VertaMedia - leaderboard - 4-3-17

Analysis for 'Comcast'

  • Viewers Are the Real Winners in Comcast-Netflix Integration

    Yesterday, Recode reported that Comcast will integrate Netflix into its X1 set-top box. Loyal VideoNuze readers know that I’ve been advocating for this type of partnership for almost two years, back to when I articulated the benefits in “Why the Timing is Now Perfect for a Netflix-Comcast Partner Deal” in October, 2014. There are lots of benefits to Comcast and Netflix by partnering (as I’ll further explain below), but the biggest winners once the integration is complete later this year, are the companies’ mutual viewers.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #323: Rio Olympics on X1 Will Be a Breakthrough Experience

    I'm pleased to present the 323rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Colin and I were both very impressed by the demo that Comcast CEO Brian Roberts did at INTX earlier this week of how the X1 set-top box will blend linear TV and online video streams from this summer’s Rio Olympics into one experience.

    We both believe this will be a truly breakthrough viewer experience, showcasing X1’s broadband capabilities and the value of the two-way interactive network. We envision Comcast launching a massive marketing campaign in the months leading up to the Olympics highlighting how experiencing the Olympics will be “best on X1,” in turn driving new subscriber acquisitions and upgrades.

    More broadly, we discuss how valuable X1 and Comcast’s back-end infrastructure are as a platform for launching new features and services. We touch on how Amazon too is leveraging its platform for its Streaming Partners Program, underscoring the anticipated competition between big video platform owners. The role of a robust platform in determining the ultimate video winners is becoming increasingly clear.

    Listen now to learn more!

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    (Note: Comcast Wholesale is a VideoNuze sponsor)

     
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  • Understanding the Value of Platforms Given the Proliferation of Content [VIDEO]

    Yesterday I had the pleasure of moderating a super session at INTX 2016, the cable TV industry’s annual trade show. The title was “Is Content Really King? Understanding the Value of Platforms in a Crowded Video Space.” The session included Steve Shannon (GM, Content and Services, Roku), Evan Shapiro (EVP, Digital Enterprises, NBCU) and Matt Strauss (EVP/GM, Video Services, Comcast Cable).

    It’s no secret that there’s more great video to watch now than ever. That’s created challenges for viewers to find what they want and for content providers to fully monetize their ever-growing production investments. That’s why the role of platforms is increasing in importance.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #320: Comcast is Firing On All Cylinders As X1 Shines

    I'm pleased to present the 320th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    As both Colin and I wrote this week (here and here), Comcast delivered very strong video and broadband subscriber gains in Q1 '16. Despite all of the rhetoric around cord-cutting and the fact that SVOD services - which were considered a potential substitute for pay-TV - have boomed, Comcast had its best first quarter in 9 years, adding 53K video subscribers vs. a loss of 8K subscribers in Q1 ’15.

    As Colin and I discuss on the podcast, Comcast is benefitting from weakening competition, its own investments in product/content/user experience, and triple-play bundling, powered by broadband adoption. As has been the case for a couple of years now, the X1 set-top box, now in 35% of video subscribers’ homes, continues to be the linchpin in video, driving up ARPU, VOD and DVR usage, reducing churn, etc. In an era of rising viewer expectations, X1 delivers a superb, differentiated, web-like experience.

    Given all of the above, I think Comcast has a strong outlook at least through 2016 if not beyond. Colin is a little less sanguine and we discuss our differences.  

    Listen now to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 4 seconds)



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  • Comcast Defies Cord-Cutting (Again), Reporting 53K Video Subscriber Growth in Q1 ’16

    Comcast is on an epic roll. Despite years(!) of cord-cutting warnings by the blogosphere and analysts, Comcast once again proved the naysayers wrong, adding 53K video subscribers in Q1 ’16. It was the best first quarter in 9 years for the company and easily eclipsed the loss of 8K subscribers in Q1 ’15.

    The Q1 gain builds on the strong year Comcast recorded in 2015, losing just 36K subscribers vs. a loss of 194K in 2014. Remarkably, Comcast now has 25K more video subscribers that it did one year ago (22,400K vs. 22,375K).

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  • Comcast-YES Network Standoff Puts Sports Rights Fees Back in Focus

    The never-ending tussle between pay-TV operators and sports TV networks over escalating carriage fees is back in focus due to the standoff between Comcast and the YES Network, which has the rights to broadcast New York Yankees games, among others. Comcast dropped YES last November, leaving approximately 900K of its New York area subscribers without access to YES. With the Yankees’ opening day one week from today, the standoff is going to gain much more attention.

    As with other sports TV carriage disputes, this one boils down to money and audience. Comcast is arguing that YES’s demand for a reported $6 per month per subscriber isn’t justified given its ratings. Last November Comcast said that over 90% of its subscribers didn’t watch the equivalent of even one quarter of the 130 games YES broadcast in 2015. Nielsen said that YES averaged 250K viewers in 2015, a decrease of 44% vs. its peak of 450K in 2007.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #309: Cable Operators Buck Cord-Cutting; FCC’s Set-Top Box Mandate

    I'm pleased to present the 309th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    First up this week we discuss Comcast’s robust Q4 ’15 earnings results. Despite all of the talk of cord-cutting, Comcast had its best year for video subscribers in 8 years, improving its loss to just 39K. In addition, both Charter and Time Warner Cable actually reported video subscriber gains for 2015.

    Once again, Comcast cited its X1 next-gen set-top box as the key driver of success. Colin and I have talked about X1’s value in the past, and it’s clearly a game-changer for the company.

    Ironically, Comcast’s success with X1 is happening even as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is calling for a new technology mandate on the pay-TV industry to give access to third-party set-tops. Colin and I discuss why we think market forces are a superior choice to government intervention.

    Last, we’ll both be watching the Super Bowl this weekend, which will be a milestone in allowing cord-cutters and cord-nevers to stream for free to connected TV devices.
     
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  • Despite Acceleration of Cord-Cutting, Top Analyst is Bullish on Cable in 2016

    Cord-cutting accelerated in 2015. Once again, It dominated headlines about the pay-TV industry, portending its imminent demise, as SVOD awareness and original content investments skyrocketed. But despite all of that, top Wall Street analyst Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson (who has participated in many VideoNuze events) issued a bullish note this morning on cable TV operators’ prospects in 2016.

    Craig’s analysis highlights the subtleties of the pay-TV industry’s dynamics that are too often glossed over in generic media coverage about cord-cutting’s ascent. The nub of his argument is that while the overall pay-TV industry is indeed pressured in many ways, cable operators’ distinct product and technology advantages vs. its primary competitors (satellite and telcos) have led to cable operators taking market share, helping insulate them from macro issues.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #296: YouTube Red is Ho-Hum, Cable TV Earnings Defy Cord-Cutting

    I'm pleased to present the 296th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we discuss our first impressions of YouTube Red, and then turn to Q3 earnings reports from top cable operators, which are defying cord-cutting.

    For YouTube Red, Colin and I agree that the service’s primary value proposition of ad-free viewing is diminished by the fact that the ad experience on YouTube is already quite viewer-friendly and non-intrusive (as I wrote last week and yesterday). Further, the download feature, which could be quite appealing, is underwhelming on iOS, though it’s slightly better in Android. Net, net, neither of us sees much upside for YouTube Red, at least for now.

    We then turn our attention to Q3 earnings from 3 big cable operators, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Charter. Each has reported very strong video subscriber results, bucking the cord-cutting paranoia. Colin notes that for Comcast, broadband profit contribution actually exceeded video’s profit contribution. I see the combination of cable’s robust broadband and hybrid set-top boxes like X1 as the key to ongoing success.

    Listen now to learn more!



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  • Comcast Defies Cord Cutting in Q3 ’15, Losing Just 48K Video Subscribers

    Comcast continued to defy the cord-cutting boogeyman in Q3 1’5, losing just 48K video subscribers, compared with a loss of 81K in Q3 ’14 and a loss of 127K in Q3 ’13. Comcast said it was the best third quarter for video subscribers in 9 years.

    Once again, Comcast attributed the improvement mainly to its X1 set-top box, which is now in one-quarter of video homes and accounted for 60% of video connects in Q3. On its earnings call, Comcast noted X1 subscribers have lower churn, use VOD and DVR more heavily and subscribe to more additional outlets than non-X1 subscribers. As a result of X1’s success, Comcast has increased its deployment, now installing 40K X1s per day, compared with 30K per day in Q2. Comcast also said it has deployed 1.5 million voice remotes which further enhance the X1 experience.

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  • Comcast Adds Short-Form Video From 30 TV Networks to X1

    The line between TV and online video is blurring still further, as Comcast has announced that it is adding short-form online video content from 30 broadcast and cable TV networks to its X1 platform and online at Xfinity.com. The beta launch means that millions of X1 customers will be able to surf the Web tab of the On Demand section on X1 to access the clips.

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  • thePlatform’s Co-CEO Marty Roberts Departs

    thePlatform’s co-CEO Marty Roberts has left the company, GeekWire first reported yesterday. Comcast, which owns thePlatform, confirmed the move subsequently in a statement (see below). Roberts had been with thePlatform for 9 years, beginning as VP, Marketing, then as SVP, Sales and Marketing, and finally as co-CEO, with Jamie Miller. Both were appointed in May, 2014, upon prior CEO Ian Blaine’s departure.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #287: Assessing the Opportunity for Comcast’s Watchable Video Service

    I'm pleased to present the 287th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week Colin and I dig into the idea of Comcast launching a curated video service called Watchable, which was initially reported by Business Insider. Colin is extremely skeptical of the plan and outlines 4 key reasons why. I’m a little less skeptical, but as I explained earlier this week, believe there’s a lot more upside for Comcast in integrating major OTT services into its X1 offering.

    Regardless of the specifics, we both believe that Comcast and other pay-TV operators need to move more deeply into online video as the traditional TV and pay-TV businesses come under increasing pressure.
     
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  • Comcast Should Prioritize Integrating Popular OTT Services in X1 Instead of Curating Online Video

    There’s been a lot written in the past few days about Comcast’s reported plan to introduce a new platform called “Watchable,” that will curate short-form online video content from various providers for viewing on its X1 set-top boxes and eventually on mobile devices. The initiative is seen as helping Comcast increase its appeal to millennial viewers and drive additional online video advertising revenue.

    On the one hand, I applaud the company’s desire to dive more deeply into online video, which has many synergies with Comcast’s broadband and TV businesses. Without knowing any of the details, the biggest issue to me with Watchable is that it’s hard to understand why Comcast would prioritize it as a current initiative when a far more significant opportunity would be integrating popular OTT services into X1, which would have huge subscriber acquisition and retention benefits.

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  • VidCon vs. Pay-TV: A Modern Tale of Two Cities

    "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…"

    If you’re looking for a stark illustration of the diverging fortunes of the online video and pay-TV industries - as well as the generational attention/passion gap between the two - then comparing the buzz out of last week’s 6th annual VidCon with the poor early Q2 video subscriber numbers from big pay-TV operators is about as good as it gets.

    For those not familiar with VidCon, it’s the annual convention of YouTube creators, fans and increasingly advertisers that want to weave themselves into this community. This year VidCon drew somewhere between 20K-30K attendees (up from 1,200 just 5 years ago) to the Anaheim Convention Center, with the vast majority being teenagers seeking to get up close to their favorite YouTube celebrities for a coveted selfie.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #283: Comcast’s X1 Shines in Q2, But OTT Apps Are Still Missing

    I'm pleased to present the 283rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Yesterday Comcast reported its Q2 ’15 results, including the best Q2 video subscriber numbers in 9 years. Comcast lost just 69K subscribers, vs. 144K in Q2 ’14. Comcast’s performance is in contrast to Verizon’s dismal Q2 video subscriber results. I’m eager to see what trend emerges from the whole pay-TV universe in Q2, given Netflix’s breakout Q2 U.S. subscriber performance and whether cord-nevering is accelerating.

    Comcast gave a lot of the credit for its Q2 subscriber improvement to its X1 set-top box. Comcast said it is now shipping 30K X1 boxes per day and expects to ship 6 million in 2015.  Comcast noted that X1 improves churn, viewing time, DVR penetration and other metrics.

    As VideoNuze readers know, I’ve been an X1 subscriber for 3 years now, and continue to be very impressed with its modern web-like experience. But as I discuss on the podcast, the big missing piece in X1 remains access to OTT apps like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and others. In fact, the app section of X1 is devoid of video options, instead offering utilities like horoscopes, weather, traffic, stocks, photos, Pandora and Facebook (note Comcast recently announced a new gaming service for X1 with EA).

    This lack of OTT access stands in stark contrast to TiVo (which we use for our primary TV), where all major OTT apps are integrated, and searching for a TV show returns results across all services. Comcast has a huge opportunity to please its X1 subscribers with OTT integrations. Last Fall I noted the timing seemed right for a Comcast-Netflix partnership and it’s mind-boggling to me there’s been no visible progress on OTT in 3 years since X1’s launch.

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  • Comcast's New Stream Service Bets On Broadcast TV's Value, Just Like Aereo Did

    Comcast has announced a new $15/month online video service called Stream, offering yet another choice to consumers not interested in the full multichannel TV bundle.

    Stream will be available only to Comcast’s broadband subscribers on a no-commitment, monthly basis, with no equipment required. Stream will include broadcast networks and HBO plus Streampix and a cloud DVR. It will be available only on laptops, tablets and smartphones, so no TV access. And the linear feeds will only be available in-home, though it sounds like recordings will be viewable out of home. Stream will debut in Boston in late summer, then Seattle and Chicago later this year and elsewhere in 2016.

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  • Cord-Cutting Accelerates in Q1 '15 as Pay-TV Operators Lose 31K Subscribers

    U.S. pay-TV operators lost 31K video subscribers in Q1 '15, compared to a gain of 271K in Q1 '14, according to analysts MoffettNathanson. The loss was the first time the industry has ever lost subscribers in a first quarter, and signals an acceleration of cord-cutting (or cord-nevering, since it's hard to pull the two apart), contributing to a .5% industry contraction over the past 4 quarters (461K subscribers).

    MoffettNathanson has always tried to put pay-TV results in context with both occupied housing net additions and new household net additions. In Q1, the former declined by 407K, but the latter increased by 1.3 million, suggesting around 900K households were added in the U.S. Despite the gain the industry still lost subscribers.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #272: Comcast's Blizzard of Innovation at INTX

    I'm pleased to present the 272nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    At INTX (the re-branded Cable Show) in Chicago this week, Comcast announced a blizzard of innovation, showcasing how its heavy technology investments are resulting in new products and features (see here and here for roundup). In today's podcast, Colin and I discuss the range of announcements Comcast made, which impact its video, broadband and home services.

    Importantly, Comcast also announced a new "customer experience transformation" plan, which includes the hiring of 5,500 new customer and technical service staff. The renewed emphasis on customer experience is ironic, because, as I asserted on Monday, had the company done this 5 years ago, and transformed itself into a "most admired" company, it may well have gotten approval for the Time Warner Cable deal. NCTA head Michael Powell seemed to agree with my assessment.

    Colin attended INTX and also shares thoughts on his session and broader trends of how pay-TV operators are evolving into broadband service providers and how OTT services fit in. For example, Comcast revealed this week that it now has more broadband subscribers than video subscribers, an important milestone for the industry.

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  • Comcast-TWC Deal Floundered Amid Rise in Customer Experience Expectations

    On last Friday's podcast, Colin and I discussed the failure of the $45 billion Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. I asserted that a key reason the deal didn't get approved was due to the rise in customer experience expectations. Today I'm going to flesh that out further, and describe why customer experience is becoming key to defining the video industry's winners and losers.

    First, it's important to understand that the traditional notion of "customer service" has been supplanted by the far broader concept of "customer experience" - the TOTAL perception of ALL of our touchpoints with any company we do business with. Because we now live in an unprecedented time for humanity - when everything we need or want is just a handful of clicks away, anytime we choose, the bar has never been higher for our expectations of customer experience.

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