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Archive for Streaming Video – Page 2

My New Book, “The Genius Box”

The Genius Box coverAs a reader of my blog, I hope you will be as excited as I am about the publication of my first book, The Genius Box: How the “Idiot Box” Got Smart & Is Changing the Television Business – not by coincidence being launched during the debut week of the Fall broadcast season.

Put very briefly, the book explores the evolution of the TV set and of the relationship between viewers and their sets… and the impact of this evolution on various stakeholders in the TV ecosystem such as content creators, content distributors, advertisers, measurement companies, CE companies, and the government.

I’ve had this book in my head for several years and finally had the opportunity to tackle the task of writing the book in the months following my departure from the corporate research world last fall. We all know TV is being disrupted; I found out so too are books, thus I self-published this book – but more on that in a subsequent blog post.

The Genius Box is currently available in paperback or Kindle format at Amazon, or in e-book format at B&N and Apple iBooks. Over the coming weeks, it will become available at most major online book sellers.

More details on the book, and resources for the press or reviewers, can also be found on The Genius Box pages on the TiceVision website here.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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Channels tuned or streams viewed – few watch it all

Nielsen logo
Nielsen just released their annual estimate of linear TV channels tuned by TV homes, and the proportion is down to a little more than 7 percent. This represents a decline of about half in the past decade (15% in 2006).

This trend would have been more useful with an accompanying trend in the denominator, channels received. Doing a little digging on Google, I found that in 2006 Nielsen reported TV homes received 88 channels. In 2016, the average number was a little over 200, so for the sake of argument I’ll use 200.

Let’s Do the Math

Not surprising for those in the know, this means that the average number of linear channels tuned has remained relatively constant. It was roughly 13 channels in 2006, compared with 15 in 2017. Neither the doubling of linear channels available, nor the massive increase in streaming options since 2006 (not accounted for here at all), seems to have had much impact on this average tuned number.

No doubt some will jump on Nielsen’s report as justification for moving to an “a la carte” pay TV subscription system or evidence of how pay TV offerings don’t address consumer wants. There is certainly an argument to be made that today’s TV network groups put out too many channels, in an attempt akin to CPG companies grabbing as much shelf space as they can command. But does the seemingly low proportion of channels viewed really mean consumers aren’t being served?

Let’s look at other subscribed media. Satellite radio? About five channels of the 100+ channels on SiriusXM take up 90% of my listening time. Newspaper? I might fully read one article per section. Magazines? This varies a lot. I read almost all of The Economist every week, but maybe one article out of the 25 in each month’s Road & Track; other magazines fall somewhere in between. SVOD services? I watch only a handful of their original series. While this is anecdotal, it is reasonable to assume most subscribers fully consume only a small portion of the content available.

Are Subscriptions Socialized Media?

The point here is that almost every medium that relies on a subscription model offers far more content than any one of its users either want or have time to consume. This bundling is a sort of social contract with your other subscribers – you each are subsidizing the other so that in total the overall costs are lower for everyone to get the content in which they are interested.

So the next time someone pulls out this share of TV channels in an argument, I’m going to ask what proportion of the 700 original Netflix series and movies produced in 2018 they watched. I’m guessing it’s not more than seven percent either.

I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This, Disney-style

It was with some surprise that I read about Disney wanting to buy back the rights to Star Wars movies it had sold to Turner for broadcast on TBS and TNT. Not too surprised they wanted the rights back with the launch of the Disney streaming service in the next year, but surprised that someone at Disney – in 2016 – thought it was a good idea to sell those rights for an eight year period.

In today’s (or even 2016’s) TV/streaming environment, eight years is a lifetime. Even the agreement Disney signed with Netflix in 2012, which only kicked in as of 2016, was able to be terminated rather quickly (seemingly with one year’s notice) once Disney decided in 2017 to launch its own service.

Even more curious is that the Turner agreement was announced in September 2016, a month after Disney’s acquisition of MLBAM was announced (and presumably many months after that acquisition was put into play). MLBAM was projected by many at the time as being acquired to be the backbone for future ESPN and Disney streaming services. It certainly gives the appearance that Disney’s divisions were walking out of step in this case.

It does bring up the interesting issue for content owners in the future – do they try to pull all their premiere content back into their verticals to feed their own streaming services? While this would seem to make sense from a competitive point of view, it does bring up another question – is it serving their shareholders? Presumably licensing fees would be lower by avoiding a true marketplace auction for their content, and that could make media companies vulnerable to shareholder complaints or even legal action.

Of course, self-dealing is nothing new in television. It’s just taken on another wrinkle to navigate in this new world of streaming, frenemies, and consolidation.

Dave the Research Grouch: Variety and Cowan

Variety logoLast week, Variety (and multiple others) published a report on a new study from Cowan & Co. on Netflix use, and it’s hard to decide at whom to get grouchy. At Variety, for writing up an article with no context, or Cowan for dropping survey results without publishing any details about their study.

Let’s look at the headline first – “Netflix Is No. 1 Choice for TV Viewing, Beating Broadcast, Cable and YouTube (Study)”. What, according to the article, did the survey results actually say? That people self-reported they used Netflix (27%) “more often” to view than cable TV (20%) or broadcast TV (18%).

Let’s parse this out a bit. First, consider that Nielsen reported in Q1 2017 that 90% of viewing time is still on traditional TV networks. Sure, there are issues with Nielsen but even so it is reasonable to assume that it’s not too far off. This means that in terms of actual viewing time among the total population, Netflix is nowhere near the most-watched platform despite what people may say they “use most often.”

Second is the rather subjective decision to compare broadcast and cable separately against Netflix. It’s been my experience that people with a streaming agenda tend to also be the ones who say viewers can’t tell or don’t care about cable vs broadcast. But that would ruin the headline, because it would change to “Legacy TV Networks Are No. 1 Choice for TV Viewing [38%], Beating Netflix [27%] and YouTube.”

This point is emphasized further when the data for homes with pay TV are shown. Most trusted studies show that a majority of Netflix homes still have pay TV in some form, and here the difference is even more pronounced, with 45% choosing legacy broadcast or cable and 24% Netflix. No attention-getting, disruptive headline from that.

The Frowns are Awarded

Thus a big Research Grouch frown is aimed at Variety (and other sites) for publishing these data without any context at all – context one would hope the beat writers in this area would know enough to include.

Cowan doesn’t escape without a frown either, for my pet peeve – promoting a study without publishing anything about it on their own site. I could not find anything on their website or a press release with which to follow-up. I understand that we don’t need a dissertation, but if you’re going to promote research, then at least have some basic details available to read outside the lens of the press, who (from experience) are notoriously fast-and-loose with their interpretation of research results. What age was the sample? When was it fielded? How was it weighted?

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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The Mets, Facebook, and Streaming Sports

Mr Met logoSome comments on yesterday’s Boomer and Gio show on WFAN struck a funny cord. As is the wont of sports talk radio, people were complaining. That morning it was about Wednesday’s Mets game being only available to view on Facebook Watch. This is via the recent agreement between MLB and Facebook that provides some regular season games on an exclusive basis.

The bit that got my attention was when both Boomer and Gio started saying how unfair this exclusive agreement was to Mets fans… that taking the games off TV was tantamount to treason by MLB.

I guess their memories aren’t too long. Surely Boomer Esaison, who grew up in the New York area the same time I did, remembers when almost all baseball coverage was on free, over-the-air stations – WOR for the Mets, WPIX for the Yankees. However, for the past 20 or so years, since the creation of the MSG, YES, and SNY networks, we’ve seen almost all game coverage transition to regional sports networks. The fans who could watch almost all games for free, have had to subscribe to pay TV (and in some cases, pay for a sports tier) to get games.

One could argue that coverage on Facebook Watch – which is free, aside from the data you’re letting Facebook know about you by creating an account (the implications of which we all know more about now than a few weeks ago) – is actually a benefit for fans who can’t afford or don’t want pay TV service. Certainly Dodger fans would have appreciated it when the Dodgers’ RSN was unavailable to most of Los Angeles for the past four(!) seasons in a dispute over carriage fees.

Play Ball!

We all know that we’re in a stage of dynamic change in TV (or premium video, if you prefer), with lots of experimentation in outlets between traditional and streaming sources. Let’s call it an extended spring training that could take years for the “managers” to find out which “players” in which “positions” make up the strongest team.

Sports is one of the last frontiers in terms of streaming. The various SVODs have gotten the hang of comedies and dramas, but sports and sports streaming remain a stronghold of legacy TV/media – even exclusive streaming experiments with digital-first companies still use the legacy networks to produce the coverage. As long as that’s the case, legacy TV will retain its primacy in sports and keep one of the last bastions against cord-cutting safeguarded.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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Reflections on the MIE Media State of the Union session

family watching TVIn the Industry State of the Union session at the 2018 Media Insights and Engagement Conference, panelists were asked to share with the audience one takeaway from the current circumstances of the industry.

Click on this link to see my summaries of the takeaways along with some commentary, via one of my guest blog posts for the conference – Reflections on The Media Insights State of the Union

Other MIE conference posts

Please note these posts were originally to be posted during the MIE conference itself but are being published on delay by the conference organizers. Other of my guest blog posts from this year’s conference include…

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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Exploring the Viewer Data Value Exchange

Turner Networks logoAt the 2018 Media Insights and Engagement Conference, Turner Networks shared some interesting research into consumers’ attitudes towards viewer data value and how consumers can be empowered to share their data in a relationship with a network. The two main areas covered by Turner in their talk were curation and serendipity.

Click on this link to see my thoughts on this presentation via one of my guest blog posts for the conference – Exploring the Viewer Data Value Exchange

Other of my conference posts

Please note these posts were originally to be posted during the conference itself but are being published on delay by the conference organizers. Other of my guest blog posts from this year’s conference include…

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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Mister Rogers and Twitch: Didn’t see that coming

Twitch logoI have to say I’ve had a hard time getting my head around yesterday’s announcement that Amazon’s Twitch streaming service will start offering the full catalog of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood episodes. Twitch, best known as the place to watch over people’s virtual shoulders as they play videogames, seems just by its name to be the antithesis of Mister Rogers’ calm and  soothing demeanor. But perhaps that’s the point?

Mr Rogers' Neighborhood logoBeing well outside the demo for Twitch (probably by about 40 years!), I can’t speak to personal use; and my son is just a bit to old to have had Twitch around when he was into his teenage videogame phase. But what I do know about Twitch – aside from an audience size which gets marketers salivating and that prompted Amazon to buy it – is that along with acceptable content there have been issues both with content and with toxic behavior by the players it streams.

This isn’t the first time Twitch has “broadcast” a mellow callback to a simpler time. In 2015, it had a Bob Ross Joy of Painting marathon, which was well received by Twitch users. Again, Ross’ very mellow and deliberate delivery seems the antithesis to the constant action of most of the content on Twitch’s “channels.”

With the majority of Twitch users being under 35, the odds are that Twitch users watching Mister Rogers (or Bob Ross) are doing so more for ironic viewing or as sources for new memes – certainly the original target demo for Neighborhood was young children rather than young adults. But maybe there will be an appreciation among some of the viewers of not only Mister Rogers’ “be nice” philosophy, but of a media that was slower, kinder, and calmer than the often shrill and overly kinetic content seen today on TV, streaming, and social media.

Happy Birthday!

With his 90th birthday actually falling today, March 20, there is a groundswell of interest in Fred Rogers, 15 years after his death and 17 years after filming the last episode of his Neighborhood. I touched on this increase in interest in a post from early this year when one of a couple of new documentaries was announced, and later news includes a feature film in development starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers.

image of Tim Gunn in a sweater

Gunn even gets Rogers’ sweater look

Tom Hanks certainly seems to fits the persona of Mister Rogers. But after my previous post, I pondered who might be a “new” Mister Rogers (not that Fred could ever really be replaced, but you get the point). While Hanks did occur to me, I finally settled on Tim Gunn from Project Runway. He seems like such a nice person, he is always positive and supportive, and has empathy for others. Plus, as a bonus you get the inclusiveness angle that in today’s world, it’s perfectly acceptable that a gay man could step into a similar role as Mister Rogers.

Who would YOU suggest as a “new” Mister Rogers? Let us know in the comments section!

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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Stretching Viewers and the Conundrum of TV Reboots

image of man watching TV

via Tookapic, CC0 License

At the 2018 Media Insights and Engagement Conference, Grant McCracken discussed the imperative for the TV/premium business to help “stretch” viewers from “old TV” to “new TV.” Not to necessarily move them all into “new TV,” but to find the “missing” middle ground which appeals to enthusiasts of both ends of that spectrum. And how does this fit in with the current spate of TV reboots?

Click on this link to see my notes on his presentation via another one of my guest blog posts for this year’s conference – Stretching Viewers and the Conundrum of Reboots

Other of my conference posts

Please note these posts were originally to be posted during the conference itself but are being published on delay by the conference organizers. Other of my guest blog posts from this year’s conference include Ad Experiments in Musical Sing for NBC Will Control of Data Control the Future of Media? , and Making Peak TV Peakier .

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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