How Content is Funded – Affiliate Fees


IMG_3228I have to bring this back into the limelight because all you youngsters out there that want ‘a la carte’ and all OTT as in, ‘what you want when you want where you want’ need to know what that means in terms of revenue and the financing of content. Despite the age of this post it is still relevant today.

http://abovethecrowd.com/2010/04/28/affiliate-fees-make-the-world-go-round/

‘televisionis horribilis’ – The TV Industry Bringing About the Demise of it’s Own TV Content Business


IMG_1707‘televisionis horribilis’ – 2009 – “Don’t be fooled by the technology gurus and those who would build a better mousetrap each week thus disrupting the status quo of Television. We don’t always need a lot of what is offered but unfortunately, in this day and age, we believe that in Digital TV, technologically speaking, we need to offer such complex products even down to Twitter, Google and all that other Social Media access; and even Widgets…Deployments however are struggling to make sense of the business models and technology is leapfrogging technology before chosen deployments can take place”.   I will highlight the issues, mock the troublemakers and generally comment on what the world of Digital TV is doing in the race to capture our money…because after all that is what it is all about – making money from the customers and increasing that well know acronym; ARPU.

That aforementioned piece was written in 2009 when it was clear that fragmentation and disruptive technology had been identified as the future mess that was to befall Digital TV. I did highlight issues, I did mock certain pretenders to the throne but like all modern businesses there is a desire to keep rolling along regardless of whether things are indeed required or not. In fact, during this period, fragmentation was mainly about the plethora of different transmission, middleware, security, applications and a whole swathe of other technologies for TV. It is now 5 years on with fragmentation about the only word we now hear at conferences, seminars and during interviews with TV Tech personalities. Finally! Has the penny dropped? – Well it is not quite as simple as that. Yes we have a huge fragmentation problem but it is now multi-faceted. What we have now are both technology and business model fragmentation, all mainly due to the surge in larger bandwidth offerings, cheaper memory, more powerful chips and content available just about anywhere at all; even when you buy a Starbucks [1]coffee. Fragmentation of technology is one thing and there is a lot of scrabbling about to have standards and common software principles in every sector both old and new (as there always has been)… but now the fragmentation at content level is wreaking havoc.

Yes technology fragmentation (there I said it again!) has handed the market an additional problem which is the unravelling of the TV business into individual content providers, on a provider by provider, App by App basis with some of them offering unique content. The term ‘A La Carte’ has been bandied around for many years but it has finally unfolded with Netflix, HBO, Amazon, Google, and others trying to be the unique supplier of TV content to consumers. Not entirely a la carte but not bouquets and bundles as per the payTV providers either. This week, someone was heard announcing on a UI-UEX panel at Connections Europe, that consumers have been asking for ‘What They Want -When They Want – Where They Want’, and as a result of this need has seen them abandoning traditional payTV services to achieve that. Not all of the TV industry believes in that 10 year-old made-up mantra.

The reality of ‘What I Want When I Want, Where I Want’ is quite different in different markets, especially outside of the USA where ‘Local Language, Broadcast Rights and Release Windows’ are a sport in themselves. At Connections Europe the Roku representative had the answer to our terrible TV fragmentation problem – ‘We have addressed the problem of fragmentation with Roku TV, an OTT device, which allows all content to run on a single platform’ – Dah! Dah! Well I was flabbergasted to say the least, sat there wondering if anyone at Roku has ever really been in the TV industry.   Apple TV got there first, some years ago, dear Mr. Roku and failed to be able to solve the common platform for all content issue even with their world-wide deployments. We saw them naturally defaulting to local language, an inability to provide access to a wide range of content because of the very convoluted licensing issues that abound in a complex European marketplace. iTunes default by offering up mostly the Top Ten (most popular content) … and that dear friends is perhaps a sign of things to come for all the others now entering this market.

We know that we can listen to music over and over and over again but Video Content, TV Shows, Movies etc. is a different proposition. It is in the main a single viewing experience. We want NEW and WE CANNOT WAIT and we even BINGE voraciously (well some tiny percentage do) and then we sit pensively awaiting the next show to be produced. In the meantime we have other Top Ten shows to consume and we are like sheep we all follow the masses from Walking Dead, Game of Thrones to House of Cards and Braking Bad as if there is nothing else interesting to watch. Well that is what we are led to believe by the protagonists of OTT TV who only mention these ‘hot’ shows during all discussions concerning the future of TV viewing. Gardeners World, Living Planet, The Simpsons, The 10 o’clock news never gets a mention!

In the world of TV the channels are not helping themselves much – programming is becoming unusually boring in some sectors. On certain nights in France you can see 4 to 5 same genre shows transmitted one after the other on the same channel. The average viewing time in France is a mere 3.5Hrs/day/person.   With 4 NCIS in a row you are already close to that … as is 4 episodes of Bones or 1 news, 1 quiz-show, 1 movie and perhaps another programme added to that line-up makes 4 hours easily reached.   The film could come off a VOD catalogue or a PVR not from live broadcast. So little time for all that content but such a choice! My point is that the over-abundance of channels with thousands of hours of shows, films et al cannot be consumed. Tastes are so diverse that any ‘personal’ line-up will be diverse. We also believe that everyone KNOWS what they want to watch. However if they have not seen it how will they know what it is all about? Marketing works. TV advertises forthcoming shows on TV, Magazines also, Billboards too.

So what will happen if it gets to the point that you pay ONLY for what you watch? Will we arrive at a situation whereupon we will have to re-hash the way the content is packaged – It will be impossible to please 100 million people each evening with their individual viewing packages and for a sufficient panorama of content to always satisfy all the tastes of all the people.  TV programming is a little like running a restaurant with the need to stock up the kitchen ready to serve a public who choose meals randomly from a menu ; done so that you have some control of the purchasing of ingredients and delivery process ‘n’est ce pas’? Splitting everything up into individual suppliers will quite frankly only lead to a dog’s dinner of a situation for the consumer. We also all know that ‘A La Carte’ in a Restaurant is more expensive than a ‘Set Menu’.   Imagine that you can only get a full meal by having to pay to go into each restaurant in order to have a satisfying array of limited choice. An entrance fee per restaurant – Fish from one, Meat from the other, Dessert elsewhere, Cheese in another, Wine from elsewhere. You would soon look for someone who could supply you a one-stop-shop location offering up a whole bunch of variety I would imagine. I know I would!

The debate about ‘A La Carte’ [2]and individual content suppliers always turns around a made up work at Connections – ‘recency’ i.e the most recent TV Shows and Movies without anyone considering the other content that is very heavily consumed such as News, Documentaries, Light Entertainment and many other genres. So we all clamber for the ‘Top Ten’ and the masses pay for the ‘Top Ten’ and all that other content just gets ignored or is badly served – long-tail or back-catalogue and then eventually dies away due to lack of funding…

It may be the younger generation who don’t watch TV like their parents or so we are told. There is constant scaremongering regarding cord-cutting and the millennials and their refusal to pay for content that they don’t watch; add to this the fact that they don’t want advertising either, begs the question – Who will fund content? Is the TV industry heading towards an era of ‘televisionis horribilis’.

I found this very informative piece at Variety.com (reference below for full article) … A quick aside about a la carte. If the government forced networks and distributors to offer individually priced channels at retail — yes, that could lower the total cost of someone’s bill. But the cost per channel would skyrocket (ESPN could go up to $30 per month, according to one analyst estimate), and consumers would end up paying much more for far less. A broad shift to a la carte would spell doom for many networks.

Quote reference: http://variety.com/2013/biz/news/pay-tv-prices-are-at-the-breaking-point-and-theyre-only-going-to-get-worse-1200886691/#

[1] http://www.starbucks.com/coffeehouse/wireless-internet/starbucks-digital-network

[2] http://www.rapidtvnews.com/2014112336161/ott-bundles-will-cost-as-much-or-more-than-regular-cable-subscriptions.html#axzz3Jy26uWhB

Why TV Companion Screen Tech is Struggling – Yes It’s no longer on Zee Box, nor on Zee Tablet


The marriage of many parties in the Interactive TV systems has always been the Achilles heel for a fully integrated homogenous interactive environment. We have had other pre-2nd screen (i.e. 2nd-Window) systems since the 1990s that have suffered from the same issues described in this rather oldish article: (considering Zeebox has already walked into the sunset) http://edit.hollywoodreporter.com/behind-screen/zeebox-s-anthony-rose-people-589252 – However it is worth some reflection:

Programme/TV Show/Film producers (Pre-Production and Post Production) are still unable to have a “write-once” for a “read-anywhere” business plan due to competing (proprietary/standardised) technologies that are all designed for the same job of Value Added Services. There were and still are proprietary and standardised CMS systems available but that still did not answer the age old problem of incompatibility across broadcasters, operators selection of technology in the global TV eco-systems. The DVB Consortium made something that tried to answer this early on with something called DVB-PCF (Transcoding across different VAS systems) which the BBC worked heavily on. It never saw the light of day.

Therefore creating and franchising a show using a SocialTV / Companion Screen technology and single back-office system is seen as a pre-requisite in the conquering of this Value Added Service arena. The Show the Voice in Holland was successful using Social TV but this cannot be sold as a package into Belgium for example for techno-political-business reasons.

2nd Screen technology technology fragmentation is the same issue as in ALL previous Interactive TV middleware issues. Then add to this new Non-TV technologies (i.e. designed for the Internet all trying to latch on to the TV eco-system). Fit-For-Purpose is an issue that also dogs the TV eco-system. Different Social TV and Companion Screen offerings now numbers in their 30s with Civolution, Egonocast, Shazam, WyWy etc. integrating on-screen, 2nd-window, off-programme and full dual-screen synchronisation.

There are lots of other things that are around in the new world of TV Tech – the failed 3DTV and now UHDTV and 4K etc. that are at least keeping us occupied.

Social Media Success Stories


IMG_0387
There are a huge amount of failures in Social Media because Social Media is in the main only about success and good news stories. Those failures are hidden and never discussed. There are many overly optimistic types that can turn around a failure into a good enough positive to drive a success story such is the overly exuberance that many Social Media Experts (of which thousands use the tool of self proclamation) utilise. I have a handful of personal experiences in failed Social Media…Not because I am bad at it but because I have found that if you are in early and hit the sweet-spot you can flourish – A Big Fish in a Small Sea – if only a a Small Fish in a Big Sea then you know where that leads – often to failure.

I take Picasso as an example…who was originally a traditional painter but only one amongst many in his era…In order to stand out from the crowd he invented a different style that went against the grain and the establishment, and look where it led. Today there are millions upon millions more people on the planet equally talented, equally imaginative, equally trying to be different, however the opportunity for differentiation is rapidly diminishing. Most things, styles, products have been invented and many things which are being offered up as if they are new when in fact they are not because people just don’t look deep enough into what they have…For all the successes just as for all the inventions there is a minuscule percentage that make it. Social Media is no exception. However if at first you dont succeed then you must, if you are a true Social Media expert, try and try and yes, try again.

Thought Leadership is Not About Corporate Sales Pitches


I presented at the #screen4allforum this week on the subject of ‘The Future of Television and User Interfaces’.  There was a mixed bag of panellists on a variety of sessions at this rather unusual academic style event held in Paris.  I found that the ‘production and creative side of the business’ much more open to discussing real issues and tricks of the trade; including opening up about their real life experiences in their respective sectors.  You could tell by the audience participation that this was seen as interesting by the amount of questions thrown at them.

However, a large percentage of the ‘TV technologists’, especially on the panel on which I participated, insisted on doing their ‘Corporate Sales Pitch’ as if the audience was full of potential ‘buyers’ of TV everywhere, specific flavoured user-interfaces and middleware.

The audience present, I imagine, expected to hear about the ‘future of television interfaces’.  They were there, I imagine, to understand where and how their TV shows might be accessed, displayed and how the consumer of the future might interact with the TV.   This was ever so lightly covered by what had been deployed TODAY and where it was deployed TODAY, as if this was the answer to today’s complex world of and the future of television interfaces.

Quite frankly at these kind of events the audiences do not come to hear and see ‘glammed-up’ product pitches, corporate videos and sales promotion.   Our industry is soooo guilty of this right across the board, in all the conferences that I attend.  I know that people don’t like hearing this particular truth about this aspect of seminars and forums, but it is true.  I am sorry if I am accusing people, but it remains a very true fact that we see, all too many times, the Corporate Sales Pitch and absolutely no real discussion and no real ‘thought leadership’ on the topic in hand.

When you only have roughly 10 minutes and that is taken up with who you are and what you sell, dont you think this is not just a little sad and desperate.  The session always ‘runs out of time’ and the audience has no time for questions nor are they inspired to ask any.

I go back to the title Thought Leadership … which is what we were supposed to deliver in order to be interesting, informative and in-line with the subject.  This is going to get much more kudos I would have thought … Or am I perhaps just being a little naive in expecting more from these very clever people?  I am very saddened by the Corporate Sales Pitches approach from almost all of my peers in the television technology sector, however I know for a fact that it will not change, even if highlighted to the the world or my 1/2 dozen readers ;-).

Misguided, Hysteria Driven, Social Media


Closed DoorI don’t do Hysteria Driven Social Media: I do watch the news and we have gone silent on this problem: The United States purportedly spent $2.8 billion in Haiti – in total 9 to15 Billion was gathered for this appeal… Trying to find out where this money has been spent is virtually impossible. Haiti is still a hell-hole with even the United Nations being sued for the spread of disease.

ALS unknown to me personally until people started throwing water and ice all over the place is a sad indictment of how we as human beings perceive what is the right thing to do in this complex ‘social media’ driven madness of a world. Raising awareness is one thing, but you all ‘laugh and jump about in hysterical fun’ and challenge others for more fun not because you think about the disease because it is funny to get cold and wet?  I find this concept totally bizarre considering the idea behind this ‘gage’ and the actual pain and the suffering that people, who have this and similar diseases, endure.

I am clearly not in the ALS hype camp, but I do give to local charity annually. I am clearly saddened that this distorted world is a world that does not channel funds into the right projects, projects which could help mankind in fighting all manner of disaster and health issues – including ALS, instead we throw millions into projects, at the drop of a hat, where corruption is forecasted ahead of time.  The tsunami appeal was the same and we do not search to weed out the corruption behind it. How many ALS victims could have been helped with only a small % of that wasted money. How many people should it have been helped have access to ‘clean water’ and proper sanitation in Haiti?

Sadly 360,000 people still live in the “temporary” campsites — susceptible to inclement weather, forced to cope with insufficient access to water, poor sanitary conditions and a cholera epidemic.

Like a Mexican Wave this will eventually peter out and then we will then see whether you will all donate money without being made to do so by a stupid challenge, but with an understanding and the conscious mind.  Will Social Media deliver that image – I doubt it.

An Industry in Denial – The Reality of STB Middleware


IMG_5257As RDK claims success and global dominance I would like to offer up this little piece of insight from the world of middleware having spent my career in this particular sector. Middleware is considered troublesome and not well liked. It is certainly misunderstood as a technology. When there is none in a device – there are no advanced services in TV.

In the present market-place what we do know is that that Mediaset Italy (despite the talk of change towards HbbTV in 2017) is still MHP as is Telenet in Belgium. Telenet have just added a Horizon style UI on their existing stack (so the underlying engine is not swapped out) – MediaHighway is still in the market as are huge deployments of OpenTV 2 and the others get TiVo. UM is looking to move to Horizon but we are not completely sure what the technology really is…some of you insiders at the heart of this will certainly not divulge.

There is no RDK compliance and conformance scheme so nobody can really claim that they have a fully compliant RDK product; especially considering that RDK is declared as part of a partial solution to advanced services.

HbbTV is still moving forward and there is no one-size fits all its just the same old mixed bag of systems all trying to do the same thing; just a little bit differently in each case…or we just pop backwards and then claim success when we catch-up with already advanced services as is the case in HbbTV with the recent 2nd screen announcement of ARD.  We are alway in prior-art denial in this part of the industry and talk about things as if they have just been invented.

There are some Android deployments also in the mix.

As in the past this new RDK acronym is looking to homogenise a variety of technology for the same old problem of interactive TV/VAS (Value added services) and there is a lot of hype for this set of partial building blocks that is absolutely ‘not deployed on a wide basis across the industry’-  despite the claims.  I feel we are in a snake-oil, cure-all sales pitch when it comes to this particular product and I wonder why this is necessary?

What we do need in the STB world is a FULL middleware stack with the flexibility, openness and versatility of today’s market that can also be supported by the stability of a partner that is well versed in the intricacies of the art of Broadcast as well as Internet interactive TV services, right across the board.

In fact if you were to actually look it appears that we already have this in the market place and it is making a big impact where it is deployed.  This technology is OpenTV 5, a ‘connectware’ not a middleware that is based on sound principles of device connectivity and interactivity with a plethora of advanced services that covers all the requirements of Old and New TV services. OpenTV 5 has a single entity responsible for its well being and I am sorry to say that this in this industry this is very, very important.

There is no such thing as being able to commoditise the software in a STB especially if you wish this device to function in a very complex, Multi-Service, Multi-Screen, TV Everywhere, Connected Smart-Home network environment.

Check out OpenTV 5 connectware at IBC this year at http://dtv.nagra.com/ibc/

Let us not forget that OpenTV has been in this area of technology since the 1990s which gives it huge credibility, expertise and a massive portfolio of intellectual Property in this particular sector of interactive advanced television services.

4K UltraHD: The Naysayers are Alive and Kicking


IMG_1707Another new Screen technology has arrived follwed by a huge wave of pessimistic, down-beat commentry on this that and the other.  UltraHD if you have never seen it is FANTASTIC and has as much WOW FACTOR as did HD when it came about in full HD resolution.  I never thought I would say this but it is definitely a step forward in viewing experience.

It does seems that we have a penchant for being pessimistic in our industry especially if a new product defies the beliefs of the tech soothsayers.  4K is moving faster than everyone has expected.  As prices tumble and content catches up the gap is filled by the early adopters, those that like new shiny toys and people who believe.  I am definitely going to buy a new 4K UltraHD TV as I did a 50″ Plasma when they came out.  In fact I picked up an old plasma (50″) the other day for 300CHF and attached it to an XBox 360 in my son’s bedroom.  He has a serious gaming station and he can still watch TV on it.  What is the relevance here? Screen size!

The fact is that the bigger the screen the better the TV/Gaming experience because the more immersive it becomes and ironically, I have observed, the less likely are you to be distracted by Facebook and other Social Media shenanigans with this type of environment.

As I predicted all those years ago 3D is dead but this time I want to say long live 4K UltraHD.

#Twitter Bonkers & Nigerian Kidnapping


cropped-red_rejected_stamp_400_clr.pngWhat I would like to know is  will we now have a hashtag for every incident that occurs on the planet be it a kidnapping, murder spree or some other event that affects the human race in some shape or form or are we going to deal with these incidents realistically?  This is how this whole event should have unfolded: #event – Hundreds of Schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria.  #nextstep – UN (or some governing body) orders orders Press BLACKOUT – #nextnextstep – We send in a multi-nation Elite Forces Group – Kill Terrorists – Rescue Girls – #PressStory then reads: Schoolgirls kidnapped in northern Nigeria by Boko Haram rescued, ALL Terrorists dead – VOILA!

Lets sort out the mess and NOT tweet nonsense and vocalise DISDAIN about it as that is just what Boko Haram wants.  Sorry #michelleobama @MichelleObama but holding a hashtag poster was just not what you should have done;  You should have told hubby @BarackObama to send in the troops.

 

TV and Twitter – #Abuse or #Banter


The Eurovision Song Contest whether you like it or not is one of those annual events that is very divisive. Some people claim it is the best three hours of television in Europe each year, others state that it is an annual cringe-fest best watched drunk with friends. In the good old days, when it was cool to do so, this mega event would have seen fervent discussion, in both the work environment and the pub, with a lot of moaning about the performance of the UK’s song. You would have no doubt heard the infamous, “La Norvege nul points” done in the best French accent regardless whether Norway was in the running to win, which actually happened back in 2009. The UK, by the way, has not won the coveted Eurovision crown since 1997. #WTF. Please excuse that Twitter expletive; it has relevance later in the piece. Finally the discussions clearly centred on the much renowned and vilified block voting practices that always make each year a hoot. This banter about TV shows is known in colloquial terms as the water-cooler moment. For many of you reading, the water-cooler discussions now centre more on scenes from Breaking Bad and House of Cards, which is hardly the same now, is it? You might say if you are a fan of the event, that the Eurovision Song Contest is clearly a form of light-entertainment that will most likely outlive the complex TV drama series for years to come.

So the wonderful Eurovision Song Contest, for the hilarity of the commentary and tongue-in-cheek moments, will remain a guilty secret pleasure for those that are afraid to engage openly on the subject with colleagues. Fear not dear reader there is a new, wider TV water-cooler way out for those who feel the need to give opinion and commentary; without coming out of the closet on Eurovision. This is Social Media. Whilst more pertinent during the show than after this new communication channel will give you access to millions of like-minded people and plenty of hearty banter. Hang on this is not quite the same I hear you cry! Well you are correct because this way of interacting changes the commentary landscape enormously. Let us explore this more. Combining Social Media Platforms with popular TV shows offers up a soapbox for wider serious commentary, hilarious banter and a whole lot of trouble. Here is an example during the Icelandic performance: @bbceurovision – He’s been Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. Wouldn’t Icelandic Jesus be Jesus Godsson? #eurovision. #LOL! …

 

Full Story Here: http://www.marketme.co.uk/tv-and-twitter-abuse-or-banter/  

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 773 other followers

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 773 other followers