Three-quarters of Amazon Prime members are watching the service’s video offerings, according to new survey data released by IBM Cloud Video. 61% of Prime members surveyed said they signed up for the service for the shopping benefits, but also watch the video, while another 14% said they signed up specifically for the video. Just 7% of members surveyed said they didn’t know about the video offerings, with another 18% saying they were aware, but didn’t watch.
With my focus yesterday on Amazon’s introduction of its Streaming Partners Program and my recognition as a top 10 media writer by LinkedIn, I didn’t have a chance to weigh in on something else significant, which is that Clearleap has been acquired by IBM (terms weren't disclosed). I have covered Clearleap for years and was able to catch up with CEO Braxton Jarratt later in the day to learn more about what drove the deal and what to expect going forward.
Braxton said that Clearleap will be a wholly-owned IBM subsidiary, retaining all of its employees and offices while being integrated into IBM Cloud. Clearleap will continue to provide its cloud-based video/OTT services to customers including HBO, A+E Networks, NFL, BBC America, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and others but it will gain new sales/business development leverage internationally, which is a key company focus. Clearleap’s solutions will be sold by IBM’s Media and Entertainment teams internationally, with incremental Clearleap staff to be hired internationally as well.
I'm pleased to present the 299th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week there was a lot of industry data released that Colin and I covered. To streamline things, on this week’s podcast we highlight and discuss our 5-6 top takeaways. These include rising TV Everywhere usage, the shift in viewing from tablets to smartphones, how SVOD appears to be complementing pay-TV, why younger viewers are more tolerant of lower video quality, and how technology is defeating bots in online video advertising.
Here are links to some of our coverage of this data:
FreeWheel’s Q3 Video Monetization Report Shows Continued Industry Growth
Conviva Survey Shows High Abandonment Rates for Lower Quality Video Experiences
Survey: OTT Usage is Up, But Pay-TV is Still Hugely Popular, Even Among Millennials
Videology - White Ops Study Details Cost of Bots on Video Advertising
12-fold Increase in Mobile Video Volume by 2021, Led by Smartphone
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Perhaps the biggest question weighing on the pay-TV ecosystem these days is whether younger viewers who have acclimated themselves to a strictly SVOD diet will eventually become pay-TV subscribers or whether they’ll remain “cord-nevers.”
The traditional narrative is that as younger viewers settle down, buy a house, make more money and have kids they’ll end up subscribing to pay-TV just like their parents did. With the booming array of inexpensive OTT substitutes, that expectation has become feeling ever more tenuous.
But a new survey of 1,111 U.S. 18+ year-olds by Clearleap seems to suggest the narrative still has legs, with 91.3% of those over 30 years-old saying they either currently or previously subscribed to pay-TV. That’s a big jump from the 73.5% of 18-29 year-olds that said they have subscribed at some point, which means 26.5% of the age cohort are technically “cord-nevers.” 64.4% of 18-29 year-olds say they currently subscribe to pay-TV while the subscription rate for all respondents to pay-TV was 78.9%.
Here's some data that contradicts conventional wisdom: in a new survey from Clearleap, 67% of pay-TV subscribers said sports are not the reason they maintain a subscription, citing viewership of programs on other TV networks instead. Even sports fans didn't express a lot of enthusiasm for sports as justifying the multichannel bundle, with almost half citing other programs they watch as requiring a subscription.
There has always been a strong industry consensus that live sports were the firewall for pay-TV's multichannel bundle. Even as entertainment programming has proliferated in OTT services and elsewhere, the only place to get marquee sports programming was on pay-TV. Therefore, the reasoning went, sports were the "glue" keeping subscribers on board.
Clearleap, which powers multiscreen distribution for many TV networks and pay-TV providers, has announced another big new customer, A+E Networks. Under the deal, Clearleap will enable on-demand access to A+E's portfolio of cable TV network brands across multiple devices.
Until relatively recently, the primary distribution model for cable TV networks was pretty straightforward - virtually all linear and all through their pay-TV partners. But now, with the explosion of both on-demand and digital opportunities, the complexity of managing distribution and business models has soared.
Clearleap has announced a cloud-based multiscreen sports solution to support live-streamed games, near real-time highlights/clips and personalized playlists. Clearleap's Sports and Live TV Solution targets sports-oriented TV networks which recognize that today's fans demand always-on access across their multiple devices.
The new Clearleap solution enables networks to ingest, process and deliver live and on-demand sports streams, supported by a network operations center aiming to provide 99.999% uptime. Obviously when it comes to live sports any hiccup in a live-stream that could risk missing the big play would be catastrophic. Clearleap provides a dashboard to manage and monitor real-time analytics of video delivery.
Over the last several years, the TV landscape has changed at an almost frenetic pace. Everything from the shows we watch to the devices we watch them on looks different than it did just a decade ago. More and more of us own TVs that facilitate choosing from an unprecedented amount of content that we can watch on our terms. In fact, a recent study revealed that the number of American households with Internet-enabled TVs has doubled in just the past four years, from 24 percent to 49 percent.
Connected TVs, however, are just one of a deluge of new products and services that are quickly shaping consumer behavior and bringing about massive change. So much in fact, that the TV viewer of the future will look very different than she does today. She’ll be savvier and more discerning than her contemporary counterpart… and she’ll need to be, in order to navigate the labyrinth of options available to her. Read on for four predictions on what she’ll look like.
Clearleap, a multiscreen platform provider for pay-TV operators and content owners, has hired Joe Oesterling as its first Chief Operating Officer. Oesterling comes to the company from managed service provider Cbeyond, where he was EVP of Technology and Operations and spent 14 years helping build the company from startup phase to $500 million in annual revenues.
I'm pleased to present the 204th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
We start off this week discussing the latest Hulu rumor, that it is seeking a closer alignment with pay-TV operators for Hulu Plus. Colin and I both like the possibilities here, though we recognize numerous obstacles. From a user experience standpoint, the idea of finding all of a TV show's episodes in one place - from pilot to last night's -resonates with me and would be a huge step forward from today's silo'd worlds of SVOD/OTT and VOD/TV Everywhere.
Colin points out too that Hulu's owners are already key programming suppliers to pay-TV operators, giving Hulu a better shot at partnering than, say Netflix, has. Last but hardly least, Hulu's new CEO Mike Hopkins most recently ran distribution for Fox Networks, so his expertise is perfect for figuring out how to get Hulu Plus carriage with pay-TV operators.
We then shift to discussing the launch today, of Amazon Studios' first original, "Alpha House" starring John Goodman. While we're uncertain about its critical reception, we do believe that, given originals' strategic role supporting Prime, it's the first step of an aggressive agenda. Amazon is cleverly combining data, wisdom of the crowds and traditional TV skills to select which originals to pursue.
Listen in the learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 42 seconds)
Clearleap has raised a new round of $20 million led by Susquehanna Growth to help accelerate TV Everywhere deployments by content providers and pay-TV operators both domestically and internationally. With the new financing, Clearleap has raised $36 million to date. Clearleap plans to hire 150 employees over the next 18 months.
Video-on-demand and pay-per-view provider iN DEMAND has chosen software platform Clearleap to help it move to an all IP terrestrial distribution network for multi-screen delivery. Under the deal, Clearleap will handle 4,000 hours of HD and SD movies per month that iN DEMAND distributes to its cable operator affiliates for their transactional, subscription and free VOD offerings.
Clearleap's CEO Braxton Jarratt told me that iN DEMAND will be able to now limit its use of satellite delivery mainly for live events. Clearleap's management platform is layered on top of iN DEMAND's IP infrastructure, giving the company a single user interface to manage all of its content for quick delivery in multiple formats to cable operators. This is critical to support VOD viewing by subscribers on TVs and other connected devices.
Yesterday's Multichannel News described a deal between MaxPreps.com and Comcast that shows how well broadband video and video-on-demand fit together, a notion I suggested earlier this year. In the deal, MaxPreps, a provider of high-school sports content (which is owned by CBS), is producing video content in the Houston market for exclusive distribution on Comcast's VOD system. The deal gives Comcast a local sports differentiator vs. satellite and telco competitors, while for MaxPreps it gives valuable access to TV viewers.
Gluing the parties together is Clearleap, a technology provider I last wrote about here. As Braxton Jarratt, Clearleap's CEO explained to me, MaxPreps uses a team of freelance videographers to shoot and edit the video. They're given access to dedicated Clearleap accounts so that they can upload the video for a local MaxPreps content manager to review their work.
The content manager uses Clearleap to make edits, set the release schedule, create playlists if desired, and approve the final package. Clearleap then transcodes the video to the appropriate format and pushes it to Comcast for general availability. Braxton said an hour-long football game could be live within 15 minutes for VOD viewing and that the deal was operationalized in just a few weeks, with very limited capex. In effect the process helps turn VOD into a dynamically programmed content outlet much the way we think of the web.
For those accustomed to working solely online, constant, near real time content updates are routine. But for anyone who has worked with VOD systems, which are characterized by long lead times to get content ingested, prepared and made live, this workflow is a breakthrough. In fact, the MaxPreps-Comcast deal and workflow provides a possible glimpse into how a hybrid broadband-VOD model could work in the future and again why incumbent video providers who already have a set-top box sitting in the living room enjoy certain advantages.
As I illustrated in last week's post about Comcast's results over the last 3 years, incumbent video providers are in a steel cage match for subscribers, particularly higher-spending ones who value digital options. Yet it has become exceptionally difficult to differentiate through exclusive content, as most channels now seek as wide distribution as they can get.
For cable companies, whose roots are in their local communities, local sports VOD content could be a meaningful point of difference. And sports are just a starting point. One can imagine local entertainment, events, and localized versions of national programs all created/managed via the web, but viewed by consumers on VOD. The key is having the technical ability to cost-effectively collect and manage the video, and then insert it into the VOD system.
If the MaxPreps-Comcast deal in Houston scales to additional territories, and Comcast rolls out additional VOD content, I expect other video providers will adopt a similar model.
What do you think? Post a comment now.
I'm back in the saddle after an amazing 10 day trip to Israel with my family. On the assumption that I wasn't the only one who's been out of the office around the recent July 4th holiday, I've collected a batch of industry news links below so you can quickly get caught up (caveat, I'm sure I've missed some). Daily publication of VideoNuze begins again today.