Hulu has announced that it has distribution deals with 5 small-to-mid-sized U.S. pay-TV operators: Armstrong, Atlantic Broadband, Mediacom, Midcontinent and WideOpenWest (WOW!). The deals follow last week's news that Hulu has signed up Cablevision as the first U.S. pay-TV operator to distribute its service.
Like the Cablevision deal, there weren't a lot of specific details shared about pricing or packaging. The 5 operators will be able to offer Hulu's content on their advanced set-top boxes. While the set-tops aren't identified, a number of these operators use TiVo DVRs as their advanced set-tops to offer integrated OTT/pay-TV/VOD experiences.
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).
The traditional narrative around online/over-the-top video is that it will incent cord-cutting and cord-nevering. But now, in a twist, instead of a looming battle between OTT and pay-TV, it could well be that we're on the brink of a new era of cooperation between the two, which could have profound implications for everyone in the video ecosystem.
Stepping back for a moment, pay-TV operators have always been in the business of improving the delivery of available video and packaging it into bundles. Initially operators distributed broadcast channels and then in the 70's and 80's, with the advent of satellite delivery, operators began bundling "cable" channels as well (e.g. ESPN, MTV, CNN, USA, etc.).
TiVo Research has released data indicating that time-shifting by viewers of 10 broadcast TV primetime programs to between 4-7 days following their initial airing resulted in approximately $88 million in total lost ad revenue by their respective networks (see chart below).
For these 10 programs, TiVo found that the 4-7 day period increased ratings between 4.1% ("American Idol") to 10.9% ("Modern Family"). Because "American Idol" had the highest average number of ads per episode (61), it had the highest level of lost ad revenue in the 4-7 day period for the full season ($14.4 million). Conversely, "The Good Wife," which had an average of 29 ads per episode, but had the second-lowest 4-7 day ratings increase, had the lowest level of lost ad revenue ($3.6 million).
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).
TiVo's 2013 Millennial Video Entertainment survey reveals that 72% of millennials use free video streaming sources like Hulu, YouTube and network TV sites, making these the most-used source for their video viewing. In second place, cited by 60%, were SVOD services like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus and HBO Go. Just behind SVOD is physical media, cited by 59%, followed by pay-TV in fourth place with 46%.
Millennials' viewing sources differ dramatically vs. all other generations, where pay-TV was the most-used source (with 58%), followed by physical media (56%) and free streaming/SVOD tied for third place with 40%. For both millennials and all other generations, individual purchases, free downloads, antenna and other lagged much further back in usage.
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.
(Note: I will NOT disclose anything about last night's series finale, so fans, you're safe to read on without spoilers.)
Last night was the series finale of the hit AMC show "Breaking Bad." I count myself among the millions of super-fans who fell in love with the series from the start and have been loyal ever since. Importantly though, my viewing experience with Breaking Bad distinguished itself from every other TV show I've ever watched: it was the first one where I watched every single episode on-demand and without ads.
In fact, my experiences with Breaking Bad perfectly illustrate so many of the video industry themes I write about on VideoNuze each day that I thought it would be worth sharing some of them and what I learned.
TiVo has introduced its new line of DVRs dubbed "Roamio," and among other new features, the highlight is out-of-home streaming (note the caveats below). Out-home-streaming means that users with a Roamio DVR will be able to access their stored content on iOS devices (and Android at some point too), effectively unlocking content from the DVR itself.
Out-of-home streaming extends in-home streaming and downloading that have been available via the TiVo Stream device. I've been using Stream since last year and is one of my favorite devices, enabling me to download content before making a trip and then watch when not connected, a great benefit. The 2 higher-end Roamios (Plus and Pro) have TiVo Stream built in, while the base model does not.
I'm pleased to present the 190th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
We start our discussion with data that TiVo Research and Analytics (TRA) released this past Monday, which concluded, among other things, that Netflix does not cannibalize traditional TV viewing. TRA also identified the percentage of respondents who subscribe to Netflix (and other services) who watched "House of Cards." Using these numbers, Colin calculates that about 10 million people watched the program, a healthy amount by any standard (Netflix hasn't publicly released HoC's audience). Colin sees a class of "super-viewers" whose traditional TV consumption is augmented by, not substituted with, Netflix.
One thing that caught my attention in the TRA data was that while Netflix had a 57% adoption rate among respondents, Amazon Prime was right behind it, at 50% (Hulu Plus was further back at 18%). To be fair, it's not clear whether these Prime members are actually watching video included in Prime, or are mainly focused on the unlimited shipping benefit. But, assuming that many DO watch video, it's an impressive number for Amazon, and underscores how far Prime has come in the 2 1/2 years since Instant Videos were launched.
Colin and I discuss Amazon's broader agenda and how its aggressive pursuit of video is strategic in supporting both Prime and the Kindle ecosystem (all of which I described in my post this past Monday). Given Amazon's willingness to operate on razor-thin margins, I foresee the price for licensing high-quality content continuing to rise, which will in turn pinch profitability (and subscriber growth) at pure play OTT providers like Netflix.
Click here to listen to the podcast (16 minutes, 48 seconds)
Flipping through yesterday's Best Buy circular, I noticed an ad (see below), which I believe is indicative of the type of pitches that are going to become increasingly prevalent to prospective cord-cutters and cord-nevers. The ad offers a packaged discount to an over-the-air ClearStream HD antenna from Antennas Direct with a TiVo Premiere and highlights logos from Netflix, Hulu Plus and Pandora. While the ad doesn't explicitly say "Dump your expensive pay-TV service now!," it has several key messages that might as well.
Comcast has announced that Xfinity TV subscribers who use the Xfinity TV Player app on their Android and iOS mobile devices can now download certain TV shows and movies, so they can watch when they're not connected to a broadband network. The download option closely mirrors TiVo's recently announced "Stream" device, which also allows downloading.
As I wrote in my review of TiVo Stream, I think the offline viewing use case is a killer app. Despite the proliferation of 4G services, the reality is there are still plenty of times when connectivity is sub-par or non-existent, particularly in transit situations (e.g. airplanes, cars, trains, etc.). Further, the elimination of unlimited data plans by wireless carriers makes streaming long-form content prohibitively expensive. As a result, the download option is very attractive, especially for travelers.
"Killer app" is surely one of the most cliche terms in technology and one I try hard to avoid using. But today I'm making an exception because, in my opinion, the new TiVo Stream device actually has a bona fide killer app: the ability to wirelessly download recorded programs from a TiVo Premiere DVR to an iOS device for offline, high-quality playback. I've been using Stream mainly for this purpose for the past month and have absolutely fallen in love with the device.
The ability to download recorded programs is huge for several reasons. First and foremost, often when out of the home, it just isn't possible to stream video. A high-quality WiFi network may not be available (for instance, when flying). And even if it is, it may be over-shared, lacking necessary capacity for streaming. Wireless carrier 3G aircards similarly lack capacity, and with 4G aircards, data usage plan caps quickly kick in, making streaming an expensive proposition.
AOL is announcing this morning version 2.0 of its connected TV app, which will include a refreshed UI and advertising support for the first time. The app has been known as "AOL HD" but will now be known as "The AOL On" app. It is available on Samsung and Sony connected TVs and devices, plus Roku, and within a few weeks on TiVo Premiere DVRs. The move is another sign of how major content providers are getting more serious about migrating the online video experience from the desktop to the living room.
At last month's VideoNuze 2012 Online Video Advertising Summit, our closing session was a big picture debate on the future of online video advertising, featuring AOL's Frank Besteiro, NBCU's Peter Naylor, TiVo's Tara Maitra, TubeMogul's Brett Wilson and YouTube's Suzie Reider, which I moderated.
One of the things the group addresses is whether buyers of online video advertising will prefer an impression-based model (akin to traditional TV advertising) or an engagement-based model (akin to search and other forms of online advertising). I believe it's a key question as it goes to the heart of how video advertising will work and the experience viewers will have online. Within this larger question is the omnipresent issue of measurement - when will there be an accepted currency for online video advertising, and what will it be?
I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 135th edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for June 1, 2012. This week we cover 3 different topics: Verizon's announcement of ultra-fast new broadband service tiers (up to 300 mbps); TiVo's new "Stream" companion device which will allow 1-click video downloading to iOS devices and the fresh rumors around Apple introducing a television following CEO Tim Cook's interview at the D10 conference this week. We wrap up on a light-hearted note - the hilarious video from Funny or Die for Under Armour, "Tom Brady's Wicked Accent."
Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 11 seconds)
Streaming video is awesome, but of course it requires you to have a robust broadband connection. Once you're outside your home or business, that's an iffy proposition. WiFi hotspots aren't always available, and even when they are, they're often over-shared so connection quality is too low for video. Wireless 3G or 4G cards are better, but their relatively low data caps seriously crimps viewing. And if you're on a plane, forget streaming entirely, Gogo doesn't cut it at all.
These real-world mobile limitations mean downloading video in advance, rather than streaming it, is the key to on the go viewing. This has been one of the value props of iTunes, Amazon and other services. But the reality is that lots of great content is already sitting on your DVR (and if you're like me, 30K feet is when I most often actually have time to watch any of it). Further, you've already paid a lot of great content with your pay-TV subscription. The problem is that DVR video has been pretty much locked in your home, without an easy way to take it with you. All of above problems are solved with TiVo's new "Stream" companion device, which TiVo announced last week.