Archive for Media devices and services

2019 MIE Conference Summaries

MIE Conference logoAs guest-blogger for the 2019 edition of the Media Insights & Engagement Conference (which is put on by knect365), I wrote up summaries of the keynotes and the break-out sessions I attended. You can find the daily summaries on the knect365 website:

Day 1 of the 2019 MIE conference: Day 1 (Jan 29 2019)
Day 2 of the 2019 MIE conference: Day 2 (Jan 30 2019)
Day 3 of the 2019 MIE conference: Day 3 (Jan 31 2019)

Also, read my three pre-conference posts here:

2019’s New SVOD Services: Blitzkrieg or War of Attrition?

Connected TVs: Corporate Connections as Important as Internet Connections

Does AVOD News Reveal a New Phase of SVOD?

 

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
Don’t miss future posts by signing up for email notifications here .  
– Read my new book about TV, “The Genius Box”. Details here . 

Does AVOD News Reveal a New Phase of SVOD?

My third post as a guest-blogger for the 2019 edition of the Media Insights & Engagement Conference (which is put on by knect365) asks if the recent flurry of AVOD news shows a new phase of SVOD.

“Hot on the heels of Nielsen’s announcement that its Total Ad Ratings product now includes OTT and mobile viewing comes NBC Universal’s announcement that it will be launching a new ad-supported OTT (AVOD) service in 2020. Other reports cover entry into the AVOD market of Amazon’s IMDb Freedive and Sinclair Broadcasting’s STIRR. On top of all this, Viacom acquired Pluto TV. What’s causing this mini-land rush on AVOD?”
Read the rest of the post at the knect365 website here.


MIE Conference logo
Attend the MIE conference, January 29-31 in Los Angeles to hear industry thought leaders on this topic and many others. Details about the conference can be found here.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
Don’t miss future posts by signing up for email notifications here .  
– Read my new book about TV, The Genius Box. Details here . 

Smart TVs: Corporate Connections as Important as Internet Connections

My second post as a guest-blogger for the upcoming 2019 edition of the Media Insights & Engagement Conference (which is put on by knect365) discusses the choices CE manufacturers have to make to ally their smart TV sets with third-party smart home hubs.

“Last week, the news about connected TV sets came fast and furious as the annual CES got underway. And the connections in the news aren’t so much about streaming to the set, although that’s the byproduct. It’s about the corporate connections between TV set manufacturers and smart systems.”
Read the rest of the post at the knect365 website here.


MIE Conference logo
Attend the MIE conference, January 29-31 in Los Angeles to hear industry thought leaders on this topic and many others. Details about the conference can be found here.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
Don’t miss future posts by signing up for email notifications here .  
– Read my new book about TV, The Genius Box. Details here . 

2019’s New SVOD Services: Blitzkrieg or War of Attrition?

I’m guest-blogging again for the upcoming 2019 edition of the Media Insights & Engagement Conference. My first post deals with legacy media giants finally jumping into the deep end of the OTT/SVOD pool in 2019.

“The last year of the Twenty-Teens will finally see the emergence of the legacy media’s competitors to Netflix. Coming out in 2019, they will be ready to do battle in the early Twenty-Twenties for America’s audience. Whether this will be a come-from-behind victory, or just rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, should be clear relatively quickly.”
Read the rest of the post here.

 

MIE Conference logo
Attend the MIE conference, January 29-31 in Los Angeles to hear industry thought leaders on this topic and many others. Details for the conference can be found here.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
Don’t miss future posts by signing up for email notifications here .  
– Read my new book about TV, The Genius Box. Details here . 

Will Comcast Set Us Free From STBs?

Comcast Xfinity logoIn what should be a surprise to no one, Comcast is pushing forward to eliminate its set-top boxes (STBs) in homes with connected TVs. The surprise is that it’s taken this long.

For pay TV companies like Comcast, this is a no brainer. From a systems development perspective, these companies have been held back by the multitude of STBs they have to manage that are of different ages, models, and manufacturers. In a real sense, their innovations could only be as good as the worst box to which they still had to design.

For consumers, this is a welcome step in the right direction. As I’ve noted a number of times over the years, viewers prefer to reduce their boxes and have those services as downstream towards their sets as possible – preferably built into the set. This is why TiVo’s separate boxes lost out to less-capable DVRs built right into pay TV STBs. Or in the VCR and DVD era,  combo TV sets had those devices built right in. Or why today Roku and FireTV software are consolidated into sets.

For a number of years, pay TV providers have offered a STB work-around through their mobile apps. I often use my FiOS app on a tablet to search, set my DVR, or change channels. But unlike my old Comcast Xfinity app, it doesn’t allow me to initiate a VOD program on my TV set (yes, I’m one of the few who frequently uses VOD). This is a big drawback as it means I still have to struggle with my remote and the clunky STB interface.

The Revenue Hole

This evolution towards a totally app-based interface is welcome to both sides. It can only improve the user experience. But the interesting question is how will pay TV services make up the loss of rental fees for their boxes and the remotes. This is not an insignificant number considering the average pay TV home having about three sets. That’s roughly $25-30 a month that will be lost to a pay TV provider when a home goes connected. I suspect an “app convenience fee” or something is in our future, as the price of the replacement of our STBs.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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From Replay to Roku

There were a couple of interesting stories in the past week on Roku and its CEO, Anthony Wood.

The first, published by MediaPost, discussed Anthony Wood’s history in ReplayTV and then Roku. I had not realized that the same person was behind both devices. Talk about having a good eye for the future! replayTV logoReplayTV, as some may remember, was TiVo’s main competitor when DVRs hit the market in 1999. Similar to the BetaMax versus VHS debate when VCRs emerged, ReplayTV was generally seen as superior to TiVo. But like the BetaMax, it quickly fell to the wayside. Of course, TiVo was never a big hit either – most consumers got DVRs packaged within their pay-TV set-top boxes – but it has managed to survive by licensing its software and leveraging its viewer data.

Roku

Wood then launched Roku in 2002. It has been far more successful than Roku logoReplayTV, leading the market in streaming video boxes even as tech giants Apple (Apple TV), Google (Chromecast), and Amazon (Fire TV) each entered the market. But like the DVR, the drawback of streaming boxes is that the value is in the software, not the physical box. One factor is that the margins on manufacturing boxes quickly drop as physical product is commoditized by multiple entrants. The other is that consumers prefer to reduce set-top boxes and move features as downstream as possible, preferably into the TV set itself.

The second article, from The Verge, discusses the ways Roku is trying to broaden its base away from relying on sales of their boxes and sticks. Wood admits that device sales do not cover Roku’s cost of doing business. These newer revenue streams include licensing their software to TV manufacturers to build directly into sets, selling advertising that is delivered to viewers of the various channels available through Roku, and the build-out of their own, ad-supported Roku Channel. More of a head-scratcher is their recent entry into the wireless speaker space – presumably a low-margin, crowded market.

I’ll Have What He’s Having

Wood’s track record certainly shows he’s had his crystal ball tuned to the right channel for two major TV developments in the past 20 years – DVRs and streaming. It behooves us all to see what he thinks is next – even if his business plans don’t always keep pace with his technology innovations.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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Netflix muzzles viewer reaction to their algorithms

Netflix logoAn interesting thing happened on the way to Netflix’s world video dominance, driven by their inscrutable algorithms. The opinions of actual viewers have been tuned down or out by Netflix.

A year ago, their viewer rating system was neutered with a switch from a five-point rating scale to a simple thumbs up/thumbs down. This change was explained away as a way to improve user experience. But it may have had more to do with avoiding middling ratings for Netflix originals when viewers compared potential viewing choices. A less discrete measure evens things up.

This neutering is furthered this year by the closing of the viewer comment section on Netflix. Doubtless this is somewhat driven by the troll mentality found anywhere online comments are allowed. But it also means that Netflix users cannot now comment on their content – or see previous comments. This again could influence viewer choice and decisions.

Netflix may trying to deal with the reality that a firehose of content isn’t going to generate hit after hit, even with high-level data analytics. By reducing the context of a viewing decision, they can improve the chances of their less-successful originals to be picked.

Batting .350 Is a Success in TV, Too

Of course, there has always been the argument that if there was some way to analytically improve creative development, wouldn’t broadcast and cable networks have figured out some way in the past to improve their pipeline? In the 2009 through 2015 broadcast seasons, an average of 64% of new scripted broadcast programs were not renewed. And that “failure” proportion would be even higher if cancelled pilots and non-renewals after a second season are included. An improvement of even ten percentage points would have huge impact on networks – and still, half of programs would fail. But no secret formula – star, logline, or format – seemed to consistently explain success or failure.

There is no doubt that Netflix’s algorithms can identify many viewer segments to target. Data can help with green-lighting and marketing new series. But the bug in the machine is that television is a creative medium – and data crunching can’t help bad writing, directing, or casting. As Netflix seems to be heading towards premium pricing, the least they can do is let their viewers keep their say.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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Streaming expansion leads to Fox News extension

Fox Nation logoIn a true sign that streaming has gone mainstream, even with the older generations, Fox News announced a new OTT service last week called Fox Nation. Without generalizing too broadly, the Fox News Channel (FNC) audience is typically older and are late-comers to the world of streaming – but recent years have seen the adoption of streaming accelerate in this cohort.

As happened with younger consumers, the increasing ease of configuring connected TVs, as well as signing up for and using streaming services, has seen adoption and usage among older consumers rapidly increase. Enabled by smart TVs (no need to worry about connecting other boxes to get internet content) and emboldened by use of Netflix or Amazon Prime (subscriptions given as birthday or holiday gifts), older viewers are entering prime time for OTT and SVOD services that cater to their interests.

For example, The Home Technology Monitor from GfK* showed that in the two years between Spring 2015 and Spring 2017, the proportion of homes with a householder age 50+ with an operational connected TV set increased by one fifth. And Nielsen’s Total Audience Report showed that usage by time of streaming video (not including smart TVs) among those age 50+ increased about 30 percent in the year between Q2 2016 and Q2 2017.

Smartly the new Fox Nation service doesn’t cannibalize the main network, which potential subscribers may watch all the time anyway. Fox Nation won’t feature simulcast or current programs shown on the FNC “mothership.” It will supposedly take deep dives via exclusive content and events, as well as offer over 20 years’ worth of FNC archive content.

Looking more broadly, the different demos within the older streaming crowd should be ripe for other OTT services marketed in a way that is friendly to the older viewer. Obviously the flip side of Fox Nation would be a liberal-oriented OTT service. PBS stations rolled out Passport in the past year, which offers exclusive streaming content to supporters of a certain donation level. The PBS crowd should also have an interest in services like Acorn or Britbox that offer a lot of programs from the UK not normally available on PBS or other outlets.

The age of affluence

As CBS’ David Poltrack has been pointing out for years, older viewers have a disposable income that is valuable – not just to OTT services looking for subscribers, but to the advertisers or sponsors on those services. Given the high average age of its audience, perhaps it’s no coincidence that CBS All Access was the first – and still only – stand-alone SVOD service offered by one of the Big Four broadcasters.

*Disclosure: the author ran The Home Technology Monitor between 1995 and 2017, and was employed by GfK until October 2017

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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Friday Finds: Neil Young Archives

Friday Finds shares media content I’ve recently discovered and find interesting enough to share

Today’s find: Neil Young Archives 
Genre: Rock music
Origin: Neil Young and various record companies
Find it: NeilYoungArchives.com

Neil Young Archives homepage

Today, Friday Finds enters the music arena to share information about Neil Young’s new archival website. If you’re a fan of Young (or CSNY or Buffalo Springfield), read on… and if you don’t recognize any of those bands, you are excused from reading further but should really consider the hole there must be in your (music) life.

The Neil Young Archives site combines several media to present really interesting insights into Young’s long and varied career. Most importantly, it has all of his music available in streaming format – original releases, live cuts, and some alternative cuts – presented in the high fidelity format Young prefers.

This Note’s For You

As some of you may know, the cantankerous older Young has railed for years against the effects of compression on the quality of music playback. According to Young, CDs have only about 20% of the audio information that is found on vinyl, and MP3s only about 5%. The Archives songs stream at a high resolution (about 4,000 KB/sec, compared with the standard streaming speed of 320 KB/sec), although the slower speed can be selected if your equipment will not support the higher resolution. Of course, to make this really worthwhile and pick up the differences, you need to play through proper speakers.

Neil Young Archives file exampleIn addition to the music, there are also other archival materials available. The site is set up as a virtual file cabinet for each album, with a file folder for each album and song.  The file for a song shows its recording details as well as tabs for related documents (such as handwritten original lyric sheets or gold record certifications), photos, and memorabilia (such as covers for 45 singles). There are also buttons for the final official lyrics and for videos (sometimes of the song, sometimes of interviews about the song).

Long May You Run

That’s the very quick overview of the site – there is a lot to explore. The site went live on December 1 to be free to use for six months until May 1. A recent L.A. Times interview with Young about the archive project can be found here.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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Will Control of Data Control the Future of Media?

Please click on this link to see my second guest blog for this year’s Media Insights & Entertainment conference – Will Control of Data Control the Future of Media?

MIE conference logo

I will be blogging on-site with session recaps from the 2018 conference February 6th through 8th… look for my updates via my twitter feed or via the conference twitter.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
Get notifications of new posts – sign up at right or at bottom of this page.