There is no doubt the TV industry is changing dramatically, largely due to the rise of online and mobile video viewing. But is it "dying," "imploding" or being "nuked" as some recent tech media headlines assert? No, not yet anyway. As a close observer of all things video, it's just mind-boggling sometimes to see how data is conflated to support distorted conclusions. If your company's product strategy were guided by today's headlines alone, you'd be on a course to disaster.
To help set things straight, Piksel's Alan Wolk has put together a really good slide deck with data debunking 7 of the bigger myths floating around these days (1) cord-cutting is a mass movement, (2) kids ignore mainstream TV, (3) your pay-TV provider is the one forcing you to pay for 800 channels, (4) cutting the cord lets you stick it to the cable company, (5) second screen is all about social TV, (6) TV viewing has decreased and (7) in the future we'll be able to watch TV wherever, whenever and however we want.
New Q3 '13 data from FreeWheel, which was unveiled today at VideoSchmooze, indicates TV Everywhere usage has grown rapidly over the past year. According to the company's Q3 '13 Video Monetization Report, 14.2% of total ad views in long-form content were delivered via pay-TV operators' authenticated video players, nearly triple their 5% share in Q4 '12.
Premium video is being more widely distributed over IP networks due to TV Everywhere initiatives. While this means improved viewer satisfaction and new revenue for pay-TV operators, it also means dramatically higher risks of piracy. It's an issue I hear about often and am constantly trying to understand better. A new white paper from software provider Civolution does a nice job of describing the issues and framing potential solutions. It is available for free download here.
Categories: TV Everywhere
TV Everywhere "auto-authentication," which quickly clears pay-TV subscribers to view cable programming on their devices without having to hunt around for their login credentials, is poised to gain further ground based on a new release announced by Synacor yesterday.
The company announced a white label auto-authentication solution for both in-home TVE usage and out of home with its social login using Facebook, Twitter and Google+ (social login was introduced last year, but the auto-authentication part is new). Both are under Synacor's Cloud ID offering and will be available in Q1 '14. The company believes this is the first such combined solution in the market.
Binge-viewing is a bona fide phenomenon that's not only changing consumers' TV viewing behaviors, but also creating fissures in the TV industry. Recently, in "For U.S. Cable Operators, Netflix Partnerships Are Fraught With Risk," I outlined how binge-viewing is driving a competitive dynamic over content rights between Netflix and pay-TV operators' VOD and TV Everywhere plans. Adding further detail, this past Friday, Vulture published an excellent article with specific examples of how this battle is brewing.
According to Vulture, FX and Turner are telling studios from which they obtain TV shows that they need rights to stream the full current season of shows (known as "stacking" rights) not just the most recent 3-5 episodes. Part of the networks' rationale is they need to give late-coming viewers an easy path to watch from the beginning of a season, rather than just enabling existing viewers a way to catch up.
Market researcher IHS has released its first study of TV Everywhere deployments in the U.S., finding that 73 different cable networks are now allowing authenticated online/mobile access for on-demand viewing. Per the chart below, NBCU leads among the ad-supported segment, with 15 of its 18 networks offering some TVE VOD option, followed by Time Warner (Turner) with 9 networks and News Corp. and Viacom each with 6. Discovery is the only major cable network group not yet offering TVE, but IHS expect that to change soon.
Remarkably, it's already been 4 years since the CEOs of Time Warner and Comcast unveiled the concept of TV Everywhere in a high-profile press event. Since then numerous successful services have launched (e.g. HBO GO, WatchESPN, etc.), yet the prevailing consensus - which I agree with - is that TV Everywhere hasn't yet been adopted at nearly the level anticipated.
I've written in the past about the 5 key things I believe are holding back TV Everywhere and 1 of them is "authentication" - the process of verifying a user and providing rights to watch programming covered by their subscription. Picayune as it might seem at first blush for pay-TV subscribers to remember and input their user name and password to be authenticated, it has turned out to be a genuine barrier to adoption.
That's why Comcast's announcement yesterday of "Home Pass" which auto-verifies and logs in dual Comcast video and broadband subscriber when accessing Xfinity TV (the company's branded TV Everywhere initiative) is significant. Rather than fumbling for their credentials, users can simply visit the Xfinity portal and begin watching nearly instantly.
Advanced ad technology provider BlackArrow is unveiling "BlackArrow Linear" this morning, which enables pay-TV operators to dynamically insert ads into live and linear streams viewed on connected and mobile IP devices. BlackArrow has traditionally focused on video-on-demand streams to TVs.
The move is significant because BlackArrow Linear broadens pay-TV operators' flexibility to offer and monetize live and linear TV Everywhere streams. TV Everywhere began as an on-demand only offering, but a move is now underway to expand into live as well. In just the past month, both ABC and Turner have announced linear streaming to devices (more here and here), with TV Everywhere authentication. While I have questioned how broad the appeal of linear is in an age of time-shifting and ad-skipping, I believe it will become widely adopted by other broadcast and cable networks over the next 12 months as they race to embrace devices.
ABC will enable live-streaming of its programs through its iOS app, moving beyond an on-demand only programming model for the first time. The "Watch ABC" live feature will no doubt please a subset of the people who have downloaded the ABC app 10 million times to date and who still value live viewing. But Watch ABC will also likely puzzle and irk some users when they discover they must be authenticated as a pay-TV subscriber in order to access the live stream.
In fact, requiring authentication for Watch ABC is just the latest evidence of TV Everywhere's tightening grip on broadcast TV. Another recent example was NBC making large portions of last summer's Olympics available only to authenticated pay-TV subscribers. In addition, Fox has maintained an 8-day exclusive window for pay-TV subscribers for almost 2 years.
I had a classic TV Everywhere moment tonight I thought I'd quickly share. I got back to my hotel room in NYC after dinner, flipped on the TV to watch the Celtics try to break the Heat's winning streak and discovered ESPN and many other channels weren't working.
But instead of calling the front desk, waiting for a technician, keeping my fingers crossed, etc. (guessing my fellow travelers know this experience too well), I fired up WatchESPN, entered my Comcast credentials and was watching online within minutes. For the most part, video quality was very strong. The key was being able to watch via the hotel's WiFi network because the stream would have drained my 2GB Verizon data cap.
I'm pleased to present the 171st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. Leading us off today, Colin digs into Nielsen's new "zero-TV" homes data, part of its Q4 '12 Cross-Platform report. When Colin crunches the numbers, he concludes that the U.S. pay-TV industry may have lost 1.1 million subscribers last year, who moved into the zero-TV category. That would be above other estimates, which range from flat to down about 500K.
Of course one of the industry's key initiatives to add value has been TV Everywhere, and on that front, there were refreshingly candid admissions this week from both David Levy, head of Turner's sales, distribution and sports, who said he was "embarrassed" at TV Everywhere's progress, and Lauren Zalaznick, NBCU's chairman, entertainment and digital networks, who said it's too confusing. Both are right, and there are other reasons as elaborated in the recent Ultimate Guide to TV Everywhere (free download).
Contributing to the pressure on pay-TV providers is the ever-expanding range of quality content available online, and 2 more efforts surfaced this week, Conde Nast's new digital video network, and VEVO TV, a 24x7 music video network.
Separate, Colin has released his excellent new white paper, "Second-Screen Apps for TV" (free download here)
And a reminder to sign up for "Sizing Up Apple TV" a free video webinar on April 2nd featuring Brightcove's Jeremy Allaire and me.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 42 seconds)
It wasn't that long ago when the back-end delivery systems for traditional pay-TV services and those for over-the-top video services were quite distinct. Ditto for the in-home set-top devices that viewers use to receive these disparate video services. But as pay-TV operators continue to standardize on IP, the cloud becomes ever more pervasive and devices more powerful, those distinctions are melting away.
The latest example comes this morning from the UK, where thePlatform, a U.S.-based Comcast subsidiary, has announced that its mpx video management system is now powering key elements of BT's actual TV services, BT Vision and YouView from BT. According to thePlatform, mpx is supporting BT's video workflow, coordinating playback data with recommendations engines and enforcing video rights for subscribers. mpx has been integrated with BT's existing systems for content delivery, set-top boxes and user experience.
Conviva, whose software preemptively optimizes video streams on multiple platforms, has renewed and expanded its existing deal with HBO for another 6 years. Conviva's original deal with HBO dates to May, 2011. Conviva has been supporting HBO's HBO GO TV Everywhere domestic distribution, and under the new deal it will be extended to support international distribution as well. HBO's parent, Time Warner, is also an investor in Conviva.
Welcome to 2013! If you were mostly checked out over the past 1-2 weeks (or were only paying attention to the fiscal cliff roller coaster), you didn't miss a whole lot in the video world. However, there were 5 items that caught my attention which I briefly describe below:
I'm pleased to offer a complimentary download of the "Ultimate Guide to TV Everywhere," a 16-page special supplement that VideoNuze created in collaboration with B&C/Multichannel News magazines. As everyone around the pay-TV and online video industries is aware, TV Everywhere has become a top strategic priority, and when fully deployed, will unlock a broad swath of cable programming for anytime/anywhere access.
Despite its potential, TV Everywhere's deployment has been uneven to date, as networks and operators have grappled with business terms and operational details. In the guide you'll find interviews, research data, key challenges, infographics and an update on what 5 large cable programmers are already doing with TV Everywhere. We believe it's the most in-depth look at TV Everywhere's current status and is a highly useful resource for anyone with an interest in its eventual success.
Special thanks to the guide's advertisers for their generous support: thePlatform, Tribune Media Services, Clearleap, Synacor, mPortal, Universal Sports and Digital Rapids.
Categories: TV Everywhere
Topics: TV Everywhere
A recurring theme in the video industry this year has been the proliferation of video-enabled devices and fragmentation of viewing. This has resulted in vastly increased complexity for content providers to prepare and deliver the properly formatted video efficiently and cost-effectively to all these devices. Recognizing this escalating challenge, online video platform provider thePlatform is announcing new "Smart Workflow" features in its mpx video publishing system this morning, to accelerate the formatting and delivery of video to multiple devices.
I'm pleased to share that VideoNuze is collaborating with Broadcasting & Cable / Multichannel News magazines to produce the "Ultimate Guide to TV Everywhere," with a December 3rd publication date.
The 16-page guide will include up-to-date research data and analysis, interviews with industry leaders, case studies and more. It will tackle the questions surrounding TV Everywhere head-on, providing essential insights for busy industry executives. Topics covered will include strategic and business drivers, core technologies, changing viewer behaviors/expectations, business/rights issues and enabling devices.
Categories: TV Everywhere
Topics: TV Everywhere
The process of authenticating users for TV Everywhere content access is improving yet again, as Synacor announced this morning that users will be able to log in via their Facebook, Twitter and Google accounts. The use of social IDs has become widely deployed by web services providers, but had not yet been made available in the TV Everywhere world. With the feature, users will be able to tie their pay-TV accounts to their social media accounts which means they'll no longer have to remember pay-TV specific login credentials to gain access to TV Everywhere content. This will reduce friction and should drive higher TV Everywhere adoption.
mPortal, whose SPRINGBROARD Media platform allows pay-TV operators and content providers to create cloud-based TV Everywhere apps, is being enhanced with a new set of social TV APIs to build second screen companion apps for connected devices.
While the number of social TV startups abound, mPortal's VP, Products Fady Lamaa told me that mPortal believes its social TV APIs are the first to be integrated fully with TV Everywhere app building tools, meaning that pay-TV operators and content providers can present unified, branded TV Everywhere/social experience to their users. mPortal is seeking to capitalize on two of the biggest video trends today: connected device viewing and social.
At the recent Cable Show, I had the great pleasure of doing a video interview with Craig Moffett, who is SVP and senior telecom, cable and satellite TV analyst at the investment firm Sanford Bernstein. Craig is likely the most widely-followed Wall Street analyst of the pay-TV industry - both video and broadband - and someone whose work I have long respected.
Craig generously spent almost 45 minutes sharing his views on practically every pressing industry issue. A key recurring theme: that the pay-TV industry is so "ossified" and inflexible that true innovation with TV can only come from outside the industry. I have split the interview into 2 video segments below. For anyone who wants to better understand where the pay-TV and online video industries are heading, and what the key drivers are, I highly recommend these.
In Part 1, we discuss:
- Pay-TV industry's overall health
- Why cable isn't really a video business, but rather an infrastructure business
- The truth about cord-cutting and cord-shaving
- What role online original programs will have with younger "cord-never" viewers
- Why young people already think of pay-TV as a luxury service and settle for "good enough" alternatives
- How expensive sports programming is driving pay-TV's affordability challenge
- What will happen with Aereo
- And more
In Part 2, we discuss:
- The role of usage-based pricing by broadband ISPs
- Why the threat of Netflix is far lower today than a year ago
- Nickelodeon's ratings problem and the role of Netflix in creating it
- Whether cable networks will cut back licensing to OTT operators
- What will happen with Dish Network's Auto Hop feature
- Why TV Everywhere will remain on a slow rollout
- What disruptive roles Google and Apple might play
- And more