While the main goal of Hulu’s NewFront this morning was of course to excite advertisers to open their checkbooks, the event also marked the unofficial kickoff of the company’s ambitious repositioning from a catchup SVOD hub to an all-encompassing, next-generation, personalized TV service including live linear TV feeds.
At its NewFront, Hulu’s CEO Mike Hopkins confirmed what had been strategically leaked to the WSJ in an article reported Sunday night - that the company intends to launch a skinny bundle of linear broadcast and cable TV networks to augment its on-demand programming, for monthly fee of approximately $40.
At the 2015 Video Ad Summit, we reprised a session from 2014, focused on NewFronts, Upfronts and the Ongoing Battle for Video Ad Budgets, including Jackie Kulesza, EVP, Group Director, Digital Acceleration, Starcom and Adam Shlachter, Chief Investment Officer, Digitas Lbi, with Tim Hanlon from The Verrtere Group moderating.
The session included a deep dive into why the Upfronts are still important to advertisers even as online video advertising spending has soared. Still, Jackie and Adam agreed that advertisers are seeking more flexibility than ever to buy in real-time and optimize their campaigns, which has put huge pressure on the Upfront process.
The session also touched on the important role of data, why price is still a critical issue, how measurement challenges are still holding back true cross-platform audience buying, how advertisers are adapting and much more.
2,400 industry executives and fans packed the Madison Square Garden Theater for YouTube's Brandcast NewFront Wednesday night that was part 10-year birthday celebration, part evangelical commercial about online video/YouTube's ascendance and part pure entertainment spectacle.
The evening began with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki noting that hours watched are up 50% year-over-year and that YouTube now reaches more 18-49 year olds on mobile ALONE, than does any single cable network reach on TV. YouTube daily viewers are up 40% vs. 2014. And in a pitch to how advertisers can succeed on YouTube, Wojcicki said that 4 out of 10 of the top trending videos in 2014 were actually ads, not content.
Hulu held its NewFront on Wednesday, highlighting its growth, which includes approaching 9 million subscribers, up 50% vs. 2014, with 700 million hours of video streamed in Q1 '15, up 83% vs. Q1 '14. Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins said that 61% of Hulu's viewers no longer watch on a computer. 82% of Hulu's audience is in the 18-49 year-old age range, with a median age of 33 years-old.
I have long wondered whether Hulu was going to be the odd man out, sandwiched between Netflix, OTT's 800-pound gorilla, and Amazon, with its unlimited resources. But Hulu is clearly investing heavily in both licensed and original content, and seemingly carving out its place in the OTT landscape.
AOL hosted its NewFronts presentation Tuesday night, with the key highlights including a new strategy dubbed "Content 365" structured around a screen-based content development approach, a new slate of 16 different programs, and a deal to obtain clips from NBCU's entertainment and news programs.
Content 365, the new mantra from AOL, describes an expansion from a NewFronts "season" to a NewFronts "year." AOL's content development strategy is to focus on 3 formats: short/snackable for smartphones, 5-7 minute mid-form "storytelling" for tablets and desktops and longer-form for connected TVs. In all, AOL plans to produce over 3,600 pieces of video in 2015.
The traditional narrative around online/over-the-top video is that it will incent cord-cutting and cord-nevering. But now, in a twist, instead of a looming battle between OTT and pay-TV, it could well be that we're on the brink of a new era of cooperation between the two, which could have profound implications for everyone in the video ecosystem.
Stepping back for a moment, pay-TV operators have always been in the business of improving the delivery of available video and packaging it into bundles. Initially operators distributed broadcast channels and then in the 70's and 80's, with the advent of satellite delivery, operators began bundling "cable" channels as well (e.g. ESPN, MTV, CNN, USA, etc.).
I'm pleased to present the 226th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week we focus on Maker Studios and the broader trend around short-form online video and its appeal to millennials.
The Maker NewFront earlier this week in NYC, which I attended, underscored for me how well the company is differentiating itself from traditional TV. Rather than trying to emulate HBO (as Netflix is doing) or chase Netflix itself (as Microsoft, Yahoo and others pursuing TV projects seem to be doing), Maker is carving its own path, focused on delivering breakthrough short-form content that resonates with millennials.
A key success factor is the creative freedom Maker talent has, allowing authenticity which appeals to millennials. Unvarnished and sometimes wacky, Maker's programming exemplifies how unconstrained the web is for the next generation of talent. Of course a key question is if or how things will change under Disney (whose CEO Bob Iger offered his first public comments on the deal this week).
(Note there's an approximately 5-second dropout in my audio about mid-way through. We're still wrestling with Skype's quality.)
One of the key takeaways so far from this year's NewFronts is that traditional print publishers are doubling down on online video. Last week, four big print publishers - the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time, Inc and Conde Nast each shared ambitious plans (here, here, here and here) to expand upon existing video initiatives.
While the specific plans vary from company to company, the common underlying thread is that online video is a once-in-a-generation game-changer, that could ultimately redefine every aspect of these businesses, including how they will engage their audiences, what their competitive advantages will be and how they will make their money.
I'm pleased to present the 225th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week the NewFronts got underway in NYC while the Cable Show was happening in LA. We discuss some of the highlights from both.
Starting with the NewFronts, per new IAB research, we were both impressed with the rising esteem of online video advertising in the eyes of ad buyers. These are the people being courted at the NewFronts, and they now see TV and video as being essentially at parity importance for major product/service campaigns.
Moreover, 2/3 of respondents see their online video spending increasing in the next 12 months, with 67% citing TV budgets as the top source of funding for online video. All of this is certainly good news for the content providers unveiling new programs at the NewFronts this week.
Colin then discusses his observations from the Cable Show where executives cited concerns about creators being drawn to the YouTube ecosystem instead of traditional TV. Meanwhile these classic distinctions are getting blurrier, as evidenced by last week's integration of Netflix with 3 cable operators. It's not just Netflix though - clearly Hulu has aspirations to be integrated as well, and surely YouTube and others are right behind.
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As the Digital Content NewFronts gear up this week, IAB has released a study of agency and brand buyers, which, among other things, finds that interest in TV and online video advertising is now basically at parity. When asked how they would allocate their ad spending for their most important product/service, respondents' preference was 51% for TV and 49% for video. As shown in the below chart that compares with 58%-42% in 2012.
It's becoming harder and harder to remember the days when YouTube was principally known for its quirky user-generated videos featuring cats on skateboards and the like. The evidence of YouTube's transformation into a legitimate video distribution powerhouse seems to pop up on an almost daily basis. Here are a few of the disparate items that have hit my radar:
I'm pleased to present the 178th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This was NewFronts week, when a slew of content providers presented their slate of programs and initiatives to advertisers. Having attended a couple of the presentations, I was impressed by the turnout, energy and interest, especially since this was only the second year for these types of presentations.
Advertisers have clearly moved online video beyond the experimental stage and are taking a strong interest. Colin and I agree that this is mainly due to viewers' strong adoption of online video viewing. This should only increase as viewers are presented with an exploding array of content choices. We talk more about the role that mobile and apps are playing in all of this too, and why established media needs to be aggressive in this shifting landscape.
Listen in to learn more!
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Looking past the thumping music and flashing lights that pervaded AOL's NewFront presentation yesterday, the big theme from the company's new slate of original productions was far quieter: it wants to be the online home for authentic programming from thoughtful creators.
Going this less mainstream route means AOL isn't trying to out-TV TV - like for example Netflix is trying to do with "House of Cards" and its other new shows (how many times have you heard Netflix executives compare their efforts to HBO's?!). Though it is collaborating with some well-known talent such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow and Hank Azaria, AOL's new programs are mainly built around online and offline personalities who have unique perspectives on the world.
Below is the 19th edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for June 5, 2009.
Daisy was in New York this week for the "NewFronts," a day-long meeting that Digitas sponsored, mainly for independent online video creators and media buyers/agencies. The goals were to educate the market and fuel advertiser interest. Daisy reports that despite the mixed news coming out of the independent video world this year, it was an upbeat gathering.
I provide additional detail on Microsoft's announcement this year of new entertainment-oriented features for XBox 360. The gaming console continues to take on more of a convergence positioning, with new instant-on 1080p video, live streams, Zune integration, etc. With an installed base of 30 million users, Microsoft has a prime opportunity to drive convergence and get a video foothold. The new Xbox 360 features coincide with last week's Hulu Desktop announcement and this week's YouTube XL unveiling.
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