Bundles: TV is Merely Changing the Transmission Media Not The Business Model


TV Will Never Be Free
TV Will Never Be Free

Telco managed TV services (i.e. IPTV) had a great deal of issues obtaining content and it struggled terribly.  Some thought it would be built on UGC (User Generated Content).  However #YouTube stole that crown.  Many Telcos bundled it with the Broadband offer and then ticked you off as a TV Subscriber; whether you watched it or not.  Unfortunately it offered a lesser experience and needed linear TV to make it palatable to the average consumer.  In the main, people just want to be fed TV programmes and not have to be their own ‘channel-line-up’ producer each time they sit in front of the box.  We are inherently lazy and Millenials are no different – If anything their attention span kills the theory of sitting down and selecting a nights viewing by App scanning; especially after a hard days work on a screen.

This New Yorker (below) story about bundles growing on Internet or Web TV is fascinating as it looks at the TV Subscription angle.  However I felt that the story should have dug much deeper.  The author should have looked at the garnered revenue from subscriptions and investigated where that money relates to content:  i.e. Explore the way content is funded because this is also an important factor in the business model of TV and the bundle, be it over-the-air, over cable or over the Internet.  Here is an article that @TimWu could reference: http://abovethecrowd.com/2010/04/28/affiliate-fees-make-the-world-go-round/ 

Here is the full New Yorker Article:
http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/the-dreaded-bundle-comes-to-internet-tv

Extract:
“But those who predicted that the Internet would kill the bundle may have spoken too soon. Internet TV, in fact, is now growing its own bundle—the so-called “neo-bundle.” This year, Dish television and Sony have begun selling a version of Internet television that centers on a bundle, albeit one that is smaller and cheaper that the original offered by cable companies. Dish’s Sling is the most exciting and enticing: it offers ESPN and twenty other channels for twenty dollars a month. (You add an extra fifteen dollars if you want HBO). Sony’s Vue has fifty or so channels, for fifty dollars a month, but no ESPN or HBO. Apple, meanwhile, is likely to launch its own version in the fall.

In short, instead of the Internet killing the bundle, the bundle is coming to the Internet; it would not be surprising if, in the next year or two, half a dozen more neo-bundlers join the game. This may come as a surprise to those who expected the television of the future to resemble, say, a smartphone screen, where every channel would be roughly like an app that you subscribe to à la carte. But overestimating change in the television industry is a rookie mistake.”

P.S. By the way, RabbitTV already bundles ‘free-content’ for you for a small fee.  Which gives kudos to my theory that we are all lazy when it comes to TV viewing.  “I’ll pay 10 bucks to someone to do it for me instead so I can just watch it instead of wasting all that time searching & selecting.”

CONTENT IS STILL ALL THE YESTERDAYS OF TOMORROW’S TV


This Was TV Yesterday-2Once upon a time we switched on the TV and watched a programme or two, in the evening after we had tea, when the kids were in bed and it was time to settle down to relax.  TV Time was limited as the TV signal would shut down at night and eight-year-old Carole Hersee would appear (in the UK at least).  We had a choice amongst Light Entertainment and Drama, Documentaries, News and Sport all chosen for us and delivered when somebody else thought best.

Life is a little different now because: 

Today we want TV at Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere and we want to watch What We Want, When We Want, Where We Want. We want to watch Live TV, with the use of Pause and Rewind Live TV.  And if we miss missed the beginning of something we need Start Over TV so that we can go back to the beginning of the programme that we have joined late.  We need Catch-Up TV for shows we have missed.  We need to Store Live TV programmes for later viewing on a Hard Drive (Personal Video Recorder) or a Removable Storage device with the possibility of using Series Recording for Binge Watching. We also want to be able to Side Load content onto a Companion Device to consume later when in the garden, or perhaps travelling on a bus or train.   We want a Whole Home PVR system or Network PVR so that we can have Follow Me TV that allows us to start watching in one room and then take the content into another room and join it from where we left off in the other room.  We want Companion Screen driven TV Everywhere so we can Throw and Fetch programmes from those devices to different screens in the home.   We want Over The Top TV so we can have non-Linear content and not be restricted to a Schedule.  We want Interactive TV with Applications that allow us access to Weather, or Horoscope or Games and a lot of other stuff all delivered over the Cloud and Home Network.  We want to be able to Search for, and Recommend content to other people on Social Media.  We don’t want this on a STB or CPE we want all of this on a Smart or Connected TV, in 3D or Ultra HD 4K or perhaps Super Ultra HD 8K.  We need it in High Dynamic Range, so that we get the best quality on a Curved OLED, millimetre thick, Flatscreen TV:  24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week, 365 Days of the Year completely uninterrupted.

TV Content has however NOT broken the boundaries that technology has.  Geo-Blocking, Distribution Rights, Landing Rights, Syndication, Franchising and all that shenanigans is hindering and hampering not helping, other than to further slow the transformation of TV – Perhaps that is a good thing?

The Bethnal Green Mercenaries – Sorry! Terrorists.


Originally posted on Tvangelist:

Bethnal Green


As an ex-military man, I am intrigued by the TV reporting of the people leaving to fight or live in a war torn region.  When I was serving in the Royal Air Force I got into a bar-brawl with a civilian who had just returned from fighting in Africa where he had served as a mercenary…not that I knew that beforehand, otherwise I might have backed away from the altercation.  I lost the top of my ear in that tussle to a man who was a very disturbed and aggressive man.  And this is how we perceive mercenaries to be, in general.  However, today it seems mercenaries are something akin to our modern-day football hooligans.  Hooligans are not necessarily unemployed, dole scrounging thugs but are often well-off, middle-class boyos.  This often appears to be a surprise to the authorities and broadcast journalists.  Surely not our solicitors, dentists and white collar workers taking…

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The Bethnal Green Mercenaries – Sorry! Terrorists.


Bethnal Green


As an ex-military man, I am intrigued by the TV reporting of the people leaving to fight or live in a war torn region.  When I was serving in the Royal Air Force I got into a bar-brawl with a civilian who had just returned from fighting in Africa where he had served as a mercenary…not that I knew that beforehand, otherwise I might have backed away from the altercation.  I lost the top of my ear in that tussle to a man who was a very disturbed and aggressive man.  And this is how we perceive mercenaries to be, in general.  However, today it seems mercenaries are something akin to our modern-day football hooligans.  Hooligans are not necessarily unemployed, dole scrounging thugs but are often well-off, middle-class boyos.  This often appears to be a surprise to the authorities and broadcast journalists.  Surely not our solicitors, dentists and white collar workers taking great delight in sticking the boot into their fellow man.  Just like the shock of hearing about well educated university graduates becoming radicalised and hopping off to Syria to stick the boot in to, or for, Isis.  This led me to become inquisitive about the kind of person who might go to foreign lands to fight for a cause that has no motive other than getting away from what they have and dont like, and for some the lure of earning big money.  I found out that there are a lot of people who want mercenary on their CV!  Well-educated upstanding citizens, not just thugs, are all willing to sign up for the adventure.  Just look here and read the comments section which is quite eye-opening: Becoming a Mercenary, and I quote: “I really want to be a mercenary.  I can be a mercenary.  War is in my blood, soldier is my life”!  The question therefore is: Are those that are radicalised actually terrorists or do they just become ‘mercenaries’ at some point in time.

In the main mercenaries are generally ex-military personnel who are combat-trained…they are certainly not schoolgirls from Bethnal Green.  However according to the press, all these youngsters heading off to Syria are not mercenaries they are simply deemed to be terrorists.  That makes for an interesting twist and a better headline of course.  Yes, the TV news is all a flutter regarding people going off to fight,  with broadcast journalists claiming that they are, “off to commit terrorist acts”.  The word mercenary does not get used because it is assumed that they are going because of fanaticism and because of a paid contract.  Yet how do we know?  We haven’t talked to them about it.  Got a copy of the contract by any chance? The Geneva Convention Art 47. Mercenaries states a mercenary is any person who is especially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict and does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities:  is motivated for the desire for private gain – However it is rather ambiguous about what that gain is as it does not state money but rather mentions material compensation that is substantially more than is paid to the armed forces of a party.  I don’t see soldiers in the war-torn regions of Mali, Syria, Afghanistan etc. stopping off at the bank to drop in their pay-cheque or setting up direct debits for their mortgages.  What are they being paid?  Board and lodge in the main I would imagine and a whole load of weaponry with a Toyota truck thrown in.  So can the Bethnal Green girls be considered mere mercenaries?  Perhaps that is all they are.

Lighthearted Note:  I do love the tips on the mercenary website on how to become a mercenary: Using Rosetta Stone for language training and ‘WeightWatchers’ in order to get in shape #LOL

For me personally, having been in the military I understand the adventure, the adrenalin of armed excursion and all that this action filled adventure might seem to be.  I fully understand why someone might want to go away and fight because I have seen it at first hand when the Ascension Island conflict flared up.  I saw soldiers queuing to sign up to go to Kuwait during the Gulf war.  Many civilians appear to want to have something to do.  Something that is not mundane and poorly remunerated in their boring countries.  Some people have radical beliefs and some want nothing more than to help other persecuted people as we have just read in the Guardian:  Brits abroad: is it against the law to fight Isis?

How many people around the world have fought in wars out of passion, or as a paid mercenary and returned to their normal life?  Will we go after them like we are going after the present Syria hopping batch?  Might it actually be somewhat like the ex-mafia boss Domenico Rancadore now 64 years old found living a ‘blameless life’ in Uxbridge (of all places) while running a travel agency in London.  He was outed this week and arrested.  What a story he could tell us over a cappuccino in Costa cafe.  No, not about setting up holidays to Palermo ;-) or Naples, but all the nasty stuff he is purported to have done when he was active in the Mafia.  Does he miss it?  Why did he stop? Was he ‘radicalised’ at a young age or did he just loved the thrill of it all?  Interesting parallel or nonsense?

Television and social media with 24-7-365 story-filling needs means that journalists have a 24-7-365 search for sensationalist stories so we see the twisted tales, embellished opinions and often assumed facts that all add to the scaremongering in todays paranoid society.   Are all these people, who are leaving to fight and to possibly die in a conflict, really a threat to us at home or should we be more concerned about those that choose to stay at home in France, Holland, UK, Germany etc.  Who are we actually helping by stopping the voyage of a few hundred people possibly thousands?  Us, them, who? Shouldn’t we be sending in the armed forces to quell the uprisings in the regions or is that also too old-fashioned war mongering?  If we don’t send in the forces, forces WILL be created from volunteers.  We will not calm the world’s war mongering masses by stopping girls from Bethnal Green;  nor will we gain anything from calling them terrorists,  especially if they have simply gone to marry and make a home however silly that might seem (if that is possible in such a place).

There are no answers to any of these issues however I do feel that we are none the wiser than we were when they left. The silly journalism that is 24-7-365 regurgitated, repetitive, reiteration on  TV News channels will only give you a biased viewpoint.  So in my research I found this article below, which is well balanced and worth reading if you want to have a view on foreign fighters and the potential fear evoked by the thought of their return.

Extract:  “But the threat presented by foreign fighters has been exaggerated, just as it was during several other conflicts in recent years. Over the last decade, the Iraq war in particular prompted similar warnings about a possible backlash that ultimately failed to materialize. In fact, the vast majority of Western Muslims who set out to fight in the Middle East today will not come back as terrorists. Many of them will never go home at all, instead dying in combat or joining new military campaigns elsewhere, or they will return disillusioned and not interested in bringing the violence with them.”  Homeward Bound

Poisson d’Avril = South Africa Back To The Drawing Board


Turns out this is an April Fool Joke – One thing for sure is that it epitomises that we were not shocked by the headline but rather capitulated as we have been through several similar events over many years. Haha!

When I worked at a STB Company in Switzerland I was asked to make a plan of attack for entering the market with a range of STBs for Digital TV.  We were all lined up having even satisfied one of the rules imposed at the time which was the need for a BEE in order to move things forward business wise.  It never happened then and it isn’t going happen for any STB Company now, in this fine year of 2015 –  Looks like my work is still valid but for a few minor tweaks.  Maybe I will be dusting it off in 2020 for another nostalgic look.  LOL

http://advanced-television.com/2015/04/01/south-africa-abandons-digital-plan/

Millenials and the Demise of Good TV Content


About 6 years ago I wrote, “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”. I knew that the TV industry was about to embark on a rough ride into the 2000s. We still see that we don’t always need a fully packed line-up of new TV gadgets, as shown by the recent survey in Poland where they found that users only press approximately seven buttons on the remote control. Unfortunately, in this day and age, we believe that #Millennials are different and that they are the future and what exists is not good enough for them. So we have to continually deliver very sophisticated products year-in-year-out with funky new remotes, with hundreds of Apps right down to Twitter, Google and all that other Social Media access for TV. Whilst all this happens deployments of this new TV tech paradigm struggles to make sense of the new business model requirements.   It is easier for to go with the flow of technology leapfrogging of existing TV products before chosen implementations can find their place as a revenue generating business.  Next please!

   With these aforemention issues it appears that fragmentation and disruptive technology is the future of television. We are all guilty as we march forward born out of the desire to keep businesses rolling along ‘positively’ regardless of whether the customer needs new products or not. Fragmentation in the early 2000’s was mainly about the plethora of different transmission systems, especially when IPTV and WebTV appeared. There was, and still is, too much TV middleware diversification, too many content security options, several application types and a whole swathe of other technologies that CTOs are faced with in the market. It is now 2015 with fragmentation about the only phrase we hear at conferences, seminars or during interviews with TV tech personalities in the trade press. I remember hearing for years (and still do) that the end of the set-top-box is nigh (no its not!). Now it is the death of payTV is nigh as our well-fed #Millenials abandon it for OTT services a go-go. ‘A-La-Carte’ is now happening, and there is apparently a massive cord cutting exercise going on. Blame it all on the #Millenials!

Well, it is not quite as simple as that I don’t think. Yes, we have an enormous fragmentation problem but it is now much more multi-faceted. What we have now is both a technology, as well as a business model fragmentation. This industry runs at a fairly slow pace so most of this all came about even before Millenials had paychecks. The fragmentation is mainly due to the technology surge with much greater broadcasting bandwidth capabilities, DVB-S2, DVB-T 2, DOCSIS 3, larger Internet bandwidth offerings. Add to this cheaper memory, more powerful chipsets, subsidised Internet TV boxes and content available just about anywhere you can think of; even at Starbucks when getting [1]coffee and you see the issues. Now add an even further complex matter to the TV business, which is the fragmentation at content level – NETFLIX, AMAZON, ROKU, HULU etc. It is getting quite messy out there.

The Answer to Everything – ‘Roku’ #LOL!

The term ‘A La Carte’ for television programming has been bandied around for many years. Finally in 2015 we see it start to unfold with Netflix, HBO, Amazon, Google, ESPN, YouTube and others trying to be the unique supplier of TV content directly to consumers. Reminds me of a recent Sam Smith song, “Stay with me, your all I need”. OK to date it is not entirely a clear cut ‘A La Carte’ offer but certainly it is not the linear bouquets and payTV bundles as per the payTV providers traditional business model either. It is disruptive to all of us in the TV business and the viewers’ also unless of course you are a pure OTT provider – the picture is clear for them – divide and conquer!

I was at a Connections Europe conference last year where I heard a TV executive espousing that consumers have been asking for, ‘What They Want – When They Want – Where They Want’. And that this desire has seen the abandoning of traditional payTV services because people cannot achieve this with the present systems on offer. I found that old mantra to be very naïve. The reality of delivering ‘What You Want When You Want, Where You Want’ is quite a technical and not in the least a huge business challenge on an operator by operator, market by market basis. This is especially true outside of the USA where ‘local language, broadcast rights and release windows’ are a sport in themselves. The TV executive was from Roku, and he went on to tell the Connections audience that they, Roku, had the answer to our terrible TV fragmentation problem and customer’s needs. It went a little like this: ‘We have addressed the issue of fragmentation with Roku TV, an OTT device, which allows ‘all content’ to run on a single platform’. Dah! Dah! All Sorted! All I could think at the time was that he had clearly never worked in the TV industry for very long or had apparently over swallowed his corporate marketing pitch. Most of the audience was like all conference audiences, rather passive. I too was shocked at this announcement so much so that I just sat there wondering if the young gentleman understood the complexities of the TV industry or had just chosen to ignore it for an opportunistic product pitch.   I hope it was the latter!

I do believe that Apple TV got there first, quite some years ago dear Mr. Roku but they failed to solve the ‘common-platform-for-all-content-in-the-world’ issue. Not even with their worldwide iTunes based deployment platform were they able to conquer the planet like Roku thinks they will. Apple has to default to local language content, no cross border dipping into other iTunes locations and is faced with an inability to provide access to a broad range of international TV content because of the very convoluted licensing issues that abound in the very complex European marketplace. Unfortunately iTunes for video is like iTunes for music; most people clamour for the ‘Top Ten’ i.e. most popular films and naturally the most popular or trending TV Shows. Nothing has changed in 2015 on this front threfore perhaps a sign of things to come for all the other new entrants into this market.

Waiting Is Not An Option – Piracy Is!

An interesting and up until now unexplored issue surrounds the difference between music and video consumption. We know that we can listen to music over and over and even over again, but video content, TV shows, movies this is a different proposition. It is in the main a single viewing experience, rarely repeated. We want NEW, NEW, NEW, and it seems that WE CANNOT WAIT anymore. The masses acting like sheep as they follow the trends around Walking Dead, Game of Thrones to Breaking Bad with their spin-off Let’s Call Saul as if there is nothing else interesting to watch on TV. Well, that is what we are led to believe by the protagonists of this new world of television. I have noticed that business people only mention these recent ‘most popular’ shows during all discussions concerning the future of TV viewing. I have never heard Gardeners World, Living Planet, The Simpsons, The 10 o’clock news ever get a mention, and some of those shows do not have very significant audience sizes! It seems that it has got to the point that we even BINGE voraciously on DVD box-sets (well some tiny percentage do) and then we sit pensively awaiting the next show to come to the market. E.g. Today the announcement of Series 3 of the House of Cards has the populous all of a fluster on Social Media – They cannot wait, and this adds to one of the TV industry’s business issues – that of piracy. The Oscars saw a 317% rise in the piracy of the nominated films this year, which highlights the problems surrounding the management of the new content hype with sophisticated Full HD cameras, large Internet bandwidth and easy access to anything you want on-line.

‘Recency’, yes ‘Recency’- Once Called Most Popular

In the world of Broadcast TV the linear channels are not helping themselves too much either – programming is becoming unusually dull in some sectors. On certain nights in France, I can watch 4 to 5 same-genre shows transmitted one after the other on the same channel. The average viewing time in France is around 3.5Hrs/day/person.   Four NCIS shows in a row you are already close to that … as is four episodes of Bones or perhaps one news, one quiz-show, one movie and possibly another programme added to that line-up makes 4 hours easily reached.   In this calculation a film could come off a VOD catalogue or a PVR not from a live broadcast. So little time for all that content but hey such a choice! I am trying to make the point that we cannot consume the over-abundance of channels that carry thousands of hours of shows, films etc. Personal tastes are so diverse that any ‘personal’ line-up will be very different. We also seem to believe that everyone actually KNOWS what they want to watch at all times. What if they have not seen a show or film that has been released? How will they know what it is all about? Marketing still works to drive consumer take-up. Television still advertises forthcoming shows on TV, Magazines also carry promotion and billboards/posters on bus shelters too have their place in awareness campaigns.

I would like to explore what happens if it gets to the point that you ONLY pay for what you watch? I have a feeling thet we will arrive at a situation whereupon content quantity and quality will ultimately suffer. It will be impossible to please 100 million people each evening with their 100 million individual viewing packages and maintain a sufficient panorama of content to be able to satisfy all the tastes of all the people all the time.  TV programming is a little like running a restaurant. We need to stock up the kitchen ready to serve a public who choose meals randomly from a LIMITED a la carte menu. Done so that you have some control of the purchasing of ingredients and delivery process. Splitting everything up into individual components is pre menu and will if left to the consumer to choose quite frankly only lead to a dog’s dinner of a situation for all. How will the restaurant manage the complexity? Surely the choice would become controlled and limited to avoid waste? I think a consumer would soon get fed up if they had to construct their meals from a set of individual ingredients. We also know that ‘a la carte’ in a Restaurant is much more expensive than a ‘Set Menu’.   Imagine that you can only get a full meal by having to pay to go to different restaurants in order to have a satisfying array of meals. 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 choice from a set menu I would imagine. I know I would!

The debate about ‘A La Carte’ [2] and different content suppliers turns around a made up word I heard at Connections Europe for the first time – called ‘recency’ i.e the most recent TV Shows and Movies (Back to my Top Ten argument). Again in all debates on the future of TV is there discussion, mention or consideration regarding other content that is also very heavily consumed such as News, Documentaries, Light Entertainment and many other genres. I believe that we are heading towards disaster as we all clamber for only the ‘Top Ten’. We will see the masses consuming only the ‘Top Ten’ which means all other content will lose funding with – long-tail or back-catalogue dying away.

Conclusion – Let’s Watch it all ‘Unfold’

Of course nobody can tell where this is heading, and I see years of debate ahead. It may be the younger generation who don’t watch TV like their parents, but they eventually become parents and have less time for TV. There is constant scaremongering regarding the new churn-rate which has been christened cord-cutting. The Millennials are the cause of the issue with 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 ultimately fund content?   The Millenials will of course! But what content? The content that they want, when they want it and where they want it! What is that and how will it be defined? By the Millenials? Who knows?

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

… 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.

[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

Apps Begone! Smart TVs … I Want a ‘Monitor App’ That Kills ‘Smarts’ that are NOT USED.


Speed-to-MarketI have to continually update the LG Smart TV at home (Again last night) – ‘Internet Apps’ on the SmartTV means that I have to follow an upgrade path regardless of whether I use any of the Smarts on the TV or not … When are they going to offer a Monitor App that looks at what you use on a SmartTV then remove the unused items in order to save on Memory and CPU use and therefore reduce ‘updates’?  My TV is connected to a PayTV STB with everything I need – I don’t do 3D and Google on TV or any other silly App that expects me to register and pay for content…I already pay for content that I am satisfied with!

Apps begone!