Posts for 'Cable TV Operators'

  • Cord-Cutting Accelerates, Top Pay-TV Operators Lost Nearly 1.5 Million Subscribers in 2017

    The top 13 pay-TV operators in the U.S., which represent around 95% of the total market, lost nearly 1.5 million subscribers in 2017, double 2016’s loss of 760K subscribers, according to Leichtman Research Group. However, the loss would balloon to nearly 3.1 million subscribers after deducting the 1.6 million skinny bundle or “vMVPD” subscribers that were added in 2017. The 3.1 million multichannel subscriber loss is about 62% higher than the 1.9 million lost in 2016. The top 13 pay-TV operators ended 2017 with approximately 92.2 million subscribers.

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  • Research: Pay-TV Satisfaction is Up, But Price Remains Achilles Heel

    TiVo has released its Q2 ’17 Video Trends Report, finding among other things that satisfaction with the value of pay-TV among subscribers noticeably increased over the prior quarter even as price remains a major concern, and a driver of cord-cutting.

    TiVo found that 31.2% of subscribers said they’re “very satisfied” with the value of their pay-TV service, up 7.5 percentage points vs. Q1 ’17 and 11.6 percentage points over the past 2 years. Another 52.9% of subscribers said they’re “satisfied,” roughly flat with Q1 ’17. Respondents saying they’re “unsatisfied” dropped 6.9 percentage points vs. the prior quarter to 15.9%.

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  • Comcast Integrates YouTube Into X1 Set-Top Boxes

    Comcast announced this morning that YouTube has been launched on its X1 set-top boxes, further supporting Comcast’s strategy of becoming an “aggregator of aggregators.” Comcast integrated Netflix into X1 last November, the first major milestone of wrapping popular online video services into X1, which vastly simplifies viewers’ experiences.

    Billions of YouTube videos will now be available to X1 subscribers, equally accessible as Comcast’s own live, on-demand and DVR programming as well as online sources like Netflix. YouTube video will also be filtered into the Xfinity On Demand menu, and be available via the X1 voice remote. X1 users can search YouTube by voice or text by topic (beauty, cooking, music, etc.), by specific names of talent, shows and by live-streams.

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  • Turning the Tables, Newsy Pursues Pay-TV Distribution With RLTV Deal

    Here’s a somewhat counter-intuitive move: Newsy, a millennial-focused OTT news property, is buying the pay-TV carriage agreements of Retirement Living Television covering around 26 million multichannel TV subscribers in order to get a position on the cable dial. The deal will cost Newsy’s owner E.W. Scripps approximately $23 million, or 93 cents per RLTV subscriber. Newsy also expects to get to 40 million pay-TV subscribers by the end of 2018.

    The deal is predicated on developing Newsy into a “prominent multi-platform news network with dual revenue streams,” according to Scripps president and CEO Adam Symson. Newsy already has carriage deals with skinny bundles YouTube TV and Sling TV and clearly believes it can extend its audience reach and advertising potential by being available in multichannel bundles. Scripps also sees Newsy’s programming as helping pay-TV operators appeal to younger audiences.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #384: Rounding Up the Week’s Top News

    I’m pleased to present the 384th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On today’s podcast, Colin and I first discuss Q2 ’17 pay-TV video subscriber results. Skinny bundles played a big part in offsetting accelerating losses in traditional multichannel services. Will this continue and if so what are the implications?

    We then dig into the DVD market’s decline which was further accelerated this week when Amazon decided to close down its LOVEFiLM DVD-by-mail business in several European countries. Colin notes that Netflix’s DVD business has had a huge drop-off also and he speculates whether it too might get cut loose. On the bright side, Redbox re-upped its deal with Lionsgate, showing that DVDs still have a bit of life left.

    Finally, Apple was back in the news this week, reportedly allocating $1 billion for original TV shows. We speculate on whether this will be successful and what challenges Apple will face.

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  • FX Launches FX+ With Comcast; Is An SVOD A La Carte World Coming Into View?

    This morning, FX and Comcast announced FX+, an ad-free subscription video on demand service available to Xfinity TV subscribers for $5.99 per month. FX+ is quite comprehensive, including full current seasons of 17 different FX shows (e.g. “The Americans,” “Atlanta,” “Taboo,” etc.) along with library seasons of 16 current and prior shows (e.g. “The Shield,” “The League,” “Nip/Tuck,” etc.). In all, there will be over 1,100 episodes of FX programming available to subscribers.

    FX+ follows the recent announcement of AMC Premiere by AMC and Comcast, which is another ad-free SVOD service, available for $4.99 per month. However, AMC Premiere doesn’t include AMC’s deep library of popular programs, highlighted by “The Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men,” while also including some original digital content. AMC Premiere’s shallow content selection suggests its success will be modest.

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  • Amazon is Poised to Nose Its Way Into the Pay-TV Business

    You would have to have had your head buried in the sand these past few months not to notice that Amazon has become the “it” company everybody can’t stop talking about. Whether buying Whole Foods, innovating its Echo smart speakers, challenging Blue Apron in meal kits, introducing its own Geek Squad to compete with Best Buy or countless other initiatives, all of a sudden Amazon seems to be omnipresent. And with an estimated 80 million Prime members, Amazon is in fact now literally present in many people’s day-to-day lives.  

    Amazon has what it calls “pillars” (Prime, e-commerce, cloud, etc.), and it’s becoming clearer by the quarter that video is fast becoming another one. In video, the company’s efforts are wide-ranging - devices (Fire TV), original content (which is included in Prime and on which it is spending billions), licensed content (also in Prime), live sports (with its NFL Thursday night deal), SVOD distribution (via its Amazon Channels program for 3rd party and original services), digital video premieres (with its Amazon Video Direct program), international (expanding its own SVOD service to 200+ countries) and technology enablement (with AWS and acquisitions like Elemental). In sum, Amazon is already operating in virtually every part of the video value chain.

    Despite all of this, I believe that Amazon’s video efforts are still completely under-appreciated. With a number of industry trends coming into view, Amazon’s video momentum could significantly increase and carry it straight into the heart of the pay-TV industry.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #381: Inside Comcast's and AT&T's Q2 Video Results and the Role of Skinny Bundles

    I’m pleased to present the 381st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we discuss both Comcast’s and AT&T’s Q2 ’17 video subscriber results, which were dramatically different, and what we see as the implications.

    First, Comcast, lost 34K residential video subs in Q2 ’17, as compared with losing just 4K in Q2 ’16.  Colin and I differ in our interpretation, with him more concerned that Comcast’s streak with X1 has likely run its course. I’m more sanguine because as I look more broadly, over the past 4 quarters, Comcast has managed to turn in exceptional performance in the face of massive cord-cutting headwinds.

    By contrast, AT&T’s core video businesses - Uverse and DirecTV - have been hemorrhaging subscribers over the past year, and Q2 highlights how deeply discounted and bundled DirecTV Now is the only bright spot in video for AT&T.  But as I explain, the company’s willingness to all but give away its skinny bundle to preserve its wireless business has potentially profound long-term consequences for the entire pay-TV industry, with Amazon increasingly well-positioned to be a big winner.

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  • How Comcast Has Eaten Into Apple’s Movie Rentals/Purchase Dominance

    An article in the WSJ over the weekend “Apple’s iTunes Falls Short in Battle for Video Viewers” caught my attention for a number of reasons, not least of which it touched on how quickly Comcast has succeeded in growing its market share in digital movie rentals and downloads.

    While iTunes is estimated to still hold the market share lead in the digital movie rental and purchase industry with a share of between 20% to 35%, that’s down from over 50% in 2012. The article notes that Amazon’s share is now up to around 20% and Comcast’s is at 15%. For Amazon, video rentals and purchases represent another way it leverages its e-commerce expertise. Rentals/purchases are also very complementary to Amazon’s Prime Video service. In many ways, there’s nothing surprising at all about how Amazon has taken a bite out of Apple’s market share.

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  • Comcast Launches Ad-Free AMC Premiere

    AMC Premiere, an ad-free version of the popular cable network AMC, will be available for $4.99 per month to Comcast’s Xfinity TV subscribers, the latest initiative by pay-TV incumbents to offer more flexible access to viewers. AMC Premiere provides ad-free access to the network’s current season programs along with a variety of exclusive and first-look content and movies.

    However, AMC Premiere does not include past seasons of “The Walking Dead” for example, or any of the iconic programming like “Mad Men” or “Breaking Bad,” which put AMC on the map for high-quality originals. All of those have long been licensed to Netflix. The most recent season of “The Walking Dead,” as well as prior ones, are available on demand from Comcast for $2.99 per episode. Many other shows from other networks are available at no charge on demand from Comcast.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #371: Pay-TV Losses Are Being Driven By More Than Just Cord-Cutting

    I’m pleased to present the 371st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    The persistent media narrative around pay-TV cord-cutting has gained a lot of traction in the past few weeks as it became clear that the industry lost 700,000-800,000 traditional multichannel video subscribers in Q1 ’17, the first time a first quarter loss has ever occurred.

    But pay-TV’s losses are attributable to key factors beyond cord-cutting as our guest this week, Bruce Leichtman, president of Leichtman Research Group, and a premier industry analyst, explains. Bruce reveals why the Q1 loss in fact has more to do with specific pay-TV providers (primarily Dish Network) cutting back on new subscriber promotions. This reduction in “top of the funnel” additions ultimately flows into the net subscriber numbers.

    While cord-cutting is indeed ticking up, Bruce walks us through his analysis of why the industry’s dynamics are more nuanced than most media reports suggest. We also dig into the role of connected TVs, the prospects for skinny bundles, SVOD’s impact and how Comcast in particular is bucking industry trends using X1. Bruce also discusses the significance of there now being more broadband subscribers than video subscribers in the U.S.

    (Apologies in advance, the recording is a bit scratchy as we were in 3 locations and had some WiFi challenges.)

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #361: Pay-TV’s Woes Illustrated in TiVo’s Research

    I’m pleased to present the 361st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week Colin and I discuss TiVo’s 16th quarterly Video Trends Report, which we both covered this week (here and here). We agree that the pay-TV industry has painted itself into a high-cost corner. The consequences of this are increases in cord-cutting, cord-shaving and adoption/use of SVOD, reduction in perception of per channel values and budding interest in new skinny bundles.

    All of this is bad news for the industry and the report illustrates the specifics of each of these trends.

    The report is available as a complimentary download here.

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  • Research: Pay-TV’s High Cost is Creating Huge Industry Vulnerability

    TiVo has released its 16th quarterly Video Trends Report (previously published by Digitalsmiths, which was acquired by TiVo in 2014) and the key takeaway is that pay-TV’s high cost is creating huge industry vulnerability that is already showing up in increased cord-cutting/cord-shaving and higher penetration and use of SVOD services. It also looks possible that interest in skinny bundles could be fueled by their low cost compared to traditional pay-TV.

    TiVo found that in Q4 ’16, 17% of respondents didn’t subscribe to a pay-TV service, and of this group, 19.8% cut the cord in the last 12 months. No surprise, “price/too expensive” was the top factor influencing respondents’ decision to cut the cord, cited by 80.1% of them. But in second position was using a streaming service such as Netflix/Hulu/Amazon, which was cited by 48.3% of respondents.

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  • Video is Quickly Becoming Bait For Wireless Carriers to Lure and Retain Subscribers

    There is an unmistakable trend taking hold in the wireless industry: video is quickly becoming bait for big carriers to lure and retain subscribers. All 4 of the biggest U.S. carriers have not only launched unlimited data plans, which are being explicitly promoted for video viewing, but in addition 3 of the 4 (T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon) are also tying in aggressive discounts on video services. As I wrote recently, all of this carrier activity will drive more widespread mobile video use.

    The start of the trend can clearly be traced to November, 2015 when T-Mobile launched its Binge On program, which now allows users to watch 120+ video services without impacting the user’s data plan. T-Mobile upped the ante in late 2016 by offering AT&T subscribers who switched to T-Mobile a full year of DirecTV Now for free (a $420 value). In January, T-Mobile further tweaked AT&T by adding a free year of Hulu for these subscribers because of the launch problems DirecTV Now experienced.

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  • YouTube App To Be Added To Comcast’s X1 Set-Top Box

    YouTube’s app will be added to Comcast’s X1 set-top box later this year, the companies announced this morning. The partnership is a win for both companies and for X1 users. YouTube gains seamless access to millions of X1 users who no longer have to switch inputs to a connected TV device to tap into YouTube’s massive video library on their TVs. For Comcast, integrated YouTube further expands X1’s value proposition as an all-in-one TV/video device.

    Of note, the companies said that X1 users will be able to search the YouTube catalog with the X1 voice remote control. Searches for a favorite actor’s clips, a specific music video, recipes, workout routines and more will all be available when users add the word “YouTube” to their voice search request. The YouTube app will bring up relevant results in the same way as, for example, doing the same search on Siri with an iPhone.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #356: Exploring "TV As An App," Super Bowl Ads

    I’m pleased to present the 356th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we explore the concept of “TV as an app,” which represents a paradigm shift in how TV is accessed by viewers. Of course the rise of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and others has paved the way for app-based viewing, but an entire TV lineup being delivered via an app to a connected TV device is still a significant change from conventional set-top box-based viewing.

    “TV as an app” got a boost this week with Comcast’s beta release of the Xfinity TV app for Roku. I’ve given it an initial try and provide some observations. In addition, Colin was moderating a panel on video apps this week and shares further insights he heard.

    We then shift focus to this Sunday’s Super Bowl, which will once again feature multiple free streaming options as well as localized dynamic ad insertion in the streams, which is a first. I’m keeping an eye on the ads to see if they offer any meaningful viewer engagement.

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  • Comcast Releases Beta of Xfinity TV App for Roku

    Comcast has announced that its Xfinity TV app is now available for beta use on certain Roku streaming devices and Roku TVs, with broad rollout planned for later this year. The partnership was initially unveiled in April, 2016. The Xfinity app for Roku is the first deployment of the Xfinity TV Partner Program, which Samsung also joined.

    The “TV as an app” model means that Comcast subscribers will be able to get full access to linear and on-demand content plus DVR functionality via Roku, without having to take a Comcast set-top box, a first for the cable company. Comcast has positioned the Xfinity TV app on connected devices as beneficial for subscribers who want choices in how they access their subscriptions. The screen shot below shows a clean implementation reminiscent of what Comcast X1 users already see.

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  • John Malone Praises Netflix’s "Nirvana Business Model," Chides Traditional Pay-TV Distributors

    In an interview at Lionsgate’s first investor day, Liberty Media chairman John Malone praised Netflix as having a “nirvana business model” while calling out traditional pay-TV distributors for being “asleep at the switch” as their legacy “toll gate” video business models were disrupted. Malone highlighted Netflix’s direct-to-consumer, global scale and complete control as key benefits.

    However, Malone wasn’t all doom and gloom about traditional pay-TV distributors, which he sees as morphing from being “video delivery businesses” to “connectivity businesses.” Malone thinks this change in mindset will lead to distributors breaking with tradition and offering premium networks such as Starz in combination with broadband, as opposed to being available only on top of multichannel bundles. But he would not provide any timetable for when this shift might occur.

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  • Cord-Cutting Remained Modest in Q3, But Potentially Turbulent 2017 Looms

    According to industry data compiled by Leichtman Research Group, cord-cutting remained relatively modest in Q3 ’16, with the top 11 pay-TV operators, which account for approximately 95% of the market, losing 255K subscribers vs. 210K lost in Q3 ’15. As has been the trend in recent quarters, cable operators performed better than satellite and telco operators, which are disprorportionately bearing the brunt of the overall market’s slow, but ongoing, contraction.

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  • Watch My Demo of Comcast X1’s Superb Netflix Integration [VIDEO]

    Comcast announced on Friday that the integration of Netflix into its X1 set-top box would launch this week. But when I checked my X1 on Friday evening it was already available, so I spent some time over the weekend giving it a test drive. Below is a 12-minute demo video I created that highlights the key benefits of the integration and how expertly it was done.

    As VideoNuze readers know, I’ve had the X1 since its debut, back in July, 2012. I was immediately enthusiastic about its clean and highly responsive web-like UI as well as its ability to quickly retrieve on-demand content. More recently, the voice-powered remote control has delivered even more value. But the biggest potential benefit I’ve always envisioned for X1 was its ability to handle IP apps, giving Comcast a breakthrough way to provide a seamless experience between its own video services and those delivered over-the-top via broadband (e.g. Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, etc.).

    Read More and Watch the Demo Video