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.
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.