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Analysis for 'Amazon'

  • VideoNuze Podcast #393: Hulu’s CEO Departs; Amazon Studios’ Brain Drain

    I’m pleased to present the 393rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    It’s been a big week for executive changes in the SVOD world. Hulu’s CEO Mike Hopkins is departing to become chairman of Sony Pictures Television. Randy Freer, president and COO of Fox Networks will take over as Hulu’s new CEO. Colin and I both think Hopkins accomplished a lot in his four years at Hulu and we review the company’s progress. Still, the SVOD space is more competitive than ever and Hulu has a range of challenges ahead of it.

    Speaking of executive changes, Amazon Studios is undergoing a brain drain, with its head Roy Price leaving due to sexual harassment charges followed by 3 other senior executives. Amazon Studios was already under pressure to create blockbuster programming and these management changes would seem to only increase the pressure. We dig into what’s happening at Amazon.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #391: Disney’s Winning Move With Movies Anywhere, Amazon Video Ads and More

    I’m pleased to present the 391st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia (apologies in advance, my audio quality is low).

    We cover 4 different items this week starting with the news that 4 major studios have joined with Disney’s cloud-based venture, now renamed “Movies Anywhere.” The move validates Disney’s prior decision not to join UltraViolet and presents an exciting consumer value proposition incorporating multiple online stores and spanning key devices.

    Colin then shares highlights of new global research from Ericsson Consumer Labs. No surprise, the report showed a big shift in viewing from linear to on-demand and also much higher satisfaction scores for on demand video services vs. traditional TV.  The report comes just ahead of the Q3 earnings season which is likely to show an uptick in cord-cutting.

    We then turn to a report from CNBC that Amazon is making moves in video advertising. Colin and I believe this would make a ton of sense from multiple perspectives.

    Reminder that next Thursday, October 19th we’ll be hosting a webinar on streaming sports, hosted by Akamai. Join us!

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  • SpotX Bolsters Amazon’s Transparent Ad Marketplace For Video Header Bidding

    Late last week SpotX announced that it has integrated its recently-launched header bidding solution for video ads with Amazon Publisher Services’ Transparent Ad Marketplace (TAM). To learn more about the integration and the benefits to publishers, SpotX and Amazon, I spoke with Tal Almany, SpotX’s Senior Director, Advanced Integrations who recently joined the company from OpenX.

    For those not familiar with header bidding, this is an approach that video providers use to offer their ad inventory simultaneously to multiple demand sources to optimize bidding and monetization. Amazon’s TAM is a header bidding solution that is cloud-based and server side, which means less code is running on the publisher’s site, creating efficiencies. TAM is relatively new to the market, but because it’s from Amazon, it has gained a lot of attention.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #385: The Role of Advertising and Subscriptions for Premium Video

    I’m pleased to present the 385th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On today’s podcast, Colin and I discuss the role of advertising and subscriptions for premium video. I wrote about this topic earlier this week, observing that video providers today are experimenting with all models to see what succeeds. The urgency to find the successor to the lucrative multichannel bundle approach is becoming more urgent as cord-cutting increases.

    Colin and I both believe the picture is currently quite murky. We contrast the success Netflix, for example has had with ad-free viewing while subscribers to both CBS All Access and Hulu still appear to prefer to pay less and get a full ad load.

    I think there’s real power in a brand’s original identity and it’s quite hard to transition from one model to another. Colin sees more upside from “freemium” approaches that introduce viewers to content with ads but then try to upsell them to subscriptions.

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  • Video Providers Pursue Advertising, Subscriptions or Both

    Advertising, subscriptions, or both? All video providers are currently grappling with the fundamental question of what business model to pursue. With the cost of producing high-quality video and the challenge of attracting and audience more daunting than ever, deciding which path to follow has taken on increasing urgency.

    But if the stakes are higher, so too is the murkiness, especially when it comes to what consumers will pay for. Just because Netflix has 50 million U.S. subscribers doesn’t mean getting to a million is straightforward for an SVOD wannabe.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #384: Rounding Up the Week’s Top News

    I’m pleased to present the 384th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On today’s podcast, Colin and I first discuss Q2 ’17 pay-TV video subscriber results. Skinny bundles played a big part in offsetting accelerating losses in traditional multichannel services. Will this continue and if so what are the implications?

    We then dig into the DVD market’s decline which was further accelerated this week when Amazon decided to close down its LOVEFiLM DVD-by-mail business in several European countries. Colin notes that Netflix’s DVD business has had a huge drop-off also and he speculates whether it too might get cut loose. On the bright side, Redbox re-upped its deal with Lionsgate, showing that DVDs still have a bit of life left.

    Finally, Apple was back in the news this week, reportedly allocating $1 billion for original TV shows. We speculate on whether this will be successful and what challenges Apple will face.

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  • Expensive SVOD Talent Wars Are Unlikely to End Well

    Another day, another high-profile - and no doubt incredibly expensive - SVOD talent deal announced. Today’s is between Netflix and the ultra-successful producer Shonda Rhimes, poaching her from ABC, where she’d been for 15 years. For Netflix, it followed last week’s deals with the Coen brothers for a new series and the company’s first acquisition, of Millarworld, plus many others.

    While Netflix has been busily announcing new originals - no doubt timed to offset the fallout from Disney’s decision not to renew its pay-1 output deal upon expiration in 2019 - Amazon hasn’t been sitting still. Last week the company lured Robert Kirkman, creator of the blockbuster “The Walking Dead” series on AMC in an exclusive 2-year deal. That followed recent deals for many other originals, with a heavy emphasis on kids shows. And don’t forget Hulu, which is coming off its biggest original success to date with “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

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  • FX Launches FX+ With Comcast; Is An SVOD A La Carte World Coming Into View?

    This morning, FX and Comcast announced FX+, an ad-free subscription video on demand service available to Xfinity TV subscribers for $5.99 per month. FX+ is quite comprehensive, including full current seasons of 17 different FX shows (e.g. “The Americans,” “Atlanta,” “Taboo,” etc.) along with library seasons of 16 current and prior shows (e.g. “The Shield,” “The League,” “Nip/Tuck,” etc.). In all, there will be over 1,100 episodes of FX programming available to subscribers.

    FX+ follows the recent announcement of AMC Premiere by AMC and Comcast, which is another ad-free SVOD service, available for $4.99 per month. However, AMC Premiere doesn’t include AMC’s deep library of popular programs, highlighted by “The Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men,” while also including some original digital content. AMC Premiere’s shallow content selection suggests its success will be modest.

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  • Amazon is Poised to Nose Its Way Into the Pay-TV Business

    You would have to have had your head buried in the sand these past few months not to notice that Amazon has become the “it” company everybody can’t stop talking about. Whether buying Whole Foods, innovating its Echo smart speakers, challenging Blue Apron in meal kits, introducing its own Geek Squad to compete with Best Buy or countless other initiatives, all of a sudden Amazon seems to be omnipresent. And with an estimated 80 million Prime members, Amazon is in fact now literally present in many people’s day-to-day lives.  

    Amazon has what it calls “pillars” (Prime, e-commerce, cloud, etc.), and it’s becoming clearer by the quarter that video is fast becoming another one. In video, the company’s efforts are wide-ranging - devices (Fire TV), original content (which is included in Prime and on which it is spending billions), licensed content (also in Prime), live sports (with its NFL Thursday night deal), SVOD distribution (via its Amazon Channels program for 3rd party and original services), digital video premieres (with its Amazon Video Direct program), international (expanding its own SVOD service to 200+ countries) and technology enablement (with AWS and acquisitions like Elemental). In sum, Amazon is already operating in virtually every part of the video value chain.

    Despite all of this, I believe that Amazon’s video efforts are still completely under-appreciated. With a number of industry trends coming into view, Amazon’s video momentum could significantly increase and carry it straight into the heart of the pay-TV industry.

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  • U.S. SVOD Adoption Up to 64% of Homes, With 29% Streaming Daily

    U.S. adoption of Netflix, Amazon Prime and/or Hulu is up to 64% of homes, an increase from 47% in 2014, according to Leichtman Research Group. Of those who have one of these SVOD services, 51% now have more than one of them, up from 35% in 2014.

    On our podcast last week, Colin and I talked about how the number of people taking multiple SVOD services has become a central trend in the industry and is helping spur growth for all providers. Both Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Netflix’s Reed Hastings have insisted over the years that people will take multiple services, and that appears to now becoming reality.

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  • User Experience is the New Battleground for Video Providers

    If you’re like me, you may have noticed that recently you’ve become a little less patient when you to try to watch a video and things don’t go exactly right. Whether it’s difficulty finding the desired video, momentary buffering, an intrusive/irrelevant ad or some kind of device issue - these sources of friction are increasingly noticeable and in turn disappointing.

    I don’t find this surprising. We live in a world where instant gratification and seamless user experiences are becoming the new normal. Those that don’t measure up stand out more readily as sore thumbs. Among other things, we can now do a super-convenient voice search using a smart speaker, request a personal driver though Uber or Lyft with just a few taps on our smartphones, get a refund on an Amazon return the moment the package is scanned at UPS and lots more. Simply put, for many of us, the Internet and apps are making life easier all the time.

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  • How Comcast Has Eaten Into Apple’s Movie Rentals/Purchase Dominance

    An article in the WSJ over the weekend “Apple’s iTunes Falls Short in Battle for Video Viewers” caught my attention for a number of reasons, not least of which it touched on how quickly Comcast has succeeded in growing its market share in digital movie rentals and downloads.

    While iTunes is estimated to still hold the market share lead in the digital movie rental and purchase industry with a share of between 20% to 35%, that’s down from over 50% in 2012. The article notes that Amazon’s share is now up to around 20% and Comcast’s is at 15%. For Amazon, video rentals and purchases represent another way it leverages its e-commerce expertise. Rentals/purchases are also very complementary to Amazon’s Prime Video service. In many ways, there’s nothing surprising at all about how Amazon has taken a bite out of Apple’s market share.

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  • Perspective What's this? Breaking Through With New TV Experiences

    Execs from broadcasters, content owners and tech companies recently joined 100,000 of their peers at the NABShow 2017 convention in Las Vegas. A key focus for many at the show was how to drive breakthrough multiscreen experiences, get consumers to engage more and fully monetize the many opportunities that are emerging.

    During the Online Video Conference's “Breaking Through With New TV Experiences” session I moderated, attendees heard about the latest efforts underway by industry leaders to bring more personalization, discoverability and innovation to content delivery. Consumers have an incredible range of choices of multiscreen services that now span beyond VOD and linear to include fast-evolving OTT offerings. Representatives from Comcast Technology Solutions, Amazon, Gracenote and TiVo joined the discussion to shed insight into ongoing work, challenges ahead and what it takes to deliver industry-leading multi-screen experiences. Panelists also pulled back the curtain on the back-end capabilities that will be required to support these increasingly complex services.

     
    IBB Consulting works closely with operators and content owners to help design and execute multiscreen distribution strategies. Many of the efforts and activities that we heard about from the panelists are being undertaken or considered by a range of stakeholders today.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #372: Weekly Wrap-up: Viacom’s Skinny Bundle, Facebook TV, Amazon Channels Goes International, Snapchat Shows Gain

    I’m pleased to present the 372nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we discuss 4 stories that caught our attention in recent days. First, Viacom’s plan to anchor an entertainment-only skinny bundle without sports or news networks. Colin and I are intrigued, but for a variety of reasons are skeptical Viacom is the right company to lead this.

    Next we turn to Facebook, which has made no secret of its interest in pursuing longer-form video. This week brought news of its initial partnerships and potential business models.

    We then discuss Amazon Channels expansion into the UK and Germany this week, building on the US model for Prime users to easily subscribe to various SVOD services. Both of us have been very bullish on Channels for a while and see lots of potential for it in other geographies.

    Finally we dig into Snapchat Shows, the fast-growing social network’s plan to enlist multiple media companies to make vertical videos. Variety did a really good roundup of all the activity earlier this week, which suggests substantial progress.

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  • Why An Amazon Skinny Bundle Seems All But Inevitable

    Although there are already 5 major skinny bundles in the market - DirecTV Now, Hulu With Live TV, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV and YouTube TV - it seems all but inevitable that a 6th will emerge, from Amazon, which could be the most disruptive one yet. While I continue to be skeptical about how big the market for skinny bundles currently is, Amazon has a number of unique attributes that could both enlarge the potential audience and change the current competitive dynamics.

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  • A World Awash In Video - Part 2

    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:

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  • HBO to End Amazon Content Relationship As It Repositions for Future Under AT&T

    On yesterday’s Time Warner Q1 ’17 earnings call, HBO’s CEO Richard Plepler said that the company’s content licensing deal with Amazon would not be renewed and therefore would expire at the end of 2018. The deal was originally announced in April, 2014 and allowed Amazon to include iconic series like “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” “Deadwood” and others in its Prime Video service.

    Although Plepler cited “an acceleration in our digital business” as the reason for the decision, I believe that the more important driver at work is a repositioning of how the immensely valuable HBO will be used when AT&T’s acquisition of HBO parent Time Warner occurs later this year (assuming regulatory approval is granted, which I think is very likely).

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  • Downloading Continues to Gain Momentum

    Downloading video for offline playback continues to gain momentum with Showtime announcing late last week that it has enabled downloading of its entire roster of programs from its standalone subscription and TV Everywhere apps at no additional cost. Downloading is available on iOS and Android phones and tablets plus Amazon Fire tablets.

    Loyal VideoNuze readers know that I’ve been an enthusiastic downloading proponent for 4 1/2 years, back to when I first experienced TiVo’s implementation of it via TiVo Stream. I immediately saw downloading as a killer app because it allowed high quality out-of-home viewing independent of shaky or non-existent WiFi hotspots and/or eating up expensive mobile data plans (if they could even support video streaming).

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #365: Exploring Amazon Prime’s Vast Potential in Video

    I’m pleased to present the 365th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    First, we’d like to thank our 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.

    On this week’s podcast, Colin and I discuss Amazon’s burgeoning role in video and how Amazon Prime’s unique model gives the company unprecedented advantages. Prime’s power was on full display earlier this week when Amazon nabbed the rights to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football package for $50 million, 5 times more than what Twitter paid last season.

    Colin and I agree that Amazon’s ability to view video investments as drivers for Prime membership retention/acquisition and ultimately increased commerce is a huge threat to everyone in the industry. Colin shares research on how the world is starting to wake up to this, though we believe that Amazon’s video potential is nowhere close to being fully appreciated yet.

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  • Amazon’s NFL Deal is Further Evidence of How Prime is Upending the Video Industry

    Amazon further reinforced its position as the most influential company in the video industry with news late yesterday that it had won the rights to stream the NFL’s 10 game Thursday night football package for $50 million, with plans to make the games available for Amazon Prime members only (they'll still be broadcast alternatively on CBS and NBC, and on NFL Network). The sum is a whopping 5 times more than the $10 million that Twitter reportedly paid for the same rights last season.

    The key to understanding Amazon’s willingness to pay up for the TNF rights is the power of its unique business model, based on Prime. As I wrote last November, Prime is the linchpin for Amazon’s ever-expanding video initiatives.

    At last summer’s Recode conference, Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos plainly articulated Prime’s value to the company in driving greater customer loyalty and increased purchases (if you’re a Prime customer, you no doubt know this dynamic yourself). And keep in mind, with approximately 60 million members paying $99 per year, Prime generates $6 billion in revenue for Amazon before a single purchase has been made.

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