Analysis for 'podcast'

  • Inside the Stream: CTV Ad PREVIEW: 2024 Reveals Key Market Drivers

    Earlier this week VideoNuze held its Connected TV Advertising PREVIEW: 2024 virtual, featuring 19 industry executives speaking on 5 different sessions. In today’s podcast Colin and I discuss some of the key market drivers and themes we consistently heard.

    There are many reasons to be optimistic about CTV’s future growth, but also some challenges the industry faces. Across the sessions a theme we heard was that despite CTV’s rapid growth, it’s still relatively early in its evolution, with a lot of room for making CTV ads far more valuable than traditional TV’s 30-second format.

    (Note all of the session videos will be posted to VideoNuze early next week for on-demand viewing)

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (27 minutes, 11 seconds)


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  • Inside the Stream: RIP Freevee?, YouTube tops on CTV, Peacock & Paramount+ Combine?

    This week we discuss the logic of Amazon shutting down Freevee, which Adweek reported, and Amazon denied. We see a number of pros and cons to the move. Meanwhile Nielsen said that YouTube was once again the number one streaming service used on CTVs, ahead of Netflix and everyone else. This was the twelfth month in row for YouTube and we explore the reasons behind it.

    Finally the rumor mill is swirling that Peacock and Paramount+ may combine forces, and we dig into how it would benefit both entities.  

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (25 minutes, 26 seconds)



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  • Inside the Stream: Walmart-VIZIO Deal; Super Bowl Streamers Mystery

    Earlier this week the WSJ reported that Walmart is seeking to acquire VIZIO for over $2 billion. Colin and I discuss the likely strategic rationale behind the deal. We both like the benefits to both companies with grabbing a bigger share of CTV ad spending a big upside.

    Meanwhile, the Super Bowl scored a record 123.4 viewers across all platforms according to Paramount. The company also said it was the most-streamed Super Bowl in history, but didn’t disclose how many streamers there actually were. We dig into the numbers and Colin provides his estimates.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (22 minutes, 52 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream: Where Does the Disney/Fox/WBD Sports JV Fit In?

    This week we look through all the buzz around the new Disney/Fox/WBD sports JV to understand the service’s opportunity and likely impact on the TV market.

    Two key questions we consider: 1) How big is the target market of sports super-fans for the JV who haven’t maintained their pay-TV subscription (since sports has been a firewall to cord-cutting)? And 2) With ESPN’s own direct-to-consumer service launching in 2025, how will it differentiate itself given ESPN will also be included in the JV’s offering?

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (27 minutes, 35 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream: Interview with Zone TV’s CEO on Block Deal

    This week we interview Jeff Weber, CEO of Zone TV, which was just acquired by Block Communications. Zone TV has been operating for 22 years, and has recently been focused on streaming and FASTs. Jeff explains his motivation for the deal, the evolving market for FASTs and what’s next.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (30 minutes, 54 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream: Netflix’s Record Q4 Boosted by Paid Sharing and Ads

    Netflix added 13.1 million global subscribers in Q4 ’23, its best fourth quarter ever. As we discuss, the company is capitalizing on the introduction of paid sharing and a lower priced ad-supported tier. Paid sharing, which requires those who were using someone else’s login credentials to start their own subscription, has been especially effective. Netflix designed a smart strategy to eliminate this long-valued benefit. It could have become a PR nightmare, but instead has rolled out seamlessly.

    Netflix said that the ad-supported tier now accounts for an impressive 40% of new subscriptions in markets where it is available. In yet another move to optimize revenue, Netflix is discontinuing its $11.99 per month Basic plan, which will drive more new subscribers to the ad tier or the least expensive ad-free tier which is $15.49 per month.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (32 minutes, 20 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream: Was Peacock’s NFL Exclusive a Success?

    NBCUniversal said that last weekend’s Chiefs-Dolphins wildcard playoff game was a big success, attracting an average audience of approximately 23 million viewers on Peacock. In this episode of Inside the Stream, Colin and I dig into key metrics of how to assess the game’s financial success to Peacock, specifically, how many incremental subscribers did the game add, and how likely are they to stay around and for how long?

    Peacock reportedly paid $100 million for rights to stream the game and so getting a strong financial return is essential.   

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  • Inside the Stream: CES Highlights, NBCU and Disney Step Up in Ads, Netflix Growth

    Big TV manufacturers made news at CES with new models and improved viewer experiences. Meanwhile NBCUniversal and Disney stepped up their ad games with announcements of many new initiatives. Separate, Netflix said it now has 23 million monthly active users, up 8 million in the past couple of months. Lastly, Amazon announced broad headcount cuts to Prime Video, MGM and Twitch.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (27 minutes, 50 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream: Streaming TV Predictions for 2024

    Keeping with our annual new year’s tradition, this week Colin and I offer our top predictions for streaming TV in 2024. They cover a wide range of topics including SVOD, CTV ads, TV OS, sports, FASTs, AI, cord-cutting and more. Let us know what you think - agree or disagree with us?

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (28 minutes, 18 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream: The Top 10 Streaming Video Stories of 2023

    This week on Inside the Stream we discuss our top 10 streaming video stories of 2023. As longtime listeners know, the top 10 countdown is our tradition for the final podcast of the year.

    In 2023, our top picks include the rise of smart TVs, the Actors and Writers strikes, TV OS wars, CTV advertising, traditional TV’s continued fall, Disney acquiring the rest of Hulu, YouTube’s growth, SVODs drive for profitability, sports migration to online and Netflix remaining the king of SVOD. We dive into all of them and explain why each is significant. Let us know what you think of our top 10 - did we miss anything?

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (38 minutes, 12 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream: Surprises Revealed By Netflix’s Engagement Report

    On this week’s Inside the Stream Colin and I dig into Netflix’s first engagement report, released earlier this week. The report details what subscribers watched during the January-June 2023 period. It includes viewership of over 18,000 titles, which comprises 99% of all viewing on the service. Colin has used the data to make several calculations about Netflix’s overall business. Hopefully other streaming services will share similar data in the future.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (24 minutes, 30 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream: SVOD Bundling, Peacock Hits 30M, WBD’s FASTs, Hulu’s Disney+ Tile

    On this week’s Inside the Stream Colin and I first discuss the trend toward SVOD services being bundled with one another. We agree the approach makes sense to cut churn and increase the lifetime value of subscribers. Next, Peacock has hit 30 million paying subscribers, which we believe is a healthy milestone for the three year-old service, though its losses are in the billions of dollars.

    Meanwhile, WB Discovery has launched 11 FAST channels on Freevee, and Colin shares his thoughts on why the company could be more aggressive with FASTs. Last up, Disney moved the needle on integrating Hulu by adding a tile in the Disney+ UI for a beta group of subscribers.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (31 minutes, 43 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream: NASCAR’s $8B Rights Deals, D2C vs. Pay-TV, TikTok vs. YouTube

    This week on Inside the Stream Colin and I cover a number of different topics that have been in the news. First up, NASCAR has signed new rights deals with TV and streaming partners for nearly $8 billion, a huge increase from its current deals.

    Next we discuss new research indicating that non-pay-TV viewers will outpace traditional pay-TV viewers by the end of the year. Then, TikTok is encouraging creators to make longer videos, in a move to compete with YouTube. Last, Hub reports that built-in apps on Smart TVs get greater usage.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (36 minutes, 54 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream: YouTube TV’s Strong Q3, Sports in Flux

    LRG estimates that YouTube TV added 600K subscribers in Q3 ’23, bringing it to a total of 6.5 million subscribers. YouTube TV’s growth is by far the strongest of all pay-TV providers, double the growth of Hulu + Live TV and Fubo, with all traditional providers losing subscribers in Q3.

    On this week’s podcast we discuss what’s behind YouTube TV’s growth, and also how sports TV continues to be in flux.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (23 minutes, 36 seconds)



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  • Inside the Stream: Disney, Roku, WB Discovery and Dish Q3 Results

    It’s earnings season, and on this week’s podcast, Colin and I discuss results from Disney, Roku, WB Discovery and Dish. The four companies’ subscriber counts, profitability and shifting business models all provide insights into larger industry trends and challenges.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (37 minutes, 36 seconds)



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  • Inside the Stream: Will Disney’s Big Hulu Bet Deliver on Kilar’s Streaming Success Plan?

    Disney has officially begun buying out Comcast’s 33% ownership in Hulu, for at least $8.6 billion. Hulu will become a centerpiece of Disney’s strategy to appeal to a broad range of audiences. Coincidentally former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar recently shared his recommendations for how media companies can succeed in streaming. Can Disney’s big Hulu bet deliver on Kilar’s vision?

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (31 minutes, 35 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream: Nexstar Makes Case for Broadcast, YouTube’s Teen Bump

    This week Colin and I explore Nexstar’s assertion that the recent Disney-Charter deal will benefit local TV (Nexstar is the largest owner of local broadcasters in the U.S.). Nexstar points to improved bundling that will stabilize pay-TV and spending on underperforming niche cable networks that can be reallocated to local TV. We also discuss new research showing that YouTube has edged past Netflix in consumption among teenagers.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (24 minutes, 19 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream: Xumo Stream Box is Good For Cable But Limited Elsewhere

    The new Xumo Stream Box from partners Comcast and Charter began rolling out this week. On this week’s Inside the Stream we discuss the new device’s opportunities. Overall it seems like a smart play for the cable TV operators to streamline their device strategy, blending traditional pay-TV with streaming. So within their footprint Xumo Stream Box should find success. However, as we discuss, the box will likely have limited appeal outside of their footprints.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (25 minutes, 59 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream: TV Services Used, Disney+ Sharing, Prime Video Ads

    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)



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  • Inside the Stream: Generative AI-Powered Video Innovation at IBC 2023

    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)




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  • Inside the Stream: Charter-Disney, Eluvio, Gracenote for FASTs, Hulu Ownership

    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)




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  • Inside the Stream: Charter-Disney Dispute Breaking the Big TV Bundle

    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)




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  • Inside the Stream: Broadcasters’ SVODs Struggle, But Their FASTs Flourish

    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)




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  • Inside the Stream: FASTs Everywhere: TCL, Fire TV, Google TV, Cox Media

    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)



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  • Inside the Stream: Linear TV and Pay-TV Decline; Subtitles; Roku Adds Local TV News

    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)



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  • Inside the Stream: Disney’s D2C Profitability Seems On Track, But At What Cost?

    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)



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  • Inside the Stream: WB Discovery Loses DTC Subscribers in Q2 2023

    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.

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  • Inside the Stream: Bad News, Good News For Comcast’s Q2 ’23 Video Performance

    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)


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  • Inside the Stream: Putting Paramount+ With Showtime in Perspective

    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)




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  • Inside the Stream: Interview with Ben Serridge, Director of Product Management, Google

    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)


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  • Inside the Stream: Why FASTs Aren’t Cable TV 2.0

    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.

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  • All the Session Videos from the CTV Advertising Summit Virtual 2023

    Last Thursday was VideoNuze’s fourth annual Connected TV Advertising Summit virtual which featured 27 senior executives on 6 sessions in 1 high-impact afternoon.

    Below are links to each of the session recordings along with descriptions of each session and its speakers.

    Many thanks to our 5 generous partners Beachfront, Extreme Reach, PadSquad, Pixability and Roku.

    We covered a lot of ground during the Summit which Colin and I tried to distill into our 5 key takeaways on last Friday's Inside the Stream podcast.

    Enjoy!

    [VIDEO] Welcome and How CTV’s Omnipresence is Reshaping the TV and Advertising Industries

    [VIDEO] Inside CTV’s Biggest Opportunities and Challenges - The Three Year Perspective

    [VIDEO] Understanding CTV/Streaming Business Model Choices: Paid, Hybrid, FAST

    [VIDEO] Why CTV’s March to Full-Funnel/Lower-Funnel and Shoppable TV is Inevitable

    [VIDEO] How Innovation is Driving the Value of Content and Advertising in CTV

    [VIDEO] Unraveling the Measurement and Attribution Imperative

     
  • Inside the Stream: 5 Key Takeaways from the VideoNuze’s Fourth Annual CTV Advertising Summit virtual

    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)


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  • Inside the Stream: What are the Consequences of SVOD Library Cuts?

    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)



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  • Inside the Stream: Dissecting Netflix’s U.S. Account Sharing Cap, Limitations of Comcast’s NOW TV

    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)


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  • Inside the Stream: How Overlapping “Doom Loops” are Crushing the TV Industry

    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)



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  • Inside the Stream: Q1 ’23 Earnings Review: Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Who’s Pick ‘Em?

    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)



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  • Inside the Stream: 5 Key Takeaways from the 2023 IAB NewFronts

    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)




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  • Inside the Stream: YouTube Ads in Q1 ’23, Pluto TV's Tony Play, Exploring AI Drake

    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)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Netflix’s Q1 ’23 Suggests Ad Tier Launch and Account-Sharing Curbs Will Boost Revenue

    Back in our Oct. 21, 2022 podcast, “Netflix is Poised for 2023 Revenue Growth,” Colin and I articulated all the reasons we were optimistic about Netflix’s upside in the new year. Primarily we were focused on its newly launched $7/month “Basic with ads” tier and its plans to eliminate password sharing throughout the world.

    Flash forward 7 months, and Netflix provided its first tangible results and commentary from the initiatives, as well as optimistic signs of where things go from here. In today’s podcast, Colin and I dig into these signs, including most prominently Netflix’s disclosure that $7/month "Basic with ads" subscribers already produce a higher average monthly revenue than do its $15.50/month "Standard" plan (ad-free) subscribers. Some basic math reveals that "Basic with ads" subscribers drive at least $8.50/month in ad revenue for Netflix, which in turn means that aproximately 55% ($8.50 / $15.50) of "Basic with ads" subscribers’ total revenue is already derived from ads, not subscriber payments.

    That Netflix accomplished all of this despite 1) it still being very early days for the ad offering, 2) a massive headwind in the ad business due to recession/etc. worries, 3) all of its ad revenue being “linear TV replacement” or upper-funnel reach and frequency inventory, with nothing yet from more valuable full/lower funnel offerings, suggests the ad business is already a big win for Netflix and has huge potential.

    (At this point I can’t resist noting that I have been badgering Netflix for years to launch a lower-priced ad-supported tier because of the upside…see “Why Netflix Will Launch an Ad-Supported Tier in 2020” from Dec. ’19, “6 Reasons Why Netflix Should Launch an Ad-Supported Tier Now” from Mar. ’20, and “Revisiting Why Netflix Should Launch an Ad-Supported Tier” from Mar. ’21 for a sample of my haranguing. So, in the category of “better late than never,” hallelujah, Netflix finally, finally put aside its religious objections to advertising and saw the light.)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Max or Min? Can Google TV Catch Up to Roku?

    This week on Inside the Stream we focus on two main topics: first, is Warner Bros. Discovery’s decision to brand/bundle its streaming services under “Max” going to be successful, or is it going to be “Min” (as in have Minimum impact)? There’s little daylight between how Colin and I see things.

    Of all the many issues, to me the most worrisome is the fact that the discovery+ library is being thrown into Max for no additional cost. That means WBD assigns its incremental, measurable value in the bundle at $0.

    Next we turn our attention to the dynamics in the CTV/device industry. Colin is excited about a new initiative Google unveiled this week, where it provides improved guide/UI access to 800+ FAST channels. Colin sees this as a meaningful competitive differentiator, and believes Google TV / Android TV will grow briskly outside of the U.S. and even gain a few points of market share domestically.

    It’s hard to argue against better discovery being valuable, yet I don’t see it as a game-changer in the CTV space, at least domestically, because, well, to start with, very few people actually use Google TV domestically.

    In fact, according to insights from Beachfront’s CTV Marketplace for H2 2022, Google TV’s share of impression volume was a measly 1.9%. Meanwhile Roku, the perennial market share leader in the U.S., notched 39.2% of impressions, roughly consistent with the range I’ve seen for Roku for years.

    While Colin and I agree that Google TV / YouTube / YouTube TV is a formidable collection of assets for Google, I remain quite sanguine about Roku’s ability to compete in the land of the giants. There have been no shortage of Roku naysayers over the years, since I wrote “Scrappy Roku Makes More Deals, Keeps Elbowing Its Way Into the Big Leagues” back in January, 2013, following a keynote interview I did with CEO/Founder Anthony Wood at NATPE in Miami.

    In the 10 years since, Roku has more than held its own, and is arguably the most innovative company in the ad industry. Roku is focused and relentless, and it has a very strong talent bench. As I put it in 2013, Roku remains “more a work horse than a show horse.” As for Google, a sub-2% CTV/device share after all these years? The good news: there (continues to be) really only one way to go from here.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (36 minutes, 47 seconds)


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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: How Much Higher Will Average U.S. Spending on SVOD Be in 5 Years?

    Each week on "Inside the Stream" Colin and I try to share fact-based conclusions about critical industry issues. Listeners have continually told us that they derive value from having a weekly resource that helps demystify the confusing cross-currents found in the daily headlines. By seeing things just a little more clearly, listeners are able to be more effective in their roles and hopefully help their companies succeed.

    However, given all of the various independent and interdependent industry drivers, it’s impossible for anyone to have a “crystal ball” on where things ultimately land. So today, Colin and I take a step back to consider all of the different factors that we believe will influence average SVOD spending going forward (in truth the acronym SVOD is practically outmoded with the leakage of live sports from pay-TV to IP/mobile networks and the prevalence of hybrid paid/ad-supported services, so it might just be better to call everything a “streaming service”). We were prompted to consider the question based on a new forecast from Ampere.

    Colin and I agree on one thing up front: average U.S. household spending on SVOD/streaming services will be higher in 5 years than it is now. This conclusion reflects simple Price x Quantity (“P x Q”) economics; prices for streaming services are only going in one direction, and the number of streaming services the average household subscribes to will almost certainly increase as content proliferates and sports migrates to streaming.

    But how much higher spending will be is a function of many different factors. We identify 6-8 of these factors and try to flesh out their respective influences. Whether they will all net out to average SVOD spending increasing by 2%, 6%,12% or something else vs. current is anyone’s best educated guess. But educated guesses are better than nothing.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (29 minutes, 34 seconds) and let us know what you think.




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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Why Sky’s Sky Glass is the Right Strategy, But the Wrong Execution

    In October, 2021 Comcast and Sky announced “Sky Glass,” a package including a Sky-branded smart TV, Sky Stream (a streaming satellite TV service) and aggregated CTV apps. Colin was in London this past week attending a conference at which Sky executives spoke - but revealed little information about how Sky Glass is doing.

    On this week’s podcast we dive deeply into the Sky Glass model, in which Sky customers either purchase upfront or in 48 monthly installments a smart TV (3 sizes available, 43-inches, 55-inches or 65-inches), then subscribe to a Sky Stream package, and also gain access to built-in apps from third-parties.

    Sky Glass immediately intrigued me because it seemed to align with a concept I had been noodling around for the prior 6-9 months: the idea of TV OEMs either giving away smart TVs and/or pricing them so ridiculously low that consumers would be compelled to take the offer.

    With each CTV advertising conference I hosted, it was becoming more and more apparent that CTV advertising would continue to boom simply because of linear’s demise and advertisers’ imperative to continue achieving their reach/frequency goals (I have referred to this as the “follow the eyeballs” rocket fuel that has powered CTV’s rise in the past 5 years). That’s all before discussing the targeting, optimization, interactivity and dynamic creative benefits of CTV.

    More exciting to me was that it was beginning to become apparent that in the long-term CTV’s success would evolve beyond “follow the eyeballs” to a lower and/or full funnel medium, allowing it to emulate the massively successful playbook that has been run by search and social. Given the choice between selling smart TVs at negative gross margins, or simply giving them away to consumers, with some guaranteed monetization hooks in both high-margin CTV advertising and SVOD/MVPD services, the choice to me seemed relatively straightforward, particularly for certain TV OEMs.

    I envisioned a third-party startup in the middle of the action (I subsequently discarded the idea for various reasons).

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Diamond Sports’ Bankruptcy, HBO Max’s Confusing Pricing; YouTube’s Multiview; FAST’s Growth

    This week on Inside the Stream Colin and I do an “around the horn” of four significant industry topics. We lead off with the expected bankruptcy filing of Diamond Sports Group earlier this week, the largest owner of regional sports networks (RSNs), resulting in a complete wipeout of the equity-holders. Where to from here is anyone’s best guess; but I reiterate my stance that sports teams’ franchise values and players’ salaries have already peaked. When the dominant player in an industry - with over 50% market share - goes belly up, nothing good happens next.

    Next up is an update on WBD’s planned pricing strategy for its combined HBO Max and discovery+ streaming service launching soon. Colin’s been all over this one for months and is really scratching his head, as am I.

    In time for March Madness, YouTube TV has launched a new feature called “multiview” allowing subscribers to stream a mosaic of four pre-selected games and choose which audio feed they prefer. I think it’s really cool, and as you’ll hear in real-time I realize that it might mean YouTube TV “automagically” just quadrupled its ad inventory for multiview users. If so, that’s a neat trick; new CEO Neal Mohan is off to an even stronger start than I expected!

    Finally, Colin gives a short wrap-up of the latest doings in the burgeoning FAST market. It’s getting harder and harder to keep up.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (27 minutes, 11 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Pay-TV is in Free Fall; What’s it Mean for Sports Teams’ Valuations?

    Pay-TV providers lost another 7 million subscribers (approximately) in 2022 as losses accelerated from 2021. The losses span those actually cutting the cord, plus those that simply don’t take on a pay-TV subscription in the first place.

    On this week’s podcast Colin and I discuss pay-TV’s melting iceberg, and among its consequences, what’s it mean for sports teams’ valuations and players’ salaries. Since cord-cutting came along, there’s always been a notion of sports providing a “firewall” bottom on pay-TV subscribers. But with so many sports rights now leaking into the streaming domain - having been snapped up by Big Tech - the paradigm-busting question looms larger.

    Another, related consequence of pay-TV’s implosion is the demise of regional sports networks (RSNs). They’re also experiencing financial turmoil due to bad deal-making, disconnects with audiences and sub-par demand. Even mighty ESPN has been the subject of M&A rumormongering as newly restored CEO Bob Iger has to pick his priorities.

    All of this is to say that the economics of the sports business are changing in front of our eyes. If sports networks’ financial viability is impaired, rendering them unable to competitively bid for rights, then the question becomes, will Big Tech step in as a backstop, building on their current commitment? As I assert in the podcast, I think their commitment to becoming a viable backstop will only become known as the ultimate CTV ad monetization opportunity crystallizes. Specifically, if CTV can legitimately become full/lower funnel - bringing in buckets of cash with it - then backstop viability is far more likely. Absent that it’s jump ball. We’ll see.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Key Takeaways from CTV Advertising PREVIEW: 2023

    At this past Tuesday’s VideoNuze Connected TV Advertising PREVIEW: 2023 virtual, 22 speakers on 5 sessions provided critical insights about the industry and its future direction. We discuss our key takeaways on today’s podcast.

    All of the videos are posted here.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: In India, Two Initiatives Preview Streaming’s Future

    This week we go on a “field trip” to India, where a battle between multibillionaires - at the intersection of streaming, marquee sports, mobile, commerce and FASTs - provides a glimpse of the future.

    First up, we discuss news that Viacom18 Media Pvt. a joint venture between Paramount Global and multibillionaire Mukesh Ambani’s conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd., the most valuable company in India - which in 2021 won the rights, for $2.7 billion, to stream the hugely popular Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket games - and intends to do so for free to consumers.

    Viacom18 Media actually poached the IPL streaming rights from Disney, which had them previously and used the games to drive Disney+ Hotstar subscriptions. Disney's direct-to-consumer strategy remains murky as Colin and I discussed 2 weeks ago.

    The move underscores trends that Colin and I have discussed extensively around marquee sports moving from broadcast/cable to streaming (most recently in January, with fuboTV's CEO David Gandler) and the accelerating pace of free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST).

    Next, we discuss “miniTV,” a set of freely available video content that is placed front and center within Amazon India’s shopping app. While miniTV, which launched in May, 2021 got off to a modest start, apparently in 2022, its first full year of operations, it has picked up momentum. This is due to the popularity of certain original programming that Amazon has invested in.

    Amazon’s strategy of purposely giving away premium video for free parallels what it has done with Prime Video, investing heavily in originals like “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” without seeking to directly monetize them. Rather, Amazon uses its massive commerce business to subsidize the cost of content creation, because it has been able to demonstrate to itself that video drives higher levels of Prime acquisition/retention, and Prime members buy more stuff from Amazon, of course.

    Jeff Bezos articulated this “flywheel” in an interview with Walt Mossberg at the Code Conference in 2016, putting as fine a point on it as one can imagine, by famously saying “When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes” (start at the 36:56 mark for the segment). Amazon’s approach to subsidizing video is virtually inimitable, except perhaps by Apple and Google, and should justifiably strike terror in the heart of every media company CEO.

    In India, with miniTV, we are seeing Amazon run the same playbook, except absent a Prime membership requirement, and with a more specific focus on mobile consumption, primarily by younger viewers. If media company CEOs around the world were not already on high alert from Prime Video, miniTV should put them on an immediate DEFCON 1 footing.

    (As a side note, I believe that another flywheel, in CTV advertising, is also developing, as I wrote back in June, 2021. Speakers at next week’s VideoNuze CTV Advertising PREVIEW: 2023 will emphatically drive this home. Note, complimentary sign up is available.)

    Last but not least, and at the risk of stating the obvious: Bezos’s net worth currently stands at approximately $120 billion, while Ambani’s is around $84 billion. In short, both of them bring essentially unlimited resources to the streaming game, free to subsidize anything they believe is in their companies’ long-term interests. The stakes in streaming have never been as high and only the deepest-pocketed need apply.

    The two initiatives in India are a preview of streaming’s future. As I said, DEFCON 1.

    Pack your bags for the trip to India, and listen to the podcast to learn more (27 minutes, 20 seconds)



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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Interview With BBC Studios’ GM of FAST Channels Beth Anderson

    In this week’s podcast, Colin and I are delighted to welcome BBC Studios’ GM of FAST Channels, Beth Anderson as our guest. BBC Studios has been one of the leading innovators and early adopters of FAST, and has a well-developed, highly-strategic plan for how to optimize its vast, 100-year old iconic programming library through aggressive FAST distribution.

    Beth explains all of this and also dives more specifically into how BBC Studios has created a meticulous decision tree to guide which content to incorporate into its FAST channels, how it has completely revamped its audience targeting approach moving away from traditional age/income demo targeting toward “mood-based” programming based on a concept of viewers’ “displaced nostalgia,” why BBC Studios’ is both comfortable with and encouraging of platform partners’ disparate ad monetization strategies even if the consequence is inconsistent viewer experiences with identical BBC FAST channels across platforms,

    During the interview Beth articulates two incisive points about FASTs that are among the best I’ve heard: that FASTs should be thought of as “grandchildren of linear TV, but children of SVOD” and that “FAST is the most equitable form of media we’ve seen in a generation.” Both so well said.

    As a major bonus, Beth will be participating in VideoNuze’s CTV Advertising PREVIEW virtual event on February 28th (complimentary registration) on the panel “FASTs – Road to Gold or Road to “SLOW?” with Tejas Shah (SVP, Commercial Strategy and Analytics, FilmRise), Josh Sharma (VP of Advertising Partnerships, Allen Media Group) and Aneessa Steilen (VP, Media and Distribution Marketing, Vevo) with the one and only Eric John (VP, Media Center, IAB) moderating.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (48 minutes, 7 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer Future Seems Murky

    Disney reported its fiscal 2023 first quarter this week, the first since Bob Iger returned to the CEO role. While other parts of the business are doing reasonably well, for Direct-to-Consumer, which includes Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, subscriber gains were weak and ARPU was down. Iger also shared that Disney will cut its content spending by $3 billion this year. For Colin and me, all of that makes Disney’s DTC future seem murky.

    Disney also plans to lay off 7,000 employees and take a $5.5 billion charge, while also stating it intends to restore its dividend by the end of the year - all a big victory for Wall Street. The layoff continues a disturbing pattern by most large tech and media companies (a topic about which I do a mini-rant during the podcast, sorry) which has put CEOs' lack of accountability on full display and smashed any delusions anyone might have had about any sort of an employer-employee "social contract" still existing (again sorry, I digress)

    The most meaningful quote from Disney’s earnings call on late Wednesday was when Iger said “…the streaming business, which I believe is the future and has been growing, is not delivering basically the kind of profitability or bottom-line results that the linear business delivered for us over a few decades.”

    Nor will it ever.

    As Colin and I discuss this week (and as we’ve discussed ad nauseam in the past), the linear business model was based on the pay-TV multichannel bundle, which was the very definition of artificial economics. In the bundle, lots and lots of channels were delivered for a single price. The bundle’s monthly price steadily increased over the years as broadcast and cable TV networks raised their carriage fees paid by pay-TV operators.

    The “elephant in the room” was that most pay-TV subscribers watched only a handful of TV networks, and yet paid for ALL of them. By far the biggest beneficiaries of pay-TV’s artificial economics were sports networks, with ESPN at the very top of the list. I first wrote about the “sports tax” 12 years ago in “Not a Sports Fan? Then You're Getting Sacked For At Least $2 Billion Per Year.” Things have only gotten worse for non-sports fans since. However, with streaming’s rise, the elephant is now fully visible, and has driven cord-cutting to record levels.

    And just as the Internet has ruthlessly rationalized the economics of practically every other industry, it is now doing the same to the TV industry. The Internet allows zero room for artificial economics and anyone who violates this precept is an ostrich with their heads fully underground. Iger understands this, and his quote should fairly be seen as a signal to Wall Street that Disney is extremely unlikely to ever achieve historical financial performance in its TV businesses.

    As if all of that weren’t enough, Iger then went on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” yesterday and told David Faber that “Everything is on the table…" with respect to Hulu’s eventual ownership resolution (reminder, Disney has a deal in which Comcast can force Disney to buy its 30% stake for a set minimum price that would translate into around $9 billion).

    Iger’s comments basically turned Hulu into a hot potato. Really dedicated VideoNuze readers will recall that almost 5 years ago, in March, 2018 I wrote “Why Comcast Should Take Control of Hulu.” Then, subsequent to Comcast’s Peacock reveal in January, 2020, I followed up with “Quick Math Shows Comcast Missed Out On Almost $6 Billion in Revenue By Not Buying the Rest of Hulu.”

    Instead, Comcast/NBCU launched Peacock and will have lost over $5.5 billion on it just between 2022-2023. If Comcast does come back in and buy Disney’s 70% stake in Hulu it will rank as the #1 irony in all the years I’ve been in the industry.

    And it would make Disney’s DTC future even murkier still.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (34 minutes, 46 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Are FASTs a Road to Gold or a Road to “SLOW?”

    On this week’s podcast, Colin Dixon and I boldly  introduce to the industry a new acronym (technically it’s a “macronym” or “nested acronym”).

    We’re all aware that free ad-supported TV (“FAST) services are currently all the rage and that many are predicting it will become a multibillion dollar streaming segment in the years ahead.  

    Content providers, TV OEMs and TV networks are seizing the opportunity by launching new FAST services to capitalize on two key trends - advertisers’ insatiable demand for premium CTV ad inventory and viewers’ SVOD fatigue especially as economic uncertainty surges.

    All of this makes FASTs a “road to gold” in the short-term.

    But, in the longer-term, an unintended consequence of FASTs’ growth may be to precipitate accelerated churn among SVOD providers. Hence the new macronym: SVOD Losses On the Way (“SLOW”).

    There are still only 24 hours in the day, and viewers constantly make choices about what to watch, what services get displaced and what they’re willing to pay for. If viewers reapportion their viewing time to strong FAST services that are flooding the market, then they’re being “trained” to consume free premium video via FASTs. Further, their expectations for ever-better shows to be accessible without payment also escalates.

    SLOW is a concept I’ve been contemplating for some time, especially as I read one FAST-boosting report or article after another, as well as observing the slowing growth SVODs are already experiencing.

    But this week’s announcements of WBD moving “Westworld” plus a trove of other programming to Tubi and to The Roku Channel FAST services really crystallized things for me. After all, “Westworld” is a show that garnered 54 Emmy nominations and 9 wins in its four-year run. Its popularity has faded recently and HBO cancelled it, but it still boasted a familiar, name-brand cast. For HBO, it was no “Game of Thrones” or “The Sopranos,” but it was respectable. Now all 36 episodes will be available completely for free on Tubi and The Roku Channel.

    To be clear - and as I say in the podcast - I remain a fan of FASTs. I’m only raising the caution flag that the decision-making around which FASTs to launch and what premium content will be included must be made with a lot of strategic awareness. Companies condition their customers what to expect; once this conditioning is set it is incredibly difficult to recondition them.

    Note: There will be a dedicated session on whether FASTs are a road to gold or a road to “SLOW” at VideoNuze’s CTV Advertising PREVIEW virtual event on Feb. 28th afternoon. Sign-up is complimentary. Initial speakers being announced next week.



    Listen to the podcast to learn more (38 minutes, 2 seconds)


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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: ESPN is Getting Squeezed From All Sides

    Cord-cutting is accelerating. Deep-pocketed Big Tech (Amazon, Apple, Google) are scooping up marquee sports rights in an effort to add value to their services businesses. Linear TV viewing is collapsing. Consumers' attention is fragmenting as myriad social media and other activities beckon for eyeballs.

    As Colin and I discuss on this week’s episode, ESPN finds itself at the center of this storm, as the venerable TV network gets squeezed from all sides. Adding urgency to the problem, and as we also explore this week, Sinclair's Diamond Sports Group, which owns Bally Sports, a big collection of Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) acquired from Disney as part of its Fox deal, is edging toward declaring bankruptcy.

    While Diamond’s demise is closely tied to the debt it incurred by overpaying for the Fox RSNs in 2019, it raises more consequential questions about the health of the sports TV ecosystem - and therefore the value of sports broadcasting rights themselves. These rights have been funded primarily through the “sports tax” on pay-TV subscribers who are not sports fans (see “Not a Sports Fan, Then You’re Getting Sacked for At Least $2 Billion Per Year,” which I wrote back in February, 2011). Non-sports fans are getting soaked for far more than this in 2023, with huge - and mostly unknown - sums embedded in their monthly pay-TV bills (partly contributing to escalating cord-cutting).

    Net, net, the delicate equilibrium in the sports TV ecosystem is under major pressure. With respect to ESPN, newly reinstated Disney CEO Bob Iger has a pressing - yet until recently unimaginable - question to address: long-term, is ESPN still a good business? And if it’s not, should Disney keep the network anyway, or seek to sell it off?

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (30 minutes, 18 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Interview With FuboTV’s CEO and Co-Founder David Gandler

    In this week’s podcast, Colin and I do a deep dive interview with FuboTV’s CEO and Co-Founder David Gandler. FuboTV, which reported having 1.6 million subscribers at the end of Q3 ’22, has differentiated itself primarily with sports, which, as we discuss, has its advantages and disadvantages.

    Specifically in the podcast, we dig into escalating and fragmenting sports rights, what impact tech giants like Apple, Amazon and YouTube will have as they stream more sports on their platforms, the role of FAST channels and regional sports networks (RSNs) for pay-TV providers, the decision to shutter FuboTV’s nascent sportsbook, how FuboTV is pursuing AI for cutting-edge user experiences and much more.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (42 minutes, 45 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Evaluating WBD’s New “Warner Pass” Streaming Bundle in France

    In this week’s podcast, Colin and I discuss Warner Bros. Discovery’s plan to launch a new streaming bundle in France dubbed “Warner Pass,” exclusively on Amazon Prime Channels, which Variety reported. Warner Pass will include all HBO content, plus 12 WBD channels including CNN, Discovery Channel, Eurosport and others.

    The move caught our attention because WBD has been quite vocal about its intention to launch a combined HBO Max / discovery+ service (expected to be simply called “Max”), which the Variety report noted it still plans to introduce in France in 2024.

    Colin and I think Warner Pass could offer clues about how WBD will price the combined service eventually (especially in Europe). Yet it raises a concern that having two different streaming brands in France with similar content is clumsy and could cause consumer confusion (not to mention spending required to support two streaming brands).

    Further, as we discussed in December, Warner Pass is yet another step in reversing the company’s strategy on third-party distribution. Prior WarnerMedia management decided to pull HBO from Amazon Prime Channels and others in September, 2021. As I wrote back then, in a direct-to-consumer world, not owning the subscriber, nor seeing their detailed viewing data, are real drawbacks.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (31 minutes, 56 seconds)


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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: How Do Sunday Ticket Economics Work for YouTube?

    Happy new year and welcome to the first edition of Inside the Stream for 2023. Just after recording our Top 10 streaming stories of 2022 podcast a couple of weeks ago YouTube announced its deal with the NFL for Sunday Ticket.

    In this week’s podcast we dig into how we think the economics of the deal might work. Colin modeled many of the variables, which I then tinkered with. The clear caveat is that no external person, including us, really knows all the pieces of the deal, nor the terms. So we’re taking our best guesses, based on how Sunday Ticket has performed for DirecTV and the new value we believe YouTube brings to the package.

    Based on all of this Colin is skeptical about YouTube’s ability to turn a profit on Sunday Ticket, while I’m more optimistic. In addition I highlight a number of valuable strategic aspects of the deal to YouTube and Google, especially gaining direct experience with the NFL for the next 6-7 years. These insights will be extremely valuable as YouTube contemplates potentially bidding for some or all of the NFL broadcast package when it’s up for renewal in 2033.

    Ultimately the value of Sunday Ticket to YouTube hinges on its ability to monetize the package much better than DirecTV did - more subscribers and more advertising revenue.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (30 minutes, 36 seconds)


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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Top 10 Streaming Video Stories of 2022 and Happy Holidays

    Keeping with our end of year tradition, this week on Inside the Stream, Colin and I discuss the top 10 most important streaming video stories (in our humble view) of 2022.

    Several of our top 10 stories focus on broader industry trends that are accelerating, such as cord-cutting and the rise of connected TV advertising. Others focus on changes at specific companies including YouTube, Netflix, Disney and WBD. And others involve emerging themes such as sports rights migrating to streamers, adoption of hybrid video-on-demand (HVOD) business models and the growth of FASTs. The top 10 highlight the industry’s vibrancy, as well as the challenges of navigating an ever-changing landscape.

    Thank you for listening to Inside the Stream in 2022; hopefully you’ve found value in our discussions. We look forward to continuing the dialogue in 2023 and wish you all happy holidays!

    Listen to the podcast (36 minutes, 39 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: World Cup 4K, Netflix Ad Refunds, HBO Max Removes “Westworld”, Music FASTs

    On this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I dig into four topics: World Cup streaming quality and the lack of 4K differentiation, Netflix’s offer to refund advertisers due to inventory shortfalls, WBD’s decision to remove “Westworld” from HBO Max, and the proliferation of music-oriented FAST channels.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (31 minutes, 25 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Does HBO Max Rejoining Amazon Channels Make Sense?

    HBO Max is coming back to Amazon Prime Video Channels, reversing a move by prior owner WarnerMedia just over a year ago. Removing HBO Max led to an immediate loss of 5 million subscribers who had signed up through Amazon Channels (it’s unclear how many rejoined directly).

    On today’s podcast, Colin and I try puzzle through why WBD, which is now HBO’s owner, would want HBO Max to rejoin Amazon Channels. Although Amazon will surely generate some incremental HBO Max subscribers, their lifetime value is likely to be far lower than HBO Max subscribers who sign up directly with the service. That’s because Amazon has “customer ownership” of these subscribers and shares little to no data with SVOD providers that would be critical to retention (starting with an email address to directly communicate with them). I wrote about my personal experience with this in August, 2021.

    The move seems to suggest a push for incremental subscribers, despite the likelihood of a higher churn rate. That’s at odds with streaming services executives recent emphasis on profitability over pure subscriber growth. It’s possible Colin and I are missing something here. If you think you know what it is please let us know.

    To wrap up the discussion we also discuss WBD's reported new strategy to collect its streaming services under the "Max" brand in 2023.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (34 minutes, 4 seconds)



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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: AMC Networks Typifies Challenges Facing TV Networks in DTC Streaming World

    Earlier this week AMC Networks disclosed a large-scale layoff (reportedly 20%) and that their CEO was departing. AMC Networks’ chairman James Dolan said in an internal memo that “It was our belief that cord cutting losses would be offset by gains in streaming. This has not been the case. We are primarily a content company and the mechanisms for the monetization of content are in disarray.”

    AMC Networks’ predicament typifies what’s happening across the industry. In today’s podcast Colin and I share estimates of what AMC might be earning from its streaming services vs. what it earns from its linear channels distributed by pay-TV operators. Other data we share highlights the conundrum broadcast and cable TV networks face: their assumptions for target pricing for their streaming services and subscriber forecasts are too high.

    The monetization disarray AMC and others are experiencing is the messy transition from the pay-TV world that masked what consumers were paying for individual channels and how they were valued vs. the DTC world where consumers are in full control.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (31 minutes, 56 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Highlights from CTV Brand Suitability Summit virtual

    Yesterday was VideoNuze’s Connected TV Advertising Brand Suitability Summit virtual which included 24 speakers on 5 sessions. On today’s podcast nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I discuss some of the key highlights from the afternoon, including the session Colin moderated.

    Speakers are optimistic about CTV for many reasons, despite economic uncertainty. However, throughout the afternoon many noted challenges in transparency, frequency management, fragmentation and measurement. Speakers shared their thoughts on what’s being done, and still needs to be done, to address these challenges.

    Consistent with the conference’s theme, there was a lot of focus on how advertisers and agencies are thinking about brand suitability and also what initiatives they’re pursuing to promote DE&I within their organizations and the work they do. I’ll be posting all of the session videos early next week on VideoNuze for on-demand viewing.

    Listen to the podcast (32 minutes, 23 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Can Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer Business Become Profitable in 2024?

    Although Disney gained a healthy 14.6 million direct-to-consumer subscribers in its fiscal fourth quarter reported this week, it also lost nearly $1.5 billion in the segment. That raised its annual DTC loss for fiscal 2022 to over $4 billion, more than twice the $1.7 billion it lost in fiscal 2021. Disney reiterated that it expects DTC losses will decrease going forward and that Disney+ specifically will achieve profitability in fiscal 2024, absent a “meaningful shift in the economic climate.”

    On this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I examine the various cross-currents impacting Disney’s DTC business going forward. These include declining ARPU at Disney+ domestically and Disney+ Hotstar, upcoming price increases, SVOD and FAST competition, content costs and more. The stakes are high for Disney to turn the corner on DTC profitability but it isn’t clear when or how that will happen.

    Listen to the podcast (31 minutes, 2 seconds)


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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Roku’s Q3 Was Solid But Q4 is Uncertain

    This week on Inside the Stream nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I discuss Roku’s Q3 ’22 results which were reported earlier this week. The company had a pretty strong quarter, adding 2.3 million active accounts to reach 65.4 million. Platform revenue, which includes advertising, increased 15% to $670 million. And streaming hours increased by 1.1 billion to 21.9 billion from Q2 ’22.

    While the Q3 results showed strong resiliency for Roku, company executives were less upbeat on the earnings call about Q4. While noting that the Q4 holiday season is typically the strongest period for most companies, including Roku, executives expect this year to be different. Roku has already observed a decline in “pretty much every vertical” category of advertisers due to uncertainty about an upcoming recession and is also worried about the impact of inflation on consumer spending, which hurts its device sales.

    However Roku continues to benefit from the shift in ad spending from linear to CTV, its international and original programming expansion and a new set of smart home products.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Q3 2022 Bumpiness for Comcast, YouTube, Disney and Apple

    On this week’s podcast Colin Dixon from nScreenMedia and I discuss Q3 2022 bumpiness for four companies heavily focused on streaming. Comcast reported a small gain of 10K residential broadband subscribers compared with 281K a year ago. It also lost 540K residential video subscribers compared with a loss of 382K a year ago, as cord-cutting and cord-nevering continue.

    Meanwhile YouTube ad revenue was down 2% in Q3, after a blistering period of growth during the past couple of years. Apple TV+ is raising its monthly rate by $2, betting subscribers see enhanced value in its 3 year-old service. And Disney’s CEO envisions Disney+ being tied closer to its theme park business. We explore all of them and share our thoughts.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Netflix is Poised for 2023 Revenue Growth

    In Q3 ’22 Netflix added 2.4 million subscribers globally, beating its forecast of a million additions, and more importantly, reversing the two prior quarters’ declines. As nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I discuss on this week’s Inside the Stream, there’s a lot of action just ahead for Netflix as it rolls out its ad-supported tier and modifies its longstanding account sharing approach.

    The latter will likely impact tens of millions of subscribers, who will have multiple variables to consider in order for family members to retain access to Netflix. We do a little back of the envelope math that illustrates  the significant revenue opportunities all of this will create for Netflix.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Why Samsung and LG License Their TV Operating Systems to Competitors

    This week on Inside the Stream nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I discuss the intensifying competition among TV operating systems and in particular why two large TV manufacturers - Samsung and LG - are licensing their TV operating systems to smaller competitors. Earlier this week Samsung announced deals with three manufacturers to license its Tizen OS.

    Given the competition, it appears that the primary monetization opportunity is through wider distribution of their respective content services, Samsung TV Plus and LG Channels, to gain more advertising revenue. But as we discuss there are likely other motivations as well.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Interview with Xperi’s Geir Skaaden

    This week on Inside the Stream Colin and I interview Xperi’s EVP and Chief Products and Services Officer Geir Skaaden. Earlier this week Xperi completed its spinoff and is now an independent company with a portfolio of entertainment technology brands including TiVo, DTS, IMAX Enhanced and HD Radio. Geir walks us through how Xperi is focused on building out its media platform business as an independent partner to TV OEMs and automobile OEMs.

    Listen to the podcast (27 minutes, 9 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Interview With Hub’s Jon Giegengack on What Viewers Turn to First

    This week on Inside the Stream Colin and I interview Hub Entertainment Research’s Founder and Principal Jon Giegengack about top conclusions from the firm’s latest “Decoding the Default” survey (excerpt here). Among them are that streaming services continue to gain as the default source for viewers (with Netflix by far the leader), being the default is the best protection from churn, SVOD stacking appears to have plateaued and some streaming services seem to be pretty well insulated from inflation. We discuss all of these and more.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Interview With Cinedigm’s David Chu On Cineverse’s Launch

    This week on Inside the Stream Colin and I welcome David Chu, EVP and General Manager of Cinedigm Networks who discusses the recent launch of streaming service Cineverse. David explains Cineverse’s main differentiators, including a large and well-curated VOD offering, exclusive FAST channels for enthusiasts, a unique user experience leveraging the company’s Matchpoint technology and a light ad load. David shares his views on the competitive landscape for streaming services and some of the innovations Cineverse has on its roadmap.  

    (Also a note to listeners that Colin will be moderating a free webinar on September 29th with Zype on hybrid monetization business models. Sign up here.)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: IBC 2022 Highlights - FAST, Piracy, Metadata and More

    This week on Inside the Stream Colin shares highlights from IBC 2022, which he just attended in Amsterdam. He focuses on enthusiasm for FAST services, clever new approaches to solving video piracy, advancements in metadata to improve search and discovery, and more. We explore all of the highlights and how they’ll play out in the industry. For further details, check out Colin’s posts here and here.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: 25 Million Viewers for The Rings of Power; FASTs Gain Popularity

    Amazon took the unusual step of releasing viewership data for its new Lord of the Rings series “The Rings of Power,” saying that over 25 million Prime members watched it on its first day. On this week’s podcast Colin and I discuss how to put this number into context, and also whether the series is worth the reported $58 million per episode it cost. Then we transition to reviewing new data about viewer satisfaction with ad-supported FAST services vs. ad-free SVOD services.

    Listen to the podcast (24 minutes, 33 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Disney Membership, Paramount Bundles, Netflix CPMs

    On the podcast this week nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I dig into four topics that have caught our attention: Disney’s rumored membership program, Netflix’s plan to charge advertisers CPMs of up to $65, Paramount’s bundling of Paramount+ and Showtime, and how “diginet” channels and FAST linear services are converging.  

    Listen to the podcast (28 minutes, 43 seconds)
     

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Inside the Roku-HBO Max “House of the Dragon” Launch Campaign

    This week, nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I welcome Grace Lam, Roku’s Director of Partner Growth as our guest. Grace takes us inside the campaign that Roku and HBO Max launched for the new TV series “House of the Dragon.” It is the biggest SVOD campaign Roku has undertaken to date, involving multiple elements. Grace walks us through the campaign’s goals, viewer benefits, success metrics and how Roku aims to have the campaign be a template for future SVOD partnerships.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Can the Big Ten Help Slow Broadcast and Cable TV’s Decline?

    On this week’s episode of Inside the Stream nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I discuss whether the Big Ten (and sports more generally) can help slow broadcast and cable TV’s viewership decline. This week the Big Ten announced a new $7 billion, 7-year media rights deal with Fox, CBS and NBC, which triples the annual revenue the conference receives compared to its current deal.

    Meanwhile Nielsen revealed that in July streaming accounted for 34.8% of TV consumption by Americans, beating cable’s share of 34.4% and broadcast’s 21.6%. It was the first time streaming eclipsed cable. And in Q2, the biggest pay-TV operators lost another 1.9 million subscribers, underscoring cord-cutting’s impact on the industry. All of this raises the question whether the Big Ten, as well as other major sports, can stabilize or reverse broadcast and cable’s decline.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: The Impact of Disney’s D2C Price Increases

    On this week’s episode of Inside the Stream nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I discuss Disney’s direct-to-consumer (D2C) performance in its fiscal third quarter, ending July 2, 2022 and the impact of upcoming price increases across all of its streaming services. Disney now has over 221 million streaming subscribers of which 152.1 million are Disney+ subscribers (up 14.4 million in the quarter).

    But these Disney+ subscribers will see their monthly fee increase by 38% in December, from $7.99 to $10.99, no doubt causing higher churn. Disney hopes to offset this with its new ad-supported “Disney+ Basic” tier which will run $7.99 per month. Hulu will increase by $1 per month to $7.99 and ESPN+ will increase by $3 per month to $9.99 as previously announced. Colin and I explore all these changes and what impact they’re likely to have (and Colin has a nice recap of the changes).

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Can FASTs Become the New Cable?

    This week on Inside the Stream nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I welcome our friend and industry analyst Alan Wolk to discuss his new report, “FASTs are the New Cable” (complimentary download). Alan is the co-founder and lead analyst at TVREV. He is a veteran TV industry follower who coined the term FAST for free ad-supported streaming TV.

    Alan explains the similarities between FASTs and cable TV networks. He views FASTs as one of two streaming business models, with the other being paid subscriptions. But both models feature on-demand and linear content. The FAST ecosystem is complex and Alan describes the three key levels and how they interrelate. He also shares a number of predictions about where FASTs are heading.

    For anyone interested in better understanding FASTs and the impact they’re having, the interview and report are highly valuable.

    Listen to the podcast (32 minutes, 24 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Exploring the Launch of NFL+

    This week on Inside the Stream nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I explore the launch of NFL+, the new direct-to-consumer streaming service the NFL announced earlier this week. The service is mobile-only and most of the content is non-exclusive, leading Colin and me to wonder who is the target customer, and how big a market is it?

    But given the contraction in the pay-TV industry, in the long-term the NFL may be heading to all streaming future, either direct-to-consumer or with partners. So NFL+ gives the league a new opportunity to connect directly with fans.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Netflix’s Plans for Ad Tiers and Paid Account Sharing Bring Complexity

    This week on Inside the Stream nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I discuss Netflix’s plans to launch ad-supported service tiers and introduce paid account sharing options. Netflix provided updates on both during its Q2 ’22 earnings call earlier this week. Colin and I agree that both are important steps for the company but that there are myriad execution challenges as the moves will introduce new complexity and decision-making for subscribers.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Xperi EVP Explains Vewd Acquisition, TVOS Opportunity

    This week on Inside the Stream nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I interview Geir Skaaden, EVP and Chief Products and Services Officer at Xperi, which recently acquired Vewd to push further into the TVOS market. Geir walks us through the deal’s rationale and the value of providing an independent TVOS platform to TV OEMs who can retain a share of post-sale streaming economics. Geir also explains how Xperi’s TiVo+ service that includes 160 FAST channels enhances the company’s appeal as a partner for TV OEMs.

    Listen to the podcast (29 minutes, 17 seconds)


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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: The Elvis Presley Channel Launch Illustrates FAST Opportunity

    This week on Inside the Stream nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I explore how the recent launch by Cinedigm of the Elvis Presley Channel illustrates the FAST opportunity for content providers. Cinedigm struck deals with seven different platforms to gain access to over 100 million devices at launch. This demonstrates the reach connected TV now offers though Colin highlights how discovery challenges remain.

    Ad-supported streaming services continue to gain, creating a tailwind for FAST channels. We reference recent comScore data showing the growing popularity of ad-supported services, especially among certain ethnic groups.

    Listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 57 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Unpacking Netflix’s Conflicting Satisfaction Data Among SVOD Services

    This week on Inside the Stream nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I discuss conflicting data about Netflix’s customer satisfaction from ASCI and Whip Media. Netflix remains an essential streaming service for many people, especially for watching drama, according to Parrot Analytics. However, new data from Antenna indicates that in April almost a quarter of Americans who signed up for Netflix dropped it within a month. We try to make sense of it all.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Apple - Major League Soccer Deal Moves Sports Deeper Into Streaming

    Apple has signed a ten-year deal with Major League Soccer to stream all MLS matches starting in 2023, without any local broadcast blackouts. The deal moves sports deeper into streaming, and away from traditional pay-TV.

    Chris Harris, Publisher of World Soccer Talk, joins Colin and me this week to understand the significance of the deal and what impact it may have on sports going forward. Chris is an authority on global soccer and also wrote about how Apple might price the MLS subscription service. We explore all angles of the deal with Chris.

    Listen to the podcast (29 minutes, 15 seconds)


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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Takeaways from the CTV Ad Summit

    VideoNuze’s Connected TV Advertising Summit virtual was this past Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, featuring over 35 speakers on 8 different sessions sharing tons of great market insights.

    In this week’s Inside the Stream podcast nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I discuss some of our takeaways from the conference, including specific reasons speakers are enthusiastic about CTV advertising, and also what challenges remain.

    I’ll be posting all the session videos on VideoNuze.com early next week.

    Separate, Colin released a new white paper, “O&O is Not Enough: Hybrid Business Models and Multi-Partner Distribution” which is available for complimentary download.  

    Listen to the podcast (27 minutes, 9 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: FAST Channels, Aggregator Outlook, CTV Complexity

    In this week’s Inside the Stream podcast nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I discuss a number of topics including how FAST channels are evolving to include live content, whether there will be consolidation of video aggregators, and how complexity in the CTV value chain is being addressed.

    Listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 2 seconds)


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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: YouTube on TV Feature, New FAST Channels and More

    In this week’s Inside the Stream podcast nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I cover a range of topics including the YouTube app’s new feature enhancing viewers’ TV experience, plus new FAST channels from 60 Minutes, The Weather Channel and the BBC.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: SVOD’s Growth, NFL+ and More

    In this week’s Inside the Stream podcast nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I mix up our usual format by discussing a range of topics that hit our radar this week, including data supporting SVOD’s strength, a new streaming service the NFL is planning to launch, a live-streaming commerce company called Firework which just raised $150 million, and others stories.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: SVOD Services Diversify Monetization Models

    In this week’s Inside the Stream podcast nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I discuss how SVOD services are diversifying their monetization models beyond purely subscriptions. Examples of services doing so include Disney+, Netflix, HBO Max and Curiosity Stream. We examine what’s behind these moves and the multiple benefits they deliver.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: New Survey Highlights Streaming’s Surge

    In this week’s Inside the Stream podcast nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I discuss new data from Hub Research that highlights streaming’s ongoing surge. For example, 89% of survey respondents have a streaming subscription, with half of respondents to at least 3 of the “big 5” services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO Max and Disney+). Colin and I explore all of the data and what it means.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: NewFronts Takeaways

    In this week’s Inside the Stream podcast nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I discuss some of our takeaways from the NewFronts presentations this week. Connected TV, original shows, audience targeting and shopability were at the forefront. We also touch on Roku’s recent results.

    Listen to the podcast (27 minutes, 41 seconds)


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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Comcast and YouTube Results

    In this week’s Inside the Stream podcast nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I discuss the Q1 results of Comcast and YouTube, as well as a new report from Pixability that details YouTube’s massive reach.

    Colin leads the discussion of Comcast, which lost 512K video subscribers, leading to a total loss of 1.7 million subscribers in the past 4 quarters. On the broadband side, subscriber growth slowed to 262K, compared with 434K a year ago. Peacock was a bright spot, reaching 28 million monthly active users and 13 million paid users.

    Separate, YouTube’s revenue grew at a slower 14% rate in Q1, to $6.9 billion. We discuss more of the details of YouTube’s performance which remains very strong. Pixability also released a valuable new report showing the extent of YouTube’s massive reach and its proliferation on connected TVs. The report is available as a complimentary download.

    Colin wraps up with a few takeaways from NABShow earlier this week.

    Listen to the podcast (25 minutes, 14 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Netflix’s Subscriber Loss

    In this week’s Inside the Stream podcast nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I discuss Netflix’s Q1 results which included a loss of 200K subscribers vs. a forecast gain of 2.5 million.

    Netflix provided a number of reasons for the loss, which we explore. We’re both excited about the prospects for a lower priced ad-supported option, which is long overdue. We’re less sanguine about Netflix reeling in widespread password sharing, which it has traditionally sanctioned and now reaches an estimated 100 million households.

    Listen on to hear all of our observations about Netflix’s challenges and what it can do to restart growth. (29 minutes, 46 seconds)


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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Interview with Backlight’s CEO Ben Kaplan

    In this week’s Inside the Stream podcast nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and I interview Ben Kaplan, president and CEO of Backlight, a media technology company that has launched. Backlight has 5 business units comprising companies it has invested in that span the video creation and distribution lifecycle. Backlight has been funded with a $200 million investment from PSG, a growth equity firm.

    The companies include ftrack, iconik, Celtx, Wildmoka and Zype.

    Listen to the interview (31 minutes, 52 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Philo’s Pro-Subscriber Approach; Nielsen Streaming Data

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    First up this week Colin shares thoughts on Philo’s pro-subscriber approach, based on an interview he listened to with CEO Andrew McCollum. He discusses holding the line on pricing, offering new content packages and personalized channels.

    Next we explore Nielsen’s newly released survey data on streaming, highlighted by the data point that there are over 817K streaming titles now available in the U.S. No wonder that nearly half of respondents feel overwhelmed by all the different streaming options now available.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: CNN+ Launch and Apple’s Streaming

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    First up this week, Colin and I discuss CNN+ which launched this week. For now there’s limited connected TV availability, so that’s a key challenge to surmount. Overall we agree it’s a smart strategy by CNN and will fit well with other streaming services from WarnerMedia Discovery.

    Then we catch up on Apple’s latest streaming moves, including starting to stream Major League Baseball games and winning the Oscar for CODA.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Exploring NBCUniversal’s ShoppableTV

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    At NBCUniversal’s One22 developer conference this week, ShoppableTV was one of the innovative ad experiences showcased. ShoppableTV allows viewers to buy products while they’re watching TV. In this week’s podcast Colin and I discuss ShoppableTV’s opportunity and what the potential challenges are.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Discovery+ and HBO Max’s Future

    This week Colin and I discuss the future integration of Discovery+ and HBO Max. New details were shared this week by the company’s chief financial officer at an industry conference. Specifically, Colin sees strong upside in a discounted bundle of the streaming services and the eventual integration of their respective technology platforms the CFO described. However, he’s skeptical of an eventual plan to actually merge the services. We discuss the pros and cons.

    Separate, we dig into a new test by Netflix to potentially charge subscribers an extra fee for out-of-house users.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Apple TV+ Innovates With Comcast

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    This week Colin and I discuss a deal announced earlier this week in which Apple TV+ will become available on Comcast’s various broadband and connected devices. The deal is the latest in which Comcast is offering third-party streaming services directly to its subscribers, an evolution from the traditional bundled cable TV model.

    As Colin points out, an innovative part of the deal is that Apple TV+ won’t be offered within its customary Apple TV app, but rather one that was developed using “a common set of development tools and resources of Comcast’s global technology platform” and that apparently won’t have the typical aggregation feature. We explore what this might mean for Apple going forward.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: SVOD Subscribers to Double, Ad Measurement Innovation

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    This week Colin shares thoughts SVOD growth, citing a new forecast from Digital TV Research forecasting subscriptions will reach 1.75 billion globally in 2027. Then Colin shifts to data from Omdia indicating that vMVPD subscribers use 13.5 streaming services per month, almost double non-vMVPD subscribers.

    We also spend some time discussing the evolution of alternative currencies developing to Nielsen for measuring ads on premium video services.

    Listen to the podcast (25 minutes, 43 seconds)




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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Streaming Super Bowl Scores Again

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Last Sunday’s Super Bowl was viewed by over 112 million people with around 10% or more streaming the game. On today’s podcast Colin and I discuss the mostly positive experiences that streamers had, albeit with latency that ranged up to 40+ seconds.

    We also discuss strong results for Paramount+ and what’s ahead for the company.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Disney+ Restarts Growth As Bundling Helps Drive Gains

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Disney+ added nearly 12 million subscribers in the recent holiday quarter, an encouraging sign that bundling Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN+ is a highly effective strategy. Disney+ also had strong gains in the US and Canada market, adding 6.6 million subscribers in the quarter, while Netflix by comparison added only 1.2 million. Colin and I dig into all the Disney+ numbers and discuss what might be next.

    Listen to the podcast (24 minutes, 47 seconds)


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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: YouTube’s Strong Growth Continues in Q4

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Google reported another strong quarter of advertising revenue for YouTube in Q4 ’21, up 25% to over $8.6 billion. For the entire year YouTube ad revenue was nearly $29 billion. Add in subscription fees from YouTube and YouTube Premium and the company’s total revenue in 2021 was likely in the $35 billion range.

    Colin and I discuss the details. Colin also shares new data from Conviva highlighting Roku’s viewership advantage vs. all other streaming devices.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Takeaways from CTV Advertising PREVIEW: 2022

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    The past 2 afternoons were VideoNuze’s Connected TV Advertising PREVIEW: 2022 virtual. Over 25 speakers participated on 9 sessions across the 2 afternoons. On today’s podcast we discuss some of the highlights of the conference and our takeaways.

    I plan to post all of the session videos on VideoNuze early next week.

    Listen to the podcast (27 minutes, 52 seconds)


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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Netflix’s Growth Slows, But It Remains the SVOD Leader

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    This week we discuss Netflix’s Q4 ’21 earnings report released yesterday and its forecast for Q1 ’22. Both came up a little light, as the SVOD category continues to mature, Covid pull-forward creates tough comparisons, there’s intensifying competition, and Netflix’s release schedule for popular content shifts.

    All of that said, with over 220 million global subscribers, Colin and I still see Netflix as the SVOD category leader well into the future.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: More Sports Coming to Streaming; NBCU Picks First Nielsen Alternative

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    This week Colin has been following various reports of NBA, MLB and Premier League potentially coming to streaming, courtesy of Sinclair, Apple and DAZN. Colin explains more about what this might mean for the industry, as consumers seek out new alternatives.

    Then we discuss NBCUniversal’s move that it has selected iSpot.tv as its first cross-platform video certified measurement partner. NBCU’s move is the latest by the industry to find a new currency alternative to Nielsen, the long-time standard and to better compete with digital options. NBCU said more measurement partners will be announced.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Smart TVs at CES, Peacock Olympics, HBO Max’s Success

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    This week Colin leads off with highlights of smart TV innovations announced at CES. Then we discuss why Peacock streaming every moment of every event of the upcoming Winter Olympics is a big win for the service and also a milestone decision for parent NBCUniversal.

    Finally, HBO and HBO Max ended the year with nearly 74 million subscribers, which we both shows clear momentum and how they’re moving past the decision to withdraw from Amazon’s Channels programs earlier this year. HBO Max is one of few subscription services that doesn’t need Amazon’s distribution strength.

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  • Peacock Makes Smart Move Live Streaming Full Winter Olympics

    Yesterday Peacock and NBCUniversal announced that every minute of every live event at the upcoming Winter Olympics from Beijing will be streamed on Peacock. In addition, full replays of all competition will be available on Peacock immediately upon conclusion. Peacock viewers will also have access to the Opening and Closing ceremonies, the studio shows and medal ceremonies.

    The announcements are smart moves and allow Peacock to clearly communicate and promote that all events will be available on the service. It’s a big improvement from last summer’s Olympics, which had incomplete coverage on Peacock and where replays and clips of concluded events sometimes were delayed and/or showed up on YouTube prior to being posted on Peacock itself. The execution fell short of many Peacock viewers’ expectations.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Top 10 Streaming Video Stories of 2021

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    It’s been another incredibly busy year in streaming video, with more than enough to write and talk about each week. As is our tradition for the last podcast of the year, today Colin and I parse through the year’s activity and identify what we believe were the top 10 most important stories of the 2021 and why. Please let us know if you agree or disagree with any of our choices, and if we missed something huge that should have been on the list.

    We wish you all happy holidays!

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Four Data Points That Illustrate the Year in Streaming

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    This year people used more streaming services and more of them were free and ad-supported. Many more of us did without pay-TV. And discovery+ is one example of a streaming service that thrived since broadly launching. On this week’s podcast Colin shares four data points that illustrate each of these trends.

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  • Tubi Demonstrates Streaming’s Incremental Reach to Linear TV

    Late last week Tubi and measurement partner TVSquared released new data demonstrating streaming’s incremental reach to linear TV. Of course, in the era of cord-cutting, CTVs proliferating and FASTs surging, it is not surprising that advertisers must increasingly turn to streaming services to reach certain audiences that have tuned out to linear TV.

    But the Tubi/TVSquared data quantifies the opportunity across four industry categories, automotive, quick service restaurants (QSR), consumer packaged goods (CPG) and entertainment. The companies found that 93% of the impressions delivered via Tubi were incremental to linear TV.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Deep Dive on the Huge Potential of FASTs

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Free ad-supported TV (“FAST”) channels are getting more attention by streaming services and device-makers. Just this week I wrote about the 11 new FAST channels that Vevo launched in The Roku Channel, while Colin wrote about a number of new Google and YouTube initiatives.

    On today’s podcast we do a deep dive on why FAST channels are a win for everyone - content providers, devices, viewers and advertisers. They’re a perfect example of how streaming and CTV open up avenues for different viewer experiences that can match well to particular circumstances. We expect many more FAST channels to launch, especially from companies that have deep content libraries and demonstrated curation skills.

    Join us next week on Zoom for a live version of Inside the Stream on Dec. 15th at 2:30pm ET / 11:30 am PT. We’ll be discussing the top stories of 2021 and doing live audience Q&A. It’s free - join us!

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  • Vevo’s New FAST Channels on Roku Highlight Diverse CTV Viewing Behaviors

    Vevo has launched 11 free ad-supported TV (“FAST”) channels within The Roku Channel. FAST channels are free 24/7 programmed linear experiences that can be tuned into by viewers on-demand. Vevo’s new FAST channels are another reminder that CTV viewers have a diverse range of behaviors; sometimes accessing a single “unit” of programming on-demand (e.g. a movie, a TV episode, a music video, etc.) or binge-watching multiple units, or watching on-demand a curated set of programming from a linear TV or FAST channel, or even accessing a scheduled, linear TV experience (most notably sports).

    I’ve often thought of FAST channels as analogous to playlists in the audio world and the new Vevo channels feel like they fit that mode. The new channels include  Vevo Pop, Vevo R&B, Vevo Hip Hop, Vevo Reggaeton & Trap, Vevo Country, Vevo Latino, Vevo ‘70s, Vevo ‘80s, Vevo ‘90s, Vevo 2K, and Vevo Holiday, which will be accessible through New Year’s Eve. I sampled a few of the channels and as expected they all played their particular genre seamlessly.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: IMDb TV Has Ad Problems But It Will Succeed Anyway

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    IMDb TV, Amazon’s free ad-supported streaming TV service has issues with how the advertising experience is implemented. There is a lot of ad repetition and randomness of ad insertion. This creates a jarring experience for users, and is somewhat incongruous because a show on IMDb TV like “Mad Men” has built in ad breaks from its original broadcast that aren’t being used.

    Colin and I discuss why these issues exist, and further, why they’re not uncommon among other FAST services. Some of the issues are quite thorny and don’t lend themselves to quick resolution. Still, we’re both optimistic long term that they will be resolved, and we’re also optimistic about IMDb TV’s likelihood of success. Its ownership by Amazon means eventually there will be strong targeting and lower funnel, actionable ads (Colin actually saw one like this for a hair dryer).

    A programming note - join us on Zoom for a live version of Inside the Stream on Dec. 15th at 2:30pm ET / 11:30 am PT. We’ll be discussing the top stories of 2021 and doing live audience Q&A. It’s free - join us!

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Key Takeaways From This Week’s Connected TV Ad Brand Suitability Summit

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Earlier this week was VideoNuze’s Connected TV Ad Brand Suitability Summit virtual, which featured 32 senior executives speaking on 10 sessions across 2 afternoons (all session videos will be available on VideoNuze starting on Monday).

    Some of the sessions focused more generally on the massive shift to CTV advertising, and what’s ahead, while others focused more specifically on brand suitability/safety, DE&I, measurement, identity management, brand building and multi-platform.

    On today’s podcast, Colin and I discuss key takeaways from the conference - both the main opportunities being created by CTV advertising and also the important challenges that still must be addressed for it to reach its full potential.

    One important conclusion that we agree on is that CTV’s ability to enable advertisers to target specific audience segments helps drive more diversity in content creation, which in turns helps foster more inclusivity and multiculturalism. All of this supports society’s evolution to great acceptance and tolerance, which should be critical goals for all.

    CTV advertising’s opportunity is only going to grow in the new year, and there will be ongoing work to solve its challenges. To help better understand all of this, keep an eye for a save the date email from VideoNuze coming soon, announcing the January dates for our inaugural CTV Advertising: Preview 2022 virtual event!

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Can Disney+ Reignite Growth in 2022?

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Disney+ now has 118.1 million subscribers, less than 2 years since its launch. But Disney+ added just 2.1 million subscribers in the fiscal fourth quarter of 2021, a huge slowdown from the blistering pace of the past 2 years. This raises the question many investors are asking: can Disney+ reignite growth in 2022, and if so, how? Colin and I explore these questions on this week’s podcast.

    Meanwhile, Hulu keeps chugging along, albeit in the shadow of Disney+. But as we also discuss, Hulu is already likely profitable (at least marginally), but looking out, it is poised to become a genuine profit engine for Disney. That’s because Hulu is one of a handful of scaled, ad-supported services and its Live TV + SVOD services is already generating nearly $85 per month in average revenue per subscriber. As CTV advertising becomes increasingly central to advertisers, Hulu is well-positioned to benefit.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: For Comcast and Peacock, It’s Time to Go Big or Go Home

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    On Comcast’s Q3 ’21 earnings call, management was vague about how Peacock is performing. In Corporate America, not highlighting numbers is typically a sign that things are not going as well as hoped and/or the numbers are not as impressive, comparably speaking, as those of competitors. A round of speculation about Peacock’s performance and what might happen next has ensued.

    On this week’s podcast, Colin and I try to explain what we think is happening. The hard truth for Peacock is that it came to market very late and that it is competing against well-funded and highly aggressive competitors which are spending heavily on originals and on promotions - a commitment that Comcast/NBCUniversal have not publicly committed to match. Another issue - at least relative to Paramount+/Showtime, which gained 4.3 million subscribers in Q3 - is that Peacock doesn’t include NBC’s linear feed, and also doesn’t specialize in mature content, which has a strong draw. These two benefits (and “Star Trek”) have no doubt helped Paramount+/Showtime. Yet another issue is that popular NBC programming continues to be available in Hulu.

    All of these factors, and others, are limiting Peacock’s appeal. As if that wasn’t enough, Comcast has mixed incentives related to Hulu, because it still has a 30% stake that is getting more valuable by the day, as Netflix stock hits new highs. Comcast is financially disincented from harming Hulu by pulling programming to help Peacock (all of this would have been moot if only Comcast had acquired Hulu when it had the chance back in 2018). Comcast has missed out on billions in additional revenue and value creation.

    In short, Comcast/NBCU are now facing a dilemma with Peacock that can be boiled down to: Go Big or Go Home. Either commit to spending what's required to compete effectively (either at the AVOD or SVOD level), or recognize Peacock is going to keep treading water and will likely never break out. It’s a tough decision, but it reflects the penalty late entrants face, especially when squaring off against competitors like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, HBO Max, etc.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Why YouTube Advertising is a Grand Slam

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    In Q3 2021 YouTube advertising increased by 43% to $7.2 billion, extending to 7 out of the last 8 quarters that revenue has grown by 30%+. It’s an enviable track record and on this week’s podcast Colin and I dig into what’s driving the outsized performance.

    In short, as I wrote earlier this week, YouTube advertising is succeeding by focusing on the lower part of the marketing funnel, where advertisers concentrate on driving user actions/conversions (e.g. purchase, subscription, etc.). The value of these actions/conversions can be modeled into an ROI formula, and once they’re proven in with high conviction, advertisers will spend more and more, because there’s essentially an unlimited ROI. This is what has driven Google’s and other digital businesses over the years.

    But, as we discuss, the untargeted ads running all over Major League Baseball’s post-season games show that targeting and conversions are still a long way away in TV advertising. That means that despite YouTube’s massive growth, there is still huge opportunity ahead, for both it, and all players in the CTV advertising ecosystem.  
     
    (Note, I misspoke slightly when referring to TV ads I’ve seen in baseball’s post-season; I mentioned Chipotle, but it was actually Taco Bell whose ads I continue to be inundated with…showing how little attention I pay to them. My point about these ads being totally untargeted - since I’m uninterested in Mexican/fast food and there’s no data to suggest otherwise - remains.)

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  • Research: CTV Audiences Reflect U.S. Diversity and Age Profiles

    Connected TV audiences reflect the diversity and age profiles of the U.S. population, making it a better platform for advertisers to achieve their key performance objectives compared to traditional TV (TV consumed though set-top boxes or over the air), according to Magnite’s new “CTV is for Everyone: U.S. 2021” report.

    The percentage of Black viewers (13%) and Hispanic/LatinX viewers (20%) watching CTV match their respective share of the U.S. population. Asian viewers watching CTV slightly over-indexes their share of the U.S. population (8% vs. 7%). White viewers watching CTV slightly under-indexes their share of the U.S. population 59% vs. 60%). Importantly, the research found that traditional TV over-indexes for white viewers (69% vs. 60%) while under-indexing across Black, Hispanic and Asian audiences.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: HBO/Max’s 1.8 Million Q3 U.S. Subscriber Loss is Actually a Good Thing

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    HBO / HBO Max lost 1.8 million subscribers in the U.S. in Q3 2021. On the surface that might seem like a bad thing, especially given how hot the streaming business is these days. But as Colin and I discuss, this week, it’s actually a good thing, as it reflects the rolloff of many millions of subscribers who were acquired via a prior distribution deal with Amazon Channels.

    HBO Max has made an intentional decision to focus on a direct-to-consumer strategy, which we think is smart. Back in August, I explained the challenges SVOD services have with third-party distribution, including with Amazon, based on my personal experience subscribing to AMC+ through Amazon.

    After talking to industry colleagues since, I’ve become more skeptical about the long-term value to SVOD services in these deals. So a DTV strategy, especially for a big player like HBO Max, seems like the right one. As we also discuss, it’s also a smart move given HBO Max, as part of WarnerMedia, will be merged into Discovery in 2022.

    Elsewhere in the podcast we talk about the per subscriber value of the ad-supported vs. ad-free business model, and why I think that in the long-term, the former is far greater in a connected TV dominated world with “full funnel” marketing capabilities. We also dig into HBO Max’s decision to have content parity starting in January between its ad-supported and ad-free tiers. Lots to digest.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Why Even James Bond Can’t Save Hollywood or Theaters

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    The new James Bond movie “No Time to Die” reportedly cost $250 million to produce and another $150 million to promote. So MGM, the movie’s studio, would need to make approximately $400 million to break even. Assuming a 50% take on box office sales, that would mean $800 million of overall ticket sales. According to Box Office Mojo, the movie has currently grossed approximately $331 million worldwide. While anything is possible, it is unlikely the movie will ultimately be profitable, at least based on the box office.

    On today’s podcast Colin and I discuss the hard realities for Hollywood studios and theaters that even the ever-resourceful James Bond can’t solve. In short, if James Bond can’t turn a profit at the box office, the likelihood that others can - aside from super-hero, animation and sequels - is improbable.

    All of that spells big-time trouble for Hollywood and theaters, as I wrote this past summer in “5 Reasons Going to the Movies is Facing an Irreversible Demise” and “Matt Damon Gives a ‘Hollywood 101’ Class on What Ails the Industry.” It also has significant consequences for movie fans and for how streaming is going to become even more central in our lives.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Google Fiber TV is Retired, Linear TV Ratings Fall, SVOD Churn is Stable and Much More

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Rather than focus on just one story this week as we usually do, today we do segments on 5 different stories that caught our attention. First we pick up on last week’s podcast about the dustup between YouTube TV and NBCUniversal. The companies avoided going over the cliff together and managed to extend their relationship. But it is a harbinger of more fights between networks and virtual (and traditional) pay-TV operators as the size of the pie continues to shrink due to cord-cutting.

    Then Colin and I have a spirited debate about Google’s Fiber TV, which is being retired, and the broader question of whether Google Fiber’s 1 gigabit per second broadband service is a worthwhile product offering (Colin thinks it is and I think it isn’t, and I haven’t since it launched way back in February, 2010, see “Google’s Fiber-to-the-Home Experiment Could Cost $750 Million or More.” Also see "Google Fiber is Out of Synch With Realities of Typical Consumer Technology Adoption" from July, 2012 and "No Surprise, Google Fiber is Falling Short of Expectations" from August, 2016.)

    From there we discuss the steep drop in L7 TV ratings that has continued in the first week of this Fall season. But even at these depressed levels, I assert that the most popular broadcast TV shows like “NCIS” still draw audiences that may likely be bigger than the first 7 days following the drop of a popular show on a big SVOD service like Netflix. Related, we discuss new Kantar data on SVOD churn in Q2. For more insight, have a look at my post from November, 2019, “Will Spinning Video Subscriptions Become a Thing?”

    Finally, there’s a game of musical chairs happening in our industry and this week’s move by Kelly Campbell from president of Hulu to president of Peacock is just the latest example. We discuss why these executives’ shuffling matters to all of us as consumers.

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  • A New Look for VideoNuze and Some Reflections

    A little update on VideoNuze today: I’m pleased to share a new VideoNuze logo and fully redesigned web site and daily newsletter. I hope that you’ll find the logo to be modern and lively. The icon is meant to evoke both the “play” nature of video and also a sense of “forward movement” that tries to capture the dynamic state of our industry. I also hope that you’ll find the web site and newsletter clean, simple and easy to read, which were my primary goals with the redesign project.

    Irrespective of the new logo and redesign, the core elements of VideoNuze remain: daily (or almost daily) posts, constant curation of relevant news from third-party industry sources, “Inside the Stream” podcasts I’m privileged to record each week with nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon and periodic “Perspectives” byline articles from industry executives (more of which I’d like to run). On the main navigation bar are easy links to VideoNuze’s upcoming events and last but not least there’s a tab to browse by “Categories” and search.

    An updated logo and redesign have been on my “to do” list for longer than I care to admit. Part of me has felt like the proverbial “cobbler whose kids have no shoes.” On a daily basis I write about the most up-to-date happenings in our industry, yet the design of my own site and logo were a little bit “Soviet era” if were to be honest. In my defense though, I don’t think I’ve slacking off; over the years since I launched VideoNuze, I have written approximately 2,500 posts (that’s about 2 million words in case you were wondering), curated nearly 20,000 news items from third-party sources and recorded over 600 podcast episodes.

    Beyond the content, I have organized over 20 VideoNuze events that have been attended by thousands of colleagues and at which hundreds of executives have spoken. I’ve also organized panels and keynotes at major industry events like NABShow, CES, etc. that have been attended by many others. November 16th and 17th will bring VideoNuze’s highest impact event yet, the Connected TV Advertising Brand Suitability Summit. And for the first time, in 2022, there will be three VideoNuze events focused on CTV advertising. I’m really excited to share more details about them soon.

    Whew!

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: What’s Really Behind the YouTube TV - NBCUniversal Dispute?

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    YouTube TV and NBCUniversal have become embroiled in a highly public dispute about the details of their distribution agreement. On today’s episode, Colin and Will discuss what’s really behind the dispute and the larger industry shifts that impacting the negotiation.

    It is a very complicated situation as each company is trying to hold on to certain industry conventions (such as most favored nation pricing), while also broadening into new areas (such as including Peacock Premium, a streaming service, with underlying YouTube TV subscriptions). Each company also comes to the table with a host of business imperatives, with many driven by Wall Street’s expectations and the overall streaming market’s evolution.

    Colin and I try to break things down. As I mention, one significant factor weighing on my assessment of things is Comcast’s gigantic missed opportunity when it decided not to acquire the 70% of Hulu it didn’t already own, back in 2018 when Comcast and Disney were battling over control of Fox (see "Why Comcast Should Take Control of Hulu" from May, 2018). Comcast had a one-time opportunity to vastly expand its footprint in streaming and CTV advertising and likely to position a combined Hulu-Peacock entity for eventual spin-off (see "Quick Math Shows Comcast Missed Out on Almost $6 Billion in Annual Revenue by Not Buying the Rest of Hulu" from January, 2020).

    Instead Comcast passed and became a passive owner in Hulu. Comcast will eventually realize a nice return on this stake, but Comcast needs strategic assets for the streaming era far more than it needs additional cash.

    Listen to the podcast (36 minutes, 27 seconds)


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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Interview with Trusted Media Brands President/CEO about Jukin Media Deal and Industry Trends

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    This week we’re really excited to have Bonnie Kintzer, President and CEO of Trusted Media Brands, join us on the podcast. TMB has a storied history as the owner of The Readers Digest, but more recently it has become a player in online media and digital video. Properties like “Taste of Home” and “Family Handyman” have evolved to have strong online presence online where they drive value from advertising, subscriptions and commerce.

    Now TMB is planning for these and other of its brands to have a much bigger presence in CTV and streaming, following TMB’s acquisition of Jukin Media in August. Bonnie explains exactly what motivated TMB, the value she anticipates being created, the role of dedicated OTT channels going forward and where commerce fits into the plan. Bonnie also discusses the essential role of first-party data and how TMB/Jukin are leveraging it across properties. Last but not least, Bonnie discusses the broader marketplace and the best practices a publisher like TMB is pursuing to ensure long-term success in online and CTV.

    Listen in to learn more!


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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Why Has Apple Been Surpassed By Amazon in CTV?

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    On this week’s podcast Colin and I discuss why Apple has been surpassed by Amazon in CTV and streaming video. As Colin articulates very well in “Five ways Amazon is Crushing Apple in the CTV Market” earlier this week, Apple was early to market with its Apple TV CTV device (albeit at the very high price point of $299), and was also the dominant player in movie and TV show rentals and purchases with iTunes not that long ago. But major product strategy mistakes and decisions by Apple, combined with deft, low margin and user-friendly moves by Amazon have led the two companies’ positions in these critical markets to completely reverse themselves. With this new normal, what lies ahead?

    One big measure Apple has taken to try course correcting has been the launch of Apple TV+. We start this week’s podcast by understanding why Apple is spending so heavily on original TV shows for the service, which it is expected to spend $500 million marketing in 2022. A new analysis by the WSJ illuminates Apple’s heavy product placement agenda, in support of ecosystem loyalty and core device sales. As I explain, this strategy - along with Amazon’s - has potentially big implications for established and newer media companies still reliant on traditional advertising and subscription revenue models.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Interview With Alan Wolk About His New Smart TV Report

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    This week we’re pleased to have as our guest Alan Wolk, who is the Co-Founder and Chief Analyst at TV[R]EV and who is well-known to all of us in the industry. Alan has released a new report, “The Emerging Smart TV Ecosystem,” which is available for complimentary download and was underwritten by LG Ads, Samsung Ads and VIZIO.

    In a nutshell, Alan believes smart TV makers “are having a moment.” A key part of our discussion is whether and how quickly smart TVs will supplant streaming sticks and boxes as the primary connected TV device. Alan also shares his predictions and assumptions for how quickly smart TV advertising will grow over the next several years. We also get into the crucial role of improved user interfaces, how the big 3 work with FAST services to attract and retain viewers, and where Amazon’s new Omnia smart TV fits in.

    Smart TVs are helping reinvent the living room experience; hopefully our interview provides new insights for how they’re doing so and over what time period their impact will be felt.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Does it Really Make Sense for AMC+ to Partner With Amazon Channels?

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    On this week’s podcast we dig into my post from earlier this week about my experience starting a 7-day free trial to the SVOD service AMC+ using Amazon Channels. I did this in order to watch the movie “A Few Good Men” with extended family last weekend.

    While the sign-up process was very easy, the issue is that neither AMC+ nor Amazon has done anything to try converting me from trial to paid subscriber by explaining the service’s content value. In fact, when I tried cancelling the first time, they did the opposite, offering me a new discount if I stayed on for another two months.

    Colin and I explore the bind that small to mid-size SVOD services find themselves in with Amazon Channels and other big platforms. On the one hand, the platforms are huge potential sources of trial subscribers. On the other hand, if the SVOD service has virtually no insight about their trial subscribers, can’t connect with them to directly promote content and the platform itself does nothing to convert subscribers from trial, is there really any long-term value being created for the SVOD service, or is it just churning through viewers?

    These are tricky questions without clear answers. But they have huge implications for SVOD services and the platforms going forward. Learn more now!

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: FAST Ad Revenue in the U.S. Will Double in the Next Two Years

    (Reminder - if you are a listener of The VideoNuze Report podcast, please update your feed per below to the new Inside the Stream feeds which have been available for a couple of months....we don't want to lose you as a listener as we complete this transition!)

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Colin has just released an in-depth white paper on the free ad-supported streaming TV (“FAST”) market, underwritten by Verizon Media, and on today’s podcast he shares his key takeaways and assumptions (note, I have not yet had a chance myself to review the paper which is free to download).

    The paper also includes Colin’s forecast for FAST services’ advertising revenues in the U.S. alone. Colin has built his model with both a top-down industry analysis and a bottoms-up review of FAST services including logging ad pod durations, frequency, fill rates, etc, and consulting with numerous industry leaders. Colin sees FASTs generating $2.1 billion in ad revenue in the U.S. in ’21, increasing to $4.1 billion in ’23, though he notes he may be erring on the conservative side.

    If you’re interested in the FAST market and especially how it relates to AVOD, Colin’s paper is a must to download. Colin’s also eager to refine his model further, so please feel free to share your feedback directly with him.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Will SkyShowtime Shake Up the European TV Market?

    (Reminder - if you are a listener of The VideoNuze Report podcast, please update your feed per below to the new Inside the Stream feeds which have been available for a couple of months....we don't want to lose you as a listener as we complete this transition!)

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Earlier this week ViacomCBS and Comcast announced a partnership to launch “SkyShowtime,” a new SVOD service launching in 2022 in over 20 European territories with over 90 million homes. On today’s podcast Colin and I discuss why the companies chose to partner, especially since they have incumbent services in Peacock and Paramount+, rather than go it alone.

    As Colin explains, the key here is content - both quality and quantity. The minimum size and selection of content required to be competitive in SVOD, especially in Europe, just keeps getting bigger. Colin brings his insights about the European market to our discussion. Importantly, he discusses the critical role that the big local broadcasters play as well as the “30% rule” for locally-produced content.

    Another topic we explore is how this partnership signals a further evolution for Comcast from a primarily U.S.-focused company to one where a full global presence may be in the cards longer-term. Another intriguing question Colin raises is why, given the relatively unknown “Showtime” brand in Europe, it was incorporated into the service’s name.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Why Hollywood Is In A Deep, Dark Box of Its Own Making

    (Reminder - if you are a listener of The VideoNuze Report podcast, please update your feed per below to the new Inside the Stream feeds which have been available for a couple of months....we don't want to lose you as a listener as we complete this transition!)

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Hollywood is in a deep, dark box of its own making. On this week’s podcast, Colin and I explain why that is and what the implications are.

    Earlier this week I wrote about how Matt Damon provided a “Hollywood 101” class in the fundamental economics of why making movies in the $30 million - $70 million budget range has become practically a non-starter in Hollywood (except very rare exceptions like “Stillwater”).

    Then Colin shares all the relevant new data from DEG highlighting how SVOD has essentially sucked all the life out of DVD and digital sales and rentals of movies. Now Hollywood is going to exacerbate this trend by shortening the window of time from theatrical release to premiering movies on their own streaming services. This will effectively kill the so-called “Pay-1 window,” depriving studios of yet another once lucrative revenue stream. There are incredibly challenges times coming up for Hollywood studios.

    The biggest losers in all of this are us, the moviegoing public. Today’s is not a happy podcast. Neither Colin nor I see any Hollywood endings to this story. But again, life is unpredictable, so you just never know.

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  • Matt Damon Gives a “Hollywood 101” Class on What Ails the Industry

    Matt Damon has provided a “Hollywood 101” class on what ails the industry as he’s made the rounds over the last 2-3 weeks in support for his new movie “Stillwater.” Leave it to a Boston guy to articulate Hollywood’s dilemma authentically and succinctly. But before getting to Damon’s nuggets of wisdom, let me share my own (thanks NYNEX Yellow Pages for the classic “Vanity Cases” ads as a reminder/inspiration).

    Last month, in “5 Reasons Going to the Movies is Facing an Irreversible Demise,” one of the reasons I cited was that the quality of streaming TV and movies are going in opposite directions (the former is getting better, albeit inconsistently, and the latter is is in a precipitous nosedive). This reason alone would be enough to sink moviegoing over time. On podcasts this summer I have lamented how, despite the reopening, there isn’t a single movie my wife and I have been motivated to see. That has caused us to improvise and reluctantly do other things with our bits of free time (yes, mostly stream).

    But last weekend we did see a movie, “Stillwater;” the first time we had entered a theater since pre-Covid. We saw it in Pittsfield, MA at 8:45pm in one of those luxury theaters with the fold down and heated seats. We got there a little early, plunked ourselves into the middle and waited during the trailers and ads for the audience to fill in. But they never did. Not one other person attended. We sat in a theater all to ourselves and got a “private” screening of “Stillwater” for the princely sum of $10 per ticket.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: FandangoNow and Vudu Merge In Wake of SVOD Crushing TVOD

    (Reminder - if you are a listener of The VideoNuze Report podcast, please update your feed per below to the new Inside the Stream feeds which have been available for a couple of months....we don't want to lose you as a listener as we complete this transition!)

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Earlier this week the FandangoNow and Vudu movie and TV VOD (“TVOD”) rental sites merged. Colin notes that the move didn’t register on many industry executives’ radar (certainly nowhere near the biggest deal of the week, Blackstone’s acquisition of a majority of Hello Sunshine for $900 million). The tiny ripple FandangoNow-Vudu caused isn’t surprising given the sub 5% market share the two sites jointly have.

    The far bigger story here, which we explore on this week’s podcast, is the tremendous shift in consumer preferences from buying and/or renting movies/TV shows via TVOD sites, to renting access through SVOD services. Indeed, Colin cites data that the market for buying/renting has collapsed by 50% over the past 6 years. Meantime SVOD has skyrocketed. Simply put, SVOD has crushed TVOD.

    Note this shift isn’t just confined to video. The late Steve Jobs long insisted that consumers wanted to own, not rent, their music, going so far as to say in his famous 2003 Rolling Stone interview “I think you could make available the Second Coming in a subscription model, and it might not be successful.” Sorry Steve….in its Q2 earnings report, Spotify alone said it had 365 million monthly active users at the end of Q2, with 165 million of them paying a monthly subscription fee. Apple Music likely has MORE subscribers than that, and the services business is Apple’s most important growth segment. Then there’s YouTube, Amazon and many others.

    Sometimes even the greats get things terribly wrong.

    Be that as it may, Colin and I explore what all of this means to the future of the purchase/rental model and SVOD. Lurking in the wings as another disruptor is AVOD. As Colin notes, Q2 advertising at Tubi, Pluto and Roku was once again off the charts. As the Hello Sunshine team would surely attest, consumer preferences in video are far from settled.

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  • 5 Key Takeaways from Hello Sunshine’s $900 Million Deal

    Lots of industry executives’ heads snapped to attention around 10:30am Eastern Time on Tuesday when the Wall Street Journal posted exclusively that Reese Witherspoon’s media company Hello Sunshine was being majority acquired for $900 million by a new company being formed by former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, which itself is being backed by the private equity behemoth Blackstone Group.

    Mine was one of those heads snapping, for a variety of reasons. Foremost, $900 million is a whole lot of money for what on the surface seems like *basically* a production company, not to mention one that was only just started 4 1/2 years ago, which therefore means it doesn’t have a deep, monetizable library (which is what justified the recent Amazon-MGM deal). True, Ms. Witherspoon is one of the savviest players in the industry, and her Hello Sunshine business partner and company CEO Sarah Harden has strong industry experience and is also a Harvard Business School Baker Scholar (as an HBS grad myself, but far from a Baker Scholar, which is the top 5% of your 800-person class, I can personally attest that achieving that ranking puts you in the ultimate elite).

    Still….$900 million? Yes, $900 million. I don’t have any insider info, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the company generates $50-$100 million of revenue in 2021, max. So the valuation is likely in the 9-18x revenue range…who knows it could even be more. That’s a rare tech industry valuation these days (for context, Roku's mighty stock has bounced around 12x revenue recently).

    The WSJ reported $500 million of the $900 million will go to cash out existing investors and the balance will be retained by Ms. Witherspoon, Ms. Harden and other company executives, to be rolled over into the new company. That’s a huge tell about how big they think the resulting company can ultimately be worth and what the IPO or SPAC will look like. But that’s just part of the story….here are my 5 takeaways:

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Why Peacock’s Olympics Coverage Has Been a Big Missed Opportunity

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Colin leads off the discussion this week, explaining why he believes that Peacock’s Olympics coverage has been a missed opportunity for the fledgling streamer. In particular, Colin notes that even for paying Peacock subscribers, marquee events are not only not available live, they are not even being made available immediately upon their conclusion (note I’m deferring to Colin on this, because as a former Boy Scout, I preemptively chose to record ALL Olympics events in YouTube TV, so I’m not watching anything on Peacock).

    Colin is highlighting a crucial point - that for non-pay-TV households, which have multiplied by millions since the 2016 Rio Games, especially among younger viewers - Peacock has fallen short of its potential to meet viewers’ expectations and fully resonate. We have a spirited debate about why this has happened, and what to expect going forward.

    Notwithstanding all of this, Comcast reported robust Peacock sign-ups yesterday in its Q2 ’20 earnings, up 20 million to 54 million (though still no word on how many are actually paying). It was also a strong quarter for both broadband and pay-TV. But we discuss what role pay-TV is going to play for Comcast in the wake of last week’s announcement to add Hulu with Live TV for broadband/Flex users (and my forecast that YouTube TV availability is likely just ahead).

    Listen to the podcast (31 minutes, 11 seconds)

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  • Behold, YouTube

    “There’s something happening here,
    But what it is ain’t exactly clear…”

    -Buffalo Springfield, “For What It’s Worth,” 1967

    Late yesterday, Alphabet released its Q2 ’21 earnings. Included was the single snippet of financial information for YouTube that Alphabet began reporting a couple of years ago: “YouTube ads,” which represents YouTube’s global advertising revenue (non-ad revenue such as YouTube TV and YouTube Music subscriptions, etc. are not included). YouTube’s ad revenue for Q2 ’21 was $7.002 billion, which was 84% higher than the $3.81 billion Covid-affected Q2 ’20 ad revenue, and 94% higher than the $3.60 billion pre-Covid Q2 ’19 ad revenue.

    Yes, Covid dampened Q2 '20 ad revenue, as management had previously said. But still, you read those numbers right. An 84% year-over-year increase. On a very large prior number.

    Consider a little comparative context for YouTube's $7 billion quarter: YouTube’s ad business alone is nearly the size of Netflix’s entire global subscription business, which generated $7.34 billion in revenue in Q2 ’21. But two years ago, Netflix’s Q2 ’19 revenue was $4.92 billion, which means over the past 2 years, Netflix has increased its second quarter revenue by $2.42 billion, or 49%.

    YouTube has increased its ads revenue alone by nearly $3.4 billion, or 42% more than Netflix. Since Alphabet does not disclose YouTube’s specific expenses, it is impossible to calculate its profitability. But because virtually all of YouTube’s content comes from third party creators while Netflix’s annual content tab is approaching $20 billion, suffice it to say YouTube’s ad business is far more profitable than Netflix’s subscription business. It is also fair to project that in Q3 ’21 YouTube’s ad revenue will exceed Netflix’s subscription revenue.

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  • Did Comcast Just Put the Final Nail in Xfinity TV’s Coffin?

    Last Thursday, when I received an email from Comcast PR with a release attached, announcing that Hulu + Live TV would now be available for Comcast’s broadband and Flex users, I did a double-take.

    Of course, it is no secret that Comcast has long emphasized its broadband business over its traditional pay-TV business. Between a benign competitive environment and most recently the Covid catalyst, Comcast had soared to 28.8 million residential broadband subscribers at the end of Q1 ’21, up another 448K, while residential video subscribers fell by 404K to 18.6 million. The 10.2 million difference is the largest yet. It reflects macro-changes around cord-cutting and cord-nevering that have swept through the industry unabated and the rise of streaming and CTV.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Netflix Q2 2021 Earnings - Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Focus?

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Netflix reported its Q2 2021 earnings this week, and considering the most critical metric of U.S. and Canada subscriber additions/losses, the company did very well. Sure, it lost 430K subscribers, reversing a big Q2 2020 Covid gain, and also tripled its 130K loss from Q2 2019. But it could have been a whole lot worse if post-Covid churn had spiked which would have sent Wall Street into a tizzy.

    After reviewing the numbers, Colin and I zero in on the fact that while Netflix has numerous revenue expansion opportunities, it seems uninterested in any of them. In fact, the theme of this quarter’s earnings conference call was Netflix’s 100% focus on SVOD. It has no plans to make money from its new video gaming service. Live sports is still mainly off the table. The new commerce extension won’t generate anything material. And a lower-priced advertising-supported tier? Well the analyst/moderator didn’t even ask about it.

    Colin and I are really scratching our heads. It’s like Netflix’s management took a sacred oath: “We will not make money beyond SVOD.” “We will not make money beyond SVOD.” “We will not make money beyond SVOD.”

    For my part I’m growing weary of these “religious” responses. I have been doggedly saying Netflix needs to launch a lower-priced ad-supported tier for ages. The CTV ad business in the U.S. alone in 2021 will be $13B, going to at least $28B in 2025. As the biggest player in brand-safe streaming, Netflix has an automatic claim on a portion of this revenue. Perhaps most important, there is simply no other catalyst as sizable for Netflix’s top and bottom lines. But it won’t entertain the option, asserting in the past that it will diminish the user experience, though it hasn’t provided any meaningful backup to support its position.

    There’s a lot to be said for staying focused, but in our view, this is getting a little bit ridiculous.

    Please let us know what you think!

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Parsing the “Black Widow” Numbers Even Further

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    This week Colin and I parse Disney’s “Black Widow” opening weekend numbers, building on my analysis from yesterday. We agree that it is premature to extrapolate much from “Black Widow” and anyone doing so is on slippery ground. On the one hand, Disney getting 45% of its opening weekend from Disney+ PVOD is very impressive; on the other hand, it is far from definitive proof that streaming’s role will be robust in the first release window going forward.

    The backdrop to all of this is of course consumers’ decision-making about whether to stay home and watch any of the myriad streaming originals available in the current “Peak TV” era, or choose to return to the theater. Inevitably, we observe the sizable role that quality plays in this decision-making process. Sadly, streaming TV and movies are going in completely opposite directions on this front, with the former getting relentlessly better and the latter getting relentlessly worse. I believe this alone is a key contributor to consumers choosing to stay home, as I wrote last week in “5 Reasons Going to the Movies is Facing an Irreversible Demise.”

    Please let us know what you think!

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  • Mediaocean Acquires Flashtalking as CTV-Focused Dealmaking Remains White Hot

    Mediaocean is acquiring Flashtalking, an independent ad-serving and analytics provider. Deal terms were not disclosed but the Wall Street Journal reported the valuation at $500 million. Although Flashtalking offers open web ad serving and dynamic creative optimization (DCO) for the buy side, its fastest-growing business is connected TV ad serving and analytics, Mediaocean’s CMO Aaron Goldman told me in a briefing about the deal.

    Aaron noted that CTV is also the fastest-growing part of Mediaocean’s business as well, and that the combined companies will be able to do “ad serving and creative optimization along with audience planning and other workflow for both the buy side and the sell side.” A year ago Mediaocean acquired 4C, giving the company a key role in walled garden ad serving and optimization. Aaron said Flashtalking fills a big remaining gap in its portfolio focused on CTV on the open web for the buy side.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Interview with Innovid’s CEO and Co-Founder Zvika Netter on CTV Dynamics and SPAC

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    This week we’re pleased to have Zvika Netter, CEO and Co-Founder of Innovid, as our guest. Innovid has been in video advertising for 14 years, evolving from an early player in interactive ads to become the leading delivery and measurement platform for brands and agencies. Importantly, as Zvika explains, Innovid has held fast over the years to being independent - not involved with any media buying or selling, which he views as a clear differentiator.

    Late last week Innovid achieved a major milestone, by filing to go public via a SPAC. Zvika explains the decision process, and his points are a great counterpart to our conversation last week with JW Player’s Dave Otten, who also considered a SPAC, but decided instead to raise a large private round.

    But the bulk of our time with Zvika is spent drilling into CTV, what’s driving the business, the key challenges, how they’re being addressed, what’s ahead, and of course, what role Innovid is playing. For anyone who wants a really deep dive into CTV, the interview is an intimate window into the CTV ad buyers’ perspective and how this is influencing the future shape of the industry.

    (Note, Colin and I will be taking a break next week for the holiday, so we’ll be back in a couple of weeks)

    Listen to the podcast (32 minutes, 17 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Interview with JW Player’s CEO and Co-Founder Dave Otten

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Yesterday, JW Player announced a $100 million financing from LLR Partners. On this week’s podcast, we’re privileged to have JW’s CEO and co-founder Dave Otten joins us as a guest for a wide-ranging discussion.

    Dave provides an update on JW and its competitive differentiators including its ease of deployment and focus on the “monetization layer” (i.e. helping its publishing partners drive revenue from their video assets). Importantly, Dave dives deeply into JW’s data strategy, and how being the video player for such a massive range of publishers gives it critical insights into usage and provides contextual data that can then be leveraged for improved monetization. Dave also gets into why he’s bullish on live, subscription-based models, connected TV, where the industry is heading and much more.

    Dave explains the new financing round and how JW decided to go this route instead of doing a SPAC/IPO which are both very popular (just yesterday Innovid and Buzzfeed announced SPAC deals, here and here).  

    It’s a fascinating interview, which I highly recommend for anyone interested especially in the role of data, and what’s ahead for the video industry.

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  • If the FTC Challenges Amazon-MGM Deal It is Unlikely to Succeed

    The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the FTC will be the agency to review Amazon’s acquisition of MGM. A review was expected, either by the Justice Department or the FTC. The plot thickener here is that the brand new FTC chair is Lina Khan, a law professor and journalist who was confirmed by the Senate last week in a bipartisan 69-29 vote. Importantly Khan is a critic of Amazon and Big Tech, having written a widely circulated article, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” in 2017.

    The article argues, in a nutshell, that the current approach to antitrust, which is focused on “consumer welfare,” is insufficient to oversee platform-based businesses like Amazon which can use predatory pricing for their overall competitive benefit. Rather, Khan believes that antitrust oversight needs to be driven by gauging the concentration of market structures and competitive process, which she writes is a more traditional approach. Khan shares five factors for how to evaluate the competitive process.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Diving Into the Connected TV Advertising Flywheel

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Today we dive deep into the connected TV advertising flywheel, which I wrote about earlier this week. The TL;DR summary on the CTV ad flywheel is that the massive base of 82% of U.S. households with a CTV device has created a viewing platform for a growing array of free, high-quality ad-supported streaming services, the funding for which is coming from a robust CTV ad model that is siphoning spending from both linear TV budgets and mid-to-lower funnel digital/performance-oriented budgets. (Yes, I know that is a mouthful, but I break it all down on the podcast)

    The CTV ad flywheel is real and it is accelerating as each element gains steam. Evidence of this abounds; just this week Disney said that 40% of its upfront commitments were focused on streaming, Roku announced record viewership of The Roku Channel following the launch of its Roku Originals (primarily the Quibi library it acquired), and Nielsen launched The Gauge, a new reporting visualization for broadcast, cable and streaming (Nielsen said streaming’s share of TV watch time was 14% in 2019, 20% in 2020 and likely 33% by the end of 2021)

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  • The Connected TV Advertising Flywheel is Here, and It’s Only Going to Accelerate

    Last week’s Connected TV Ad Summit, with 46 speakers and 14 sessions, was chock full of insights from executives on the front line of connected TV advertising. Importantly, the speakers brought a diversity of perspectives; ad buyers from agencies, ad sellers from content providers, technology providers enabling CTV advertising and analysts studying and forecasting the industry.

    As the conference host and curator of all the sessions and questions, it was a golden opportunity to fully immerse myself in understanding the critical industry issues. I’ll be publishing a debrief document with all of my key takeaways, but for today, I just want to share one overarching theme that crystallized: a connected TV advertising flywheel is here, and it's only going to accelerate.

    The flywheel concept is well-known to all of us; the idea that when interrelated elements of a business or industry reinforce one another, the momentum of the overall whole is accelerated. For me, the best illustration of the flywheel remains Jeff Bezos’s description of the role video plays in Amazon Prime, in his interview at the Code Conference in 2016. Summing up video’s interrelationship with Prime and the resulting flywheel, Bezos said simply, “When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes.”

    Back to the CTV advertising flywheel, the three core components are 1) the large and growing base of households with active CTV devices including players, sticks, smart TVs, etc., 2) the proliferation of ad-supported and hybrid paid/ad-supported streaming services, each one with ever-better content and 3) the robustness of CTV ad monetization itself and how this is driving more spending into the category.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Interview with Bloomberg Quicktake’s GM Jean Ellen Cowgill

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    At this week’s Connected TV Advertising Summit, Colin and I interviewed Jean Ellen Cowgill, GM of Bloomberg Quicktake and Global Head of New Ventures for Bloomberg Media. Jean Ellen shared insights and lessons learned since Quicktake expanded beyond its roots as a social video partnership with Twitter last November to become a free, ad-supported 24/7 streaming news network. It serves business professionals and rising leaders and is reaching 7 million monthly viewers.

    Jean Ellen discusses where Quicktake is positioned competitively, how its partnerships work with multiple CTV devices and services, the monetization strategy, upcoming new original programming,  what’s ahead, and lots more.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: AVOD Services Creating Original TV Shows Raises Many Questions

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    SVOD providers have been the dominant force in creating original TV shows for streaming, but as the recent NewFronts underscored, AVOD services like Roku, Crackle, Tubi and many others are also forging ahead with their own originals.

    On today’s podcast Colin and I discuss why it’s strategic for AVODs to pursue originals, how they’ll differentiate at a time when SVOD productions are increasingly lavish, what impact lighter ad loads will have and how these originals will be available - solely on-demand or also in free ad-supported TV / FAST? It’s still quite early and there are lots of questions to consider.

    (Note: Colin will be moderating a session titled “FASTs + AVOD = Big Opportunity” at next week’s Connected TV Ad Summit virtual, with executives from Tubi, A+E Networks, Digitas and Wurl, which includes discussion of originals and ad loads. Complimentary registration!)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Making Sense of Amazon-MGM

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’a Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    After weeks of rumors, Amazon officially announced its acquisition of MGM for $8.45 billion. On this week’s podcast Colin and I explore what the deal means to Amazon and to its Prime members. Colin sees benefits to Amazon beyond bolstering Prime member retention and acquisition, whereas I think these are the deal’s primary rationale.

    Nearly five years ago, Jeff Bezos articulated the “flywheel” dynamic of Prime - how video contributes to member acquisition, usage and retention (jump to the 37 minute point in the video interview). I’m guessing that Amazon did extensive consumer research on different parts of the MGM massive catalog to understand how filtering them into Prime could move the membership needle.

    While the James Bond franchise has received a lot of attention, the MGM catalog includes 4,000 movies and 17,000 TV show. These, plus the potential spinoffs or as Amazon’s Mike Hopkins put it - “the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine” - give Amazon a huge amount of programming optionality for years into the future. It will be fun to see how Amazon curates all of this programming into Prime.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: AT&T-Time Warner Didn’t Work. Will Discovery-WarnerMedia?

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    AT&T is spinning off WarnerMedia, closing a chapter on its ill-advised media foray that cost the company billions of dollars. VideoNuze readers know that I thought the acquisition of Time Warner did not make sense from the beginning as any hoped-for benefits were illusory and it was based on a backward-looking approach that distribution and content belong together. As this became more evident, AT&T, groaning under a mountain of debt and faced with heavy upcoming investments in 5G and streaming to stay competitive, decided on a U-turn in strategy.

    In today’s podcast Colin and I dig deeper into all of this and also consider the prospects for Discovery-WarnerMedia. We both believe it makes a lot more sense than AT&T-WarnerMedia but we’re curious how broad the appeal will be for a bundle of HBO Max and discovery+ which is the most likely route for the deal to work out. The devil is always in the details for whether these big deals actually pay off, and interestingly, once again, company executives were vague about the specifics.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Interview With Deloitte’s Vice Chairman Kevin Westcott

    Welcome to Inside the Stream, the weekly podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Deloitte recently released the 15th edition of its Digital Media Trends survey, and this week we’re pleased to have Kevin Westcott, Deloitte’s vice chairman and leader of its telecom, media and entertainment group join us to discuss key findings.

    The survey shows that SVOD churn has doubled, with many viewers binging hit content and then churning out. Kevin believes services need to focus on retention, adding non-video content (e.g. music, games, audio, etc.) to become more compelling and perhaps most important, offering lower-priced, ad-supported tiers.

    Many like Hulu, Peacock and Paramount+ already have these tiers and HBO Max intends to introduce one. We discuss why others like Netflix and Disney+ are resistant and the implications.

    Kevin speaks at length about the role AVOD services are playing, and especially how different age groups relate to advertising. He notes that for younger viewers, gaming is now their preferred media, with watching TV shows and movies falling to number five.

    These are just a few of the subjects we discuss during the wide-ranging interview.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: NewFronts Takeaways

    Welcome to Inside the Stream, the weekly podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    This has been NewFronts week, in which 30+ companies pitch to advertisers and agencies why they should be allocated a portion of the tens of billions of dollars of video/TV campaign budgets. NewFronts presentations typically include the presenter sharing audience profile data, updates on how advertisers can best reach their audience and reveals of upcoming original shows, which often include appearances by the talent. The NewFronts are organized by the IAB, which does an incredible job.

    I attended about a dozen presentations, by Roku, Crackle Plus, Tubi, Samsung Ads, VIZIO, Amazon, YouTube, Vevo, A+E, Snap, DoubleVerify, TikTok and NBCUniversal and was very impressed. All emphasized streaming-first messages: younger audiences watch little to no linear TV so running campaigns on streaming is essential, streaming offers full funnel marketing capabilities, and screens like CTV and mobile are the way of the future.  

    Many thanks to our inaugural Inside the Stream sponsor Verizon Media. When you have quality connections at scale, you’re truly connected.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Digging Into YouTube’s Advertising Success

    Welcome to Inside the Stream, our weekly podcast with Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia where we take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Earlier this week Alphabet reported its Q1 ’21 earnings, including $6 billion in advertising revenue at YouTube, a record for the first quarter. In this week’s podcast, Colin and I dig into what drove YouTube’s advertising, which was nearly twice the level of just two years ago in Q1 ’19 and also up 49% from Q1 ’20.

    YouTube appears to be benefiting from two strong forces: the shift of ad spending from linear TV to CTV to reach younger audiences, and the desire by advertisers for more measurable, performance-oriented advertising, which YouTube has capitalized on with its TrueView for Action format.

    We also spend a little time looking at the over-the-air market and how E.W. Scripps is positioning itself to benefit from the millions of households who still access TV this way.

    Many thanks to our inaugural Inside the Stream sponsor Verizon Media. When you have quality connections at scale, you’re truly connected.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Vevo’s Andrea Zapata Explains 10x Jump in CTV Ad Revenue Share in Past Year

    Welcome to Inside the Stream, our weekly podcast with Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia where we take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Music video provider Vevo has seen connected TV ad revenue jump from 4% of total revenue in Q1 ’20 to 40% of total revenue in Q1 ’21, a 10x increase in just a year. Vevo’s VP of West Coast Sales Andrea Zapata joins us this week to discuss the strategic moves Vevo made to increase its distribution and reposition itself to ad buyers as a music television network in the living room, rather than being mobile-first.

    Andrea also dives into how Vevo is curating its programming and analyzing viewers’ behaviors to create moods which advertisers can then use for contextual targeting.

    Vevo will be participating in our next Connected TV Advertising Summit (virtual) on June 9th and 10th. Registration is free and you can win a Roku TV and smart soundbar.

    Many thanks to our inaugural Inside the Stream sponsor Verizon Media. When you have quality connections at scale, you’re truly connected.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Smart TVs’ Longer Lifespans; Buyers Switch to CTV Ads

    Welcome to the second edition of the Inside the Stream podcast with Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    First up we highlight three stories that hit our radar this week: an upgraded Apple TV device possibly in the works, research on growing SVOD subscriptions in the U.S. and TikTok’s new e-commerce ad formats.

    Then we dig into our two main topics this week. Colin explains why smart TV manufacturers have strong incentives to support older units given the promise of high-margin ad revenue. I share details of new research showing advertisers and agencies overwhelmingly plan to move spending into connected TV.

    Many thanks to our inaugural Inside the Stream sponsor Verizon Media. When you have quality connections at scale, you’re truly connected.

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  • Introducing the Inside the Stream Podcast

    Welcome to the first edition of the new Inside the Stream podcast with Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. After many years of recording together, Colin and I decided it was time for a branding refresh. With Inside the Stream we intend to keep providing an insider’s perspective on the streaming video industry. We’re adding a feature at the beginning of the podcast noting a few important stories that hit our radar. We also intend to bring on more guests to the podcast.

    This week we discuss YouTube’s dominance, underscored by Pew’s latest research, showing 81% of U.S. adults use YouTube. Then Colin shares an updated forecast for Disney+ and what it means to the larger Walt Disney company.

    Many thanks to our inaugural Inside the Stream sponsor Verizon Media. When you have quality connections at scale, you’re truly connected.

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