NABShow NY - 9-26-16

Analysis for 'Comcast'

  • 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.

    Listen in to learn more!



    Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 16 seconds)

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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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  • VideoNuze Podcast #271: Revisiting Comcast-TWC Deal Failure; Verizon-ESPN Spat

    I'm pleased to present the 271st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    We had recorded last week's podcast just prior to the news that Comcast was dropping its merger bid for Time Warner Cable, so first up this week we share thoughts on why the deal collapsed.

    In my view, the perception of the deal transformed from being cable-centric to being broadband-centric, largely due to the rise of online video usage. As a result, Comcast, post-merger, having 57% of American broadband connections under the new 25 mbps definition, became a sticking point (never mind that it actually has 56% on its own, reflecting its aggressive broadband infrastructure upgrades).

    This is a key irony of the deal's failure - Comcast has invested billions in technology, but its woeful customer service ultimately undermines these investments and defines its reputation. In a hypothetical world where Comcast was a "most admired company," (like Apple, Amazon, etc.), I think it's quite possible regulators would have actually welcomed the Time Warner deal.

    We then turn our attention to Verizon's "Custom TV" packaging and ESPN's lawsuit. As I explained in Has Verizon Put ESPN Into a Public Relations Headlock Over Opaque "Sports Tax?" I think Verizon is making a brazen move to reign in sports costs. Colin and I agree it's the most startling thing yet to happen in a tumultuous year for the pay-TV industry.

    Listen in to learn more!



    Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 6 seconds)

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  • How Will Comcast Proceed On Time Warner Cable Deal In Wake of FCC's Net Neutrality Vote?

    With the FCC voting 3-2 to enact net neutrality regulations under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, the focus now shifts to how Comcast proceeds on its planned Time Warner Cable acquisition. The $45 billion deal, combining the two largest U.S. cable TV operators, was announced in February, 2014, and has been in the regulatory slow lane for months as net neutrality took center stage.

    Once perceived as virtually guaranteed to be approved given Comcast's formidable lobbying apparatus, the deal is now seen as having no better than a 50-50 chance by many analysts. While Comcast continues to express confidence the deal will be approved and close in early 2015 (and even internally circulated a combined company organizational structure), the dynamic regulatory, political and industry landscapes make any bets on the deal's outcome a total crapshoot.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #261 - TV Everywhere Advances, Linear TV Comes Online

    I'm pleased to present the 261st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week we return to the topic of TV Everywhere, which we've discussed on previous episodes. While TV Everywhere's challenges are well-understood, this week Comcast released encouraging adoption data, which we dig into.

    Comcast also announced it now offers over 70 linear networks via TVE, in addition to on-demand choices. Related, NBC said this week that it will offer authenticated access to its linear feed via its app, but only in its O&O markets. Colin notes that's a very different approach than CBS is using for linear, which is only available via its All-Access service that costs $5.99/month.

    Aside from improved content for TVE, Colin and I also observe that monetization is also improving, with technology providers BlackArrow and This Technology, as examples, recently sharing product updates on dynamic ad insertion (here and here).

    Listen in to learn more!



    Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 5 seconds)

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    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

     
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  • Comcast: Over 30% of Xfinity TV Subscribers Now Using TV Everywhere

    Comcast said that in 2014 over 30% of its Xfinity TV subscribers used its TV Everywhere app ("Xfinity TV Go") on a monthly basis, representing a 20% year-over-year growth rate. The average Xfinity TV Go viewer watched over 7 hours per month via the app, up 40% vs. a year ago. Comcast said the Xfinity TV Go app for iOS and Android has been downloaded over 11 million times.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #256 - Our 2015 Video Industry Predictions

    I'm pleased to present the 256th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week Colin and I share our predictions for the video industry in 2015. In addition, we look back at our predictions for 2014 and share how we did (yes, accountability!).

    Listen in to learn more!



    Click here to listen to the podcast (25 minutes, 38 seconds)

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    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

     
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  • VideoSchmooze [VIDEO] - Sports' Pivotal Role in Driving TV Everywhere's Adoption

    This has been a significant year for TV Everywhere growth and no question, live sports has been the biggest driver. At the recent VideoSchmooze, one of our sessions explored how sports is playing a pivotal role in introducing TV Everywhere to millions of viewers and in turn, is creating a path to using TVE for entertainment programming as well.

    The session featured Brian Dutt (FreeWheel), Vito Forlenza (Comcast), Dina Juliano (NBCU) and Clark Pierce (FOX Sports), with Colin Dixon (nScreenMedia) moderating.

    The full session video is included below.

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  • Perspective What's this? Designing A Second Screen Strategy? First Screen Opportunities Should Be Top Of Mind

    According to a recent study by Nielsen, 15% of viewers said they enjoyed watching television more when social media was involved. By now, we know that consumers are using these screens to browse the web, talk on social networks about what they're watching or access complementary content that enhances their experience. So what new and different opportunities does this activity create for pay-TV operators and programmers to leverage the second screen for increased tune-in, engagement and ad revenues?

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #247 - Hybrid Set-Top Boxes Poised to Play Critical Role

    I'm pleased to present the 247th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we talk about so-called "hybrid set-top boxes" and why we believe they're poised to play a critical role in the video ecosystem, especially for pay-TV operators. A hybrid STB can handle both traditional linear TV feeds and also broadband/IP/apps. Comcast's X1 is a great example, as are TiVo's boxes. Another technology approach which creates the same capability is from ActiveVideo Networks.

    Colin and I both like hybrid STBs because they give the operator the ability to blend pay-TV/VOD/DVR with OTT. One prime opportunity of this that I see is for Netflix to be included in Comcast's X1, as I explained earlier this week. Just to give one example of how compelling these integrations can be, Colin cites the example of UPC Hungary, which integrated the YouTube app. Within a few months, 72% of its subscribers have used YouTube, averaging 45 minutes per session.

    Colin notes the big win for subscribers here is convenience - it's just easier for people to use one device to access everything. We share additional thoughts on why we think hybrid STBs are beneficial and will become a big trend going forward.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 56 seconds)


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  • Comcast Throws Cold Water On HBO OTT's Disruptive Potential

    Following HBO's announcement of HBO OTT last week, a lot of the media coverage has focused on how disruptive it will be to the pay-TV ecosystem. But on today's Comcast Q3 '14 earnings conference call, company executives threw cold water on these prospects, highlighting the challenges and risks that HBO faces in going direct to consumer.

    Responding to analysts' questions, NBCU CEO Steve Burke said:

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  • Why the Timing is Now Perfect for a Netflix-Comcast Partner Deal

    If your head is still spinning from last week's HBO/CBS/potential cord-cutting news, then buckle up, because here's another doozy that seems ripe to be right around the corner: a partnership deal between Netflix and Comcast. You heard that right - two companies that have been sniping at each for years now have a perfect moment to strike a partnership deal with significant upside to both.

    First, as far as the deal itself, it would roughly follow the template Netflix has already established with large pay-TV operators in Europe and smaller ones in the U.S. All those deals' details aren't known, but at a minimum they include operators integrating Netflix's app into their IP-based set-top boxes'/devices' UI, certain co-marketing arrangements, and some type of revenue sharing by Netflix (i.e. one-time new subscriber bounties and/or ongoing revenue sharing).

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  • Follow the Eyeballs - Advertising Success in the Multi-Screen Age [AD SUMMIT VIDEO]

    As devices continue to proliferate, reaching viewers across multiple screens is becoming an imperative for advertisers. At the recent Video Ad Summit, one of our sessions focused on how advertisers are beginning to do this and what challenges remain. Participants included Larry Adams (Mindshare), Josh Chasin (comScore), Rob Holmes (Comcast), Chuck Parker (Brightcove), Katie Seitz (Tremor), with moderator Jeff Lanctot (Mixpo).

    watch the session video

     
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  • VideoNuze Podcast #231: More Questions Than Answers Around the "Appification of TV"

    I'm pleased to present the 231st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we explore the concept of the "appification of TV," which means accessing TV programming and experiences via apps on a set-top box or connected TV device vs. through a typical linear or even on-demand/DVR model. Of course apps are already hugely popular on tablets and smartphones, but not nearly so on TV, as they require either a connected TV device or a set-top box that can run apps.

    In the latter category is Comcast's new X1, which the company is aggressively rolling out and which currently has a limited assortment of apps available (back in February I shared a video demo of how the NBC Olympics "Live Extra" app works on X1). This week Colin saw a demo of another example - CNNx - a recently announced app from CNN, which we use as a jumping off point for our discussion.

    As we discuss, the appification of TV raises a slew of questions, including whether it's a net positive for the broadcast/cable network, the pay-TV operator and the viewer. Colin believes that competitive pressure from online providers will spur the appification process forward, though I think caution will be the watchword particularly given uncertainties around monetizing apps on TV. We raise more questions than we have answers around this provocative topic, but it's all great food for thought.

    Listen in to learn more!


    Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 42 seconds)



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  • How Binge-Viewing Became a Cultural Phenomenon - A Brief History

    Binge-viewing is surely one of the most notable cultural phenomena of the past few years. Barely registering as a concept less than 3 years ago, many recent research reports now cite binge-viewing as having been adopted - if not regularly practiced - by a majority of TV viewers (examples here, here, here, here, here, here).

    The shift toward binge-viewing has immense implications for the TV and video industries, touching everything from the creative process to programming/distribution decisions to monetization approaches. Some companies are fully embracing binge-viewing and riding its wave, while others are taking a more cautious approach.

    Stepping back though, how exactly did binge-viewing become such a cultural phenomenon? I believe there are at least 5 key contributing factors, with the relationships among them creating a perfect storm of growth.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #227 - Why Dynamic Ad Insertion in VOD/TVE is a Game-Changer

    I'm pleased to present the 227th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we dig into the Turner-Comcast deal from earlier this week, under which Turner is providing past seasons' and full current season's episodes to some of its most popular programs to Comcast for viewing on VOD and TV Everywhere.  As I wrote earlier this week, a key enabler of the deal is Turner's ability to dynamically insert ads in the on-demand streams.

    Colin and I agree that, to the extent the deal becomes a template for others, it could have a wide-ranging impact on the ecosystem. To date, Netflix and other OTT providers have been able to aggregate huge libraries of past seasons' episodes, which have fueled binge-viewing.

    But as advertising in VOD/TVE grows and improves, it could become the financial foundation for operators to gain far greater content rights. That in turn could change the negotiating balance for content and perceptions of pay-TV operators. Colin and I explain what could be ahead.

    Listen in to learn more!

    (Note also Colin is hosting a free webinar next Tuesday on Fox Sports Go TVE app. Sign up here.)

    Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 49 seconds)


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  • Dynamic Ad Insertion Helps Clinch New Turner-Comcast VOD/TVE Deal

    Turner Broadcasting will provide Comcast with VOD and TV Everywhere access for some of its most popular programs across all of its cable networks, under a deal announced this morning. A significant aspect of the deal is that it gives Comcast rights not only to past seasons' episodes, but also to all current season episodes - what's known as "stacking rights." The deal is a big win for Comcast and also underscores the emergence of dynamic ad insertion in VOD/TVE streams as an important new revenue driver.

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  • Here's a Surprise: OTT and Pay-TV Could Wind Up As Best Friends

    The traditional narrative around online/over-the-top video is that it will incent cord-cutting and cord-nevering. But now, in a twist, instead of a looming battle between OTT and pay-TV, it could well be that we're on the brink of a new era of cooperation between the two, which could have profound implications for everyone in the video ecosystem.

    Stepping back for a moment, pay-TV operators have always been in the business of improving the delivery of available video and packaging it into bundles. Initially operators distributed broadcast channels and then in the 70's and 80's, with the advent of satellite delivery, operators began bundling "cable" channels as well (e.g. ESPN, MTV, CNN, USA, etc.).

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