Posts for 'MTV'

  • Binge-Viewing Popularity Exposes Tensions Between OTT and VOD, TV Everywhere Priorities

    Binge-viewing is a bona fide phenomenon that's not only changing consumers' TV viewing behaviors, but also creating fissures in the TV industry. Recently, in "For U.S. Cable Operators, Netflix Partnerships Are Fraught With Risk," I outlined how binge-viewing is driving a competitive dynamic over content rights between Netflix and pay-TV operators' VOD and TV Everywhere plans. Adding further detail, this past Friday, Vulture published an excellent article with specific examples of how this battle is brewing.

    According to Vulture, FX and Turner are telling studios from which they obtain TV shows that they need rights to stream the full current season of shows (known as "stacking" rights) not just the most recent 3-5 episodes. Part of the networks' rationale is they need to give late-coming viewers an easy path to watch from the beginning of a season, rather than just enabling existing viewers a way to catch up.

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  • VEVO TV: What's Old is New (and Smart) Again

    Here's the pitch: string together 24 hours a day of curated music videos, hire hip experts to act as on-air hosts, broadcast it all to audiences wherever they can watch, and support it with ads and fees from pay-TV operators. Sound familiar? It should, because that was essentially MTV's business plan in 1981 and it worked brilliantly. And now, in a classic "what's old is new again" play, it's also the plan for VEVO TV, a new network that VEVO announced yesterday.

    But wait, haven't viewers moved on from linear broadcasts to all on-demand behaviors? Yes and no. While on-demand's surging popularity is indisputable, the world isn't monolithic. There are times and situations where a good old curated broadcast stream is actually quite valuable to audiences. That's the bet that VEVO is making with VEVO TV and it seems pretty smart.

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  • 5 News Items of Interest for the Week of Aug 23rd

    Following is the latest update to VideoNuze's new Friday feature, highlighting 5-6 of the most intriguing industry news items from the week that VideoNuze wasn't able to cover.

    Ads skipped by 86% of TV viewers, but TV ads still most memorable

    A new Deloitte survey unsurprisingly finds high rates of ad skipping among DVR users watching time-shifted programs, yet also notes that 52% of respondents say TV advertising is more memorable than any other type (only 2% cited online video advertising). Is there a love-hate relationship with good old TV advertising?

    Endemol USA Plans Kobe Bryant Web Series
    Online video continues attracting celebrities, with the latest being LA Laker star Kobe Bryant, who will be featured in 8 episodes teaching Filipino kids about hoops. The series is being produced and promoted by powerhouse Endemol. More evidence that independent online video is gaining.

    NFL Sunday Ticket To-Go, Without DirecTV
    DirecTV unbundles its popular NFL package, selling online access to non-subscribers for $350. It's not clear there will be many takers at this price point, but it does raise interesting possibilities about unbundled subscribers connecting to their TVs and also how sports will be impacted by online and mobile viewing.

    TiVo Launches Remote with Slide-Out Keyboard
    TiVo is enhancing navigation with a long-awaited keyboard that slides out of its standard-shaped remote control for $90. With TiVo's new Premiere box offering more video choices than ever, quicker navigation is required. As other connected devices hit the market, it will be interesting to see what clever solutions they come up with too.

    MTVN's Greg Clayman Heads to News Corp to Lead iPad Newspaper
    Amid the ongoing shuffle of digital media executives, MTV Networks lost a key leader in Greg Clayman, who's moving to News Corp to head up their new iPad newspaper. Greg's been on VideoSchmooze panels and we've done webinars together; he always brings great insights as well as a terrific sense of humor.
  • "Media and the Money Trail" Webinar on Feb. 16th

    Next Tues, Feb 16th at 10am PT / 1pm ET, Microsoft Enterprise Search (a VideoNuze sponsor) will be presenting a complimentary webinar, "Media and the Money Trail: Connecting with the New Digital Consumer" with Greg Clayman, MTV's EVP of Digital Distribution and Jennifer Kavanagh, Oxygen's VP of Digital & New Media.

    Greg and Jennifer will be sharing a deep-dive look into how their companies are re-thinking their business models, experimenting with new ways to engage their audiences and assessing new technologies. The webinar promises an excellent opportunity for industry professionals to learn from two companies on the leading edge of the digital revolution.

    Register now - It's FREE!

  • MTV Unveils Research on Short-Form Video Advertising

    MTV Networks released some interesting research yesterday on the optimal way to present advertising in short-form online video. Its "Project Inform" looked at how multiple ad presentations from 3 blue chip advertisers performed and were liked by users across 50 million video streams on,,, and The research was conducted in partnership with InsightExpress using Panache's video ad platform.

    The research found that the most effective ad product was a "lower 1/3 product suite" consisting of a 5 second pre-roll combined with a 10 second lower 1/3 semi-transparent Flash overlay that began about 10 seconds after the video itself began. Effectiveness was defined as brand lift, measured by metrics like unaided awareness, aided awareness and purchase intent. The research also measured consumers' likeability of each ad product. This finding provides support for why overlays seem to keep popping up; for example I now see overlays on most of the video clips I watch on YouTube.

    In second place was a conventional 30 second pre-roll which did well on both effectiveness and consumer likeability. That surprises me somewhat because I've believed for a while that 30 seconds is way too long for an ad where the content itself may only be 1-3 minutes in length. Granted it's a subjective judgment, but my personal experience has been that 30 seconds feels like an eternity when I know the content I'm accessing is going to be pretty brief. In fact I've noticed a clear trend toward 15 second pre-rolls accompanying short video clips, which I assumed suggested content providers had thankfully come to a similar conclusion.

    In third place in the MTV research was a "sideloader product suite", which included a 5 second pre-roll with a 10 second custom unit that slides out of the right side of the video window 10 seconds after the video itself began (so it sounds like the lower 1/3 product suite except the overlay is on the right instead of the bottom). I've never seen a unit like this, but to the extent that it may block valuable content in the right side of the window I could see users feeling it was intrusive.

    There's lots of research underway about different ad formats' effectiveness, and the MTV research adds to the industry's collective knowledge about best practices. There's still a ways to go though as industry participants launch and test new types of ad formats in search of the ultimate ad presentation.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

  • Visible Measures $10M Series C Round Caps Solid Q1 of Investments in Broadband Video Sector

    Yesterday's announcement by Visible Measures that it raised a $10M Series C round is further evidence that broadband video companies are still able to attract financing in this brutal economic climate. Here are other video sector investments I've tracked on VideoNuze in Q1 '09:

    Plus 7 others totaling over $80M in the Fall of '08, and no doubt others I've missed.

    Visible Measures founder and CEO Brian Shin and Matt Cutler, VP, Marketing & Analytics explained to me yesterday that key to their financing was having both solid short-term traction in the form of customer acquisitions and a long-term story built around increasing transparency and accountability for the burgeoning broadband video medium. This echoes criteria I continue to hear from other industry CEOs successfully raising money in this environment.

    Since I initially profiled Visible Measures last June, and then followed-up with a post about their deal with MTV Networks last September, the company has continued to build momentum. Brian said that it's now powering video measurement and reporting for many of the largest web properties and dozens of advertisers. Revenue is about evenly split between the two categories.

    Despite its progress, Brian explained the company has maintained a relatively low profile because neither it nor its customers have wanted to publicize their activities. Brian said there are a few competitors but none that he feels are that close to offering what Visible Measures has, and he'd like to keep it that way by being low-key about their wins. Skeptics might say "a publicity-shy early-stage company? Hmm...." but knowing Brian and his team as I do, I know that's been their approach since starting the company.

    Brian added that the new round, led by Northgate Capital, a fund of funds that has also does some direct investing, "presented itself" without Visible Measures out looking for it. But Brian was quick to note that he considers the company extremely fortunate, given that he believes the current environment is even tougher than the post-bubble years in 2001-2003. Northgate is a limited partner in MDV-Mohr Davidow Ventures, one of the company's two original investors, along with General Catalyst. The company has raised a total of $29M to date.

    Visible Measures plans to use the new funds to accelerate product development and grow faster. Brian and Matt made repeated references to the mountain of tracking data the company is sitting on, and that many people are interested in accessing it (which I can believe). The intent is to further productize the data, though no specifics were offered.

    With publishers facing more pressure than ever to monetize effectively, and advertisers' need to understand the ROI of their spending intensifying, Visible Measures is at the intersection of two very strong trends in the fast-growing broadband video industry. It's also a textbook "syndicated video economy" company, which is yet more wind at its back. I've been bullish for a while on the company's prospects and continue to be so.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

  • January '09 VideoNuze Recap - 3 Key Themes

    Following are 3 key themes from VideoNuze in January:

    Broadband video marches to the TV - At CES in early January there were major announcements around connecting broadband to TVs, either directly or through intermediary devices (a recap of all the news is here). All of the major TV manufacturers have put stakes in the ground in this market and we'll be seeing their products released during the year. Technology players like Intel, Broadcom, Adobe, Macrovision, Move Networks, Yahoo and others are also now active in this space. And content aggregators like Netflix and Amazon are also scaling up their efforts.

    Some of you have heard me say that as amazing as the growth in broadband video consumption has been over the last 5 years, what's even more amazing is that virtually all of it has happened outside of the traditional TV viewing environment. Consider if someone had forecasted 5 years ago that there would be this huge surge of video consumption, but by the way, practically none of it will happen on TVs. People would have said the forecaster was crazy. Now think about what will happen once widespread TV-based consumption is realized. The entire video landscape will be affected. Broadband-to-the-TV is a game-changer.

    Broadband video advertising continues to evolve - The single biggest determinant of broadband video's financial success is solidifying the ad-supported model. For all the moves that Netflix, Amazon, iTunes and others have made recently in the paid space, the disproportionate amount of viewership will continue to be free and ad-supported.

    This month brought encouraging research from ABC and Nielsen that online viewers are willing to accept more ads and that recall rates are high. We also saw the kickoff of "the Pool" a new ad consortium spearheaded by VivaKi and including major brands and publishers, which will conduct research around formats and standards. Three more signs of advertising's evolution this month were Panache's deal with MTV (signaling a big video provider's continued maturation of its monetization efforts), a partnership between and EyeWonder (further demonstrating how ecosystem partners are joining up to improve efficiencies for clients and publishers) and Cisco's investment in Digitalsmiths (a long term initiative to deliver context-based advanced advertising across multiple viewing platforms). Lastly, Canoe, the cable industry's recently formed ad consortium continued its progress toward launch.

    (Note all of this and more will be grist for VideoNuze's March 17th all-star panel, "Broadband Video '09: Building the Road to Profitability" Learn more and register here)

    Broadband Inauguration - Lastly, January witnessed the momentous inauguration of President Barack Obama, causing millions of broadband users to (try to) watch online, often at work. What could have been a shining moment for broadband delivery instead turned into a highly inconsistent and often frustrating experience for many.

    In perspective this was not all that surprising. The Internet's capacity has not been built to handle extraordinary peak load. However on normal days, it still does a pretty good job of delivering video smoothly and consistently. As I wrote in my post mortem, hopefully the result of the inauguration snafus will be continued investment in the infrastructure and technologies needed to satisfy growing demand. That's been the hallmark of the Internet, underscored by the fact that 70 million U.S. homes now connect to the 'net via broadband vs. single digit millions just 10 years ago. I remain confident that over time supply will meet demand.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

  • and EyeWonder Partner and EyeWonder, two key players in the broadband video and rich media ad space are announcing a partnership today, meant to further streamline ad sales and monetization for video content providers. The partnership follows on the deal I wrote about last week between Panache and MTV also highlighting these points.

    Particularly given the tough economy, video content providers are focused more than ever on maximizing the value of their inventory with the least possible amount of effort and cost. On the flip side, ad technology companies are trying to figure out how to cover more customer ground more cost-effectively. Inevitably these forces will lead to more partnerships, and likely some industry consolidation. Panache,, Tremor Media and others are among the companies driving the broadband ad market forward. I'll have more news on this front in the coming days.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

  • Canoe and the Broadband Video Challenge

    In 2008, Canoe Ventures, the JV of six large U.S. cable operators, became one of the hottest topics of conversation in the cable, programming and advertising industries. Last week, I was fortunate to get time with Vicki Lins, Canoe's Chief Marketing Officer, to learn more about the company's plans. Though Vicki has been pulling double duty between her role at Comcast Spotlight and Canoe in recent months, she had only just started full time with Canoe, so she readily admitted that she's still getting up-to-speed.

    Ordinarily Canoe's advanced TV advertising mission would be off-center for VideoNuze's strictly broadband video-centric focus. But the reason it's relevant to understand is because I think long-term, the world that Canoe is trying to create on top of cable's digital set-top boxes is on a collision course with the world that broadband video is trying to create. I see both eventually competing for the same viewers, ad dollars and mind-share.

    Canoe is critical to the cable industry because it recognizes that ever-better targeting, interactivity and ROIs are driving ad spending decisions. For 10+ years now, the Internet (and Google in particular) has been resetting marketers' expectations, thereby placing ever-greater pressure on TV ad executives to improve their game.

    Vicki explained that first and foremost, Canoe is a service bureau, helping advertisers, programmers and cable operators wring more value out of their ad inventory. It does not intend to sell any ads itself. Canoe's key is leveraging its access to its cable partners' digital set-top boxes. First up is what's called "Creative Versioning" or zone-based addressability - the ability to break down users into logical segments that get specific ads. Another focus is productizing the viewership data being captured by those set-tops to out-Nielsen Nielsen (while of course respecting users' privacy). A third is trying to enable user interactivity - the ability to get deeper information, zero in on a product feature in an ad, order an item, etc.

    All of this would benefit cable and broadcast networks seeking to more effectively monetize their ad inventory, as well as cable operators which sell a portion of cable networks' ad inventory locally. Clearly these are key constituencies, but as Vicki points out, Canoe must also address ad agencies, brands, cable technologists, local operations teams where Canoe's technology is actually deployed, cable marketers and others who have a stake in this process. It's a pretty long list, and one wonders whether a start-up is able to handle all of this at once.

    But there are two even bigger issues that I see. First, I find myself wondering whether Canoe is even aiming at the right target with these initial plans. Instead, why doesn't Canoe just focus 100% of its energies on monetizing these cable operators' billions of current VOD streams? It's amazing to me that years after VOD's launch, I don't see any ads on Comcast (my cable company) VOD. My kids watch lots of Ben 10, Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, etc on VOD yet never see a single ad for a sugared cereal or wizzy new toy. As a parent this isn't something I'm complaining about, but if I were a Comcast shareholder it would sure have me scratching my head. It seems like such a big missed there something I don't understand here?

    As Denise Denson, MTV's EVP of Content Distribution and Marketing recently told Multichannel News, "We have over a billion VOD orders this year on Comcast alone, but we've made virtually no money in advertising in that space....With the convergence of TV and the Internet, there is a danger that the Internet's interactive content could usurp it. It's unfortunate, but programmers will have to put their content where they can actually monetize it."

    And that brings us back to broadband video's challenge to Canoe. The fact is that broadband is a parallel and fast-growing VOD platform that is generating significant content provider interest because of it offers substantial control of the user experience and relatively robust monetization. As I wrote yesterday, broadband advertising innovation is being adopted by major media companies like MTV. And because broadband ad innovation is diffused over many companies (as is all innovation in the hyper-competitive Internet realm), there are rapid and continuous improvements. Conversely, by concentrating its set-top box ad efforts through just Canoe I think the cable industry is limiting the platform's vast potential.

    Denise Denson hit the nail on the head: resources are finite and programming networks will focus their attention on platforms that offer the best scale and monetization opportunities. With broadband coming to TVs very soon, it will soon be a de facto competitor to cable's digital set-top box delivery. To preserve the value of its video platform, cable needs to shore up its VOD advertising and user experience and not let broadband surpass it. For my money, that seems like the most productive place for Canoe to first focus its attention.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

  • Panache Lands MTV Networks; Ad Insertion Space Evolves

    The video ad insertion and management landscape continues to evolve as Panache is announcing this morning that its platform will be deployed across MTV Networks' sites. I caught up with Steve Robinson, Panache's president yesterday to learn more.

    As Steve explains it, as major media companies have grown their broadband video usage, operationalizing the business has become increasingly complex. This is no surprise and I've heard it from others as well: multiple organizations including technology development, ad operations, ad sales and programming have had to learn to work together to deploy and monetize broadband video offerings.

    This is important stuff, not just because of the potential for missed revenue, but because users can quickly notice when the organization's gears are grinding. How often have you seen the same untargeted ad play repeatedly? Or not seen any ads at all? Or have had a 30 second pre-roll ad in front of short 45 second news clips you're sequentially watching? As the broadband stakes have gotten higher, large media companies have increasingly focused on how to streamline their processes in order to scale and monetize more effectively.

    That's where Panache comes in. In the MTV example, Panache first integrates with MTV's standardized video player. Once integrated, ad operations is able to use the Panache tools to create ad programs and logic, including campaigns, flights, formats, etc. This becomes the playbook for ad sales as it interfaces with customers, and can be readily modified to suit custom requests. A key benefit is that MTV's development organization doesn't need to get involved each time some part of the ad offering is changed. Improving the back-end processes helps ramp up sales, which for major media companies like MTV Networks is handled mostly by internal teams.

    But the need for streamlining broadband video ad operations goes beyond the major media companies though, and there are other offerings with similar capabilities on the market too. For example in the past year Tremor Media has launched Acudeo, and has launched OneSource. Both are technology platforms for video providers that can pull ads from multiple sources (direct sales, ad networks, etc.) with an eye to maximizing fill rates and CPMs.

    One key difference is business model: Panache and don't have ad sales organizations, whereas Tremor, as an ad network, does. For Panache or that means relying on some mix of licensing/platform usage fees and/or receiving a revenue share from customers, whereas for Tremor it means obtaining a chunk of the inventory to sell itself. There are no doubt feature-for-feature differences as well, but not having worked in ad ops myself, some of this is beyond my scope and would require specific due diligence.

    For sure as the broadband video ad business becomes more integral to large and mid-sized content providers we'll continue to see more innovation and business process improvements in this area. Just as TV ad insertion has been refined to a science over the years, so too will broadband video.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

  • September '08 VideoNuze Recap - 3 Key Themes

    Welcome to October. Recapping another busy month, here are 3 key themes from September:

    1. When established video providers use broadband, it must be to create new value

    Broadband simultaneously threatens incumbent video businesses, while also opening up new opportunities. It's crucial that incumbents moving into broadband do so carefully and in ways that create distinct new value. However, in September I wrote several posts highlighting instances where broadband may either be hurting existing video franchises, or adding little new value.

    Despite my admiration for Hulu, in these 2 posts, here and here, I questioned its current advertising implementations and asserted that these policies are hurting parent company NBC's on-air ad business. Worse yet, In "CNN is Undermining Its Own Advertisers with New AC360 Live Webcasts" I found an example where a network is using broadband to directly draw eyeballs away from its own on-air advertising. Lastly in "Palin Interview: ABC News Misses Many Broadband Opportunities" I described how the premier interview of the political season produced little more than an online VOD episode for ABC, leaving lots of new potential value untapped.

    Meanwhile new entrants are innovating furiously, attempting to invade incumbents' turf. Earlier this week in "Presidential Debate Video on is Classic Broadband Disruption," I explained how the Times's debate coverage positions it to steal prime audiences from the networks. And at the beginning of this month in "Taste of Home Forges New Model for Magazine Video," I outlined how a plucky UGC-oriented magazine is using new technology to elbow its way into space dominated by larger incumbents.

    New entrants are using broadband to target incumbents' audiences; these companies need to bring A-game thinking to their broadband initiatives.

    2. Purpose-driven user-generated video is YouTube 2.0

    In September I further advanced a concept I've been developing for some time: that "purpose-driven" user-generated video can generate real business value. I think of these as YouTube 2.0 businesses. Exhibit A was a company called Unigo that's trying to disrupt the college guidebook industry through student-submitted video, photos and comments. While still early, I envision more purpose-driven UGV startups cropping up in the near future.

    Meanwhile, brand marketers are also tapping the UGV phenomenon with ongoing contests. This trend marked a new milestone with Doritos new Super Bowl ad contest, which I explained in "Doritos Ups UGV Ante with $1 Million Price for Top-Rated 2009 Super Bowl Ad." There I also cataloged about 15 brand-sponsored UGV contests I've found in the last year. This is a growing trend and I expect much more to come.

    3. Syndication is all around us

    Just in case you weren't sick of hearing me talk about syndication, I'll make one more mention of it before September closes out. Syndication is the uber-trend of the broadband video market, and several announcements underscored its growing importance.

    For example, in "Google Content Network Has Lots of Potential, Implications" I described how well-positioned Google is in syndication, as it ties AdSense to YouTube with its new Seth MacFarlane "Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy" partnership. The month also marked the first syndication-driven merger, between Anystream and Voxant, a combination that threatens to upend the competitive dynamics in the broadband video platform space. Two other syndication milestones of note were AP's deal with thePlatform to power its 2,000+ private syndication network, and MTV's comprehensive deal with Visible Measure to track and analyze its 350+ sites' video efforts.

    I know I'm a broken record on this, but regardless of what part of the market you're playing in, if you're not developing a syndication plan, you're going to be out of step in the very near future.

    That's it for September, lots more planned in October. Stay tuned.

    What do you think? Post a comment!

  • Key Takeaways from Yesterday's MTV - Visible Measures Deal

    Yesterday brought news that MTV Networks has signed a deal with Visible Measures, a third-party analytics firm, to measure broadband video activity across over 340 of its sites. This is by far the biggest deal that Visible Measures has landed to date. And in the torrent of broadband deals and partnerships that hit my inbox each day, I believe this one is noteworthy for 3 reasons:

    1. More evidence of syndication's growing importance to major media companies

    A number of recent announcements have underscored the broadband market's shift to the "syndicated video economy," but this move by MTV demonstrates how the SVE concept is starting to infiltrate major media companies' thinking. To date many of these companies have taken a somewhat informal approach to syndication, giving users embed code or passing clips on to YouTube for promotion, but not diligently measuring the activity or benefits.

    MTV's deal shows serious intent to measure its syndication activity and use the resulting data to help shape its broadband video efforts. As a leader in broadband video, MTV's Visible Measures deal is certain to prompt other major media companies to up their commitment to syndication as well. This would synch with a comment a CEO of a broadband technology vendor told me yesterday: "...every content company we deal with has now prioritized syndication and they are actively addressing the technical, business and political issues."

    2. Programming business changing to be more data-centric

    You can be sure that when armed with a trove of new Visible Measures-generated data about how its users watch and engage with its video, MTV's programming decisions will be influenced accordingly. As I wrote in my initial post about Visible Measures last June, that's one of the beauties of broadband consumption vs. TV - all user behavior can be tracked and assessed. By knowing - down to the frame - things like when viewers dropped out, what scenes they rewound/viewed repeatedly and what clips they most shared, MTV's programming decisions should become ever smarter.

    Stalwart creatives may decry this research-intensive approach to program development, but in media businesses challenged to reduce costs and increase profitability, anything that helps predict what users will watch (and therefore help drive a higher ROI per program) is invaluable. This is especially true for TV networks trying to rationalize the pilot process. Gauging real-life user reactions to various videos online can only make the pilot process more effective.

    3. Ad model becomes even more important, and more refined

    Though there's wide consensus that advertising will drive the broadband business for the foreseeable future, there is acute anxiety about how advertising will ultimately work (formats, insertion frequency, etc.) and how much revenue it will produce. While there's been plenty of testing to date, there's also been much guesswork involved. MTV for one will now have a bird's-eye view into its users' reactions to various ad implementations so it can continually refine its approach.

    Optimizing the broadband ad model is a key issue for all players in the market. Recently I asserted that Hulu is leaving a lot of money on the table with its current ad approach, and is also pressuring parent company NBC's own ad business. I suggested Hulu could insert more ads, but without hard data, it's impossible to say how much more. Here's another example: all those viral SNL clips of Tina Fey doing Sarah Palin could mean real money for NBC, yet without proper tracking and ad implementations their real value is being underoptimized. The list of examples goes on. More data on video usage can really help the ad model.

    In sum, MTV's deal with Visible Measures is both a positive step in the ongoing maturation of broadband video, syndication and advertising and a harbinger of more deals to come.

    (Note: if you'd like to learn more about MTV's and others' syndication strategies, please join me for a panel I'll be moderating next Tuesday, October 7th at Contentonomics in LA. Joining me are MTV's Greg Clayman, Revision3's Damon Berger, ClipBlast's Gary Baker and EgoTV's Jimmy Hutcheson. Information and registration is here.)

    What do you think? Post a comment.


  • MTV, Discovery, AccuWeather, Others Push Mobile Video With Transpera

    With the recent launch of the iPhone and other smartphones, mobile video delivery is receiving much greater attention. Though still lagging the widespread popularity of broadband-delivered video, mobile video is getting a boost today as MTV, Discovery, AccuWeather, Travel Channel and Next New Networks have all announced new initiatives, to be powered by Transpera, a mobile video services platform.

    Mobile has long been an alluring opportunity, but to date most of the activity has been from wireless carriers or their partners' efforts. These so-called "on deck" video offerings were largely subscription-based (Verizon's VCast, MobiTV, etc.) and available on only a minority of all handsets. The limited, carrier-controlled nature of traditional mobile video has been a key differentiator from the open broadband video world.

    Further, as Greg Clayman, MTV's EVP of Digital Business Development explained to me on Friday, neither the tools for content providers to manage, publish and monetize mobile video nor the network capacity for delivering mobile video have been in place until recently.

    Transpera is one of a number of companies addressing the mobile video opportunity (see also my recent post on upstart Azuki Systems and also another player called Vantrix). I spoke to Transpera's CEO and co-founder Frank Barbieri a few weeks ago, and he noted that given how nascent the mobile video space is, the company is today providing both a full technology platform to content providers and ad sales capabilities. I pointed out that in broadband that integration of technology and ad sales had been tried (most notably by Brightcove), but largely been dropped. Today there is a clear bifurcation in the broadband ecosystem between technology platforms and ad sales networks.

    Frank sees the same thing happening in mobile video (in fact, we agreed that comparisons to broadband's development are useful in thinking about how mobile video delivery will shape up). Transpera's longer-term goal is to be a full-fledged mobile ad sales network, so its management/publishing/delivery platform is more of a means to that end. Frank sees Transpera already providing real monetization value to many of its customers; the company has strong reach into media buyers and agencies and credibility in selling this new medium's benefits (it should be noted however that MTV, for one, continues to retain its mobile video ad inventory to sell itself).

    With its focus on building out a mobile video ad network, my guess is that eventually Transpera will see competition from today's broadband ad networks, who are arguably well-positioned to play in the mobile space as consumption surges.

    For now though, given how early it is in mobile video's evolution, the key is building trial and usage. For many content providers mobile video is brand new and the ROI unproven. Though they've likely maintained so-called WAP sites for mobile browsers, video is a whole new ball game. Driving video consumption and legitimizing the mobile medium - as has happened with broadband - is job #1 for all the players in this exciting new space.

    What do you think? Post a comment now!

  • Great Webinar on Syndicated Video Yesterday

    I participated in a great webinar on the syndicated video economy yesterday, along with Greg Clayman, EVP Digital Distribution and Biz Dev at MTV Networks and Suzanne Johnson, Senior Industry Marketing Manager at Akamai Technologies.

    The three presentations were very complimentary: I laid out the framework of the syndicated video economy, Greg provided tangible examples of how MTV's capitalizing on it, and Suzanne addressed how Akamai is helping enable it. We had a huge audience and lots of great follow-up questions. If you're interested in content syndication, I highly recommend listening in.

    The webinar is available for replay by clicking here

    (Note if you previously registered, you should have an email from "Digitally Speaking" which gives you details of how to access the webinar, so you don't have to re-register)

  • Dispatch from the Syndicated Video Economy's Front Line

    Yesterday I moderated a panel at the NATPE LATV Festival Digital Day entitled, "The Syndicated Video Economy: Expanding Broadband's Reach." The Syndicated Video Economy or SVE, is a concept I introduced back in March, to help articulate the trend toward widespread video distribution online, and the ecosystem of companies facilitating it.

    The session was a unique opportunity to hear from four executives whose companies are very much on the front line of the trend toward syndication. They shared many insights based on their experiences, and I thought it would be worth passing on a synopsis of these today.

    The four panelists were:

    • Greg Clayman, EVP, Digital Distribution and Business Development, MTV Networks
    • John Fitzpatrick, Director of Business Development,
    • Jonathan Leess, President and General Manager, Digital Media Group, CBS Television Stations
    • Brian Shin, Founder and CEO, Visible Measures

    Here are four key takeaways:

    1. Syndication is required to capitalize on the significant fragmentation of online audiences. John summed this up well, suggesting that content creators need to think in terms of their "total potential audience," not just viewers that may come to their web sites. Particularly for established media companies, steeped in traditional destination-oriented, "must-see" mind-sets, this is a crucial point of adaptation to the online world. Jonathan's group gets this, as he reported 60% of its 25 million monthly are already coming from third parties.

    2. Syndication is operationally complex. Jonathan made the point that, for all of syndication's appeal, it poses daunting tactical challenges, particularly with an "always-on" news gathering/dissemination ethos. Challenges he cited include integrating video players with partners' sites, implementing ad management across heterogeneous environments, distributing content correctly and promptly, measuring results and honoring financial obligations. Until the ecosystem of companies enabling the SVE significantly matures, scaling the model will cause ample headaches.

    3. Retaining full control of advertising sales is crucial. While the SVE opens up new audiences, Greg reminded us that nobody is better equipped to sell MTV's inventory - wherever it may be generated - than MTV's own sales team. This is one of the reasons content providers seek to syndicate not just their video, but also their player as well. Jonathan echoed this point from the local perspective. Lack of tight advertising control leads to chaos for media buyers and sub-optimization of pricing. A bonus, as John pointed out, is that distributors will often be happy to just collect their revenue-sharing checks and not have to sell themselves.

    4. Analytics are the ultimate key to fully exploiting the SVE. While traditional web analytics have focused on on-site performance, SVE analytics must encompass video performance over many distribution points. Brian noted that making sense of how a video performs in varying environments - and then adjusting ongoing syndication strategies accordingly - is necessary to optimize viewership across the total audience. Inevitably viewership and engagement will vary by distributor. Collecting, understanding and acting on the data optimizes syndication and monetization.

    Ok, that's a mouthful. Like the panelists I remain optimistic about the SVE's potential, but I'm also clear-eyed about the challenges the SVE raises. I'll continue to track its progress and share findings.

    What do you think? Post a comment now!

    (Note, if you'd like to learn more about the SVE, and also hear from MTV's Greg Clayman, join me on August 6th for a complimentary webinar, hosted by Akamai. Click here to register.)

  • August 6th Akamai Webinar on Syndicated Video Economy

    Please join me on August 6th at 11am PST / 2pm EST for a complimentary webinar, "Profiting from the Syndicated Video Economy." I'll be sharing thoughts about the trends in broadband video syndication which I first introduced in this post back from March 2008.

    Also presenting will be Greg Clayman, Executive Vice President, Digital Distribution and Business Development, MTV Networks, who will explain his company's successful syndication experiences, and Suzanne Johnson, Akamai's, Senior Industry Marketing Manager, who will detail how their offerings are helping facilitate syndication.

    It promises to be a packed agenda, full of best practices and useful data. I hope you can join us!

    Click here to register

  • Holiday Week 2007 News Wrap-up

    Happy New Year and welcome to 2008!

    With many of you taking last week off, a quick review of what you might have missed is in order:

    1. iTunes-Fox download-to-rent movie deal rumors

    The FT (reg. required) reported that Apple and Fox are close to announcing a deal under which Fox movies would be available for download-to-rent on iTunes. This would be a deviation from Apple's policy of download-to-own only. Call me a skeptic, but while some analysts think this deal is a big breakthrough, for me it's more of a ho-hum, for at least the following reasons.

    Download-to-rent offerings have been around for a while (e.g. Movielink, CinemaNow, Amazon Unbox, etc.) and none have been grand slams. Admittedly none have enabled playback on an iPod. Yet, while many think iPod ubiquity is a killer advantage for iTunes rentals I disagree. It's one thing to watch a 30 or maybe a 60 minute TV show, but watching a 2 hour movie on an iPod? That's only appealing for a tiny minority of iPod owners. Further, while the rumored $2.99 or so price point is attractive, download-to-rent movies will come with the same cumbersome business rules (e.g. 24 hour viewing, window limitations, finite device sharing, etc.) that cause significant customer inconvenience. And DVDs, available for rental or purchase still offer superior portability and flexibility to any download model. Movie downloads' time will come, just not yet.

    2. Wal-Mart Folds its Video Download Store

    And speaking of download challenges, Wal-Mart decided to unceremoniously close its video download store less than a year since its launch. While it pointed its finger at its vendor HP, which decided to discontinue support for the technology underlying the Wal-Mart store, there are certainly other white label platform alternatives available if Wal-Mart had conviction about the download store's potential. It clearly didn't and so it folded its tent. More evidence of the challenges facing paid downloads.

    3. YouTube's Top 2007 Videos Announced

    Meanwhile over in YouTube land, the hits keep coming. YouTube released its top 10 list and the year's most popular video, with almost 23 million views, was "Battle at Kruger", which shows the fight to save a baby water buffalo from a group of lions and a crocodile. It's fascinating if you haven't seen it. Other top videos on the list were "Chocolate Rain", "Obama Girl" and "Leave Britney Alone", among others. If nothing else, this diverse group of videos shows that UGC is alive and well.

    4. Queen Elizabeth and Roger Clemens Seek Out YouTube

    And UGC wasn't for pure amateurs either. YouTube's reach was once again recognized as 2 celebrities, Queen Elizabeth and Roger Clemens posted videos serving their individual purposes. In a first for the 81 year-old queen, she posted her popular Christmas message on YouTube, augmenting its traditional broadcast. The Royal Channel - "The Official Channel of the British Monarchy" - also launched on YouTube.

    Clemens, who's been fingered in baseball's steroid controversy, saw fit to post his proclamation of innocence on YouTube. Clemens is adamant in his own defense, and clearly believes that reaching out to fans with video instead of the usual press release is more compelling.

    Trivia question: whose video do you think drew more views?

    Answer: It's not even close: 741,000 for the queen vs. 274,000 for Clemens.

    5. MTV Delivers 1.2 Billion Streams in '07

    MTV self-reported that, and delivered more than 1.2 billion video streams in '07, an increase of 30% vs. '06. It also reported the top 30 music videos it streamed, and number 1 was Gimme More by Britney Spears. Broadband is offering MTV an opportunity to return to its brand roots as the go-to destination for music videos even as more and more of the on-air experience is dominated by non-music video fare. As I wrote a couple months ago, music videos are becoming a sought-after new revenue stream for labels and aggregators. We'll see more emphasis on music videos in '08.

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