Analysis for 'Cable Networks'

  • New Research Highlights Major Challenges Skinny Bundles Face

    New research from consulting firm Altman Vilandrie & Company highlights the major challenges that current and pending “skinny bundles” face. Skinny bundles - which are scaled down, customized and less expensive groups of TV networks - have become a hot industry topic, and are perceived as valuable in pulling cord-cutters and cord-nevers back into the pay-TV ecosystem.

    But AV&Co.’s 7th annual consumer video survey, which is the most extensive research that I’ve seen yet into the prospects for skinny bundles, paints a picture of how narrow the opportunity may in fact be. VideoNuze readers know that I’ve been very skeptical of skinny bundles, whether from Sling TV, PlayStation Vue or soon Hulu and DirecTV Now. The AV&Co. research largely confirms my concerns (see here and here).

    continue reading on VideoNuze iQ

     
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  • Nielsen's Q3 '14 Data Shows Huge Drop in Linear TV Viewing as Online Video Surges

    Nielsen has released its Q3 '14 Total Audience report (which is the new name for the previous quarterly Cross-Platform report), the highlight of which is the marked reduction in linear TV viewing across every age group except 65+, with an accompanying surge in online video. I charted the new Q3 '14 data vs. Q3 '13 data below.

    The big quarter-vs-quarter change that pops out is the 19.2% reduction in linear viewing per week by adults 18-24. This age group is now watching 17 hours, 34 minutes per week, which is 4h, 11m less than the 21h, 45m a year ago. While this group increased its online video usage by 20.7%, that only accounted for 25 incremental minutes per week.

    continue reading on VideoNuze iQ

     
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  • Let's Get Real: TV Isn't Close to Dying and Here's a Great Slide Deck Proving It

    There is no doubt the TV industry is changing dramatically, largely due to the rise of online and mobile video viewing. But is it "dying," "imploding" or being "nuked" as some recent tech media headlines assert? No, not yet anyway. As a close observer of all things video, it's just mind-boggling sometimes to see how data is conflated to support distorted conclusions. If your company's product strategy were guided by today's headlines alone, you'd be on a course to disaster.

    To help set things straight, Piksel's Alan Wolk has put together a really good slide deck with data debunking 7 of the bigger myths floating around these days (1) cord-cutting is a mass movement, (2) kids ignore mainstream TV, (3) your pay-TV provider is the one forcing you to pay for 800 channels, (4) cutting the cord lets you stick it to the cable company, (5) second screen is all about social TV, (6) TV viewing has decreased and (7) in the future we'll be able to watch TV wherever, whenever and however we want.

    See slide deck

     
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  • Study: 73 Cable TV Networks Offering TV Everywhere, NBCU Leads, Discovery Lags

    Market researcher IHS has released its first study of TV Everywhere deployments in the U.S., finding that 73 different cable networks are now allowing authenticated online/mobile access for on-demand viewing. Per the chart below, NBCU leads among the ad-supported segment, with 15 of its 18 networks offering some TVE VOD option, followed by Time Warner (Turner) with 9 networks and News Corp. and Viacom each with 6. Discovery is the only major cable network group not yet offering TVE, but IHS expect that to change soon.

    continue reading on VideoNuze iQ

     
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  • Analyst: TV Unbundling Would Slice 50% Of Industry's Revenue

    Investment firm Needham & Company has released its latest Future of TV report, with lead analyst Laura Martin concluding that the biggest current risk to the TV industry's economics is unbundling of subscription TV channels. Martin asserts that if consumers had the option to choose their channels on an a la carte basis, rather than the multi-channel bundles that pay-TV operators currently offer, approximately 50% of today's TV revenue would be eliminated with fewer than 20 TV channels surviving.

    The draconian forecast adds a financial dimension to the ongoing debate around whether the TV industry will need to radically re-think its business approach if - and it's still a big "if" - cord-cutting gains momentum. To date cord-cutting (and "cord-nevering," where younger viewers simply don't subscribe to pay-TV as in the past) have been relatively muted, with estimates for 2012 in the 500K range. However, several key industry trends such as the escalating cost of pay-TV, changes in consumer behaviors, proliferation of connected and mobile viewing devices, the surge in OTT SVOD adoption (e.g. Netflix) and DVR-based ad-skipping all suggest that the industry's traditional bundled model could be tested over the next few years.

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  • 5 Year-End Video Stories You May Have Missed

    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:

    See the 5 items

     
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  • Study: Cord-Cutters and Cord-Nevers Will Soar to 17.2 Million U.S. Homes by 2017

    New research from The Diffusion Group forecasts that the number of "pay-TV refugees" - U.S. homes subscribing to broadband, but not to pay-TV services - will increase 58%, from 10.9 million in 2012 to 17.2 million in 2017. Pay-TV refugees consist of both "cord-cutters" (homes that once subscribed to pay-TV, but no longer do) and "cord-nevers" (homes that have never subscribed to pay-TV). The percentage of broadband subscribers who are pay-TV refugees will increase from 12.5% in 2012 to 17.2% in 2017.

    Although it forecasts the number of cord-cutters to increase over the next 5 years, TDG's founding partner and director of research Michael Greeson believes the pay-TV industry's main concern should be with cord-nevers which will more than double during that period. Of the 17.2 million pay-TV refugees in 2017, TDG forecasts 40% or 6.9 million of them to be cord-nevers, up from 29%, or 3.2 million, in 2012.

    continue reading

     
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  • 5 Items of Interest for the Week of Nov. 15th

    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.
     
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  • 6 Items of Interest for the Week of Oct. 18th

    It was another busy week for online/mobile video, and so VideoNuze is continuing its Friday practice of curating 5-6 interesting industry news items that we weren't able to cover this week. Read them now or take them with you this weekend!

    Networks block Google TV to protect themselves
    Yesterday news started breaking that ABC, CBS and NBC are blocking access by Google TV. There are numerous concerns being cited - potential disruption of advertising, encouraging cord-cutting, incenting piracy, diminished branding, unsatisfactory ad splits with Google, and general worry about Google invading the living room. Each item on its own is probably not enough to motivate the blocking action, but taken together they are. Still, doesn't it feel a little foolish that broadcasters would differentiate between a computer screen and a TV screen like this? For Google, it's more evidence that nothing comes easy when trying to work with Hollywood. I'm trying to find out more about what's happening behind the scenes.

    TWC Lines Up For ESPN Online Kick
    An important milestone for TV Everywhere may come as early as next Monday, as #2 cable operator Time Warner is planning to make ESPN viewing available online to paying subscribers. Remote access is part of the recent and larger retransmission consent deal between Disney and TWC. TV Everywhere initiatives have been slow to roll out, amid cable programmers' reluctance.  Further proving that remote authenticated access works and that it's attractive with a big name like ESPN would increase TV Everywhere's momentum.

    Hulu Plus, Take Two: How's $4.95 a Month?
    Rumors are swirling that Hulu may cut the price of its nascent Hulu Plus subscription service in half, to $4.95/mo. That would be a tacit recognition of Hulu Plus's minimal value proposition, largely due to its skimpy content offering. As I initially reported in August, over 88% of Hulu Plus content is available for free on Hulu.com. More important, Netflix's streaming gains have really marginalized Hulu Plus. Netflix's far greater resources and subscriber base have enabled it to spend far bigger on content acquisition. Even at $4.95, I continue to see Hulu Plus as an underwhelming proposition in an increasingly noisy landscape.

    Viacom Hires Superstar Lawyer to Handle YouTube Appeal
    Viacom is showing no signs of giving up on its years-long copyright infringement litigation against Google and YouTube. This week the company retained Theodore Olson, a high-profile appellate and Supreme Court specialist to handle its appeal. While most of the world has moved on and is trying to figure out how to benefit from YouTube's massive scale, Viacom charges on in court.

    Verizon to sell Galaxy Tab starting November 11th for $599.99
    Verizon is determined to play its part in the tablet computer craze, this week announcing with Samsung that it will sell the latter's new "Tab" tablet for $600 beginning on November 11th. The move follows last week's announcement by Verizon that it will begin selling the iPad on Oct. 28th, which was widely interpreted as the first step toward Verizon offering the iPhone early next year. Apple currently owns the tablet market, and it remains to be seen whether newcomers like the Tab can break through. For his part, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said on Apple's earnings call this week that all other tablets are "dead on arrival." Note, if you want to see the "Tab" and learn more about how connected and mobile devices are transforming the video landscape, come to the VideoSchmooze breakfast at the Samsung Experience on Wed., Dec. 1st.

    One-Third of US Adults Skip Live TV: Report
    A fascinating new study from Say Media (the entity formed from the recent merger of VideoEgg and Six Apart), suggesting that 56 million, or one-third of adult Internet users, have reduced their live TV viewership. The research identified 2 categories: "Opt Outs" (22 million) who don't own a TV or haven't watched TV in the last week and stream more than 4 hours/week, and "On Demanders" (34 million) who also stream more than 4 hours/week and report watching less live TV than they did a year ago. Not surprisingly, relative to Internet users as a whole, both Opt Outs and On Demanders skew younger and higher educated, though only the latter had higher income than the average Internet user. This type of research is important because the size of both the ad-supported and paid markets for live, first-run TV is far larger than catalog viewing. To the extent its appeal is diminishing as this study suggests poses big problems for everyone in the video ecosystem.


     
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  • 5 Items of Interest for the Week of Sept. 6th

    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.


     
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  • 5 News Items of Interest for the Week of Aug 23rd

    Following is the latest update to VideoNuze's new Friday feature, highlighting 5-6 of the most intriguing industry news items from the week that VideoNuze wasn't able to cover.

    Ads skipped by 86% of TV viewers, but TV ads still most memorable

    A new Deloitte survey unsurprisingly finds high rates of ad skipping among DVR users watching time-shifted programs, yet also notes that 52% of respondents say TV advertising is more memorable than any other type (only 2% cited online video advertising). Is there a love-hate relationship with good old TV advertising?

    Endemol USA Plans Kobe Bryant Web Series
    Online video continues attracting celebrities, with the latest being LA Laker star Kobe Bryant, who will be featured in 8 episodes teaching Filipino kids about hoops. The series is being produced and promoted by powerhouse Endemol. More evidence that independent online video is gaining.

    NFL Sunday Ticket To-Go, Without DirecTV
    DirecTV unbundles its popular NFL package, selling online access to non-subscribers for $350. It's not clear there will be many takers at this price point, but it does raise interesting possibilities about unbundled subscribers connecting to their TVs and also how sports will be impacted by online and mobile viewing.

    TiVo Launches Remote with Slide-Out Keyboard
    TiVo is enhancing navigation with a long-awaited keyboard that slides out of its standard-shaped remote control for $90. With TiVo's new Premiere box offering more video choices than ever, quicker navigation is required. As other connected devices hit the market, it will be interesting to see what clever solutions they come up with too.

    MTVN's Greg Clayman Heads to News Corp to Lead iPad Newspaper
    Amid the ongoing shuffle of digital media executives, MTV Networks lost a key leader in Greg Clayman, who's moving to News Corp to head up their new iPad newspaper. Greg's been on VideoSchmooze panels and we've done webinars together; he always brings great insights as well as a terrific sense of humor.
     
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  • VideoNuze Report Podcast #63; Yankee Group Cord-Cutting Research Download Available

    Daisy Whitney and I are pleased to present the 63rd edition of the VideoNuze Report podcast, for May 27, 2010.

    In today's podcast Daisy starts us off by discussing her New Media Minute this week, in which she highlights recent research from Yankee Group forecasting that 1 in 8 consumers will become cord-cutters in the next 12 months. With the rise of online video viewing, cord-cutting - the idea of consumers discontinuing their pay-TV subscription service in favor of free online sources - has become a very hot topic.

    In this context, the Yankee research got a lot of attention when it was released. I recently had a chance to speak to the 2 analysts responsible for the research, Vince Vittore and Dmitriy Molchanov, who walked me through some of their assumptions. They've also been kind enough to share half a dozen of their slides, which are available for a complimentary download here.

    Yankee's conclusion is based on annual research the firm conducts which includes certain questions about consumers' intent. In this year's survey the question, "Does Internet video offer enough options for you to consider canceling your pay TV subscription?" As slide 3 shows, Yankee took the respondents who are considering this and then extrapolated how many will actually follow through based on trend lines from past research. I think it's a plausible approach, though 1 in 8 over the next 12 months seems very aggressive to me.

    Personally, I've been skeptical about any onslaught of cord-cutting. Back in October, 2008 I laid out my 2 principal arguments: that it's difficult to watch online video on TVs (where it must be enjoyable by mainstream audiences in order for cord-cutting to really take off) and that cable programming will be very limited on the free Internet (and as a result this will be a big disincentive for fans of cable channels to drop them).

    While a lot is happening on the convergence front (e.g. Google TV, Roku, etc.), with the advent of TV Everywhere, the likelihood that cable programs will not leak out onto the open Internet is lower than ever. That's not to say there isn't a ton of great video available for free or through other paid options (like Netflix's streaming), but for the vast majority of pay-TV subscribers, I'd maintain that cutting the cord will be a distant option for a while to come. Nonetheless, it is a fascinating topic which will surely get even more attention going forward.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).

    Click here to listen to the podcast (12 minutes, 59 seconds)


    Click here for previous podcasts

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  • Is "Cord-Cutting" a Big Deal or Not?

    "Cord-cutting," the idea of disconnecting your cable/satellite/telco video subscription service in favor of online viewing only, got renewed attention this week as new research from a Canadian firm named Convergence Consulting Group said that 800,000 U.S. households have unplugged in the last 2 years. Though that number is a teeny-tiny fraction of the population that still takes subscription TV, the question begs, is this an early indicator of rampant cord-cutting to follow, or a blip that's unlikely to get that much bigger over time?

    Back in the fall of '08 I asserted that for most people cord-cutting isn't going to be happening any time soon for 2 key reasons. First, that it's still relatively hard for most mainstream users to connect broadband to their TVs, which is an essential ingredient to long-form viewing. There's no question that this has gotten easier since, and will only get easier still. Eventually broadband to the TV will be ubiquitous. But until it is, cord-cutting raises technical and comfort challenges most people don't want to confront.

    The bigger obstacle to cord-cutting is the loss of cable-only programming that isn't available for free online. Back in '08 the concept of TV Everywhere wasn't yet around. Now that it's beginning to rollout (albeit painfully slowly), it's evident that the cable ecosystem is determined to see cable programming remain accessible only to those who maintain a paid subscription.

    My take is that cable programming is the key firewall against cord-cutting. For some, losing cable programs won't matter. But my guess is that for most, losing their favorite cable programs by cutting the cord will be a non-starter. As Conan's move this week to TBS illustrates, increasingly the most distinctive shows are on cable. And note the "firewall within the firewall" is marquee sports programming on channels like ESPN, TNT and Fox Sports, which isn't going online for free ever. This precludes virtually all true sports fans from cord-cutting.

    Net-net, the debate about cord-cutting's potential needs to focus on how much value audiences place on their favorite cable programs. If it's a lot, then little cord-cutting will ensue; if it's a  little - and there are suitable free online substitutes - then we'll see lots more cord-cutting.

    (Note - all of this is fodder for our VideoSchmooze panel discussion on April 26th "Money Talks - Is Online Video Shifting to the Paid Model?" Early bird discounted registration expires today!)

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).
     
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  • 4 Items Worth Noting for the Jan 4th Week (Netflix-WB Continued, comScore Nov. '09 stats, TV Everywhere, 3D at CES)

    Following are 4 items worth noting for the Jan 4th week:

    1. TechCrunch disagrees with my Netflix-Warner Bros. deal analysis - In "Netflix Stabs Us In The Heart So Hollywood Can Drink Our Blood," (great title btw) MG Siegler at the influential blog TechCrunch excerpts part of my post from yesterday, and takes the consumer's point of view, decrying the new 28 day "DVD window" that Netflix has agreed to in its Warner Bros deal. Siegler's main objection is that "Hollywood thinks that with this new 28-day DVD window deal, the masses are going to rush out and buy DVDs in droves again." Instead, Siegler believes the deal hurts consumers and is going to touch off new, widespread piracy.

    I think Siegler is wrong on both counts, and many of TechCrunch's readers commenting on the post do as well. First, nobody in Hollywood believes DVD sales are going to spike because of deals like this. However, they do believe that any little bit that can be done to preserve the appeal of DVD's initial sale window can only help DVD sales which are critical to Hollywood's economics. Everyone knows DVD is a dying business; the new window is intended to help it die more gracefully. And because new releases are not that critical to many Netflix users anyway, Netflix has in reality given up little, but presumably gotten a lot, with improved access for streaming and lower DVD purchase prices.

    The argument about new, widespread piracy by Netflix users is specious. With or without the 28 day window, there will always be some people who don't respect copyright and think stealing is acceptable. But Netflix isn't running its business with pirates as their top priority. With 11 million subscribers and growing, Netflix is a mainstream-oriented business, and the vast majority of its users are not going to pirate movies - both because they don't know how to (and don't want to learn) and because they think it's wrong. Netflix knows this and is making a calculated long-term bet (correctly in my opinion) that enhancing its streaming catalog is priority #1.

    2. comScore's November numbers show continued video growth - Not to be overlooked in all the CES-related news this week was comScore's report of November '09 online video usage, which set new records. Key highlights: total video viewed were almost 31 billion (double Jan '09's total of 14.8 billion), number of videos viewed/average viewer was 182 (up 80% from Jan '09's 101) and minutes watched/mo were approximately 740 (more than double Jan '09's total of 356).

    Notably, with 12.2 billion views, YouTube's Nov '09 market share of 39.4% grew vs. its October share of 37.7%. As I've previously pointed out, YouTube has demonstrated amazingly consistent market dominance, with its share hovering around 40% since March '08. Hulu also notched another record month, with 924 million streams, putting it in 2nd place (albeit distantly) to YouTube. Still, Hulu had a blowout year, nearly quadrupling its viewership (up from Jan '09's 250 million views). But with 44 million visitors, Hulu's traffic was pretty close to March '09's 41.6 million. In '10 I'm looking to see what Hulu's going to do to break out of the 40-45 million users/mo band it was in for much of '09.

    3. Consumer groups protest TV Everywhere, but their arguments ring hollow - I was intrigued by a joint letter that 4 consumer advocacy groups sent to the Justice Department on Monday, urging it to investigate "potentially unlawful conduct by MVPDs (Multichannel Video Programming Distributors) offering TV Everywhere services." The letter asserts that MVPDs may have colluded in violation of antitrust laws.

    I'm not a lawyer and so I'm in no position to judge whether any actions alleged to have taken place by MVPDs violated any antitrust laws. Regardless though, the letter from these groups demonstrates that they are missing a fundamental benefit of TV Everywhere - to provide online access to cable TV programming that has not been available to date because there hasn't been an economical model for doing so. In the eyes of people who think that making money is evil, the TV Everywhere model of requiring consumers to first subscribe to a multichannel video service seems anti-consumer and anti-competitive. But to people trying to make a living creating quality TV programming, the preservation of a highly functional business model is essential.

    These advocacy groups need to remember that consumers have a choice; if they don't value cable's programming enough to pay for it, then they can instead just watch free broadcast programs.

    4. 3D is the rage at CES - I'll be doing a CES recap on Monday, but one of the key themes of the show has been 3D. There were two big announcements of new 3D channels, from ESPN and Discovery/Sony/IMAX. LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony announced new 3D TVs. And DirecTV announced that it would launch 3 new 3D channels by June 2010, with Panasonic as the presenting sponsor. 3D sets will be an expensive proposition for consumers for some time, but prices will of course come down over time.

    Something that I wonder about is what impact will 3D have on online and mobile video? Will this spur innovation in computer monitors so that the 3D experience can be experienced online as well? And how about mobile - will we soon be slipping on 3D glasses while looking at our iPhones and Android phones? It may seem like a ridiculous idea, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.

    Enjoy your weekend!

     
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  • Lack of Viewership Data Could Stall TV Everywhere

    Based on a number of conversations I've had with cable programming executives, Nielsen's current inability to measure online viewing of TV programs and meld that data effectively with on-air viewing is emerging as a key stumbling block to successful rollouts of TV Everywhere services.

    Cable networks are justifiably concerned that any viewership that potentially shifts from on-air to online that they are not credited for will adversely impact their ratings and therefore their advertising revenue. Until the issue is fixed cable networks will be reluctant to offer their most popular programs to TV Everywhere providers, in turn diluting TV Everywhere's appeal to consumers.

    Nielsen, the de facto standard in TV ratings measurement, is well aware of these concerns and as Multichannel News reported this past Monday, it plans to accelerate the deployment of its "TVandPC" software which measures online viewing to 7,500 of its National People Meter households by Aug. 31, 2010. While that's a start, as industry executives have told me, it's not just the online viewing data that's needed, but also the proper blending of that data with the on-air data that's critical.

    Among the issues is how online viewing, which offers consumers the potential of much-delayed on-demand viewing, should be aligned with Nielsen's "C3" ratings, which captures up to 3 days playback on DVRs. Another issue is understanding and measuring new TV Everywhere viewership patterns (e.g. college students remotely watching shows on a laptop which has been authenticated by Mom and Dad's cable account). Then there's the question of whether the online ad loads are going to be comparable to those on-air (e.g. if the online share of a program's overall viewership carried far fewer ads than the on-air viewership, advertisers and media planners will want to know this). No doubt other issues loom as well.

    Add it all up and the process of collecting and then blending online and on-air viewership data is non-trivial and will require a significant investment and testing on Nielsen's part to accomplish. From Nielsen's standpoint, it could be reluctant to make such an investment in overhauling its measurement service unless there were pre-commitments from some of its clients to accepting and buying the enhanced ratings service.

    On the one hand, it would seem that cable networks' reluctance to embrace TV Everywhere until adequate measurement systems were in place would be a strong incentive for TV Everywhere providers to support Nielsen's enhancements. However, I've been told that when Nielsen previously made improvements to track Video-on-Demand viewership, not many service providers implemented necessary mechanisms to denote programs were VOD-based, and therefore Nielsen's investment yielded little return. Particularly given the tough economic times, that could make Nielsen more cautious about how it proceeds with online ratings. For now Nielsen has not disclosed its plans.

    Still, Nielsen is under pressure to move forward given the formation of the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM), which is comprised of 14 TV networks, agencies and advertisers. CIMM's goal is to explore new methodologies for audience measurement, particularly for set-top box data and cross-platform media consumption. While some in the industry have tagged CIMM as a Nielsen challenger, its members have said they have no intention of trying to replace Nielsen. Regardless, the presence of an industry-backed group trying to wrap its arms around cross-platform audience measurement is likely to only accelerate Nielsen's online tracking efforts.

    As VideoNuze readers know, I've been quite enthusiastic about TV Everywhere's potential, though I'm plenty cognizant of the challenges it faces. Measurement is surely near the top of that list. One of the benefits to Comcast of owning NBCU is that, if it chooses to, it can release NBCU's cable networks' programs for TV Everywhere viewing, absent complete online tracking. This would be comparable to what Hulu's owners have chosen to do by distributing their broadcast network shows online (they're at least partly motivated by the belief that online viewing augments on-air viewing). But Comcast won't take ownership of NBCU for another year or so. By that time Nielsen may well be close to rolling a blended online/on-air offering.

    In sum, it could well be that 2010 ends up being more a year of experimentation for TV Everywhere while building blocks like audience measurement get put in place. VOD, which years since its launch still lacks many primetime programs as well as dynamic advertising insertion, offers a cautionary example for TV Everywhere providers of how a lack of investment can block the realization of a new medium's full potential. Cable networks in particular will keep looking for signals that TV Everywhere will be more robust than VOD before they get too enthusiastic about online distribution.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
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  • 4 News Items Worth Noting from the Week of July 13th

    Following are 4 news items worth noting from the week of July 13th:
     
    TV Everywhere survey should have cable industry clicking their heels - I wasn't at all surprised to read results of a new Solutions Research Group survey fielded to 500 Comcast and Time Warner Cable subscribers giving the concept of TV Everywhere positive reviews. As Multichannel News reported, in the overall survey 28% of respondents said the idea was "excellent" and 45% said it was "good." Digging in further though, among those 18-49 the "excellent" score surged to 80%, while 87% of Hulu and Fancast users approved of the idea. Unprompted, respondents cited benefits like convenience, remote viewing, getting better value from their cable subscriptions, watching on PCs in rooms without TVs and catching up on missed programs. My take: consumers "get" what TV Everywhere is all about and already have positive initial reactions, meaning there's very significant upside for the cable industry.

    Paid video forecast to surpass free - A Strategy Analytics forecast that got attention this week says that the global paid online video market will be worth $3.8B in 2009, exceeding the global free online video segment which will total $3.5B. I haven't seen the details of the forecast, but I'm very curious what's being included in each of these numbers as both seem way too high to me. The firm forecasts the two segments to grow at comparable rates (37% and 39%), suggesting that their size will remain relatively even. I suspect we're going to be seeing a lot of other research suggesting the paid market is going to be far larger than the ad-supported market as sentiment seems to be shifting toward subscriptions and paid downloads.

    Consumer generated video contests remain popular - VideoNuze readers know I've been intrigued for a while now about contests that brands are regularly running which incent consumers to create and submit their own videos. Just this week I read about two more brands jumping on the bandwagon: Levi's and Daffy's retail stores. NewTeeVee had a good write-up on the subject, citing new research from Forrester which reviewed 102 different contests and found the average prize valued at $4,505. I see no end in sight for these campaigns as the YouTube generation realizes it's more lucrative to pour their time into these contests than training their cats to skateboard. Brands too are recognizing the wealth of amateur (read cheap!) talent out there and are moving to harness it.

    MySpace has lots of work ahead to become a meaningful entertainment portal - The WSJ ran a piece on Monday based on an interview with Rupert Murdoch in which he was quoted as saying MySpace will be refocused "as an entertainment portal." That may be the winning ticket for MySpace, but I'm not totally convinced. MySpace has been in a downward spiral lately, with a 5% decline in audience over the past year, a 30% headcount reduction and an executive suite housecleaning. While always strong in music, according to comScore, its 48 million video viewers in April '09 were less than half YouTube's 108 million, while its 387 million video views were about 5% of YouTube's 6.8 billion. Clearly MySpace has a very long way to go to give YouTube serious competition. It will be interesting to see if the new management team Murdoch has installed at MySpace can pull off this transition.

     
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  • MTV Unveils Research on Short-Form Video Advertising

    MTV Networks released some interesting research yesterday on the optimal way to present advertising in short-form online video. Its "Project Inform" looked at how multiple ad presentations from 3 blue chip advertisers performed and were liked by users across 50 million video streams on MTV.com, ComedyCentral.com, VH1.com, NickJr.com and CMT.com. The research was conducted in partnership with InsightExpress using Panache's video ad platform.

    The research found that the most effective ad product was a "lower 1/3 product suite" consisting of a 5 second pre-roll combined with a 10 second lower 1/3 semi-transparent Flash overlay that began about 10 seconds after the video itself began. Effectiveness was defined as brand lift, measured by metrics like unaided awareness, aided awareness and purchase intent. The research also measured consumers' likeability of each ad product. This finding provides support for why overlays seem to keep popping up; for example I now see overlays on most of the video clips I watch on YouTube.

    In second place was a conventional 30 second pre-roll which did well on both effectiveness and consumer likeability. That surprises me somewhat because I've believed for a while that 30 seconds is way too long for an ad where the content itself may only be 1-3 minutes in length. Granted it's a subjective judgment, but my personal experience has been that 30 seconds feels like an eternity when I know the content I'm accessing is going to be pretty brief. In fact I've noticed a clear trend toward 15 second pre-rolls accompanying short video clips, which I assumed suggested content providers had thankfully come to a similar conclusion.

    In third place in the MTV research was a "sideloader product suite", which included a 5 second pre-roll with a 10 second custom unit that slides out of the right side of the video window 10 seconds after the video itself began (so it sounds like the lower 1/3 product suite except the overlay is on the right instead of the bottom). I've never seen a unit like this, but to the extent that it may block valuable content in the right side of the window I could see users feeling it was intrusive.

    There's lots of research underway about different ad formats' effectiveness, and the MTV research adds to the industry's collective knowledge about best practices. There's still a ways to go though as industry participants launch and test new types of ad formats in search of the ultimate ad presentation.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
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  • Catching Up on Last Week's Industry News

    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.

    Hulu plans September bow in U.K.

    Rise of Web Video, Beyond 2-Minute Clips

    Update on New Channels

    ABC Content Now on Hulu

    Nielsen Online: Kids Flocking to the Web

    Amid Upfronts, Brands Experiment Online

    Clippz Launches Mobile Channel for White House Videos

    Prepare Yourself for iPod Video

    Study: Web Video "Protail" As Entertaining As TV

    In-Stat: 15% of Video Downloads are Legal

    Kazaa still kicking, bringing HD video to the Pre?

    Office Depot's Circuitous Route: Takes "Circular" Online, Launches "Specials" on Hulu

    Upload Videos From Your iPhone to Facebook Right Now with VideoUp

    Some Claims in YouTube lawsuit dismissed

    Concurrent, Clearleap Team on VOD, Advanced Ads

    Generating CG Video Submissions

    MJ Funeral Drives Live Video Views Online

    Qik Raises $5.5 Million

    Why Hulu Succeeded as Other Video Sites Failed

    YouTube's Pitch to Hollywood

    Invodo Secures Series B Funding

    Comcast, USOC Eye Dedicated Olympic Service in 2010

    Consumer Groups Push FTC For Broader Broadband Oversight

    Crackle to Roll Out "Peacock" Promotion

    Earlier Tests Hot Trend with "Kideos" Launch

    Mobile entertainment seeking players, payment

    Netflix Streams Into Sony Bravia HDTVs

    Akamai Announces First Quarter 2009 State of the Internet Report

    Starz to Join Comcast's On-Demand Online Test

    For ManiaTV, a Second Attempt to be the Next Viacom

    Feeling Tweety in "Web Side Story"

    Most Online Videos Found Via Blogs, Industry Report

    Cox to Turn "MyPrimeTime" Dial to 100

    How to Start a Company (and Kiss Like Angelina)

     
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  • VideoNuze Report Podcast #23 - July 2, 2009

    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

    The VideoNuze Report is available in iTunes...subscribe today!

     
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  • New Research from Starz on Media Consumption Behaviors

    Continuing VideoNuze's pattern of highlighting relevant third-party research, today I'm pleased to make available for complimentary download a dozen research slides from Starz Entertainment. Many of you are likely familiar with Starz, which owns a leading collection of premium cable networks which have been in the forefront of pursuing broadband distribution opportunities.

    Starz participated in an omnibus research study of 5,500 U.S. Internet users (4,000 18+ years-old and 1,500 12-17 years-old) in September-October '08. The survey was administered by market research firm Synovate and the goals were to measure 17 different media consumption activities on 9 different platforms.

    Starz research head David Charmatz and members of his team walked me through key findings I think it will be beneficial for VideoNuze readers trying to make sense of the shifting video landscape. I have no financial stake in this research.

    Consistent with other numbers I've seen recently, 62% of respondents now watch some online video each week. That compares with 87% for live TV, 46% for DVD and just 38% for Time-shifted TV (DVR/VOD). There's little gender difference among those watching online video; 66% of males watch, 58% of females watch.

    "Televidualists" as Starz calls them are a key group representing 18% of respondents who watch long-form media at least once per week either online, on a mobile device or through a media extender like Apple TV or Xbox. This group watched more video on all platforms and down the road I see them as the early adopters who are going to be most open to exploring online/on-demand-only solutions. To keep things in perspective, note that just 1% said that they only watch long-form content on new platforms and not on TV (and some of these may have never watched TV at all).

    Importantly 60% of Televidualists are 12-34 years-old, compared to 39% overall. That's of course no surprise to anyone, and it continues to underscore how important it is for all incumbents in the existing video distribution value chain to pay close attention to serving their younger customers flexibly and cost-effectively. All of this and more data is contained in the slides.

    Click here for complimentary download

     
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