you read" really needs to be updated to "don't believe everything you watch." Meanwhile, Zappos undoubtedly loves all the free publicity.

    3. Enough of HDTV, get ready for 3DTV - Speaking of not believing what you watch, and shifting focus somewhat from online video, I got my first peek at what 3DTV looks like earlier this week. 3D has become a mini-rage recently, with various TV set manufacturers launching 3D-enabled models, looking to drive content creators to jump on the 3D bandwagon. The catch to 3D video is that it's much more expensive to produce because of the need for multiple cameras. That may be OK for movies where the extra cost can be recouped through higher ticket prices, but for regular TV shows it's been a serious obstacle.

    However, the approach used by a small NJ-based company named HDLogix, whose demo I saw, introduces a workaround to this issue. Instead of requiring original production to be shot in 3D, the company runs existing video through its algorithms to dynamically generate 3D effects (I saw segments of the movie "300"). That means no additional production expense is incurred by the content creator. Don't ask me any more about how it works, as the technology is way outside my sweet spot. I will say this, it's pretty cool stuff and I could see 3D adding a lot of new value to online video, especially advertising.

    4. What to look for in 2010 - One last follow-up to the CTAM Summit panel I moderated on Tuesday. My last question to the panelists was to name 1 thing that the 1,500+ cable industry attendees in the audience should be paying most attention to in 2010. These were their answers:

    Paul Bascobert (Chief Marketing Officer, Dow Jones & Company) - e-book readers make huge advances, especially with a new Apple product hitting the market

    Matt Bond (EVP, Content Acquisition, Comcast) - the "customer is king" - stay focused on that

    Andy Heller (Vice Chairman, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.) - the advent of 4G mobile networks and adoption of the "mobile Internet"

    Jason Kilar (CEO, Hulu) - follow your companies on search.twitter.com to stay in touch with what your customers are saying

    David Preschlack (EVP, Disney and ESPN Networks Affiliate U.S. Sales and Marketing) - the number of access points for content providers will continue to explode

    Peter Stern (EVP & Chief Strategy Officer, Time Warner Cable) - make every interaction with customers an opportunity to build a positive relationship

    Great food for thought.

    Enjoy your weekends!

     
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  • Recapping 5 Broadband Video Predictions for 2009

    For those who weren't up for reading 700-1,000 words each day last week, today I offer a quick recap my 5 broadband video projections for 2009.

    1. The Syndicated Video Economy Accelerates

    This one is easily my least controversial prediction, since I've been writing about this trend for most of 2008. The "SVE" as I call it, is an ecosystem of video content providers, distributors and the technology companies who facilitate their relationships. In '08 video content providers increasingly realized that widespread distribution to the sites that users already frequent would improve on the "one central destination site" approach. That's a big change in the traditional media mentality. In '09 the SVE will only accelerate, as the technology building blocks for distributing, monetizing and measuring syndicated video continues to improve. To be sure, the SVE is still nascent, but many companies across the broadband landscape have begun embracing it in earnest.

    2. Mobile Video Takes Off, Finally

    In '08 VideoNuze has been mainly focused on wired broadband delivery of video to homes and businesses. But as the year has progressed, powerful new mobile devices have mutated the definition of broadband to also include wireless delivery. The huge success of the iPhone and other newer video-capable devices, coupled with 3G, and soon 4G networks, have contributed to mobile delivery finally realizing some of its long-held promise. Still, as some of you commented, obstacles remain. iPhones don't support Flash, the most popular video format. Wireless carriers are careful with doling out too much bandwidth for video apps. And so on. Still, '08 was a big year for video delivery to mobile devices, and I think '09 will be even bigger.

    3. Net Neutrality Remains Dormant

    Proponents of "net neutrality" legislation, which would codify the Internet's level playing field, expected that under an Obama administration they would finally be granted their wish, particularly since he supported the concept on the campaign trail. But I'm predicting that net neutrality will be dormant for yet another year. Mr. Obama has been emphatic about basing policy decisions on facts and data, and this is an area where net neutrality advocates continue to come up short as there's yet to be any sustained and proven ISP misbehavior. With Mr. Obama and his team having urgent fires to address all around them, there are only two scenarios I can see that move net neutrality up the prioritization list: a startling new pattern of ISP misbehavior or some kind of deal ISPs agree to in exchange for infrastructure buildout subsidies from the stimulus package.

    4. Ad-Supported Premium Video Aggregators Shakeout

    One of the best-funded categories of the broadband landscape has been aggregators of premium-quality video - TV programs, movies and other well-produced video. These companies have been thought of as potential long-term online competitors to today's video distributors (cable/satellite/telco). However, it's proving very difficult for these sites to differentiate themselves. Content is commonly available, user experience advantages are hard to maintain, user acquisition is not straightforward, audiences are fragmented and ad dollars are under pressure. All of this means that '09 will see a shakeout among the many players in this category, though it's hard to predict at this point who will be left standing (though at a minimum I expect Hulu and Fancast to be in this group).

    5. Microsoft Will Acquire Netflix

    My long-ball prediction was that at some point in '09 Microsoft will acquire Netflix. Though many of you emailed me offering kudos for boldness, not many are buying into my prediction. Fair enough, I'll either be flat-out wrong on this one or I'll get a gold star for prescience. I provided my rationale, which starts with the assumption that Apple and Google (Microsoft's two fiercest rivals in the consumer space) are best-positioned for success in the battle for the biggest consumer prize of the next 10 years: delivering broadband video services directly to the TV.

    I think Microsoft needs to directly play in this space, and Netflix is a perfect vehicle. It has a great brand, a large and loyal subscriber base and excellent back-end fulfillment systems. In 2008 Netflix great strides in broadband, building out its "Watch Instantly" feature. Yet to grow WI's catalog from its current 12K titles to anything approaching the 100K+ available by DVD will require deep financial resources to deal with a recalcitrant Hollywood, and also shelter from quarter-to-quarter earnings pressures. Netflix's measured approach to broadband is consistent with its historical overall operating style. While that style has worked exceedingly well in the past, the broadband-to-the-TV service landscape is wide open right now, and Netflix should be pursuing in a thoughtful, yet ultra-aggressive way. Combined with Microsoft it would be poised to become the broadband video category leader over the next 10 years.

    OK, there's the summary. I'll be checking back in on these as the year progresses.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
  • 2009 Prediction #3: Net Neutrality Remains Dormant

    As promised, I'm continuing to push further out onto the limb with my five '09 broadband predictions as the week progresses. Today's prediction is that net neutrality legislation will remain dormant for at least another year. Given Barack Obama's campaign statements pledging support for net neutrality, many who hoped it was finally at hand will no doubt be quite disappointed.

    I suspect many of you may not even be familiar with net neutrality or why it's relevant so let me offer a short primer. As I wrote back in November of '07, in "Net Neutrality in '08? Let's Hope Not," the Internet has functioned as a level playing field of sorts. Broadband Internet Service Providers have not biased in favor of delivering one web site's content over another's (i.e. their networks have remained neutral). Since the government has maintained a laissez-faire Internet regulatory stance, broadband ISPs' own self interests have aligned nicely with staying neutral. In other words, it made good business sense for them to behave this way.

    To simplify somewhat, net neutrality advocates believe that in the broadband video era, "good business sense" cannot be counted upon to ensure ISPs' continued neutrality; hence the need for regulatory intervention. Their concern is that because large ISPs' (namely cable operators and telcos) also operate incumbent multichannel video services and have financial stakes in certain content providers - both of whose financial health would be threatened by open broadband delivery - these ISPs will start to bias toward better delivery of sites in which they have some financial interest or with whom they have a particular deal. This would in turn disadvantage sites outside the ISPs' financial orbit, hurting not just these sites, but also larger democratic goal of consumer choice.

    All of these concerns are hypothetically valid. But the problem is that these concerns have not translated into any provable pattern of ISP misbehavior as yet. Having sat through an FCC hearing earlier this year meant to surface such evidence, I can say first-hand that while there are isolated instances of bias which have been compounded by bungled ISP explanations and sophomoric PR miscues, net neutrality advocates have little more than their concerns and assumptions about ISPs' future behavior on which to base their argument for preemptive legislation. And this is precisely the reason why net neutrality will remain dormant for another year, at least.

    Net neutrality remains largely a solution in search of a problem. I believe this will put it outside the guiding philosophy of Mr. Obama's regulatory forces. Having read both of Mr. Obama's books and listened to his words intently, I've long since concluded that he's what I call a "principled pragmatist." Mr. Obama has a core set of beliefs about how the world should work, but he chooses his battles wisely and with a focus on solving real, not imaginary problems. Mr. Obama and his team have plenty on their plates addressing the economic mess they're inheriting. Time will not be made available to create rules in any area of business where there's no evident harm to anyone.

    This pragmatic approach means that when the rubber meets the road on net neutrality, Mr. Obama and his policy advisors are unlikely to be swayed by the free-speechers and academics who form the core of the net neutrality advocacy camp, unless they're able to bring far more supporting data (note, as the WSJ pointed out earlier this week, net neutrality support even among some content companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo is either waning or becoming ambiguous).

    All of this said, it may be politically expedient to throw a small bone to net neutrality's advocates. So we may see some new guidelines introduced, but nothing approaching the level of what some are seeking. The only exception is if broadband ISPs themselves acquiesce, possibly in exchange for infrastructure subsidies that may be part of the planned trillion dollar stimulus program.

    Though politics is a notoriously hard business to protect, if in 2009 if broadband ISPs do a good job of behaving themselves, they will likely see net neutrality backburnered. The FCC should be vigilant in monitoring the industry for signs of bias. And if they are able to prove the case, net neutrality will rightly get moved up in prioritization.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

    2009 Prediction #1 - The Syndicated Video Economy Accelerates

    2009 Prediction #2 - Mobile Video Takes Off, Finally

    Tomorrow, 2009 Prediction #4

     
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  • Reviewing My 6 Predictions for 2008

    Back on December 16, 2007, I offered up 6 predictions for 2008. As the year winds down, it's fair to review them and see how my crystal ball performed. But before I do, a quick editorial note: each day next week I'm going to offer one of five predictions for the broadband video market in 2009. (You may detect the predictions getting increasingly bolder...that's by design to keep you coming back!)

    Now a review of my '08 predictions:

    1. Advertising business model gains further momentum

    I saw '08 as a year in which the broadband ad model continued growing in importance as the paid model remained in the back seat, at least for now. I think that's pretty much been borne out. We've seen countless new video-oriented sites launch in '08. To be sure many of them are now scrambling to stay afloat in the current ad-crunched environment, and there will no doubt be a shakeout among these sites in '09. However, the basic premise, that users mainly expect free video, and that this is the way to grow adoption, is mostly conventional wisdom now.

    The exception on the paid front continues to be iTunes, which announced in October that it has sold 200 million TV episode downloads to date. At $1.99 apiece, that would imply iTunes TV program downloads exceed all ad-supported video sites to date. The problem of course is once you get past iTunes things fall off quickly. Other entrants like Xbox Live, Amazon and Netflix are all making progress with paid approaches, but still the market is held back by at least 3 challenges: lack of mass broadband-to-the-TV connectivity, a robust incumbent DVD model, and limited online delivery rights. That means advertising is likely to dominate again in '09.

    2. Brand marketers jump on broadband bandwagon

    I expected that '08 would see more brands pursue direct-to-consumer broadband-centric campaigns. Sure enough, the year brought a variety of initiatives from a diverse range of companies like Shell, Nike, Ritz-Carlton, Lifestyles Condoms, Hellman's and many others.

    What I didn't foresee was the more important emphasis that many brands would place on user-generated video contests. In '08 there were such contests from Baby Ruth, Dove, McDonald's, Klondike and many others. Coming up in early '09 is Doritos' splashy $1 million UGV Super Bowl contest, certain to put even more emphasis on these contests. I see no letup in '09.

    3. Beijing Summer Olympics are a broadband blowout

    I was very bullish on the opportunity for the '08 Summer Games to redefine how broadband coverage can add value to live sporting events. Anyone who experienced any of the Olympics online can certainly attest to the convenience broadband enabled (especially given the huge time zone difference to the U.S.), but without sacrificing any video quality. The staggering numbers certainly attested to their popularity.

    Still, some analysts were chagrined by how little revenue the Olympics likely brought in for NBC. While I'm always in favor of optimizing revenues, I tried to take the longer view as I wrote here and here. The Olympics were a breakthrough technical and operational accomplishment which exposed millions of users to broadband's benefits. For now, that's sufficient reward.

    4. 2008 is the "Year of the broadband presidential election"

    With the '08 election already in full swing last December (remember the heated primaries?), broadband was already making its presence known. It only continued as the year and the election drama wore on. As I recently summarized, broadband was felt in many ways in this election cycle. President-elect Obama seems committed to continuing broadband's role with his weekly YouTube updates and behind-the-scenes clips. Still, as important as video was in the election, more important was the Internet's social media capabilities being harnessed for organizing and fundraising. Obama has set a high bar for future candidates to meet.

    5. WGA Strike fuels broadband video proliferation

    Here's one I overstated. Last December, I thought the WGA strike would accelerate interest in broadband as an alternative to traditional outlets. While it's fair to include initiatives like Joss Wheedon's Dr. Horrible and Strike.TV as directly resulting from the strike, the reality is that I believe there was very little embrace of broadband that can be traced directly to the strike (if I'm missing something here, please correct me). To be sure, lots of talent is dipping its toes into the broadband waters, but I think that's more attributable to the larger climate of interest, not the WGA strike specifically.

    6. Broadband consumption remains on computers, but HD delivery proliferates

    I suggested that "99.9% of users who start the year watching broadband video on their computers will end the year no closer to watching broadband video on their TVs." My guess is that's turned out to be right. If you totaled up all the Rokus, AppleTVs, Vudus, Xbox's accessing video and other broadband-to-the-TV devices, that would equal less than .1% of the 147 million U.S. Internet users who comScore says watched video online in October.

    However, there are some positive signs of progress for '09. I've been particularly bullish on Netflix's recent moves (particularly with Xbox) and expect some other good efforts coming as well. It's unlikely that '09 will end with even 5% of the addressable broadband universe watching on their TVs, but even that would be a good start.

    Meanwhile, HD had a banner year. Everyone from iTunes to Hulu to Xbox to many others embraced online HD delivery. As I mentioned here, there are times when I really do catch myself saying, "it's hard to believe this level of video quality is now available online." For sure HD will be more widely embraced in '09 and quality will get even better.

    OK, that's it for '08. On Monday the focus turns to what to expect in '09.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
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  • 3 Broadband Video Snippets to End the Week

    Closing out another busy week, here are 3 diverse broadband video snippets that hit my radar in the past few days:

    1. YouTube Drives the Political Newscycle

    Back in December, in 6 Predictions for 2008, I suggested that "2008 is the year of the broadband presidential election." This seems to become more evident with each passing week. I find that particularly when watching cable news, YouTube's influence just keeps on growing.

    For example, I'm a fan of "AC360" on CNN, which I try to catch at 10pm each night. This week the show was constantly replaying the YouTube videos of Rev. Jeremiah Wright that have dogged the Obama campaign. Conversely, a few weeks ago, Obama got a great tailwind from the massive attention paid to the viral "Yes We Can" music video sensation by will.i.am. That of course was on top of the earlier "Obama Girl" phenomenon. Separately, the McCain campaign just yesterday fired a campaign worker for posting a controversial video on YouTube about Obama and race. This too was covered on AC360 last night. Then of course there were the YouTube co-sponsored debates, offering video-based questions that were constantly replayed afterward.

    The point of all this is that broadband video has turned election coverage upside down, making it incredibly hard for candidates to control the political newscycle. The "democratizing" effect of YouTube means that on any given day, at any given moment, something may get posted which diverts the campaign's attention. And with major media outlets paying such close attention to YouTube, everything is immediately amplified. Not since the early 1960s when TV began influencing presidential politics have we seen a new medium have such a profound impact on an election. And we still have 8 months to go until November...who knows what's yet to come!

    2. SI Vault is Addictive

    On to something more fun, if you haven't yet checked out Sports Illustrated's new "SI Vault" site just launched this week, I suggest you do. It's a highly addictive trip down memory lane. SI has digitized all of its assets and also made available non-SI content, all in one easy-to-use location powered by Truveo. Focusing on video, I found Franco Harris's "Immaculate Reception" from the 1972 Steelers-Raiders playoff game and also Doug Flutie's famous "Hail Mary" pass to beat Miami in 1984. I could have spent hours at the site, although it's not perfect. I tried finding Tom Watson's 1982 U.S. Open chip-in at Pebble Beach to beat Jack Nicklaus, but alas no results were found. Obviously all this stuff is available elsewhere online, but SI Vault creates a great context for sports fans to enjoy themselves, wrapping SI and non-SI content together in one nice package.

     

    3. Apple's Roadblocks are Baaaack

    And for even more fun, I encourage you to check out WSJ.com and NYTimes.com today. Apple is "roadblocking" the home pages of both again with a new Mac vs. PC ad, as they did back on Jan. 17th. This means that Apple has bought out all the home page leaderboard inventory on these 2 sites, so every time a visitor comes today, they see the same Apple ad. With all the talk about broadband video advertising, pre-rolls, overlays, etc, Apple again shows with its roadblocks how a little bit of creativity with rich media ad units can go a really long way. The ads are a great mix of interruption and opt-in and are no doubt highly effective branding units for Apple. Have a look and enjoy.
     
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  • 6 Predictions for 2008

    With 2007 wrapping up, it's time to look ahead to the new year and make 6 predictions about what's ahead for broadband video in 2008. In general, I'm extremely optimistic about broadband's potential in the new year. To be sure, there are lots of challenges ahead, but much to look forward to.

    Here's what my crystal ball is telling me:

    1. Advertising business model gains further momentum.

    Many of you have been hearing me beat this drum for a long time now; I'm just going to go right on beating it in 2008. Advertising is the primary business model for broadband video and this will only continue to grow in importance as the year goes along.

    All the elements are falling in place for the ad model's momentum. In '08 we'll see more video consumption, especially of high-quality video, and more syndication, all of which will lead to more ad inventory. But 2008 is about more than just a quality and volume; it's also about better targeting, better formats, more sophisticated sales processes and more interactivity/community building around video. I'm impressed with the range of companies pursuing each of these areas and expect them to gain lots of traction.

    2. Brand marketers jump on broadband bandwagon.

    2007 marked the continuation of brand marketers creating their own broadband video-centric destinations, wrapped in increasingly clever campaigns. I track these initiatives very closely and wrote about many of them (Dell and Gap, Frito-Lay, Neiman-Marcus, Smirnoff, Dove, CIT, Campari, Universal Pictures, Showtime, etc.).

    In 2008, we're going to see a proliferation of these direct-to-consumer broadband-centric marketing campaigns. Marketers and agencies across the board are coming to recognize how important broadband is for engaging their audiences in a way that TV spots simply can't match. Then factor in the high cost of TV and the rampant use of DVRs to ad-skip. I'm expecting lots of creativity from brand marketers in '08 as they push deeper into broadband, further pressuring the traditional TV ad business.

    3. Beijing Summer Olympics is a broadband blowout.

    NBC plans to stream an unprecedented 2,200 hours of live Olympics coverage at NBCOlympics.com. All of this is going to completely redefine how broadband adds new value to live sporting events. In particular, NBC's coverage is going to shine a very bright light on the appeal of broadband to deliver multiple simultaneous events in their entirety as they occur, instead of the usual chockablock, tape-delayed coverage. It's also going to demonstrate how well-suited broadband delivery is for niche but passionate audiences.

    If NBC executes well, I think it has the potential to open up a whole new horizon in how broadband can augment (and in some cases, maybe even replace) broadcast coverage of sports events. For example, golf is a sport that cries out for improved coverage that broadband can offer. Instead of cutting back and forth to players' key shots, broadband would allow for cameras to stream all players' full rounds simultaneously, with fans able to watch just their favorite player, while also keeping an eye on the main feed. Bottom line, the '08 Olympics is going to show sports and live events producers everywhere what broadband can offer them too.

    4. 2008 is the "Year of the broadband presidential election."

    What TV was to the 1960 presidential campaign is what broadband is going to be to the '08 campaign. Broadband's impact has already been felt. Virginia Gov. George Allen's campaign was aborted after he was caught uttering a racial slur in his classic "YouTube moment." CNN has already hosted joint debates with YouTube. Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy in a video posted on her web site and also just launched TheHillaryIKnow.com with a passel of video testimonials about her softer side. Barack Obama's web site brims with video from the trail.

    In '08 broadband video will be interweaved into the fabric of the major candidates' campaigns. It won't be an augment, it will be a central feature for reaching voters, particularly young ones. Broadband offers an unprecedented inexpensive way to convey the candidates' emotions and connect with voters. Presidential campaigning will never be the same again.

    5. WGA strike fuels broadband video proliferation.

    As the writers' strike slogs on, it is inevitable that many writers and producers (especially below the top tier) are going to look upon broadband as an attractive new medium to ply their trade. The signs are already there. It will be an ironic twist that the strike, which is centered on reallocating "new media" revenues, is going to stoke more interest in broadband productions, but outside the traditional apparatus.

    I can't put my finger on exactly how this is going to unfold, but I think I can say with confidence that there is a lot of smart money eager to place bets on broadband video content. Writers and producers with track records and plausible plans will get funded. Quarterlife, Next New Networks, FunnyOrDie are all pre-strike examples of this. The strike only accelerates things.

    6. Broadband consumption remains on computers, but HD delivery proliferates.

    I wrote about this in detail just last week: regrettably broadband video is NOT coming to the masses' TVs any time soon. My guess is that 99.9% of users who start the year watching broadband video on their computers (or mobile devices in some cases) will end the year no closer to watching broadband on their TVs. Some initiatives will gain some ground, but on the whole, don't expect any mass adoption of devices or mechanisms to converge broadband with TVs in '08.

    Nonetheless, do expect that HD or near HD-quality broadband video is going to proliferate in '08. A survey I worked on with a client, whose results will be shared in early '08, will attest to strong content provider interest in HD broadband video. That means that viewer experiences are only going to improve, and for those with big monitors and/or easy chairs, it may actually start to feel like this whole connect-the-computer-to-the-TV is unnecessary anyway.

    So there you have it. Post a comment and let me know if you agree or disagree!

     
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