StudioNow, which produces custom video through its network of video professionals, has launched a new program dubbed "EXTRACREDIT." As Leslie Darling, StudioNow's SVP of Sales and Marketing explained to me, the program formalizes activities StudioNow has long been involved with, creating custom videos for online ad campaigns and brand marketing. StudioNow estimates it created video to support over $75 million in video campaign buys in 2012.
Now, with EXTRACREDIT, StudioNow is looking to formalize how it works with media companies, agencies and brands. Leslie sees StudioNow helping support campaign buys with its production services gaining a dedicated portion of the campaign's media spend. Leslie believes this can be a differentiator for all parties and creates unique new value in the ecosystem. In other words, to the extent that brands want to create and run different video online than their 15 and 30 second TV spots, StudioNow is there to help.
With the new Apple iPad receiving wall-to-wall coverage this week, it was easy to overlook other significant news. Here are 4 items worth noting for the January 25th week:
1. Netflix Q4 earnings increase my bullishness - On Wednesday, Netflix reported blowout results for Q4 '09, adding almost 3 million subscribers during the year (and a million just in Q4), bringing their YE '09 subscriber count to 12.3 million. Netflix also forecasted to end this year with between 15.5 million and 16.3 million subscribers, implying subscriber growth will be in the range of 26% to 33%. Importantly, Netflix also said that 48% of its subscribers used the company's streaming feature to watch a movie or TV show in Q4, up from 41% in Q3 and 28% a year ago. Wall Street reacted with glee, sending the stock up $12 yesterday to a new high of $63.04.
VideoNuze readers know I've been bullish on Netflix for some time now, and the Q4 results make me more so. A key concern I've had has been around their ability to gain further premium content for streaming. On the earnings call, CEO Reed Hastings and CFO Barry McCarthy addressed this issue, offering up additional details of their content strategy and how the recent Warner Bros. 28-day DVD window deal will work. On Monday I'm planning a deep dive post based on what I heard. As a preview, I'm now convinced that Netflix is the #1 cord-cutting threat. Cable, satellite and telco operators need to be watching Netflix very closely.
2. Nielsen announces combined TV/online ratings plan, but still falls short - This week brought news that Nielsen intends to unveil a "combined national television rating" in September that merges traditional Nielsen TV ratings with certain online viewing data. This is data that TV networks have been hungering for as online viewing has surged, potentially siphoning off TV audiences. I pointed out recently that the lack of such a measurement could seriously retard the growth of TV Everywhere, as cable networks hesitate to risk shifting TV audiences to unmeasurable online viewing.
Nielsen's move is welcome, but still doesn't go far enough. As reported, it seems the new merged ratings will only count online views that had the same ads and ad load as on-air. That immediately rules out Hulu, which of course carries far fewer ads than on-air, and sometimes uses custom creative as well. Obviously if the new Nielsen ratings don't truly capture online viewership they'll be worth little in the market. Ratings are a story with many future chapters to come.
3. AOL acquires StudioNow in bid for to ramp up video content - Also not to be overlooked this week was AOL's acquisition of StudioNow for $36.5 million in cash. StudioNow operates a distributed network of 3,000 video producers, creating cost-effective video for small and large companies alike. I'm very familiar with StudioNow, having spoken with their CEO and founder David Mason a number of times.
AOL is clearly looking to leverage the StudioNow network to generate a mountain of new video content, complementing its Seed.com "content farm." In addition, AOL picks up StudioNow's recently-launched Video Asset Management & Syndication Platform (AMS) which gives it video management capabilities as well. For AOL the deal suggests the company is finally waking up to video's vast potential. But with the rise of online video syndication, it's still a question mark whether creating a whole lot of new video is the right strategy, or whether AOL would have been better served by just partnering with a syndicator like 5Min.
Meanwhile, AOL isn't the only portal realizing video is the place to be. In Yahoo's earnings call this week, CEO Carol Bartz said "Frankly, our competition is television" and as Liz wrote, Bartz also said "that makes video really important." Yahoo just partnered with Ben Silverman's new Electus indie video shop, and it sounds like more action is coming. Geez, the prospect of AOL and Yahoo competing on acquisitions? It would be like the old days again.
4. Net Neutrality webinar next Thursday is going to be awesome - A reminder that next Thurs, Feb. 4th at 11am PT/2pm ET The Diffusion Group and VideoNuze will present a complimentary webinar "Demystifying Net Neutrality." The webinar is the first in a series of 6 throughout 2010, exclusively sponsored by ActiveVideo Networks. Colin Dixon from TDG and I will be hosting and we have 2 fabulous guests, who are on opposing sides of the net neutrality debate: Barbara Esbin, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Communications and Competition Policy at the Progress and Freedom Foundation and Chris Riley, Policy Counsel for Free Press.
Net neutrality is a critically important part of the landscape for over-the-top video services, and yet it is widely misunderstood. Join us for this one-hour session which promises to be educational and impactful.
Enjoy your weekend!
Daisy Whitney and I are pleased to present the 31st edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for September 11, 2009.
This week Daisy and I first discuss my post from yesterday, "StudioNow Begins March Into Video Platform Space with AMS Launch." For those not familiar with StudioNow, it has been operating a network that links geographically-dispersed video professionals with its clients' projects using a backend work flow/project management platform.
Yesterday the company launched its Video Asset Management & Syndication Platform ("AMS"), which its clients can use to manage, transcode and syndicate their videos. It's a clever move by StudioNow, and I believe paves the way for the company to compete more directly in the video management and publishing platform space. StudioNow will benefit by leveraging its position as a trusted partner to content providers and directories which it serves on the video creation/production side.
We then discuss the new Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) which was just announced yesterday. CIMM brings together 14 different broadcast and cable TV networks, media agencies and advertisers to create new audience measurement for TV and cross-platform media. CIMM intends to run pilot studies focusing on TV measurement through set-top box data and cross-platform media measurement. It's hard not to see CIMM as a "Nielsen-killer" though CIMM has asserted that it should not viewed as such.
With so many companies involved, Daisy is skeptical of the venture's likelihood of success and favors a more market-driven solution. I think it actually can succeed, but only if the partners are truly committed and invest accordingly. I haven't followed measurement that closely, but in my view the partners' commitment level will likely be correlated to the level of dissatisfaction they each have with Nielsen, and this will determine CIMM's eventual success. More detail in the podcast.
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StudioNow, which has built a nationwide network of thousands of creative professionals providing outsourced, on-location video shooting and editing, is announcing its Video Asset Management & Syndication Platform ("AMS") today. With the move, StudioNow looks poised to enter the crowded video publishing and management platform space, but from the angle of video production partner. Earlier this week I spoke to StudioNow's CEO and founder David Mason and its COO David Corts to learn more.
StudioNow's core business has been linking video professionals to its clients' projects (competitors in this space include TurnHere, Geobeats and others). There have been two primary types of customers; directories like CitySearch (which I wrote about here), who increasingly want to sell video ads to their local customers, yet lack the means to fulfill orders themselves and content publishers who want to add video to their sites, but for a variety of reasons don't have the capability to do so solely on their own. A good example of the latter is Maxim magazine which hired StudioNow to shoot and edit video from 100 different locations around the world for its "Hometown Hottie" feature.
These projects have been managed using the company's video creation platform, which allows all of a project's participants (videographers, editors, client project team, StudioNow producer, etc.) to gain access and manage the project's work flow through to completion. Given the geographic dispersion of project participants, the platform plays a crucial role in tracking projects and keeping them on schedule and on budget.
David explained that as StudioNow has produced these videos, a new problem has cropped up: how to manage them, especially as the quantity grows over time. Originally StudioNow would just FTP the videos to the client and they would manage them using in-house or 3rd party management platforms. But more recently, with clients asking StudioNow to get more involved, the company spotted a need to roll out a full service offering that manages, transcodes (in the cloud using Amazon's services) and syndicates the video to its intended destinations. AMS also enables metadata creation and management and next, analytics. StudioNow is announcing Simon & Schuster as its first AMS customer today.
Add in a player, a CDN offering, and integration with monetization options and it sounds a lot like another new competitor in the video platform space, right? Not exactly, or at least not yet anyway according to David. For now, StudioNow is positioning AMS as an intermediary stop, with video still getting pushed to third-party platforms like Brightcove, Ooyala, Delve, or others that its clients might use.
But from my standpoint, it seems inevitable that StudioNow will add features and become another full-fledged video platform competitor. Assuming it goes that route, its advantage is that it is already a trusted partner to customers on the video creation side. This could be a significant entry point, as more companies conclude they need to offer video to remain competitive. But lacking the capabilities to do so on their own, on-demand video creation services will likely become ever more popular, providing a strong toehold for StudioNow to leverage.
This is yet another example of how the video platform space is continuing to evolve, with newer players finding ways to differentiate themselves.
What do you think? Post a comment now.
Citysearch, the big online local information company, is making an aggressive push into video. The company is currently running a new promotion which allows its merchants to have a complimentary video made for them, which enhances their Citysearch listing, and can also be used on their own web site and on YouTube.
I'm always on the lookout for ways video can drive more revenue, and Citysearch's effort (originally begun in early '07) qualifies on at least two levels. First, it's a valuable enhancement to Citysearch's pay-for-performance ad model, increasing the ARPU the company derives from its merchants. Second, it appears to be a bona fide differentiator for merchants in helping them attract new business. And of course it helps deliver on users' growing expectations for video experiences.
Last week I spoke with Brian McCarthy, Citysearch's VP of Merchant Product to learn more about how the program works. I also spoke to Marc Edward, who runs Marc Edward Skincare in West Hollywood, CA, which is a merchant that's been offering video in its Citysearch listing for over a year.
Under the current promotion, Citysearch will make a 60-90 second video for its merchants for no cost to them. Citysearch has partnered with 3 production firms, TurnHere, StudioNow and GeoBeats to produce the video, which Brian said cost under $1,000 apiece. The merchant is involved in the editing process and then the video is added to the merchant's listing. When a user watches the video for at least 10 seconds, the merchant is charged a fee ranging from $.40 to $2.00, as part of Citysearch's "multimedia package."
Marc was one of the early users of Citysearch video and is quite enthusiastic about the results. He feels that nothing can convey what his business is about better than prospects actually seeing him talk about it, and explaining what they can expect. While he hasn't tracked new business directly to the video he offers, anecdotally he said new clients mention and cite the video as a major reason why they chose his shop over others.
While it's still early days for video enhancements in local listings/search results, it seems like a natural way to extend the model. Other local players like WorldNow, CBS and other broadcasters are on to this as well. The key is getting the financial model right for all parties: who pays to get the video made and how it generates a return over time. Citysearch seems to be making progress proving how the model can work.
What do you think? Post a comment now.