YouTube Makes Series of Announcements at VidCon (Jun 23, 2017)
Netflix Announces Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Shows for Kids (Jun 20, 2017)
Time Warner Signs $100m Deal to Develop Shows for Snapchat (Jun 19, 2017)
This is a great counterpart to the FuboTV piece I posted earlier, because it illustrates the state of the current over-the-top streaming TV landscape. The survey quoted here from IBB Consulting suggests that nearly half of US broadband customers have at least one streaming TV service, with over half of those in turn subscribing to several. Moreover, nearly two thirds of those subscribing to these over-the-top services also still subscribe to traditional TV. That paints a picture in which subscription VOD (SVOD) services are both complements and substitutes to traditional pay TV, and even then largely fail to meet all of consumers’ needs for video. This is still a very fragmented marketplace, in which even the best providers are only partially meeting people’s needs. That creates both a near-term opportunity for someone to do better at meeting those needs, but also a long-term threat of consolidation as consumers balk at having to pay for and manage multiple subscriptions and long for someone to bring it all together. Given all the assets and relationships held by the major legacy pay TV companies, they’ve certainly in a strong position to aggregate some of this fragmentation on the part of consumers, while platform companies like Apple and Amazon are also positioning themselves in different ways as subscription aggregators, presenting another possible way forward. Regardless, as today’s FuboTV fundraising news suggests, there’s lots of activity still to come here.
FuboTV Raises $55m, Adds Scripps Channels and Financing (Jun 19, 2017)
Apple Poaches Two Sony TV Execs to Lead Video Programming (Jun 16, 2017)
Apple has hired two executives who previously helped make Breaking Bad and The Crown on behalf of AMC and Netflix respectively as its new heads of video programming globally. Those two pieces of content are powerful examples of the role of original content in boosting video brands – Breaking Bad was a major plank of AMC’s push over recent years to turn itself into more than just a catalog player, and while The Crown isn’t Netflix’s most popular bit of original content, it’s very good and a sign of the kind of big-budget stuff it’s going to be making more of going forward. As such, these are fascinating hires, given that for now at least Apple is on the opposite of that process – commissioning rather than producing original video content. These hires could be a sign that change is coming, given that these two new execs have experience producing and not just commissioning video, but that’s a somewhat unusual model for original content compared with other major players like Netflix, which have still tended to farm out original content rather than lead production internally. It’s possible that they will merely become equivalents of Ted Sarandos at Netflix, using their expertise to commission and oversee outside projects, but they seem somewhat odd hires in that context. All of this, meanwhile, seems much less plausible in a continued narrow focus on video content in Apple Music, and much more as part of a broader push into video ahead of a subscription video service. Two other things worth noting: Apple put out a press release on the hires, something it does very rarely indeed, suggesting it wants to make a fuss out of this. Secondly, these two will report directly to Eddy Cue, which will set up an interesting dynamic with Jimmy Iovine, who has seemed to loom large over all of Apple’s content efforts, but especially in video, and who I’ve speculated before is a bit of a loose cannon in this area. I’m hoping these two coming on board provides some more clarity in who owns original video content at Apple.
Verizon Had $100bn Offer for Charter Rebuffed (Jun 1, 2017)
Weekly Narrative Video – Disrupting TV (May 27, 2017)
This week’s Narrative Video covers the Disrupting TV narrative, or as I’d call it if these things could have slightly longer names: “Disrupting TV is Hard”. I talk through all the ways in which various entities are trying to disrupt traditional TV business and consumption models, and the barriers to their success. I also talk about the ways in which TV is being successfully disrupted, and argue that we’ll eventually reach a tipping point at which the legacy providers currently trying to resist and hold back disruption come to enable and even embrace it. As usual, you can find the Weekly Narrative Video on the relevant narrative page here if you’re a subscriber. And if you’re not a subscriber yet, you can sign up on this page, starting with a 30-day free trial.
DirecTV Now Struggling to Grow, Says Bloomberg (May 26, 2017)
Mid-Tier TV Networks Dial Back Spending on Original Content (May 25, 2017)
Amazon Channels Launches in UK and Germany (May 23, 2017)
Amazon Channels is one of those slightly under the radar offerings that I suspect many people still aren’t aware of, but which has seen Amazon slowly create a version of a pay TV package alongside its Prime subscription. The US version is now pretty comprehensive, with channels from HBO, Starz, Showtime, and Cinemax to more specialized niche and foreign channels. It’s now launching in the UK and Germany, with a different set of channels more relevant for local audiences, but without some of the more high profile channels that are part of the US version. I’m sure that, like the US version, the European versions will evolve over time with additional channels. I’ve said before that this is a great model for Amazon, which gets to bolt on additional revenue to its Prime subscription while learning lots about how people consume pay TV should it want to launch a self-contained pay TV service at some point in the future, and which is also useful in continuing to flesh out the Prime Video service itself.
Dish Allows Alexa Voice Control of Set Top Boxes (May 22, 2017)
I’ve been watching the news from the recent TV upfronts and waiting for the definitive article that summarizes what’s been said and done, and while I’m not convinced this is it, it does a good job of characterizing the basic trends at issue. The two big underlying trends are the continuing decline of live linear viewing of traditional TV and the massive growth of online advertising, which could be presumed to have put an enormous dent in TV ad spending but actually haven’t. However, the TV companies still see online advertising platforms as a big threat, and spent an unusual amount of time during the upfronts trashing Facebook and Google (though mostly not by name) while talking up their own massive reach. At the same time, though, these companies are increasingly mimicking the very same things that make Facebook and Google’s ad platforms attractive: detailed targeting of ads and tracking of what happens after viewers see them. At the same time, the TV networks seem somewhat lost on the content side, rebooting old shows and formats, latching onto new gimmicks like live musicals, and generally showing a lack of imagination in protecting and rejuvenating their brands. Meanwhile, the strongest audiences on traditional TV are live sports fans and older generations watching procedural franchises like CSI and NCIS. And of course the big online platforms are investing in lots of both traditional sports content and some new formats of their own. Therefore, though each side would like to paint itself as providing unique value, the two are increasing converging on a similar set of content and ad capabilities, while the audience continues to shift from traditional linear TV to a host of online and streaming alternatives, which will inevitably pull ad dollars that way too.
via LA Times