Video Wars – Amazon in YouTube Blackout


Needless to say there are spats in the Broadcast world when there are negotiations for carriage fees. We have channel blackouts regularly announced, which often get resolved when both parties come to an agreement.

As the world of Internet based TV solutions trundles ever onwards a spat has happened between two of the giants. There will be an agreement eventually but it is funny to see that they are just recreating what happens in the land of Broadcast.

Amazon in Youtube Blackout

 

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PLEASE STOP PREDICTING THE DEMISE OF TRADITIONAL TV – IT’S BORING!


tvoldHere we go again! … Old TV versus New TV … Because you can open a TV channel on the Internet you can make money and therefore traditional TV is dead!  Since the AWS announcement certain ‘TV Experts’ have declared it so.  There are so few people in the world that can predict the future (i.e. ZERO) but there are people who can look at the past and the present and then extrapolate ideas of how things MIGHT work out: Seldom are any of them right.

By the way, notwithstanding the progress of video content over the Internet (OTT) there is an abundance of closures:

Fullscreen, Afrostream, Sportflix, Go90, Vessel, SeeSo, Redbox Instant, Xbox Entertainment Studios, Samsung Video & Media Hub, Stickam, Flickr Video, Metacafe, Justin.tv, Veoh, Blip.tv, vidiLife

Can you make money in OTT Shelly Palmer? – You make it sound so easy … (Why not try starting a video business and see how it goes).  It’s OK here is someone who has done it: This is a real OTT story Afrostream Closes – This is an amazing insight into the $$$$$$$ that are needed to survive and it openly describes the full impact of what it takes.

If  a 2% Churn rate is an issue for a Pay-TV provider why is the following statistic not an issue to the on-line video businesses?

“OTT Churn Rates Pass 50%”

We do not know how this industry will pan out. Fragmentation, Churn, Net Neutrality, Content Investment and the Pay-TV businesses not just rolling over and dying is some, but not all of the things to be considered when predicting the future of TV … And touting Statistics does not make you an expert…

The rigours of life and television … is still the same as it ever was.


Let’s open with a quote from Colin Dixon’s (of NScreenMedia) well written article on TV viewing habits, where we are debating (in the comments) the merits of the small screen in the mix of viewing devices.  We all have our opinions on that.

On-demand, live, and online viewing peak at the same time

What is interesting and to me, and hardly a revelation, is that people all watch TV when they can or want to. It is generally around the same time, in the evening after work, after homework and after the kids bedtime (if you have some of course) – This is called PRIME TIME VIEWING – i.e. it is when you are most available to consume content uninterupted. So no matter where it comes from, Prime Time content is still Prime Time content.  The TV industry and ‘wannabee TV operators’ (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat et al) think they can all have you as their sole Prime Time viewer…

I have covered this time and time again – Despite all of the content that is available, on all of the systems we have, we all have a limited window of time that we can offer this particular entertainment medium.  Most stats reveal that it is the same window of opportunity on a per country basis, which is enough for the news, a couple of TV shows and/or a film.  There is simply too much TV available today to fill everyone’s 15 years-of-lifetime-TV-viewing (yes we spend around 15 years of our lives in front of the TV).

Nothing new: Rebecca Lake a financial journalist from North Carolina – published this in 2015

What’s the most popular time of day for watching TV?
Prime time is when the majority of viewers are tuning in, with nearly 2 hours of daily TV watching taking place between 8 and 10 pm. Daytime TV airing between 11 am and 4 pm comes in second, with people watching about 1 hour and 40 minutes on average.

However when Robots take over our jobs we will have more time to watch much, much more .

INTX is dead – Is this the beginning of the end of trade shows as we know it?


 

The International Broadcast Conference 2016 ended a few weeks ago. IBC is but one of many trade shows of 2016 very full TV trade show calendar. It is, I am afraid, an anti-climax to be back in the office, having toiled for the best part of a year to have a presence that was worthy of a large multi-national in the TV technology space. Don’t get me wrong it is a buzz being there, with great products and great people, meeting comrades in arms from all facets of the industry – But at what cost to the business, our health, and the environment? Naturally, on the first day, there is the anticipation of getting the show on the road; the doors open and in they all swarm – from the serious businesspeople to the tire kickers who are merely sent to look at the competition’s wares or the many amongst them who are looking for a job. We live the noise, the hustle and bustle and aching feet: Then suddenly it is all over – WHAT! All that work and suddenly back to the office … Yes, an anticlimactic end to the high of a trade show.  Let’s get ready for the next.

ATTENTION: Then out of the blue INTX (The NCTA Cable Show) was culled, and we were all stunned by the news! Is it the start of the demise of the traditional Trade show?  What next? How will this work out?

That led to some reflection.  Perhaps we are just kidding ourselves with this form of ‘peacock tail presentation’ of our wares because if we were to condense the actual ‘real-opportunity-for-sales’, we would see that the ROI is at best a little light from most if not all trade shows when they have gone on for far too long. Those of us who have done multiple TV trade shows will understand what I mean. It goes like this – A whole bunch of companies spend thousands of hours (and millions of dollars) organizing pop-up buildings to house technology presentations to have customer meetings and prospect for new clients. We ship the demos from around the world to that pop-up location (a place very unlike where they would be used) – They are expected to faultlessly work as if installed at a consumer’s home or an operator’s plant (for the back-office stuff). Booth ‘staff’ stand there in their corporate colors hoping that the sales team bring them prospects to see the TV offering. Yes! TV programs accessed with a remote control or tablet, which is the same as or similar to all their competitors in the same and adjacent halls. Oh! But wait, this is different it is from the ‘Cloud,’ you can get rid of your cable/satellite costs now, isn’t that wonderful? – Are you looking for such a solution? Oh! There is an RFI out. Great! Here’s my business card. INTX have called out the trade show in the quote below.

From the INTX website – “We believe large trade show floors, dotted with exhibit booths and stilted schedules have become an anachronism. Contemporary venues emphasize conversation, dialog, and more intimate opportunities to explore and interact with technology. Ending INTX gives us a clean slate, and we are excited to explore presenting our industry in new and different ways.”

Coming back from a trade show is quite an anti-climax because having crammed in hours of meetings throughout the year it all seems over too quickly. So much time to organize – so quick to end.  Remember those hundreds of international calls to decide on people, product, and placement. The ideas garnered for storytelling; the designing of phrases to capture the attention of prospectors who may want to buy some TV technology, and all of the stress of deadlines. There are so many heated debates and petty arguments that take place on the way, all over many minor things before the show even begins, such as shelving or no shelving, screen sizes, story sentences and then BAM! It is all over in a flash, torn down with mountains of carpets, cable and crap dumped in the trash. Am I the only one that finds that disappointing? What happens to all the people that fill the IBC halls full of intellectual phrases such as; ‘World Leaders in …, Best in Class Providers of …’ Well they all go home and prepare for the next event that is right around the corner.

The question is – In 2017 and onwards do we need to spend millions of dollars on steel girder structures, carpeted concrete floors and millions of megawatts of expensive electricity for TV, 4K UltraHD, VR, HDR demos that only live for a week? It is not ecological, sensible or healthy for humans, let alone the planet. The NCTA thinks not.

N.B. In the USA alone Tradeshows generate an incredible 600,000 tons of trash every year, just to show-off ‘product and services’ to the 60 million people who attend them. Ironically we even have trade shows around Waste & Recycling!

All of this wasted money and mountains of trash that we pour into landfills and incinerators is especially troubling when the poor are still starving, and the world around us is a bubbling hotbed of xenophobia and warmongering.

Meanwhile, back at base, there is the post trade show autopsy that discusses how it went, were the goals achieved, what can we do better? Of course, there are good points to be had at all of these events. Some people/companies will have maximized their presence with press, analysts, customers and prospects. We have the positives and the negatives from all corners of the enterprise, we do write it all down, share it and get on with business. Then in a very short space of time we brush off our dusty last show personas and look towards the next show, which is the BIGGY – CES2017 … Where it all starts over again in a more gigantic and irrealistic manner.

p.s. Who has a better idea of how to get all these worldwide industry executives to your people, to your stuff? That is not an easy question. Because if a show does not close down like INTX has, we will always be present the following year.  The reasoning is that if we are not then the Company must be in trouble.’

The Reality of the Lazy TV Audience


So let me start with a few extracts from a blog piece that was written by Mr. Will McKinley a New York writer and author. Why? Well, I want this subject matter (Streaming versus Linear TV) to not be seen as my opinion (because I don’t have the clout when it comes to people taking note of what I say … But I do say things that other more famous people say, often way before them – Sometimes that is frustrating. Sometimes it reassuringly delights.)

I love the convenience of streaming. It’s thrilling to have easy access to every episode of shows (and movies) I love, and have loved for my entire life. But, in a landscape where there’s so much choice, having everything can almost feel like having nothing. There’s no call-to-action, no immediacy, no reason why I should watch one thing over another right now. But perhaps more importantly, there’s no shared experience…

But perhaps most importantly, a linear network means that someone else is doing the work for you. Because sometimes you just want to plop down on the couch and watch, not assemble your own custom lineup from across multiple streaming platforms (and I speak from experience, because I subscribe to pretty much all of them)…

Will on-demand streaming be a dominant force in TV? No doubt. In a sense, it already is. But creatively curated linear programming will always be an important option. They call TV viewers couch potatoes, not couch amateur TV executives for a very good reason. Never underestimate the laziness of the American public.

While this ‘Linear versus Streaming TV’ narrative plays out across the world, it was interesting to see at IBC 2016 show in Amsterdam that TV technologists can now introduce SVOD content into EPGs as if it were a Linear channel. There are also companies that will, for a small fee per annum, curate Free on-line programmes for you (e.g. Rabbit TV’s Freecast) so that you do not have to do the hard work of being your own amateur TV executive – Thank you, Will McKinley, for that expression, which I too have used in many previous articles to express the burden TV viewing is becoming.

Let’s not forget that TV, despite its modernisation, is a product that has to appeal to the masses. i.e. The old, not so old and the very young. I don’t like to use the term Millennials because they too will have life-events that will make them lazy couch potatoes. So as far as the majority of TV viewers is concerned, being entertained must not be hard work. So if TV streaming becomes the norm, we will be expected to be our own TV show curator, which means that we will end up stuck in a viewing rut, as our limited knowledge of what is available from the global pool of entertainment is limited by our ability to memorise the planet’s content. Yes, we are we now expected to take the cognitive burden of knowing what content is available from what provider and whether we have already seen it or not by having to dig through all the buried content.

Live broadcasts are also an opportunity to encourage sampling by channel-surfing new viewers, in a way that streaming will never offer.

I agree with Mr. McKinley when he says that we still need the lazy person’s option for a long time to come.

A Short Play Called ‘The Death of TV’


Setting the scene: The evening light is dimming.  It’s 8pm and the children are snuggled down in bed and the husband says,  “Dinner is almost ready honey, can you find us something to watch on TV?” …

 

Picking up the remote the wife switches on the TV …

“I don’t know darling!” “Why not honey?”  “Because there is only a bunch of icons on the TV and I cannot see any TV shows, that guide thingy we used to have, it’s gone darling!”  “Gone! Why would they do that honey, it was very convenient.”  “I heard that you are supposed to know what you want to watch darling, you just ask for it now.”  “Really honey, OK!”  “Are there more programmes like that documentary on South Africa we saw the other night?”  “Maybe darling, what was the programme called?” … “Ermm, what channel was it on?”  “I cannot remember darling.” “Neither can I honey.” “Oh!” “Now what shall we do?” … “Ask the TV honey its got that voice thingy activated.”  …

Wife fiddles with remote control – pushes button …

“TV,  Can you find me any travel programmes about South Africa, but not about South Africa as we have seen that, what about somewhere else please.”

Screen icon turns … searching … searching … searching … TV replies

“Can you be more specific, I have 24,000 programmes on South Africa and 30,000 programmes not on South Africa and I have several shows called Somewhere Else.”  “I have them in English, Greek, Spanish, Arabic, French, Portuguese, Polish, German and 25 other languages, what do you want me to do?”

8.45pm: “Have you found anything honey?” “No darling, I’m afraid not … its not that instant anymore.”  “Shall I put the radio on honey?”

The End.

TV Viewing HAS NOT Changed – The Gap Filling Has!


We have yet another set of statistics that declare the living room TV Viewing habits are changing.  Let us look at this from another perspective:  I would put it to you that it is not TV Viewing that has changed it is human habits that arhave changed due to the advent of ‘New Technologies’.  If you were to take away the smart-phones and tablets from a TV centric family (as I have done at home recently) you will see that the TV viewing on the BIG Screen once again takes principle place.  Not book-reading, or board-game-playing but TV, and it quickly becomes a fight for the remote control with unhappy, sulky members of the family who are not interested in what the others are viewing….however we noticed that slowly but surely a migration back to sitting as a group with sharing-as-a-group takes place and an agreement to share what is on the TV, as it did in the time before these other access devices entrered the fray.  As a family we searched for common-content that all the family could get a little something from, be it a documentary, a film or even a cartoon that pleased everyone .  We became part of our children’s TV world and they ours, once again.  We also adhered to the ratings and respected the different viewing options based on quality of content – NO MORE VIOLENT, SEX RIDDLED,  TRASHY OR STOOPID content.  It was a pleasant and fulfilling exercise.  During the ads we went to the loo, talked and did what we always used to do during the Ad breaks – Watched some Ads and not others… (BTW Ads do not require ‘viewing only’ for them to have effect – the audio part subcontiously enters the brain even if you are not watching!).

Allowing the phones back instantly became the new distraction thus proving that easy access to communication (messaging), access to fun & stupid videos (via the internet) and access to ‘work and private’ emails urghhh, highlighted a penchant for instant gratification and removed the need to ‘work to find common-TV Centric ground’ and once again enabled what we call ‘gap-filling’ .  Each to their own simplistic and shallow needs.  The IAB piece on chaging TV Viewing Habits IAB Article states the following:

extract: For example, the incidence of checking emails is consistent during TV programmes and ad breaks (both 34 per cent) whilst texting or Instant Messaging is only 1 per cent higher during the ad break than the programme. The device tracking showed, overall, there was actually more online activity per minute during a programme than an ad break.

The information in the article is not startling and supports the findings of the experiment we carried out at home . It shows that if the viewer is not fully engaged with the programme they will still feel the need to do something else.  We saw distraction in the form of speaking and fidgeting or leaving the couch when the TV show did not fully delight a particular family member.  So what does that tell us?  It only tells us that TV is all about engaging the viewer as much as possible.  It has never been that we all sat avidly from start to finish without some form of mental distraction, UNLESS it was a TOTALLY compelling content from beginning to end.

In the old days we had a lot less content to choose from and it was a lot less ‘same-same’, as it is now in the world of 24 Hour channel stuffing. It is not TV Viewing that has changed it is the enablement of filling the ‘distraction time’ without having to get up and do something else and it is the masses of same-same stuff on TV that drives people to look for fresh and exciting, different content elsewhere, which makes the stats skewed.  The people surveyed must have been sat in front of the BIG Screen for those statistics to have been gathered…The only difference is from yesteryear to today we have technology that has made it simple to ‘visit another place’ for instant gratification. The dwindling ‘attention span’ is bad content and boredom, no matter how minor, leads to ‘gap filling’.

And to finish: The Kettle Surge moment, written in the article, is also a just sign of the developing times – We have much more efficient coffe machines and probably hear the sound of corks popping much more, as NESPRESSO and WINE has replaced the TEA drinking of yesteryear. LOL.

 

 

If I Can Talk To My TV Aren’t TV Apps Dead?


The subject of this piece is navigation, search and recommendation on modern day television platforms. The standard way of navigating through the hundreds of channels via the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) is heavily criticised. The EPG is called antiquated; Linear TV channel and programme line-ups are very old-fashioned is all we hear.  Surely we have a better system?  We know we do and it is called Apps!  The future of Television is Apps is it not?  After all we do Apps on the telephone, tablet, so why not on the TV? Let’s have an Apps dashboard approach for the navigation of content.

Simple! Errrm! Nope!

An Apps driven navigation platform expects everyone to have a mental programme/film database for the plethora of coloured tiles (Apps) that hide content within them.  As we split the content into a myriad of ‘coloured tiles’ on an interface, we all start only watching the top ten that we can remember.  There are thousands of programmes that do not get watched, not because the content is bad,  but because it just never appears anywhere.  Then the Apps all need to fight it out for prime position on the 42″ screen. Everyone wants to be the only entertainment theatre in town, so it is a real-estate war (As it is on the EPG).  Just as in Google search if you are not on the 1st page between 1 and 10 you are purportedly toast.  Android TV just added 600 Apps.  This is just the start.  So is there an answer to rid us of all of this fragmented, App, coloured tile, buried content complexity?  Can we offer a better system that makes it easier for the consumer? Well, it seems we can. It is already deployed. It is called voice!

“Hello! Is it ME your looking for?” Yes, we can just talk to the device and ask it for something to watch. Yes, we can just ask the device for a particular film, programme or TV personality and the system will present all the options available to us across the TV eco-system. It is called Universal Search and it is a new way of navigating the millions of programmes available on the system. Simple! As we travel around all the TV business to business seminars, people are raving about this new system and how this system is the saving grace for accessing all TV content.

Wait a minute! Does this not mean the end of the App? Because in the case of Universal Search it quite honestly does not matter behind which brand a particular content features anymore, does it? It’s just stored somewhere, and we ask for it with voice and then it is presented in a selectable list. No need to bother yourself with what sits behind what App; woohoo! Who cares whether it is is Hulu or Netflix, or NowTV or Roku or ESPN or Disney it is the content that we want to watch … So we just ask for the content and it will appear!

Simple.

Wait a minute! As we will never see anything presented in any format in this new buried content paradigm how will we get to know what content is available across all of our services connected to our TV? Perhaps we can go back to the old paper TV Guide and can look up content that is available (Like a Karaoke Catalogue) and then holler to the device so it can do all the work. The TV industry can then stop wasting money on all this Apps malarkey and the need for continual software upgrading, supporting of all their complex individual back-ends et al. The TV world can just fill a big repository with wonderful content and go about promoting it…We as consumers will get what we want when we want where we want, by asking for it…and in any language.

Wait a Minute! How will the content be monetized? Well, as it will be true ‘a la carte’, so you only pay for what you watch, or not, if it is Ad supported.

Simple.

I believe that Amazon has already hatched this plan …

The Problem With Internet TV (OTT) and Child Protection – Not all Parents Care!


IMG_5257

Interestingly we are finally seeing the truth about Internet based TV (OTT): It is just another form of PayTV on an unregulated transmission medium, dah! dah!  Sorry about that but it is nothing earth shattering; however it finally has people writing about this obvious fact.   The ‘do-it-yourself’ package is described in this recent Advanced Television article: Cord Cutting Unrealistic Option is seen as probably costing even more for a consumer than a packaged payTV Operator offer.  Not only that, the author Colin Mann quotes Alan Wolk of TDG who states that there is no ‘User Interface’ that makes for a cohesive and pleasant experience.  In a previous blog post Changing the transmission media not the business model I had already highlighted the issues of more or at least same cost and clearly noted the backwards move in terms of experience.  However there is another very important issue, which has not been addressed by the ‘oracles’ of the future of TV and that is ‘unregulated access to content’.  Most DIY bundles have Apps that require access to Internet content – There is no Age Verification required.  That is an oversight in a very mobile, smartphone driven society.  So I have also been wondering when the ‘Do-it-yourself’ payTV bundle and free for all access might come under the scrutiny of the Regulators for both Consumer and Child Protection issues?

I already see that my very young children are exposed to some terrible things via the increasingly pornographic Internet, via Twitter feeds, via search engines etc.  Now that TV is a watch what-you-want-when-you-want experience on the Internet it requires parents to be careful –  The so called ‘watershed’ does not exist on the Internet and there appears to be no regulation apart from personal parental control, which has to set on a myriad of channels, devices and websites – BUT ISN’T.   That is almost a full time job in this mobile-free-for-all-do-it-yourself-media-world.  I happen to care!  I try to protect my offspring as much as possible from the gratuitous violence, sex and ever increasing psychopathic, narcissistic media offerings… (e.g. Walter White toy figures for sale at Toys-R-US).  However, I am fighting against adversity, especially if my 12 year-old is exposed to shows like ‘Breaking Bad’ as well as a myriad of free ‘Porn’ on a classmates smartphone browser at school.  I cannot supervise every moment of my son’s viewing habits outside of the home…and we happily tout OTT (Internet TV) as an in and out of the home experience.  We are also told that youngsters don’t watch Big Screen TV anymore – So where is the protection for the young, the vulnerable and the stupid in this mobile-free-for-all-do-it-yourself-media-world?

Not all parents care what their children are exposed to that is why we have regulation.  The regulators should be ahead of the game and not late like they have been with Music Videos, finally realizing that they should be ‘rated’.  In 2015 that is very, very late … Listening to my very, very young daughter signing ‘I wanna Sex You Up’, now exposed to ‘twerking’ – This is just not right!  We have a constant battle to keep them well grounded and not let their malleable minds be damaged.  I am not a prude and we have a healthy open relationship with the kids, but I cannot be the good parent if all around me doesn’t care and exposes them to the ever failing controls of the world’s what-you-want-when-you-want media access.

Why TV shows that contain Drugs, Sex, Bigotry and Violence on the Internet be treated any different to that on Broadcast TV is beyond me!

 

The Demise of PayTV = The Demise of Internet TV Content


IMG_1707Throw out your TV – TV as we know it is dead!  There is a flourish of articles on the demise of PayTV with headlines such as ‘The Future of Television – Can Cable Survive?’ which I saw in Forbes online.  All you youngsters who claim you dont need a TV subscription because its available cheaper elsewhere will have a shock coming when the money runs out and all you are left with is re-runs of old Films, Programmes and Documentaries….All of you out there that want ‘a la carte’ – That is: ‘what-you-want-when-you-want-where-you-want’, need to know what that will mean in terms of revenue and the financing of the content arm of the media industry. Despite the age of this post it is still relevant today and it is a subject also well covered by Mark Cuban a more famous blogger than I.

39 Billion Dollars in 2010 and probably higher around 50 Billion Dollars today feeds the Content Creation industry.  If you talk about the demise of traditional PayTV you should also, in the same breath, talk about the demise of the Content industry. Please check out this very good discussion on the subject: How TV Content is Funded