Posts for 'Showtime'

  • 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)

    Browse all previous podcasts

    Subscribe to Inside the Stream
    Apple Podcasts  Google Podcasts  Spotify  Amazon Music  RSS

  • VideoNuze Podcast #541: Premium TV Taps Free Streaming

    I’m pleased to present the 541st edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.  

    This week Colin and I discuss the recent activation of a Showtime channel within the free Pluto TV service. Showtime and Pluto TV are both part of ViacomCBS and in this case Showtime is tapping into free streaming to drive more subscriptions and higher brand awareness. Colin sees it as part of a larger trend toward “virtual linear TV” channels that streaming offers and a potential alternative to free trials that SVOD services have long used.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 18 seconds)

    Explore all previous podcasts

    Add the podcast feed to your RSS reader.

    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in Apple podcasts, subscribe today!

  • VideoNuze Podcast #502: ViacomCBS is Well-Positioned in OTT; Ratings Keep Plunging

    I’m pleased to present the 502nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    First up this week, on the heels of ViacomCBS reporting 11 million subscribers between CBS All Access and Showtime, Colin and I agree that the company is looking well-positioned in OTT. While more needs to be learned about its “House of Brands” strategy and how Pluto TV will be fully leveraged, we both believe ViacomCBS is looking more and more like a serious OTT contender. A big unknown remains what pricing and bundling will be for “CBS All Access Max” as Colin dubs it. And then there’s the impact of pricing pressure from Disney+, Apple TV+, Peacock, etc.

    Regardless, ViacomCBS’s OTT success is coming not a moment too soon, because, as we discuss, new UBS data based on Nielsen ratings, shows TV viewership continuing to plunge in Q1 ’20. Net, net, we both believe connected TV advertising is continuing to shape up as TV advertising’s long-term savior…though who falls through the cracks in the meantime remains to be seen.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 49 seconds)

    Click here for previous podcasts

    Click here to add the podcast feed to your RSS reader.

    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

  • Research: Amazon Channels is Driving Over Half of Direct-to-Consumer Video Subscriptions

    New research from The Diffusion Group finds that 55% of all direct-to-consumer video subscriptions are being driven by Amazon Channels. As the chart below shows, for Showtime, Channels accounts for 72% of new subscriptions, for Starz 70% and for HBO 53%. Both HBO and Showtime reported record subscriber levels at the end of 2017 and the new TDG data underscores how pivotal Channels has been in the 2 premium networks’ revitalization.

    continue reading on VideoNuze iQ

  • Oscars are Latest Marquee TV Event in 2018 to Suffer Viewing Decline as Audiences Splinter

    Preliminary overnight numbers for the Oscars show an 18.9 rating in prime time, down 16% vs. 2017’s 22.4 rating. The overnight rating is a new record low for the Oscars, and importantly continues the dismal showing for 2018’s marquee TV events: Golden Globes (-5% vs. 2017), Super Bowl (-7% vs. 2017, worst in 9 years), Olympics (-7% vs. 2014, worst ever) and Grammys (-24% vs. 2017, worst in 9 years). Clearly TV’s biggest events are losing their luster.

    There are always challenges particular to each event (e.g. Olympics time zone issues, Patriots fatigue, etc.). In the case of the Oscars, an ongoing problem is the disconnect between best picture winners and box office performance. A fascinating WSJ article on Friday detailed how only 4 best picture winners in the past 12 years have been among their year’s 25 highest-grossing movies, with none cracking the top 15. In the current era of superheroes, animation and franchise movies, thoughtful best picture nominees simply don’t draw the biggest audiences, in turn diminishing the Oscars’ relevance (2018 could be a quasi-exception with “Black Panther”).

    continue reading

  • VideoNuze Podcast #408: Roku’s Transition Continues; OTT Revitalizes HBO and Showtime

    I’m pleased to present the 408th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Roku reported a strong Q4 ’17 holiday quarter this week as it continues to transition to an ad-based business model driven off its 19 million+ active users. Roku is in the middle of all of the industry key trends and Colin and I discuss the company’s results and how we see the business going forward.

    We then turn to how HBO and Showtime have been revitalized by OTT delivery. 2017 results show how both traditional networks are using direct-to-consumer and new online distribution models to make their programming more easily accessible to viewers and achieve record subscribership. Their success is a textbook example of how OTT is shaking up longstanding industry norms.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (24 minutes, 2 seconds)

    Click here for previous podcasts

    Click here to add the podcast feed to your RSS reader.

    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

  • HBO and Showtime are Being Revitalized by OTT Delivery

    Netflix has become the poster child of how over-the-top delivery of premium content can create a hugely valuable business. But in Netflix’s shadow, traditional premium TV networks including HBO and Showtime are being revitalized by OTT delivery which is changing the dynamics of subscription TV.

    Both HBO and Showtime recently reported record subscriber levels for 2017, mainly attributable to online growth. HBO and Cinemax gained over 5 million subscribers in the U.S., driving its domestic base to 49 million. Half of the online subs came from HBO Now, its standalone streaming service, with the other half coming from distributors like Amazon Channels and skinny bundles like DirecTV Now.

    continue reading

  • Downloading Continues to Gain Momentum

    Downloading video for offline playback continues to gain momentum with Showtime announcing late last week that it has enabled downloading of its entire roster of programs from its standalone subscription and TV Everywhere apps at no additional cost. Downloading is available on iOS and Android phones and tablets plus Amazon Fire tablets.

    Loyal VideoNuze readers know that I’ve been an enthusiastic downloading proponent for 4 1/2 years, back to when I first experienced TiVo’s implementation of it via TiVo Stream. I immediately saw downloading as a killer app because it allowed high quality out-of-home viewing independent of shaky or non-existent WiFi hotspots and/or eating up expensive mobile data plans (if they could even support video streaming).

    continue reading

  • Never Mind Apple Bundling Premium TV Networks, Amazon is Really the One to Watch

    Recode reported a couple days ago that Apple is potentially looking to sell online subscriptions to HBO, Showtime and Starz in a single bundle to subscribers. Since Apple has made so little progress in video compared to its peers, a bundling move like this could give it a boost. But if I were handicapping which company is much more likely to sell HBO, Showtime and Starz in a discounted bundle - and succeed with it - I’d put my money on Amazon far sooner than Apple.

    continue reading

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

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

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

    continue reading on VideoNuze iQ

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

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

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

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

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

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here for previous podcasts

    Click here to add the podcast feed to your RSS reader.

    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

  • VideoNuze Podcast #276: Roundup: Showtime OTT, NFL Live-Streaming, Netflix Ads, Apple's Non-News

    I'm pleased to present the 276th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    It was yet another busy week for industry news, with a highlight being Showtime announcing its new OTT service for $10.99/month. For entertainment-focused viewers who want inexpensive access to great content, the world keeps getting better all the time.

    Meanwhile for sports fans, the NFL announced it's partnering with Yahoo to live-stream a Jaguars-Bills game online in the Fall.

    In one piece of non-news, it appears that neither Apple's OTT service nor an upgraded Apple TV device are going to debut at WWDC next week. And finally, it appears that ads won't be coming to Netflix any time soon either.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here for previous podcasts

    Click here to add the podcast feed to your RSS reader.

    The VideoNuze podcast is also available in iTunes...subscribe today!

  • 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Creating an Original Video Series

    Following is a contributed post by Frank Besteiro, VP and Head of Business Development & Partnerships, The AOL On Network. VideoNuze will consider contributed posts that are educational for video industry colleagues. Please contact me to learn more.

    5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Creating an Original Video Series
    by Frank Besteiro

    Over the past few years, the online video industry has evolved from a wild west of user-generated content and repurposed TV clips to one of the most exciting and buzzed about parts of the web. Major players like Amazon and Netflix have drawn attention by betting big on star-studded series that encourage viewers to indulge in marathon-style viewing. At the same time, media companies with their heritage in print and TV have been turning out innovative and highly produced content that engages their audiences in new ways.

    Though there’s no denying that it is still early days, there’s also sense of urgency in the industry borne of the fact that the ultimate winners in video will be those that get in the game early, experiment and start building a loyal fanbase. It’s for this reason that most online publishers who haven’t gotten into the game yet and are wondering if it’s time to jump onto the original series bandwagon. As someone who spends his days with the biggest names in the industry, I can tell you that this path isn’t for the faint of heart. Even though the potential payoffs are high, building a quality series and cutting through the noise is a major undertaking. Here are 5 questions every publisher should ask themselves before jumping into the fray.

    continue reading

  • 7 Things "Dexter" Taught Me About the Future of TV

    Last week, in "Showtime Circles Its Wagons, But to What End," I mentioned that I have recently become a huge fan of the network's hit show "Dexter." I was exposed to "Dexter" a while back when an old friend gave me the first two seasons on DVD. I had put them away and recently found them doing some cleaning and decided to give the show a try.

    My wife, who ordinarily shares my taste in TV, was completely grossed out by "Dexter" in the first 5 minutes (which is easy to understand considering blood is practically a supporting character in the show), so watching it together on our main big-screen TV wasn't going to be in the cards. However, I noticed that the first two seasons were available on Netflix streaming, and so I decided early on to watch most of the first season's 12 episodes on my iPad, the first time I would do so with any TV series. Along the way I became completely hooked on the show, and am now well into season 2.

    Having this experience gave me a far more personal perspective of how the experience of watching TV is changing for consumers, and what this all means for the future of TV. Here are 7 of the most important takeaways:

    continue reading

  • VideoNuze Report Podcast #93 - Mar. 25, 2011

    I'm pleased to present the 93rd edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for March 25, 2011.

    In this week's podcast, Daisy Whitney and I discuss my post from earlier this week, "Could HBO be the Next BLOCKBUSTER." In it I provide a perspective on the challenges that HBO faces adapting to the new competitive landscape. The post has received wide distribution this week including being featured on the home page of the WSJ's AllThingsD technology web site and elsewhere.

    For those further interested in the topic, I fleshed out some of the issues in a follow-on post, "Showtime Circles the Wagons, But to What End?" in which I discussed Showtime's decision to pull streaming rights to certain shows from Netflix. This week Starz also delayed the release windows of some of its shows as well. Quite a busy week for premium cable networks.

    Click here to listen to the podcast (15 minutes, 42 seconds)

    Click here for previous podcasts

    The VideoNuze Report is available in iTunes...subscribe today!
  • Showtime Circles Its Wagons, But to What End?

    Showtime's new decision to re-negotiate its deal with Netflix, excluding streaming rights to early seasons of current hit shows "Dexter" and "Californication," is a clear attempt by the company to circle its wagons against Netflix's newfound strength. The move effectively short-circuits Showtime's existing efforts to work with Netflix as a key promotional partner. By giving Netflix streaming rights to older episodes, the goal has been to expose a portion of its subscribers to Showtime programs, which would in turn help drive new Showtime subscriptions. (Note: Coincidentally, I happened to have just watched the entire first season of Dexter on Netflix, though I haven't chosen to subscribe to Showtime. More on that in a subsequent post).

    With its decision, Showtime has doubled down on its relationship with its pay-TV partners. Maybe I'm missing something important, but from my perspective, the new decision seems grossly out of step with current market realities and it will only lead Showtime toward an even more uncertain future.

    continue reading

  • Back from the Vacation? Here Are 7 Video Items You May Have Missed

    Happy New Year. If you're just back from a holiday vacation and have been partially or totally off the grid for the last week or two, here are 7 video-oriented items you may have missed:

    1. Time Warner Cable and News Corp fight over fees, then settle - Two behemoths of the cable and broadcast TV ecosystem spatted publicly during the holidays over the size of "retransmission consent" fees that News Corp (owner of the Fox Broadcast Network and cable channels like Fox News) wanted TWC (the 2nd largest U.S. cable operator) to pay to carry its 14 local stations. While a last minute deal averted the channels going dark, broadcasters' interest in dipping into cable's monthly subscription revenues will only intensify as audience fragmentation accelerates and ad revenues are pressured.

    For my part I wish Fox and other broadcasters were as focused on building new and profitable digital delivery models for their programs as they were on trying to redistribute cable's revenues. Even as Rupert Murdoch continues advocating the paid content model, the freely-available Hulu is seeing its traffic skyrocket (see below). But if Hulu's viewership isn't incrementally profitable, then all that growth is pointless. Urgency is mounting too; in '10 convergence devices that bridge broadband to the TV are going to get a lot of attention. In the wake of their adoption, consumers are going to want Hulu on their TVs. If Hulu doesn't allow this it will be marginalized. But if it does without first solidifying its business model, it could hurt broadcasters further.

    2. Hulu has a big traffic year, but no further information provided on its business model - Hulu's CEO Jason Kilar pulled back the curtain a bit on the company's strong progress in 2009, citing 95% growth in monthly users, to 43 million, 307% growth in monthly streams, to 924 million (both as measured by comScore) and a doubling of available content, to 14,000 hours. While noting that its advertisers increased from 166 to 408 during the year, with respect to performance, Jason only said that "we are extremely excited about atypically strong results we have been able to drive for our marketing partners."

    Though Hulu is under no obligation to disclose details of its business model, I think it would dramatically increase the company's credibility if it shared some metrics about how its lighter ad load model is working (e.g. improved awareness, click throughs, leads, conversions, etc.). Per the 1st item above, as Hulu grows, a lot of people have a lot at stake in understanding what effect it may have on broadcast economics. In addition, as I pointed out recently, it is important to understand whether Hulu thinks it may have already saturated its U.S. audience. After a jump in Q1 '09 from 24.6 million to 41.6 million users, traffic actually dipped below 40 million until October. What does Hulu do from here to gain significantly more users?

    3. Cable networks' primetime audience is nearly double broadcasters' - Punctuating the ascendancy of cable over broadcast, this Multichannel News article pointed out that in 2009, ad-supported cable networks as a group captured 60.7% of primetime audience vs. 32% for the 4 broadcast networks. That's a major change from 2000 when the broadcasters had a 46.8% share vs. cable's 41.2%. Cable increased its share every single year of the last decade, powered by its innovative original programming. NBCU's USA Network in particular has become the real standout performer, winning its second consecutive ratings crown, with 3.2 million average primetime viewers, up 14% vs. 2008.

    The surging popularity of cable programming is a crucial barrier to consumers cutting the cord on cable. Since cable networks are highly invested in the monthly multichannel subscription model, they are unlikely to disrupt themselves by offering their best shows to others under substantially different terms than how they're offered today. So to the extent cable programs are either unavailable to over-the-top alternatives or offered less attractively (e.g. less choice, higher cost, delayed availability), little cord-cutting can be expected. And if TV Everywhere achieves its online access goals, the cable ecosystem will only be further strengthened.

    4. YouTube is working to drive higher viewership - Amidst the turmoil in the traditional ecosystem and Hulu's growth, YouTube, the 800 pound gorilla of the online video world, is working hard to deepen the site's viewership. As this insightful NYTimes article explains, a team of YouTube developers is analyzing viewing patterns and tweaking its recommendation practices to encourage more usage. YouTube says time on the site has increased by 50% in the last year, and comScore reports that the average number of clips viewed per user per month jumped to 83 in October, up from 53 a year earlier. Still, as comScore also reports, duration of an average session has yet to crack 4 minutes, meaning video snacking on YouTube is still the norm. YouTube's moves must be watched closely in '10.

    5. Showtime's "Weeds" available online before on DVD - This WSJ article (reg req'd) pointed out that Lionsgate, producer of Showtime's hit "Weeds" series is offering episodes online before they're available on DVD. By putting the digital "window" ahead of DVD's, Lionsgate is further pressuring DVD's appeal. We've seen periodic experimentation in this regard, and I anticipate more to come, especially as the universe of convergence devices expands and consumers can watch on their TVs instead of just their computers. Until a tipping point occurs though, "Weeds" like initiatives will be the exception, not the rule.

    6. Netflix goes shopping in Hollywood - And speaking of reversing distribution windows, this Bloomberg Businessweek piece was the latest to highlight Netflix's efforts to woo studios into giving it more recent releases. Netflix has of course made huge progress with its Watch Instantly streaming feature, but its appeal to heaviest users will slow at some point unless it can dramatically expand its current slate of 17K titles available online. Hollywood is understandably wary of Netflix given all the variables in play and a desire to avoid Netflix becoming master of Hollywood's post-DVD, digital future. Whether Netflix will spend heavily to obtain better rights is a major question.

    7. Get ready for Google's Nexus One and Apple's "iSlate" - Unless you've really been off the grid, you're probably aware by now that two very significant mobile product releases are coming this month. Tomorrow (likely) Google will unveil the Nexus One, its own smartphone, powered by its Android 2.1 operating system. The Nexus One will be "unlocked," meaning it can operate on multiple providers using GSM networks. The device will further fuel the mobile Internet, and mobile video consumption along with it. Separately, Apple is widely rumored to introduce its tablet computer later in the month, which many believe will be called the "iSlate." The tablet market is completely virgin territory, and while it's early to make predictions, I believe Apple could have most of the ingredients needed to make the product another big hit. The prospect of watching high-quality video on a thin, light, user-friendly device is extremely compelling.

  • Overview of New Brightcove 3 Beta Release

    Today Brightcove is announcing the beta version of its Brightcove 3 platform. Last week CEO/Founder Jeremy Allaire briefed me on what he called a "pretty dramatic new version of the platform." There are three new areas:

    1. Contextualization - Brightcove is changing how its customers display their video from the current standalone video player/index environment to one where the player window is embedded within in an HTML page with surrounding contextual content and ads. In tests it has done, Brightcove has found that, no surprise, integrating the video window results in more video and page views. Also by surfacing video in context, it enhances search engine optimization. This is similar to EveryZing's SEO-focused approach. (see my profile). Brightcove has new APIs that work with existing content management systems to match relevant non-video content.

    2. Dynamic delivery - Brightcove is upping its emphasis on high-quality long-form content by introducing a dynamic delivery feature that modulates the quality of the video delivered based on detection of the user's bandwidth. This adaptive bit rate streaming idea was pioneered by Move Networks and allows on-the-fly video file delivery adjustments. Brightcove is doing this on top of Flash with no new plug-in required by users. It will also automatically generate various encoded files for customers.

    3. Producer tools overhaul - Brightcove is updating the back-end work flow tools that its customers' producers use, so they can more quickly do things like upload large video files, create tags, generate business rules, transcode files and so forth. Jeremy demo'd it for me; it's a complete drag and drop environment that looked pretty straightforward.

    All-in-all these look like positive steps. Since Brightcove had invested heavily in its earlier versions, I give them credit for emphasizing continuous improvement and not sitting still. Brightcove 3 is in beta (Showtime is one site that's already using it) with wider deployment in the fall. Jeremy added that other updates are expected then too. I pried out of him that these will include monetization and distribution/syndication among others.

  • Online Movie Delivery Advances, Big Hurdles Still Loom

    Online movie delivery is back in the news, but dramatic change is still well down the road in this space as usability, rights issues and incumbent business models/consumer behaviors pose formidable hurdles.

    Yesterday Netflix announced a $99 appliance with Roku, enabling the company's "Watch Instantly" streaming service on TVs. That news follows Apple's deals with a number of big studios in early May obtaining "day-and-date" access to current titles. And today brings news that Bell Canada, that country's largest telco, is formally launching its Bell Video Store, also providing day-and-date delivery, of Paramount titles to start (and soon others), plus portable viewing on Archos devices.

    Netflix, which I last wrote about here, took a shot across the bow of Apple TV and Vudu by introducing the Roku box, the lowest-priced broadband movies appliance yet. Apples-to-apples comparisons aren't fair as the stripped-down Netflix/Roku box doesn't have a hard-drive or equivalent processing. That inevitably means lower quality delivery vs. locally-stored content with the others, plus uncertainty about HD-delivery. Netflix/Roku's big advantage is that it's a value-add service for current Netflix subscribers, meaning no new fees as with the Apple TV/Vudu approaches.

    However, Watch Instantly has older titles and amounts to less than 10% of Netflix's total catalog. I don't see that changing much; Watch Instantly runs smack into studios' incumbent windowing approach and deals with HBO, Showtime and Starz for premium TV. Netflix's model is built on the home video window, so new online delivery rights must be obtained which will be a tough road. However, with Paramount, MGM, Lionsgate and others splintering from Showtime recently to set up their own premium channel, it's possible that some studios' rights may loosen up, but of course at a price.

    Still, I don't see the Netflix/Roku box breaking 10% penetration of Netflix's sub base any time soon, barring a box giveaway. Enlarging the value proposition by licensing the Roku technology for inclusion in other devices (e.g. Blu-ray) could also help drive adoption.

    Meanwhile, today Bell Canada is announcing the formal launch of its Bell Video Store. In beta since late '07, it offers 1,500 titles, now including day-and-date delivery from Paramount (and others soon according to Michael Freeman, Bell's director of product management who I spoke to yesterday). This is noteworthy, as it appears to be the first time a service provider has received day-and-date online access from any studio. If other providers follow suit we may finally witness some internal competition with sacrosanct-to-date Video on Demand initiatives.

    By using ExtendMedia's platform, Bell is also enabling downloads-to-own directly to Archos portable devices. With a couple million satellite homes and fiber IPTV fiber-based deployments continuing, there are multiple three screen options looming for Bell. Yet for now these are limited. Michael confirmed Bell has no plans to offer a branded movie appliance a la Netflix/Roku, meaning it will dependent on XBoxes and other PC-TV bridge devices.

    Renewed progress and experimentation are welcome in this space, but lots of hard work remains for online movie delivery to become mainstream.

    What do you think of the online movie delivery space? Post a comment now!

  • HBO Wakes Up to Broadband

    HBO's deal with Apple to include its programs in the iTunes store has received widespread coverage in the last couple of days, particularly because it includes differentiated pricing for the first time.

    Indeed, while it's a big story that Apple's Steve Jobs has finally consented to deviate from his "one price for all" approach - which NBC couldn't attain last fall - there is another angle on this announcement: the possibility that, at long last, HBO has woken up to broadband video's potential.

    HBO's absence from the broadband scene has been noticeable. As the most profitable and acclaimed TV network, I've long thought that HBO had significant upside in pursuing broadband initiatives. Instead it has badly lagged Showtime and Starz, its two principal rivals in the premium network space, as well as other networks.

    Showtime in particular has been quite innovative in both creating broadband-only extras for its programs, plus enticing user-involvement opportunities. For its part, Starz has been aggressive in pursuing Vongo, its broadband-subscription service, which continues to make inroads with numerous device partnerships.

    Yet HBO has seemed contentedly disinterested in broadband. Between its hefty subscription fees and healthy DVD business, broadband has likely been seen as just a gnat buzzing about. HBO's lack of broadband interest is evident on its web site which has just a smattering of video clips and highlights, and it is fairly static, with little-to-nothing enticing for the broadband user.

    In reality, broadband could have likely been adding real value to HBO's business. With the proper incentives, HBO's creative production partners could have easily come up with broadband extras that would have appealed to the diehard fans of its programs. In addition to their sheer programming value, these would have helped drive more fan loyalty and stickiness between seasons. That would help address HBO's churn rate during its off-season periods.

    While HBO's iTunes relationship is a step forward, it's a small one. Contrast its approach to soon-to-be-corporate-sibling Bebo's programming model (which I wrote about yesterday), with its intense focus on community engagement and the different philosophies are evident. Of course HBO is a programming powerhouse and there's no arguing with its success. But for it to fully embrace broadband's opportunities, it would benefit from looking at what Bebo and others are currently doing.

Previous | Next