Beachfront - leaderboard - 7-1-18

Analysis for 'Sony'

  • Apple’s New Partnerships Are A Start, But A Lot More Is Needed To Support Originals

    Likely the most interesting news from CES this year is that Apple is finally partnering in meaningful ways with big TV manufacturers. Most notably, Apple is creating an exclusive iTunes app for certain Samsung smart TVs. It is also enabling AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support on certain Samsung, Vizio, LG and Sony smart TVs which means users can display content from their Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, Mac) on their big screens.

    Apple’s moves are certainly a nod to how important its services/content business is becoming. But 2019 is a huge year for Apple in defining its place in the content ecosystem, with a $1 billion reportedly allocated to create original TV shows. The business model for these shows has been shrouded in mystery, but several months ago, CNBC reported that the shows will actually be given away for free to Apple’s device owners as part of the TV app which will also include subscription options akin to Amazon Channels.

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  • Report: TV Viewership Patterns and Economic Realities Indicate Difficult Path for "Skinny" Bundles

    So-called "skinny bundles" of TV networks face long odds of success given the dispersion of actual TV viewership, cross-ownership of broadcast-cable TV networks by media conglomerates and underlying economic realities, according to a new analysis by MoffettNathanson.

    The conclusions align with points I made in last Friday's podcast and previously, as I've asserted that the "Swiss cheese" channel lineups found in skinny bundles will lack broad appeal. This was a central finding from recent Bernstein research as well. Conversely, bulking up channel lineups with more TV networks (as Sony has done with its new PlayStation Vue service) eliminates the opportunity for a cost-savings value proposition that would resonate most with would-be cord-cutters or cord-nevers.

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  • Verizon and Sony Are Now On Deck in the OTT Land Rush

    Verizon and Sony are both on deck with new OTT services poised to launch shortly, according to new reports over the past couple of days. Both companies have previously stated their intentions to pursue new video services, but haven't been specific about their timelines or anything else.

    That is beginning to change, as Verizon announced yesterday that AwesomenessTV will provide 200+ hours of original content for its forthcoming service, via 2 channels, one targeted to teens and the other to young millennials. The channels will include scripted and unscripted series along with DreamWorksTV animated short-form content.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #245 - Debating Virtual Pay-TV Operators' Odds of Succeeding

    I'm pleased to present the 245th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Today we debate the odds of success for so-called "vPops," or virtual pay-tv operators - companies looking to deliver pay-TV services over-the-top. I expand on some of the points I made earlier this week for why I think the odds are against vPops succeeding. Fundamentally this comes down vPops' inability to cost-effectively access programming and package it in an appealing way to gain market interest.

    Colin sees it very differently, believing vPops CAN create skinnier bundles of channels and successfully target highly specific cord-nevers, cord-cutters and even some existing pay-TV subscribers. Colin believes these bundles can be created at a $30 retail price point and include a compelling array of channels. He also sees room for vPops to offer full channel line-ups at lower cost than today's pay-TV operators, complete with lots of user experience enhancements.

    It's a great debate and we're both eager to see what vPops actually DO come to market with over the next 6-9 months to see how things turn out.

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  • Why Virtual Pay-TV Operators Have Very Low Odds of Succeeding

    Lately there's been a lot of talk about so-called "virtual pay-TV operators," (vPops as my partner Colin Dixon at nScreenMedia likes to call them), which are also called "virtual MVPDs" (multichannel video programming distributors). These are companies that will deliver linear and on-demand broadcast/cable TV network bundles from the cloud, over broadband to connected/mobile devices, offering an alternative to traditional pay-TV services.

    Sony, Verizon and Dish Network have all publicly stated their interest in launching vPop services in either 2014 or 2015. Though it's still early and much is yet to be known about their actual offerings, there are already many reasons to be skeptical that they'll achieve any material success.

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  • Sony is Still Planning to Launch an OTT Pay-TV Service That Has Little Chance of Success

    In an interview with Recode on Tuesday, Sony Computer Entertainment America President and CEO Shawn Layden said the company is still planning to launch a "revolutionary" OTT pay-TV service by the end of 2014.

    However, as Intel learned with its own misguided OnCue foray, the big cable network owners aren't enabling any revolutions to occur in the pay-TV industry. To the contrary, they're working hard to extend the status quo. This, plus other factors, means the odds of success for Sony's nascent OTT pay-TV service are extremely low.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #209 - Top Observations from CES 2014

    I'm pleased to present the 209th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Colin was at CES this week and I've been avidly following all of the news coming out of Las Vegas, so on this week's podcast we share some of our top observations. On the list are 4K TVs, Smart TVs, Roku TV, Sony's cloud-based pay-TV service, Aereo's new $34 million financing and AT&T's "Sponsored Data" initiative among others.  

    Listen in to learn more!



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  • Why Sony Will Face a Tough Road Breaking Into the U.S. Pay-TV Industry

    At CES this week, Sony announced an ambitious over-the-top pay-TV service that will launch sometime in 2014, making it the latest company to try competing with entrenched pay-TV operators. While Sony brings more assets to the table than did Intel (whose OnCue service never even got to market), the odds of Sony succeeding still seem extremely low to me.

    To be fair, Sony's installed base of 25 million PlayStations, its early success with the PS4 and a broader base of connected TVs and Blu-ray players (which Sony says all total to 70 million in the U.S.) give the company a presence in homes that Intel didn't have. Sony also has both studio and TV production operations, plus a sizable back catalog, none of which Intel has. Importantly, Sony also has a well-recognized consumer brand (even if it's not exactly synonymous with innovation as, say, Apple's and Google's are), something Intel also didn't have.

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  • Digital Movie Purchase and Rental Activity Remains Anemic

    Earlier this week IHS Screen Digest Media Research released market share information for the top 5 U.S. digital/online movie stores for the first half of 2011, which together represent approximately 96% of the market. In addition, IHS released information on revenues generated for both purchase/download (Electronic sell-through or "EST") and rental (Internet video on demand or "iVOD").

    In the chart below, I've taken the IHS data a step further to estimate each of the top 5 stores' revenues and transaction volume from EST and iVOD (note IHS only provides combined EST+iVOD market share information so for simplicity I have assumed each individual store's share is the same for both EST and iVOD though no doubt there are some variations). The data leads to a clear conclusion that years after movies have been available for digital purchase/download and rental, activity remains anemic, suggesting very low levels of consumer interest, particularly as compared with DVD purchase or rental/subscription options.

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  • Cisco Feels Pain of Shifting Set-Top Box Landscape

    This week technology giant Cisco reported its fiscal Q2 earnings and once again sales of its set-top boxes to big pay-TV operators were a glaring weak spot. This business has practically gone off a cliff, falling 29% from last year's similar quarter, a loss which followed a 40% decline in North America set-top sales for the prior quarter. While Cisco tried to put a positive spin on things by pointing to stronger sales of its IP-enabled set-tops and international results, the problems reflect a significant shift in how pay-TV operators view set-top boxes in a larger IP-related context, trends which are likely to only accelerate going forward.

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  • Cable Industry Skirmishes With FCC Over Set-top Boxes

    Speaking of set-top boxes, the cable industry, through its NCTA lobbying arm, was skirmishing this week on yet another regulatory front, the FCC's ongoing "AllVid" inquiry, which would possibly crack open the customer premise equipment (CPE) by establishing an IP-based standard. Google, Sony and other CE companies are lobbying for AllVid as a way of streamlining delivery of over-the-top content into living rooms. Cable operators are arguing that such a move would compromise existing network licensing models. A more overarching concern is that a regulatory mandated approach would significantly level the playing field for new entrants to compete for consumers' attention.

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  • Apple Dominates Still Small Movie Download Business

    Earlier this week IHS Screen Digest released market share estimates for major movie download or "EST" (electronic sell through) outlets in 2010, and no surprise, Apple's iTunes was atop the group, with a dominant 64.5% position. However, that was down 10 points from 2009, as Microsoft, Sony and others all gained share. IHS Screen Digest's research analyst Arash Amel noted that in 2011, Apple is going to face a potentially powerful new competitor in Wal-Mart, which acquired the Vudu VOD service early last year, which could turn the "iVOD" market into a 2 horse race.

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  • CES Takeaway #2: Don't Count Out the Pay-TV Operators

    (Note: Each day this week I'll be writing about one key takeaway from CES 2011.)

    If you've been thinking that pay-TV operators were imminent roadkill due to burgeoning "over-the-top" consumption and imminent cord-cutting mania, then important news from CES 2011 should cause you to reassess your assumptions. Instead of new technology undermining pay-TV businesses (which is too often how media characterizes things), the largest operators are starting to show how technology can be used to create compelling new value for their subscribers and enhance their competitiveness even as they relinquish a little control.

    At CES, pay-TV announcements focused primarily on 2 areas: extending viewing to tablet computers and eliminating the set-top box by delivering full channel line-ups over broadband to connected TVs. Comcast, the largest U.S. pay-TV operator, made announcements spanning both: live, in-home access on iPads, with on-demand access outside the home, plus Xfinity TV access on certain Samsung connected TVs and on its new Galaxy Tab tablet. Time Warner Cable announced deals with both Samsung and Sony to deliver its line-up to certain connected TVs as well. Dish Network also unveiled its "Remote Access" service for Android tablets, allowing both live and on-demand viewing using the Sling Adapter (it had announced this for iPads in December). Last fall, Dish was also the first pay-TV operator to integrate with Google TV.

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  • 10 Online/Mobile Video Items from CES Worth Noting

    Happy Friday. Below are 10 interesting CES news items related to online and mobile video that hit my radar this week, but that I didn't have an opportunity to write about. There were many more cool things coming out of Las Vegas, and on so on Wed, January 19th TDG's Colin Dixon and I will present our next complimentary webinar, "Demystifying CES 2011" to review everything more fully. Mark your calendars, registration will be open shortly.

    Intel "Insider" Movie Service unveiled - Intel unexpectedly launched its own online movie service as part of its "Sandy Bridge" chip announcement. The world probably doesn't need another service, but when Intel soon enabled is "WiDi" wireless display to project content to HDTVs, Insider will get more attention.  

    EchoStar acquires Move Networks assets - an inglorious ending for early leader in adaptive bit rate (ABR) streaming. As CDN prices plummeted and ABR competition emerged, Move's service was over-priced and marginalized.

    Funai integrates ActiveVideo Networks into connected devices - The first integration of AVN's "CloudTV" into connected CE devices allows interactive streaming content to be delivered in standard MPEG format.

    Orb BR launches - Orb Networks launches "Orb BR," a disc that inserted into connected Blu-ray players or PS3 that allows viewers to access content from the full Internet. Cost? $19.95. Waiting to try one out, this could be a winner.

    Comcast and Time Warner Cable service coming directly to Sony and Samsung TVs - Hate that cable set top box? Soon Comcast subscribers will be able to buy a connected Samsung TV and access the full Xfinity TV channel lineup. Similarly, Time Warner Cable subscribers will be able to buy Sony connected TV buyers and see the full cable channel lineup. Who would have thought?

    Skype plans to acquire Qik mobile video service - Moving to bulk up its involvement with video, Skype plans to acquire Qik, which allows users to record and share video via mobile devices.

    Motorola and AT&T unveil Atrix 4G - Have a look at this video to see what the future of mobile devices look like - the power of a full computer in your pocket. Two very clever docks mean that users can easily view video on bigger screens as well as work with a full keyboard and mouse.

    Vudu to offer 3D movies - a first for online delivery, aggregator Vudu announced that it is currently offering 3D movies to certain Samsung connected devices, and will soon offer it to PS3, Vizio, LG, Mitsubishi, Toshiba and boxee.  

    Boxee gains access to CBS programs - Boxee broke some new ground by gaining access to CBS programs, something that neither Apple TV, Roku or Google TV currently have. No word on pricing yet.

    Yahoo adds feature to its Connected TV platform - Yahoo, one of the early entrants in the connected TV area, launches a feature call "broadcast interactivity" which allows further engagement with TV program content.

     
  • With New Netflix Button, Mutual Love Affair With CE Industry Continues

    The mutual love affair between the consumer electronics industry and Netflix continues on, with today's announcement that 11 different CE companies will create a dedicated Netflix button on their remote controls for certain connected TVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes. The unusual move is the latest sign of how interdependent the success of CE companies' connected devices and Netflix's burgeoning popularity have become.

    The love affair was born out of CE companies' recognition of the old adage that compelling content and applications are critical to inducing consumers to buy the next snazzy gadget. Case in point: Blu-ray disc player sales were stagnating until connectivity was added, enabling access to Netflix and other streaming content. As a result, in the first 9 months of 2010, around 2.4 million players were sold in the U.S., up 96% from the prior year's period, according to NPD Group.

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  • With New Netflix Button, Mutual Love Affair With CE Industry Continues

    The mutual love affair between the consumer electronics industry and Netflix continues on, with today's announcement that 11 different CE companies will create a dedicated Netflix button on their remote controls for certain connected TVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes. The unusual move is the latest sign of how interdependent the success of CE companies' connected devices and Netflix's burgeoning popularity have become.

    The love affair was born out of CE companies' recognition of the old adage that compelling content and applications are critical to inducing consumers to buy the next snazzy gadget. Case in point: Blu-ray disc player sales were stagnating until connectivity was added, enabling access to Netflix and other streaming content. As a result, in the first 9 months of 2010, around 2.4 million players were sold in the U.S., up 96% from the prior year's period, according to NPD Group.

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  • Starz's 2-Year Results Defy Warnings of "Cord-Shaving"

    If you're looking for evidence that the pay-TV industry is imperiled by the rise of over-the-top services that are going to cause subscribers to cut the cord, a good early indicator of such behavior would be whether "cord-shaving," i.e. the reduction of services like premium channels, additional outlets and DVR services, is happening already. But a look at the premium channels Starz and Encore - whose content is fully available for streaming on Netflix - suggests no evidence of cord-shaving is yet occurring.

    As the graph below shows, since October, 2008, when Starz announced that Netflix had signed a distribution deal for "Starz Play," total U.S. subscribers to the Starz and Encore channels have actually increased slightly from 49 million to 49.4 million. During this time period there's been relatively little fluctuation, with only a temporary dip in the 2nd half of last year that was probably more related to the channels being temporarily out of their Comcast deal, and therefore losing some of their promotional backing. Further, for the first 9 months of 2010, Starz's revenue was $929 million and cash flow was $305 million, up from the same period in 2008, when revenue was $826 million and cash flow was $220 million.

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  • As DVD Sales Wane, Experiments With Movies' Digital Delivery Windows Rise

    Yesterday brought more evidence of how digital distribution release windows and promotions are rising as DVD sales wane. First there was news that Disney had teamed up with Wal-mart to allow buyers of the Toy Story 3 DVD to get a bonus digital version of the film playable through the company's recently acquired Vudu digital outlet. That offer was quickly one-upped by Amazon which announced an increase from 300 to 10,000 movies in its "Disc+" program, which provides a digital copy to the user's Amazon VOD account when they purchase a qualifying DVD.    

    Meanwhile at the Blu-con conference in Beverly Hills, studio executives debated how to best calibrate digital, VOD and DVD distribution. Even emerging practices come with exceptions and debates about results. For example, while VOD has largely gained day-and-date release with DVD, exceptions are still made on a case-by-case basis, such as with Universal's "Despicable Me" which will have its DVD go on sale on Dec 14, but its VOD release not until after Christmas.

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  • 5 Items of Interest for the Week of Oct. 4th

    It's Friday and that means that once again VideoNuze is featuring 5-6 interesting online/mobile video industry stories that we weren't able to cover this week. Have a look at them now, or take them with you for weekend reading!

    Verizon to Launch 4G LTE Networks in 38 Markets
    Verizon will enable 5-12 megabit/second mobile data speeds in 38 markets, reaching 110 million Americans by the end of the year. The 4G technology, known as "LTE" promises a major new growth opportunity for HD mobile video, making smartphones and tablets even more appealing as video viewing devices.

    Time Warner Sees Ally in Web
    Time Warner's CEO Jeff Bewkes understands the Google TV value proposition, explaining that it will help program discovery and provide another option for paying subscribers to view. Those sentiments echo what I said in my initial thoughts on Google TV, that incumbent TV networks should be enthusiastic about Google TV because it doesn't disrupt their business models, but - by fully tying in the Internet - creates all kinds of new on-screen engagement opportunities. I expect other TV networks will follow soon.

    Sony's Crackle movie and TV streaming service debuts on Android phone app
    In a sea of new Android app releases, the new app from Crackle stands out because it offers streaming of full-length TV shows and movies on all Android devices. I sampled it this week on my Droid X and the video quality was outstanding. With the launch of LTE from Verizon later this year (see above), the quality bar will be raised further. Given Android's momentum, all premium quality video providers (e.g. TV networks, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, etc.) should be optimizing their content for it.

    Rupert Murdoch: Simultaneous Theater-VOD Release 'a Big Mistake'
    A word of caution from News Corp head Rupert Murdoch: so-called "premium VOD" - where theatrical release windows shorten to allow for a new high-priced home VOD option - is a mistake. Murdoch didn't give further details, though he does see some window compression happening. I continue to argue premium VOD would be a wrongheaded move by pay-TV operators who should be focusing on new ways to deliver more programming for lower prices (to compete better with Netflix, etc.) than less programming for higher prices.

    Ford revs up Web series
    The latest branded entertainment entry is from Ford, which has partnered with the producers of "The Amazing Race" to create "Focus Rally: America" a new series serving as pre-launch marketing for Ford's new Focus cars that will be featured on Hulu. Ford will use the series to highlight the SYNC and MyFord Touch entertainment/navigation options. Branded entertainment continues to gain steam as an augment to traditional TV advertising as the format allows brands to tell a fuller story in a more immersive context than 30-second TV spots allow.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).
     
  • Putting Premium Content Within an Arm's Length of Desire

    Robert Woodruff, the long-time president of Coca-Cola, had a famous quote summing up his ambition for the fizzy brown water: "I want Coke to be within an arm's length of desire."  Given the initiatives of Apple, Google, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Sony, pay-TV operators, Roku, TiVo, gaming consoles and numerous others, a spin on the Woodruff quote might well be, "They're all putting premium content within an arm's length of desire." It's no exaggeration to say that we are on the cusp of unprecedented consumer access to premium content - both current and past seasons' TV programs along with archived and new-release movies.

    The choices being presented to consumers are dizzying, and are poised to become increasingly complex. With Apple's announcement yesterday of a $99 Apple TV connected device, and 99-cent rentals from ABC and Fox (and others no doubt to follow), another relatively low-cost option for viewing premium content will be available. Not to be outdone, Amazon also unveiled its own 99-cent option yesterday, for downloads of TV programs, though the durability of this offer isn't yet clear. And Sony too announced a new service called Qriocity to delivery its content to its connected devices.

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