Following are 4 items worth noting for the Oct 5th week:
New research shows TV viewing shifting - Mediapost had a good piece this week on Horowitz Associates' new research showing that 2% of all TV programming watched now occurs on non-TV devices. This translates to 2 hours of the 130.2 hours of TV that viewers watch each month shifting. This top line number is a little deceiving though, as the research also shows that for viewers who own a PC or laptop, they watch 9%, or 13 hours of TV programming per month, other than on their TV. I plan to follow up to see if I can get breakout info for young age groups, my guess is that their percentages are even higher.
I've been very interested in these kinds of numbers because there has been much debate about whether making full-length programs available online augments or cannibalizes traditional TV viewing. The broadcast networks have forcefully asserted that it only augments. I agree online augments, but I've suspected for a while that it is also beginning to cannibalize. If networks generated as much revenue per program from an online view as they do from an on-air view this shifting wouldn't matter. But as I wrote in Mediapost myself this week, the problem is they probably only earn 20-25% as much online. TV viewers' shifting usage is a key area to focus on as broadband video viewership continues to grow.
PermissionTV becomes VisibleGains, targets B2B selling - PermissionTV, one of the original media-focused online video publishing and management platforms, officially switched gears this week, changing its name to VisibleGains. Cliff Pollan, CEO and Matt Kaplan, VP of Marketing/Chief Strategy Officer briefed me months ago on their plans and I caught up with them again this week. Their new focus is on enabling companies to provide their prospects with informative videos during the information-gathering phase of the sales process.
Cliff argues persuasively that in the old days the sales rep presented 80% of the information about a product to a prospect; now prospects collect 80% of what they need to know online, and the sales rep then fills in the blanks. Through VisibleGains "ask and respond" branching format, companies better inform their prospects, qualify leads and add personality to their typical text-heavy web sites. It's another great example of how video can be used beyond the media model.
Unicorn Media demo is impressive - Even as PermissionTV changes its focus, Unicorn Media is entering the crowded video platform space. I mentioned Unicorn, which was founded by Bill Rinehart, founding CEO of Limelight, in my 4 items post a couple months. This week I got a demo from CTO AJ McGowan and Chief Strategy Officer David Rice and I was impressed. Key differentiators AJ focused on were an enterprise-style user rights model for accessing the platform, APIs that allow drag-and-drop content feeds, and an "ad proxy" for configuring ad rules.
Most interesting though is Unicorn's real-time data warehouse feature, which provides granular performance data up to the minute. Data can be displayed in a number of ways, but most compelling was what AJ termed the "magic Frisbee," a clever format for showing multiple data points (e.g. streaming time, ad completes, # of plays, etc.) all at once, so that decision-makers can hone in on performance issues. AJ says prospects are responding to this feature in particular as assembling this level of information today often requires multiple staffers and data sources. David reports that Unicorn is finding its biggest opportunity is with large media companies that have built their own in-house video solutions, as opposed to competing with other 3rd party platforms. Unicorn doesn't charge a platform fee, instead it bills by hours viewed. Separately, I have a briefing next week with yet another stealthy platform company; there seems to be no shortage of interest in this space.
Vitamin D shows breakthrough approach to object recognition in video - Speaking of demos, Greg Shirai, VP of Marketing and Rob Haitani, Chief Product Officer from startup Vitamin D showed me their very cool demo this week. Vitamin D is pioneering a completely new approach to recognizing objects in video streams, using "NuPIC", an intelligent computing platform from Numenta, a company founded by Jeff Hawkins, Donna Dubinsky and Dileep George. Some of you will recognize Hawkins and Dubinsky as the founders of Palm and Handspring.
The demo showed how Vitamin D can recognize the presence of moving humans or objects throughout hours of video footage. While the system starts with the assumption that upright humans are tall and thin, it learns over time that their shapes can vary, if for example they are crouching, or carrying a big box, or are partially obscured behind bushes. Once recognized, it's possible to filter for specific actions the humans are taking, such as walking in and out of a door to a room. Vitamin D is first targeting video surveillance in homes or businesses, but as it is further developed, I see very interesting applications for the technology in online video, particularly in sports and advertising. Say you wanted to filter a Yankees game for all of CC Sabathia's strikeouts, or insert a specific hair care ad only when a blond woman was in the last scene. Vitamin D and others are continuing to raise the bar on visual search which is still in its infancy.
At least once a week or so I try to sort through all the research-related press releases I get to see if there was any new information of note. One report that caught my eye was from Horowitz Associates, "Broadband Content and Services 2007." I haven't read the study, but there are some pretty juicy morsels in the release about how pervasive broadband video is becoming.
Below is a graph that summarizes some of the key data.
Look at the top line - a whopping 61% of high speed Internet users watch or download broadband video content at least once per week, up from 46% last year. The number jumps to 86% for users who watch at least once per month. These are very impressive numbers and they speak to how significant broadband video has become and how quickly it has gotten there.
Beyond the top line, one can see that every category of video experienced an increase in usage over the past year. Not surprisingly, news leads the way, with 36% usage, but non-professional online videos are not far behind at 30%. YouTube and the like are obviously showing ongoing appeal, even in the face of all the professional video that's come online recently.
Further down the list, how about the fact that 16% of high speed users are now watching an entire TV episode online at least once per week, double what it was a year ago? TV networks have been aggressively promoting their hit programs online, and these efforts seem to be paying off.
One of the conclusions stated in the press release is that "television is still the preferred platform for traditional TV content." I think that makes sense, but dig a little deeper and consider what happens when broadband-accessed programs can easily be viewed on TVs. I continue to say that viewers don't care how the programming gets into their house, as long as it's high-quality, available on their terms and priced correctly. Once broadband-delivered network programs can be viewed on TVs, everyone who has a stake in the status quo (local TV stations, cable & satellite operators, etc.) is going to be facing a very different landscape. See this post for more on that.
Studies like this that chart the continued adoption of broadband video are well worth following. In the past year I've heard industry executives make sweeping statements like "pay TV isn't going away" or "there will always be a place for the networks." This may be true, but as this study shows, day-after-day, week-after-week, month-after-month broadband is chipping away at how all media businesses operate.
Topics: Horowitz Associates