Big Ten Network (BTN) is the latest example of how sports fans are benefiting from online video's rise - gaining more convenient access, more content choices and additional packaging options.
BTN rolled out BTN2Go, its TV Everywhere service, four years ago, which is currently available to over 90% of its 60 million+ subscribers. Now, it is using BTN2Go as its platform brand and has introduced BTN Plus, a "hybrid TV Everywhere" service, which includes non-televised games and events from Big Ten schools and is available exclusively online and on connected devices. BTN Plus takes the place of previously fragmented efforts by individual schools under the CBSSports.com brand.
Late yesterday, the NFL announced it renewed its "Sunday Ticket" deal with DirecTV for a reported 8 years at $1.5 billion per year, a 50% increase over their prior deal. Going back about a year, there were rampant rumors that the Sunday Ticket package could go to an OTT player, with Google being the name most often mentioned.
In reality, though, there was virtually no chance Sunday Ticket was going to go to OTT, and so the DirecTV renewal comes as no surprise. As I wrote over a year ago, there were at least 5 big challenges to a Google-NFL deal in particular. These essentially boil down to a combination of online video not being mature enough yet to exclusively handle marquee sports broadcasts and the incumbent TV ecosystem desperately needing to retain marquee sports broadcasts like Sunday Ticket.
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%).
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Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 23 seconds)
September is here and that means summer 2014 is in the rear-view mirror. For online video and the broader video ecosystem, it was another busy few months, as viewers around the world continue to shift their consumption patterns, with many companies scrambling to keep pace. Below I've distilled my list of the 10 biggest online video stories of the summer - read on and let me know if I've missed something!
TV Everywhere proponents will find a lot to like in FreeWheel's newly released Q2 2014 Video Monetization Report. Ad views on authenticated on demand long-form plus live-streaming content grew 619% vs. Q2 '13. Fully 38% of these content formats' ad views now come via authentication, up from just 8% a year ago.
Live content was up 201% year-over-year, with 81% of live ad views attributable to sports. Q2 included marquee events like World Cup, NBA and NHL playoffs. The share of live content's ad views vs. total ad views increased from 8.1% in Q2 '13 to 18.3% in Q2 '14.
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.
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Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 5 seconds)
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.
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Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 28 seconds)
The Internet has been a boon to sports fans, with the new "Know the Fan" report from Sporting News Media, Kantar Media Sports and SportBusiness Group revealing that approximately 2/3 of U.S. sports fans follow sports online. In particular, 38% of fans who watch sports video online cited live-streaming of games/events as their top activity (up from 33% in 2013), followed by short highlight clips (31%) and videos of sports news (27%).
Topics: Sporting News
Among the apps launched this week on Amazon's new Fire TV was the ACC Digital Network, a joint venture between Silver Chalice and Raycom Sports. ACC Digital Network is the Atlantic Coast Conference's multimedia destination featuring live streaming and other original programming. In addition to being online, it also recently launched on Apple TV.
To get up and running quickly on Fire TV, SportsLabs, a division of Silver Chalice, turned to 1 Mainstream, a platform for deploying HD video services on a variety of connected TV and mobile devices that launched last December. I caught up with Rajeev Raman, 1 Mainstream's CEO (and previously head of product at Roku), to learn more about how the company is helping content providers quickly build and deploy apps.
USA Today Sports Digital Media and NeuLion have announced a strategic partnership for video syndication and original productions. The deal includes NeuLion College, a network of 170 NCAA sports properties and USA Today Sports' extensive collection of digital sports sites plus Gannett's 120+ local media properties. Dave Morgan, president of USA Today Sports Media Group and Chris Wagner, EVP of NeuLion filled me in on the deal yesterday.
The streaming industry is currently undergoing incredibly exciting and important changes that are affecting the way viewers consume content. As 'appointment TV' continues to fade, the fact is live events and sports are some of the only real appointments consumers are keeping. These live events are the driving force shaping the streaming industry; giving way to a new era of live interactive digital viewing and monetization of content with added benefits of increased time spent online, more user analytics and ultimately revenue growth.
FreeWheel has released its Q4 '13 video monetization report, revealing among things, that ads viewed in live streaming jumped 148% vs. Q4 '12, and now account for nearly 10% of ads viewed in online video streams served by pay-TV operators and TV networks. Related, ad views in authenticated, TV Everywhere content rose 268% vs. Q4 '12. Overall, ad views were up 30% year-over-year. Brian Dutt, who manages Advisory Services at FreeWheel and oversaw the report, shared more detail behind these and other data being released.
Here's one measure of how popular live streaming is becoming: according to Akamai, yesterday's concurrent men's quarter-final hockey games from Sochi drove 2.5 terabits per second of peak usage on its network, almost 3 times the peak usage of 873 gigabits per second that Akamai saw during the men's 100 meter final, which Usain Bolt won, during the London 2012 games. It's also 56% higher than the 1.6 Tbps peak Akamai delivered during the USA-Russia hockey game last Saturday (which NBC separately said attracted 600K online viewers via its "Live Extra" app). Update - NBC says yesterday's USA-Czech Republic game alone delivered almost 800K online viewers, a new record for "Live Extra."
Since Comcast announced its plan to acquire Time Warner Cable, there have been a number of articles about how broadband is really the main driver of the deal. No doubt broadband is very important, but Comcast still believes there's a lot of life left in its video service. To that end, the company has invested heavily in its X1 set-top box platform.
X1 is a hybrid box, delivering video via traditional "QAM" technology, while including a guide and other interactivity/content via web-based IP technology. Comcast said that X1 played a significant role in Comcast adding subscribers in Q4 '13, for the first time in 6+ years.
I've had an X1 since July, 2012, and to give a sense of its potential, I've shot an 11-minute demo of how X1 handles the NBC Olympics "Live Extra" authenticated app which is tightly integrated with its Xfinity on Demand service for highlights. First, for a little context, I show how "Live Extra" and the NBC Olympics apps work on an iPad.
Last week at NATPE I caught up with Brian Bedol, founder and CEO of Bedrocket Media Ventures. Brian is a long-time sports media entrepreneur, having founded Classic Sports Network (acquired by ESPN) and College Sports Network (acquired by CBS). Brian's new venture, Bedrocket, has a tagline "Media for the Post-Cable Generation." It is developing and investing in high-quality multi-platform content. Among its investments are FullScreen, VHX and Tubular.
In the interview, Brian talks about the changing landscape for sports media, including how online provides a direct connection to audiences with no gatekeepers, and also how brands are able to more deeply connect with audiences. He cites examples of how Target and Mountain Dew have done so with Bedrocket properties. Brian also discusses the rising cost of sports programming on pay-TV and potential consequences. He also explains why how multi-platform distribution is the key to success.
The edited interview is below and runs 8 minutes.
Topics: Bedrocket Media Ventures
Adobe has published its Q4 '13 U.S. Digital Video Benchmark report, finding that authenticated TV Everywhere streams more than doubled in 2013 to 574.2 million, up from 222.5 million in 2012. As the graph below shows, 73% of authenticated views occurred on mobile devices, 22% on desktop and less than 5% each on gaming consoles and connected TVs. For the mobile viewing, tablet share more than doubled vs. 2012 to 42%, with smartphone declining to 31%.
Back in February, 2006, I wrote a newsletter titled, "The $10 Million Super Bowl Ad?" In it, I suggested that sometime in the future, a Super Bowl ad could cost $10 million, up from the $2.5 million they were then selling for. My rationale was that subsequent online video viewing opportunities would drive not just exposure, but also new creative opportunities to engage the audience, translating to more advertiser value.
As it has turned out, the value of Super Bowl ads has indeed continued to march higher, with this year's spots going for $4 million. And no question, the subsequent online video views that Super Bowl ads receive reduce the net CPM that advertisers are in effect paying. But what I didn't anticipate were 3 key trends that have made Super Bowl ads even more valuable - and will continue to do so: the accelerating fragmentation of TV audiences, an emerging pre-game release/teaser strategy for the ads and the escalating media coverage Super Bowl ads themselves now receive.
Topics: Super Bowl
FOX Sports Digital (FSD) partnered with YouTube to create the FOX Sports Digital VideoFest, a great example of how established media can tap into YouTube's vast online video talent pool. For the Digital VideoFest, YouTube selected 12 of its channel creators and brought them together for several days at YouTube Space LA. Creators were challenged to produce a pilot for a potential web series, with the winner chosen by a panel of 4 FSD executives. The Digital VideoFest was sponsored by Ford Fusion, with the winner receiving a $1 million development deal.
Akamai and NBC Sports announced this morning that Akamai will be powering video streaming, site performance and security services for the 2014 Winter Olympics on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports Live Extra app. The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia will run from February 6-23.
NBC Sports plans to stream over 1,000 hours of Olympics content, double what it did 4 years ago from Vancouver. Streaming will include all 15 sports across 98 different events, plus lots of exclusive content such as interviews, athlete profiles and backstories that have become standard Olympics fare.
I'm pleased to present the 205th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Colin is in London this week and shares observations on the intense battle for broadband subscribers in the U.K. BT has been aggressively laying fiber in a bid for broadband subscribers. It recently spent about 1.4 billion pounds on soccer rights to supply its BT Sport channels. Colin says BT has seen lift in both broadband and pay-TV subscribers as a result. One wonders whether Google could try something similar here in the U.S. by bidding for NFL and other rights somewhere down the road?
Speaking of the NFL, it and Major League Baseball were in the news this week for filing a brief with the Supreme Court urging review of broadcasters' challenge to Aereo. The leagues basically asserted that if Aereo is deemed legal, more of their games will migrate to cable, which of course has been happening anyway. Meanwhile Aereo's lead investor Barry Diller said this week he could see a 35% adoption rate for Aereo long-term, primarily driven by millennials. This would be hugely disruptive if it were to happen.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 11 seconds)