Friday, September 29, 2023, 11:18 AM ET|
This week on Inside the Stream we discuss four items that caught our attention. First, according to Tivo’s Video Trends report, the number of TV services used has declined, and the mix has shifted from SVOD to FAST. Next up, in Canada, Disney+ has announced plans to limit password sharing. We also discuss Amazon’s plan to roll out ads in Prime Video in early 2024, and S&P’s forecast of declining ad revenue for niche cable TV networks.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (23 minutes, 28 seconds)
Friday, September 22, 2023, 11:25 AM ET|
Colin is back from a busy IBC in Amsterdam, and today we discuss a number of generative AI innovations for video that he learned about. These include Newsbridge’s news clip metadata enhancement capability, Backlight’s StoryBot tool to create stories from Wildmoka clips and Katch Data’s ability to customize movie marketing by geographic preferences. All this, and more on this week’s podcast.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (27 minutes, 26 seconds)
Friday, September 15, 2023, 11:35 AM ET|
Charter and Disney settled their dispute and on this week’s podcast we discuss the outcome. Last week we discussed the broader implications of the impasse. Colin is on his way to IBC in Amsterdam and we catch up on Eluvio and its blockchain-based streaming platform. Also in the news this week was Gracenote’s new metadata solution for FASTs. Last, we discuss recent news that Comcast and Disney have accelerated their timeline to resolve ownership interests in Hulu.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (25 minutes, 34 seconds)
Friday, September 8, 2023, 10:41 AM ET|
Blackouts have been commonplace in the pay-TV industry when operators and TV network owners are unable to come to terms on renewal terms. While the current dispute between Charter and Disney includes typical challenges like pricing and bundling, it also includes Charter’s desire to see its subscribers receive complimentary access to Disney’s DTC apps.
Disney is of course reluctant to do so because it is trying to build a parallel revenue stream as pay-TV declines. Yet, the “pay once, access anywhere” approach was at the heart of the TV Everywhere initiative from years ago, which was meant to provide an elegant solution for subscribers. But that industry effort faltered and TV networks have since invested billions in DTC.
Colin and I discuss what this dispute means for the future on the big TV bundle.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (27 minutes, 27 seconds)
Friday, September 1, 2023, 12:31 PM ET|
This week on Inside the Stream, Colin and I discuss Comscore’s 7th annual State of Streaming report, which was just released. For CTV homes, Netflix leads with 74% reach, followed by YouTube, with 71%, though YouTube has 47 hours of viewing time per month, compared with 35 hours for Netflix. Despite billions of dollars of content and branding investments, broadcasters’ SVOD services lag in both metrics, though their FASTs, especially Pluto TV and and Tubi, are performing well.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (23 minutes, 39 seconds)
Friday, August 25, 2023, 10:37 AM ET|
FASTs are everywhere these days, and this week we discuss several new announcements/launches that caught our eye, from providers including TCL, Fire TV Channels, Google TV and Cox Media Group (with “Neighborhood TV”). We discuss the prospects for each of them, and why the trend toward more FAST launches is unlikely to slow down anytime soon.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (28 minutes, 28 seconds)
Friday, August 18, 2023, 12:29 PM ET|
First up on Inside the Stream this week Colin and I discuss the latest data from Nielsen’s The Gauge report. While it said that “linear TV” viewing fell below 50% for the first time, we explain how a more accurate headline would probably be that broadcast and cable TV viewing fell below 50%. Viewership is following along with pay-TV adoption, which we also discuss fell further in Q2 ’23.
Also in this week’s podcast, new data shows that watching TV with subtitles has become quite popular, especially among younger audiences. Finally, The Roku Channel is going to stream local news from 30 CBS and FOX channels, further converging broadcast TV and streaming.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (27 minutes, 7 seconds)
Friday, August 11, 2023, 12:55 PM ET|
Disney reported its fiscal Q3 2023 this week, with Disney+ global subscribers (excluding Disney+ Hotstar) growing 800K to end at 105.7 million. Both ESPN+ and Hulu stayed approximately flat too. The sore point was Disney+ Hotstar, which lost 12.5 million subscribers to end at 40.4 million, primarily due to the loss of IPL cricket.
It is less clear what’s ahead for Disney+ subscribers with another $3 per month price increase planned, taking the ad-free tier up to $13.99 per month. With the ad-supported tier remaining at $8 per month, the company said it is guiding new subscribers to that tier. Meanwhile Disney will also begin imposing password sharing restrictions like Netflix has. Add in the strikes which will constrain new content, and it seems like elevated churn is on the way.
Colin and I discuss all of these changes and more, as Disney continues to evolve.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (31 minutes, 29 seconds)
Friday, August 4, 2023, 11:52 AM ET|
In Q2 2023 WB Discovery lost 1.8 million subscribers globally, including 1.3 million domestically and 500K internationally. On the other hand, ARPU increased to $11.09 domestically and $3.65 internationally, for a blended increase to $7.71. On this week’s podcast we discuss the results and what’s ahead, as the company moves forward with its HBO Max streaming service that now includes Discovery+ content.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (21 minutes, 56 seconds)
Friday, July 28, 2023, 1:01 PM ET|
In Q2 ’23 Comcast lost 543K domestic video subscribers, up from a loss of 521K a year earlier. In total, for the past 6 quarters, Comcast has lost almost 3.2 million subscribers, or nearly 18% of the 18.2 million subscribers it had on December 31, 2021, to bring it to just under 15 million currently.
On the brighter side, Peacock continues to make progress, adding another 2 million subscribers to reach 24 million. Comcast said some of Peacock’s gains are coming from Comcast video and broadband subscribers who lost complimentary access to Peacock.
Colin and I discuss these various moving pieces, along with the impact of the writers’ and actors’ strikes on both of the businesses.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (25 minutes, 58 seconds)
Thursday, June 29, 2023, 10:12 PM ET|
Not that long ago, before Netflix became a household name, “premium TV” referred to HBO, Showtime and Starz. They, and their brand extensions, were all subscription-based, advertising-free networks with edgier programming that couldn’t be found elsewhere on the dial. Showtime had plenty of hits over the years, with shows like “Dexter,” “Billions,” “Shameless,” “Weeds” and “Ray Donovan” earning loyal audiences.
Flash forward to this week, as Paramount+ With Showtime officially launched, and decades-old Showtime became an appendage to the Paramount+ primary brand. For a mere $2 increase per month (to $11.99), all the Showtime programming instantly became available to Paramount+ ad-free subscribers.
Showtime’s evolution speaks volumes about how streaming has upended the broader TV industry. In this week’s podcast Colin and I try to put it in perspective.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (30 minutes, 28 seconds)
Friday, June 23, 2023, 9:37 AM ET|
This week we’re pleased to interview Ben Serridge, Director of Product Management, Google, who is focused on Google TV’s content and monetization. Ben explains what Google TV is and how it’s being positioned in a highly competitive TV OS market. He also details how Google TV is working with various TV OEMs. In particular, Ben emphasizes how Google TV anchors on personalized content recommendations. Key to this is Google TV’s new live guide which just received a big upgrade. Ben also shares what’s ahead for the live guide.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (30 minutes, 3 seconds)
Friday, June 16, 2023, 10:14 AM ET|
Colin has attended a couple conferences recently where some industry colleagues have likened FASTs to “cable TV 2.0.” On today’s podcast we discuss the distinct differences between FASTs and the traditional cable TV model, starting with the biggest one, which is that FASTs aren’t paid any type of carriage fee to be included on platforms (in fact, as we discuss, the opposite is often the case, with platforms requiring fees for promotion/visibility).
However, as Colin notes, one point of similarity between the models is the over-reliance on the electronic program guide (“EPG”) as a primary navigation aid for viewers. We discuss the limitations of the EPG, and how, with seemingly infinite FASTs scrolling by in an EPG, the viewer may have a “paradox of choice” experience, defaulting to TV/shows that are familiar. The EPG’s limitations is also prompting platforms to cap the number of FASTs it includes, and focus on those with well-known brands and franchises.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (30 minutes, 2 seconds)
Inside the Stream: 5 Key Takeaways from the VideoNuze’s Fourth Annual CTV Advertising Summit virtualFriday, June 9, 2023, 9:47 AM ET|
Yesterday was VideoNuze’s fourth annual Connected TV Advertising Summit virtual, featuring 27 senior executives on 6 sessions across the afternoon. Hundreds of industry colleagues attended, hearing insights, data and forecasts from participating speakers. I will post all of the session videos on VideoNuze early next week.
There were a lot of really interesting observations, which Colin and I have tried to distill to 5 key takeaways in today’s podcast. In no particular order, these include
1) There is strong conviction that CTV is ultimately going to become full-funnel, offering advertisers strong ROIs across all desired KPIs.
2) While CTV devices are heavily penetrated in U.S. households, less than half of these households use them to stream on a daily basis, creating enormous opportunity ahead.
3) The key to choosing an appropriate CTV/streaming business model ultimately boils down to understanding audience preferences and serving them.
4) Priorities in CTV innovation span from “what’s-old-is-new-again” optimization of electronic program guides (EPGs) to capitalizing on generative AI.
5) Measurement and attribution of CTV ad campaigns is complex and won’t be resolved anytime soon given the tug-and-pull of traditional TV measurement priorities and the realities of digital’s “outcomes-centric” precedents.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (41 minutes, 51 seconds)
Friday, June 2, 2023, 9:57 AM ET|
Some big SVOD services are cutting content from their libraries, including certain originals. Most prominently, Disney recently said it’s taking a $1.5-$1.8 billion impairment charge related to content cuts.
The idea of “rotating” content in and out of libraries is nothing new in SVOD, but as profitability becomes paramount, the current cuts seem to be deeper and signal a shift in thinking. Whereas the past has been about “more is more” when building libraries, a “less is more” sentiment appears to be taking over.
The question we explore is whether and to what extent subscribers will react? After all, if the content being cut is lightly viewed, then few people will notice (“if a tree falls in the forrest….”), and presumably the impact would be minimal. But, as Colin notes, there’s an audience for everything, and with SVOD subscribers having been spoiled by a bounty of riches, a perception of reduced choices could hit home.
One thought is that if this content can’t make it on SVOD, perhaps it will find a home on a FAST service. But that might not be an option, as Colin refers to recent discussions indicating FAST providers have become more disciplined given the explosion of free content and their push for profitability as well.
Net, net, as we discuss, there may well be content that isn’t viable on streaming. It’s not unprecedented; there’s lots of content that didn’t make the transition from VHS to digital, because the economics just weren’t there.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (36 minutes, 41 seconds)
Friday, May 26, 2023, 8:42 AM ET|
Netflix has begun rolling out its account sharing limitations in the U.S.. The rollout effectively puts an end to one of the most-loved features of Netflix subscriptions - the ability to share log-in credentials with family members and others. For years Netflix “looked the other way” on this activity as it sought to bake Netflix usage into as many viewers’ lives as possible.
But all good things come to an end. With subscriber growth slowing as the market matures, Netflix has flipped its approach, linking a subscription to a household, meaning anyone that who doesn’t live under the same roof does not qualify. Those people will need to start an “extra member” account, being offered for $8 per month. We discuss the pricing decision as well, and how it relates to the $8 per month ad-supported plan.
We also discuss the launch of Comcast’s new streaming service NOW TV. Neither of us believes there’s much value and will likely have only limited appeal. We explain why.
At the beginning of the podcast I also mention a new report released by the Goteborg Film Festival, the largest festival in the Nordics, called the “Nostradamus Report: Everything Changing All At Once.” I was among a small group of industry professionals interviewed for the report, which is extremely well-done and comprehensive. It’s free and for anyone looking to get a strong overview of our evolving industry, I highly recommend downloading it.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (35 minutes, 31 seconds)
Friday, May 19, 2023, 12:04 PM ET|
In this week’s podcast we discuss the overlapping “doom loops” that are crushing the TV industry. These were first articulated by MoffettNathanson, and built upon by Colin. The doom loops include 1) TV networks shifting investment/focus from linear TV to streaming, in turn driving more cord-cutting, 2) Fewer remaining pay-TV subscribers available to shoulder the cost of sports TV networks, in turn leading to more cord-cutting, 3) Audience shifts away from traditional TV driving ad dollars to follow, further pressuring traditional TV’s revenue.
Yet another more doom loop could be added with news this week that Disney is finally pushing forward with a direct-to-consumer model for ESPN. Given how expensive that DTC service is likely to be, it’s ultimate adoption probably won’t extend much beyond hard-core sports fans.
But it will cause the unintended consequence of raising the visibility of the multibillion dollar per year “sports tax” non-sports fans have long been paying, which Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred explicated at a Paley Center event last month when he said, “It’s a great business model when a whole bunch of people pay for something they don’t really care if they have or not, which is what the cable bundle did for us. It’s hard to replicate that.”
So it’s safe to say that ESPN’s DTC service will also drive up cord-cutting.
The “doom loops” are now on display for all to see, prompting Colin and I to wonder truly, what the remaining life span of pay-TV is?
Before we get started, we give a quick overview of Wurl’s new ContentDiscovery offering, for which Colin and I wrote an accompanying white paper.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (35 minutes, 28 seconds)
Friday, May 12, 2023, 10:28 AM ET|
Most media and technology companies have now reported Q1 ’23 results. We dig into who’s up, who’s down and who’s pick ‘em, and where they all might be headed. We share all this with the caveat that one quarter’s results are not the final word on a company’s ability to survive and thrive going forward. We hope we’re not in any way contributing to the short-term, quarterly performance myopia so common on Wall Street.
Rather, we’re looking at these companies’ results in the context of prior results, the competitive landscape and their particular products’/services’ positioning. All while trying to do some basic “pattern recognition” - what have we seen before and how is this likely to play out in TV and video. Our discussion is primarily focused on Netflix, Roku, Amazon, AMC, Disney, Comcast, Vizio, YouTube, The Trade Desk, Paramount, Diamond Sports Group, Tegna, Dish and how they’re sorting themselves in the up, down and pick ‘em categories.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (38 minutes, 50 seconds)
Friday, May 5, 2023, 11:52 AM ET|
I attended the 2023 IAB NewFronts earlier this week and today on Inside the Stream we discuss my 5 key takeaways. These include 1) connected TV as the dominant throughline in all the presentations, 2) an early shift in messaging around how CTV campaigns should move to more full/lower-funnel KPIs, 3) whether the overwhelming volume and pure free, ad-supported nature of FASTs should be concerning, 4) how CTV platform/glass ownership will be a critical competitive differentiator going forward, and 5) why, of the 14 presentations that I attended, three companies’ presentations stood out in particular.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (44 minutes, 51 seconds)
Friday, April 28, 2023, 12:14 PM ET|
First up this week on Inside the Stream we discuss YouTube’s advertising revenue for Q1 ’23, which was $6.7B, down 2.6% from Q1 ’22 of $6.9B. Obviously growth, not contraction, is the goal, but given the huge headwinds blowing through the ad business, in my view, a slight dip can rightly be considered a clear win. And the quarters that YouTube is now lapping were extremely strong to begin with, so comps will be tough by definition.
We also spend a few minutes discussing YouTube’s four priorities outlined in the earnings call. I’m looking forward to attending YouTube’s NewFront presentations on Monday morning, especially “AI and the Future of Creative Transformation.”
Next up, we both like how Paramount is leveraging Pluto TV by having it stream “THE TONY AWARD: ACT ONE,” preceding the main Tonys broadcast on CBS and Paramount+ on June 11th. ACT ONE is a perfect example of how “shoulder content” that can drive free streaming viewership (helping build Pluto’s brand) while acting as lead gen for Paramount+ and maybe even a little incremental retention for pay-TV.
We expect to see a lot more of this “shoulder content on FAST” playbook run in the future elsewhere too. It’s a solid, synergistic play.
Last, we make a maiden foray into the intersection of AI, video and music, prompted by a well-reported - though maybe slightly over-dramatic - article in The Verge about “AI Drake.” It’s a bit of a head-spinner to keep track of the machinations, but the net of it is that - no surprise to anyone - generative AI is already kicking up some dust related to copyright and Fair Use.
Big players like Google and Microsoft will have to sort out what positions they ultimately want to stake out given their varied business interests. We do our best to decipher things and discuss implications. No easy answers here, but expect a lot more about AI on Inside the Stream in the future.
Listen to the podcast to learn more (31 minutes, 59 seconds)