I’m pleased to present the 482nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
First up this week Colin and I assess the prospects for Apple TV+, now that we know the full details of pricing, promotion, devices and content. I really like how Apple TV+ is being bundled for free for a year for Apple device buyers as an easy on ramp to give the service a try. Colin agrees, but cautions that absent Android support, Apple TV+ remains mainly an effort to bolster the Apple ecosystem, not close to a full competitor to other SVOD services.
Colin then shares key data from TiVo’s latest Video Trends report, which finds the video market’s competition continuing to intensify. Free, ad-supported services like Pluto TV and Tubi are growing strongly, TV networks’ sites are slipping and surprisingly, virtual MVPDs appear to be losing some viewership.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 37 seconds)
Apple finally revealed details of its Apple TV+ SVOD service and by all accounts it looks poised to get off to a fast start when it launches on November 1st. Positives include 9 original shows from A-list talent, low pricing of $4.99 per month, 1 week trial period, ad-free viewing, binge-watching (albeit limited to 3 episodes per show to start), account sharing for 6 family members and downloading.
But the biggest tailwind Apple TV+ will enjoy is that it will be bundled for a free year for buyers of new or Apple-refurbished iPhones, iPads, iPod touches, Apple TVs and Macs who activate Apple TV+ within 3 months of their purchase. That means millions of viewers will become exposed to Apple TV+ at no cost, especially during the all-important holiday season. There is virtually no upfront friction since the Apple TV app is pre-installed on all these devices, including Macs running the latest macOS.
Topics: Apple TV
The Financial Times reported that Apple has committed to spend $6 billion on original TV shows and movies for its upcoming Apple TV+ service, which will launch in November. That’s up from the $1 billion it was reportedly budgeting just 2 years ago. The increase no doubt reflects the hard reality that has set in at Apple about what it’s going to cost to compete, rather than just dip its toe in the SVOD water.
Included in the budget is a $300 million commitment for 20 episodes of “The Morning Show” with Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carrell (working out to $15 million per episode). Bloomberg separately reported the monthly price will be $9.99, above the introductory $6.99 per month Disney+ price but below Netflix’s $12.99 per month price. Though Apple teased a number of its upcoming shows at its big March media event, it didn’t reveal anything on pricing.
Late yesterday Verizon announced that Indianapolis will be the fourth city to get 5G residential service in the second half of 2018. The other 3 initial cities are Houston, Los Angeles and Sacramento. Potentially the biggest news from Verizon yesterday was that it would include both Apple TV and YouTube TV in the initial 5G offering for subscribers in all 4 cities.
It’s not clear from Verizon’s press release exactly what these offers will be or how the terms will work for subscribers. The cheapest Apple TV is currently $149 and YouTube TV runs $40 per month. If the promotion follows others we’ve seen from telcos, Verizon will likely require a minimum commitment to qualify for the Apple TV and will offer some type of monthly discount on YouTube TV. It’s also not clear what the monthly rate will be for 5G service itself.
I’m pleased to present the 387th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Earlier this week Apple introduced Apple TV 4K, but as Colin notes, it’s really a catch-up product, as Roku, for example has had this capability in its top of the line Ultra since last year. More important to Colin is that Apple’s decision to raise the price of the Apple TV 4K to $179 for the 32GB version means its $80 more than the Ultra and $120 more than the Roku Premiere, which also delivers 4K, but not HDR.
All of this has Colin wondering whether Apple’s strategy is really just to target its loyalists with the Apple TV 4K, rather than aggressively seeking market share, as Roku, Amazon and Google have all done with their devices. Widespread adoption has clear advantages as we discuss.
Staying with the connected TV theme, we then transition to other news this week that Comcast has added YouTube to its X1 set-top box as it continues its “aggregator of aggregators” strategy. I’ve given it a spin and share a quick review of how it adds value to the X1 experience.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 20 seconds)
I'm pleased to present the 325th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
It’s been nearly 5 years since the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson was published, in which Jobs said “I finally cracked it,” referencing a next-generation TV he envisioned. But despite incessant rumors since of Apple’s plans to reinvent TV, the reality is more sobering: Apple seems to be completely stymied in video and TV.
Sure, there’s iTunes and there’s a new Apple TV, which appears to be selling reasonably well, and soon an original TV show. But when you consider how Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, YouTube, Comcast, Snapchat and others have innovated and flourished in video and TV over the last 5 years, Apple’s progress seems pretty modest by comparison.
In today’s podcast we explore why Apple seems to have become an also-ran in video. We’re both surprised at this turn of events given Apple’s vast resources, superior design capabilities and omnipresent devices (see more of Colin’s thoughts here). Perhaps the famously secretive Apple has a video surprise just ahead, but from our current vantage point, Apple looks like it will just continue to fade further behind the leaders.
Listen now to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 5 seconds)
I'm pleased to present the 292nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Last month Colin and I discussed on our podcast how the connected TV device market is in flux, and this week’s introduction of the TiVO BOLT and the new Chromecast provided yet more evidence of this (not to mention the new Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV).
Colin and I are both very impressed with the BOLT and its new features (after we use the review units we’ll have more to share). We agree that the new “SkipMode” feature - which allows viewers to skip an entire commercial break for a set of 20 TV networks during primetime - is the biggest news with BOLT.
Beyond BOLT, Google also announced new versions and form-factors for its Chromecast device, which Colin and I have both been big fans since its initial release. Colin reviews Chromecast’s new capabilities, which at $35, makes it an appealing mobile device complement.
Stepping back, both of continue to be struck by how all the innovation in connected TV devices is laying the groundwork for SVOD services (which are making investments in long-form programming) to thrive in the living room.
(Note, we recorded before news broke that Amazon has banned Apple TV and Chromecast from its store, the latest twist in the connected TV device competition.)
Listen in to learn more!
I’m posting this week’s VideoNuze podcast a day early as the first segment focuses on the new Apple TV, which was introduced yesterday.
Colin and I both see the new Apple TV as solid, but not spectacular. In many ways, it’s just catching up to what other devices have been offering: voice search, search across apps and gaming capabilities. The latter could ultimately be Apple TV’s big differentiator if Apple’s legion of developers take advantage of the new “tvOS” operating system SDK to create breakthrough new gaming experiences. We were both intrigued by the new remote with swipe capability, as well.
We then turn our attention to Netflix’s anti-downloading stance, which I dug into yesterday. I find it both perplexing and frustrating, with the company’s explanation not adding up. Colin isn’t initially as convinced as I am that downloading is a killer app, though with a 10-hour flight to Amsterdam today, he’s beginning to realize how much value it would have.
Listen in to learn more!
I'm pleased to present the 288th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week we return to the connected TV category which we both believe remains in flux. Recent research from Parks showed that Roku maintained its market share lead in 2014, with 34% share, followed by Chromecast with 23%. However, as we explain, there are at least a couple of key variables that could shake up the market’s dynamics.
First is that on Sept. 9th Apple will introduce a new Apple TV, which will include a range of new features (though Colin notes 4K appears to be missing). Given Apple’s massive customer base, the new Apple TV will almost certainly gain market share at other devices’ expense.
The second variable is if pay-TV operators prioritize integration of major OTT services into their advanced set-top boxes. This would improve the viewer experience by not requiring a change of inputs to access OTT services and in turn would diminish demand for standalone connected TV devices (this is analogous to how integrated DVRs succeeded). However, as I recently wrote, even though OTT integration is a huge opportunity for pay-TV operators, it’s not yet clear they’re embracing it.
Listen in to learn more!
NBC Sports Live Extra app is now available on both Roku and Apple TV, with the caveat that only authenticated pay-TV viewers will be able to access the app's 3,000 annual live sports streams. The move bolsters TV Everywhere, the pay-TV industry's initiative to enable access to content when, where and how viewers want it.
Last week, I shared new research showing that heavy TV Everywhere users rate pay-TV a much stronger value than lighter users. This is a core TV Everywhere goal - to get viewers watching more TV and feeling better about their expensive monthly subscriptions so they're not tempted to switch to cheaper OTT options. Live sports in particular have been a hugely successful genre in TV Everywhere, as measured by FreeWheel.
Roku has announced that it has sold over 10 million of its players in the U.S. cumulatively since it shipped its first one in 2008. Roku last reported sales of 8 million units in January '14, which means the company has sold approximately 2 million units year-to-date (Roku has previously said it sold around 3 million units for all of 2013).
Roku was an early entrant in what has developed into an intensely competitive connected TV space. Apple, whose Apple TV device was famously referred to as a "hobby" by the company (though no longer) has over 20 million users. Google hasn't released any numbers for Chromecast yet, but undoubtedly its sales are well into the millions also (Google is also launching Android TV). And Amazon launched Fire TV this past spring.
I'm pleased to present the 241st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week Colin and I debate Apple's priorities, as the company has chosen a major push into the smart watch category instead of pursuing smart TVs and more robust connected TV devices.
Earlier this week I wrote how I find it confounding that Apple hasn't been more proactive about staking a claim in the digital living room, even as Roku, TiVo, Google, Amazon and many others have. To me, it's a big missed opportunity for Apple that the company hasn't laid down as big a bet on the digital living room as it now has on watches.
Conversely, Colin thinks Apple has its priorities right. He articulates numerous reasons why the watch play is savvy and why Apple hasn't yet pursued the living room more aggressively. It's a solid debate with no clear right or wrong answers. Listen in and let us know what you think!
Binge-viewing is surely one of the most notable cultural phenomena of the past few years. Barely registering as a concept less than 3 years ago, many recent research reports now cite binge-viewing as having been adopted - if not regularly practiced - by a majority of TV viewers (examples here, here, here, here, here, here).
The shift toward binge-viewing has immense implications for the TV and video industries, touching everything from the creative process to programming/distribution decisions to monetization approaches. Some companies are fully embracing binge-viewing and riding its wave, while others are taking a more cautious approach.
Stepping back though, how exactly did binge-viewing become such a cultural phenomenon? I believe there are at least 5 key contributing factors, with the relationships among them creating a perfect storm of growth.
I'm pleased to present the 224th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This was an unusually busy week with many industry announcements, so today's format is a roundup discussion of four items that seemed most significant to us.
First up is HBO's exclusive new licensing deal with Amazon, which is the latest evidence of the surging value of high-quality content libraries. Second is Apple's reveal that it has sold 20 million Apple TVs to date, making it more than just a "hobby." Next, we turn to Netflix, which reported stellar Q1 results earlier this week. Finally, we look at Comcast's Q1 and Time Warner Cable's Q1 results. Both companies reported healthier video subscriber numbers (though Verizon reported a much smaller quarter for FiOS video subscribers). The question still looms how meaningful cord-cutting is in reality.
(Note, we had major technical issues with Skype this week, so in the last one-third of the podcast I sound like I'm in a fish tank. Apologies in advance.)
It looks like Apple will be the first casualty of the Comcast-TWC deal. Just yesterday Bloomberg reported that Apple was negotiating with TWC for it to become the first pay-TV operator to make its programming accessible in a new, upgraded Apple TV device. Assuming the report is accurate (and who knows, given the spin game TWC was playing to rebuff Charter's bid), it's pretty fair to say that Comcast will have no interest in Apple getting its nose under the TWC tent.
Last Thursday I wrote about how the various connected TV devices are jostling for content deals, creating headaches for content providers and confusion for buyers. Following up that post, yesterday I highlighted holiday deals on Smart TVs which themselves are competing for attention with connected TV devices.
Now, to put a capstone on the discussion, I'm pleased to share a handy infographic that the good folks at Shelby.tv have created, comparing and contrasting 4 of the hottest and most affordable connected TV devices, Apple TV ($99), Chromecast ($35), Roku 3 ($100) and Roku LT ($50). The infographic summarizes key features of each, what content is available (with a nice Venn diagram showing overlaps), capabilities to watch from mobile devices and the web, key drawbacks to each, and which might be most appropriate as a gift this season.
As online video adoption and longer-form viewing have grown, consumers have become increasingly interested in moving the experience to their TVs. This trend has certainly helped to drive interest in connected TV devices (e.g. Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, etc.). But even as these devices have proliferated, TV manufacturers have promoted Smart TVs, which connect to the Internet and generally offer a handful of pre-integrated apps, most prominently Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Pandora and others.
Since connected TV devices are relatively cheap (Chromecast set a new low in 2013 at $35) and are easy to install, no longer must consumers be required to buy a whole new TV simply because they want to stream Netflix, for example. No doubt, this dynamic - combined with the saturation of HDTVs and the adoption of mobile devices for viewing video - all contribute to global TV sales being down in 2013 for the second year in a row, the first time this has ever happened.
This holiday season, connected TV devices are among the hottest items on consumers' wish lists. For content providers eager for a foothold in the "digital living room," surging demand is very good news. The bad news, however, is that due to fragmentation and proprietary approaches among devices, content providers are forced to allocate their scarce resources in a one-by-one development model.
This is highly inefficient for content providers and sharply contrasts with how the web's standards helped to drive massive scale years ago. Beyond the inefficiency for content providers, the resulting fragmentation of content availability undermines the scale required for successful video advertising and also creates confusion among consumers about which device to buy. Unlike the web where you can bring home a computer and get access to ALL content, when you get a device you only get a narrower subsection.
Today I'm pleased to introduce the newest VideoNuze contributor, Jose Alvear, who is a research analyst specializing in the pay-TV and online video industries. Jose has authored research reports on content delivery networks, IPTV, OTT video, cloud-based TV and social TV for leading firms in the industry. Jose is currently working on a book focusing on the disruption of the TV industry.
Survey: Price Sensitivity and Connected TV Devices Cloud Picture for Smart TV Adoption
by Jose Alvear
Researcher IHS released survey results earlier this week suggesting a muted forecast for Smart TVs amid rising consumer price sensitivity and a proliferation of inexpensive connected TV devices. IHS found that 73% of U.S. consumers are not interested in buying a Smart TV in the next 12 months. IHS said that once consumers are educated about Smart TVs and learn more about their features, interest does increase. Overall awareness of Smart TVs is high, at 86%, with 30% expressing purchase intent over the next 12 months.
But how intent translates into actual purchase is always tenuous and in this case, particularly so. That's because IHS also found that price has now vaulted to the top position as a driver for TV purchases, surpassing "screen size," which had been cited by more than 50% of respondents in 2012.
There was an eye-opening data point in VEVO's viewership report for the first half of 2013, published this week: 50% of its U.S. video views now come from mobile, tablet and connected TV devices. In fact, in an interview on Bloomberg in late August (see below), VEVO CEO Rio Caraeff said non-desktop U.S. views are now over 500 million per month, more than half of its approximately 1 billion U.S. monthly views. He also characterized non-desktop as the fastest growing part of VEVO's business.
The 50% non-desktop number is the highest I've seen disclosed by any online video content provider. Over the past year, when I've informally asked content providers about mobile/connected TV views, I've typically heard 25%-30%. By comparison, YouTube (note, VEVO is the largest partner) says on its site that mobile is 25% of its global watch time.