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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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Analysis for 'iPad'

  • VideoNuze Report Podcast #126 - Sky's NOW TV; iPad's Data Cap Problems

    I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 126th edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for Mar. 23, 2012. This week finds Colin in London, providing him an even better perspective on our first topic this week, Sky's new over-the-top service called NOW TV, which it will launch this summer. Colin is bullish on NOW TV and likes the lessons it provides for U.S. pay-TV operators.

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  • Comcast's New "AnyPlay Device" Provides Air Cover for iPad Streaming

    Comcast has unveiled AnyPlay which allows subscribers to stream linear TV channels to their iPads and soon Motorola Xoom tablets. AnyPlay is initially available in Denver and Nashville, with other markets to follow. AnyPlay follows similar initiatives from Cablevision and Time Warner Cable last year, which immediately landed those operators in hot water with a number of cable TV networks. At issue was whether the appropriate rights were in place to offer tablet streaming, even within the home.

    Meanwhile Comcast laid low last year, only making on-demand programming available through its Xfinity TV iPad app. It was inevitable that Comcast would also launch linear viewing on the iPad, but I've wondered for a while how it would avoid similar rights challenges. Now it seems the workaround is the "AnyPlay device," a box which connects to the subscriber's wireless home network.

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  • Frequency Launches Slick Flipboard'ish Video App

    Frequency has released a slick video app for the iPad this morning, where videos shared by friends in your social networks are combined with videos from hundreds of content providers to create a compelling personalized experience. Frequency will feel familiar for users of the Flipboard social magazine in terms of its ease of use, immersiveness and customization. Flipboard has helped demonstrate that with the proliferation of content available online, breakthrough packaging and presentation can deliver much higher user value. Frequency aspires to the same goal, but focused specifically on video.

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  • Clearleap Looks to Power More Cable iPad Apps

    Large cable operators like Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision have launched popular iPad apps over the past 6 months, and now technology provider Clearleap is looking to help get other cable operators into the iPad app game (as well as apps for other connected devices). This morning Clearleap is announcing a set of APIs for its Stream On Demand product that allow developers to quickly create an app's front-end user experience while having the back-end processes fulfilled without any custom development.

    iPad and other connected device apps are a critical part of cable operators' larger TV Everywhere strategies of unlocking cable programming from the set-top box and allowing subscribers to watch programming anytime, anywhere and on any device. However, the proliferation of devices, and the need to have programming delivered securely, has created significant complexity and cost to accomplish this goal. Underscoring the challenges, even the largest operator, Comcast, only just last week announced its Xfinity TV app would support video streaming to iPhones/iPod Touches, and it has yet to release this for any Android device. For mid-size and smaller operators who don't have the same resources, iPad and other apps are out of reach.

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  • Forget Cord-Cutting, Greed May Destroy the Cable Industry

    For all the ink that's been spilled over the past year about consumer-driven cord-cutting leading to the demise of the cable industry, could it instead end up that greed will cause the industry's own destruction? Maybe so. With the fracas over Time Warner's iPad app reaching ridiculous new levels each week, the industry is experiencing its own version of the old adage "We have met the enemy and he is us."

    Yesterday's turn of events - Time Warner Cable seeking a declaratory judgment from the U.S. District Court that it has the contractual rights to stream cable programming to its iPad app inside subscribers' homes, and Viacom responding with its own suit against Time Warner Cable - represent a dangerous breakdown in key industry relationships at a time when competitive forces loom larger than ever.

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  • And Now, Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

    Thanks for all the comments, emails, tweets, calls and other feedback on my little April Fool's Day "exclusive," that Netflix planned to acquire HBO, dissolve its channels and add HBO's programs to its iPad app. As with my prior April Fool's Day posts, it was a lot of fun to write, and even more fun to receive the range of reactions (yes, if you still thought it was true by the end, you were not alone!)

    As with all April Fool's Day attempts that seem to work, the key is making the joke just believable enough to elicit the tension of "Wow!" vs. "No Way!" Of course April Fool's Day has become open season on the Internet, meaning that for many, the new standing policy on April 1st is to not believe ANYTHING they read.

    While that raises the bar for me, the good news is that in the online video and pay-TV worlds, things have gotten so tumultuous that what was unthinkable yesterday somehow becomes reality today. Thus quite a few people's reaction to today's "exclusive" was that it was not only plausible, but actually expected. The idea that Netflix could acquire HBO still feels like an awfully big stretch to me, but who knows - someday it could happen.

    Regardless, on Monday, VideoNuze will be back to its serious-minded coverage of the industry. Enjoy the weekend!

     
  • EXCLUSIVE: Netflix to Acquire HBO, Dissolve Channels Into Streaming Library for iPad Use Only

    VideoNuze has learned that Netflix has struck a deal to acquire HBO from Time Warner and intends to dissolve HBO's linear cable channels, with its programs to be incorporated into Netflix's streaming library, available solely on the iPad. Terms of the deal are not yet known, but it is expected to be for stock only, with Time Warner becoming the biggest shareholder in Netflix. VideoNuze interviewed all the key participants late last night.

    The deal is a stunning move for all parties, and reflects the fast-changing nature of the online video and pay-TV industries. First and foremost, the deal appears to be a stark reversal of opinion by Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes who has consistently diminished Netflix's prospects. Bewkes commented, "My informal recent remarks, comparing Netflix's rise to the Albanian army's chances of taking over the world got me thinking afterwards, geez, is it possible that I've underestimated Albania's might, and therefore Netflix's potential? So I decided to study up on my history, and it turns out that back in 1378, Albania actually conquered almost three-quarters of the world's population. That was an eye-opener and really made me second-guess myself."

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  • Time Warner Cable iPad App Disrupting the Cable Industry

    It's been less than 2 weeks since Time Warner Cable announced its iPad app, but the fur has been flying ever since. In the WSJ's latest coverage today, it details how TWC is continuing to insist that its contracts with cable networks give it the right to stream their linear channels to iPads in subscribers' homes. Conversely, multiple network groups, including Scripps, Viacom and Discovery have disagreed, leading to an increasingly public internecine industry fight.

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  • Will Cable TV Networks Kill Their Golden Goose?

    I've been dismayed, though not entirely surprised, by reactions from cable TV networks over the launch of Time Warner Cable's new iPad app earlier this week. A pair of articles, in Adweek and the WSJ summarize various networks' protestations about the new iPad app, namely that it is an unauthorized use of their content by Time Warner Cable, per their interpretations of their affiliation agreements with TWC.

    That may well be the case, and TWC may well be pushing the edge of the envelope in this implementation of its larger TV Everywhere goals. However, in my opinion the bigger question that cable network heads should be asking themselves is whether, by resisting initiatives such as these, they want to risk contributing to killing their golden goose, or whether they want to do their part in helping usher in the future? What they decide to do is at the heart of what role the pay-TV industry will play in the online video era.

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  • Comcast's iPad Streaming is a Milestone for Pay-TV

    This week Comcast began streaming certain shows to their Xfinity TV iPad app. I've watched a few shows already and played around a bit. My reaction is mostly positive; the app is fast (though there's a slight blank screen delay before playback begins) and browsing is straightforward. The biggest issue, as others have noted this week, is minimal content selection. True, when compared to Netflix, for example, Xfinity TV still looks thin, despite the 3,000+ hours Comcast says is there.

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  • Samsung Sells 2 Million Galaxy Tab Tablets

    When it comes to tablets, yes, it seems there is life beyond the iPad. Samsung reported this week that globally it sold 2 million of its 7-inch Galaxy Tab tablets. Granted Apple sold 7.3 million iPads in the same period, but the iPad's also been on the market for 6 months longer. Regardless, the Tab's early performance is good more news for mobile video. And since the Tab runs Android, which supports Flash, that means access to all the video available online, a huge difference compared to the iPad.
     
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  • mDialog Powering Video Ads in Shaw Media's Global TV iPad App

    Mobile video ad platform mDialog has been selected by Shaw Media of Canada to power video ads in its Global TV iPad app. The app was released on December 4th and quickly rose to the top of the free chart of the Canadian version of App Store. The app allows full episode viewing of various TV programs.

    With mDialog, Shaw will be able to insert targeted, real-time, non-skippable ads into its programs. Given the iPad's superior touch-screen engagement, more interactive ad executions will no doubt follow. The mDialog platform also provides real-time reporting and analytics.

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  • Comcast To Offer Live, VOD Access on Tablets

    Comcast is announcing this morning that it will allow subscribers to stream live programs to their iPads or Android tablets later this year (no definite time disclosed). While the caveat is that only in-home usage will only be permitted, the benefits are still meaningful. For instance, subscribers who were paying for (or considering paying for) additional outlets in 2nd and 3rd rooms, which are only casually used, could now save money by not taking service in those rooms and using their iPads instead.

    Further, subscribers can now watch in rooms that possibly didn't even have a TV. I'm familiar with this example, as I've used my iPad to watch Netflix content in various areas of my house that don't have TVs or cable service. Presumably the roadmap calls for out-of-home viewing as well, giving it full Sling-like benefits (at no additional cost). That would provide even more value to tablet owners.

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  • Online/Mobile Video's Top 10 of 2010

    2010 was another spectacular year of growth and innovation in online and mobile video, so it's no easy feat to choose the 10 most significant things that happened during the year. However, I've taken my best shot below, and offered explanations. No doubt I've forgotten a few things, but I think it's a pretty solid list. As much as happened in 2010 though, I expect even more next year, with plenty of surprises.

    My top 10 are as follows:

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  • Jivox Launches New Analytics Platform and Interactive Ad Unit

    Jivox, an online video ad technology and ad network is announcing a new analytics platform and interactive ad unit this morning that help move online video ad effectiveness beyond traditional ROI metrics like impressions and clicks. The analytics platform, dubbed "BrandGage" lets advertisers measure engagement actions in the ad that measure, in real-time, where the user's purchase intent lies. The new ad unit, Quattro, allows advertisers to include multiple engagement opportunities that tie to the different levels of purchase intent.

    Diaz Nesamoney, Jivox's CEO and founder walked me through an example of Quattro yesterday and how engagement is measured in BrandGage. In the mockup below, the user would be prompted to roll over the top of a standard-looking 300x250 rich media ad for the movie Alice in Wonderland and be presented with this panel. A range of interactive widgets is shown, such as watching more video, reading reviews, learning about show times/buying tickets, finding merchandise, downloading assets and sharing with friends. In addition the user can post to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and see a scroll of relevant tweets.

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  • Comcast's New Xfinity TV App: Nice Start, Lots More To Do

    Comcast unveiled its new Xfinity TV app today for iOS devices, and after downloading and playing around with it a bit, I'd say it's a nice start, though there is a lot more to do. The free app is ultimately meant to allow Comcast digital video subscribers to use it as a guide, program their DVRs, search for shows in the On Demand catalog, view streaming content, create watch lists and access social networking sites to share the viewing experience.

    In the press release Comcast noted that the last 3 features will be coming soon. Of these, the viewing feature on the iOS devices is the most interesting, as it will allow authenticated subscribers to view available content wherever they may be. That's the vision of TV Everywhere, and it's good to see Comcast bridging its content to non-Comcast set-top boxes (which is actually quite a rarity in the cable TV business). It's also an example of how Comcast will, in a sense, be going over the top of other pay-TV operators, when its subscribers watch video outside of Comcast territories.

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  • 6 Items of Interest for the Week of Oct. 18th

    It was another busy week for online/mobile video, and so VideoNuze is continuing its Friday practice of curating 5-6 interesting industry news items that we weren't able to cover this week. Read them now or take them with you this weekend!

    Networks block Google TV to protect themselves
    Yesterday news started breaking that ABC, CBS and NBC are blocking access by Google TV. There are numerous concerns being cited - potential disruption of advertising, encouraging cord-cutting, incenting piracy, diminished branding, unsatisfactory ad splits with Google, and general worry about Google invading the living room. Each item on its own is probably not enough to motivate the blocking action, but taken together they are. Still, doesn't it feel a little foolish that broadcasters would differentiate between a computer screen and a TV screen like this? For Google, it's more evidence that nothing comes easy when trying to work with Hollywood. I'm trying to find out more about what's happening behind the scenes.

    TWC Lines Up For ESPN Online Kick
    An important milestone for TV Everywhere may come as early as next Monday, as #2 cable operator Time Warner is planning to make ESPN viewing available online to paying subscribers. Remote access is part of the recent and larger retransmission consent deal between Disney and TWC. TV Everywhere initiatives have been slow to roll out, amid cable programmers' reluctance.  Further proving that remote authenticated access works and that it's attractive with a big name like ESPN would increase TV Everywhere's momentum.

    Hulu Plus, Take Two: How's $4.95 a Month?
    Rumors are swirling that Hulu may cut the price of its nascent Hulu Plus subscription service in half, to $4.95/mo. That would be a tacit recognition of Hulu Plus's minimal value proposition, largely due to its skimpy content offering. As I initially reported in August, over 88% of Hulu Plus content is available for free on Hulu.com. More important, Netflix's streaming gains have really marginalized Hulu Plus. Netflix's far greater resources and subscriber base have enabled it to spend far bigger on content acquisition. Even at $4.95, I continue to see Hulu Plus as an underwhelming proposition in an increasingly noisy landscape.

    Viacom Hires Superstar Lawyer to Handle YouTube Appeal
    Viacom is showing no signs of giving up on its years-long copyright infringement litigation against Google and YouTube. This week the company retained Theodore Olson, a high-profile appellate and Supreme Court specialist to handle its appeal. While most of the world has moved on and is trying to figure out how to benefit from YouTube's massive scale, Viacom charges on in court.

    Verizon to sell Galaxy Tab starting November 11th for $599.99
    Verizon is determined to play its part in the tablet computer craze, this week announcing with Samsung that it will sell the latter's new "Tab" tablet for $600 beginning on November 11th. The move follows last week's announcement by Verizon that it will begin selling the iPad on Oct. 28th, which was widely interpreted as the first step toward Verizon offering the iPhone early next year. Apple currently owns the tablet market, and it remains to be seen whether newcomers like the Tab can break through. For his part, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said on Apple's earnings call this week that all other tablets are "dead on arrival." Note, if you want to see the "Tab" and learn more about how connected and mobile devices are transforming the video landscape, come to the VideoSchmooze breakfast at the Samsung Experience on Wed., Dec. 1st.

    One-Third of US Adults Skip Live TV: Report
    A fascinating new study from Say Media (the entity formed from the recent merger of VideoEgg and Six Apart), suggesting that 56 million, or one-third of adult Internet users, have reduced their live TV viewership. The research identified 2 categories: "Opt Outs" (22 million) who don't own a TV or haven't watched TV in the last week and stream more than 4 hours/week, and "On Demanders" (34 million) who also stream more than 4 hours/week and report watching less live TV than they did a year ago. Not surprisingly, relative to Internet users as a whole, both Opt Outs and On Demanders skew younger and higher educated, though only the latter had higher income than the average Internet user. This type of research is important because the size of both the ad-supported and paid markets for live, first-run TV is far larger than catalog viewing. To the extent its appeal is diminishing as this study suggests poses big problems for everyone in the video ecosystem.


     
  • iPad Users' Click-Through Rates On Video Ads Are Running Higher

    Click-through rates on video ads shown to iPad users are much higher than similarly formatted ads shown to iPod Touch, iPhone or Android users according to new research released today by Rhythm New Media, a large mobile video ad network.

    In analyzing their viewers' behavior in Q3, Rhythm found that iPad users' click-throughs on Rhythm's "interactive pre-roll" unit were 2.32%, which is 58% higher than the 1.47% for the iPod Touch, which came next. Rhythm CEO Ujjal Kohli, who I spoke to last week, said the data suggested the iPad's larger, more immersive environment is leading to more engagement with ads and users' higher inclination to click-through, particularly when more video is involved.

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  • Nielsen: iPad Already In 3.6% of U.S. Homes in Q2. How's That Compare?

    I was checking out Nielsen's Q2 '10 Home Technology Report findings and one stat jumped out at me: 3.6% of U.S. homes now own an iPad. The percentage would actually be a little higher than Apple's own data given that it reported 3.27 million iPads sold in the quarter ending June 26th (assuming there are approximately 110-115 million U.S. households).

    Either way, when you think of iPad sales in household penetration terms, the question that comes to mind is how long after their introductions did digital products and services like DVR, HDTV, broadband Internet, VOD and others reach 3.6%? I don't know the answer, but I suspect it was far longer than a single quarter.

    With Apple's next quarter performance due on Oct. 18th, we'll see how many more millions of iPads were sold in the 3rd calendar quarter of 2010. And of course with Q4, the holiday quarter, now underway, the biggest wave of purchases is just ahead. At some point it will be fascinating to overlay the iPad's early years' quarterly household penetration curve on other digital products and services. No doubt it will tell a remarkable story of success.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).


     
  • PlayOn Upgrades to Allow Streaming to iPad

    PlayOn has upgraded its software to allow its Premium users to stream video from their PC to their iPad using either 3G or WiFi networks. The upgrade adds to PlayOn's HTML5 solution for streaming to the iPhone and iPod Touch announced in August. As a result PlayOn users can now access their own media files plus lots of premium streaming content when out-of-home. This is akin to what Sling enables except with PlayOn there's no hardware purchase or rental required. Jeff Lawrence, CEO of MediaMall Technologies, the company behind PlayOn, gave me a quick update recently.

    The PlayOn software runs on the PC and streams to DLNA-compliant supported devices such as the major gaming consoles and digital set-tops like Moxi, Netgear's EVA2000 and others. After a 14-day trial, pricing is either one-time $80 or annual ($30 for first year and $20/year thereafter). Jeff wouldn't share the exact number of paying subscribers, but did say PlayOn is getting 1,000-3,000 downloads per day and is converting approximately 30%, so it sounds like it might be gaining 300-1,000 paid users per day (I'm guessing it's probably at the low end, and I don't know the churn rate).

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