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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Recently on Videonuze

Analysis for 'Broadband ISPs'

  • VideoNuze Podcast #228 - Broadband Closes In On Pay-TV; Netflix's European Expansion

    I'm pleased to present the 228th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we first discuss how broadband's penetration in the U.S. is closing in on that of pay-TV's. New research from Leichtman Research Group revealed the top providers added nearly 1.2 million broadband subscribers in Q1 '14 (the best quarter in 2 years), as compared with around 260K pay-TV subscribers. The biggest ISPs now have approximately 85.5 million broadband subscribers, whereas the top pay-TV operators have 95.8 million subscribers.

    All of this is relevant because it demonstrates how broadband has become a de facto parallel video distribution platform - the fundamental underlying infrastructure for online video. Many of us take robust broadband almost for granted now, yet in reality it wasn't that long ago that broadband wasn't mainstream and high-quality online video quite scarce.

    We then move on to talk about Netflix's big expansion into 6 new European countries. Colin lays out the case why to be bullish on the expansion, while also noting the new challenges Netflix will face.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 57 seconds)



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  • U.S. Broadband ISPs Add 1.2 Million Subscribers in Q1 '14, Most in 2 Years

    The top 17 U.S. broadband ISPs added nearly 1.2 million subscribers in Q1 '14, notching the best quarter of growth since Q1 '12 (see chart below). These ISPs now have 85.5 million subscribers, with top cable operators accounting for nearly 59% or 50.3 million and top telcos accounting for 41% or 35.2 million. The data is according to Leichtman Research Group.

    The top cable operator ISPs garnered 83% of the quarter's 1.2 million subscriber additions, vs. just 17% for the telcos. This compares with Q1 '13, when the top cable operator ISPs took 72% of net additions, with telcos taking 28%. LRG notes that Q1 subscriber additions historically account for more than Q2 and Q3 additions combined.

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  • Will Richmond Interview at Columbia University [VIDEO]

    I recently had the pleasure being interviewed by my former colleague Howard Homonoff for his weekly "Media Reporter" show at the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information which he produces in addition to his consulting practice. In the interview we touch on a broad range of topics including how technology is helping traditional TV, the impact of online video on pay-TV operators and networks, online originals, NewFronts, rise of devices and mobile viewing, net neutrality, industry deals and much more.

    The interview runs about 28 minutes.

    Watch the interview

     
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  • Analyst: Google Fiber Adopted by As Much As 75% of Homes Passed in KC Neighborhoods

    Google Fiber has captured an eye-opening 75% of homes it passes in certain medium-to-high income Kansas City neighborhoods, according to an extensive new analysis from Bernstein Research. The firm employed a market research company to conduct a door-to-door survey in 5 KC neighborhoods in which Google Fiber has rolled out. This is the first research I'm aware of revealing how Google Fiber may be performing (Google itself has never shared any detailed data on Google Fiber).

    In Wornall Homestead, the highest household median income neighborhood ($116K) Bernstein surveyed, it found that 83.1% of respondents were taking Google Fiber service - 15.3% for the $120/mo pay-TV+ broadband bundle, 52.5% for the $70/mo 1 Gbps broadband-only service, and 15.3% for the free 5 Mbps broadband service. This contrasted with Community College, the lowes household median income neighborhood ($24K) surveyed, in which 27.2% of respondents were taking Google Fiber service - 7% for the $120/mo pay-TV+ broadband bundle, 19.2% for the $70/mo 1 Gbps broadband-only service, and 7.3% for the free 5 Mbps broadband service.

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  • 5 Reasons to Be Skeptical of Any Apple-Comcast Deal

    The Wall Street Journal reported last night that Apple and Comcast are discussing a partnership for Apple to launch a streaming TV, VOD and DVR service, including dedicated Comcast bandwidth (a "managed service" as opposed to one delivered with typical "best efforts").

    On the surface, it's a sexy-sounding deal, especially for those who have long-harbored a vision of Apple moving beyond its modest Apple TV device. However, scratch the surface just a little and you'll quickly find many reasons to be skeptical anything will result. Here are my top 5 (I'm sure there are others as well):

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  • Top U.S. Broadband ISPs Add Another 2.6 Million Subscribers in 2013

    The 17 largest broadband ISPs in the U.S. added over 2.6 million subscribers in 2013, down almost 105K vs. the approximately 2.7 million subscribers they added in 2012. These ISPs now have 84.3 million subscribers, with cable TV operator ISPs having 49.3 million (58%) and telco ISPs having 35 million (42%). The data comes from Leichtman Research Group.

    continue reading on VideoNuze iQ

     
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  • VideoNuze Podcast #216 - Debating Netflix-Comcast Interconnect; Disney Movies Anywhere

    I'm pleased to present the 216th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. In today's podcast, we first discuss Disney Movies Anywhere, which launched this week. Both of us like it a lot (more of my take here). Colin believes it could also become a huge threat to UltraViolet if one other major studio were to adopt Disney's KeyChest technology.

    Then we turn our attention to the Netflix-Comcast interconnection agreement, which has taken on a life of its own this week. It's rare when Colin and I see the world completely differently, but in this case, we do. Colin believes the deal sets a dangerous precedent because Netflix is being provided "extraordinary access" to Comcast's network and also that, going forward, if a content provider wants to get good performance on Comcast's network, it would have to do a deal with Comcast.

    I don't see it this way. As I wrote earlier this week, the deal strikes me as business as usual, with the joint press release specifically saying "Netflix receives no preferential network treatment." Netflix made a business decision to negotiate directly with Comcast and manage/deliver their content themselves rather than work through a CDN which is what the vast majority of content providers do. This path obviously made sense for Netflix, but remember, it's in a somewhat unique situation because it accounts for 1/3 of all Internet traffic at certain times.

    Because Netflix and Comcast said so little about the deal themselves, and because there is so much suspicion of Comcast (and other broadband ISPs) regarding net neutrality, market power, etc., a lot more has been read into this deal than I believe is warranted.

    Colin and I have a very vigorous debate on these issues and ultimately agree to disagree :-)
     
    Click here to listen to the podcast (30 minutes, 27 seconds)



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  • Netflix-Comcast Interconnection Agreement Seems Fair, So Why All the Fuss?

    There's lots of ink being spilled about yesterday's Netflix-Comcast interconnection agreement with some saying this is basically just "business as usual," while others are proclaiming that this is the "end of the Internet as we know it" and "evidence that net neutrality is required."

    I'm not a network engineer, but since I've worked in the space long enough, I know enough to be dangerous. And from my vantage point, it seems like this is an appropriate, market-driven solution to a problem that is somewhat unique to Netflix, which now drives around 30% of the Internet's traffic during primetime hours.

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  • Nielsen: Over Half Of Broadband-Only Homes Are Age 18-34

    Nielsen released its latest Digital Consumer Report yesterday, finding among things, that 52% of broadband-only homes in the U.S. are in the 18-34 age range. Nielsen notes this group accounts for fewer than 5% of total U.S. households, but believes it's important to understanding the future digital living room. Nielsen said 80% of this group owns game consoles and 41% tablets, both twice the rate of traditional TV households.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #212 - Comcast Gains Video Subscribers; Can Roku Replace Set-Top Boxes?

    I'm pleased to present the 212th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Earlier this week, Roku CEO and founder Anthony Wood, who I interviewed at NATPE, described his long-term vision for Roku to replace pay-TV operators' set-top boxes. Anthony believes that as online video apps become more prevalent, and pay-TV operators want to seamlessly offer them, the logistics for doing so will be so complex, that alternative approaches like using Roku, will become more attractive. Colin and I debate the pros and cons of this vision.

    Then Colin walks us through Comcast's stellar Q4 '13 results, announced earlier this week. Of particular note, Comcast added video subscribers in the quarter, the first time in over 6 years. Colin has crunched the numbers and concludes that Comcast will likely have more broadband subscribers than video subscribers by mid-to-late 2014, a stunning development. We explore what this means.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 11 seconds)


    Click here for previous podcasts

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    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

     
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  • Risk to Net Neutrality is Minimal Even Though FCC's Open Internet Has Been Overturned

    Earlier today the DC Court of Appeals threw out the FCC's Open Internet net neutrality rules. Net neutrality advocates are upset with the FCC for pursuing an illogical regulatory path from the start. They are deeply worried that now, unencumbered by net neutrality regulations, big broadband ISPs (which also happen to be the biggest pay-TV providers) will begin to discriminate against third-party online video services by shunting them to "slow lanes" and charging new delivery "tolls."

    I completely understand these concerns, but I for one don't envision any of this happening, at least not in the foreseeable future. Some of you are no doubt thinking - Will's naive, he's an idiot, he's a shill, etc. so let me explain.

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  • Let's Get Real: TV Isn't Close to Dying and Here's a Great Slide Deck Proving It

    There is no doubt the TV industry is changing dramatically, largely due to the rise of online and mobile video viewing. But is it "dying," "imploding" or being "nuked" as some recent tech media headlines assert? No, not yet anyway. As a close observer of all things video, it's just mind-boggling sometimes to see how data is conflated to support distorted conclusions. If your company's product strategy were guided by today's headlines alone, you'd be on a course to disaster.

    To help set things straight, Piksel's Alan Wolk has put together a really good slide deck with data debunking 7 of the bigger myths floating around these days (1) cord-cutting is a mass movement, (2) kids ignore mainstream TV, (3) your pay-TV provider is the one forcing you to pay for 800 channels, (4) cutting the cord lets you stick it to the cable company, (5) second screen is all about social TV, (6) TV viewing has decreased and (7) in the future we'll be able to watch TV wherever, whenever and however we want.

    See slide deck

     
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  • VideoNuze Podcast #205 - Sports Leagues Fight Aereo; Broadband Battle in the U.K.

    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)




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    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

     
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  • Study: U.S. Broadband Homes Without Pay-TV are Basically Flat at 9%

    There is a lot of talk these days about pay-TV cord-cutters and cord-nevers and how OTT providers can leverage this group to build their businesses. But a data point from research firm Leichtman Research Group last week that caught my eye suggests this market may be smaller than many people think and also not growing very fast. LRG noted that just 9% of U.S. homes subscribe to a broadband Internet service, but not a pay-TV service, up just slightly from the 8% level in both 2011 and 2012 (see graph below).

    Further, Bruce Leichtman of LRG told me that of the broadband/no pay-TV group, just 37% get their broadband from speedier and pricier cable or telco fiber deployments. That compares with 75% taking these services among other broadband subscribers (remember than cable and telco fiber are by far the most prevalent broadband services).

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  • Akamai Introduces Operator CDN Solutions to Improve Video Delivery

    The explosion of online video viewership is presenting pay-TV operators and broadband ISPs with big challenges and opportunities managing all of the increased traffic across their networks. To help address these, Akamai is introducing new capabilities in its Aura Network Solutions line of operator content delivery network (OCDN) technologies. The goal is to help operators deliver traffic more flexibly and cost effectively while also opening up potential new business models such as TV Everywhere.

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  • Tipping Point? Q1 '13 Broadband Subscriber Growth Was 6x Bigger Than Pay-TV's

    New industry data compiled by Leichtman Research Group shows that broadband ISPs that account for 93% of the U.S.  market added over 1.1 million subscribers in Q1 '13, nearly 6 times the 194K pay-TV subscribers that were added in the period by pay-TV operators that account for 94% of the market.

    Broadband subscriber additions have outstripped pay-TV's for years, but the 6x ratio is more than double the average of 2.8x from the prior 2 years. The 194K pay-TV additions in Q1 were down 56% vs. the 445K added in Q1 '12, while the 1.1M broadband additions were off 15% from the 1.3M in each of the prior 2 years.

    On the surface the data suggests that cord-cutting - a shift from viewing video via pay-TV to via broadband - may finally be taking hold. But while LRG's Bruce Leichtman has indeed found an uptick in his calculations of cord-cutting (up from .2% of U.S. homes to .4%-.5%), he sees a far more nuanced picture of what accounted for Q1's swing, plus lots of uncertainty going forward.

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  • Survey: Interest in Google Fiber Strong Among Early Adopters

    Investment firm Bernstein Research has released the results of a proprietary door-to-door survey of 204 Kansas City households which reveals strong interest in Google Fiber service among early adopters, with potentially strong adoption rates among mainstream audiences longer-term as well.

    Bernstein found very high awareness of Google Fiber, with 98% of respondents being aware of the service, no surprise given the level of local coverage it has received. Of the 204 respondents, 52% said they would definitely or probably buy Google Fiber and 25% said they may.

    However, recognizing the difference between what people say they'll do vs. what they'll actually do, Bernstein forecasts that 15-20% of homes will in fact subscribe to Google Fiber in the first phase of its rollout. Given the uncertainties around competitive responses to Google Fiber, Bernstein is less clear about longer-term adoption, though it is suggesting 40-50% is possible eventually.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #172 - What's Google Fiber Really About?; YouTube Traffic Soars, Goes Mobile

    I'm pleased to present the 172nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week we first discuss Google Fiber, which Google announced this past Tuesday would roll out to a second city, Olathe, KS. Nonetheless, as we discuss, it still feels like Google Fiber is a hobby for Google, though its executives recently asserted otherwise. Neither Colin nor I quite understand what Google Fiber's actual market impact or game plan is, and we are skeptical that there's a business case to support its broader rollout.

    We then turn our attention to another Google-related item, which is that YouTube announced this week it is now attracting 1 billion visitors/month, even as (according to my analysis), its U.S. online-only traffic has dropped by 32% year-over-year. But, because comScore doesn't measure mobile access, this isn't an accurate portrayal of YouTube's reach, which is clearly expanding. Colin has further data that adds color to the situation.

    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!

    (update - the correct pronunciation of Olathe, KS is "O lay the" (thanks Frank Hughes!).

    Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 57 seconds)

    Click here for previous podcasts

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  • Google Fiber To Expand To A Second City; But If It's Not A "Hobby," Then What Is It Exactly?

    Google announced late yesterday plans to extend its Google Fiber service to a second city, Olathe, KS (population 125,000), in Johnson County, about 30 minutes from Kansas City, where Google Fiber has been initially deployed. With the news, the question once again arises, if Google Fiber isn't a "hobby" (as Google executives recently stated), then what is it exactly? And by extension, what are its real implications for broadband ISPs, consumers and over-the-top video?

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  • VideoNuze-TDG Podcast #158 - Implications of Broadband Data Caps

    I'm pleased to present the 158th edition of the VideoNuze-TDG podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon, senior analyst at The Diffusion Group. Colin and I each back in the office, after being together at VideoSchmooze in NYC.

    (Apologies in advance, the audio quality this week is diminished because we couldn't get Skype working on both ends, so I had to use a cell phone connection.)

    On the opening session at VideoSchmooze with the 3 Wall Street analysts, Laura Martin, Craig Moffett and Michael Nathanson, Craig made a point that cable operators are, in his opinion, "infrastructure providers," not video providers. He means that because they now supply both video, broadband and other services over the same networks, their real business is maximizing the ROI derived from subscribers' total payments for all services delivered.


    To the extent that large numbers of video subscribers may cut the cord at some point down the road to use OTT services instead, cable operators would respond by trying to recapture lost revenue and margin via increased, "usage-based" pricing on broadband for heavier OTT users. Craig believes there's approximately $50/month/video subscriber of video profit margin that would need to be recouped.

    In our discussion, Colin and I discuss the concept generally, and in particular whether this type of revenue shifting is feasible. Colin is skeptical whether this can happen, pointing to competitive, regulatory and consumer demand obstacles. I'm more in Craig's camp, and believe that operators would certainly try their best to accomplish this, as it's a natural thing any business would try to do.

    Putting all of this into context however, it's still a largely hypothetical discussion. There isn't yet cord-cutting to an extent that operators feel the need to recoup profits through broadband. And where data caps exist they're still high enough that few subscribers need to buy more bandwidth to accommodate their OTT viewing.

    Still, it's interesting to speculate on the topic, as higher broadband pricing would make OTT services like Netflix, Hulu and others relatively more expensive, therefore making them less attractive relative to pay-TV video services.

    Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 18 seconds)




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