Posts for 'Amazon'

  • Inside the Stream: Q1 ’23 Earnings Review: Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Who’s Pick ‘Em?

    Most media and technology companies have now reported Q1 ’23 results. We dig into who’s up, who’s down and who’s pick ‘em, and where they all might be headed. We share all this with the caveat that one quarter’s results are not the final word on a company’s ability to survive and thrive going forward. We hope we’re not in any way contributing to the short-term, quarterly performance myopia so common on Wall Street.

    Rather, we’re looking at these companies’ results in the context of prior results, the competitive landscape and their particular products’/services’ positioning. All while trying to do some basic “pattern recognition” - what have we seen before and how is this likely to play out in TV and video. Our discussion is primarily focused on Netflix, Roku, Amazon, AMC, Disney, Comcast, Vizio, YouTube, The Trade Desk, Paramount, Diamond Sports Group, Tegna, Dish and how they’re sorting themselves in the up, down and pick ‘em categories.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (38 minutes,  50 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream: 5 Key Takeaways from the 2023 IAB NewFronts

    I attended the 2023 IAB NewFronts earlier this week and today on Inside the Stream we discuss my 5 key takeaways. These include 1) connected TV as the dominant throughline in all the presentations, 2) an early shift in messaging around how CTV campaigns should move to more full/lower-funnel KPIs, 3) whether the overwhelming volume and pure free, ad-supported nature of FASTs should be concerning, 4) how CTV platform/glass ownership will be a critical competitive differentiator going forward, and 5) why, of the 14 presentations that I attended, three companies’ presentations stood out in particular.  

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (44 minutes, 51 seconds)

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  • The Titans of Streaming Are Going to Up-Level the Ad Opportunity for Everyone

    Our industry loves to talk about the “streaming wars” and speculate on which of the big names out there—Netflix, Disney, Amazon, Apple, and so on—will ultimately “win.” This speculation has reached a fever pitch recently as more players have moved into ad-supported models (and Netflix has started gaining important traction in this regard). But here’s the thing: We don’t need to crown a winner. There are plenty of victories to go around when it comes to the immense opportunity of advertising within premium streaming environments.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: In India, Two Initiatives Preview Streaming’s Future

    This week we go on a “field trip” to India, where a battle between multibillionaires - at the intersection of streaming, marquee sports, mobile, commerce and FASTs - provides a glimpse of the future.

    First up, we discuss news that Viacom18 Media Pvt. a joint venture between Paramount Global and multibillionaire Mukesh Ambani’s conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd., the most valuable company in India - which in 2021 won the rights, for $2.7 billion, to stream the hugely popular Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket games - and intends to do so for free to consumers.

    Viacom18 Media actually poached the IPL streaming rights from Disney, which had them previously and used the games to drive Disney+ Hotstar subscriptions. Disney's direct-to-consumer strategy remains murky as Colin and I discussed 2 weeks ago.

    The move underscores trends that Colin and I have discussed extensively around marquee sports moving from broadcast/cable to streaming (most recently in January, with fuboTV's CEO David Gandler) and the accelerating pace of free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST).

    Next, we discuss “miniTV,” a set of freely available video content that is placed front and center within Amazon India’s shopping app. While miniTV, which launched in May, 2021 got off to a modest start, apparently in 2022, its first full year of operations, it has picked up momentum. This is due to the popularity of certain original programming that Amazon has invested in.

    Amazon’s strategy of purposely giving away premium video for free parallels what it has done with Prime Video, investing heavily in originals like “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” without seeking to directly monetize them. Rather, Amazon uses its massive commerce business to subsidize the cost of content creation, because it has been able to demonstrate to itself that video drives higher levels of Prime acquisition/retention, and Prime members buy more stuff from Amazon, of course.

    Jeff Bezos articulated this “flywheel” in an interview with Walt Mossberg at the Code Conference in 2016, putting as fine a point on it as one can imagine, by famously saying “When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes” (start at the 36:56 mark for the segment). Amazon’s approach to subsidizing video is virtually inimitable, except perhaps by Apple and Google, and should justifiably strike terror in the heart of every media company CEO.

    In India, with miniTV, we are seeing Amazon run the same playbook, except absent a Prime membership requirement, and with a more specific focus on mobile consumption, primarily by younger viewers. If media company CEOs around the world were not already on high alert from Prime Video, miniTV should put them on an immediate DEFCON 1 footing.

    (As a side note, I believe that another flywheel, in CTV advertising, is also developing, as I wrote back in June, 2021. Speakers at next week’s VideoNuze CTV Advertising PREVIEW: 2023 will emphatically drive this home. Note, complimentary sign up is available.)

    Last but not least, and at the risk of stating the obvious: Bezos’s net worth currently stands at approximately $120 billion, while Ambani’s is around $84 billion. In short, both of them bring essentially unlimited resources to the streaming game, free to subsidize anything they believe is in their companies’ long-term interests. The stakes in streaming have never been as high and only the deepest-pocketed need apply.

    The two initiatives in India are a preview of streaming’s future. As I said, DEFCON 1.

    Pack your bags for the trip to India, and listen to the podcast to learn more (27 minutes, 20 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Evaluating WBD’s New “Warner Pass” Streaming Bundle in France

    In this week’s podcast, Colin and I discuss Warner Bros. Discovery’s plan to launch a new streaming bundle in France dubbed “Warner Pass,” exclusively on Amazon Prime Channels, which Variety reported. Warner Pass will include all HBO content, plus 12 WBD channels including CNN, Discovery Channel, Eurosport and others.

    The move caught our attention because WBD has been quite vocal about its intention to launch a combined HBO Max / discovery+ service (expected to be simply called “Max”), which the Variety report noted it still plans to introduce in France in 2024.

    Colin and I think Warner Pass could offer clues about how WBD will price the combined service eventually (especially in Europe). Yet it raises a concern that having two different streaming brands in France with similar content is clumsy and could cause consumer confusion (not to mention spending required to support two streaming brands).

    Further, as we discussed in December, Warner Pass is yet another step in reversing the company’s strategy on third-party distribution. Prior WarnerMedia management decided to pull HBO from Amazon Prime Channels and others in September, 2021. As I wrote back then, in a direct-to-consumer world, not owning the subscriber, nor seeing their detailed viewing data, are real drawbacks.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (31 minutes, 56 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: 25 Million Viewers for The Rings of Power; FASTs Gain Popularity

    Amazon took the unusual step of releasing viewership data for its new Lord of the Rings series “The Rings of Power,” saying that over 25 million Prime members watched it on its first day. On this week’s podcast Colin and I discuss how to put this number into context, and also whether the series is worth the reported $58 million per episode it cost. Then we transition to reviewing new data about viewer satisfaction with ad-supported FAST services vs. ad-free SVOD services.

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  • Here's Why Not Too Long From Now, Streaming Media Players Will be Free for Certain Consumers

    All of the Cyber Monday and Black Friday deals flying around are reinforcing an idea I’ve been thinking about for much of 2021: not too long from now, some streaming media players/devices will be offered for free to certain consumers under specific circumstances.

    There are three fundamental reasons why this is likely to happen 1) The gross profit margins on these players is negligible if not non-existent, 2) The gross margin on advertising revenue for player providers is significant, and likely to strengthen even further, and 3) the entire streaming player / streaming services industry is in a massive land grab that isn’t close to being over.

    Following is how I look at the three reasons, and what comes next:

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Why Has Apple Been Surpassed By Amazon in CTV?

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    On this week’s podcast Colin and I discuss why Apple has been surpassed by Amazon in CTV and streaming video. As Colin articulates very well in “Five ways Amazon is Crushing Apple in the CTV Market” earlier this week, Apple was early to market with its Apple TV CTV device (albeit at the very high price point of $299), and was also the dominant player in movie and TV show rentals and purchases with iTunes not that long ago. But major product strategy mistakes and decisions by Apple, combined with deft, low margin and user-friendly moves by Amazon have led the two companies’ positions in these critical markets to completely reverse themselves. With this new normal, what lies ahead?

    One big measure Apple has taken to try course correcting has been the launch of Apple TV+. We start this week’s podcast by understanding why Apple is spending so heavily on original TV shows for the service, which it is expected to spend $500 million marketing in 2022. A new analysis by the WSJ illuminates Apple’s heavy product placement agenda, in support of ecosystem loyalty and core device sales. As I explain, this strategy - along with Amazon’s - has potentially big implications for established and newer media companies still reliant on traditional advertising and subscription revenue models.

    Listen to the podcast (29 minutes, 26 seconds)

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  • Apple’s Product Placements in Its Originals Reveal Commerce Agenda and Shifting Industry Leverage

    Ever since Apple started ramping up its investments in original programming there has been lots of speculation about the company’s true motivation for the initiative. Keep up with the competition? Drive more “services” revenues? Burnish its brand? Ensure executives have tickets to award shows and after parties? All of the above? None of the above? Something else?

    The most accurate motivation is likely to keep viewers loyal to Apple’s ecosystem and thereby sell more Apple products to them. That’s the conclusion from a compelling new analysis by Kenny Wassus, senior video journalist at the Wall Street Journal, explained in a 7 minute video (see embedded below). Wassus studied which Apple products appeared and how often in five Apple originals, “Defending Jacob,” “The Morning Show,” “Mythic Quest,” “Ted Lasso” and “Trying.” He watched a total of 74 episodes, totaling over 2,600 minutes, logging every Apple product placement.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Does it Really Make Sense for AMC+ to Partner With Amazon Channels?

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    On this week’s podcast we dig into my post from earlier this week about my experience starting a 7-day free trial to the SVOD service AMC+ using Amazon Channels. I did this in order to watch the movie “A Few Good Men” with extended family last weekend.

    While the sign-up process was very easy, the issue is that neither AMC+ nor Amazon has done anything to try converting me from trial to paid subscriber by explaining the service’s content value. In fact, when I tried cancelling the first time, they did the opposite, offering me a new discount if I stayed on for another two months.

    Colin and I explore the bind that small to mid-size SVOD services find themselves in with Amazon Channels and other big platforms. On the one hand, the platforms are huge potential sources of trial subscribers. On the other hand, if the SVOD service has virtually no insight about their trial subscribers, can’t connect with them to directly promote content and the platform itself does nothing to convert subscribers from trial, is there really any long-term value being created for the SVOD service, or is it just churning through viewers?

    These are tricky questions without clear answers. But they have huge implications for SVOD services and the platforms going forward. Learn more now!

    Listen to the podcast (33 minutes, 10 seconds)

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  • AMC+ on Amazon Channels Highlights Challenges of Third-Party SVOD Distribution

    VideoNuze readers know that I’ve long been bullish on Amazon Channels, the program Amazon provides to distribute SVOD services. Amazon offers these services access to its massive audience and comprehensive delivery infrastructure, while retaining a share of the monthly subscription revenue for itself. For SVOD services, Amazon Channels is an attractive and highly tempting way to quickly scale up their subscriber base. For Amazon, it’s yet another way to bolster its presence in the media business, generate high-margin revenue and leverage its reach and tech capabilities.

    But an experience I’ve had over the past few days has highlighted the execution challenges SVOD services encounter when partnering with Amazon Channels and more broadly, the downside of third-party distributor relationships at a time when building direct-to-consumer bonds is more important than ever.

    On the last night of vacation this past Friday with extended family, we decided to watch “A Few Good Men” after dinner. A quick search revealed it was available on AMC+ which itself could be subscribed to either directly or through Amazon Channels. I chose the latter route (why not, Amazon already has my credit card, etc.). With a couple clicks on the Roku TV, I started my 7-day free trial to AMC+ and we were watching the movie. Easy, easy.

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  • If the FTC Challenges Amazon-MGM Deal It is Unlikely to Succeed

    The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the FTC will be the agency to review Amazon’s acquisition of MGM. A review was expected, either by the Justice Department or the FTC. The plot thickener here is that the brand new FTC chair is Lina Khan, a law professor and journalist who was confirmed by the Senate last week in a bipartisan 69-29 vote. Importantly Khan is a critic of Amazon and Big Tech, having written a widely circulated article, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” in 2017.

    The article argues, in a nutshell, that the current approach to antitrust, which is focused on “consumer welfare,” is insufficient to oversee platform-based businesses like Amazon which can use predatory pricing for their overall competitive benefit. Rather, Khan believes that antitrust oversight needs to be driven by gauging the concentration of market structures and competitive process, which she writes is a more traditional approach. Khan shares five factors for how to evaluate the competitive process.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Making Sense of Amazon-MGM

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’a Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    After weeks of rumors, Amazon officially announced its acquisition of MGM for $8.45 billion. On this week’s podcast Colin and I explore what the deal means to Amazon and to its Prime members. Colin sees benefits to Amazon beyond bolstering Prime member retention and acquisition, whereas I think these are the deal’s primary rationale.

    Nearly five years ago, Jeff Bezos articulated the “flywheel” dynamic of Prime - how video contributes to member acquisition, usage and retention (jump to the 37 minute point in the video interview). I’m guessing that Amazon did extensive consumer research on different parts of the MGM massive catalog to understand how filtering them into Prime could move the membership needle.

    While the James Bond franchise has received a lot of attention, the MGM catalog includes 4,000 movies and 17,000 TV show. These, plus the potential spinoffs or as Amazon’s Mike Hopkins put it - “the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine” - give Amazon a huge amount of programming optionality for years into the future. It will be fun to see how Amazon curates all of this programming into Prime.

    Listen to the podcast (26 minutes, 13 seconds)


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  • Streaming Services Emphasize Reach to 18-49 Year Old Viewers

    If you were one of the 14,000 attendees of last week’s NewFronts presentations, a central message that you couldn’t miss was that streaming has become an essential way for advertisers to reach 18-49 year olds. The coveted age group, which has long been the bread and butter for TV networks, is rapidly shifting its video consumption behaviors, and NewFronts presenters wanted ad buyers to know that they can either follow the eyeballs or risk losing access to this huge cohort.

    Presenters expressed the message in different ways, but here are a few that caught my attention:

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  • Streaming is Driving Renewed Interest in Content/Commerce Intersection

    Content being used to drive consumer purchases isn’t a new idea, but streaming is breathing renewed interest, with a variety of different strategies and implementations. A number of interviews and articles illustrating the trend have recently caught my attention.

    Given its commerce, content and technology capabilities, Amazon is primed (pun intended) to be a major player. In an interview at IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting a couple of weeks ago, Amazon Studios’ COO and Co-Head of Television Albert Cheng talked at length about how the company is using its Prime Video app on certain connected devices, along with its “X-ray” feature, to enable seamless viewer transactions. Albert highlighted successes the company has had with Rihanna’s “Savage x Fenty,” Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn’s “Making the Cut” and NFL Thursday Night Football.

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  • Research: 109.1 Million CTV Devices Sold Globally in Q4 ’20

    A record 109.1 million connected TV devices (smart TVs, streaming sticks and boxes, and game consoles) were sold globally in Q4 ’20, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. That was up 9% from the 100.3 million CTV devices sold in Q4, ’19 and up 34% from the 81.5 million sold in Q3 ’20. Amazon led with 12.1% market share for the first time, edging out Samsung, which fell to second with 10.9% share. Following Samsung were Sony (8.2%), Nintendo (7.7%), LG (5.9%) and Roku (5.8%).

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #522: Linear TV Adapts with New Distribution Models

    I’m pleased to present the 522nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. For all our listeners especially in states seeing a spike in Covid, we hope you’re staying safe.

    There were several examples this week of how linear TV is continuing to adapt in the OTT/CTV era which Colin and I discuss. Top on the list is Comcast’s decision to offer the Sling TV app for its Xfinity Flex broadband-only users. Comcast has been adding broadband subscribers and losing video subscribers for a while and the move seems to signal Comcast wants to enhance the competitiveness of Flex, giving cord-cutters an inexpensive option to rejoin the pay-TV world.

    The bar for Flex is getting higher partly due to Fire TV which this week unveiled content discovery integrations with YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV and Sling TV. The integrations make accessing linear TV seamless within one UI, and will drive virtual pay-TV subscriptions within the Fire TV base.

    Listen in to learn more about how linear and “virtual linear” TV are adapting to find viewers!
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  • Free Ad-Based Streaming TV on Connected TVs: Curb Your Enthusiasm

    I’m bullish on ad-based free streaming channels on Connected TVs. eMarketer projected the CTV ad market would grow to $14B in 2023, double the 2019 figure. Why is the Free Ad-based Streaming TV market, or FAST, so hot?

    Because after a decade of flubs by TV OEMs, they’ve finally nailed it. Many licensed Roku. Others, Android TV. Samsung iterated to get steadily better. LG’s Web OS was good from the get-go. And Vizio’s revamped SmartCast gained accolades at CES. This is in addition to the blockbuster success of OTT set-tops like Roku and Fire TV. Another factor? The rapidly maturing live linear streaming tech stack. It is far less glitchy and buffery than a year ago even, and costs are dropping.

    It adds up. Unboxing a TV is a new game. Just connect to Wi-fi and watch hundreds of free channels of news, sports and entertainment within seconds. No roof climbing. No scanning. No input switching. No cable guy.

    And more are coming. The Consumer Technology Association projected 41 million new TVs will be shipped in the US this year. Nielsen says we have 120 million homes. Just spit-balling here, but every three years we’re sending another new TV -- with hundreds of free streaming channels -- to every home in America?

    So why should we curb our enthusiasm?

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  • Lots of Free TV/Video Available, Spanning Short and Long Ends of the Tail

    As stay at home guidelines remain in place, it seems like more and more free TV and video are being made available, spanning the short and long ends of the tail (meaning super-premium through user-generated) - and everything in between. Not only does this create more choices for viewers, which will be welcomed, it also means more competition for subscription video services which were already vulnerable to belt-tightening. And for free TV/video that is ad-supported, it means more inventory and choices for advertisers.

    Here’s what’s caught my eye just in the past week:

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  • “Peak TV” and Why Many Entertainment-Oriented Cable TV Networks Will Morph Into Studios in the Long-Term

    There was nothing surprising when I read last week’s coverage of FX CEO John Landgraf’s tally of original productions in 2019. According to Landgraf, the number of original dramas, comedies and limited series across all SVOD and TV networks in the U.S. reached a new high of 532 (approximately what he previously predicted). That was up from 495 in 2018, 487 in 2017 and just 182 in the pre-SVOD days of 2002.

    This dynamic, which Landgraf has dubbed “Peak TV,” is leading many, if not most, ad-supported entertainment-oriented cable TV networks onto a road to nowhere if their goal is to remain ad-supported entertainment-oriented cable TV networks in the long-term. What is far more likely is that being this type of network will become unviable and so they’ll morph into studios that provide premium original and library content, mostly for bigger platforms (e.g. Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Hulu, etc.) and sometimes for their parent companies’ direct-to-consumer OTT services.

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