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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 . 

Sports Sponsorship Risks Flip in LA

The risk to brands of a sports sponsorship is that an athlete may end up causing reputational damage by bad behavior. In Los Angeles, the risk may be coming not from athletes but from university administrators and coaches.

United Airlines agreed in January 2018 to acquire the naming rights to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for $70 million. The naming rights are owned by the University of Southern California, acquired in 2013 as a result of the owners of the Coliseum (the state and the county) not performing significant upgrades to the facility as required by USC’s lease.

Despite having only one permanent tenant – USC’s football team – the Coliseum’s naming rights are relatively lucrative. Foremost, this is because of the national TV exposure USC’s football team gets, even in its off years. Also figuring in would be the history of the Coliseum. It’s a National Historic Landmark, having been home to the Trojans since 1923. At various times, it has also been the home the Rams and the Raiders of the NFL, the Dodgers of MLB, two Summer Olympics, two Super Bowls, UCLA, and – who could forget – the LA Express of the USFL. And not to be overlooked is its location under the normal approach path into LAX, able to showcase a United logo to incoming passengers of all airlines.

The Risk Flips

At first, the reaction was quite negative against United’s sponsorship. It came right around the time as a number of United PR gaffes, including the infamous dragging of a passenger off a plane and the death of a pet by placing it in an overhead bin. It seemed USC was getting the bad end of deal by getting into bed with United.

Let’s move the clock ahead a year. The United renaming goes into effect this Fall, as a fully renovated Coliseum opens for the football season with the Trojans and (for one more temporary year) the NFL’s Rams. The situation has really flipped. Here is what United is now associated with in terms of the Coliseum’s main tenant, USC.

Less serious than the above, but important to the value of the sponsorship, is a steep decline in the performance USC’s football team. Both the coach and the AD are overmatched, and little has been done to address the problems with the team. This is leading to a feeling of revolt among the boosters and fans. It could lead to the first year of the United sponsorship seeing the Coliseum half-empty for USC games, and many fans booing their own coaches. This could mean fewer appearances on ABC or ESPN, and more on the PAC12 Network. Try and find that on your TV’s program guide.

The Payoff

The bright spot, with the Rams in the Super Bowl next week, is that United may get the benefit of a Super Bowl champion for one season. This is before the Rams move to their own stadium near LAX (a stadium as yet without a naming sponsor).

As we see above, the risk can sometimes go both ways with sports or celebrity sponsorships. With naming rights, which typically run for a decade or more, the period of exposure to this risk can be lengthy – and even start before the name goes on the building.

UPDATE: Adding to USC’s woes since this was published is its implication in the college admissions bribery scandal that made headlines in March, including a key athletic administrator and current/past USC coaches.

[Disclosure: I am a graduate, and big fan, of USC]

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 . 

NFL Ratings: Not Dead Yet

NFL logo/shieldFor the previous two years, would-be pundits acted like the barrow-man collecting dead bodies in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, throwing the NFL on the heap in the cart despite its protestations of “I’m not dead yet!.” Unlike the Holy Grail, where the old man was “helped” with a strong whack to the head, the NFL and NFL ratings have jumped off the cart looking increasingly hearty.

Ratings from the 2018 regular season show a 5% increase, compared with decreases of 10% and 8% the previous two years. Combined with a substantial ratings increase for the playoffs so far, and the NFL juggernaut appears to be coming up to speed. Recent doom and gloom aside, it is still a ratings powerhouse – it was just slightly less dominant in the previous two years.

Better Teams in Bigger Markets

It is likely much of this is simply due to team improvements and upgrades of matchups. Teams having good seasons and making the playoffs in 2018 after missing in 2017 are the LA Chargers (#2 Nielsen DMA), Chicago (#3), Dallas (#5), Houston (#7), Seattle (#13), Baltimore (#26), and Indianapolis (#28). These replace Buffalo (#52), Jacksonville (#42), Tennessee (#27), Pittsburgh (#24), Carolina (#23), Minnesota (#15), and Atlanta (#10).

The seven new 2018 playoff teams came from markets that on average rank 12th in population.  These replaced 2017 playoff teams that came from markets that on average ranked 27th in population. Making the reasonable assumption that playoff contention increases interest in and viewing of a team, the compounding of larger markets and higher interest levels certainly doesn’t hurt the NFL.

Even though it believes in franchise parity, the league is much healthier with its big market teams doing well. To paraphrase George Orwell’s Animal Farm, all teams are equal – but some are more equal than others.

The return of teams with a national following, like Dallas and Chicago helps, and Pittsburg was competitive until the final week of the regular season. Even teams that mostly looked hapless – like the NY Jets and NY Giants in the #1 TV market – drew audiences to see their rookie franchise saviors (Sam Darnold and Saquon Barkley, respectively) play.

Factors Outside the Lines

Certainly other external factors unrelated to competition have had their impact. Matchups for Monday and Thursday night games were judged much improved over previous years. This season saw little in the way of the national anthem controversy nor the issue of brain injury for players, which may have affected viewing the past couple of seasons. Even the move of the Chargers (from DMA #29 San Diego) and the Rams (from #21 Saint Louis) to the L.A. (#2) market may finally be paying off as indifferent Los Angelenos begin to root for their returned franchises.

And the NFL is subject to the same forces that are impacting viewing overall. These include the long-term impact of Peak TV, fragmentation of viewing, and the siphoning off of viewing time in favor of other media like videogames. Their ratings are indeed down on a net basis over the past few years despite the revival this season. But just like the broadcast networks or ESPN, the NFL still commands a dominant – even if decreasing – audience and will continue to command premium rates for the networks that carry its games.

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 . 

Friday Finds: “Tales From the Tour Bus”

Friday Finds shares a piece of content I’ve recently discovered on broadcast, cable, or streaming TV.

Today’s find: Mike Judge Presents: Tales from the Tour Bus
Genre: Half hour animated documentary
Studio: Judgemental Films/Zipper Bros/Sutter Road
Find it on: Cinemax, seasons 1 (8x) and 2 (8x)

Tales from the Tour Bus poster

Since the demise of its “Skinemax” adult late-night fare, Cinemax has been struggling to define an identity. It’s unfortunately best known as the destination for big brother HBO’s hand-me-down movies, and Canadian or British series likely already passed over by PBS, Amazon Prime, and Netflix.

All that being said, there are a few glimmers of hope. Among these is Mike Judge Presents: Tales from the Tour Bus. Although I’ve come late to the series, I’ve been an enthusiastic viewer since discovering it in its second season.

Tales from the Tour Bus is an animated documentary series, created by Mike Judge. Judge is most famous as the creator of the animated series Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill, as well as bringing us HBO’s Silicon Valley.

Now, I will admit an “animated documentary” does sound a bit odd, but it works quite well. Interviews are shown via what I presume is some type of rotoscoping (animating regular video). And animation also allows the re-creation of interesting scenes from the subjects’ lives.

I first tuned in when the description of Season 2’s opening episode caught my eye as I scrolled through my FiOS program guide – George Clinton and P-Funk. Despite being a blue-eyed, white Boomer from suburban New Jersey, I do love me some funk, so I tuned in. The episode immediately grabbed my attention and it turns out Season 2 is all about funk. I watched each week as new episodes covered subjects like Bootsy Collins, Morris Day and The Time, Rick James, and James Brown.

Season One covered country stars such as Johnny Paycheck, Waylon Jennings, and Jerry Lee Lewis. I had to go back and catch up on via Cinemax video-on-demand. Country’s not so much my thing, but the format of the series still made it interesting.

On the Road Again

So take a detour from your usual viewing and check out the first two seasons of Tales from the Tour Bus. No news yet on a renewal for a third season, but let’s hope Cinemax keeps this magical mystery tour around for a while yet.

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 . 

Most Popular Posts of 2018

2018 is coming to a close and it’s time to take a look back. Which TiceVision blog posts have had the most interest in the past year?

Third Place

In a virtual tie for third place are two posts:

3a. Quick Takes from the ARF AudienceXScience Conference – as the name implies, in this June post I share some of my thoughts on the 2018 edition of this long-running conference, the good (as always, some interesting sessions) and the bad (its lack of diversity in companies and presenters).

3b. Drake vs The Beatles: Let it Be – A post from July, I take issue with press comparisons that claim Drake outdoes The Beatles. These comparisons don’t take into account differences in how the Hot 100 is calculated now vs the 1960s.

Second Place

2. In second place for the year is Dave the Research Grouch: Another Data Fluff Piece. This post, one of the generally popular “Dave the Research Grouch” series, takes exception to press coverage of a data release by Inscape, Vizio’s division which monetizes their TV set viewing data.

First Place

My most popular post of the year, by a margin of almost 2-to-1 over the runners-up, is Foreverspin Tops? More Like Forever Annoying Ads. This post has the longest legs of my 2018 posts, with at least a reader or two every week since being published last February. In the post, I take issue with the bad side of digital advertising, exemplified by the Foreverspin Tops ads that followed me for years.

Happy Holidays!

Whether you observe Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or another winter holiday, I hope all my readers have – or have had – an enjoyable holiday season. And best wishes for your happiness and success in 2019!

  • Don’t miss any of my 2019 posts by signing up for email notifications here
  • Haven’t read my new book about TV, The Genius Box? It’s available in paperback and e-book formats. Book details and ordering info here

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

Baby, It’s Tone Deaf Outside

Baby It's Cold Outside 45 recordI was a bit shocked that it’s taken until this holiday season for a backlash to start against “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” This holiday song seems to actually have actually become more popular in recent years. This is despite its Mad Men/Rat Pack-era imagery of a man trying a number of tactics to keep a potential paramour leaving his apartment. Interestingly, it predates that era somewhat, written in 1944 and winning the 1949 Oscar for Best Original Song.

I’m usually not a person who assigns today’s morals to past pop culture.  However, even I have thought the song was a bit creepy if you actually listen to the lyrics. Its general avoidance of #MeToo blowback last year was surprising.

This season, the debate increased. A number of radio stations in the US – as well as large broadcasters in Canada – have withdrawn the song because of concerns about its message. These actions have brought agreement from those who ascribe a negative connotation to the song, and disagreement from those who perceive it as a positive message of female agency.

Selective Listening

People selectively hearing what they want from a song brings to mind a number of tone deaf executions in the marketplace. Most recently, I was a little surprised that Acura featured “Sympathy For the Devil” by the Rolling Stones as the theme music in an ad. I guess either no one’s actually listened to the whole song, or else they don’t care about selling to the Bible Belt.

Sean Hannity, to whom I had to occasionally listen (for work reasons) back in the early 2010s, used a clip from “Independence Day” by Martina McBride as his bumper. This song was actually about a woman who killed her husband, an interesting choice for a pro-life conservative. Aside from the one line used as a bumper, this fact was ignored.

Of course, the political arena is full of past occasions when politicos tried to appropriate songs based on a line or two. Perhaps the first notable time this happened was when Ronald Reagan used “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen in rallies and in his stump speech during his 1984 campaign. Reagan focused on the “born in the USA” line and ignored the song actually was about Vietnam vets being let down by their country. In today’s world, Donald Trump has angered many musicians over the past few years by using their music, most recently using “Livin’ On the Edge” by Aerosmith.

If You Hum a Few Notes…

It makes sense in marketing to use songs to which people have an emotional connection. It’s a lot easier than coming up with an original jingle that, in today’s vernacular, will go viral. The trouble is that picking a song based on a snippet of lyric, or musical phrase, can ignore the larger context of the complete song. As with hiring a celebrity endorser, famous songs also need to a background check – perhaps as simple as listening to the lyrics all the way through.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
Read his new book, “The Genius Box” – details here
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A Magnolia Channel Could Bring Discovery Gaines

chip and joanna gainesNot surprisingly, news came earlier this week that Chip and Joanna Gaines – the design power couple behind the Fixer Upper series and the Magnolia brand – are coming back to television. This time, not solely as series stars but curators of their own network.

Discovery, which absorbed Scripps Networks and their HGTV, Food, Cooking, DIY, and other channels, is behind the offer to the Gaines.

I’ll make the assumption that their new network will replace one of Discovery’s lesser channels. (I’m looking at you, American Heroes and Destination America.) As noted in my new book, “The Genius Box,” large network groups took the same strategy as CPG companies in supermarkets. They filled program guide “shelves” with little-wanted brand variations, just to prevent the competition taking that space. But this resulted in many weak networks that offer little differentiation and lots of repurposed programming.

In this respect, the move to offer the Gaines the chance to rebrand and reprogram one of these networks makes sense. It can’t help but to be an improvement on what’s already on one of these lower-tier networks. And the cross-media potential of the Magnolia brand must be very enticing.

Drawbacks?

The drawback? Tying a network to a single personality has never had a good track record. Even the Queen of Media, Oprah, has been unable to make Discovery’s own OWN much more than a niche success. Nor was she able to break Oxygen before that. The problem is that even the best-loved personalities have a certain shelf life. Cable networks almost inevitably stray from their original targeted concepts to chase larger, broader audiences. And there is also the consideration that a “Magnolia” channel will cannibalize the audience of Discovery’s existing set of ex-Scripps lifestyle channels.

It sounds like any “Magnolia” network launch or rebrand is still well in the future. Regardless of potential negatives, such a move will certainly meet one rule of the Peak TV era: a brand strong enough to support its own OTT app.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
Read his new book, “The Genius Box” – details here
Get notifications of new posts – sign up at right or at bottom of this page.

Stan Was The Man… ‘Nuff Said

Stan LeeIt’s with a heavy heart today that I read about the passing of Stan Lee. Stan was the leader who originated much of the Marvel Universe in concert with his team at Marvel. While there may be some discussion about his exact role in the creation of the many characters invented under his watch, there can be no dispute that he was the orchestrator of the development of the Marvel Universe.

While his time at Marvel dated back to the 1940s, and he left the comics side of Marvel in the 1980s, it can be put forward that he is one of the most influential creators of entertainment IP of this, the 21st century. Perhaps no single person other than J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter franchise can put claim to having such a strong hand in creating the media IP that power today’s media companies.

Superpowering Disney

The acquisition of Marvel is what keeps Disney successful, and a buyer rather than the target of acquisition. The amazingly successful implementation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has spawned 20 films – with different but interconnected characters – in 10 years. The Marvel IP will help drive the new Disney streaming service, Disney+, as well as new rides and lands in the Disney theme parks. And don’t forget all the lucrative licensed goods that come out of Marvel as well.

The success of the MCU might also have an influence from Stan Lee. While the movies have had many writers and directors, Kevin Fiege has been the ringmaster who has shepherded the separate pieces into a successful continuum. This is quite similar to Stan’s role with the original comics, and has helped avoid the chaos that marks the DC Comics movie franchise.

On a personal note, I will always remember Stan taking a minute to talk to my son, who was 10 at the time, as he was traveling between panels at the 2007 New York Comic Con. It as quite a thrill for young Philip.

Excelsior!

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
Read his new book, “The Genius Box” – details here
Get notifications of new posts – sign up at right or at bottom of this page.