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Friday, January 30, 2015

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #257 - SVOD Services Gain Momentum

    I'm pleased to present the 257th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we focus on the momentum of SVOD services, in particular internationally. Netflix shared big news earlier this week in its solid Q4 results that it would expand to 200 countries over the next 2 years and generate material profitability by then as well.

    (One quibble  that Colin and I discuss is the fact that there are actually only 196 countries in the world, and that includes unlikely targets such as North Korea, Angola, Russia, etc. A Netflix spokesman subsequently told me that their list includes territories and dependencies, though he wasn't able to say how many. Regardless, Netflix plans to be in all countries and territories where it can legally operate.)

    Beyond Netflix, Amazon is also on a roll, with its Golden Globes wins, Woody Allen deal, and new movies initiative. And note this Saturday it's running a special on Prime for $72 (vs. the regular $99 rate), which is sure to generate tons of new sign-ups.

    Listen in to learn more!



    Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 4 seconds)

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  • Netflix's Q4 '14 Results: Growth Accelerates Abroad, Slows in U.S.

    Netflix reported solid Q4 2014 results yesterday, with subscriber growth accelerating internationally, while slowing in the U.S. Internationally, the company added 2.43 million subscribers in Q4, compared to 1.74 million in Q4, 13 and 1.81 million in Q4 '12. However, in the U.S. Netflix added 1.9 million subscribers, down from 2.33 million in Q4 '13 and 2 million in Q4 '12.

    Overall the company added 4.33 million subscribers in Q4 '14, slightly ahead of last year's Q4 of 4.07 million, to end the year with 57.4 million subscribers (39.1 in the U.S. and 18.3 internationally).

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  • Study: Netflix Tops for Watching Streaming TV Programs

    Here's more evidence of how watching TV programs is changing: according to part two of a TV viewer survey fielded by NATPE and CEA, 71% of respondents said they have streamed full-length TV programs in the past 6 months. No surprise, Netflix was the go-to source, with 40% having watched there, followed by 26% for YouTube and 25% for network web sites.

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  • Perspective What's this? 3 Ways Binge-Watching is Changing the TV Game

    In early September, my 11-year-old son filled out a get-to-know-you school questionnaire, listing his favorite things - tigers, the color orange, and...binge-watching.

    My boy, who dove deep during summer break into Alphas (originally on Syfy, now on Netflix, highly underrated), has tons of company. More than 75% of TV Guide users say they binge-watch regularly. Remarkably, a behavior for which we didn’t even have a name a few years ago is now an exploding mass-market consumer habit that is changing the TV game - and benefitting both consumers and entertainment companies - in three major ways:

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  • Amazon Expands Into Movies for Theaters and Prime Instant Video

    Amazon announced this morning plans to produce and acquire original movies for theatrical release and for distribution on its Prime Instant Video service. The company's goal is to release 12 movies per year, with production starting later in 2015.

    One key twist of Amazon's plan is to release movies on its Prime Instant Video service in the U.S. just 4-8 weeks after theatrical debut, significantly shorter than the typical 39-52 weeks that movies usually take before showing up on Netflix or other SVOD services. One obvious question arising from the shorter window to SVOD release is whether audiences might be reluctant to buy increasingly expensive theater tickets to Amazon's movies when they'll be on the service so soon after (a year of Amazon Prime costs less than taking a family of 4 to the movies, when including pricey concessions). If that proves to be the case, theaters themselves may be reluctant to show Amazon's movies.

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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)

    Click here for previous podcasts

    Click here to add the podcast feed to your RSS reader.

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

     
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  • Amazon's and Netflix's Golden Globes Underscore OTT's Role as Bona Fide Alternative to TV

    At last night's Golden Globe awards, Amazon's series "Transparent" won Best Comedy, with its star Jeffrey Tambor winning best actor - TV Comedy, while Netflix's "House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey won for best actor - TV drama. Granted, it's just one awards show, and just two programs, but the Amazon and Netflix wins further legitimize OTT as a bona fide alternative source of high-quality programming to broadcast and cable TV.

    The operative word here is "alternative." Note that for years, Netflix in particular has characterized itself as "supplemental" to broadcast and cable TV. And to be sure, with around 37 million Netflix subscribers in the U.S. and cord-cutting still relatively muted, the reality is that today Netflix still is mostly a "supplemental" service.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #254 - The Top 10 Online Video Stories of 2014

    I'm pleased to present the 254th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    As is our custom for the final podcast of the year, today Colin and I discuss our top 10 online video stories of 2014. Needless to say, it was an incredibly busy year for online video, making it quite a challenge to narrow our list to just 10 top stories. If you disagree with any of our choices, then as always, we welcome your feedback.

    Stepping back and reviewing the list, I think there's an argument to be made that when observers look back 10-20 years from now, 2014 could well be viewed as the big turning point for online video - the year when all of the critical pieces to online video becoming a completely mainstream experience fell into place. These pieces include viewer acceptance, burgeoning content, robust monetization, wide deployment of connected devices and mobility. At a minimum, buckle up, because the stage has been set for a huge 2015.

    Colin and I would like to thank all of our listeners for tuning into our podcast this year, and wish all of you happy holidays!


    Click here to listen to the podcast (26 minutes, 39 seconds)

    Click here for previous podcasts

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

     
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  • HBO Outsources OTT Backend to MLBAM In Early Sign of Challenges Ahead

    Fortune broke the news yesterday that HBO has chosen to outsource the backend technology for its upcoming standalone OTT service to MLBAM, abandoning its own efforts to build the necessary technology. Just after the story broke, HBO's CTO Otto Berkes announced that he was leaving the company.

    No question, MLBAM has a very strong technology solution, which it uses for its own streaming video offering, and it is used by other media companies as well. Still, it's hard not to see HBO's sudden shift as an early sign of the numerous challenges HBO has ahead of it in launching its OTT service (which is reportedly targeted for April, simultaneous with season 5 of "Game of Thrones").

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  • Research: TV Networks' Viewership Continues Falling, With Structural Shift to SVOD Looming

    Bernstein Research has introduced a new weekly tracking report analyzing ad-supported U.S. TV networks' viewership on a year-over-year basis. The first version, released today, shows that for the week of November 10-16, audiences fell again across the board: down 8% for cable networks, 9% for broadcast and 17% for kids-oriented networks specifically. The declines were similar on a quarter-to-date basis as well.

    Bernstein has previously calculated that ad-supported TV networks' audiences declined by around 13 minutes per day in Q3, while SVOD viewership increased by around 12 minutes per day, making SVOD the dominant driver of the TV networks' audience erosion.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #251 - Nielsen to Measure SVOD; OTT Initiatives in Europe

    I'm pleased to present the 251st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    First up this week we dig into Nielsen's new plan to measure viewership on SVOD services. Both Colin and I believe this holds a lot of potential for TV networks and studios, though we're cautious until we learn more about the data that is produced (for more, Nielsen's SVP, Client Insights Dounia Turrill will be speaking at the Dec. 4th VideoSchmooze and this will be a topic of discussion).

    We then transition to talking about specific OTT initiatives underway in Europe. Colin was in London this week attending a conference where he had a number of valuable conversations with broadcasters and pay-TV operators. He shares some specifics.

    (Apologies - our recording quality is a little shaky this week due to connection issues)

    Listen in to learn more!


    Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 34 seconds)

    Click here for previous podcasts

    Click here to add the podcast feed to your RSS reader.

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

     
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  • Study: Netflix Dominates Wired Internet Usage, YouTube Tops on Mobile

    Sandvine has released its latest Global Internet Phenomena Report based on data collected in March, 2014 across leading wired and mobile broadband networks. Focusing just on North America, Netflix once again dominates primetime usage, accounting for 34.9% of downstream bandwidth, more than the next 6 services combined. YouTube was second with 14.04% of bandwidth.

    It's a different story on mobile however, where YouTube remains the top downstream provider, eating up 19.75% of bandwidth, up from 17.7% a year ago, with Netflix in 5th place with just 4.51%.  The usage pattern largely reflects the difference between Netflix's long-form content focus vs. YouTube's short-form focus. YouTube's CEO Susan Wojcicki recently disclosed that 50% of YouTube's usage is now on mobile.

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  • Why Nielsen Measuring SVOD Viewership is Potentially a Very Big Deal

    The WSJ reported last night that next month Nielsen will begin measuring viewership of programs on Netflix and Amazon. This would represent the first time that any sort of granular viewing data by program would be available, offering potentially huge benefits to the ecosystem. According to the WSJ, Nielsen will use its people meters to analyze the audio components of programs. A key caveat is that mobile viewing would not yet be measured.

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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)


    Click here for previous podcasts

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

     
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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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  • 8 Initial Reactions to HBO's New OTT Service

    HBO has dropped a bombshell, announcing plans to launch a standalone over-the-top service in the U.S. in 2015. The announcement was extremely short on details, except to say it was targeted to the 80 million U.S. homes that do not currently subscribe to HBO. Here are my 8 quick reactions to the news. Many more thoughts to follow as more details are released.

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  • Perspective What's this? The Future of TV: 4 Reasons Why It Will Keep Getting Better

    A new wave of viewers has emerged: they're connected, they know what they want to watch, when they want to watch it, and most importantly, how they want to watch it. They are chomping at the bit for premium content that is both accessible and affordable. At the same time, the advent of OTT and connected TV devices has made way for a whole new viewing experience where "television" simply refers to the largest screen in the house.

    We all know the TV ecosystem of tomorrow will look vastly different than today's current landscape, but what changes can we expect? Here are four predictions for what trends will emerge over the next few months and years:

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  • Data is the Real King, As Netflix Keeps Proving

    "Content is King." No, wait, "Distribution is King." No, wait, "Content and distribution are equals and need to work together." And on the debate has raged for years about what's at the core of the media and entertainment industry's success. Meanwhile, Netflix keeps proving that data is fast becoming the real king, with profound implications for all players in the industry.

    The latest evidence of data's ascendance and Netflix's ability to harness it is the company's new 4 movie deal with Adam Sandler. Opinions about Sandler are all over the board, but in a must-read interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix's content head Ted Sarandos neatly summed up why Netflix made such a big commitment to him:

    "The more global we become, the more access we have to global behavior data so we can see what people are watching all around the world. Very uniquely, he (Sandler) stands out for his global appeal to Netflix subscribers. Even movies that were soft in the U.S. outperformed dramatically on Netflix in the U.S. and around the world."

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #244 - Will Netflix Disrupt Movies' Windowing Practices With "Crouching Tiger" Sequel?

    I'm pleased to present the 244th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Netflix kicked up a lot of dust earlier this week, when it announced the sequel of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," produced by The Weinstein Company, will be available simultaneously as part of Netflix monthly subscriptions and in IMAX theaters when it premieres in August, 2015. The so-called "day-and-date" strategy prompted two of the three big U.S. IMAX chains, Regal and Cinemark, to declare they won't show "Crouching Tiger" on their screens.

    The core issue here is whether a meaningful percentage of Netflix subscribers will opt to watch the movie as part of their subscription, thereby cannibalizing potential theater sales. Colin and I agree this risk is high, mainly because a family of four would pay at least $60-$80 just for tickets to see the movie in IMAX, a stark premium over their $8 Netflix subscription.

    Admittedly, IMAX is a very unique experience, but with the quality of today's HDTVs and home theater, for many, watching at home is quite stellar. As such, theater owners seem well justified in boycotting the movie to preserve their long-term value proposition.

    The "Crouching Tiger" move raises a host of other questions Colin and I also dig into: Will it have a positive impact on piracy? Is Netflix signaling a serious push beyond TV into movies (see also its 4-movie Adam Sandler deal this week)? And, is Netflix shifting toward a more exclusive content strategy?

    Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 28 seconds)


    Click here for previous podcasts

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

     
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