Archive for the 'TV industry' Category

Global TV-Series Release Strategy Has To Change

January 21, 2009

TV stations in Germany have to notice that audience ratings of “blockbuster” TV Series like Lost are constantly not as high as years before, the German newspaper Süddeutsche reports.

A reason for this could be seen in the huge delay of release dates in the German market compared to the US releases. Often series were brought months later to the German market like in the example Lost, where the latest season started 12 months later.

Of course this incentives the fans to get their shows somewhere online, which obviously lowers the demand and “hype” about a free TV release months later. “The dark market” for streaming online services is getting better and better and many episodes have  even German subtitles just a few days after the U.S. release. A study of the research company tfactory shows that more than 50% between 15 and 25 years old are watching TV series online now. So also the awareness for illegal alternatives is rising.

I´m surprised that this discussion didn´t start earlier. Obviously the usage of mostly illegal web TV streaming websites are rising to a critical mass.

The strategy of production companies and TV stations is probably to wait how the series perform in the US key market before selling it to the global market in order to minimize their risks. But in my opinion, like in the movie industry, the global release has to be simultaneously in the future. The TV companies must react and have to change there release windowing strategy for the global market. Synchronizing issues can´t be an excuse.

24 hours at Sundance

January 18, 2009

sundance1

The Sundance Festival starts today and Qik is doing a nice pilot project. Kevin Rose and Ashton Kutcher are hosting a little “interactive” game show “24 hours at Sundance” … something like a “scavenger hunt” / paper chase … live on several Qik channels.

For 24 straight hours during the Sundance film festival, a few contestants will compete to complete a series of tasks, as announced by hosts Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Rose, in real-time. Each player attempts to complete the tasks as they are revealed. The players can complete a task and win points for doing so, or can pass and move ahead to the next task and lose points. You can follow the tasks on Quik, and watch the entire event as it unfolds in real-time.

I like the concept, but the implementation maybe could be better… especially Qik had some performance problems … the stream was often broken… so changing the channels … it wasn´t much fun… following the game was very difficult… a bit chaotic… but watch yourself… there are a few hours left.

Anyway I think that`s the way and the potential of good old “television show formats”. Without big budgets you can deliver a real time interactive experience… we will see what comes next…

TV Industry: We Have Told You!

October 21, 2008

“(…) in the next two to three years the television industry is going to face an advertising crisis more severe than our current financial crisis.”
says TiVo president Tom Rogers.

Rogers, who founded CNBC, suggested at the Association of National Advertisers Conference:
“in retrospect, everyone should have seen the current economic crisis coming but as to the coming ad crisis, you have no excuse. You have sufficient warning about television commercial avoidance and the growing epidemic of fast forwarding thru ads. Look what happened to the music business,” Rogers advised. “Look what is happening to the newspaper business. If you don’t come out of this room acting urgently, what’s going to happen in the television business will probably make that look like kids stuff. If you think this recession is tough to deal with, believe me it is nothing compared to the downturn in your brands that will come if you do nothing while television advertising goes avoided.”

Well two to three years… is maybe a little bit to pessimistic but that “this” day will come… I agree.

Read More on the speech by Tom Rogers an some good suggestions on Jack Myer`s website.

Intel Brings Internet To Television

September 19, 2008

The next step on the mission – “the third screen goes internet”…
A few weeks ago Intel announced in cooperation with Yahoo! a new kind of interactive television. They call it “widget channel” or “cinematic Internet”.  This “connected television” attemps to combine the Internet’s world of user choice, community, and personalization with the familiar television experience. Customized TV widgets try to seamlessly integrate TV and interface experience. No complexity, no keyboard or mouse. Just lean back and stay connected. It´s based on an open platform and Intel & Yahoo say they embrace an open media standard.

Well actually there has always been some guys somewhere, who talked about  “interactive television”, but not one of these models has achieved what it should have achieved. So we should be careful…

But what I could read and see on the net (here, here and here) looks promising.

Watch the video by JD Lascia below.
Eric B. Kim, senior vice president at Intel Corp., is demos the new Widget Channel. He thinks their new application has the potential to merge television and the Internet in a way users will love. They try to combine the  most important television values – ease of use, reliability, high fidelity (professional quality), entertainment – with the internet values – personalization, community, relevance, openness.

Would love to test it.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

It doesn`t look or sound so bad…but it still feels a bit “stuck in the middle”. It feels like TV with an additional digital interface…

I don´t know… but what this new generation of mobile phones has made possible (starting with the iPhone) that I’m able to use (or feel as though I´m using) the same userinterface, on my PC screen than on my mobile screen, is very very valueable.
People don´t like all these browser versions on TV screen… but shouldn`t be there a way that I can surf a website on my television screen and I would have the “feeling” that it is the same as the version on my PC or mobile phone?  To evoke the feeling that I had been there before and simply use the interface  without a mouse, just with a remote?

Three screens but just one user interface …. would be great…

Joost Goes Browser

September 18, 2008

Today Joost released a browser version of it`s p2p service (just a plug-in download is needed). Next month, according to CEO Mike Volpi to TechChrunch, Joost will offer a version of the service that doesn’t require any download at all.

In addition to the browser version, they created a video based social network complete with Facebook-style activity streams that show your friends what content you are watching and gives you the chance of commenting or “shouting” about the program (Watch the Demo Video of TechCrunch below.).

TV is and always has been a “social experience” and so I think there is big potential in these features. Imagine watching a soccer game with all your mates… even when you are in a hotel on the other side of the world…

So Joost goes a little bit in the direction of what Last.Fm does for music….  integrating “social” components… there is only a good recommendation system missing … maybe coming soon … and of course, the biggest problem of all,  the “big blockbuster” content is missing. Last.Fm made it cause they lived in the “grey” area of copyright usage… Joost is in the green area… and there is no chance to compete… it’s too expensive to finance great video content with full copyrights … we will see…

But anyway, I think this model is a very interesting perspective for the television industry…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

People Love Their DVR

September 15, 2008

Just found this survey via DMW of 1,000 DVR owners in the U.S., U.K., Italy and Australia conducted by NDS.

The survey shows how many people like non linear content usage. More than 70% of DVR owners say they cannot live without it. Owners ranked the DVR as the second-most essential household technology item, behind the mobile phone.

I don´t know how good the quality of the study is, but anyway… Non-linear content usage will be the biggest driver for people to change to web TV as soon as technology is ready. HD or quality is not as important than this chance to finally personalize your TV watching.

It´s sad that non-linear content usage is still not mainstream. People sitting in front of TV and complaining about the programme… they don´t have to…

Roland Berger Web TV Study

September 6, 2008

(Click to enlarge)

This study was released a few weeks ago and is really worth reading. It is published by Roland Berger Consulting and is titeled “WebTV insights and perspectives – A web 2.0 phenomenon is coining new TV usage patterns

Very useful for all of you who need some inspiration for questions like… What is behind the current WebTV drive? Who is watching WebTV and how can the audience be monetized? Is it a temporary phenomenon or will WebTV establish itself as a real alternative to “traditional” TV and IPTV?

In short, some key findings of the study:

– WebTV is a mainstream online application and plays a key role in web entertainment.
– The WebTV audience is commercially very attractive if you are able to target a niche market.
– While UGC is still far from drowning, premium content offerings are on the rise.
– The majority of WebTV offers will probably remain free in the future.
– Web TV will quickly move to mobile devices.
– Through new devices WebTV is becoming an integral part of the living room entertainment sphere.
– WebTV will benefit from differentiating factors like interactivity, on-demand accessibility, as well as extensive communication and personalization features.
– WebTV is likely to converge with IPTV in the long run.
– Operators and traditional media companies must react now in order to keep WebTV companies from establishing their brands in the minds of the consumers.

For me, one  important insight of the study is that users, and particularly teens, use WebTV servicesas a form of social interaction. As a consequence, more and more large online communities grow around the basic content services. So the context (like social interaction, or editorial information) of TV content or Web TV services will get a very important “intangible” feature to differentiate from competitors.

Streaming and the Cloud

September 1, 2008

Just saw this post at Techcrunch by Steve Gilmore about the golden age of streaming.

When you see the big numbers for streaming the olympic content – 75.5 million streams (NBCOlympics.com), 40 million (BBC), another 130 million from the European Broadcasting Union, and 100 million Chinese viewers – you finally can get the feeling that broadband is spreading and that users are becoming aware of that.

It`s just a matter of time, when people will realize that they also can connect there big screen in their livingroom with the internet…

So, I totally agree with Steve:

“The shift seems to be from ultimate quality to ultimate utility, to fit the data into the time available to consume it. Streaming content is far more efficient than downloading, since you don’t need to cache all the material you don’t get around to seeing. And the growth of social networks means more and more of us will start taking advantage of streaming devices to establish relationships with friends to “share” information outside of the reach of DRM.

Once the underground streaming economy reaches a critical mass, media companies will reach some form of accommodation. Whether it takes the form of advertising supported models or the emergence of viral talent going “direct” to consumers, the end result will be the Net-based delivery of high value content under user control. Comcast’s cap will be seen not as the start of a decline but rather the flowering of the Golden Age of Streaming.”

Video A La Carte –> A Disaster?

May 12, 2008

There was this Marc Cuban post a view days ago… and today I read again a post on Digital Media Wire by Paul Sweeting on the same theme: The report of Bernstein Research written by analyst Craig Moffet: “And Now for the News…The Emperor Has No Clothes”
I would love to read this report… but can´t afford it… so I’m just writting about what is posted out there in the blogosphere…

Craig Moffet made two important points in his report:

  • Consumer tolerance of advertising is much lower online than in the traditional TV channel and that it simply is not possible to support the sort of professional production values expected on TV through advertising online.
  • The web’s ability to let users select only the most desirable programs, or only the most desirable portions of programs–means programmers will not be able to leverage popular programs to support less popular programs through bundling

Don`t know what you think… but both points I don`t see as “dramatic” in the future as its discussed here (maybe it´s more dramatic in the shorterm):
First: People are already do something like “cherry picking”, not as much as they will do in the future but they already can choose their program format … under round about 50 Channels… the best format will win… now and in future. Zapping is no new thing.
Second: We can expect that people will at least watch the same amount of time video content now or in future irrespective of the media channel. So we have the same amount of attention, what means the same amount of value that can be monetized.
Third: People maybe don`t accept as much advertising online than on TV, but we will know the customer who is watching. We don`t have to believe on research based TV ratings… we will know the exact numbers and in future we are able to personalize advertising, the wastage of media money will be minimized, every user, every content view will be more valuable..
Fourth: The quality of watching video content will rise considerably – watch what, when, wherever you want – that means people will watch more video than ever before… so there will be even more attention to monetize.
Fifth: Bundling will definetely be an important tool in the digital age, like it is in the music industry. There will be just new kind of bundles…

And this is the real question: Which bundles could work? What kind of online platforms are able to monetize the content? What services or added value is needed? Who can compete with the “free” competition?

But the discussion in the blog posts mentioned above is more about the question: Are TV stations making a huge mistake by putting their current schedules online for free?

Marc Cuban added to the discussion the following point:

  • “The ala carting of video on the net will benefit those who enable the search for content and can monetize that search.”

Paul Sweeting made these points:

  • “What Moffet is describing is a process very much like what the record companies went through: a radical reorientation of the dynamic between producer and consumer. You do not “publish” or “distribute” content on the Internet, although publishers and distributors like to think they do. You make content available on the Internet for others to access and aggregate as they will. The process is fundamentally, always and ineluctably user-driven.”
  • Like it or not, the web simply isn’t very kind to publishers, packagers and distributors. It rewards enablers. Search is an enabling technology. (…) The challenge for publishers is not to figure out how to force the web to reward them. It’s to figure out how to capture the value created by enabling technology.

So far so good. I fully agree to all three points.

But then I was a little bit confused by conclusions like this from Paul:

“In that sense, Cuban is right. It may not make sense for the networks simply to make their schedules available for free on the Internet. That doesn’t really create any new value; it mostly just drains value from linear platforms.”

As Paul wrote himself, when the content is “public”, than it is available… Anyone know websites like “surfthechannel.com”? So, why shouldn`t they publish it online? It`s out there anyway. They can`t stop the technology! Said thousands of times…. There is the “free” (legal or not) competitor, so compete with it! Try to build your brand in the online world!

And to the question of Marc:

Will shows be forced to introduce different versions of shows, say with different ratings as a means of differentiating TV from streamed shows ? The R rated version of Friday Night Lights online and the PG version on TV?

I think content creator even have to go further: Transmedia Storytelling! Why shouldn`t there be complementary content for example at the daily mobisode, on the weekly TV show, the online version and the online game?.

And I fully agree with Paul:

“What the networks need is to figure out how to capture the value created by enabling consumers to access, select, aggregate, transform, embed and share content–in a word, to use it. Anything else is just TV with buffering.”

So please, don`t stop making content available for free online. But that`s not enough! There has to be more to monetize your content in the longterm. Video a la carte is not a disaster, but it`s just a small part of a new “business model” to monetize your content online. Try to find new ways to increase the consumer experience. Use the chance to present your content idea deeper and in more detail and extend than ever before to your fans. Not long ago you had just 40 minutes per week…

Broadband –> IPTV –> Sharing –> Watching TV 2.0

April 30, 2008

All digital business models are driven by the basis technology: Connection – Broadband.

Wired has a feature right know about “broadband 2.0” – Whatever that means…. it`s faster! And it’s coming soon.
For the TV-industry this fast developement is a crucial thing… We are all talking about IPTV for quite a while… (here I mean the “set top box” IPTV ….) and we compare it with the “old TV” and “web TV” (internet streaming, diverse formats e.g. YouTube, Hulu, Joost …) … we talk about the advantages of IPTV and opportunities and we are wondering why it`s not as fast growing as e.g. in France…

But if we see the developement in the broadband and software area (media player and formats – have a look at the new Adobe Media Player, the quality is amazing) you can ask, if there is any chance for IPTV growth in the longterm future ? Won`t the user switch directly to “Web TV” ?
Why should a user go in the “walled garden” IPTV? Just cause of a convient “hardware tool” that connects my TV Screen with the data highway?
Let`s have a look at the advantages of IPTV so far: There a lot of advantages to the “old tv model” – time sovereignty, interacitvity, content on demand, personification, recommendation systems et cetera…

… but there are just two advantages compared to Web TV: quality of resolution and “100% legal”.
When we see the broadband developement … “HD” soon won’t be a problem for “web TV”…
The legal thing… well maybe it’s no “real” advantage… I fully agree with Gerd Leonhard in his post here: When we talk about sharing today: That is just the tip of the iceberg! Soon we will be able to share video content in HD faster and in more ways than ever before… there always will be this “free” content out there… no matter if it`s legal or not..

So, “Web TV” is much more flexible than IPTV…. the user has the opportunity to choose between different business models… pay per view, subscription, ad supported, illegal free… can switch between content providers…

Of course… there are some months to go …. to see this happen… but the question is if this short amount of time is worth to invest seriously in IPTV? Or is it better to focus on the next level…. invest in building a content provider brand for web tv? Starting a business model in the “grey copyright area” to fix the rights afterwards? A business modell that has it`s strenghts in the service quality, the brand, “the context” … cause the content will come anyway? As always… just a thought.