Analysis for 'Deals & Financings'
Wednesday, January 2, 2013, 10:28 AM ET|
Welcome to 2013! If you were mostly checked out over the past 1-2 weeks (or were only paying attention to the fiscal cliff roller coaster), you didn't miss a whole lot in the video world. However, there were 5 items that caught my attention which I briefly describe below:
Friday, January 14, 2011, 10:51 AM ET|Even though I was very focused this week on the CES "takeaways" series, there was still plenty of news happening in the online and mobile video industries. So as in the past, I'm pleased to offer VideoNuze's end-of-week feature highlighting 5-6 interesting online/mobile video industry news items that we weren't able to cover this week. Enjoy!
Level 3 fights on in Comcast traffic dispute
Level 3 is showing no signs of relenting on its accusations that Comcast is unfairly trying to charge the CDN for Internet traffic it delivers to Comcast's network. In an interview this week, Level 3 said it may use the "Open Internet" provisions of the FCC's new network neutrality rules to press its case. Level 3's challenge is coming at the 11th hour of the FCC's approval process of the Comcast-NBCU deal; it's not really clear if Level 3 is having any impact on slowing the approval, which appears imminent.
Comcast-NBCU deal challenged over online video proposal
Speaking of challenges to the Comcast-NBCU deal, word emerged this week that Disney is voicing concern over the FCC's proposed deal condition that would force Comcast to offer NBC programming to any party that had concluded a deal with one of NBC's competitors for online distribution. The Disney concern appears to be that the condition would have an undue influence on how the online video market evolves and how Disney's own deals would be impacted. While the FCC should be setting conditions to the deal, the Disney concerns highlights how, in a nascent, fast-moving market like online video, government intervention can cause unintended side effects.
YouTube is notching 200 million mobile video views/day
As if on cue with my CES takeaway #3, that mobility is video's next frontier, YouTube revealed this week that it is now delivering 200 million mobile views per day, tripling its volume in 2010. That would equal about 6 billion views per month, which is remarkable. And that amount is poised to increase, as YouTube launched music video site VEVO for Android devices. YouTube clearly sees the revenue potential in all this mobile video activity; it also said that it would append a pre-roll ad in Android views for tens of thousands of content partners.
Google creates video codec dust-up
Google stirred up a hornet's nest this week by announcing that it was dropping support for the widely popular H.264 video codec in its Chrome browser, in favor of its own WebM codec, in an attempt to drive open standards. Though Chrome only represents about 10% market share among browsers (doubling in 2010 though), for these users, it means they'll need to use Flash to view non-WebM ended video. There are a lot of downstream implications of Google's move, but for space reasons, rather than enumerating them here, check out some of the great in-depth coverage the issue has received this week (here, here, here, here).
Netflix usage drives up Canadian broadband bills
An interesting test of Canadian Netflix streaming showed that a user there might have to pay an incremental $12/month under one ISP's consumption cap. That would be more than the $7.99/mo that the Netflix subscription itself costs, leading to potential cord-shaving behavior. This type of upcharge hasn't become an issue here in the U.S. because even ISPs that have caps have set them high relative to most users' current consumption. But if streaming skyrockets as many think it will, and the FCC allows usage-based billing, this could fast become a reality in the U.S. as well.
Friday, November 19, 2010, 10:29 AM ET|After a short break, VideoNuze's Friday feature of curating 5-6 interesting online/mobile video industry news items that we weren't able to cover this week, returns today. Read them now or take them with you this weekend!
Time Warner Cable Experiments With Lower Tier Video Package
It's a rare day when a cable operator announces a lower-priced offering, but that's what Time Warner Cable did yesterday, unveiling a test of what it's calling "TV Essentials." The new tier, priced between $30-$40, will most notably exclude ESPN, the most expensive channel in the cable universe, meaning right away TV Essentials isn't targeted to sports fans. I've argued for a while now that pay-TV operators have ceded the low-priced/value-oriented end of the video market to Netflix (and others), which given the ongoing recession is a mistake. It will be interesting to see how the new bargain service fares; 2 things that will limit its appeal though are that no channels will be offered in HD, and that it appears those with broadband Internet and telephone services won't benefit from typical package discounts.
Nielsen study: We're still a nation of couch pumpkins
More evidence this week that despite all the deserved enthusiasm over online and mobile delivery, good old-fashioned TV viewing still rules in terms of hours of consumption. Nielsen said that the average person watched 143 hours of TV per month in Q2, essentially flat vs. a year ago. For homes with DVRs, hours of time watched on them nudged up a bit to about 24 1/2 hours. On a related note, this week comScore released its online video viewing data for October, which showed average viewing of 15.1 hours per person. While online video has made huge progress in the last few years, it still has a ton of room to grow to catch up with TV.
More Videos Ads, More User Acceptance
Speaking of the comparison between online video and TV, this week brought some interesting new data on monetization patterns for premium online video. Online video ad manager FreeWheel released data that showed mid-roll ads are the fastest-growing category of ads (up 693% since Q1), and now represent 8% of its ad volume. Completion rates have increased for pre, mid and post-roll ads this year, but notably mid-rolls have the highest completion rate, at 90%. FreeWheel's conclusion is that monetization of premium online video is starting to look a lot like TV, with ad pods inserted throughout. Going a step further, if viewer acceptance of mid-rolls stays high, then this represents a valuable opportunity for TV networks in particular to combat DVR-based ad-skipping.
Startup Claims To Have Set-Top Hulu Can't Block
It was inevitable that Hulu's decision to block access to its programs would set off a game of whack-a-mole, with various devices springing up to do end-arounds. Sure enough, the $99 Orb TV debuted this week, prominently positioning itself as the device that can bring Hulu (among other content) to your TV. One catch is that Orb streams video from your computer and only does so in standard definition. It addresses the "keyboard in the living room" challenge by also including a smartphone app to control the device. It's not a perfect solution, but it does provide a glimpse into the PR-unfriendly dynamic that Hulu, and the broadcast networks, have created for themselves by blocking access to their content by Google TV and others. No doubt there will be plenty more Orb-like devices to come to market in the months ahead, all positioning themselves as solving the blocking problem.
Comcast's Top Digital Exec Amy Banse to Open New Silicon Valley Equity Fund for Cable Giant and NBC
As Comcast enters the final stages of approval for its NBCU deal, the company this week announced a new NBCU management structure. One item that wasn't formally announced yet, but was reported by AllThingsD earlier this week was that Amy Banse, formerly head of Comcast Interactive Media (now headed by Matt Strauss), will be heading to Silicon Valley to run the combined operations of Comcast's current Comcast Interactive Capital venture arm, and NBCU's current Peacock Equity (a JV with GE). With all the distribution, technology and content assets that will be under the Comcast roof, the fund will be at the top of any online/mobile video startup's list of strategic investors. I've known Amy for a while and have enjoyed having her on industry panels; she'll be a huge asset to Comcast in the Valley venture world.
Friday, September 10, 2010, 10:08 AM ET|Though it was a short week due to the Labor Day holiday, there was no shortage of online video industry happenings this week. As I've been doing each of the last few Fridays, following are 5-6 noteworthy industry stories for your weekend reading pleasure.
Ooyala Raises $22 Million to Accelerate Global Expansion
Online video platform Ooyala's new $22 million round is a bright spot in what's been a pretty slow quarter for online video industry private financings. Ooyala's new funds will help the company grow in the Asia-Pacific region. Ooyala said it is serving 550 customers, double the level of a year ago.
Google TV to Roll Out World-Wide Next Year
Even though the first Google TV-enabled devices have yet to be deployed, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said this week that he envisions a global rollout next year. The connected device landscape is becoming more competitive for Google TV given the growing number of inexpensive connected device options.
Business Groups Question Net Neutrality Rules
Three pro-business trade groups urged the FCC to drop its net neutrality initiative, citing the "flourishing" broadband market and concerns that regulations will curtail new investments and hurt the economy. It seems like everyone has a different opinion about net neutrality, so the consensus needed to move regulation forward is still down the road.
ESPN, YouTube Link Up for Promo Campaign
This week ESPN and YouTube kicked off their "Your Highlight" campaign, enticing ESPN viewers to upload their own sports clips, with the best ones to be shown on SportsCenter. Then the best of the best will win a trip to ESPN's studios to watch a SportsCenter taping. It's a great promotional concept, using online video to further invest ESPN viewers in the brand. Whoever thought it up deserves a shout-out.
Life Without a TV Set? Not impossible
Another interesting data point to tuck into your back pocket: according to a 2010 Pew study, just 42% of Americans feel a TV set is a "necessity," down from 64% in 2006. Pew interprets this as a loss of status for the TV, as other devices like computers and phones have become video capable. The perception of convergence is taking root.
4 Items Worth Noting for the Jan 25th Week (Netflix Q4, Nielsen ratings, AOL-StudioNow, Net Neutrality Webinar)Friday, January 29, 2010, 10:09 AM ET|
With the new Apple iPad receiving wall-to-wall coverage this week, it was easy to overlook other significant news. Here are 4 items worth noting for the January 25th week:
1. Netflix Q4 earnings increase my bullishness - On Wednesday, Netflix reported blowout results for Q4 '09, adding almost 3 million subscribers during the year (and a million just in Q4), bringing their YE '09 subscriber count to 12.3 million. Netflix also forecasted to end this year with between 15.5 million and 16.3 million subscribers, implying subscriber growth will be in the range of 26% to 33%. Importantly, Netflix also said that 48% of its subscribers used the company's streaming feature to watch a movie or TV show in Q4, up from 41% in Q3 and 28% a year ago. Wall Street reacted with glee, sending the stock up $12 yesterday to a new high of $63.04.
VideoNuze readers know I've been bullish on Netflix for some time now, and the Q4 results make me more so. A key concern I've had has been around their ability to gain further premium content for streaming. On the earnings call, CEO Reed Hastings and CFO Barry McCarthy addressed this issue, offering up additional details of their content strategy and how the recent Warner Bros. 28-day DVD window deal will work. On Monday I'm planning a deep dive post based on what I heard. As a preview, I'm now convinced that Netflix is the #1 cord-cutting threat. Cable, satellite and telco operators need to be watching Netflix very closely.
2. Nielsen announces combined TV/online ratings plan, but still falls short - This week brought news that Nielsen intends to unveil a "combined national television rating" in September that merges traditional Nielsen TV ratings with certain online viewing data. This is data that TV networks have been hungering for as online viewing has surged, potentially siphoning off TV audiences. I pointed out recently that the lack of such a measurement could seriously retard the growth of TV Everywhere, as cable networks hesitate to risk shifting TV audiences to unmeasurable online viewing.
Nielsen's move is welcome, but still doesn't go far enough. As reported, it seems the new merged ratings will only count online views that had the same ads and ad load as on-air. That immediately rules out Hulu, which of course carries far fewer ads than on-air, and sometimes uses custom creative as well. Obviously if the new Nielsen ratings don't truly capture online viewership they'll be worth little in the market. Ratings are a story with many future chapters to come.
3. AOL acquires StudioNow in bid for to ramp up video content - Also not to be overlooked this week was AOL's acquisition of StudioNow for $36.5 million in cash. StudioNow operates a distributed network of 3,000 video producers, creating cost-effective video for small and large companies alike. I'm very familiar with StudioNow, having spoken with their CEO and founder David Mason a number of times.
AOL is clearly looking to leverage the StudioNow network to generate a mountain of new video content, complementing its Seed.com "content farm." In addition, AOL picks up StudioNow's recently-launched Video Asset Management & Syndication Platform (AMS) which gives it video management capabilities as well. For AOL the deal suggests the company is finally waking up to video's vast potential. But with the rise of online video syndication, it's still a question mark whether creating a whole lot of new video is the right strategy, or whether AOL would have been better served by just partnering with a syndicator like 5Min.
Meanwhile, AOL isn't the only portal realizing video is the place to be. In Yahoo's earnings call this week, CEO Carol Bartz said "Frankly, our competition is television" and as Liz wrote, Bartz also said "that makes video really important." Yahoo just partnered with Ben Silverman's new Electus indie video shop, and it sounds like more action is coming. Geez, the prospect of AOL and Yahoo competing on acquisitions? It would be like the old days again.
4. Net Neutrality webinar next Thursday is going to be awesome - A reminder that next Thurs, Feb. 4th at 11am PT/2pm ET The Diffusion Group and VideoNuze will present a complimentary webinar "Demystifying Net Neutrality." The webinar is the first in a series of 6 throughout 2010, exclusively sponsored by ActiveVideo Networks. Colin Dixon from TDG and I will be hosting and we have 2 fabulous guests, who are on opposing sides of the net neutrality debate: Barbara Esbin, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Communications and Competition Policy at the Progress and Freedom Foundation and Chris Riley, Policy Counsel for Free Press.
Net neutrality is a critically important part of the landscape for over-the-top video services, and yet it is widely misunderstood. Join us for this one-hour session which promises to be educational and impactful.
Enjoy your weekend!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009, 9:31 AM ET|
Yesterday was one of those days when meaningful broadband video-related news and announcements just kept spilling out. While I was writing up the 5Min-Scripps Networks deal, there was a lot of other stuff happening. Here's what hit my radar, in case you missed any of it:
Adobe launches Flash 10.1 with numerous video enhancements - Adobe kicked off its MAX developer conference with news that Flash 10.1 will be available for virtually all smartphones, in connection with the Open Screen Project initiative, will support HTTP streaming for the first time, and with Flash Professional CS5, will enable developers to build Flash-based apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch. All of this is part of the battle Adobe is waging to maintain Flash's lead position on the desktop and extend it to mobile devices. The HTTP streaming piece means CDNs will be able to leverage their HTTP infrastructure as an alternative to buying Flash Media Server 3.5. Meanwhile Apple is showing no hints yet of supporting Flash streaming on the iPhone, making it the lone smartphone holdout.
Hulu gets Mediavest multi-million dollar buy - Hulu got a shot in the arm as Mediaweek reported that the Publicis agency Mediavest has committed several million dollars from 6 clients to Hulu in an upfront buy. Hulu has been flogged recently by other media executives for its lightweight ad model, so the deal is a well-timed confidence booster, though it is still just a drop in the bucket in overall ad spending.
IAB ad spending research reports mixed results - Speaking of ad spending, the IAB and PriceWaterhouseCoopers released data yesterday showing overall Internet ad spending declined by 5.3% to $10.9B in 1H '09 vs. 1H '08. Some categories were actually up though, and online video advertising turned in a solid performance, up 38% from $345M in 1H '08 to $477M in 1H '09. Though still a small part of the overall pie, online video advertising's resiliency in the face of the recession is a real positive.
Yahoo ups its commitment to original video - Yahoo is one of the players relying on advertising to support its online video initiatives, and so Variety's report that Yahoo may as much as double its proportion of originally-produced video demonstrates how strategic video is becoming for the company. Yahoo has of course been all over the map with video in recent years including the short tenure of Lloyd Braun and then the Maven acquisition, which was closed down in short order. Now though, by focusing on short-form video that augments its core content areas, Yahoo seems to have hit on a winning formula. New CEO Carol Bartz is reported to be a big proponent of video.
AEG Acquires Incited Media, KIT Digital Acquires The FeedRoom and Nunet - AEG, the sports/venue operator, ramped up its production capabilities by creating AEG Digital Media and acquiring webcasting expert Incited Media. Company executives told me late last week that when combined with AEG's venues and live production expertise, the company will be able to offer the most comprehensive event management and broadcasting services. Elsewhere, KIT Digital, the acquisitive digital media technology provider picked up two of its competitors, Nunet, a German company focused on mobile devices, and The FeedRoom, an early player in video publishing/management solutions which has recently been focused on the enterprise. KIT has made a slew of deals recently and it will be interesting to watch how they knit all the pieces together.
Product news around video delivery from VBrick, Limelight and Kaltura - Last but not least, there were 3 noteworthy product announcements yesterday. Enterprise video provider VBrick launched "VEMS" - VBrick Enterprise Media System - a hardware/software system for distributing live and on-demand video throughout the enterprise. VEMS is targeted to companies with highly distributed operations looking to use video as a core part of their internal and external communications practices.
Separate, Limelight unveiled "XD" its updated network platform that emphasizes "Adaptive Intelligence," which I interpret as its implementation of adaptive bit rate (ABR) streaming (see Limelight comment below, my bad) that is becoming increasing popular for optimizing video delivery (Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, Apple, Akamai, Move Networks and others are all active in ABR too). And Kaltura, the open source video delivery company I wrote about here, launched a new offering to support diverse video use cases by educational institutions. Education has vast potential for video, yet I'm not aware of many dedicated services. I expect this will change.
I may have missed other important news; if so please post a comment.
Friday, September 4, 2009, 9:52 AM ET|
Following are 4 news items worth noting from the week of August 31st:
1. Nielsen "Three Screen Report" shows no TV viewing erosion - I was intrigued by Nielsen's new data out this week that showed no erosion in TV viewership year over year. In Q2 '08 TV usage was 139 hours/mo. In Q2 '09 it actually ticked up a bit to 141 hours 3 minutes/mo. Nielsen shows an almost 50% increase in time spent watching video on the Internet, from 2 hours 12 minutes in Q2 '08 to 3 hours 11 minutes in Q2 '09 (it's worth noting that recently comScore pegged online video usage at a far higher level of 8.3 hours/mo raising the question of how to reconcile the two firms' methodologies).
I find it slightly amazing that we still aren't seeing any drop off in TV viewership. Are people really able to expand their media behavior to accommodate all this? Are they multi-tasking more? Is the data incorrect? Who knows. I for one believe that it's practically inevitable that TV viewership numbers are going to come down at some point. We'll see.
2. DivX acquires AnySource - Though relatively small at about $15M, this week's acquisition by DivX of AnySource Media is important and further proof of the jostling for position underway in the "broadband video-to-the-TV" convergence battle (see this week's "First Intel-Powered Convergence Device Being Unveiled in Europe" for more). I wrote about AnySource earlier this year, noting that its "Internet Video Navigator" looked like a content-friendly approach that would be highly beneficial to CE companies launching Internet-enabled TVs. I'm guessing that DivX will seek to license IVN to CE companies as part of a DivX bundle, moving AnySource away from its current ad-based model. With the IBC show starting late next week, I'm anticipating a number of convergence-oriented announcements.
3. iPhone usage swamps AT&T's wireless network - The NY Times carried a great story this week about the frustration some AT&T subscribers are experiencing these days, as data-centric iPhone usage crushes AT&T's network (video is no doubt the biggest culprit). This was entirely predictable and now AT&T is scrambling to upgrade its network to keep up with demand. But with upgrades not planned to be completed until next year, further pain can be expected. I've been enthusiastic about both live and on-demand video applications on the iPhone (and other smartphones as well), but I'm sobered by the reality that these mobile video apps will be for naught if the underlying networks can't handle them.
4. Another great Netflix streaming experience for me, this time in Quechee VT courtesy of Verizon Wireless - Speaking of taxing the network, I was a prime offender of Verizon's wireless network last weekend. While in Quechee, VT (a pretty remote town about 130 miles from Boston) for a friend's wedding, I tethered my Blackberry during downtime and streamed "The Shawshank Redemption" (the best movie ever made) to my PC using Netflix's Watch Instantly. I'm happy to report that it came through without a single hiccup. Beautiful full-screen video quality, audio and video in synch, and totally responsive fast-forwarding and rewinding. I've been very bullish on Netflix's Watch Instantly, and this experience made me even more so.
Per the AT&T issue above, it's quite possible that occupants of neighboring rooms in the inn who were trying to make calls on their Verizon phones while I was watching weren't able to do so. But hey, that was their problem, not mine!
Enjoy the weekend (especially if you're in the U.S. and have Monday off too)!
Friday, August 7, 2009, 9:34 AM ET|
Following are 4 items worth noting from the week of August 3rd:
1. Research, research, research - For some unknown reason, there was a flurry online video-related research and forecasts released this week. In no particular order:
eMarketer was out with a new forecast indicating 188 million online video viewers in the U.S. in 2013.
Veronis Suhler released its forecast of 2009-2013 communications industry spending, showing advertising shrinking as a percentage of total spending.
PWC's UK office released its 2009-2013 forecast, which also anticipates declines in advertising.
CBS's research head David Poltrack used detailed data to explain the company's online video strategy and buttress its argument that in a TV Everywhere world, it should be compensated for its content (slides are here, via PaidContent).
Ipsos found that Americans streamed a record amount of TV programs and movies, doubling their consumption from Sept '08 to July '09.
Yahoo and a group of research partners released data finding that 70% of online video consumption happens throughout the day and night, as opposed to traditional TV viewing which is concentrated in the prime-time window.
Last but not least, TDG released excerpts of its research on "over-the-top" video services, available for download at VideoNuze.
2. Unicorn Media launches, hires ex-Move Networks executive David Rice - It will be hard for some to believe there's room for yet another white label video publishing and management platform, but startup Unicorn Media is going to try elbowing its way into the crowded space, with a specific focus on large media companies. I spoke with Unicorn's executive team this week, led by Bill Rinehart, who was the founding CEO of Limelight.
Unicorn is positioning itself as the first "enterprise-grade" solution, staking out key differentiators such as enhanced analytics/reporting, faster/easier transcoding, improved APIs for content ingest/management and more flexible monetization/ad queuing. I have not yet seen a demo, but I'm intrigued by what I heard. The company has raised $5M to date from executives/angels and has a staff of 25. David Rice, formerly Move's VP of Marketing has come on board as Chief Strategy Officer. Given the team's industry expertise and relationships, this could be a company to watch.
3. Google acquires On2 Technologies and other encoding-related news - The blogosphere was in a flurry about Google's $106M acquisition of video compression provider On2 Technologies this week. Speculation flew about Google open-sourcing On2 new VP8 codec, which could potentially force a new standard to emerge as a challenge to H.264, today's leading codec. This is important stuff, though a little further down the stack than I usually focus, so I refer you to Dan Rayburn's analysis of the deal's implications, which is the best I've seen.
There was other news in the emerging cloud-based encoding/transcoding/delivery market this week, as Encoding.com announced a new premium service with tighter service level agreements (4 minute max wait time and 50 Gbyte/hour/customer throughput). Encoding.com's Gregg Heil and Jeff Malkin explained the company is using the new SLAs to move upmarket to service tier 1 and 2 media companies. Separate, Encoding.com's competitor mPoint's CEO Chiranjeev Bordoloi told me they're now on a $3M annualized revenue run rate as cloud-based alternatives continue to gain acceptance.4. Don't try this at home - On a lighter note, there's been no shortage of knuckle-head stunt videos we've all seen online, but this one is near the top of my personal favorite list. Do NOT try replicating this over the weekend!
Monday, July 13, 2009, 9:47 AM ET|
I'm back in the saddle after an amazing 10 day trip to Israel with my family. On the assumption that I wasn't the only one who's been out of the office around the recent July 4th holiday, I've collected a batch of industry news links below so you can quickly get caught up (caveat, I'm sure I've missed some). Daily publication of VideoNuze begins again today.
Thursday, July 2, 2009, 9:25 AM ET|
Below is the 23rd edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for July 2, 2009.
This week Daisy shares additional information about ESPN's Ad Lab for emerging media. The Ad Lab, which was first disclosed by ESPN last year, is intended to various ad formats in the ESPN video player. It is one of many different tests and research projects in the market. As Daisy and I say, everyone's trying to learn how best to monetize the nascent online video; this creates a lot of valuable data, which market participants then need to parse through to fully understand.
I get into further details on my post yesterday, "Video Companies Raised $64M in Q2 '09, Notching Another Stellar Quarter." Despite the recession and the slowdown in venture capital investments, at least 26 industry companies have raised at least $219M over the last 3 quarters, which is impressive by any measure. Still, it hasn't been easy, and one indicator of what investors prefer is that not one of the 26 investments is in a content provider or video aggregator.
Click here to listen to the podcast (14 minutes, 24 seconds)
(Note, with vacations planned, our next podcast will be July 24th)
Click here for previous podcasts
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