What makes Hulu’s deal with the networks ABC, ESPN and Fox News unique as compared to other players in the space is the many pieces of Hulu’s pie that’s owned by other broadcast and cable companies, including Comcast (includes NBCUniversal’s USA Network, Bravo, E!), Time Warner (includes TNT, TBS, CNN), Disney (includes ABC, ESPN), and 21st Century Fox (thus the addition of Fox News).
Interestingly enough, even though Comcast has an ownership stake in Hulu, it is holding off on pursuing a live TV streaming strategy that doesn't require its X1 cable box, at least publicly.
Which leads me to the next story…
Comcast Chosing Not To Compete Against DirecTV Now - #DFF39
The Denver Film Festival 39, which began last week, hosted an interesting panel session along with Comcast, “New Avenues of Distribution,” which focused on what the growing number of streaming TV services such as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon, means for content creators, the film industry, and film-watchers alike.
On the panel was Comcast’s director of programming, Brett Hatch; the senior director of product management at Level 3, Jon Alexander; Stephan Shelanski, the former Starz executive vice president of programming acquisitions who is now on the other side as a film producer; and film critic and moderator of the panel (and long-time Denver Film Festival participant), Bob Denerstein.
During the session, Alexander was the proponent of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, who have the freedom and capabilities to create niche content for specific audiences; free from the broadcast network model and Nielsen ratings pressure. Shelanski, now is his role as a filmmaker, discussed how the internet has created a double-edged sword, from enabling a plethora of content to be made available to consumers of that content, making it difficult for filmmakers to get above the fray, to the opening of more distribution doors for content creators and more formats, including short films, having the opportunity to be seen beyond the film festival circuit.
Continue reading here.
#WhatsNext for Twitter: Becoming a Streaming News Source, Not a Social Company
Following their third-quarter earnings report, Twitter executives took to Periscope to hold the #WhatsNext event, further elaborating on where the company is headed in the near future, stating their priorities and evolved positioning.
Speaking to the audience and to those watching via the live stream, Twitter COO Adam Bain explained how the company is getting better at capitalizing on what makes Twitter the place that people automatically turn to for the news as its happening, being “a core area that Twitter owned in people’s minds.” Even more so than an actual news outlets.
In the app store, they shifted Twitter’s category to ‘News’ and de-listed from the ‘Social’ category. The result immediately placed Twitter in the number one position in almost every country. “This ‘news’ use case or ‘being in the know’ ultimately, that use case, we think is incredibly important and also rare out there,” Bain said. Rare. Unique. Niche. It's what all companies strive for, and in comparison to Facebook Live, which has many moving parts and user feed algorithims that can get in the way of immediacy, Twitter's real-time power is coming full force with the increased focus on live streaming content deals.
The presentation logically led into their growing list of live streaming partners, not only in sports and NFL Thursdays, but news shows like Bloomberg and Chedder, the latter of which airs on Sling TV. Bain pointed out that 49% of Twitter users are on the platform while watching television, which spawned the "second screen" recognized behavior. As the company evolves their mix of live streaming TV and the ability to chat about it not on a second screen, but on the same screen, Bain stated, “You’ll come for the content, but you’ll stay for the conversation that goes around it.”
This convergence onto THE screen coincides with TV watching behaviors, which have been going from linear, then to DVR on-demand or even SVOD, to real-time, enabling the user to tune in at anytime, from anywhere, from any device. Even the latter is expanding, as Josh McFarland, Twitter’s VP of Ad Product Development, announced that Twitter can now be streamed thought Xbox One, Amazon Fire, and Apple TV (something I stated was needed just a week ago) without needing a Twitter account or logging in. McFarland sees the frictionless access with make it easier for Twitter newbies to get a taste of the content and take the next step to setting up an account.
Twitter's planned monetization and streaming advertising play is one that could set them apart from traditional TV ad units offered to brands, which will enable data to drive the delivery of target ads to individual users. An ability to avoid hurdles of addressable advertising in a broadcast environment, one as Comcast stated, has eluded them as a cable company and others like them, giving a digital, device-based platform a clear advantage.
Even though Twitter has let go of their social persona, it's still about educating, entertaining, and engaging. I just hope they remember that when it comes to that ad unit, it's not just the data and the targeting, but the quality of the content. Even with all the metrics and positioning in place, a shitty ad is a shitty ad. Brands and their agencies (or even just brands with their own studios) need to make those 30 seconds count.
Barclay’s Annual Music Report Shows Promise for Streaming, With Roller Coaster Caveats
After years of doom and gloom titles for it’s report, like last year’s “Swimming Upstream,” Barclays has brighter news this year, as in “Dancing Days are Here Again” for both the record industry, as in physical product, and the music streaming business.
According to Billboard, record sales increased in the US (10.8 million for all of 2015, 18.3 million from January to June of 2016), the UK (up by 10.9 percent). “That is a good feeling after the long decline of physical,” Stu Bergen, Warner Music Group CEO of international and global commercial services, told Billboard. At the same time, music downloads and CDs have dropped by 22.1 percent and 12.7 percent.
Although paid streaming subscription service revenue generated $1.01 billion in the first six months of 2016, twice the revenue for the same period in 2015, “none of the companies in the streaming business are making money.” On the bright side, there is still a lot of room for growth and adoption. With revenue being spread across more companies in the space (versus Apple’s domination of downloads) - Apple TV, Spotify, Amazon Prime, YouTube Red, Tidal, Deezer, and next year, Pandora and iHeartMedia - a more competitive market will drive evolution and more creative pricing models. But, as says attorney Joel Katz of Greenberg Traurig told Billboard, “If they don’t become profitable, that could disturb the revitalization of the record label business, which is coming back in a really good way.”
Will Facebook Finally Make Addressable Advertising on TV a Reality?
Facebook announced last week that by 2017, its success in advertising will reach its ad limit on desktop and its mobile apps. So the next logical step: intrude on the already crowded television adverting space. How? By extending mobile video ads on its Audience Network onto OTT devices like Apple TV and Roku.
Facebook generated $1.7 billion in ad revenue last year because of it’s targeting capabilities. But big brands like P&G still see TV advertising as the most effective medium for reaching a large swath of audiences. They doesn’t always mean TV watchers want to see all the ads. As cord-cutting increases along with ad blocking, and more networks diversify the way they deliver content, the pursuit of addressable advertising may finally arrive to TV by way of digital means, not cable. But the story is long from over. Set-top box makers like Apple also want a piece of the advertising pie, and those negotiations have a ways to go.
A+E, one of two networks (Tubi TV being the other) partnering with Facebook on the new Audience ad voyage, told Recode, “The OTT/CTV space is expanding rapidly amongst content viewers, however the targetability for marketers and programmers alike is lagging behind. The Facebook project is the type of progressive thinking to which A+E Networks is incredibly committed.”
In Other Live Streaming News...
Netflix Set to Go Offline
Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos stated a potential change in their content access policy, in at least some countries where broadband speeds are lagging (although some parts of the states could qualify as well). Mainly: enabling users to download contact versus streaming-only, especially since Amazon offers offline access for their Prime Video catalog. A competitor that's expected to continue expanding internationally in the way that Netflix did earlier this year. "Investors should hope he's serious," stated Investopedia.
"In those countries they have adapted their behaviors to be much more of a downloading culture. So in those emerging territories, [offline access] starts to become a little more interesting," Sarandos told CNBC.
Live.ly is Proving That Short-Form Video is Far From Dead and Is Making Money
“When I go live on Facebook, it’s like 700 people. I have never seen a live streaming platform where you can get 100,000 people watching at once,” YouTube star Bart Baker told Variety about his stardom on live streaming app, Live.ly. It’s not just thousands of viewers that Live.ly attracts for content makers, it’s thousands of dollars people like Baker are making through fan donations, from $.05 to $50 a pop, with Baker himself earning upwards of $30,000 to date from his 3.3 million viewers.
Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, and Gwen Stefani are also on Live.ly, adding power to the viablity of the platform. Although according to Variety, "It’s possible the excitement over Musical.ly and Live.ly will wear off or that the platform will fail to grow beyond its core base of teen and young-adult females."
China’s Internet Regulators Release Controversial New Rules on Live Streaming
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has targeted the country’s live streaming industry with new restrictions on content it considers to be “threatening to social order or the country's security faces punishment,” according to CNBC.
The focus is on user-generated live streaming content where “younger Chinese population were being exposed to damaging activity such as pornography and terrorism.” At the same time, critics see the new rules going into effect in December will favor established live streaming entities, ones which have a history of cooperating with the government, while making things more difficult for smaller companies to compete.