Two key infrastructure players in the digital video ecosystem, thePlatform and Adobe, are announcing a strategic partnership to help accelerate major media and pay-TV operators' plans for multiscreen video delivery. The companies have integrated Adobe Primetime and thePlatform's mpx video management system to form a complete solution, which the companies will jointly sell.
In a briefing, Ian Blaine, CEO of thePlatform and Ashley Still, director or product management at Adobe, told me that the companies have been collaborating for some time, most recently on NBC Olympics' multiscreen delivery of the 2014 Winter Olympics. The new integrated solution is meant to productize these prior collaborations and provide customers with faster time to market, better viewer engagement and lower total cost of ownership.
According to a new study by Vubiquity, 58% of consumers would like the ability to download to their tablets TV shows and movies that are included in their pay-TV subscriptions. Of these, 63% would be willing to pay $1 to $5 to stream or download content. Respondents who expressed interest in downloading already consume proportionately more content across all platforms.
Vubiquity believes a downloading feature offers a big opportunity for pay-TV operators to differentiate themselves. Coincidentally, Will wrote back in October, 2012 how he believed TiVo Stream's download feature was a killer app. In late 2012 Comcast introduced a similar feature for certain TV shows (there are rights issues involved in deploying this more broadly).
Over half (52.4%) of pay-TV subscribers still don't know whether their provider offers an app that allows for tablet or smartphone-based viewing, according to Digitalsmiths' new Q4 '13 video trends report. The level is basically the same as the company's Q3 report. Just 21.6% of subscribers have downloaded their provider's app (up slightly from 19.6% in Q3), but almost 60% of those that have downloaded it use it either less than once per week or never.
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%.
A new report from research firm GfK has found that 56% of U.S. pay-TV subscribers now use VOD or a TV Everywhere offering from their provider, with 41% saying they use OTT subscription streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime. However, of those that use both, 44% rated streaming services “better” than VOD, while 27% said they preferred VOD, and 29% said the two are equal. The good news for VOD is that this preference flips for those that use VOD more than once a week, with 43% preferring VOD, 30% OTT streaming and 27% equal.
In addition, for these regular VOD users, 57% said VOD has "excellent" or "very good" content variety compared to 55% for streaming. But those who use VOD less than once a week thought that streaming services were highly superior in content choice - 67% vs. 28%.
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.
In the session "Is TV Everywhere Finally Breaking Through?" at the recent VideoSchmooze, industry executives discussed an important long-term objective for the pay-TV industry: turning TV Everywhere into TV, Everywhere. The insertion of that little comma would convert a key industry initiative into a practical, compelling and ubiquitous consumer experience.
For device-happy consumers, what's not to love about the idea of being able to watch all kinds of TV programming (sports, news entertainment, etc.) in any format (live, linear or on-demand), inside or outside their homes whenever they want?
But getting to that eventual goal involves resolving a lot of sticky business and technical challenges. In the wide-ranging panel discussion, our participants Michael Bishara (Synacor), John Harran (Turner), Marty Roberts (thePlatform), John Woods (Mediacom) and Colin Dixon (nScreenMedia and moderator) did a great job of sorting through all of the issues and articulating the opportunities.
For anyone interested in TV Everywhere, it's a highly informative 47 minutes. The video is below.
ESPN has reported a slew of viewership data for the 2013 college football season across both traditional TV and digital platforms. Of note, WatchESPN recorded a 20% increase in average live game usage vs. 2012, to 32,000 live unique viewers. Though that's a healthy increase, the incremental viewership WatchESPN represents is still quite small compared to TV viewing. ESPN said that its networks averaged nearly 1.9 million viewers for the 254 regular-season games that were broadcast. Across all of its networks, a total of 189 million people watched games.
New Q3 '13 data from FreeWheel, which was unveiled today at VideoSchmooze, indicates TV Everywhere usage has grown rapidly over the past year. According to the company's Q3 '13 Video Monetization Report, 14.2% of total ad views in long-form content were delivered via pay-TV operators' authenticated video players, nearly triple their 5% share in Q4 '12.
Following the launch of VideoNuze iQ - the hub for video data and analysis - in early October, I'm pleased today to unveil a new feature, our "Expert Series" video interviews. Expert Series are 20-minute video interviews with industry analysts and executives responsible for the critical new video research. So in addition to VideoNuze iQ's own analysis of newly released video research, you'll now also hear directly from the experts themselves.
Kicking off the Expert Series is Jonathan Hurd, Director of Altman Vilandrie & Co., a strategy consulting firm focused exclusively on Telecom, Media and Technology. Jonathan oversees a comprehensive AV & Co. survey of consumer behaviors and attitudes toward traditional and new video services. In this Expert Series interview, Jonathan shares key highlights.
The survey data underscores online video's rapid adoption and benefits, along with Netflix's dominance and the rise of tablet/smartphone viewing. But it also clarifies that, for now, cord-cutters' main motivation is mainly economic. Importantly, the survey also shows the durability of live broadcast TV, even among millennials, along with the appeal of pay-TV subscriptions and TV Everywhere.
The video interview is embedded below and Jonathan's slides are available here. You can connect directly with Jonathan at jhurdATaltvil.com. I welcome your feedback on the new Expert Series format.
Premium video is being more widely distributed over IP networks due to TV Everywhere initiatives. While this means improved viewer satisfaction and new revenue for pay-TV operators, it also means dramatically higher risks of piracy. It's an issue I hear about often and am constantly trying to understand better. A new white paper from software provider Civolution does a nice job of describing the issues and framing potential solutions. It is available for free download here.
Categories: TV Everywhere
I'm pleased to present the 204th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
We start off this week discussing the latest Hulu rumor, that it is seeking a closer alignment with pay-TV operators for Hulu Plus. Colin and I both like the possibilities here, though we recognize numerous obstacles. From a user experience standpoint, the idea of finding all of a TV show's episodes in one place - from pilot to last night's -resonates with me and would be a huge step forward from today's silo'd worlds of SVOD/OTT and VOD/TV Everywhere.
Colin points out too that Hulu's owners are already key programming suppliers to pay-TV operators, giving Hulu a better shot at partnering than, say Netflix, has. Last but hardly least, Hulu's new CEO Mike Hopkins most recently ran distribution for Fox Networks, so his expertise is perfect for figuring out how to get Hulu Plus carriage with pay-TV operators.
We then shift to discussing the launch today, of Amazon Studios' first original, "Alpha House" starring John Goodman. While we're uncertain about its critical reception, we do believe that, given originals' strategic role supporting Prime, it's the first step of an aggressive agenda. Amazon is cleverly combining data, wisdom of the crowds and traditional TV skills to select which originals to pursue.
Listen in the learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 42 seconds)
Clearleap has raised a new round of $20 million led by Susquehanna Growth to help accelerate TV Everywhere deployments by content providers and pay-TV operators both domestically and internationally. With the new financing, Clearleap has raised $36 million to date. Clearleap plans to hire 150 employees over the next 18 months.
TV Everywhere "auto-authentication," which quickly clears pay-TV subscribers to view cable programming on their devices without having to hunt around for their login credentials, is poised to gain further ground based on a new release announced by Synacor yesterday.
The company announced a white label auto-authentication solution for both in-home TVE usage and out of home with its social login using Facebook, Twitter and Google+ (social login was introduced last year, but the auto-authentication part is new). Both are under Synacor's Cloud ID offering and will be available in Q1 '14. The company believes this is the first such combined solution in the market.
Binge-viewing is a bona fide phenomenon that's not only changing consumers' TV viewing behaviors, but also creating fissures in the TV industry. Recently, in "For U.S. Cable Operators, Netflix Partnerships Are Fraught With Risk," I outlined how binge-viewing is driving a competitive dynamic over content rights between Netflix and pay-TV operators' VOD and TV Everywhere plans. Adding further detail, this past Friday, Vulture published an excellent article with specific examples of how this battle is brewing.
According to Vulture, FX and Turner are telling studios from which they obtain TV shows that they need rights to stream the full current season of shows (known as "stacking" rights) not just the most recent 3-5 episodes. Part of the networks' rationale is they need to give late-coming viewers an easy path to watch from the beginning of a season, rather than just enabling existing viewers a way to catch up.
Market researcher IHS has released its first study of TV Everywhere deployments in the U.S., finding that 73 different cable networks are now allowing authenticated online/mobile access for on-demand viewing. Per the chart below, NBCU leads among the ad-supported segment, with 15 of its 18 networks offering some TVE VOD option, followed by Time Warner (Turner) with 9 networks and News Corp. and Viacom each with 6. Discovery is the only major cable network group not yet offering TVE, but IHS expect that to change soon.
Adobe is announcing today that Turner Broadcasting is its latest customer of Adobe Primetime, the company's multi-screen TV Everywhere and monetization solution. Turner will be using Primetime to power TNT and TBS apps and web sites, along with the Primetime player and dynamic ad insertion, PayTV Pass authentication and Primetime DRM.
Jeremy Helfand, VP Adobe Video Solutions, told me that until now Turner had been using a combination of home-grown and point product solutions, which are being replaced with the Primetime suite. Turner has been the earliest and staunchest supporter of TV Everywhere among cable TV networks, going back 4+ years to the high-profile joint news conference with Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, announcing the initiative.
TV Everywhere is the pay-TV industry's most important strategic priority to combat OTT viewing and enhance the value of expensive monthly subscriptions. In my view, a pretty good proxy for how TV Everywhere adoption is going is subscriber usage of pay-TV operators' tablet apps. According to a new report from Digitalsmiths, there is both good news and bad news on this: usage is increasing, but it remains at a nominal level.
The Digitalsmiths Q2 2013 Video Discovery Trends Report, based on 1,850 adult respondents, shows that of the 29.5% of respondents who say they own a tablet, just 23.8% have downloaded their pay-TV operator's app. Over half (52.4%) don't even know whether their pay-TV operator offers an app. In a bit of good news though, 42.9% of those who have downloaded their pay-TV operator's app say they use the app at least once per week. Indexing to 100 respondents, this would mean approximately 3 respondents, or 3%, use their pay-TV operator's app at least once per week.
I'm pleased to present the 192nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
In this week's discussion, we talk more about the unexpected role that Netflix and Amazon are playing in the CBS-Time Warner Cable retransmission consent dispute, which has knocked CBS off the air in major markets like NYC, LA, Dallas and elsewhere. As I wrote earlier this week, though "retrans" disputes have become commonplace, a new wrinkle in this particular one is that digital distribution rights are actually the main sticking point.
Having made lucrative digital deals with both Netflix and Amazon, CBS is justifiably reluctant to simply throw digital access to its programs into a deal with TWC, as it has in the past. The standoff highlights the uphill battle that pay-TV operators are having gaining content rights for their TV Everywhere services, which remain like Swiss cheese, with major holes in program availability. It also underscores the transformational role OTT powerhouses like Netflix and Amazon are having on the broader TV industry.
Further, Colin believes there's an opportunity for new market entrants (e.g. Intel Media, Sony, Apple, Google, etc.) to bid for both digital and linear rights, and then package access for consumers in inventive new ways. Colin sees broadband's lower cost of delivery creating a big advantage for these new players. I'm skeptical however, noting that the huge expense involved in licensing content and promoting a service from scratch would more than outweigh delivery savings. But, with so much change happening in the market these days, nothing can be counted out.
Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 25 seconds)
Remarkably, it's already been 4 years since the CEOs of Time Warner and Comcast unveiled the concept of TV Everywhere in a high-profile press event. Since then numerous successful services have launched (e.g. HBO GO, WatchESPN, etc.), yet the prevailing consensus - which I agree with - is that TV Everywhere hasn't yet been adopted at nearly the level anticipated.
I've written in the past about the 5 key things I believe are holding back TV Everywhere and 1 of them is "authentication" - the process of verifying a user and providing rights to watch programming covered by their subscription. Picayune as it might seem at first blush for pay-TV subscribers to remember and input their user name and password to be authenticated, it has turned out to be a genuine barrier to adoption.
That's why Comcast's announcement yesterday of "Home Pass" which auto-verifies and logs in dual Comcast video and broadband subscriber when accessing Xfinity TV (the company's branded TV Everywhere initiative) is significant. Rather than fumbling for their credentials, users can simply visit the Xfinity portal and begin watching nearly instantly.