4C - leaderboard - 4-25-18

Analysis for 'News Corp.'

  • News Corp. Launches Vertical Video Ads on Mobile With Unruly and Moat

    News Corp. announced this morning at Cannes Lions the availability of a new viewable vertical video ad for mobile devices that can be bought initially on The Sun and The New York Post. The ad is an outstream format against vertical video content, plays only when in view and can be scrolled past. The ad appears with audio off, which viewers can toggle on. Viewability is measured by Moat per MRC standards.

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  • News Corp's Head of Video Explains How Video Has Transformed the WSJ [AD SUMMIT VIDEO]

    At the recent Video Ad Summit, I sat down with Rahul Chopra, News Corp's SVP/global head of video and Chief Revenue Officer of Storyful, which was recently acquired. Rahul has been a key executive behind the Wall Street Journal's highly successful online video strategy and implementation.

    As Rahul explains, the Journal is now producing 150 hours of video per month, delivering 50 million streams across 35 different platforms. Content is created from every one of its international bureaus, which is released and promoted on a 24-hour cycle to match audience interests.

    From an ad sales perspective, Rahul details how video is now part of a holistic go-to-market approach which advertisers are responding to. Inventory has been sold out for a long time and CPM are still rising and are very strong (Rahul would only share the numbers with me privately, but they are eye-popping).

    watch the video

     
  • Free, Short-Form Mobile Video News is Becoming a Hot Area for Established Media Companies

    Free, short-form mobile video news is becoming a hot area of focus for established media companies. The latest evidence is this morning's announcement by NBCUniversal News Group of a minority investment in NowThis News as part of a broader content development collaboration involving all of NBC's news brands.

    The investment follows the December acquisition of leading short-form mobile video news creator Newsy by E.W. Scripps for $35 million. That deal followed the launch by the New York Times, in late November, of the "New York Times Minute," a 3 times per day 1 minute video compilation of 3 top news stories of the moment which itself came on top of many other new video offerings from the Times. Meanwhile, in late December News Corp. acquired Storyful for $25 million to accelerate the use of short user-generated video in its and others' reporting.

    And all of these follow numerous clip-oriented video news initiatives by a wide range of established and earlier-stage news organizations across both general and vertical subject areas (e.g. sports, entertainment, travel, etc.).

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  • "TV Is An App" - News Corp.'s Chief Digital Officer Jon Miller [VIDEO]

    Interviewed by the NY Times' Amy Chozick at last week's VideoNuze Online Video Advertising Summit, News Corp.'s Chief Digital Officer Jon Miller summed up his view of the future of TV by saying that "TV is an app." Jon believes that watching programs will become "screen agnostic" with consumers expecting consistency in experience and choices.

    That said, Jon doesn't anticipate a proliferation of successful TV apps at the scale of what we've seen in the tablet/smartphone world; rather he envisions a hierarchy of just a few aggregators (e.g. Hulu, Netflix, HBO, etc.) leading the way. He also doesn't envision an a la carte future any time soon. Although consumers say they value lots of choices, Jon points to examples where this actually leads to consumer fatigue.

    Watch the interview

     
  • News Corp's Jon Miller and Yahoo's Ross Levinsohn at NATPE

    This morning at the NATPE Market and Conference in Miami, Jon Miller, Chief Digital Officer, News Corp and Ross Levinsohn, EVP, Americas, Yahoo participated in an interesting keynote conversation with Michael Nathanson, Managing Director, Nomura Securities. No surprise, 95% of the discussion focused on online video. Below I have paraphrased some of the key quotes and takeaways:

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  • Video Interview: News Corp.'s Jon Miller On "Tensions" Content Providers are Experiencing

    A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to do a fireside chat with News Corp.'s Chief Digital Officer Jon Miller (also formerly CEO of AOL) at Akamai's Edge 2011 customer conference. The video is now posted here (note it's not embeddable, but it's the fourth thumbnail from the left labeled "04: Evolution Digital Media: NewsCorp 2011-10-13.")

    Jon provides candid and thoughtful insights on the various "tensions" he believes premium content providers are experiencing with the rise of online and mobile delivery. Given his role at News Corp. and that he's on Hulu's board of directors, Jon has a very well-informed perspective. The interview is wide-ranging; among other things we discuss are the pressures on the pay-TV business model including the prospect of a la carte, cord-cutting threats, important distinctions between "TV Everywhere" and "authentication," Netflix's recent stumbles and the concept of a "good enough" value proposition and how premium-quality content licensing now often serves distributors' larger goals.

    I learned a lot from our discussion so if you're interested to hear from one of the most plugged-in executives in the industry, it's well worth your time. Note there are some periodic stutters in the video, but they resolve themselves quickly.



    (Thanks to Akamai, which is a VideoNuze sponsor, for making the video available.)


     
  • No Surprise, No Deal for Hulu. Here's What Changed.

    Last evening, Hulu's owners announced in a short statement that the company will not be sold after all. The news came as no surprise to me. VideoNuze readers will recall that back on June 22, when the first rumors of Hulu potentially being up for sale surfaced, I posted, "Here's Why Any Deal for Hulu is Unlikely."  

    In that post I explained how Hulu's primary asset - next-day distribution rights to ABC/Fox/NBC programs - would be at the heart of its valuation. The big challenge with selling Hulu was that its owners would have to pass these rights (albeit likely reformulated) to an unaffiliated and uncontrollable 3rd-party, at the same time as online video delivery has injected massive uncertainty into their businesses. This issue, rather than lower-than-expected bids as some have tritely suggested, is why Hulu's owners ultimately decided to pull Hulu off the block.

    Though this was always the central issue in any Hulu deal, I believe 3 things happened in the past 4 months that crystallized the importance for Hulu's owners of maintaining full control of their distribution rights:

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  • Hulu Sale Process Has Become One Big Leak-a-thon

    Late last week when Bloomberg reported that Apple is "considering making a bid" for Hulu, it inevitably ignited a series of follow-on articles and tweets from other outlets, amplifying the perception of seriousness. How meaningful "considering making a bid" actually is nobody but the insiders really know. However, the Apple "news" underscored how the process of selling Hulu has become one big leak-a-thon, with bankers and others involved with the process continuously leaking selective nuggets of information to major media outlets as unnamed sources, no doubt with an eye to shaping how the sale process plays itself out.

    In fact, even the decision to sell Hulu has never been officially acknowledged by Hulu itself; rather, the LA Times reported that bankers had been retained. That news was preceded by leaks that Yahoo had approached Hulu about an acquisition, that Hulu was considering selling itself, and that Fox, one of Hulu's owners and key content suppliers had renewed its license deal. In the month since these tidbits were released, there have been numerous other leaks, which I have listed below with links, noting the anonymous references each article cites (apologies to any I may have missed).

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  • First Fox, Now Disney, Reportedly Renewing Hulu's Distribution Rights

    As if this week's intrigue around Hulu putting itself up for sale hasn't been enough, Bloomberg is reporting that Disney has tentatively agreed to renew Hulu's distribution rights for ABC programs. The deal is said to mirror another tentative deal, between Fox and Hulu, which Variety reported earlier this week. Both deals are believed to require Hulu carry an increased ad load.

    Since company representatives aren't quoted, it's hard to know how legit the renewals are, or whether they're just another leak to support one of the many agendas players involved in Hulu have. Of course, that's how the week began - with the WSJ citing unidentified sources saying that Yahoo had made an overture to acquire Hulu. That was followed by news that Hulu had retained 2 investment banks to explore a sale, and then with the Fox renewal news.

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  • OK, Hulu's for Sale; Can a Deal Get Done and Who are the Frontrunners?

    Following yesterday's rumors, the LA Times is now reporting that Hulu has hired two investment banks, Guggenheim Partners and Morgan Stanley, to explore a potential sale. As I described in Here's Why Any Deal For Hulu Is Unlikely, the banks have their work cut out for them. The critical issue is that Hulu's main asset - exclusive next-day distribution rights to 3 of the 4 broadcast TV networks' programs (ABC, FOX and NBC) - will be at the heart of Hulu's valuation. (Note that just 6 months ago Hulu's plan to go public was undermined by these same rights not being viewed as sufficiently long-term).

    To the extent that the rights get diluted (e.g. become non-exclusive, limit monetization opportunities, delay program release windows, reduce the number of programs, etc.), acquirers will ratchet down their valuations accordingly. And this is where the banks' task will become especially complicated; each of the networks' owners (Disney, News Corp. and Comcast) has very different strategic objectives which are further clouded by all the uncertainty that online and mobile video has created. Pinning down if and how they would work with each specific bidder will be quite the Rubik's cube exercise.

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  • Here's Why Any Deal For Hulu Is Unlikely

    Late yesterday, the WSJ reported that an unnamed company made an unsolicited offer to acquire Hulu, prompting Hulu's board to consider soliciting other offers. Following up, the LA Times reported that Yahoo is the bidder. However, neither article cited any named sources and so it's unclear how legit any of this is. But even if it is legit, the odds of any Hulu acquisition at this point are actually quite low. Here's why:

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  • Jon Miller, News Corp. Chief Digital Officer to Speak at ELEVATE Conference

    I'm delighted to announce that Jon Miller, News Corp. Chief Digital Officer and Chairman/CEO of its Digital Media Group, will speak at ELEVATE: Online Video Advertising Summit, on Tuesday, June 7th in NYC. Jon will participate in a fireside chat with David Kenny, President of Akamai Technologies (and former Chairman and CEO of Digitas), following David Kenny's opening mini-keynote. The title for the mini-keynote and fireside session is "Toward Digital Dollars: The State of the Market for Premium Online Video."

    Jon is one of the most experienced digital media executives in the world and it is an honor to have him participate in ELEVATE. In particular, the topic that he will address could not be timelier. Producers of premium video content are singularly focused on how to optimally monetize their content on the burgeoning online and mobile video platforms. As a board member of Hulu - and with his numerous other experiences - Jon has unique insights on the topic. In addition, News Corp. has been one of the most aggressive investors and participants in online and mobile video and so the lessons and best practices Jon will share will be invaluable.  

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  • 4 Items Worth Noting from the Week of September 7th

    Following are 4 news items worth noting from the week of Sept. 7th:

    1. Hulu's boss says it needs to charge for content - Bloomberg ran a story this week quoting Chase Carey, deputy chairman of News Corp (Fox's owner, and therefore a part-owner of Hulu) as saying at a BofA investor conference, "Ad-supported only is going to be a tough place in a fractured world....You want a mix of pay and free."

    VideoNuze readers know that while I've admired Hulu's user experience from the start, I've long been critical of its thin ad model, which falls well short of generating revenue/program/viewer parity with traditional on-air program delivery. That lack of parity has caused Hulu's owners to cordon off access to Hulu on TVs for most viewers. But the networks' fear of cannibalizing their own P&Ls only frustrates loyal Hulu users, who neither understand nor care about such legacy concerns. All of this and more led me months ago to conclude a subscription offering is inevitable from Hulu. The impending TV Everywhere launches, which further marginalize ad-only business models, and now Carey's public remarks, solidify my thinking. We'll soon see some type of Hulu subscription tier.

    2. Move Networks notches a win with Cable and Wireless deal - Score one for Move Networks, which this week announced Cable and its first tier 1 telco customer. Move enables C&W to deliver an HD, linear multichannel video service, plus on-demand and broadband content to its broadband customers, all through existing DSL connections. Move's repositioning, which I wrote about recently, obviates telcos' need to invest billions in upgrading their networks to get into the IPTV business. Indeed, Roxanne Austin, Move's CEO told me yesterday that C&W has for years considered all the various options for getting into video, but has never pulled the trigger until now. The deal covers up to 7 million homes and interestingly, rather than getting a license fee, Move will be paid a share of subscriber revenue. Roxanne says another big deal will be announced shortly.

    3. iPod Nano gets video, battle with Cisco's Flip escalates - As you likely know, Steve Jobs unveiled the new iPod Nano this week, which incorporates an SD video camera. Following the iPhone 3GS adding video recording capability, I think it's pretty clear that Apple has decided video is the next big thing for its devices. As I suggested recently, Apple's embrace is going to drive user-generated video - and YouTube, as the undisputed home for it - to a whole new level.

    But one wonders what this all means for Cisco's recently-acquired Flip video camera, and others from Creative, Sony, Kodak, etc? Cisco in particular has a lot on the line since it just shelled out almost $600M for Flip's parent Pure Digital. Granted Apple's devices are still SD, while Flip now emphasizes HD, but still, getting video recording "for free" as Jobs put it at the launch is pretty compelling for consumers. Even if the Flip deal doesn't work out as planned, Cisco will still be selling a whole lot more routers to handle all of this newly-generated broadband video, so it's a winner either way.

    4. AT&T Wireless adding 3G capacity - In last Friday's "4 Items" post, I noted a great story the NY Times ran showcasing the frustrations that AT&T Wireless customers are experiencing due to the millions of data-intensive iPhones clogging up the network. AT&T has been hearing complaints from all sides, and this week announced 3G network upgrades in 6 cities this year, with plans to cover 25 of the top 30 U.S. cities by the end of next year, and 90% of its current 3G footprint by the end of 2011. These upgrades can't come soon enough for iPhone users. Meanwhile the company's YouTube video, featuring "Seth the blogger guy" explaining how AT&T is addressing network issues itself came under attack, as AdAge reported. There's no pleasing everyone.

    Enjoy the weekend!

     
  • Hulu 1.0 Gets a Solid B+

    I'm now back from Digital Hollywood and I've had an opportunity to give Hulu 1.0 a spin as part of its private beta. I've also looked the Hulu offering at AOL which is not yet comparable (less content, fewer features) to the one at Hulu.com. So I think that for now using Hulu through the private beta is the only way to get the full 1.0 experience.

    My initial reactions are positive and I give Hulu 1.0 a solid B+, with many of the fundamentals well done, but with certain features needing improvement, as to be expected from a beta launch. All in all, considering the short development window in which Hulu was created, the Hulu team deserves much credit.

    Hulu 1.0 should more than silence those who snarkily pre-labeled it "Clown Co" and misunderstood it to be a "YouTube killer", which it is not. Hulu has not embarrassed its primary investors (and content providers) NBC and News Corp in any way, and in fact, has set the stage for taking back control of how its full-length content and clips are distributed online. This was of course the investors' main motivation - creating a legitimate platform for them to control their online destiny and capture the lion's share of the economics.

    Design and Video Quality
    Hulu sports a clean, open design format, heavy on thumbnail images. It's easy to find your way around, and there's little risk of getting lost in the process. The home page, seen below, offers 3 main branches, Popular Episodes (will number 1 on the list ever be anything but an episode from The Office though?), Most Popular Clips (looks like all provided by Hulu, none by users) and Recently Added (a nice addition here would be to expose the original air date without actually having to click through).

    Once clicking into a clip or full length video, the video player experience was excellent. Not only is the player consistent for all videos, but the quality was as well. I never experienced any delays, re-buffering, pixelation, audio/video out of synch or other typical video issues. In full screen mode there was a little degradation, but was certainly above the acceptable-quality bar.

     

    Content
    Currently there are 34 individual content providers (though many under common parentage) contributing a broad range of current and older TV programming and films. While the other 2 big broadcasters CBS and ABC are missing, there's plenty of cable network and studio fare available. All is easily navigable through the browse function.

    The biggest knock on the content is its inconsistency. For example, click on "24" and you can choose from 3 episodes from Season 1 and one from Season 6. Battlestar Galactica gives all of Season 1, but nothing else. Same for a classic like The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Huh? All of this makes it confusing for the user to know what to expect. If all this is due to rights or other limitations, it would be good for Hulu to signal or explain this somehow.

    Advertising
    Certainly one of the best decisions Hulu made is how it's initially implementing ads, though the implementation doesn't appear consistent across all video, or at least the ones I watched. There are no pre-rolls, though there are 5 second sponsor messages up front, but only for certain shows it seems, not all of them. There are mid-rolls, typically 15-30 seconds, and fortunately these are show only one at a time, not in pods. And there's a countdown so it's clear when video will resume.

    Of course, the bigger question is whether this limited amount of advertising is sufficient to make Hulu's economic model work, especially if sometime down the road, online consumption cannibalizes on-air consumption.

    Features
    Many of the expected features are offered - embed, share, full screen, create a playlist and user reviews. One feature that has great potential is the "create a custom clip". This allows users to manipulate a timebar to create their own favorite clips. I could see this being very popular, especially for passionate fans. And it allows a whole new range of short form video inventory to be created with no incremental effort by Hulu staff.

    Yet for now the create a clip capability is buried in the "Share" feature, which seemingly only allows the custom clip to be emailed. And pinning down your desired start and stop points is very tough. Since custom clips are the only UGC-like opportunity in Hulu, these should be given more prominence. Ideas could include showcasing a users' gallery of favorites, allowing them to be saved to playlists, syndicating them to partners' sites and allowing them to be mashed up.

    Wrap-up
    In general, while I think Hulu1.0 is an admirable starting point, the custom clip situation underlines the one major disconnect I have with Hulu: I sense that in its zeal to become a site focused on premium, non-UGC content, it managed to miss out on emphasizing a community-building, social-networking focus that would help make it feel more interactive and inviting.
     
    These are exactly the types of things that have helped make YouTube such a hit. Offering some of these features doesn't mean Hulu becomes a YouTube competitor, vying for UGC supremacy. Rather, it means giving users some of the social tools they love, which they can now use with premium content only Hulu has to offer. If and when Hulu embraces these opportunities as well, an "A" grade will be attainable.
     

    UPDATE: Reed Price, MSN Entertainment's Editor-in-Chief emailed me to remind me that MSN (an initial Hulu distribution partner) has already rolled out a relatively extensive integration of Hulu video. He provided a number of links including these 4:

     
    Thanks for the heads-up Reed. When I see that other distribution partners have integrated Hulu I intend to write another post comparing/contrasting the distributors' various approaches. I have a hunch they'll vary widely.
     
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