Analysis for 'Cable TV Operators'

  • Survey: 48% Of Pay-TV Subscribers “Cord Cheat” with OTT Services

    Digitalsmiths has released its quarterly survey on consumer behavior around pay-TV and VOD, finding that consumers are continuing to “cord cheat,” with 48% supplementing their pay-TV subscriptions with OTT services, up from 35% reported in Q2 '13. Most popular for these consumers was Netflix (42%), while for individual movie rentals Redbox kiosks took the lead at 17%.

    Digitalsmiths believes cord cheating is a big threat to pay-TV providers and said they must adapt and better support consumer expectations. According to the survey, the top reasons consumers are choosing OTT services like Netflix, Hulu or iTunes are because they are more convenient (53%), cheaper (48%) and allow full season TV viewing (31%).

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  • Research: Nearly 2/3 of Pay-TV Viewers Know What They Want to Watch, Most Just Want Better Search Tools

    New research released today by Veveo reveals that nearly 2/3 of pay-TV viewers know what they want to watch "almost always" or "most of the time." In addition, almost 75% of them said they'd like better search capabilities from their pay-TV operator, a preference that dwarfed recommendations as an option, which was cited by less than 5% of respondents. Heavier TV viewers' preference for search was even stronger.

    According to Sam Vasisht, Veveo's CMO, whom I spoke to last week, the findings underscore the extent to which search has become an integral part of everyday life for many consumers. The fact that search has become a positive online experience for many means that sub-optimal search tools provided by pay-TV operators becomes more glaringly obvious, leading to viewer frustration and lost revenue opportunities.

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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.

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  • Study: U.S. Broadband Homes Without Pay-TV are Basically Flat at 9%

    There is a lot of talk these days about pay-TV cord-cutters and cord-nevers and how OTT providers can leverage this group to build their businesses. But a data point from research firm Leichtman Research Group last week that caught my eye suggests this market may be smaller than many people think and also not growing very fast. LRG noted that just 9% of U.S. homes subscribe to a broadband Internet service, but not a pay-TV service, up just slightly from the 8% level in both 2011 and 2012 (see graph below).

    Further, Bruce Leichtman of LRG told me that of the broadband/no pay-TV group, just 37% get their broadband from speedier and pricier cable or telco fiber deployments. That compares with 75% taking these services among other broadband subscribers (remember than cable and telco fiber are by far the most prevalent broadband services).

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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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  • VideoNuze Podcast #182 - Cisco's Global Video Forecast; BlackArrow Linear

    I'm pleased to present the 182nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. Apologies in advance for audio quality this week as Colin was dialing in from a London hotel room and his audio level is low.

    In today's podcast Colin leads off by sharing key takeaways from Cisco's latest Visual Networking Index (VNI) that was released this week. Cisco has been forecasting strong online and mobile video growth for years and this version continued the trend. Colin also wrote about it here.

    Then we move on to discussing BlackArrow Linear, a new product announced yesterday that enables pay-TV operators to dynamically inserts ads into live and linear video viewed on devices. Colin and I agree that it should move the TV Everywhere ball forward, helping programmers monetize better and therefore help catalyze broader video distribution.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (16 minutes, 54 seconds)

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  • Tipping Point? Q1 '13 Broadband Subscriber Growth Was 6x Bigger Than Pay-TV's

    New industry data compiled by Leichtman Research Group shows that broadband ISPs that account for 93% of the U.S.  market added over 1.1 million subscribers in Q1 '13, nearly 6 times the 194K pay-TV subscribers that were added in the period by pay-TV operators that account for 94% of the market.

    Broadband subscriber additions have outstripped pay-TV's for years, but the 6x ratio is more than double the average of 2.8x from the prior 2 years. The 194K pay-TV additions in Q1 were down 56% vs. the 445K added in Q1 '12, while the 1.1M broadband additions were off 15% from the 1.3M in each of the prior 2 years.

    On the surface the data suggests that cord-cutting - a shift from viewing video via pay-TV to via broadband - may finally be taking hold. But while LRG's Bruce Leichtman has indeed found an uptick in his calculations of cord-cutting (up from .2% of U.S. homes to .4%-.5%), he sees a far more nuanced picture of what accounted for Q1's swing, plus lots of uncertainty going forward.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #171 - More on Zero-TV Homes, TV Everywhere's Embarrassment and Binge-Viewing

    I'm pleased to present the 171st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. Leading us off today, Colin digs into Nielsen's new "zero-TV" homes data, part of its Q4 '12 Cross-Platform report. When Colin crunches the numbers, he concludes that the  U.S. pay-TV industry may have lost 1.1 million subscribers last year, who moved into the zero-TV category.  That would be above other estimates, which range from flat to down about 500K.

    Of course one of the industry's key initiatives to add value has been TV Everywhere, and on that front, there were refreshingly candid admissions this week from both David Levy, head of Turner's sales, distribution and sports, who said he was "embarrassed" at TV Everywhere's progress, and Lauren Zalaznick, NBCU's chairman, entertainment and digital networks, who said it's too confusing. Both are right, and there are other reasons as elaborated in the recent Ultimate Guide to TV Everywhere (free download).

    Contributing to the pressure on pay-TV providers is the ever-expanding range of quality content available online, and 2 more efforts surfaced this week, Conde Nast's new digital video network, and VEVO TV, a 24x7 music video network.

    Separate, Colin has released his excellent new white paper, "Second-Screen Apps for TV" (free download here)

    And a reminder to sign up for "Sizing Up Apple TV" a free video webinar on April 2nd featuring Brightcove's Jeremy Allaire and me.
        
    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 42 seconds)


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  • Growth in "Zero-TV" Homes is Zero Surprise

    Nielsen's new Q4 '12 Cross-Platform Report has identified just over 5 million "zero-TV" homes in the U.S., as Nielsen calls them, an increase from 2 million in 2007. Not to be confused, these aren't homes without TVs (75% of them still have at least one); rather they are homes that don't receive programming over traditional platforms (i.e. pay-TV and broadcast). Instead, almost half of them (48%) opt for OTT services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and others for content.

    The growth in "zero-TV" homes should come as zero surprise. In fact, if there's anything surprising, it's that the number isn't already higher. But who these zero-TV homes are is less clear: are they cord-cutters or cord-nevers? The fact that almost half of them are under 35 suggests many are cord-nevers. Yet, the 2 main reasons for not subscribing to pay-TV (36% due to cost and 31% due to lack of interest) suggests many cord-cutters. Either way, with only 18% of them considering subscribing to pay-TV, most may well be "permanently cordless" and beyond the industry's promotional efforts.

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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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  • VideoNuze-TDG Podcast #157 - More Thoughts on Cord-Cutters and Cord-Nevers

    I'm pleased to present the 157th edition of the VideoNuze-TDG podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon, senior analyst at The Diffusion Group. This week we devote the full podcast to discussing TDG's new report, "Pay-TV Refugees - A Primary Research Profile of Cord-Cutters and Cord-Nevers."

    Colin notes that U.S. households with broadband service that don't subscribe to pay-TV have grown steadily in the last 3 years, and are forecast to continue doing so over the next 5 years. We dig into the main reasons behind this - affordability and relevance, particularly for younger consumers.

    As I wrote earlier this week, the fundamental question here is what broadband users - presented with a huge new diversity of online video choices, the rising cost of pay-TV and a proliferation of new viewing devices - will do? Admittedly it's still very early in the game and hard to predict what's ahead. But it does seem inevitable, given human behavior, that some percentage will peel off, either dropping pay-TV or not subscribing in the first place.

    All of this - and more - is on the table for discussion at next Wednesday morning's VideoSchmooze in NYC. More info here.

    Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 12 seconds)




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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.

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  • SNL Kagan Forecasting 10% of U.S. Homes Will Cut the Cord by 2015

    Researcher SNL Kagan is forecasting that 10% U.S. homes (12.1 million) will cut the cord on their pay-TV subscriptions by the end of 2015, substituting in over-the-top alternatives. At the end of 2011, 4% or 4.5 million homes will have done so. Still, Kagan sees pay-TV subscriptions actually increasing, though not at a rate fast enough to maintain current penetration levels (see yearly forecast after the break).

    Kagan isn't providing any additional profile information on these cord-cutters, but as I've said before, I think the most vulnerable buckets are the "cord-nevers" (i.e. college grads and others who simply don't sign up for pay-TV service in the first place) and entertainment-only viewers who don't care about live sports that are only available on cable TV channels.

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  • New Research Shows Netflix Is A Catalyst for Cord-Cutting and Cord-Shaving

    The Diffusion Group released interesting research yesterday which supports a view that I've had for a while: heavy Netflix streaming usage correlates with a propensity to cut back on pay-TV services. Although Netflix has strenuously tried to position itself as a low-priced compliment to pay-TV services, the reality is that for some pay-TV subscribers who have begun shifting their viewing hours to Netflix streaming, the two are more substitutes than compliments. As I've argued, these are primarily people who are entertainment-oriented, don't care about live sports, are comfortable with on-demand, not live-viewing, are budget-constrained, or some combination of all of these.

    The headline of the research is that the number of Netflix streamers considering downgrading their pay-TV service doubled year-over-year from 16% to 32%. But to me the key nugget is that among those who said they are likely to downgrade or eliminate their pay-TV service, 61% of moderate to heavy Netflix streamers cite online video usage as the top reason for doing so (with two-thirds of these citing Netflix specifically), while just 24% point to economic issues as their top reason. Conversely, for all Netflix streamers, almost half point to economic issues as their main reason (e.g. "cost of service" and "need to save money"), with just 34% pointing to online video usage as their top reason.

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  • 5 Items of Interest for the Week of Jan. 10th

    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.


     
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  • 5 Items of Interest for the Week of Dec. 5th

    Once again I'm pleased to offer VideoNuze's end-of-week feature highlighting and discussing 5-6 interesting online/mobile video industry news items that we weren't able to cover this week. Read them now or take them with you this weekend!

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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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  • How About Some Actual Data in the Cord-Cutting Debate?

    No sooner did SNL Kagan's press release, announcing that the U.S. pay-TV industry had lost 119K subscribers in Q3 '10, following a loss of 216K subscribers in Q2, hit the wire today, than the blogosphere was alight with a fresh round of posts that cord-cutting was to blame. This chorus was surely egged on by Kagan senior analyst Ian Olgeirson's remark in the press release that "it is becoming increasingly difficult to dismiss the impact of over-the-top substitution on video subscriber performance." That remark was a notable change of tone from Kagan's Q2 release which ascribed subscriber losses solely to the country's ongoing economic woes.

    Note however that Olgeirson only offered his opinion, rather than any actual, hard data from Kagan about cord-cutting's impact. That is characteristic of both sides of the current cord-cutting debate - lots of opining, but little-to-no reliable data. In my own Q3 analysis - in which I suggested that the pay-TV as a whole likely lost around 97K subscribers in Q3 (though the group of 8 of the top 9 pay-TV operators actually gained subscribers) - I noted that nobody truly knows the impact of cord-cutting, yet anyway.

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  • 5 Items of Interest for the Week of Oct. 25th

    Lots more happened this week in online/mobile video, and so to make your lives easier, VideoNuze is once again 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!

    No Longer 'Must-See TV'
    The WSJ reported this week that Thursday night TV viewership (live or recorded) among 18-49 year-olds is down 4.3% this season to 48.5 million, a drop of 2.2 million viewers. For this age group, the drop across all nights (live or recorded) is 2.7%. While the decreases have immediate implications on networks' ad revenue, the bigger issue of course is what the drops say about shifting consumer preferences. For example, I continue to hear anecdotes about users with connected devices now tuning in first to their Instant Watch queues instead of channel surfing or visiting their DVR libraries or VOD. The Nielsen data corroborates other data (here, here) about the decline of TV viewing, especially among young people, and is another reason why broadcast networks in particular should be embracing connected devices like Google TV, not blocking them.
     

    CW Says Study 'Dispels Myth' About Aversion to Ads in Online Video
    Speaking of networks and their online distribution, this week CW released some interesting new data that detailed extremely low abandonment rates for its shows consumed online, even with ad loads almost equal to those on-air. While it is too early to generalize, the data provides a very encouraging sign that networks may be able to achieve parity economics with on-air, even when they window their online releases for delayed availability. It's also an important sign that online video may be a firewall against DVR-based ad-skipping.

    Comcast Launches Free Streaming Video Service Xfinity for All Digital Subs
    In addition to releasing stellar Q3 earnings this week (albeit with a bigger-than-expected subscriber loss), Comcast also pulled the "beta" label off its Xfinity TV service this week, and relaxed its rules about who can gain access. Now any video subscriber, regardless of who they take their broadband Internet service from, can access XFTV.

    Some began to speculate that it could be a precursor for Comcast allowing non-video subs to also gain access to XFTV. This is the concept I wrote about in over a year ago, in "How TV Everywhere Could Turn Cable Operators and Telcos Into Over-the-Top's Biggest Players." The idea is that TV Everywhere services like XFTV could be offered outside of Comcast's franchise areas to allow them to poach video subscribers from other pay-TV operators. It's still a fascinating concept, but nothing about Comcast's move this week suggests it's coming soon.

    Insight To Bow 50-Mbps Internet In Two Markets
    If you think all that Netflix and other long-form streaming is going to strain users' bandwidth, think again, as yet another cable operator/broadband ISP, 9th-largest Insight Communications unveiled plans for a speedy 50 megabit per second broadband tier. Big players like Comcast and Time Warner Cable have been offering this for a while already. It's still very pricey, but as some viewers shift more of their consumption to online and away from conventional TV viewing (see above), more bandwidth will be worth the price. Update - I missed this item, that over in the U.K. Virgin Media began taking sign-ups for a 100 Mbps broadband service. Net, net, last-mile bandwidth will keep expanding to meet increasing demand.

    Promoted Videos hit half a billion views
    Fresh evidence this week that YouTube is finding innovative ways to monetize its massive audience: the company's performance-based "Promoted videos" format achieved its 500 millionth view, just 2 years after being introduced. With Promoted videos, anyone uploading a video to YouTube (brand, content provider, amateur), can buy opportunities to have that video appear alongside relevant keyword-based searches in YouTube. It's a similar format to AdWords, and of course the video provider only pays when their video is actually clicked on. As I said recently, YouTube is becoming a much more important part of Google's overall advertising mix, while for many brands, YouTube's home page is fast-becoming the most desirable piece of online real estate.


     
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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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