Last Monday, in “Apple is Still Spinning Its Wheels in Video While Big Competitors Hit Their Stride,” I explained that while Apple continues to cast around for some type of coherent strategy to be a player in the fast-evolving video landscape, big competitors like Google, Amazon, Comcast and Facebook are all racing ahead and making substantial progress.
Then last Thursday, Peter Kafka at Recode reported that after failing in its attempt to put together its own TV service, Apple’s latest plan is to create some type of TV guide that would be able to discover and show what’s available in multiple video apps (e.g. HBO, Netflix, ESPN) and work on Apple’s devices. But as Peter noted, the new guide idea would mean Apple is focusing solely on an interface that would have no actual revenue stream.
Roku has introduced a number of new ways to search its growing selection of content. A new "Roku Feed" feature initially allows users to follow in-theater movies and be notified when they become available for streaming and at what price. The feature is valuable because movies are fragmented over multiple streaming services, making it nearly impossible for viewers to know when or where movies they missed in-theater appear online.
Discovery and analytics provider Rovi has announced its acquisition of Fanhattan, a startup offering cloud-based discovery solutions as well as the innovative Fan TV connected TV device. Fanhattan combines live TV, VOD and OTT in one search experience powered from the cloud, which is available to viewers either through the web, an iOS device or the Fan TV.
Omar Javaid, SVP/GM of Rovi's Discovery group told me the primary motivation for the deal was Fanhattan's cloud-based unified discovery technology, its team and the products. Fanhattan augments Rovi's existing next-generation discovery products. Rovi's customers include many pay-TV operators (Charter, Dish, etc.), device manufacturers (Apple, Samsung, Sharp, etc.) and online entertainment services (Shazam, Facebook, MTV, etc.).
Charter Communications has begun rolling out personalized video search and recommendations to its 5 million subscribers, using Digitalsmiths' Seamless Discovery Platform. Billy Purser, VP of Marketing at Digitalsmiths told me that Charter actually began introducing this to its web and Charter TV mobile app users over the past 3 months and has now started rolling it out to subscribers with IP set-top boxes.
The Digitalsmiths search and recommendations are based on the company's Unified Data Service, which structures numerous individual data services (e.g. TMS, Rovi, Thuuz, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, Common Sense Media, etc.). This data is then paired with both implicit (e.g. viewer behavior) and explicit (e.g. viewer ratings).
Late last week Google released research demonstrating the growing impact that YouTube and Google are having on TV show viewership and engagement. Per the chart below, Google found that for a sample of 100 broadcast and cable networks, TV-related activities on Google and YouTube for May-December 2013 were up sharply across 5 different metrics vs. the same period of 2013.
The biggest gainer was TV-related watch time on YouTube, which was up 65%, followed by TV-related engagement activities on YouTube (up 56%) and TV-related searches on YouTube (up 54%). The big driver of searches was mobile devices, which experienced a 100%+ growth rate year-over-year.
Categories: Video Search
Rovi is acquiring Veveo, a search and recommendations technology provider for video and mobile/connected devices, for $62 million cash plus $7 million in incentive payments. In a briefing, John Moakley, Rovi's EVP of Data Solutions, explained that Veveo's search and recommendations are attractive as a compliment to Rovi's core metadata and analytics solutions. Rovi has been working on its own search and recommendations capabilities which Veveo will now augment. John sees the combined end-to-end product as leapfrogging other solutions in the market.
TiVo's acquisition of Digitalsmiths for $135 million, announced yesterday, is further evidence of the cloud's increasingly important role in powering video discovery on TVs and devices. According to Jeff Klugman, TiVo's EVP/GM of Products/Revenue, who shared background on the deal with me, Digitalsmiths' leading cloud-based content discovery and recommendations technology will give TiVo greater flexibility to serve pay-TV operators with branded and white label solutions independent of TiVo's hardware.
Content recommendation provider Taboola, which I've been tracking since its early days, is now on a $100 million annual revenue run rate, according to co-founder and CEO Adam Singolda, whom I spoke to yesterday. It's the first time Taboola has revealed its revenue profile, and Adam also said the company has also been cash flow positive for several months.
Taboola got its start helping content providers generate more video views on their sites by analyzing their own videos and the sites' users' behaviors and then adding a strip of recommended videos to help recirculate traffic. It then expanded by providing those recommendations to an ever-growing publisher network. In December, 2011, it applied the same underlying predictive technology to article recommendations and also began distributing these through its network. Adam said there are now over 1 million articles and videos, which are recommended 3 billion times/day.
Digitalsmiths said this morning that its Seamless Discovery Platform has been chosen by 7 of the top 10 U.S. pay-TV operators, which cover 64% of the country's subscribers. Globally the company is powering discovery for over 100 million homes through 46 customers and partners. Most recently Digitalsmiths announced Australia's Foxtel as its latest big customer.
New research released today by Veveo reveals that nearly 2/3 of pay-TV viewers know what they want to watch "almost always" or "most of the time." In addition, almost 75% of them said they'd like better search capabilities from their pay-TV operator, a preference that dwarfed recommendations as an option, which was cited by less than 5% of respondents. Heavier TV viewers' preference for search was even stronger.
According to Sam Vasisht, Veveo's CMO, whom I spoke to last week, the findings underscore the extent to which search has become an integral part of everyday life for many consumers. The fact that search has become a positive online experience for many means that sub-optimal search tools provided by pay-TV operators becomes more glaringly obvious, leading to viewer frustration and lost revenue opportunities.
(Note: This is the second of several interviews I'm doing with speakers appearing at X Media Research's upcoming BroadbandTVCon in Hollywood on Nov. 5th and 6th, where I'll also be moderating. VideoNuze readers can save $75 on registration using the code "VideoNuze.")
Following is an edited transcript of my interview with Alex Vikati, executive director of Tribune Media Services (TMS), and previously co-founder of CastTV, which TMS acquired in December, 2010.
Describe TMS and its role in the ecosystem.
TMS is the world's leading provider of entertainment metadata - information about TV shows and movies. When you turn on a TV or device, most likely the scheduling information is coming from TMS. We have over 4K customers in 40 countries and our customers reach over 100M people.
You personally focus on online video and social data products at TMS. Can you explain more what TMS is doing?
TMS started by looking at linear TV. A few years ago we realized our main customers (pay-TV operators, CE manufacturers, etc.) needed data about online video too. Online video is different than traditional TV in that it's mostly on-demand viewing. TMS acquired my company CastTV, which was focused on online video data, and we turned it into a TMS product called Online Video Data ("OVD"). It takes the concept of a TMS identifier for a TV show and matches it to location of copies of that show available on the web, at Netflix, Amazon and other places. We're seeing a lot of interest in OVD as more content is coming online.
Categories: Video Search
Topics: Tribune Media Services
In a big win for the company, Jinni has been selected by Microsoft to help power video content discovery solutions on Xbox. Jinni categorizes TV shows and movies using its "Entertainment Genome" project which assigns metadata such as mood, style and plot to each title. In the Xbox implementation, these will be combined with Xbox signals such as viewing history, to build and present content recommendations to users. The deal is for a multi-year period, suggesting Jinni will be a part of Xbox One, launching in November. Microsoft is positioning Xbox One equally as an entertainment device and gaming console.
I'm pleased to present the 168th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. Today we start by discussing Akamai's new Ad Integration Services, which enables cloud-based video ad insertion, in partnership with mDialog.
This approach has multiple benefits including improving the user experience which extends view times. Colin notes that recent data from Conviva, for example, shows that a 1% increase in buffering results in 8 minutes of lost viewing time, which in turn means a loss of 2 ad breaks. Conviva estimates in 2012 this adds up to $2.2 billion in lost ad revenue globally, and by 2017, it could be $20 billion. Clearly improving the viewer experience has a significant payoff.
We then transition to talking about improvements in video discovery. Colin shares takeaways from his interview this week with Jeremy Toeman, CEO of Dijit (Next Guide), which recently acquired Miso. And I share observations on the new web version of Fanhattan, which launched in beta yesterday.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 50 seconds)
Video discovery app Fanhattan has launched its web site today in beta, offering the same convenient way to find a TV program or movie through one simple interface. Until now Fanhattan has only been available as an iOS app. Fanhattan's key value proposition is that it eliminates the complexity of searching across multiple services. This problem is only worsening for users as more video comes online and aggregators gain and lose rights over time.
Categories: Video Search
Digitalsmiths has announced deals this morning to power personalized video search and discovery across all platforms for Time Warner Cable, and for i.TV, the TV guide app for iPhone/iPad, Nintento Wii U, AOL, Huffington Post and others.
Ben Weinberger, Digitalsmiths CEO, also told me this morning that the company's "Seamless Discovery" technology is now powering over 1 billion transactions per month, which consist of user requests for search, recommendations and other data. At this level, Ben believes Digitalsmiths is now the largest provider of search and recommendations in North America, its main geographic customer area.
Veveo, a provider of search solutions for connected devices, has debuted a new voice and natural language-based, "conversational interface" technology for video search. Available for trial currently and for release in Q1 '13 in its Reveal 3.0 product, the new voice capability is targeted to pay-TV operators, connected device manufacturers and set-top box providers eager to give users more flexibility in how they navigate the ever-increasing array of video choices.
I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 144th edition of the VideoNuze-TDG Report podcast. In this week's podcast Colin and I first discuss Google's recently-announced changes to how its search results are determined. Google will now factor in instances of copyright infringement to demote bad actors in its results. Colin sees the change as due to Google's interest in deepening relationships with Hollywood, where YouTube's business is increasingly pointing. However, there has been some dispute about just how much impact Google's change will have on results in YouTube.
Next up we discuss the idea of Apple building set-top boxes for the cable TV industry, which the WSJ wrote about yesterday. I add some further detail to my post ("Apple to Make Cable Set-Top Boxes? Not. Going. To. Happen.") which Colin mostly agrees with, however noting that Apple could add real value to cable's anemic VOD navigation. It's been fun to read all the coverage of the Apple-cable development; I'm clearly among the strongest skeptics. Perhaps I'm missing something big here, though I don't think so. Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 53 seconds)
Click here for previous podcasts
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(as noted in the podcast, we were each using new microphones this week and Colin's audio setting is a little low; we'll adjust next week)
Fanhattan, the slick iOS video discovery app, has broken into the TV Everywhere world, adding content from HBO and Cinemax. Fanhattan users can now discover HBO programs and movies within Fanhattan and click through to view them if they are authenticated as HBO subscribers. Fanhattan is announcing the addition of HBO and Cinemax, plus NBC and CW programs this morning. Fanhattan now has 175K TV programs and movies from 14 premium entertainment apps discoverable, up from 4 apps at launch last year.
Fanhattan is also unveiling a new "WatchList" feature, which allows users to add a movie or TV show and be alerted when it becomes available on any of the 14 sources. For users, WatchList eliminates the confusion around where, how and when premium content is available, as it passes through multiple distribution windows and models.
Video recommendations provider Taboola has announced a $10 million Series C financing this morning led by Marker LLC. With the new round, total capital raised to date is $24 million. Proceeds will be used for international expansion and product development.
Taboola's EngageRank now delivers 500 million recommendations per day to 130 million monthly users for publishers such as WSJ, NY Times, CNN, The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today and others. Monthly users have doubled since last November, when Taboola had 64 million users in the U.S. User growth likely reflects increased penetration with U.S. publishers, and also international growth in countries such as Germany (where Taboola recently announced a deal with OMS, a consortium of 30 newspapers), England, Israel, Brazil, France and Poland.
The nascent market for second screen TV apps on mobile devices - whether from pay-TV operators, content providers, CE/SmartTV manufacturers or social media/discovery startups - is poised to accelerate due to a deal announced yesterday between Tribune Media Services (TMS) and Digitalsmiths. That's because TMS, which is the largest provider of metadata about TV shows and movies will now use Digitalsmiths' Seamless Discovery platform to offer 20 different APIs allowing app developers far easier access to the data than ever before.