Posts for 'Comcast'

  • [VIDEO] Why DE&I is Integral to Connected TV Advertising’s Future

    The following video was recorded at VideoNuze's Connected TV Advertising Brand Suitability Summit virtual on November 16, 2021.

    Why DE&I is Integral to Connected TV Advertising’s Future
    Connected TV is rapidly becoming one of the most important brand and business building channels for advertisers of all sizes. Amid its explosive growth, advertisers and agencies are increasingly realizing that connected TV also represents an enormous opportunity to reflect and advance society’s diversity and its evolving values. Learn why DE&I is integral to connected TV advertising’s future and the leadership initiatives being pursued.

    - Karina Dobarro - EVP, Managing Partner, Horizon Media
    - Pooja Midha - Chief Growth Officer, Comcast Advertising
    - Danielle DeLauro - EVP, VAB (moderator)

    Watch the session video now!

  • Inside the Stream Podcast: For Comcast and Peacock, It’s Time to Go Big or Go Home

    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 Comcast’s Q3 ’21 earnings call, management was vague about how Peacock is performing. In Corporate America, not highlighting numbers is typically a sign that things are not going as well as hoped and/or the numbers are not as impressive, comparably speaking, as those of competitors. A round of speculation about Peacock’s performance and what might happen next has ensued.

    On this week’s podcast, Colin and I try to explain what we think is happening. The hard truth for Peacock is that it came to market very late and that it is competing against well-funded and highly aggressive competitors which are spending heavily on originals and on promotions - a commitment that Comcast/NBCUniversal have not publicly committed to match. Another issue - at least relative to Paramount+/Showtime, which gained 4.3 million subscribers in Q3 - is that Peacock doesn’t include NBC’s linear feed, and also doesn’t specialize in mature content, which has a strong draw. These two benefits (and “Star Trek”) have no doubt helped Paramount+/Showtime. Yet another issue is that popular NBC programming continues to be available in Hulu.

    All of these factors, and others, are limiting Peacock’s appeal. As if that wasn’t enough, Comcast has mixed incentives related to Hulu, because it still has a 30% stake that is getting more valuable by the day, as Netflix stock hits new highs. Comcast is financially disincented from harming Hulu by pulling programming to help Peacock (all of this would have been moot if only Comcast had acquired Hulu when it had the chance back in 2018). Comcast has missed out on billions in additional revenue and value creation.

    In short, Comcast/NBCU are now facing a dilemma with Peacock that can be boiled down to: Go Big or Go Home. Either commit to spending what's required to compete effectively (either at the AVOD or SVOD level), or recognize Peacock is going to keep treading water and will likely never break out. It’s a tough decision, but it reflects the penalty late entrants face, especially when squaring off against competitors like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, HBO Max, etc.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: What’s Really Behind the YouTube TV - NBCUniversal Dispute?

    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.

    YouTube TV and NBCUniversal have become embroiled in a highly public dispute about the details of their distribution agreement. On today’s episode, Colin and Will discuss what’s really behind the dispute and the larger industry shifts that impacting the negotiation.

    It is a very complicated situation as each company is trying to hold on to certain industry conventions (such as most favored nation pricing), while also broadening into new areas (such as including Peacock Premium, a streaming service, with underlying YouTube TV subscriptions). Each company also comes to the table with a host of business imperatives, with many driven by Wall Street’s expectations and the overall streaming market’s evolution.

    Colin and I try to break things down. As I mention, one significant factor weighing on my assessment of things is Comcast’s gigantic missed opportunity when it decided not to acquire the 70% of Hulu it didn’t already own, back in 2018 when Comcast and Disney were battling over control of Fox (see "Why Comcast Should Take Control of Hulu" from May, 2018). Comcast had a one-time opportunity to vastly expand its footprint in streaming and CTV advertising and likely to position a combined Hulu-Peacock entity for eventual spin-off (see "Quick Math Shows Comcast Missed Out on Almost $6 Billion in Annual Revenue by Not Buying the Rest of Hulu" from January, 2020).

    Instead Comcast passed and became a passive owner in Hulu. Comcast will eventually realize a nice return on this stake, but Comcast needs strategic assets for the streaming era far more than it needs additional cash.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Will SkyShowtime Shake Up the European TV Market?

    (Reminder - if you are a listener of The VideoNuze Report podcast, please update your feed per below to the new Inside the Stream feeds which have been available for a couple of months....we don't want to lose you as a listener as we complete this transition!)

    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.

    Earlier this week ViacomCBS and Comcast announced a partnership to launch “SkyShowtime,” a new SVOD service launching in 2022 in over 20 European territories with over 90 million homes. On today’s podcast Colin and I discuss why the companies chose to partner, especially since they have incumbent services in Peacock and Paramount+, rather than go it alone.

    As Colin explains, the key here is content - both quality and quantity. The minimum size and selection of content required to be competitive in SVOD, especially in Europe, just keeps getting bigger. Colin brings his insights about the European market to our discussion. Importantly, he discusses the critical role that the big local broadcasters play as well as the “30% rule” for locally-produced content.

    Another topic we explore is how this partnership signals a further evolution for Comcast from a primarily U.S.-focused company to one where a full global presence may be in the cards longer-term. Another intriguing question Colin raises is why, given the relatively unknown “Showtime” brand in Europe, it was incorporated into the service’s name.

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  • Did Comcast Just Put the Final Nail in Xfinity TV’s Coffin?

    Last Thursday, when I received an email from Comcast PR with a release attached, announcing that Hulu + Live TV would now be available for Comcast’s broadband and Flex users, I did a double-take.

    Of course, it is no secret that Comcast has long emphasized its broadband business over its traditional pay-TV business. Between a benign competitive environment and most recently the Covid catalyst, Comcast had soared to 28.8 million residential broadband subscribers at the end of Q1 ’21, up another 448K, while residential video subscribers fell by 404K to 18.6 million. The 10.2 million difference is the largest yet. It reflects macro-changes around cord-cutting and cord-nevering that have swept through the industry unabated and the rise of streaming and CTV.

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  • Comcast: Over 50% of Flex Viewing is on Free, Ad-Supported Apps

    Over 50% of the viewing on Comcast’s Flex streaming TV device is free, ad-supported, according to an update Comcast shared this morning. Comcast didn’t identify viewing shares by specific services, but said four services - Peacock, Xumo, Pluto and Tubi - were “routinely among the most viewed apps on the platform.”

    Comcast offers the Flex box for no extra charge to its 31 million Xfinity broadband users and said it had over three million Flex boxes deployed as of March. Flex users also get free access to Peacock Premium, the $4.99 per month ad-supported tier that includes all Peacock content, including all seasons of “The Office” which is Peacock’s most valuable content and gets significant promotion in the app. Comcast also noted its “content forward design that puts free programming front and center.”

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #546: Comcast Has Nearly 10 Million More Broadband Subscribers Than Video Subscribers

    Welcome to the 546th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Comcast reported its Q4 and full year 2020 this week and as usual, the divergence between residential video and broadband subscribers was stark. Remarkably, Comcast now has nearly 10 million more residential broadband subscribers (28.3 million) than residential video subscribers (18.9 million). The pandemic furthered the divergence, with 1.9 million broadband subscribers added in 2020 (up 47% vs. 2019) while video subscribers declined by 1.3 million (nearly double the 671K lost in 2019).

    Broadband has been Comcast’s core strategy for a while now, and we discuss how Peacock is one of the beneficiaries. Peacock now has 33 million sign-ups and is well ahead of plan. Peacock has also made some strong content moves with “The Office,” “Modern Family,” the WWE Network and some sports coming over from NBCSN which is being closed down.

    Listen in to learn more!

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  • Report: Disney Curtailed Hulu’s International Expansion on Valuation Concerns

    Bloomberg reported Friday that Disney has curtailed Hulu’s international expansion because Disney does not want to significantly increase Hulu’s valuation which would trigger a higher eventual payout to minority owner Comcast. Hulu’s valuation in early 2024 will set the payout Disney owes Comcast for its one-third share in Hulu under a deal struck in May, 2019. Comcast’s Hulu stake is worth at least $5.8 billion under the deal.

    Bloomberg said that Hulu’s late 2019 proposal to Disney to expand internationally was initially supported, but then in August 2020 Disney switched gears and decided to embrace Star as the international brand for its non-U.S. entertainment service. Disney acquired Star, the India media company, as part of its $71 billion Fox deal. Bloomberg also cited Disney’s concerns about extending Hulu’s losses, Covid’s negative impact on Disney’s various businesses, and its commitment of resources to Disney+’s international expansion as other reasons it decided not to support Hulu’s international expansion.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #525: Comcast Focuses On Broadband

    I’m pleased to present the 525th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. As always we wish our listeners all the best and hope everyone is staying well.

    This week Colin and I discuss Comcast’s Q2 ’20 earnings, which underscored how critical broadband is becoming to the company, with video further receding. Comcast has stated its broadband focus for a while now, but the pandemic is accelerating the impact on the company’s financials. In Q2 broadband subscriber gains were at a record high, as cord-cutting took a toll on video subscribers and NBCUniversal. The percentage of subscribers to a single Comcast service (broadband) are up significantly.

    Comcast’s broadband focus means that both Peacock and Flex, its streaming media player, are critical pieces for leveraging broadband subscribers into OTT services, advertising and devices. This is prompting Comcast to offer 3rd party video services, like Sling TV, for the first time. Comcast’s transformation is part of larger changes in the industry toward OTT and CTV that every company is now pursuing.

    (Separate, Colin also describes an interesting webinar series he’ll be hosting starting August 10th, “The Psychology of the Subscriber” which will probe the consumer’s decision-making process when signing up for SVOD services. Registration is free.)

    Listen in to learn more!
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  • Peacock Gets 10 Million Sign-ups; Broadband Shines for Comcast

    NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock signed up 10 million users since launching for Comcast’s subscribers in April and nationally in July, Comcast announced today in its Q2 earnings release. On its earnings call Comcast noted that the 10 million figure represents sign-ups, not monthly active accounts or users, and that it was still too early to report on these latter metrics which are critical for ad-supported businesses. However, Comcast said use and engagement times were running ahead of expectations so far. CEO Brian Roberts said “Peacock exceeded our high expectations.”

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #523: Peacock Impressions

    I’m pleased to present the 523rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. As always we wish our listeners all the best and hope everyone is staying well.

    Peacock launched nationally this week and Colin and I are both impressed. The user experience and value proposition to advertisers are both strong. As more library and original content is added, it’s only going to get better. However, Peacock’s distribution is currently limited without deals with Amazon Fire TV and Roku, which is why Comcast’s own Flex device is critical. Peacock is also entering a highly competitive SVOD/AVOD market; it is poised to play a lot of different roles for NBCU and Comcast.

    Listen in to learn more!
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  • Peacock is Poised to Play Many Roles for NBCU and Comcast

    Peacock launched broadly yesterday, though as a Comcast Xfinity broadband subscriber, I’ve had access to it for several months using my Flex device. I’ve spent a bunch of time with it and have been quite impressed. That the Peacock team put it together during the pandemic is quite a feat.

    Some of the highlights to me are the very strong UI, the comfort food of popular programs like ’30 Rock,” “Parks and Rec,” “SNL,” and others, plus plenty of movies, the modest ad load of 5 minutes max per hour and the “Channels” which are about 30 virtual linear networks sorted into a traditional program grid.

    As I’ve spent time with Peacock and followed the pre-launch coverage it’s become apparent how many different roles Peacock is poised to play for NBCU and its parent Comcast. Here’s a quick rundown:

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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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  • Comcast: TV Viewing Up As Daily Patterns Blur During Pandemic

    Comcast shared a few data points that echoed other recent research, revealing that TV and streaming are up during the pandemic, and also that daily viewing patterns are blurring. Comcast said that since early March, daily viewership is up over 8 hours per week per household, or 14%, from approximately 57 hours per week per household to 66 hours per week per household.

    Distribution of viewership has also changed. Comcast noted that whereas weekends are typically more popular days to watch TV, viewing has shifted to weekdays. In the past couple of weeks Monday viewing has surpassed Saturday viewing.

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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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  • Comcast’s Broadband Network Supports Usage Spikes

    Yesterday Comcast shared select network data on how significant changes in consumer behavior have been due to virus-driven stay at home guidelines. Comcast said that since March 1st, peak traffic is up 32% overall, and 60% in some geographies. Peak or “primetime” for downstream traffic has shifted from 9pm to 7pm-8pm and peak time for upstream traffic has changed from 9pm to between 8am-6pm (no doubt reflecting the widespread use of two-way videoconferencing apps, which Comcast said is up 212%).

    Comcast noted spikes in specific types of video viewing: streaming (up 38%), VOD (up 25%) and gaming downloads (up 50%). Even linear TV appears to be increasing (up 6% or 4 hours per week, to 64 hours per week). No doubt reflecting our stationary lives, Comcast said that LTE mobile data usage was down 10% while WiFi mobile data usage was up 24% since March 1st. Comcast said that its network is “performing well” and that it is running over 700K speed tests most days.

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  • Quick Math Shows Comcast Missed Out On Almost $6 Billion in Revenue By Not Buying the Rest of Hulu

    Now that NBCU has revealed its launch plan, pricing and forecast for the Peacock streaming service, some quick math shows how much Comcast missed out on by not buying out Disney’s stake in Hulu. VideoNuze readers will recall this is what I proposed back in May 2018 (“Why Comcast Should Take Control of Hulu”) when Comcast and Disney battled to take over Fox. With Disney and Comcast each owning around 30% of Hulu at the time, as well as Fox owning around 30% and AT&T 10%, it was clear that whoever ultimately bought Fox would assume majority ownership of Hulu.

    At the time I articulated all the reasons why, as part of any deal Comcast might make to step away from Fox, it should negotiate to take control of Hulu. Instead Comcast prioritized Sky (which it ultimately bought for $39 billion) and made a subsequent deal with Disney to sell off its Hulu stake. Disney also acquired AT&T’s approximately 10% stake in Hulu, making it Hulu’s 100% owner. Taken together, the moves make Disney CEO Bob Iger look like a genius, even if Disney was overcoming a late entry into the streaming party.

    Comcast could have likely acquired the 70% or so of Hulu it didn’t own for around $13-15 billion, based on the $5.8 billion Disney ended up paying Comcast for its 30% share (Comcast also has an upside based on Hulu’s valuation  in 2024) Comcast could have done this in reverse. All of this is assuming Disney would have sold its share to Comcast. My hunch is there was a deal to be had if Comcast had said it wouldn’t bid up Fox’s valuation, in turn saving Disney billions of dollars. All in all, it would have been a very modest deal for a company Comcast’s size.

    I think all of my original reasons why Comcast should have acquired Hulu still stand up pretty well a year and a half later. But now some quick math also reveals that acquiring could have generated nearly $6 billion/year for Comcast and NBCU and the springboard it could have become for Peacock, before even factoring in cost savings. I suppose it is worth keeping in mind that had the deal gone the other way, Comcast wouldn’t have received the $5.8 billion for its share in Hulu, but then again Comcast didn’t need the cash, so does that really matter?

    In my view there are 5 key things to understand, 3 that relate to subscription revenue and 2 that relate to advertising revenue.

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  • Getting Ready for This Afternoon’s Peacock Investor Day

    This afternoon at 4pm ET, Comcast will host an Investor Meeting to share details about NBCUniversal’s upcoming Peacock streaming service. It is a session comparable to what Disney and Apple did last year for Disney+ and Apple TV+ respectively (and what AT&T/WarnerMedia will do for HBO Max). So we all get to learn all the official information about Peacock: pricing, availability, content, overall strategy/fit with existing businesses, marketing, etc.

    Following the format of other investor days, we will hear from senior NBCU and Peacock executives, and likely someone from Comcast. Matt Strauss, an old friend of mine, who was moved over from Comcast to become Chairman of Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises late last year, will no doubt be the maestro of this afternoon’s session.  All the dribs and drabs of information that have been shared by the company previously will be reconciled with all of the rumors and speculation that have gurgled up from around the web.

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  • Should Comcast Make NBCU’s Free, Ad-Supported Peacock Service Accessible to Everyone?

    Last Friday afternoon CNBC reported that NBCUniversal is “leaning toward” making the free, ad-supported version of Peacock, its upcoming streaming service, free, with everyone getting unrestricted access. This would be a change from restricting it to Comcast’s cable and broadband subscribers only, as originally intended. The ad-free version would still carry a fee.

    Which direction Comcast decides to go will say a lot about whether it sees Peacock’s primary role as helping Comcast grow and defend its core cable/broadband business, or having NBCU become a bona fide competitor in the “streaming wars” developing with Netflix, Amazon, Disney, WarnerMedia, Apple, etc. How should Peacock’s value be optimized - by restricting access to serve the Comcast’s cable/broadband business, or to be guided by the market and help NBCU build Peacock into a large OTT business?

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  • Comcast Wisely Reduces Xfinity Flex Price to Zero

    Yesterday Comcast made a smart move by converting its Xfinity Flex service to free for its broadband-only subscribers, eliminating the $5 per month charge that was in place since its launch this past March.

    Colin and I discussed Flex on our podcast back then, and while we both liked its overall value, we found the $5 per month fee to be a head-scratcher. Paying the equivalent of $60 per year for a streaming device with 10K mostly older content titles seemed limiting as other companies were competing aggressively on price and streaming sticks could easily be bought for $30 or less.

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