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Friday, March 6, 2015

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Analysis for 'Netflix'

  • New Noggin OTT Service Will Be Next Test of Consumers' Willingness-to-Buy

    Yesterday Viacom announced Noggin, a new $5.99/month ad-free, mobile-centric OTT service for preschoolers that will launch on March 5th. Viacom said that Noggin's content will be solely library-based, making it distinct from what's already available on-air on Nick Jr. Noggin will include programs such as "Blue's Clues," "Little Bear" and "Ni Hao, Kari-lan," plus others. In addition to the OTT offering, Viacom said it's talking to pay-TV operators about Noggin being a premium offer for authenticated subscribers.

    Noggin is the latest response by TV networks to the dramatic market changes currently playing out. As I recently described, disruption has been particularly acute in the kids' space, where kids' cable TV networks' ratings are plunging as OTT services have avidly built out their kids offerings. Just since writing that piece 2 weeks ago, YouTube has launched a kids-focused app, Netflix has added 5 new kids series and Amazon has renewed 4 others, all amping up the pressure on kids TV networks even further.

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  • Kids-Oriented Cable TV Networks Are Being Decimated By OTT Options

    There's no better illustration of the massive disruptive impact of OTT options like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime than the decimation of kids-oriented cable TV networks currently playing out. According to Todd Juenger, senior analyst at Bernstein, whose weekly TV Audience Tracker (which is based on Nielsen data), I closely follow, viewership of kids cable TV networks is down 23% quarter-to-date in 2015 vs. the same period of 2014.

    The trends are even worse. For the most recent week (ending Feb. 1st), viewership was down 28%, following the prior week when it was down 29%. These declines compare to the relatively more modest-looking Q4 '14 decline of 16.8% vs. Q4 '13. For the Feb. 1st week, all kids cable networks were down, with Nickelodeon losing the most - a whopping 44% of its prior year viewership, and Cartoon Network losing the least - 3% vs. the prior year. Every kids cable network Bernstein follows is down so far this year, except Cartoon, which is up 6%.

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  • Netflix's Original Content and International Expansion Plans Create New Risks

    Netflix made waves in its recent Q4 earnings report by announcing a massive acceleration of its international rollout, with its goal to now be in 200 countries by the end of 2016, up from 50 today (note there's some murkiness around counting to 200 countries as well). One of the keys to Netflix's successful international expansion is offering a robust content library, which in turn means owning the worldwide distribution rights to marquee programming.

    But a new note from analysts MoffettNathanson observes that studios are increasingly resisting Netflix's proposed global license fee structure, which only allows for a 20-30% markup on the actual cost of producing the shows. Instead, studios are biased to retain international distribution rights because of the potential for far more lucrative distribution deals.

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  • Just a Month Into 2015, Signs of Video's Momentum Abound, With Big Growth to Come

    (Note, I'll share details of online viewing of Super Bowl ads and the game later today…I'm still pulling all of the relevant data together.)

    We're just a month into 2015, and there are already abundant signs of online and mobile video's momentum, with lots more growth to come as the year unfolds. Here's what's hit my radar so far:

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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)

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    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)

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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)

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    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)


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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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