Beachfront Leaderboard - 2-11-16

Analysis for 'Netflix'

  • VideoNuze Podcast #308: Week in Review - Facebook, Nielsen Data, Sundance, Netflix Censorship

    I'm pleased to present the 308th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    In today’s podcast we discuss a number of different items that hit our radar this week. We start with Facebook’s growing impact in video, which was detailed on the company’s earning call earlier this week.

    We then transition recent research from Nielsen which Colin analyzed, showing the level of viewership by device.

    Next up, Colin and I were watching reports from the Sundance Film Festival noting the aggressive bidding by Amazon and Netflix, underscoring another industry segment being disrupted by SVOD. Last, we touch on the problems Netflix is already running into with its international expansion. Indonesia was the latest country to raise red flags on Netflix’s content this week.
     
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  • VideoNuze Podcast #307: Reviewing Netflix’s Q4 ’15 Results

    I'm pleased to present the 307th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Netflix reported its Q4 ’15 results this week, beating its forecast for international subscriber growth while falling short on domestic subscribers, for the second quarter in a row. We have our differences in how we interpret the results, with Colin focusing much more on the international story, while I’m paying more attention to the domestic shortfall.

    Still, Colin and I agree that Netflix will be defined more as an international company going forward and will face a slew of new challenges addressing disparate countries around the world. How they navigate these challenges will greatly impact their future performance.

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  • Netflix’s U.S. Subscriber Slowdown Continues As International Accelerates

    Netflix reported its Q4 ’15 and full year results yesterday, showing a second quarterly slowdown in U.S. subscriber growth, offset by accelerating international subscriber growth.

    In Q4 ’15 Netflix added just 1.56 million subscribers in the U.S., down from 1.9 million in Q4 ’14 and below the company’s forecast of 1.65 million. It was also the lowest number of additions in 4 years. In Netflix’s letter to shareholders, it cited “high penetration in the U.S. seems to be making net additions harder than in the past” and new credit/debit card rollovers continuing to be a “background issue” (the latter was cited by the company as the main issue for the big shortfall in Q3 ’15). Both of these points were reinforced on the video earnings review call.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #305: Digging Into Netflix’s Global Content Plans

    I'm pleased to present the 305th edition of the VideoNuze podcast  and the first of 2016, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we dig further into Netflix’s rollout to 130 additional countries and more specifically, the implications of its “content globalization” experiment that I wrote about yesterday. We discuss the pros and cons of the company’s “produce locally, distribute globally” approach. With Netflix’s viewer data, I continue to believe the company has a big opportunity to leverage its international reach in ways we’ve never seen before. It also has a potentially powerful competitive differentiator.

    However, Colin points out a few gotchas, including that Netflix is only deploying in 20 languages, the single price of the Netflix global player means it will be very expensive in lower-wage countries and the risk that government censors in some countries may intervene given some of Netflix’s racier programming. These are all great points, and will make it even more interesting to see how the international expansion goes.

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  • Netflix is Pursuing the Biggest-Ever Experiment in Content Globalization

    In watching the press conference with Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos that followed the company’s CES announcement yesterday that it was expanding to 130 additional countries, the most significant thing that struck me is that Netflix is pursuing the biggest-ever experiment in content globalization. Depending on the results, there will be profound implications for all players in the video value chain.

    First, it’s important to clearly understand Netflix’s content globalization initiative. In the press conference, Hastings and Sarandos emphasized that the company’s focus is on investing in original content and retaining global distribution rights (this is a big departure from the “House of Cards” strategy where co-investors got the global rights in order for Netflix to mitigate its financial exposure).

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #302: Amazon Could Disrupt SVOD, But First It Needs to Step Up Its Execution

    I'm pleased to present the 302nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Earlier this week I wrote bullishly about Amazon’s new “Streaming Partners Program,” (SPP), which could disrupt the SVOD industry. I emphasized the word “could” because, as with everything in life, execution is everything.

    In that post, I noted that SPP on Amazon’s web site was already implemented well, but that the iPhone app experience didn’t work. In today’s podcast, Colin shares his experiences on both Android and Fire TV, which are shockingly incomplete.

    It’s very surprising to see Amazon, which is typically an execution machine, come up so short here, and it suggests they rushed SPP to market before being 100% ready.

    Implementation issues aside, we discuss the overall merits of SPP and Colin’s view that Netflix is actually better positioned for an SPP-like role in SVOD. I still like Amazon’s SPP strategy a lot and will keep an eye on how things unfold.

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  • Amazon Could Disrupt the Entire SVOD Industry With Its New “Streaming Partners Program”

    Amazon made a very significant announcement this morning, unveiling its “Streaming Partners Program,” which I believe could disrupt the entire SVOD industry if executed well. There are many ramifications of the Streaming Partners Program (which has been rumored, and I’ll call “SPP” for short) that I’ll explain below, albeit based on still limited information.

    First, what is SPP? From an SVOD provider’s perspective, it’s an opportunity to have Amazon promote the SVOD service to tens of millions of Prime subscribers, with special pricing and promotions. Amazon handles subscriber acquisition, customer service, billing, credit card management, video streaming and device compatibility. Basically it frees up SVOD providers to focus on what they do best - create great content. Amazon announced that Showtime, Starz and 18 other SVOD providers are initial SPP partners.

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  • Sandvine: 70% of North American Peak Period Downstream Internet Traffic is Video and Audio

    Sandvine has released its December, 2015 Global Internet Phenomena report, revealing that video and audio traffic now accounts for 70.4% of North American downstream traffic on wired networks in peak period. Sandvine said that 5 years ago, video and audio accounted for less than 35% of peak period traffic.

    Netflix has become even more dominant in the past year, now with 37.1% of downstream traffic, up from 34.9% that Sandvine reported in November, 2014. Among other popular services, YouTube was in second place with 17.9% share (up from 14% share in Nov. ’14), Amazon Video was fourth (3.1% share, up from 2.6% in Nov. ’14), iTunes was fifth (2.8% share, flat from Nov. ’14), Hulu was sixth (2.6%, up from 1.4% in Nov. ’14) and Facebook seventh (2.5%, down from 3% in Nov. 14).

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #294: Puzzling Over Netflix’s Q3 U.S. Subscriber Shortfall

    I'm pleased to present the 294th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Netflix reported its Q3 2015 earnings this week with overall subscriber growth pretty much in line with the company’s forecast. However, net U.S subscriber additions came in at 880K, which was 270K short of the 1.15 million forecast for Q3 this past July in the company’s Q2 earnings report.

    It was the weakest Q3 U.S. subscriber growth since 2011, and continued a downward trend over the past 3 years (1.29 million in Q3 ’13, 980K in Q3 ’14). Netflix said gross subscriber additions in the U.S. were actually up year-over-year in Q3 ’15, and that the shortfall was due to “involuntary churn” caused by credit card companies issuing new chip-enabled cards with new account numbers which in turn caused a disruption in recurring billing.

    While we have no reason to doubt the veracity of Netflix’s explanation, many analysts, including Colin and me, find it very murky. Credit card companies have pushed back on the rationale, and other recurring merchants have said they haven’t seen any similar problems. We share our concerns and raise the possibility that Netflix may be reaching the saturation point in the U.S. with slower growth ahead (Q4 results will go a long way to addressing this).

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #289: The New Apple TV: Solid, Not Spectacular; Netflix Anti-Downloading

    I’m posting this week’s VideoNuze podcast a day early as the first segment focuses on the new Apple TV, which was introduced yesterday.

    Colin and I both see the new Apple TV as solid, but not spectacular. In many ways, it’s just catching up to what other devices have been offering: voice search, search across apps and gaming capabilities. The latter could ultimately be Apple TV’s big differentiator if Apple’s legion of developers take advantage of the new “tvOS” operating system SDK to create breakthrough new gaming experiences. We were both intrigued by the new remote with swipe capability, as well.

    We then turn our attention to Netflix’s anti-downloading stance, which I dug into yesterday. I find it both perplexing and frustrating, with the company’s explanation not adding up. Colin isn’t initially as convinced as I am that downloading is a killer app, though with a 10-hour flight to Amsterdam today, he’s beginning to realize how much value it would have.
     
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  • Netflix’s Anti-Downloading Stance is Perplexing and Frustrating

    It’s been 4 years since Netflix’s “Qwikster” fiasco, in which the company infamously tried to separate its DVD business, eliciting emphatic objections from its subscribers. Netflix offered implausible explanations for its move and ultimately reversed itself. Since then the company has executed flawlessly, expanding its content, extending its international footprint, watching its stock price soar and most importantly, winning back the love of its subscribers.

    Thus it is perplexing and frustrating to see Netflix oppose the idea of enabling its content to be downloaded for offline viewing, as an augment to streaming it. Reminiscent of Qwikster, Netflix is offering up bizarre and non-sensical explanations for opposing the download feature that it readily admits its subscribers are hungry for. Further, with Amazon’s expansion of Prime Video downloading to iOS and Android devices last week, it also appears to be a new competitive lever among SVOD providers.

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  • In Wild West of SVOD Launches, EPIX Stays Disciplined and Signs On With Hulu

    Yesterday pay-TV network EPIX announced a multi-year distribution deal with Hulu that will kick in on October 1st, as EPIX’s current deal with Netflix phases out.

    Perhaps most noteworthy here is that in the current Wild West environment where everyone and their brother are launching standalone SVOD services, EPIX has remained disciplined in choosing to instead team up with a large SVOD player (EPIX has a separate SVOD deal with Amazon dating to 2012 as well).

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  • Sesame - HBO Deal Also Underscores Difficulty of Niche SVOD Model

    When Sesame Workshop announced its deal with HBO last week, everyone seemed to have an opinion about whether another “poor door” had been created, this time for Elmo and his iconic friends.

    It’s an interesting societal debate, but what was more intriguing to me was that Sesame’s deal with HBO signaled that its own SVOD efforts had not delivered material results (and with the new HBO deal, I’d guess will likely be phased out at some point). That in turn reinforced my belief that the niche SVOD model is extremely difficult given the rise of “super” SVOD services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

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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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  • VideoNuze Podcast #285: Understanding SVOD’s Role for Viewers and the Media Ecosystem

    I'm pleased to present the 285th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    It’s been a wild week for major media companies as mixed earnings reports, fears that cord-cutting is accelerating and anxiety over ad dollars leaving TV all combined to send big media stocks plummeting. Meanwhile, with Netflix expanding internationally, Hulu and Amazon gaining ground and many other SVOD services launching in 2015, the question of what role SVOD will play for consumers and in the media ecosystem of the future is becoming more relevant all the time.

    Those are the topics of today’s podcast, as we start by analyzing recent Parks research (which both Colin and I wrote about, here and here) revealing high levels of churn for various SVOD services. Colin is less concerned about high churn than I am, as I see high churn as indicative of a broader challenge SVOD services have with consumers, namely, not being seen more as transactional opportunities, given how frictionless it is to add/drop these services.

    Colin and I agree that great content is going to be the key to SVOD services retaining subscribers. But with more people walking around with binge-viewing bucket lists, I think it’s going to be harder than ever to hook viewers on shows they didn’t have an interest in already, especially given the proliferation of great content. We explore these dynamics further.

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  • Why SVOD Services Are At Risk Of Being Downgraded by Consumers to Transactional VOD

    Research released late last week by Parks Associates, which revealed high levels of churn for many smaller SVOD services, reinforced for me that many of these services are at risk of being seen as little more than transactional VOD opportunities by consumers. If this occurs it would have huge implications for both the SVOD services and larger ecosystem.

    First, to review the research, Parks found that for SVOD services other than Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, the churn rate over the past 12 months was equal to 60% of those who subscribed to such services. For Hulu Plus, 7% of U.S. broadband subscribers cancelled their subscription in the past 12 months (equaling churn of half or more of Hulu Plus’s subscribers). Parks estimated Amazon’s churn at around 25% (though that’s clouded by value of the overall Prime service). Only Netflix fared well, with churn in the past 12 months running around 9% of its subscriber base. Note, none of these SVOD services publicly disclose their churn rates.

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  • Do Verizon’s Weak Q2 Video Subscriber Additions Suggest Accelerating Cord-Nevering?

    Verizon reported that Q2 ’15 FiOS video subscriber additions declined to just 26K in Q2 ’15, down from 100K additions in Q2 ’14 and 140K additions in Q2 ’13. In the earnings call, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo pinned the blame for the declines on “triple play offer changes at a time of increased competitive intensity” before saying that its new Custom TV packages are now accounting for a third of all new video subscribers.

    Verizon is the first big pay-TV operator to share its results and a key question is whether its weak quarter is an early indicator of an accelerating industry slowdown. Last week, in discussing Netflix’s breakout Q2 ’15 results in the U.S. (in which it added 900K subscribers vs. a range of 530K-630K additions in each of the prior second quarters), I asserted that Netflix’s gain could finally be coming at pay-TV’s expense, particularly among younger cord-nevers.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #282: With Strong Q2 Results, Netflix's Disruptive Potential Increases

    I'm pleased to present the 282nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we dig into Netflix’s Q2 ’15 results. As I wrote yesterday, the big number for me was the 900K subscriber additions in the U.S., breaking out of the narrow 530K-630K range over the past 3 years. If pay-TV video subscriber additions are soft for Q2 when reported over the next few weeks, then it will suggest accelerated cord-cutting and cord-nevering.

    Colin also explores Netflix’s big international gains, its emerging movie strategy and its endorsement of the Charter-Time Warner Cable deal. While Netflix may well be negatively impacting the video side of the pay-TV business, we also discuss what impact it is having on the broadband side.

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  • Here's the Most Important Number in Netflix's Q2 '15 Earnings Report

    Netflix released its Q2 ’15 earnings late yesterday, adding 3.28 million subscribers globally, almost twice as many as the 1.69 million it added in Q2 ’14. Everyone knows that Netflix has been expanding fast internationally, but what was most intriguing about the Q2 report was that Netflix added 900K subscribers in the U.S. vs. its forecast of 600K. The 900K compares with 570K U.S. adds in Q2 ’14, 630K in Q2 ’13 and 530K in Q2 ’12.

    In other words, in Q2 ’15 Netflix significantly broke out of a relatively narrow growth range it had been in over the past 3 years in the seasonally-weak second quarter. The 900K add is even more noteworthy because Netflix has almost twice as many U.S. subscribers (42.3 million) now than it did 3 years ago (23.9 million). The law of large numbers suggests the bigger a company gets, the harder it is to achieve even comparable unit growth, much less greater growth.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #279: Industry Change Illustrated Well by 6 News Items This Week

    I'm pleased to present the 279th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Change is everywhere in the video and TV industries and this week 6 different news items hit our radar, which Colin and I think illustrate how quickly things are moving. In today's podcast we discuss each of them and why we think they're significant.

    The items include continued falling linear TV ratings as measured by Nielsen, Hulu distributing Showtime, new research showing that Netflix's audience is size larger than those of broadcast TV networks, Tennis Channel's converged TV Everywhere-OTT model, HBO premiering 2 new shows on Facebook and Ooyala's new data showing that 42% of video views are now on mobile.

    (note: Colin wanted to clarify one point - when citing Netflix viewership, he said it was 10 million hours streamed per quarter when it's actually 10 billion hours)

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