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.
Notwithstanding the countless times I've received emails with links to video clips or visited social networking pages where video is embedded, I've often had the sense that true social engagement around premium quality video has been lacking.
"Engagement" is one of those nebulous Internet words that can mean many things to different people. To me, the most appropriate online engagement opportunities should be modeled on how we have traditionally engaged with offline media. Some relevant offline examples that come to mind include recommending a movie to a friend, clipping a newspaper article to send to a colleague, chatting informally with friends and family during a TV show or sharing opinions about favorite actors and actresses over drinks.
As consumers shift their viewing to broadband, the key to engagement is to enable users to effortlessly and intuitively emulate some or all of these behaviors. I concede that's easier said than done. Yet in addition to existing efforts, I see new signs that premium video sites are starting to understand how strategic it is for them to incent user engagement. New steps are being taken to make deeper, more consistent engagement a reality, not just a goal.
For example, just yesterday CBS announced its "Social Viewing Rooms" which allow users to view programs together while commenting, interacting and finding each other (note this is something that Paltalk and others have pursued for a while). It wasn't clear from the announcement, but I think a critical success factor for CBS will be allowing users to bring existing friends (from Facebook, MySpace, etc.) into the rooms, rather than requiring new relationships to be built.
I found another example in a presentation I recently attended by Ian Blaine, thePlatform's CEO. In it, he made clear that his company is planning a big push into engagement-oriented features ranging from recommendations to ratings to social networking via sister company Plaxo. Still another initiative is "MediaFriends" a clever application that's coming soon from Integra5 which converges text messaging and social networking with viewing across multiple screens. Finally, another is from Volo Media, which is today announcing a plug-in for iTunes that allows one-touch sharing, bookmarking and more, helping open up a window from iTunes into the larger web environment.
All of these activities are in addition to other social media capabilities being brought to premium video from companies like KickApps, PermissionTV, Brightcove, Gotuit and Magnify.net. Then of course there's the steady migration of premium video into YouTube, which is the granddaddy of video sharing and social engagement.
Broadband is much more than an exciting new distribution outlet for video providers, it's also a whole new platform for extending social behaviors that are deeply valued and highly ingrained in all of us into the virtual world. Embracing opportunities for deeper engagement with and around premium video means thinking of viewers more as participants and less as passive audiences. When done right the payoffs in engagement, loyalty, viewing time and monetization will be substantial.
What do you think? Post a comment now!
Categories: Video Sharing
Wrapping up a busy June, I'd like to quickly recap 3 key topics covered in VideoNuze:
1. Execution matters as much as strategy
I've been mindful since the launch of VideoNuze to not just focus on big strategic shifts in the industry, but also on the important role of execution. I'm not planning to get too far into the tactical weeds, but I do intend to show examples where possible of how successful execution can make a difference. This month, in 2 posts comparing and contrasting Hulu and Fancast (here and here) I tried to constructively show how a nimble upstart can get a toehold against an entrenched incumbent by getting things right.
While great execution is a key to successful online businesses, it may sometimes feel pretty mundane. For example, in "Jacob's Pillow Uses Video to Enhance Customer Experience" I shared an example of an arts organization has begun including video samples of upcoming performances on its web site, improving the user experience and no doubt enhancing ticket sales. A small touch with a big reward. And in this post about the analytics firm Visible Measures, I tried to explain how rigorous tracking can enhance programming and product decisions. I'll continue to find examples of where execution has had an impact, whether positive or negative.
2. Cable TV industry impacted by broadband
As many of you know, I believe the cable TV industry is a crucial element of the broadband video industry. Cable operators now provide tens of millions of consumer broadband connections. And cable networks have become active in delivering their programs and clips via broadband. Yet the broadband's relationships with operators and networks are complex, presenting a range of opportunities and challenges.
On the opportunities side, in "Cable's Subscriber Fees Matter, A Lot," I explained how the monthly sub fees that networks collect put them on a firm financial footing for weathering broadband's changes and an advantageous position compared to broadband content startups which must survive solely on ads. Further, syndication is offering new distribution opportunities, as evidenced by Scripps Networks syndication deal with AOL in May and Comedy Central's syndication of Daily Show and Colbert Report to Hulu and Adobe. Yet cable networks are challenged to exploit broadband's new opportunities while not antagonizing their traditional distributors.
For operators, though broadband access provides billions in monthly revenues, broadband is ultimately going to challenge their traditional video subscription business. In "Video Aggregators Have Raised $366+ Million to Date," I itemized the torrent of money that's flowed into the broadband aggregation space, with players ultimately vying for a piece of cable's aggregation revenue. These and other companies are working hard to change the video industry's value chain. There will be a lot more news from them yet to come.
3. Video publishing/management platforms continue to evolve
Lastly, I continued covering the all-important video content publishing/management platform space this month, with product updates from PermissionTV, Brightcove and Entriq/Dayport. Yesterday, in introducing Delve Networks, another new player, I included a chart of all the companies in this space. I put a significant emphasis on this area because it is a key building block to making the broadband video industry work.
These companies are jostling with each other to provide the tools that content providers need to deliver and optimize the broadband experience. The competitive dynamic between these companies is very blurry though, with each emphasizing different features and capabilities. Nonetheless, each seems to be winning a share of the expanding market. I'll continue covering this segment of the industry as it evolves.
That's it for June; I have lots more good stuff planned for July!
More news today in the video publishing space as PermissionTV is making two product-related announcements with an eye toward enabling easier, faster creation of video applications by media companies, brands and third party agencies. Specifically the company is releasing its Platform Development Kit (PDK) and "Solutions Hub." Last week Corey Halverson, PermissionTV's VP of Product Management gave me a demo and rundown of both.
The "Solutions Hub" is a gallery of video player applications that Permission is offering developers use of to help jumpstart their video efforts. The examples are both pragmatic and inspirational, showing developers for the kinds of things that can be done with Permission's tools.
Corey explained the Solutions Hub is meant to address a phenomenon that Permission often encounters: developers who have expansive visions of the kinds of apps they'd like to build, but who still need grounding to help them get started quickly and easily. The Solutions Hub addresses this by providing a range of downloadable apps including many featuring integrations with 3rd parties (e.g. DART, Move Networks, Tremor). By anticipating developers' needs, Permission is aiming to accelerate time to market.
Targeted to agencies that need to be able to create highly customizable applications quickly but on a budget, Permission's new PDK bundles together all of its APIs, with tutorials, reference players, source code and other Flash-oriented tools. Corey characterized the PDK as allowing developers to "color outside the lines," while providing as much functionality as possible right out of the box.
While I'm not a Flash developer and therefore can't fully appreciate some of the details of the PDK, there's no question that as the market matures a blend of customization and scalability is required to succeed. In particular, as business models remain in flux and experimentation prevails, the ability to quickly and inexpensively try different approaches is key. Taken together the Solutions Hub and PDK look like solid forward progress to meeting these market objectives.
Last week I moderated 2 panel discussions, one for Streaming Media East in New York, and the other for MITX, the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange, in Boston. In the former, "Reinventing the Ad Model Through Discovery and Targeting" and the latter, "Driving Audiences to Your Online Video Content: Strategies for Success in a Crowded Market" panelists discussed many of the key themes I continue observing in the broadband video market.
These were four of the key themes from these two sessions. There was plenty more information exchanged, if you're interested, drop me a line and I'll be happy to discuss.
If you're in the Boston area next Thursday, May 22nd, please join me for a great panel I'll be moderating, "Driving Audiences to Your Online Video Content: Strategies for Success in a Crowded Market." The session is being presented by MITX, the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange and includes a terrific group of panelists from Boston-area video companies:
Session details are here. Hope you can make it!
The move suggests even more vigorous competition is coming to the video management/publishing space where players like thePlatform, Brightcove, Maven, ExtendMedia, PermissionTV, Akamai (StreamOS), WorldNow and others have focused.
I sat down with Anystream (note, a periodic VideoNuze sponsor) president Bill Holding and founder/chairman Geoff Allen recently to learn more about their expansion strategy.
Anystream is well-known in the digital media space as it Agility transcoding platform is deployed in over 700 companies. Leveraging this base of relationships and its knowledge of customers' work flows, Anystream is now "moving north" by focusing on the video management layer. The core technology comes from Anystream's 2007 acquisition of Cauldron Solutions, which has been built out, renamed as Velocity and integrated with Agility.
Anystream's new, broader positioning rests on its belief that the video "Produce-Manage-Monetize" lifecycle elements are deeply linked, and that ultimately a comprehensive, integrated solution will be prized by media companies serious about scaling their broadband video businesses. At the manage layer specifically, Velocity focuses on rights, scheduling, packaging, syndication and asset tracking.
Anystream believes metadata it gains access to, at the start of the video lifecycle through its transcoding role, is a unifying value driver in the video management and monetization phases.
Hearst-Argyle clearly saw the benefits of this approach, citing Anystream's metadata management as opening up new content re-use opportunities and creating competitive advantage. In the press release, Joe Addalia, H-A's director of technology projects, said H-A has cut its production and distribution to online channels "from 30 minutes to 3 1/2 minutes."
I continue to be impressed with how many companies are staking a claim in the broadband video management/publishing space. I'm constantly trying to discern the real competitive differentiators that separate industry players. Like many of you, I often find the landscape quite blurry, with overlapping capabilities. Each player tends to cite its traditional competencies as being the best building blocks from which to build a full scale management/publishing platform.
While it's tempting to say "they can't all be right," the fact that so many players are finding market success today indicates that content owners are not monolithic in their specific requirements and that a giant game of matchmaking seems to be occurring between content owners and video management providers. One day there may be a consensus on who truly has the "best" management platform, but for now that day seems to be far off.
What do you think? Post a comment and let us all know!
A quick final reminder that I'll be making a short presentation during a webinar at 2pm ET today entitled "Setting the Bar for Online Video 2.0: Best Practices You Can Use Today." PermissionTV is sponsoring the webinar moderated by Streaming Media's Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen and will be providing best practices examples based on its customers' activities.
After the presentations, we'll have ample time for Q&A and discussion. Please join us!
There was a little technical problem with the registration link for the Feb 28th webinar.
Today's a holiday for many in the U.S. and I'm preparing to head out to FAST Forward '08, so for now I'd like to just offer an invitation to an upcoming webinar I'll be participating in on February 28th. The title of the webinar is "Setting the Bar for Online Video 2.0: Best Practices You Can Use Today." PermissionTV, a VideoNuze sponsor, will also be providing insights based on its customers' experiences. The webinar will be hosted by Streaming Media.
Having done many webinars over the past several years, I've become a big fan of the format. I think it's a convenient way to share information create a conducive environment for Q&A.
Since the last webinar I did several months ago, there has been a ton of activity in the broadband video market and also a lot of recently-released research. I've heard from many of you that it's hard to stay on top of this activity and understand what's most important. Meeting these two challenges are in fact key goals of mine for VideoNuze: aggregating relevant news into one easy-to-access location and sharing insights about the market.
For this upcoming webinar, I'll be synthesizing some of the divergent activities we've all been observing and translate it into actionable takeaways. Though the broadband video market is extremely dynamic, there are a number of common beliefs guiding many companies' strategies today. After the presentations, we'll have ample time for Q&A and discussion.
I look forward to seeing you on the webinar.
VideoNuze 1.0 accomplishes what I set out to do at launch - provide a high-value, user-friendly online publication and community for busy video executives seeking to keep up-to-date with the industry's vast array of news and better understand what it means to their businesses. The two primary components of the site, "Analysis" and "News Roundup", are already well-stocked with content and will grow rapidly over time. In addition, I have a full roadmap of features which will also be introduced in the coming months.
As with all online initiatives, VideoNuze is a work in progress and I welcome your feedback. Please have a good look around and let me know what you think. What works well? What's missing? What's broken? No comment or observation is too small, I invite them all.
Today's launch wouldn't be possible without the support of an incredible group of charter sponsors, so I want to acknowledge and thank them again. Each signed on when there was not so much as an official name for the effort. They made a bet on my concept - that an online publication that relentlessly focuses on informing and educating broadband video decision-makers would add real value to the market. I greatly appreciate their confidence.
These companies are all leaders in the fast-evolving video industry and I encourage you to take time to learn about how they can contribute to your company's success: