Amazon will acquire Twitch, the live-streaming video game platform, for $970 million. Until very recently Google was heavily rumored to be acquiring Twitch. Twitch is Amazon's 2nd-biggest acquisition ever, after its $1.2 billion purchase of Zappos in 2009. Twitch enables users to live-stream and record themselves playing video games, which tens of millions of monthly visitors watch.
Twitch is Amazon's biggest investment in online video to date and follows other video initiatives including Prime Instant Videos, an escalating slate of original programs, numerous high-profile licensing deals (including for various HBO programs and for the PBS drama "Downton Abbey") as well as the recent launch of the Fire TV connected TV device.
I'm pleased to present the 238th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week we talk about the now fizzled Fox-Time Warner deal and the imperative of investing for the future. As I wrote, I think the deal's collapse is actually a positive outcome for Fox, as it was a risky bet to double down on the saturated and stressed pay-TV ecosystem. A more forward-looking, growth-oriented investment strategy would capitalize on changes being driven by online and mobile video.
Two of the biggest changes are among viewers and advertisers. Illustrating how younger viewers' attitudes are quickly evolving, we discuss new data showing YouTube stars are now more influential among American teens than Hollywood celebrities.
Meanwhile, underscoring how advertisers are now able to take their messages directly to consumers, we note that Nike dominated World Cup branded video viewership even though it wasn't even an official event partner. Another great example is Acura's creative sponsorship of Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee."
Last but not least, this week brought news that Netflix's subscription revenue for Q2 '14 edged out HBO's for the same period - an important milestone showing how OTT business models are coming of age.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 47 seconds)
Likely not to surprise anyone with a teen in the house, new research commissioned by Variety found that the 5 personalities with the most influence among American 13-18 year-olds are all YouTube stars. As well, half of the top 20 are also YouTube stars, with the other half well-known mainstream celebrities.
1,500 teens were asked about 20 personalities (10 had the most subscribers on YouTube and 10 had the highest Q score among teens). Questions focused on approachability, authenticity and other measures deemed important to their influence. Answers were then scored on a 100-point scale to determine the final rankings.
Categories: Indie Video
I'm pleased to present the 237th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week we dive deep into the question of whether YouTube is indomitable or vulnerable to new competitors. Colin observes that the 45% revenue split YouTube keeps has opened the door for everyone from Vessel (former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar's startup) to Yahoo to others to approach YouTube stars about better deal terms. Major MCNs like Maker Studios (acquired by Disney) and Fullscreen (rumored to be acquired by Otter Media) are expanding beyond YouTube with their own properties.
However, I don't see much changing with the revenue split, except maybe the largest players getting improved terms. For both established and startup content providers, YouTube offers unparalleled audience reach, publishing tools and monetization. I offer a few examples as proof of YouTube's power: PewDiePie (which now has an astounding 29 million subscribers), Vice News (a pure YouTube news channel now able to take over the NYTimes.com's masthead ad) and Sorted Food (a British startup that has gained 870K+ subscribers on YouTube and now tops its Food category).
For all of these content providers and tons of others, YouTube provides an open, flexible distribution platform unlike anything before it in the media business. Ad splits will continue to be a bone of contention, but YouTube is poised to only get stronger going forward.
Maker Studios' NewFronts presentation last night illustrated two of online video's biggest trends - the rise of short-form as a bona fide programming format and the intensifying battle for attention of millennial audiences. Maker is already a juggernaut, with 6 billion views per month, but last night's ambitious programming agenda - combined with its new access to Disney's treasure chest of iconic characters/brands - underscore Maker's potential to keep remaking the video landscape.
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
It's becoming harder and harder to remember the days when YouTube was principally known for its quirky user-generated videos featuring cats on skateboards and the like. The evidence of YouTube's transformation into a legitimate video distribution powerhouse seems to pop up on an almost daily basis. Here are a few of the disparate items that have hit my radar:
I'm pleased to present the 219th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia, who was at the TV Connect conference this week in London. First, up, Colin shares some of what he heard from Francisco Varela, YouTube's global director of platform partnerships. Francisco talked about YouTube taking back development of their apps from Smart TV manufacturers so users can have more immersive experiences.
We then turn our attention to the settlement of the Google-Viacom litigation, over alleged copyright infringement by YouTube, dating to 2007. It's legitimate to ask if there was ultimately any point to the litigation. As I explain though, I agree that at a minimum the litigation accelerated the development of YouTube's Content ID system which has been very valuable to the entire ecosystem.
Last, we also discuss new research from Vubiquity which found that 58% of respondents said they're interested in downloading TV shows and movies included in their pay-TV subscription. This echoes my bullishness on TiVo Stream's download feature which I've found extremely useful.
Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 24 seconds)
Big media companies are often cast as lumbering giants, slow to recognize change and even slower to embrace it. But for Disney, that stereotype looks increasingly inappropriate, as the company continues making moves to better position itself for the vastly different upcoming online video era.
Yesterday's report that Disney is mulling an acquisition of Maker Studios for $500 million, one of the biggest of the YouTube multichannel networks ("MCNs") with over 500 million videos viewed/month in January, is the latest sign that Disney recognizes the future rules of the road in the media industry will be far different than they were in the past. Maker - and other big MCNs - underscore 3 of the biggest emerging rules: (1) that talent can now break big without the backing of the traditional media, (2) that YouTube is a bona fide new distribution platform and (3) that traditional media's grip on millennials may be slipping.
Comcast has announced that it will acquire Time Warner Cable in an all-stock transaction valued at $45.2 billion. Comcast is already the biggest video and broadband provider in the U.S. and will now get even bigger, assuming the deal is approved. Comcast has committed to divest around 3 million of TWC's video subscribers to stay below 30% of the total U.S. pay-TV market, so the combined company would have approximately 30M video subscribers. Broadband subscribers would be a little less than 30M.
For me, the big takeaway from the deal is that in the broadband era, scale matters a lot - and to compete effectively, a company simply has to have it. Nearly ubiquitous broadband and wireless connectivity, plus massive proliferation of devices, have enabled online-only players to have easy access to massive global audiences. This context has helped fuel the rise of companies including Google, Facebook, Amazon, YouTube, Netflix, Twitter and many others. With innovative services and solid execution, it's now possible to create huge businesses quicker than ever.
According to a new report from video analytics provider Pixability, beauty brands are dominated on YouTube by independent beauty personalities and video bloggers ("vloggers") in terms of video views and engagement. Pixability found that major brands have just 3% of the 14.9 billion beauty-related video views on YouTube. YouTube vloggers, "haul girls," and other beauty content creators control 97% of conversations around beauty topics and related brands on YouTube.
FOX Sports Digital (FSD) partnered with YouTube to create the FOX Sports Digital VideoFest, a great example of how established media can tap into YouTube's vast online video talent pool. For the Digital VideoFest, YouTube selected 12 of its channel creators and brought them together for several days at YouTube Space LA. Creators were challenged to produce a pilot for a potential web series, with the winner chosen by a panel of 4 FSD executives. The Digital VideoFest was sponsored by Ford Fusion, with the winner receiving a $1 million development deal.
Judging by the pre-show buzz, the main focus at this year's CES (which kicks off next Tuesday) will be on Ultra High-Definition TV, or "4K" TV. If this seems familiar, it's because UHDTVs were the main focus of last year's CES as well. Clearly TV manufacturers have settled on UHDTV as the next "big thing" to motivate consumers to upgrade. However, in 2013, UHDTV's high prices, impractically large screen sizes and lack of 4K content led to extremely limited adoption in the U.S. So the question is: will UHDTVs find better success in the U.S. in 2014?
Poor quality online video experiences cost brands in numerous ways, according to a new Brightcove survey. 62% of respondents are likely to blame the brand, rather than their ISP or video hosting provider such as YouTube, when encountering poor quality video. In addition, 60% of respondents experiencing poor video quality said it would dissuade them from social engagement with the brand, 57% said they'd be less likely to share a low quality video and 23% said low quality would make them hesitant to purchase from the brand.
The Brightcove survey highlights quality issues with YouTube specifically, which brands have aggressively embraced for its massive reach. But while YouTube offers huge audience potential, 75% of survey respondents reported experiencing buffering and freezing on the site, with 33% saying these problems affect half of the videos they watch. This leads to about 1/3 of viewers experiencing problems abandoning the video rather than waiting for the buffering to stop.
Categories: Brand Marketing
YouTube is now getting nearly 40% of its views from mobile devices, up from 6% in 2011. That nugget was shared by Google's CEO Larry Page in its Q3 2013 earnings call yesterday. YouTube is the latest content provider to share strong mobile viewership data; in the past several weeks BBC said its iPlayer mobile views are now up to 32% of total, VEVO said 50% of its views are mobile and PBS Kids said 75% of its are mobile.
These are clearly leaders in mobile and their viewership shows mobile's potential. More often these days, I'm hearing content providers say 20-30% is the range for their mobile views. Note, if you want to learn more about mobile video, both VEVO and PBS Kids (along with ESPN and Beachfront Media) will have executives speaking on the mobile video session at VideoSchmooze on Dec. 3rd (early bird discounted registration is now available).
With 3.7 billion video ads served, the combined AOL-Adap.tv has landed atop comScore's September 2013 U.S. Online Video Rankings. (see chart below) It's the first time that AOL has outranked Google (primarily YouTube), which dropped to second with 3.2 billion video ads served. On its own in August, Adap.tv served over 2.5 billion video ads. AOL-Adap.tv was also tops in total ad minutes in September with over 1.6 billion, followed by BrightRoll with nearly 1.3 billion.
I'm pleased to present the 193rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week Colin and I discuss our experiences with Chromecast, adding details to our respective previous posts (here and here), as well as our initial podcast from a few weeks ago just after the device was announced.
Overall, we're both very positive about Chromecast. Among other things, we like the easy set-up, the "tab-casting" feature, and of course, the low price of $35. We both believe it is hugely strategic for YouTube and other video providers who are outside the pay-TV universe to gain access to the living room. Colin has had a few issues with Netflix crashing his Nexus 4 when trying to use Chromecast (though when it has worked the quality has been strong) and he has had trouble using Chromecast's capability of turning the TV on and off.
I haven't had any problems using Netflix, though the streaming quality feels slightly lower than when I watch on my iPad or via my connected Blu-ray player. I did have problems with Chromecast when trying to watch golf and suspect it would be difficult to watch faster-action sports.
Still, we're both impressed and believe Google deserves lots of credit. We're both expecting big things from Chromecast this holiday season.
On a closing note, we'd like to thank all of you for listening to our weekly podcasts. It's been an incredibly busy summer for online video and we both believe the best is yet to come. For those of you with a long Labor Day weekend ahead, enjoy, and we'll see you in September!
Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 16 seconds)
Underscoring how important YouTube has become as a marketing channel, a new study (free download here) from Pixability has found that all but one of the Top 100 Global Brands (as identified by Interbrand) now maintain a presence on YouTube. Together these 99 brands have generated 9.5 billion views on YouTube across 2,200+ channels, with over 258K videos posted.
Beyond the overall volume of activity, the Pixability study discloses a wide variation in the activity level and effectiveness of the brands' channels. Most striking is that less than half the brand videos posted gained 1,000 views or more while just 1,300 videos - a tiny fraction of all the total posted - achieved more than 1 million views. Further, 37% of brand channels haven't been updated with new content in over 120 days and many brands' channels were simply inactive.
Categories: Brand Marketing
Three items last week brought to mind one central question I've long wondered about: can traditionally free, ad-supported online video providers make the leap to a paid, subscription model? The first item was a long piece in Variety that chronicled the struggles the first set of YouTube content partners trying subscriptions is having upselling their free viewers. Second, Reuters broke the news that Machinima, one of the biggest online video players (and a big YouTube partner) is planning to go it alone in creating its own subscription service to complement its free, ad-supported offering. And third was the milestone news that Netflix, by far the most successful online subscription service, garnered 14 Emmy nominations, including 9 for "House of Cards" alone.
How do these all tie together?
I'm pleased to present the 179th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. Yesterday, YouTube confirmed that it will offer content partners the ability to charge for subscriptions. In what its calling a pilot program, 53 subscription channels are being launched, some from established brands like UFC, PGA, National Geographic and Jim Henson, and many more from less well-known content partners.
In this week's podcast Colin and I discuss whether this is a big deal or not. Colin's more bullish than I am, seeing it as a very important piece in the YouTube puzzle, adding to existing advertising, rental and purchase monetization options.
I agree it's smart move by YouTube, but I don't think it's a game-changer. While I see this as the right thing to offer content partners - especially those with huge audiences on YouTube - this is akin to "freemium" type option that will require partners to very clearly differentiate the incremental content available in their subscription tiers in order to convert a small percentage of their free viewers to monthly subscribers.
A complicating factor is that for many users, YouTube subscriptions will be on top of - not a substitute for - already expensive pay-TV monthly bills. Then there's also a Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon or other SVOD subscriptions which already make a claim on finite entertainment dollars too. Lastly, YouTube is perceived as a "free" site by many, so it will take significant promotion by channels to persuade users to pay.
Bottom line: YouTube is doing right by its content partners in offering this capability, but it's up to the content partners themselves to make it successful. My guess is for most partners, advertising will continue to dominate their YouTube-related revenue for a long time to come.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 15 seconds)