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  • VideoNuze Podcast #536: Smart TVs Grow, Peacock Gets 22 Million Signups, TVision Skepticism

    I’m pleased to present the 536th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.  

    Smart TVs have been a big beneficiary of the pandemic-driven viewership shifts as Conviva’s Q3 State of Streaming report showed this week. Colin and I explore what’s driving smart TVs and connected TVs and what’s ahead.

    NBCUniversal announced continued growth for its Peacock streaming service this week, now with 22 million signups. We’re both impressed and in the wake of Quibi’s demise, are reminded how important free is for attracting initial users.

    Finally T-Mobile announced its TVision pay-TV service this week. Colin is skeptical and summarizes all the reasons why.
     
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  • VideoNuze Podcast #400: The Top 10 Online Video Stories of 2017

    I'm pleased to present the 400th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    In this week’s podcast Colin and I discuss our top 10 online video stories of 2017. It’s been another incredibly busy year with tons of industry innovation and progress. As always, it has been a lot of fun to analyze all of this and report on it. Let us know what you think of our choices, whether you agree or disagree!

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    Unless there’s some big news, this will be my last post for 2017.

    Happy Holidays to all!

     
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  • VideoNuze Podcast #386: Roku’s IPO, T-Mobile-Netflix Promo, Hulu-Spotify Bundle, Newsy to Cable TV

    I’m pleased to present the 386th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    After taking a couple weeks off from the podcast, Colin and I are back, and today we discuss 4 different industry stories that have caught our attention. First up, just before Labor Day, Roku filed its S-1 IPO document, sharing financial details for the first time. Colin and I are both struck by the strength of Roku’s “platform revenues” and believe the company’s strategy of innovating with low-priced streaming devices to gain market share has opened up many revenue options (though Colin’s a bit worried about Roku losing its valuable neutrality position in the wake of launching the Roku Channel this week).

    We then move on to T-Mobile’s plan to give away Netflix to its unlimited family plan subscribers. It’s the latest “video as bait” play by a wireless carrier, and we both see this trend accelerating. Another interesting bundle play this week was the $5/mo promotion from Hulu and Spotify. We discuss its potential to extend beyond the initial college student target.

    Finally, Colin and I were both intrigued by a plan unveiled by Newsy, a popular millennial-focused news app, to create a linear TV channel by taking over Retirement Living TV’s pay-TV subscribers. It’s a relatively unusual move given most TV networks are launching OTT apps these days.

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  • Video is Quickly Becoming Bait For Wireless Carriers to Lure and Retain Subscribers

    There is an unmistakable trend taking hold in the wireless industry: video is quickly becoming bait for big carriers to lure and retain subscribers. All 4 of the biggest U.S. carriers have not only launched unlimited data plans, which are being explicitly promoted for video viewing, but in addition 3 of the 4 (T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon) are also tying in aggressive discounts on video services. As I wrote recently, all of this carrier activity will drive more widespread mobile video use.

    The start of the trend can clearly be traced to November, 2015 when T-Mobile launched its Binge On program, which now allows users to watch 120+ video services without impacting the user’s data plan. T-Mobile upped the ante in late 2016 by offering AT&T subscribers who switched to T-Mobile a full year of DirecTV Now for free (a $420 value). In January, T-Mobile further tweaked AT&T by adding a free year of Hulu for these subscribers because of the launch problems DirecTV Now experienced.

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  • Verizon’s New Unlimited Data Plan Further Boosts Mobile Video

    Another day, another move by a major wireless carrier that further boosts mobile video. Yesterday, Verizon announced that it is offering unlimited data plans, for $80/month for the first line and $45/month for subsequent lines. It’s the first time Verizon has offered an unlimited data option since 2011 and is yet another sign of how aggressively wireless carriers are embracing mobile video as a key value proposition, in turn pressuring their business model of incremental payments for data usage.

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  • T-Mobile Zings AT&T Again With New Hulu Offer as Wireless and Video Combine

    T-Mobile is continuing its attack on AT&T by introducing a bonus of one free year of Hulu for AT&T customers who switched to T-Mobile under a prior offer where they received a free year of DirecTV Now. T-Mobile has been sniping at DirecTV Now’s sketchy service since it launched, so its new offer amounts to a make-good for customers who made the switch, but may have ended up feeling underwhelmed by DirecTV Now.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #353: Lots of Reasons to be Optimistic About Mobile Video’s Growth

    I’m pleased to present the 353rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    There are lots of reasons to be optimistic about mobile video’s upcoming growth and on this week’s podcast, Colin and I explore them. 2017 is setting up as a major year of change for mobile video, with numerous positive catalysts.

    These include wireless carriers zero-rating their video services and investing in content, mobile data plans becoming more flexible, cable operators entering the wireless market, Facebook emphasizing video, smartphones’ enhanced capabilities, a more conducive regulatory environment and much more. (Colin and I also wrote about these earlier this week here and here)

    Listen in to learn more!
     
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  • As the iPhone Turns 10, Here Are 7 Reasons Mobile Video Is At A Tipping Point

    It was 10 years ago today that Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that even Jobs could have imagined how profound and far-reaching the iPhone’s impact would be. One short decade later, there is arguably not a single Internet application that hasn’t been impacted by mobile. Meanwhile, many new applications have been created solely as a result of the mobile phenomenon.

    Mobile video is certainly one application that was essentially created by the iPhone and subsequent smartphones. Watching video on smartphones is now a completely mainstream behavior, which countless millions of people engage with regularly. But despite mobile video’s already impressive growth, there are at least 7 reasons mobile video is now at a tipping point, with the biggest growth still ahead:

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #340: Mobile Video Soars, With Big Changes Ahead in 2017

    I'm pleased to present the 340th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we return to the topic of mobile video, which we last discussed in June. Mobile video has reached a milestone, according to new Ooyala data, reaching nearly 51% of all video views, which is 10 times greater share than just 4 years ago.

    Mobile video has soared mainly due to the proliferation of smartphones. However monthly data caps have curbed mobile video, as users have learned how expensive exceeding their plans can be. This is why T-Mobile’s “Binge-On” has been so popular and why we’re now seeing the advent of other “zero-rated” services like DirecTV Now.

    But as Colin and I discuss, mobile video could get a big boost in 2017 as Comcast and Charter both announced this week they’ll enter the mobile business (here and here). Because they’ll be leveraging millions of their WiFi hotspots, they will likely be able to not only offer bigger data plans, but also charge subscribers less by bundling mobile phone with other services.

    (Note, one clarification - I said I didn’t know of any video service on Verizon Wireless that is zero-rated, but in fact Go90 is.)

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  • AT&T Launches Unlimited Data Plan as Wireless Carriers Fuel Mobile Video Boom

    The latest evidence that wireless carriers will fuel a boom in unlimited mobile video viewing came this morning with AT&T announcing a new plan that gives new and existing AT&T wireless subscribers who already have or who add either DirecTV or U-Verse TV service unlimited video on their smartphone for $100/month. Options are available for adding more smartphones and tablets for additional fees. AT&T also said it was the “first of many integrated video and mobility offers the company plans to announce in 2016.”

    Wireless carriers’ capped data plans have meant that subscribers needed to meticulously monitor their usage as they watched data-intensive video in order to avoid costly overage charges and also to aggressively search out WiFi hotspots. As wireless carriers have migrated to unlimited text and talk, data has become a key source of incremental, usage-based revenue.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #298; T-Mobile Disrupts Mobile Video, SVOD Licensing in Flux

    I'm pleased to present the 298th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    T-Mobile announced something breakthrough earlier this week, with its new “Binge On” program that allows its subscribers to watch unlimited video from 24 different providers without it counting against their data plans. Granted video quality will be a modest 480p or better, but the significance here is that T-Mobile is enabling long-form viewing out of the home, without needing to hunt down a good WiFi connection or risk massive data plan overage charges.

    Over 2 years ago, I questioned whether optimistic forecasts for mobile video consumption were realistic given expensive data plans. In fact, research has shown that most “mobile” video viewing actually occurs in the home. But with T-Mobile’s Binge On, it will be fascinating to see if other wireless carriers are compelled to do something similar, which would be a huge boon to video providers. Colin and I discuss the ramifications.

    We then turn our attention to SVOD licensing, which is all over the board. Last week, Time Warner said it was going to pull back on SVOD licensing, but earlier this week AMC said it will continue to pursue a one year window. Meanwhile, Time Warner is now rumored to be investing in Hulu, in a deal that would include a content commitment. TV networks and studios are clearly caught between the short term appeal of SVOD revenue vs. the long term concern that it undermines the ecosystem. We dig into the issues.

    Listen now to learn more!

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  • Sezmi Expands to Malaysia With YTL Partnership - Template For 4G Carrier Deals in U.S.?

    Sezmi is expanding into Malaysia, partnering with YTL Communications to provide the digital television service component of YTL's hybrid broadcast-wireless 4G "quadruple play" that also includes voice and data services. For Sezmi, the move is its first significant international deal, and could serve as a template for partnership deals in other developing countries that don't have or can't affordably build extensive wired broadband networks.

    Importantly, the YTL deal also provides a possible glimpse of Sezmi's value as a partner to domestic U.S. carriers rolling out 4G service who might seek to offer a competitive over the top TV service. 4G is gaining momentum in the U.S. Just last week Verizon announced that it would introduce its 4G "LTE" service in 38 markets around the U.S. by the end of the year, with data speeds of 5-12 megabits per second. Both Clearwire and Sprint have already rolled out 4G services to over 50 market each and T-Mobile is in over 60 (albeit none of these always have 100% market coverage just yet). AT&T is planning to launch an extensive 4G network by mid-2011.

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  • 2009 Prediction #2: Mobile Video Takes Off, Finally

    As promised, each day this week I'm sharing one prediction for 2009, with each one getting progressively bolder as the week progresses (and yes, I'll concede - as a number of you privately pointed out to me - yesterday's forecast that the Syndicated Video Economy would grow in '09 was a pretty wimpy start). So moving out a little further on the limb, today's prediction #2 is that video delivered directly to mobile/wireless devices will take off in '09, finally.

    For those of you who have been following mobile/wireless video delivery, this has been a market that's perpetually been "just around the corner." In fact, a little over a year ago when I was planning VideoNuze, several people suggested that I shouldn't just focus on broadband delivery (as I define it to mean high-speed wired delivery of video to a home or business), but also mobile/wireless video. But after doing some due diligence I concluded that the market wasn't there yet, and that the vast majority of new video activity would be focused on wired broadband. Indeed, I think that's how '07 and much of '08 have shaped up.

    However, having tracked recent activity in the mobile video space, I think '09 is going to be a big year of growth and recognition for this new medium (in fact, an old friend gently chastised me over lunch last week for even drawing a distinction between wired and wireless delivery, saying, "come on, it's ALL broadband!" I think he makes a very fair point.)

    What has traditionally held back mobile delivery are a lack of video-capable devices, voice and text-focused wireless networks and a closed "on-deck" paradigm, which is the wireless carrier's version of the cable and satellite industry's proverbial walled-garden.

    These limitations have now been mostly addressed, or are in the process of being addressed. On the device side, the most notable video-capable device is of course the iPhone, which by my calculations has already sold over 13 million units and is on its way to almost 20 million by the end of the year. Everyone I know who has an iPhone - especially kids - are infatuated with the video feature (if you've never seen it, especially now using AT&T's 3G network, get thee to an Apple store immediately!). In '09, the iPhone is poised for even greater popularity as Wal-Mart begins stocking it, possibly for just $99. Recession or not, the iPhone is going to remain white hot.

    Not to be lost in the iPhone's phenomenal wake are many other new video-capable phones. There's of course the new G1 from T-Mobile, powered by Android, Google's new mobile OS. I got my first look at one last week, and though not as sleek as the iPhone, I was able to watch excellent YouTube video. There are plenty of others to choose from as well, including the Samsung Propel, the LG Incite, the new BlackBerry Storm and the latest mother-of-all-phones, the Nokia N64, which comes with 16GB of internal memory (enough for 40 hours of video). Whereas many of us today carry phones incapable or barely capable of viewing video, in '09 the replacement process will be in full swing.

    Of course, all the cool devices in the world don't matter unless you have a robust underlying network and the freedom to view what you want. On this front, the wireless carriers' push to build out their next generation 3G networks finally allows sufficient bandwidth to view high-quality video (though not HD yet). Next up is 4G, first from Clearwire, the SprintNextel-Intel-Google-cable industry consortium that's deploying its WiMax network with speeds of up to 6 Mbps downstream being promised. There's also MediaFLO, Qualcomm's mobile broadcasting platform that has steadily built out an ecosystem of technology, carrier and content partners.

    Last but not least are the consumer-focused services and applications. Until recently, this market has mainly consisted of packaged subscription services like Verizon's VCast and MobiTV, which itself recently announced more than 5 million subscribers. The combination of new devices and networks promises to bring an increase in on-demand, web-based, ad-supported video consumption (plus paid downloads to be sure, courtesy of the iPhone mainly). Another interesting twist is the advent of live broadcasting from mobile devices, powered by providers like Qik, Kyte and Mogulus. These all supercharge the Twitter micro-blogging phenomenon.

    All of this underscores why the distinction between wired and wireless broadband really becomes meaningless over time. The mobile experience is going to seem more and more like the one you have sitting at your computer, with the added benefit of portability. To throw a blue-sky variable into the mix, one wonders if at some point you'll simply plug your phone into your TV and watch streamed or downloaded video that way, rather than through a set-top box or a wired broadband connection. There's a convergence concept for you!

    Years in the making, mobile/wireless video is finally upon us, and '09 is going to be a big year. That's good news for all of us as consumers, and it surely means I'll be working a lot harder to stay on top of things.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

    Previous, Prediction #1: Syndicated Video Economy Grows

    Tomorrow, 2009 Prediction #3

     
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  • An Intersection of UGC and Brand Marketing?

    (Quick correction - there was a technical problem with the link in yesterday's email to register for the Feb. 28th webinar. The correct link to register is here).

    Lately I've been thinking a lot about where there may be potential points of intersection between user-generated video and brand marketing.

    On the one hand, YouTube and others have demonstrated there's huge interest among amateur producers in creating and posting video content. Since the overwhelming majority of these producers do not make any meaningful money from these videos, their motivation is emotional. On the other hand, brands are grappling with things like how to break through the clutter, deepen consumer engagement, create more authenticity and build loyalty.

    So it seems like there should be a natural point of intersection if brands could incent their passionate customers to create videos which not only sang the praises of their favorite products but actually provided valuable information sought by other prospective customers. Offering these videos would enable customers to show off their favorite products in action and also provide a valuable service to prospects. The concept is sort of like a video-based TripAdvisor, but not limited to travel.

    Here's an example from a personal experience. Recently I've been in the market for a 50+ inch HDTV. If you've been in this mode recently you know the drill - lots of online research, reading users' comments, going to stores to see different models, etc. Even after doing all this, I still felt like I was missing something. I really wanted to see the intangibles - what distance seemed right, what's the right height for the stand, what were the ambient issues, how were accessories connected and so on.

    In short, I was looking for actual owners to provide short, but informative videos showcasing how the TV actually worked out when brought into their homes. To be sure, there's no shortage of text comments to this effect. But the best I could find beyond text was a link at Amazon to "Share your own customer images." It seems like such a natural to me that online retailers, review sites and TV manufacturers should all provide a user-generated video platform for consumers to upload videos providing further information on their TVs.

    What I'm describing is not another brand-sponsored UGC contest, but rather solid consumer-contributed product information. T-Mobile has something like this running with Current TV right now, but seems to really be the exception. I looked at the web sites of Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, Sharp, Philips and Mitsubishi and, although in some cases there are buying guides and FAQs, none of them seek to harness the enthusiasm of their actual customers by enabling video contributions.

    Maybe I'm missing something, but I think this is a big untapped opportunity. I know companies like ViTrue and StashCast are pursuing opportunities like this, and then there are countless private label social network platforms like KickApps, Ning and others (TechCrunch has a good list here) that also enable some flavor of this. But I just haven't seen this concept clearly or pervasively implemented yet. If you have, please post a comment. I just have to believe that some smart brands - particularly those selling complex, expensive products that benefit from video-based information - are going to realize their passionate customers are incredible assets just waiting to be empowered to speak out through user-generated video.

     
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