Advanced ad technology provider BlackArrow is unveiling "BlackArrow Linear" this morning, which enables pay-TV operators to dynamically insert ads into live and linear streams viewed on connected and mobile IP devices. BlackArrow has traditionally focused on video-on-demand streams to TVs.
The move is significant because BlackArrow Linear broadens pay-TV operators' flexibility to offer and monetize live and linear TV Everywhere streams. TV Everywhere began as an on-demand only offering, but a move is now underway to expand into live as well. In just the past month, both ABC and Turner have announced linear streaming to devices (more here and here), with TV Everywhere authentication. While I have questioned how broad the appeal of linear is in an age of time-shifting and ad-skipping, I believe it will become widely adopted by other broadcast and cable networks over the next 12 months as they race to embrace devices.
ABC will enable live-streaming of its programs through its iOS app, moving beyond an on-demand only programming model for the first time. The "Watch ABC" live feature will no doubt please a subset of the people who have downloaded the ABC app 10 million times to date and who still value live viewing. But Watch ABC will also likely puzzle and irk some users when they discover they must be authenticated as a pay-TV subscriber in order to access the live stream.
In fact, requiring authentication for Watch ABC is just the latest evidence of TV Everywhere's tightening grip on broadcast TV. Another recent example was NBC making large portions of last summer's Olympics available only to authenticated pay-TV subscribers. In addition, Fox has maintained an 8-day exclusive window for pay-TV subscribers for almost 2 years.
At the NABShow last week I did a short video interview with Albert Lai, Brightcove's CTO for Media and Broadcast. In the interview, Albert explained Brightcove's expanded TV Everywhere integrations with Adobe Pass and Akamai's Sola Vision Identity Services.
It's well understood that if content providers are to distribute to multiple devices via TV Everywhere, security and authentication are paramount. By integrating with Adobe and Akamai, Brightcove is trying to provide its content customers with multiple authentication choices depending on their preferences, helping reduce friction in TVE rollouts.
Adobe Primetime (formerly "Project Primetime") has officially launched in general availability. Adobe Primetime is positioned as a full video publishing and monetization platform that includes publishing, player, DRM, advertising and analytics components for use by both content providers and pay-TV operators across multiple screens. At the NABShow this week I interviewed Ashley Still, director of product management for Adobe Primetime, who explained its key benefits (see video below).
I had a classic TV Everywhere moment tonight I thought I'd quickly share. I got back to my hotel room in NYC after dinner, flipped on the TV to watch the Celtics try to break the Heat's winning streak and discovered ESPN and many other channels weren't working.
But instead of calling the front desk, waiting for a technician, keeping my fingers crossed, etc. (guessing my fellow travelers know this experience too well), I fired up WatchESPN, entered my Comcast credentials and was watching online within minutes. For the most part, video quality was very strong. The key was being able to watch via the hotel's WiFi network because the stream would have drained my 2GB Verizon data cap.
I'm pleased to present the 171st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. Leading us off today, Colin digs into Nielsen's new "zero-TV" homes data, part of its Q4 '12 Cross-Platform report. When Colin crunches the numbers, he concludes that the U.S. pay-TV industry may have lost 1.1 million subscribers last year, who moved into the zero-TV category. That would be above other estimates, which range from flat to down about 500K.
Of course one of the industry's key initiatives to add value has been TV Everywhere, and on that front, there were refreshingly candid admissions this week from both David Levy, head of Turner's sales, distribution and sports, who said he was "embarrassed" at TV Everywhere's progress, and Lauren Zalaznick, NBCU's chairman, entertainment and digital networks, who said it's too confusing. Both are right, and there are other reasons as elaborated in the recent Ultimate Guide to TV Everywhere (free download).
Contributing to the pressure on pay-TV providers is the ever-expanding range of quality content available online, and 2 more efforts surfaced this week, Conde Nast's new digital video network, and VEVO TV, a 24x7 music video network.
Separate, Colin has released his excellent new white paper, "Second-Screen Apps for TV" (free download here)
And a reminder to sign up for "Sizing Up Apple TV" a free video webinar on April 2nd featuring Brightcove's Jeremy Allaire and me.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 42 seconds)
It wasn't that long ago when the back-end delivery systems for traditional pay-TV services and those for over-the-top video services were quite distinct. Ditto for the in-home set-top devices that viewers use to receive these disparate video services. But as pay-TV operators continue to standardize on IP, the cloud becomes ever more pervasive and devices more powerful, those distinctions are melting away.
The latest example comes this morning from the UK, where thePlatform, a U.S.-based Comcast subsidiary, has announced that its mpx video management system is now powering key elements of BT's actual TV services, BT Vision and YouView from BT. According to thePlatform, mpx is supporting BT's video workflow, coordinating playback data with recommendations engines and enforcing video rights for subscribers. mpx has been integrated with BT's existing systems for content delivery, set-top boxes and user experience.
Binge-viewing will get another big bounce when Comcast holds its first-ever "Watchathon Week" March 25-31, allowing Xfinity TV subscribers to access over 3,500 episodes from 100 TV series on 30 different premium, ad-supported cable and broadcast networks. All VOD-enabled Xfinity subscribers will be able to access the programs, via Xfinity On Demand, Xfinity.com and the Xfinity TV Player app on iOS and Android devices.
I attended the D: Dive Into Media conference earlier this week for the first time. It is mainly a series of one-on-one interviews with senior executives from a variety of media and technology companies, plus networking. Overall it was a great conference, and it's hard to beat a couple of days in beautiful Dana Point, CA, especially when coming off a blizzard in Boston.
My main interest was the video-related sessions, and from those I had 6 takeaways which I share below (along with selected session video clips), in no particular order:
Conviva, whose software preemptively optimizes video streams on multiple platforms, has renewed and expanded its existing deal with HBO for another 6 years. Conviva's original deal with HBO dates to May, 2011. Conviva has been supporting HBO's HBO GO TV Everywhere domestic distribution, and under the new deal it will be extended to support international distribution as well. HBO's parent, Time Warner, is also an investor in Conviva.
You gotta love Roku. In the insanely competitive world of consumer devices - where the big boys like Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon, Samsung, Sony and others have enormous retail, financial and existing customer base advantages - little Roku just keeps on cranking out inexpensive, yet solid products, meaningful partnerships and scads of content deals, establishing itself as a leader in the connected TV space.
The latest evidence of Roku's momentum are two announcements at CES today; first, that it has signed up another 6 "Roku Ready" TV manufactures as partners whose models can accept the company's "Streaming Stick" device and second, that it has signed new video channel partners Blockbuster on Demand, Dailymotion, DISHWorld, Flingo, Fox Now, PBS, PBS Kids, Syfy and VEVO. All of these channels bring to 700 the number of video and audio choices in the Roku Channel Store, a breadth that easily rivals - though is clearly distinct from - today's pay-TV services.
Welcome to 2013! If you were mostly checked out over the past 1-2 weeks (or were only paying attention to the fiscal cliff roller coaster), you didn't miss a whole lot in the video world. However, there were 5 items that caught my attention which I briefly describe below:
I'm pleased to offer a complimentary download of the "Ultimate Guide to TV Everywhere," a 16-page special supplement that VideoNuze created in collaboration with B&C/Multichannel News magazines. As everyone around the pay-TV and online video industries is aware, TV Everywhere has become a top strategic priority, and when fully deployed, will unlock a broad swath of cable programming for anytime/anywhere access.
Despite its potential, TV Everywhere's deployment has been uneven to date, as networks and operators have grappled with business terms and operational details. In the guide you'll find interviews, research data, key challenges, infographics and an update on what 5 large cable programmers are already doing with TV Everywhere. We believe it's the most in-depth look at TV Everywhere's current status and is a highly useful resource for anyone with an interest in its eventual success.
Special thanks to the guide's advertisers for their generous support: thePlatform, Tribune Media Services, Clearleap, Synacor, mPortal, Universal Sports and Digital Rapids.
Categories: TV Everywhere
Topics: TV Everywhere
A recurring theme in the video industry this year has been the proliferation of video-enabled devices and fragmentation of viewing. This has resulted in vastly increased complexity for content providers to prepare and deliver the properly formatted video efficiently and cost-effectively to all these devices. Recognizing this escalating challenge, online video platform provider thePlatform is announcing new "Smart Workflow" features in its mpx video publishing system this morning, to accelerate the formatting and delivery of video to multiple devices.
I'm pleased to share that VideoNuze is collaborating with Broadcasting & Cable / Multichannel News magazines to produce the "Ultimate Guide to TV Everywhere," with a December 3rd publication date.
The 16-page guide will include up-to-date research data and analysis, interviews with industry leaders, case studies and more. It will tackle the questions surrounding TV Everywhere head-on, providing essential insights for busy industry executives. Topics covered will include strategic and business drivers, core technologies, changing viewer behaviors/expectations, business/rights issues and enabling devices.
Categories: TV Everywhere
Topics: TV Everywhere
The process of authenticating users for TV Everywhere content access is improving yet again, as Synacor announced this morning that users will be able to log in via their Facebook, Twitter and Google accounts. The use of social IDs has become widely deployed by web services providers, but had not yet been made available in the TV Everywhere world. With the feature, users will be able to tie their pay-TV accounts to their social media accounts which means they'll no longer have to remember pay-TV specific login credentials to gain access to TV Everywhere content. This will reduce friction and should drive higher TV Everywhere adoption.
Adobe has announced that its Adobe Pass technology notched a 10x increase during the first half of 2012 in the number of video streams it authenticated. Big contributors included NCAA March Madness, UEFA Euro 2012 soccer and the NBA playoffs, along with entertainment content from Disney and Turner cable networks. Adobe Pass also powered authentication for the London Olympics, which drove 88 million authenticated streams.
Adobe Pass is now used by 40+ sites and mobile apps from 25 content providers, and is integrated by 150 pay-TV operators covering 98% of U.S. homes. That's considerable progress for a technology which was only announced a year-and-a-half ago.
mPortal, whose SPRINGBROARD Media platform allows pay-TV operators and content providers to create cloud-based TV Everywhere apps, is being enhanced with a new set of social TV APIs to build second screen companion apps for connected devices.
While the number of social TV startups abound, mPortal's VP, Products Fady Lamaa told me that mPortal believes its social TV APIs are the first to be integrated fully with TV Everywhere app building tools, meaning that pay-TV operators and content providers can present unified, branded TV Everywhere/social experience to their users. mPortal is seeking to capitalize on two of the biggest video trends today: connected device viewing and social.
There's a major breakthrough in the TV Everywhere landscape to report - Comcast is "auto-verifying" its Xfinity subscribers' access to NBC's online and mobile video streaming of the Summer Olympics. A Comcast spokesperson confirmed that this is the first time TV Everywhere content is being made available to its subscribers without them having to submit their user name and password credentials to gain access.
This is a real milestone as authentication has been widely viewed as a cumbersome process step for subscribers. That's because many people have not created user names and passwords with their pay-TV operator and/or can't remember them. In addition, authentication systems are not yet stable, often requiring repeated log-ins to the same app, and also across different apps (I've had to repeatedly log-in to every TV Everywhere app I've ever used). Exacerbating things, so much online video is freely available that the TV Everywhere login process feels intrusive for users accustomed to immediately being able to watch.
At the recent Cable Show I caught up with Michael Quigley, VP Business Development and Multi-Platform Distribution for Turner Networks. Turner has arguably been the most aggressive of all the cable TV networks in pursuing TV Everywhere distribution, and Michael explain why. Turner has now integrated with 13 different pay-TV operators for TV Everywhere distribution covering 77 million U.S. homes. It also makes authenticated content available on 6 of its networks' sites, with over 500 hours of VOD.
One of the key decisions Turner made was to invest in TV Everywhere before the measurement systems from Nielsen and others were fully in place. That's a risk Michael says Turner was willing to take in order to push the TV Everywhere experience forward and draw other networks in. In the interview Michael also discusses ongoing challenges for TV Everywhere's rollout. Watch the interview below (9 minutes, 46 seconds).