Yesterday’s announcement by Roku, that it would begin offering SVOD and ad-free premium cable TV networks (what Roku calls “Premium Subscriptions”) within The Roku Channel, is the latest sign that subscription video services are turning to bigger third party platforms to add and retain paying subscribers. Despite all the industry excitement over direct-to-consumer (“DTC”) business models, third party distribution remains critical.
Roku’s move evokes what Amazon has been doing with its Amazon Channels program for just over 3 years, which I've been bullish on from the beginning. Prime subscribers are able to choose from dozens of different small and large SVOD services and premium cable TV networks and have the fees billed directly to their credit card on file with Amazon. Free trials are commonplace and the content is viewed seamlessly within the Prime Video app on multiple devices.
I’m pleased to present the 446th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
YouTube has long been the 800-pound gorilla of online video advertising; now it is positioning itself for further gains in premium video. On this week’s podcast, Colin and I discuss a couple of the highlights: YouTube’s recent decision to add over 100 movies for free, ad-supported viewing and to shift its originals strategy from an SVOD model (YouTube Premium) to ad-supported.
As we explore, there is another interesting angle here as well, which is the interplay between Roku and YouTube. As I wrote earlier this week, The Roku Channel’s success was no doubt an influence on YouTube’s decision to launch free movies. As well, Roku’s huge footprint of connected TVs (as well as others like Chromecast, etc.) has created a living room environment perfect for longer viewing times and a more TV-like experience that YouTube is capitalizing on.
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Some great reporting from Ad Age over the past couple weeks reveals how Amazon and Google are ramping up in premium video advertising. Given the size and respective positioning of both companies, their initiatives are worth paying close attention to.
First, on Google, Ad Age reported that YouTube has begun to offer feature length movies like “The Terminator,” “Rocky” and “Legally Blonde” for free and with ad support (note all are also available on The Roku Channel). They’re part of around 100 movies YouTube has collected in a bid to further boost YouTube viewership and give advertisers more access to premium, brand safe content.
YouTube has thoroughly dominated free, ad-supported online video practically since its launch over 13 years ago. Over the years there have been lots of competitors who have come and gone, unable to compete with the sheer volume of traffic and monetization potential that YouTube offered independent content creators.
But a new battle is escalating for the attention of YouTube’s most important creators. Twitch, the e-gaming streaming site Amazon acquired 4 years ago for nearly a billion dollars, is making aggressive offers to YouTube’s top creators to help broaden Twitch’s appeal. Per a Bloomberg article yesterday, and others that have preceded it, Twitch is offering creators minimum guarantees that can run to several million dollars per year, plus shares of ad and subscription revenues.
Another sign of connected TVs’ ascendance: in a blog post on Friday, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said that its users are now watching an average of over 180 million hours of YouTube video per day on TV screens. To put that in perspective, given the 1.9 billion logged-in users YouTube says it has per month, it would mean an average of almost 11 minutes per day per user watching YouTube on TV.
No doubt that’s far less that the average Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video subscriber spends watching those services on TV. And it also pales in comparison to the over 50% of YouTube consumption on mobile devices the company has touted for several years now.
One of the biggest challenges all ad-supported video providers face these days is how to optimally balance the viewer’s and the advertiser’s experiences. Given the range of non-ad-supported outlets (e.g. Netflix, Amazon, etc.), viewers are getting more accustomed to the pleasure of uninterrupted consumption. Meanwhile, advertisers are more challenged than ever to have their messages seen and their spending optimized.
There’s probably no better example of how to achieve the balance than YouTube’s TrueView ad format, which all of us have no doubt encountered and acted on, since its launch 6 years ago. With the choice to skip the ad after 5 seconds of countdown, viewers feel like they’re in control. And because advertisers don’t pay unless a minimum of 30 seconds of the ad has been watched, the TrueView format is highly cost-effective.
Comcast announced this morning that YouTube has been launched on its X1 set-top boxes, further supporting Comcast’s strategy of becoming an “aggregator of aggregators.” Comcast integrated Netflix into X1 last November, the first major milestone of wrapping popular online video services into X1, which vastly simplifies viewers’ experiences.
Billions of YouTube videos will now be available to X1 subscribers, equally accessible as Comcast’s own live, on-demand and DVR programming as well as online sources like Netflix. YouTube video will also be filtered into the Xfinity On Demand menu, and be available via the X1 voice remote. X1 users can search YouTube by voice or text by topic (beauty, cooking, music, etc.), by specific names of talent, shows and by live-streams.
OpenSlate, which helps online video ad buyers understand YouTube content in order to plan and optimize their ad spending, has released a post-campaign brand safety auditing solution. The new solution leverages the same data set OpenSlate has collected on 350 million plus YouTube videos, allowing buyers to close the loop and better understand how their campaigns delivered against brand safety parameters.
Nielsen announced this morning that it will begin giving video clients credit in its Digital Content Ratings service for views generated on Facebook and YouTube. Hulu will also start giving certain content partners credit for current series available on its streaming service.
The move is significant because it means an independent third party measurement service will be providing audience metrics that can be used when aggregating total viewing across platforms. It’s particularly noteworthy because video providers are leveraging the “distributed model” by pumping video through YouTube, Facebook and other social media platforms to massively expand their reach and drive their business models.
Ten years ago, in my pre-VideoNuze days, I wrote “A World Awash in Video,” for my then once per month e-newsletter. Based on numerous recentIy announced initiatives, I predicted that we were “on the cusp of experiencing an explosion in the quantity of high-quality video available” and that all of these choices would create a “golden age of video.”
Of course that was all before Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and many others exploded. My main premise - that broadband’s open platform, which removed the traditional friction of reaching audiences - was a powerful catalyst that would fuel a massive escalation of video production.
Indeed, there’s no doubt that we have more choices than ever, but reviewing last week’s news, it’s clear we ain’t seen nothing yet. We are on the brink of being even more awash in video than ever. And one big difference vs. 10 years ago is that today’s boom is driven by companies that all have extraordinary resources and very strong incentives to invest heavily in video.
Here’s a quick recap:
Categories: Indie Video
I’m pleased to present the 364th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
First, Colin and I are proud to announce our very first podcast sponsor, Akamai Technologies, which will show its Media Acceleration capabilities and range of cloud-based solutions at the NABShow in Las Vegas, in booth SL3324. Click here to schedule a meeting.
Colin was in London for the TV Connect show earlier this week and on today’s podcast, he shares his 3 top takeaways. Meanwhile earlier this week I was in NYC for the Advanced Advertising conference and I then share my 3 top takeaways.
As you’ll hear, data was on both of our lists. Interestingly though, our conversation reveals a very different approach to how users’ data is being treated. Colin elaborates on the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), which will enforce minimum collection standards on Internet companies in Europe, whereas just this week, the U.S. House voted to repeal the broadband privacy rules.
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Click here to listen to the podcast (24 minutes, 3 seconds)
YouTube’s app will be added to Comcast’s X1 set-top box later this year, the companies announced this morning. The partnership is a win for both companies and for X1 users. YouTube gains seamless access to millions of X1 users who no longer have to switch inputs to a connected TV device to tap into YouTube’s massive video library on their TVs. For Comcast, integrated YouTube further expands X1’s value proposition as an all-in-one TV/video device.
Of note, the companies said that X1 users will be able to search the YouTube catalog with the X1 voice remote control. Searches for a favorite actor’s clips, a specific music video, recipes, workout routines and more will all be available when users add the word “YouTube” to their voice search request. The YouTube app will bring up relevant results in the same way as, for example, doing the same search on Siri with an iPhone.
I’m pleased to present the 355th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week we discuss four topics that caught our attention and we wrote about: research from GFK MRI that 30% of U.S. millennials are now “cordless” (here), Netflix’s move into reality TV programming (here); Google enabling YouTube ad targeting based on users’ searches (here) and the new chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai (here). We dig into all of these topics and discuss their implications.
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Last Friday, while most of the world was focused on the presidential inauguration, Google announced that YouTube advertisers will now be able to target their ads based on users’ past Google searches, as well as their demographic information. Depending how this is executed, there could have significant upside to YouTube’s advertisers, further incenting them to shift budgets from TV to YouTube.
In a blog post, YouTube’s director, product management Diya Jolly provided the example of a user who is searching for winter coats on Google and is then presented with video ads by a particular retailer on YouTube. No doubt we have all had the experience of searching for a product, only to have ads immediately start appearing in web sites we subsequently visit. The same would now happen, but with video ads on YouTube.
At last, Election Day is here. Tonight tens of millions of Americans will be avidly following the returns. But rather than everyone huddling around their TVs to their favorite TV network to get the updates, tonight there will be an abundance of live streaming from a variety of traditional and digital news outlets, capitalizing on capabilities available from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. As a result, how Americans keep track of who’s winning will be more varied than ever.
I'm pleased to present the 346th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week Colin and I discuss YouTube’s continued success, picking up on my post from earlier this week. Google’s executive team highlighted YouTube’s contribution to the company’ Q3 ’16 financial results. One of the big reasons is the viewer- and advertiser-friendly TrueView ad format, which can be skipped in 5 seconds.
But TrueView’s popularity has created a high bar for ad-free subscription services based on YouTube content, to succeed. Vessel was one victim and now even YouTube’s own YouTube Red SVOD service, which has a reported 1.5 million subscribers, is under the same pressure. Colin and I explore the issues YouTube Red faces.
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A bit lost amid last week’s blizzard of news (e.g. AT&T-Time Warner deal, Google Fiber pausing, Vessel being sold and closed, Vine shutting down) was that Google’s strong Q3 results included yet another positive report on how well YouTube is doing. Senior Alphabet/Google executives have been touting YouTube’s progress for a while now, and last week’s earnings and call continued the streak.
Of course, Google doesn’t break out YouTube’s individual results, so it’s impossible to know exactly what its financials look like. However, some analysts have estimated YouTube’s annual revenue at approximately $10 billion per year, which would translate to 10%-15% of Google’s revenue.
I'm pleased to present the 341st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Over the past few years, online video viewing has become a completely mainstream activity. There are no better indicators of this shift than viewers’ adoption of mobile and connected TV devices for watching increasingly long-form entertainment programming. Yesterday’s FreeWheel VMR for Q2 ’16 revealed key data around these trends, which Colin and I dig into today.
Critical for mobile video viewing (which we explored in depth on last week’s podcast) to expand further is improving viewing experiences. This is being addressed in lots of ways, and I continue to believe that downloading, for offline viewing, is one of the main solutions. Colin and I also discuss the value of downloading, in the context of YouTube Go, a new offline viewing app launched earlier this week.
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Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 56 seconds)
Yesterday YouTube announced YouTube Go, a new mobile app that provides sophisticated new features for offline video use. While YouTube Go will initially only be available in India, it will no doubt be introduced in other geographies once proven in.
YouTube Go builds on YouTube’s embrace of downloading for offline viewing in India and other Asian territories begun nearly two years ago with the introduction of YouTube Offline, which allowed downloading of certain videos for viewing within 48 hours. Earlier this year YouTube added the “Smart Offline” feature that allows users to schedule their downloads to take advantage of off-peak data use.
The first of the three presidential debates is coming up on Monday night, and in addition to the spotlight being on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, it looks like a big focus will be on live-streaming. That’s because Facebook, YouTube and Twitter - each of which is pushing hard into live-streaming - will stream the debates, in partnership with a variety of major media companies.
YouTube will be streaming in partnership with PBS, Fox News, The Washington Post, Bloomberg and Telemundo as part of its #voteIRL initiative. Facebook has once again partnered with ABC News (as it did for the conventions) to stream the debates, which it will enhance with viewers’ comments and conversations in Facebook Live. Finally, as part of its previously-announced partnership, Twitter will be streaming Bloomberg TV’s coverage of the debates.