Posts for 'Podcast'

  • Inside the Stream: What are the Consequences of SVOD Library Cuts?

    Some big SVOD services are cutting content from their libraries, including certain originals. Most prominently, Disney recently said it’s taking a $1.5-$1.8 billion impairment charge related to content cuts.

    The idea of “rotating” content in and out of libraries is nothing new in SVOD, but as profitability becomes paramount, the current cuts seem to be deeper and signal a shift in thinking. Whereas the past has been about “more is more” when building libraries, a “less is more” sentiment appears to be taking over.  

    The question we explore is whether and to what extent subscribers will react? After all, if the content being cut is lightly viewed, then few people will notice (“if a tree falls in the forrest….”), and presumably the impact would be minimal. But, as Colin notes, there’s an audience for everything, and with SVOD subscribers having been spoiled by a bounty of riches, a perception of reduced choices could hit home.

    One thought is that if this content can’t make it on SVOD, perhaps it will find a home on a FAST service. But that might not be an option, as Colin refers to recent discussions indicating FAST providers have become more disciplined given the explosion of free content and their push for profitability as well.

    Net, net, as we discuss, there may well be content that isn’t viable on streaming. It’s not unprecedented; there’s lots of content that didn’t make the transition from VHS to digital, because the economics just weren’t there.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (36 minutes, 41 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream: Dissecting Netflix’s U.S. Account Sharing Cap, Limitations of Comcast’s NOW TV

    Netflix has begun rolling out its account sharing limitations in the U.S.. The rollout effectively puts an end to one of the most-loved features of Netflix subscriptions - the ability to share log-in credentials with family members and others. For years Netflix “looked the other way” on this activity as it sought to bake Netflix usage into as many viewers’ lives as possible.  

    But all good things come to an end. With subscriber growth slowing as the market matures, Netflix has flipped its approach, linking a subscription to a household, meaning anyone that who doesn’t live under the same roof does not qualify. Those people will need to start an “extra member” account, being offered for $8 per month. We discuss the pricing decision as well, and how it relates to the $8 per month ad-supported plan.

    We also discuss the launch of Comcast’s new streaming service NOW TV. Neither of us believes there’s much value and will likely have only limited appeal. We explain why.

    At the beginning of the podcast I also mention a new report released by the Goteborg Film Festival, the largest festival in the Nordics, called the “Nostradamus Report: Everything Changing All At Once.” I was among a small group of industry professionals interviewed for the report, which is extremely well-done and comprehensive. It’s free and for anyone looking to get a strong overview of our evolving industry, I highly recommend downloading it.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (35 minutes, 31 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream: How Overlapping “Doom Loops” are Crushing the TV Industry

    In this week’s podcast we discuss the overlapping “doom loops” that are crushing the TV industry. These were first articulated by MoffettNathanson, and built upon by Colin. The doom loops include 1) TV networks shifting investment/focus from linear TV to streaming, in turn driving more cord-cutting, 2) Fewer remaining pay-TV subscribers available to shoulder the cost of sports TV networks, in turn leading to more cord-cutting, 3) Audience shifts away from traditional TV driving ad dollars to follow, further pressuring traditional TV’s revenue.

    Yet another more doom loop could be added with news this week that Disney is finally pushing forward with a direct-to-consumer model for ESPN. Given how expensive that DTC service is likely to be, it’s ultimate adoption probably won’t extend much beyond hard-core sports fans.

    But it will cause the unintended consequence of raising the visibility of the multibillion dollar per year “sports tax” non-sports fans have long been paying, which Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred explicated at a Paley Center event last month when he said, “It’s a great business model when a whole bunch of people pay for something they don’t really care if they have or not, which is what the cable bundle did for us. It’s hard to replicate that.”

    So it’s safe to say that ESPN’s DTC service will also drive up cord-cutting.

    The “doom loops” are now on display for all to see, prompting Colin and I to wonder truly, what the remaining life span of pay-TV is?

    Before we get started, we give a quick overview of Wurl’s new ContentDiscovery offering, for which Colin and I wrote an accompanying white paper.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (35 minutes, 28 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream: Q1 ’23 Earnings Review: Who’s Up? Who’s Down? Who’s Pick ‘Em?

    Most media and technology companies have now reported Q1 ’23 results. We dig into who’s up, who’s down and who’s pick ‘em, and where they all might be headed. We share all this with the caveat that one quarter’s results are not the final word on a company’s ability to survive and thrive going forward. We hope we’re not in any way contributing to the short-term, quarterly performance myopia so common on Wall Street.

    Rather, we’re looking at these companies’ results in the context of prior results, the competitive landscape and their particular products’/services’ positioning. All while trying to do some basic “pattern recognition” - what have we seen before and how is this likely to play out in TV and video. Our discussion is primarily focused on Netflix, Roku, Amazon, AMC, Disney, Comcast, Vizio, YouTube, The Trade Desk, Paramount, Diamond Sports Group, Tegna, Dish and how they’re sorting themselves in the up, down and pick ‘em categories.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (38 minutes,  50 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream: 5 Key Takeaways from the 2023 IAB NewFronts

    I attended the 2023 IAB NewFronts earlier this week and today on Inside the Stream we discuss my 5 key takeaways. These include 1) connected TV as the dominant throughline in all the presentations, 2) an early shift in messaging around how CTV campaigns should move to more full/lower-funnel KPIs, 3) whether the overwhelming volume and pure free, ad-supported nature of FASTs should be concerning, 4) how CTV platform/glass ownership will be a critical competitive differentiator going forward, and 5) why, of the 14 presentations that I attended, three companies’ presentations stood out in particular.  

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (44 minutes, 51 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream: YouTube Ads in Q1 ’23, Pluto TV's Tony Play, Exploring AI Drake

    First up this week on Inside the Stream we discuss YouTube’s advertising revenue for Q1 ’23, which was $6.7B, down 2.6% from Q1 ’22 of $6.9B. Obviously growth, not contraction, is the goal, but given the huge headwinds blowing through the ad business, in my view, a slight dip can rightly be considered a clear win. And the quarters that YouTube is now lapping were extremely strong to begin with, so comps will be tough by definition.

    We also spend a few minutes discussing YouTube’s four priorities outlined in the earnings call. I’m looking forward to attending YouTube’s NewFront presentations on Monday morning, especially “AI and the Future of Creative Transformation.”

    Next up, we both like how Paramount is leveraging Pluto TV by having it stream “THE TONY AWARD: ACT ONE,” preceding the main Tonys broadcast on CBS and Paramount+ on June 11th. ACT ONE is a perfect example of how “shoulder content” that can drive free streaming viewership (helping build Pluto’s brand) while acting as lead gen for Paramount+ and maybe even a little incremental retention for pay-TV.

    We expect to see a lot more of this “shoulder content on FAST” playbook run in the future elsewhere too. It’s a solid, synergistic play.

    Last, we make a maiden foray into the intersection of AI, video and music, prompted by a well-reported - though maybe slightly over-dramatic - article in The Verge about “AI Drake.” It’s a bit of a head-spinner to keep track of the machinations, but the net of it is that - no surprise to anyone - generative AI is already kicking up some dust related to copyright and Fair Use.

    Big players like Google and Microsoft will have to sort out what positions they ultimately want to stake out given their varied business interests. We do our best to decipher things and discuss implications. No easy answers here, but expect a lot more about AI on Inside the Stream in the future.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (31 minutes, 59 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Netflix’s Q1 ’23 Suggests Ad Tier Launch and Account-Sharing Curbs Will Boost Revenue

    Back in our Oct. 21, 2022 podcast, “Netflix is Poised for 2023 Revenue Growth,” Colin and I articulated all the reasons we were optimistic about Netflix’s upside in the new year. Primarily we were focused on its newly launched $7/month “Basic with ads” tier and its plans to eliminate password sharing throughout the world.

    Flash forward 7 months, and Netflix provided its first tangible results and commentary from the initiatives, as well as optimistic signs of where things go from here. In today’s podcast, Colin and I dig into these signs, including most prominently Netflix’s disclosure that $7/month "Basic with ads" subscribers already produce a higher average monthly revenue than do its $15.50/month "Standard" plan (ad-free) subscribers. Some basic math reveals that "Basic with ads" subscribers drive at least $8.50/month in ad revenue for Netflix, which in turn means that aproximately 55% ($8.50 / $15.50) of "Basic with ads" subscribers’ total revenue is already derived from ads, not subscriber payments.

    That Netflix accomplished all of this despite 1) it still being very early days for the ad offering, 2) a massive headwind in the ad business due to recession/etc. worries, 3) all of its ad revenue being “linear TV replacement” or upper-funnel reach and frequency inventory, with nothing yet from more valuable full/lower funnel offerings, suggests the ad business is already a big win for Netflix and has huge potential.

    (At this point I can’t resist noting that I have been badgering Netflix for years to launch a lower-priced ad-supported tier because of the upside…see “Why Netflix Will Launch an Ad-Supported Tier in 2020” from Dec. ’19, “6 Reasons Why Netflix Should Launch an Ad-Supported Tier Now” from Mar. ’20, and “Revisiting Why Netflix Should Launch an Ad-Supported Tier” from Mar. ’21 for a sample of my haranguing. So, in the category of “better late than never,” hallelujah, Netflix finally, finally put aside its religious objections to advertising and saw the light.)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Max or Min? Can Google TV Catch Up to Roku?

    This week on Inside the Stream we focus on two main topics: first, is Warner Bros. Discovery’s decision to brand/bundle its streaming services under “Max” going to be successful, or is it going to be “Min” (as in have Minimum impact)? There’s little daylight between how Colin and I see things.

    Of all the many issues, to me the most worrisome is the fact that the discovery+ library is being thrown into Max for no additional cost. That means WBD assigns its incremental, measurable value in the bundle at $0.

    Next we turn our attention to the dynamics in the CTV/device industry. Colin is excited about a new initiative Google unveiled this week, where it provides improved guide/UI access to 800+ FAST channels. Colin sees this as a meaningful competitive differentiator, and believes Google TV / Android TV will grow briskly outside of the U.S. and even gain a few points of market share domestically.

    It’s hard to argue against better discovery being valuable, yet I don’t see it as a game-changer in the CTV space, at least domestically, because, well, to start with, very few people actually use Google TV domestically.

    In fact, according to insights from Beachfront’s CTV Marketplace for H2 2022, Google TV’s share of impression volume was a measly 1.9%. Meanwhile Roku, the perennial market share leader in the U.S., notched 39.2% of impressions, roughly consistent with the range I’ve seen for Roku for years.

    While Colin and I agree that Google TV / YouTube / YouTube TV is a formidable collection of assets for Google, I remain quite sanguine about Roku’s ability to compete in the land of the giants. There have been no shortage of Roku naysayers over the years, since I wrote “Scrappy Roku Makes More Deals, Keeps Elbowing Its Way Into the Big Leagues” back in January, 2013, following a keynote interview I did with CEO/Founder Anthony Wood at NATPE in Miami.

    In the 10 years since, Roku has more than held its own, and is arguably the most innovative company in the ad industry. Roku is focused and relentless, and it has a very strong talent bench. As I put it in 2013, Roku remains “more a work horse than a show horse.” As for Google, a sub-2% CTV/device share after all these years? The good news: there (continues to be) really only one way to go from here.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (36 minutes, 47 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: How Much Higher Will Average U.S. Spending on SVOD Be in 5 Years?

    Each week on "Inside the Stream" Colin and I try to share fact-based conclusions about critical industry issues. Listeners have continually told us that they derive value from having a weekly resource that helps demystify the confusing cross-currents found in the daily headlines. By seeing things just a little more clearly, listeners are able to be more effective in their roles and hopefully help their companies succeed.

    However, given all of the various independent and interdependent industry drivers, it’s impossible for anyone to have a “crystal ball” on where things ultimately land. So today, Colin and I take a step back to consider all of the different factors that we believe will influence average SVOD spending going forward (in truth the acronym SVOD is practically outmoded with the leakage of live sports from pay-TV to IP/mobile networks and the prevalence of hybrid paid/ad-supported services, so it might just be better to call everything a “streaming service”). We were prompted to consider the question based on a new forecast from Ampere.

    Colin and I agree on one thing up front: average U.S. household spending on SVOD/streaming services will be higher in 5 years than it is now. This conclusion reflects simple Price x Quantity (“P x Q”) economics; prices for streaming services are only going in one direction, and the number of streaming services the average household subscribes to will almost certainly increase as content proliferates and sports migrates to streaming.

    But how much higher spending will be is a function of many different factors. We identify 6-8 of these factors and try to flesh out their respective influences. Whether they will all net out to average SVOD spending increasing by 2%, 6%,12% or something else vs. current is anyone’s best educated guess. But educated guesses are better than nothing.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (29 minutes, 34 seconds) and let us know what you think.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Why Sky’s Sky Glass is the Right Strategy, But the Wrong Execution

    In October, 2021 Comcast and Sky announced “Sky Glass,” a package including a Sky-branded smart TV, Sky Stream (a streaming satellite TV service) and aggregated CTV apps. Colin was in London this past week attending a conference at which Sky executives spoke - but revealed little information about how Sky Glass is doing.

    On this week’s podcast we dive deeply into the Sky Glass model, in which Sky customers either purchase upfront or in 48 monthly installments a smart TV (3 sizes available, 43-inches, 55-inches or 65-inches), then subscribe to a Sky Stream package, and also gain access to built-in apps from third-parties.

    Sky Glass immediately intrigued me because it seemed to align with a concept I had been noodling around for the prior 6-9 months: the idea of TV OEMs either giving away smart TVs and/or pricing them so ridiculously low that consumers would be compelled to take the offer.

    With each CTV advertising conference I hosted, it was becoming more and more apparent that CTV advertising would continue to boom simply because of linear’s demise and advertisers’ imperative to continue achieving their reach/frequency goals (I have referred to this as the “follow the eyeballs” rocket fuel that has powered CTV’s rise in the past 5 years). That’s all before discussing the targeting, optimization, interactivity and dynamic creative benefits of CTV.

    More exciting to me was that it was beginning to become apparent that in the long-term CTV’s success would evolve beyond “follow the eyeballs” to a lower and/or full funnel medium, allowing it to emulate the massively successful playbook that has been run by search and social. Given the choice between selling smart TVs at negative gross margins, or simply giving them away to consumers, with some guaranteed monetization hooks in both high-margin CTV advertising and SVOD/MVPD services, the choice to me seemed relatively straightforward, particularly for certain TV OEMs.

    I envisioned a third-party startup in the middle of the action (I subsequently discarded the idea for various reasons).

    Listen to the podcast now!

  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Diamond Sports’ Bankruptcy, HBO Max’s Confusing Pricing; YouTube’s Multiview; FAST’s Growth

    This week on Inside the Stream Colin and I do an “around the horn” of four significant industry topics. We lead off with the expected bankruptcy filing of Diamond Sports Group earlier this week, the largest owner of regional sports networks (RSNs), resulting in a complete wipeout of the equity-holders. Where to from here is anyone’s best guess; but I reiterate my stance that sports teams’ franchise values and players’ salaries have already peaked. When the dominant player in an industry - with over 50% market share - goes belly up, nothing good happens next.

    Next up is an update on WBD’s planned pricing strategy for its combined HBO Max and discovery+ streaming service launching soon. Colin’s been all over this one for months and is really scratching his head, as am I.

    In time for March Madness, YouTube TV has launched a new feature called “multiview” allowing subscribers to stream a mosaic of four pre-selected games and choose which audio feed they prefer. I think it’s really cool, and as you’ll hear in real-time I realize that it might mean YouTube TV “automagically” just quadrupled its ad inventory for multiview users. If so, that’s a neat trick; new CEO Neal Mohan is off to an even stronger start than I expected!

    Finally, Colin gives a short wrap-up of the latest doings in the burgeoning FAST market. It’s getting harder and harder to keep up.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (27 minutes, 11 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Pay-TV is in Free Fall; What’s it Mean for Sports Teams’ Valuations?

    Pay-TV providers lost another 7 million subscribers (approximately) in 2022 as losses accelerated from 2021. The losses span those actually cutting the cord, plus those that simply don’t take on a pay-TV subscription in the first place.

    On this week’s podcast Colin and I discuss pay-TV’s melting iceberg, and among its consequences, what’s it mean for sports teams’ valuations and players’ salaries. Since cord-cutting came along, there’s always been a notion of sports providing a “firewall” bottom on pay-TV subscribers. But with so many sports rights now leaking into the streaming domain - having been snapped up by Big Tech - the paradigm-busting question looms larger.

    Another, related consequence of pay-TV’s implosion is the demise of regional sports networks (RSNs). They’re also experiencing financial turmoil due to bad deal-making, disconnects with audiences and sub-par demand. Even mighty ESPN has been the subject of M&A rumormongering as newly restored CEO Bob Iger has to pick his priorities.

    All of this is to say that the economics of the sports business are changing in front of our eyes. If sports networks’ financial viability is impaired, rendering them unable to competitively bid for rights, then the question becomes, will Big Tech step in as a backstop, building on their current commitment? As I assert in the podcast, I think their commitment to becoming a viable backstop will only become known as the ultimate CTV ad monetization opportunity crystallizes. Specifically, if CTV can legitimately become full/lower funnel - bringing in buckets of cash with it - then backstop viability is far more likely. Absent that it’s jump ball. We’ll see.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Key Takeaways from CTV Advertising PREVIEW: 2023

    At this past Tuesday’s VideoNuze Connected TV Advertising PREVIEW: 2023 virtual, 22 speakers on 5 sessions provided critical insights about the industry and its future direction. We discuss our key takeaways on today’s podcast.

    All of the videos are posted here.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: In India, Two Initiatives Preview Streaming’s Future

    This week we go on a “field trip” to India, where a battle between multibillionaires - at the intersection of streaming, marquee sports, mobile, commerce and FASTs - provides a glimpse of the future.

    First up, we discuss news that Viacom18 Media Pvt. a joint venture between Paramount Global and multibillionaire Mukesh Ambani’s conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd., the most valuable company in India - which in 2021 won the rights, for $2.7 billion, to stream the hugely popular Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket games - and intends to do so for free to consumers.

    Viacom18 Media actually poached the IPL streaming rights from Disney, which had them previously and used the games to drive Disney+ Hotstar subscriptions. Disney's direct-to-consumer strategy remains murky as Colin and I discussed 2 weeks ago.

    The move underscores trends that Colin and I have discussed extensively around marquee sports moving from broadcast/cable to streaming (most recently in January, with fuboTV's CEO David Gandler) and the accelerating pace of free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST).

    Next, we discuss “miniTV,” a set of freely available video content that is placed front and center within Amazon India’s shopping app. While miniTV, which launched in May, 2021 got off to a modest start, apparently in 2022, its first full year of operations, it has picked up momentum. This is due to the popularity of certain original programming that Amazon has invested in.

    Amazon’s strategy of purposely giving away premium video for free parallels what it has done with Prime Video, investing heavily in originals like “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” without seeking to directly monetize them. Rather, Amazon uses its massive commerce business to subsidize the cost of content creation, because it has been able to demonstrate to itself that video drives higher levels of Prime acquisition/retention, and Prime members buy more stuff from Amazon, of course.

    Jeff Bezos articulated this “flywheel” in an interview with Walt Mossberg at the Code Conference in 2016, putting as fine a point on it as one can imagine, by famously saying “When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes” (start at the 36:56 mark for the segment). Amazon’s approach to subsidizing video is virtually inimitable, except perhaps by Apple and Google, and should justifiably strike terror in the heart of every media company CEO.

    In India, with miniTV, we are seeing Amazon run the same playbook, except absent a Prime membership requirement, and with a more specific focus on mobile consumption, primarily by younger viewers. If media company CEOs around the world were not already on high alert from Prime Video, miniTV should put them on an immediate DEFCON 1 footing.

    (As a side note, I believe that another flywheel, in CTV advertising, is also developing, as I wrote back in June, 2021. Speakers at next week’s VideoNuze CTV Advertising PREVIEW: 2023 will emphatically drive this home. Note, complimentary sign up is available.)

    Last but not least, and at the risk of stating the obvious: Bezos’s net worth currently stands at approximately $120 billion, while Ambani’s is around $84 billion. In short, both of them bring essentially unlimited resources to the streaming game, free to subsidize anything they believe is in their companies’ long-term interests. The stakes in streaming have never been as high and only the deepest-pocketed need apply.

    The two initiatives in India are a preview of streaming’s future. As I said, DEFCON 1.

    Pack your bags for the trip to India, and listen to the podcast to learn more (27 minutes, 20 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Interview With BBC Studios’ GM of FAST Channels Beth Anderson

    In this week’s podcast, Colin and I are delighted to welcome BBC Studios’ GM of FAST Channels, Beth Anderson as our guest. BBC Studios has been one of the leading innovators and early adopters of FAST, and has a well-developed, highly-strategic plan for how to optimize its vast, 100-year old iconic programming library through aggressive FAST distribution.

    Beth explains all of this and also dives more specifically into how BBC Studios has created a meticulous decision tree to guide which content to incorporate into its FAST channels, how it has completely revamped its audience targeting approach moving away from traditional age/income demo targeting toward “mood-based” programming based on a concept of viewers’ “displaced nostalgia,” why BBC Studios’ is both comfortable with and encouraging of platform partners’ disparate ad monetization strategies even if the consequence is inconsistent viewer experiences with identical BBC FAST channels across platforms,

    During the interview Beth articulates two incisive points about FASTs that are among the best I’ve heard: that FASTs should be thought of as “grandchildren of linear TV, but children of SVOD” and that “FAST is the most equitable form of media we’ve seen in a generation.” Both so well said.

    As a major bonus, Beth will be participating in VideoNuze’s CTV Advertising PREVIEW virtual event on February 28th (complimentary registration) on the panel “FASTs – Road to Gold or Road to “SLOW?” with Tejas Shah (SVP, Commercial Strategy and Analytics, FilmRise), Josh Sharma (VP of Advertising Partnerships, Allen Media Group) and Aneessa Steilen (VP, Media and Distribution Marketing, Vevo) with the one and only Eric John (VP, Media Center, IAB) moderating.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (48 minutes, 7 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Are FASTs a Road to Gold or a Road to “SLOW?”

    On this week’s podcast, Colin Dixon and I boldly  introduce to the industry a new acronym (technically it’s a “macronym” or “nested acronym”).

    We’re all aware that free ad-supported TV (“FAST) services are currently all the rage and that many are predicting it will become a multibillion dollar streaming segment in the years ahead.  

    Content providers, TV OEMs and TV networks are seizing the opportunity by launching new FAST services to capitalize on two key trends - advertisers’ insatiable demand for premium CTV ad inventory and viewers’ SVOD fatigue especially as economic uncertainty surges.

    All of this makes FASTs a “road to gold” in the short-term.

    But, in the longer-term, an unintended consequence of FASTs’ growth may be to precipitate accelerated churn among SVOD providers. Hence the new macronym: SVOD Losses On the Way (“SLOW”).

    There are still only 24 hours in the day, and viewers constantly make choices about what to watch, what services get displaced and what they’re willing to pay for. If viewers reapportion their viewing time to strong FAST services that are flooding the market, then they’re being “trained” to consume free premium video via FASTs. Further, their expectations for ever-better shows to be accessible without payment also escalates.

    SLOW is a concept I’ve been contemplating for some time, especially as I read one FAST-boosting report or article after another, as well as observing the slowing growth SVODs are already experiencing.

    But this week’s announcements of WBD moving “Westworld” plus a trove of other programming to Tubi and to The Roku Channel FAST services really crystallized things for me. After all, “Westworld” is a show that garnered 54 Emmy nominations and 9 wins in its four-year run. Its popularity has faded recently and HBO cancelled it, but it still boasted a familiar, name-brand cast. For HBO, it was no “Game of Thrones” or “The Sopranos,” but it was respectable. Now all 36 episodes will be available completely for free on Tubi and The Roku Channel.

    To be clear - and as I say in the podcast - I remain a fan of FASTs. I’m only raising the caution flag that the decision-making around which FASTs to launch and what premium content will be included must be made with a lot of strategic awareness. Companies condition their customers what to expect; once this conditioning is set it is incredibly difficult to recondition them.

    Note: There will be a dedicated session on whether FASTs are a road to gold or a road to “SLOW” at VideoNuze’s CTV Advertising PREVIEW virtual event on Feb. 28th afternoon. Sign-up is complimentary. Initial speakers being announced next week.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (38 minutes, 2 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: ESPN is Getting Squeezed From All Sides

    Cord-cutting is accelerating. Deep-pocketed Big Tech (Amazon, Apple, Google) are scooping up marquee sports rights in an effort to add value to their services businesses. Linear TV viewing is collapsing. Consumers' attention is fragmenting as myriad social media and other activities beckon for eyeballs.

    As Colin and I discuss on this week’s episode, ESPN finds itself at the center of this storm, as the venerable TV network gets squeezed from all sides. Adding urgency to the problem, and as we also explore this week, Sinclair's Diamond Sports Group, which owns Bally Sports, a big collection of Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) acquired from Disney as part of its Fox deal, is edging toward declaring bankruptcy.

    While Diamond’s demise is closely tied to the debt it incurred by overpaying for the Fox RSNs in 2019, it raises more consequential questions about the health of the sports TV ecosystem - and therefore the value of sports broadcasting rights themselves. These rights have been funded primarily through the “sports tax” on pay-TV subscribers who are not sports fans (see “Not a Sports Fan, Then You’re Getting Sacked for At Least $2 Billion Per Year,” which I wrote back in February, 2011). Non-sports fans are getting soaked for far more than this in 2023, with huge - and mostly unknown - sums embedded in their monthly pay-TV bills (partly contributing to escalating cord-cutting).

    Net, net, the delicate equilibrium in the sports TV ecosystem is under major pressure. With respect to ESPN, newly reinstated Disney CEO Bob Iger has a pressing - yet until recently unimaginable - question to address: long-term, is ESPN still a good business? And if it’s not, should Disney keep the network anyway, or seek to sell it off?

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (30 minutes, 18 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Interview With FuboTV’s CEO and Co-Founder David Gandler

    In this week’s podcast, Colin and I do a deep dive interview with FuboTV’s CEO and Co-Founder David Gandler. FuboTV, which reported having 1.6 million subscribers at the end of Q3 ’22, has differentiated itself primarily with sports, which, as we discuss, has its advantages and disadvantages.

    Specifically in the podcast, we dig into escalating and fragmenting sports rights, what impact tech giants like Apple, Amazon and YouTube will have as they stream more sports on their platforms, the role of FAST channels and regional sports networks (RSNs) for pay-TV providers, the decision to shutter FuboTV’s nascent sportsbook, how FuboTV is pursuing AI for cutting-edge user experiences and much more.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (42 minutes, 45 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: How Do Sunday Ticket Economics Work for YouTube?

    Happy new year and welcome to the first edition of Inside the Stream for 2023. Just after recording our Top 10 streaming stories of 2022 podcast a couple of weeks ago YouTube announced its deal with the NFL for Sunday Ticket.

    In this week’s podcast we dig into how we think the economics of the deal might work. Colin modeled many of the variables, which I then tinkered with. The clear caveat is that no external person, including us, really knows all the pieces of the deal, nor the terms. So we’re taking our best guesses, based on how Sunday Ticket has performed for DirecTV and the new value we believe YouTube brings to the package.

    Based on all of this Colin is skeptical about YouTube’s ability to turn a profit on Sunday Ticket, while I’m more optimistic. In addition I highlight a number of valuable strategic aspects of the deal to YouTube and Google, especially gaining direct experience with the NFL for the next 6-7 years. These insights will be extremely valuable as YouTube contemplates potentially bidding for some or all of the NFL broadcast package when it’s up for renewal in 2033.

    Ultimately the value of Sunday Ticket to YouTube hinges on its ability to monetize the package much better than DirecTV did - more subscribers and more advertising revenue.

    Listen to the podcast to learn more (30 minutes, 36 seconds)

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Top 10 Streaming Video Stories of 2022 and Happy Holidays

    Keeping with our end of year tradition, this week on Inside the Stream, Colin and I discuss the top 10 most important streaming video stories (in our humble view) of 2022.

    Several of our top 10 stories focus on broader industry trends that are accelerating, such as cord-cutting and the rise of connected TV advertising. Others focus on changes at specific companies including YouTube, Netflix, Disney and WBD. And others involve emerging themes such as sports rights migrating to streamers, adoption of hybrid video-on-demand (HVOD) business models and the growth of FASTs. The top 10 highlight the industry’s vibrancy, as well as the challenges of navigating an ever-changing landscape.

    Thank you for listening to Inside the Stream in 2022; hopefully you’ve found value in our discussions. We look forward to continuing the dialogue in 2023 and wish you all happy holidays!

    Listen to the podcast (36 minutes, 39 seconds)

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