Late yesterday, the NFL announced it renewed its "Sunday Ticket" deal with DirecTV for a reported 8 years at $1.5 billion per year, a 50% increase over their prior deal. Going back about a year, there were rampant rumors that the Sunday Ticket package could go to an OTT player, with Google being the name most often mentioned.
In reality, though, there was virtually no chance Sunday Ticket was going to go to OTT, and so the DirecTV renewal comes as no surprise. As I wrote over a year ago, there were at least 5 big challenges to a Google-NFL deal in particular. These essentially boil down to a combination of online video not being mature enough yet to exclusively handle marquee sports broadcasts and the incumbent TV ecosystem desperately needing to retain marquee sports broadcasts like Sunday Ticket.
Roku has announced that it has sold over 10 million of its players in the U.S. cumulatively since it shipped its first one in 2008. Roku last reported sales of 8 million units in January '14, which means the company has sold approximately 2 million units year-to-date (Roku has previously said it sold around 3 million units for all of 2013).
Roku was an early entrant in what has developed into an intensely competitive connected TV space. Apple, whose Apple TV device was famously referred to as a "hobby" by the company (though no longer) has over 20 million users. Google hasn't released any numbers for Chromecast yet, but undoubtedly its sales are well into the millions also (Google is also launching Android TV). And Amazon launched Fire TV this past spring.
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.
Late last week, Visible Measures released its quarterly Branded Video Report for Q2 '14, finding that branded videos were watched 2.8 billion times, an increase of over 50% vs. Q2 '13. The big driver of the record quarterly views was the World Cup, with videos related to it accounting for 19%, or almost 555 million of the views.
Nike was by far the biggest winner of World Cup related branded videos, with nearly 259 million True Reach views during the quarter, 84% of which were from its eight World Cup videos. Nike wasn't even an official World Cup sponsor, but its videos received 2.5x the 103.7 million views of adidas, which was the official sponsor and landed the brand in 3rd place for the quarter.
Categories: Branded Entertainment
Last week's Video Ad Summit program included two sessions on programmatic video advertising, one of the biggest trends in the business today. The morning session focused on the buy/agency side and included executives from Harmelin Media, TubeMogul and Xaxis. The afternoon session focused on the sell/publisher side and included executives from Google, LiveRail, VEVO, Videology and Weather. Both were moderated by Ashley Swartz, CEO and founder of Furious Minds. Videos of both sessions are below.
BrightRoll announced a number of new and expanded partnerships this morning at its BrightRoll Video Summit, all intended to accelerate programmatic video advertising. They include:
comScore and Nielsen - Integration of comScore's Validated Campaign Essentials (VCE) and Nielsen's Online Campaign Ratings (OCR) so buyers can tap into this measurement data in planning, targeting, optimizing and reporting on their campaigns. Access to the data is being provided free to buyers.
Google - A programmatic integration with DoubleClick so that video ad buyers using BrightRoll will be able to gain real-time access to high-quality inventory in the DoubleClick Ad Exchange, which includes YouTube.
BlueKai - Last, BrightRoll announced that mobile audience targeting is available, with BlueKai as the first 3rd-party mobile data provider that has been integrated. Others are expected this year. The mobile capability means buyers using the BrightRoll platform will be able target audiences beyond desktops, on smartphones and tablets. BlueKai includes 20,000 data categories in a marketplace of 70 million unique iOS and Android users.
(Note: I'm attending the BrightRoll Video Summit this morning and will be continuously tweeting highlights at #BRVS.)
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
Since a report appeared in The Verge over the weekend about a new Google initiative called "Android TV" I've been puzzling over the question of whether the world (or even Google) really needs this device. Ordinarily I'm all for innovation, but the (admittedly preliminary) description of Android TV, makes it awfully hard to understand Google's bet here, especially as the momentum and adulation for Chromecast keep growing.
No doubt, Google's primary motivator is to gain the upper hand in the biggest gold rush since the advent of the Internet itself: ownership of the digital living room. Broadband's presence in the living room is getting stronger each day, putting everything up for grabs: how viewers will interact with programming and TVs, where their finite subscription dollars will be allocated, how advertising will work and importantly, which devices will control the experience. With tens of billions of dollars already sloshing through the living room, it's a massive market opportunity that appeals to giant companies as well as startups.
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)
When Google drops $3.2 billion in cash on an acquisition, as it did yesterday with Nest Labs, maker of the Nest self-learning thermostat, you know there are some big, long-term visions playing in the background.
Most of the reviews I've read involve the companies capitalizing on the still nascent "Internet of things," where all devices are intelligently connected, exchanging valuable information that improves our lives. Even though Google and Nest were pretty vague in their joint announcement, I more or less buy into this rationale for the acquisition.
But, looking at the deal through my video-centric prism, I can also see some interesting possibilities coming from a tight integration between Nest and Chromecast, Google's hot-selling connected TV device.
I've been happily using my Chromecast both at home and on the road for 3 weeks now. Chromecast is not quite perfect, but it's an exemplary first version and no doubt destined to get even better. I think there are at least 6 things Google really got right with the device, as follows:
The Internet has been buzzing this week with the idea that Google may bid for the NFL's Sunday Ticket package, which is with DirecTV through the 2014 season. The root of the buzz is a story in AllThingsD that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell met with Google's CEO Larry Page and YouTube's head of content Robert Kyncl and that one of the things they discussed was Sunday Ticket.
Did they seriously discuss Sunday Ticket or was it the last item on a list of things they were spitballing? Who knows. But let's assume for a moment that Google actually WAS interested in Sunday Ticket. Could it happen and does it make sense?
There's certainly no financial impediment for Google. DirecTV pays about $1 billion/year currently. Even if Sunday Ticket's value increased by 50% (which is less than the 60-70% increases the broadcasters and ESPN paid to renew their NFL deals in the past 2 years), it would still be small change for Google. Rather than the money, I see at least 5 big challenges Google (and the NFL) would have to surmount:
By now, you've no doubt heard and/or read something about Google's clever new Chromecast HDMI device, a $35 media streamer introduced yesterday (Google's intro/demo video embedded below). Chromecast has a lot going for it, and could well become Google's first big hit product in the living room. If it does, there will be at least one significant consequence: instead of TVs continuing to become "Smart TVs," they are going to become dumb yet again. This would be a huge blow to TV manufacturers who have labored to convince consumers to spend extra to derive the benefits a Smart TV offers.
I don't think Google set out to kill Smart TVs with Chromecast, but I have no doubt the team recognized some of the serious shortcomings of today's Smart TVs and sought to capitalize on them. At the top of the list of Smart TVs' limitations are lack of integration with other devices, narrow content offerings and inability to entice developers.
I'm pleased to present the 188th edition of the VideoNuze weekly podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week rumors were once again flying about Apple and Google looking to enter the pay-TV industry, which Colin and I separately wrote about here and here.
In our discussion, Colin notes that any potential move would be expensive, given the need to carry many networks in a typical bundle. Colin also believes that Apple's rumored plan to compensate networks for ads skipped in a premium service it may offer has some merit based on his back-of-the-envelope analysis. But Colin is skeptical the networks will be interested in shifting their model away from advertising.
I see it the other way around; given high DVR penetration, networks could be intrigued by the idea of moving more of their economics to fees. The problem is I just don't see how the economics would work for Apple or consumers.
Regrettably, all of this is based on rumors so we readily admit we don't have solid facts on which to base our arguments. And that's why I consider Apple and Google's pay-TV aspirations to be the industry's longest-running soap opera.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 53 seconds)
It's time for the latest episode of the industry's best and longest-running soap opera, "Google, Apple and the Mission to Disrupt Pay-TV." New reports this week (here and here) suggest that the two tech giants are once again angling to get a piece of the pay-TV industry, which, despite already being under attack from all sides, appears to be holding its own.
As in the past, the current episode is based only on "people familiar" with the discussions Google and Apple executives are each having with pay-TV industry players. Google and Apple executives as usual are offering "no comment." The new episode features twists to keep all of us engaged. Apple is reportedly contemplating a "premium" version of its service that will allow users to skip ads, with Apple compensating TV networks for lost ad revenue (not to spoil the drama, but it's awfully hard to see how the math would add up on such a plan or why the networks themselves would go for it). And Google has reportedly even demo'd its product (shocking!), though no details on what it is or how it is different were released.
These days you can pick any sport and you're guaranteed to find examples of how online video is improving the fan experience. Beyond improved access, through live streaming to multiple devices, and post-event catch-up through highlight clips, another dimension of online video's value is now also emerging - fan engagement and interaction. A perfect example of this is the US Open tennis tournament's first-time use of Google Hangouts during its men's and women's finals matches.
Recently, I caught up with the two US Tennis Association executives responsible for the hangouts, Phil Green, senior director, advanced media and Peter Dopkin, director, strategic and business development, advanced media, to learn more. Listening to the strategy behind the hangouts, and how they were executed, what struck me is that in the digital age, forward-thinking sports executives are able to bring the fan, analyst and game together as never before.
I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 144th edition of the VideoNuze-TDG Report podcast. In this week's podcast Colin and I first discuss Google's recently-announced changes to how its search results are determined. Google will now factor in instances of copyright infringement to demote bad actors in its results. Colin sees the change as due to Google's interest in deepening relationships with Hollywood, where YouTube's business is increasingly pointing. However, there has been some dispute about just how much impact Google's change will have on results in YouTube.
Next up we discuss the idea of Apple building set-top boxes for the cable TV industry, which the WSJ wrote about yesterday. I add some further detail to my post ("Apple to Make Cable Set-Top Boxes? Not. Going. To. Happen.") which Colin mostly agrees with, however noting that Apple could add real value to cable's anemic VOD navigation. It's been fun to read all the coverage of the Apple-cable development; I'm clearly among the strongest skeptics. Perhaps I'm missing something big here, though I don't think so. Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 53 seconds)
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(as noted in the podcast, we were each using new microphones this week and Colin's audio setting is a little low; we'll adjust next week)
I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 142nd edition of the VideoNuze-TDG Report podcast. In this week's podcast Colin and I first discuss NBC's Olympics video streaming. Despite some high profile criticism, we agree that NBC has actually done a pretty good job and has laid a foundation for live streaming to be an expected part of all Olympics coverage in the future.
Next we review Q2 '12 results from some of the largest pay-TV operators. Video subscriber losses continue, although Q2 is historically a soft quarter. Colin notes that recent TDG research shows the pay-TV value proposition is increasingly challenged and he believes that means higher churn is ahead, with bigger opportunities for OTT options.
Speaking of those options, Aereo announced new low-cost plans and both Colin and I agree that they're a clever way to reduce entry barriers and increase viewing flexibility. It's still early, but we like Aereo's odds of success.
Last up, we note the early demise of the Nexus Q media streaming device, a product that both us called a dud a couple of weeks ago.
Listen in to learn more.
Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 43 seconds)
Recognizing that online video isn't just for big media brands, last year Google and American Express teamed up to create "My Business Story," a video tool for small businesses to create and post free videos that connect them with new and existing customers. At the recent VideoNuze Online Video Advertising Summit, Lauren Goody, Google's Group Manager, Account Solutions and Rachel Chan, American Express's Director, US Media & Integrated Marketing Platforms discussed the initiative's success with Mark Robertson, founder and publisher of ReelSEO.
I'm pleased to be joined once again by Colin Dixon, senior partner at The Diffusion Group, for the 138th edition of the VideoNuze-TDG Report podcast.
Today we discuss two new products that Google introduced this week, the Nexus 7 tablet and the Nexus Q media streamer. Viewing both through the lens of online/mobile video, I think both products are duds, and are generally inferior to other competitive products already available, especially those from Apple. A particular source of concern for Colin and me is the lack of differentiated content. For instance, the Nexus 7 offers no unlimited viewing plan like Amazon Prime for the Kindle Fire, the device it is most similar to.
Colin is less skeptical, and has even ordered a Nexus 7, though more for professional reasons than anything else. However, he's completely underwhelmed by the Nexus Q, thinking the entire whole home audio product category isn't really addressing a strong consumer need. Further, maybe Google has a master plan it's not sharing, but to both of us, the company's silence on how Google TV fits with the two Nexus devices suggests a real lack of coherency in Google's approach to digital media. Listen in to hear all of the details.
Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 45 seconds)