Published July 31st, 2017
Consumers who have dropped their cable or satellite subscriptions in favor of over-the-top access to their content can use an antenna to get their local over-the-air content for free. But that’s not enough in today’s environment. For those broadcasters who want to follow the consumer to OTT, the technology is easily available, but the business models are still evolving.
“It appears that the industry is trying to bring local broadcasts to the internet, given the change to viewing habits of today’s TV content consumer,” said Jim DeFilippis, CEO of TMS Consulting, Inc., in Los Angeles.
However, some content may still need to be tailored for the right audience. “For mobile viewing, shorter content—such as news clips—is more acceptable to the mobile viewer,” he added.
While the traditional model of “if you build it they will come” may still hold true, viewers are heading towards OTT even if there is still building to be done.
“A lot of viewers are moving to OTT and they’re not waiting for content providers to go there,” said Louis Gump CEO of NewsOn, an Atlanta-based company that provides local newscasts on OTT and mobile platforms. “The question is, are you there in a way that’s relevant to those viewers. And if you are, then you either retain and grow your user base and if you aren’t then it isn’t going to be quite as relevant to those viewers. We see it as strategically essential for a large portion of the media companies that produce long-form video, to be there, and maybe for all.”
Disney Media Networks recently announced that it had signed on more than 160 stations for its landmark “Clearinghouse” initiative that could jumpstart digital distribution options for its affiliates. This will mean that ABC-owned stations—which are part of the Disney/ABC Television Group—could soon offer live programming via the ABC app, MVPDs and OTT access points to 90 percent of U.S. TV households.
“Disney/ABC has been delivering stable live local/national programming streams almost identical to OTA and MVPD feeds—to desktop, mobile and connected TVs for the last several years,” said John Rouse, executive vice president, affiliate relations at ABC in Los Angeles. “We are also in the process of transitioning our linear broadcast operation to IP so our team is both broadcast-centric and fully versed in IP, which gives us the ability to really re-think and re-invent a consumer experience that is stable for OTT platforms. We want local programming to be available to as many people in as many ways as possible.”
Across the board the industry is adapting to these changing viewing habits, and addressing the continued move by many to OTT platforms.
Richard Brandon, CMO of Edgeware, says the U.K.-based company’s customers include traditional broadcast and cable operators, as well telcos who “operate like traditional broadcasters.”
With so many different players there has been fragmentation in the delivery of content, Brandon added. As a result people are opting to pay for smaller bundles where possible and even ditching what were traditional delivery methods entirely.
LIVE FROM NEW YORK (AND ANYWHERE ELSE)
With Hulu’s recent launch of its $40 per month live TV service, it appears that the biggest change with OTT this year—the ability to handle that live content—has been overcome. This allows streaming companies to begin to operate more like the telcos and even the cable providers—not to mention the broadcasters.
“Many OTT operators in general either have started or are planning to start live streaming channels in the near future,” said Alex Holtz, director of market development for news and content delivery at Grass Valley. “Basically it is going to be a very competitive managed service that is similar to the cable and ITV businesses.”
Just as cable struck deals for the carriage of local content, so too could OTT offer that content.
“It is a natural transition,” added Holtz. “And it will in turn change the content, notably with the 24/7 news cycle. Breaking news is going to Twitter Periscope, Facebook Live and even YouTube. There is already a tremendous outreach to ‘cord cutters’ and ‘cord nevers.’ And over time you’ll see local carriage going to pure-play OTT providers.”
To accommodate local audiences, U.S. broadcasters may need to work with MVPDs and virtual MVPDs to provide an OTT-ready version of the live, linear feeds; and the MPVDs can package these channels into their OTT offerings.
“U.S. local broadcasters want and have to provide their linear channels over-the-top so that they can reach mobile viewers, but there are two main difficulties,” said Jean Macher, director of market development at Harmonic in San Jose, Calif. “From a technology standpoint, local broadcasters are too small to tackle the complexity of setting up an OTT service. From a content standpoint, local broadcasters can stream the content they produce but for content that is aired and not owned—i.e., network programming, syndication, even some ads—the rights to the content are often for over-the-air only. Thus, they cannot take their existing 24/7 linear channel and make it available over-the-top.”
Already many local broadcasters are connecting with their respective audiences in other ways, and this includes streaming live to websites and mobile apps.
“For the consumer they get alerts on their devices and that takes them to a mobile player,” said Holtz. “You click on a news story and go straight to the stream.”
OTT has advantages for content providers to reach an audience even as fragmentation continues, but exactly what it means for traditional revenue streams is still being determined.
“We are seeing behavioral changes and how OTT can accommodate it,” said Ian Young, product manager at Snell Advanced Media. “What is important to note is that when a broadcaster gets into OTT, revenue may not be the primary motivator… there are new costs involved.”
These costs can include the need for IT staff, as well as different architecture and equipment. “It is sort of an inefficient way to do this as it requires different equipment, so as a company we recognize this and want to empower operational staff to keep the usual broadcast efficiency,” Young said.
At the same time, revenue streams from advertising could prove to be more effective as ad content can be more tailored to the audience.
Referring to the earlier days of streaming. “even when content was sent over the internet everyone got the same ad,” said Edgeware’s Brandon. “But now streams can be unique, and this means ads can be much more targeted to the individual. However, it takes a number of factors to get it to line up and it is more complicated than it looks at first sight.”
Metadata is an important part of the equation. “OTT provides better monetization of content through improved targeting driven by better utilization of customer metadata,” said Yuval Fisher of Imagine Communications in Dallas. “This is part of the sophisticated targeting of content that happens online, and it is now starting to happen in targeted forms of broadcast video.”
This could also provide a needed opportunity for broadcasters to get back revenue that they had been losing to online platforms, but it will require culling data from various sources.
“Today your local food chain [grocery store] may know more about you than the broadcasters,” added Brandon. “Broadcasters need to understand their audience so that they can better target the ads that streaming can provide.”
As this evolves, OTT could become another entry point for viewers to access a robust national as well a local programming experience.
“The platform we are building for delivery to OTT platforms has a great deal more functionality, including the ability to replace content in real time, dynamically insert ads, and add markers and triggers for things like cloud DVR or instant VOD,” said ABC’s Rouse.
Source: TV Technology
According to new research from The Diffusion Group (TDG), binge viewing — that is, viewing more than one episode of a TV series back to back — is rapidly becoming universal, with nearly nine-in-ten ABUs binging at least occasionally. But the frequency of binge viewing skews strongly in favor of younger adults.TDG's new analysis, Binge Viewing - A Consumer Snapshot, identifies and profiles three groups of adult broadband users in terms of their binge viewing habits.
Heavy Bingers (binge daily, comprise 14 percent of ABUs),
Medium Bingers (binge monthly but not daily, comprise 51 percent of ABUs), and
Light/Non-Bingers (21 percent of ABUs that binge less than once a month, 14 percent that do not binge at all).
Importantly, TDG analysts found that the frequency of binging is strongly correlated with the viewer's age. For example, 58 percent of Heavy Bingers are between the ages of 18 and 34, while 56 percent of Light/Non-Bingers are age 45 and older."The fact that 31 percent of Heavy Bingers are between the ages of 18 and 34 further illustrates just how different millennial viewing habits are from those of older generations," notes Michael Greeson, President and Principal Analyst at TDG. "For more than a decade, TDG has predicted and observed a structural transformation in what it means to 'watch TV,' with viewing behavior slowly changing from an activity defined by flipping between different live shows on different networks, to one characterized by on-demand binging of individual series."As these consumers age and younger generations steeped in quantum habits follow behind them, Greeson argues that this behavior will only become more prominent, further impacting programming and distribution strategies.View TDG's latest analysis of contemporary viewing behavior, Binge Viewing - A Consumer Snapshot for an insight into the different segments of binge viewers — who they are, how they behave, and what drives their decisions and preferences.
Source: TDG Research
May 15, 2020
It is no surprise that video streaming services are experiencing exceptional growth while lockdowns around the world keep people at home where they want to be entertained. Netflix added 16 million new accounts in the first three months of the year and niche video services such as BroadwayHD, Topic and Pure Flix, have also seen a significant increase in streams and subscriptions.
In the first of our own video series In
Conversation… , Martijn van Horssen, CEO and co-founder of 24i shares insights on
why some media companies are doing better than others during the Corona crisis,
- The 'Watch Party' effect and other smart marketing tactics
- The AVOD challenge and SVOD opportunity
- Scaling services for peak demand and growth and
- How 24i is supporting customers and employees during this testing time.
Hosted by Craig Kierce and produced from home, we hope you enjoy watching this honest and open interview and we look forward to bringing you the next episode of In Conversation soon.
Jun 17, 2020
The streaming video market is fiercely competitive and heavily dominated by a few key players. However, over the past few months, smaller, niche services have witnessed phenomenal growth as people seek out new live and on-demand content to keep them entertained.
In episode 3 of the #In Conversation With… video series, Ryan Chanatry, General Manager of Topic, the new streaming video service from First Look Media, reveals how by complimenting vs competing with the streaming giants, the service is creating a strong following of "Culture Cravers" looking for new perspectives and viewing experiences.
Hosted by Craig Kierce and recorded from home, we hope you enjoy watching and invite you to check out Ryan's blog on the subject here.
Apr 07, 2020
By Ryan Chanatry, General Manager. Topic
Following today's news on the launch of Topic, a new streaming video service for ‘culture cravers', Ryan Chanatry, General Manager shares his insights on the service, what makes it unique and what he and the team are providing a unique source of entertainment for people at home during what is an extremely challenging time He also shares some great tips for content owners looking to go direct-to-consumer with their own OTT video service.
1.What is Topic and how does it compete against Netflix and other popular video streaming services?
Topic is a new streaming service that launched in the US and Canada on November 21st. We’re a part of First Look Media’s entertainment division, which also includes Topic Studios. We are a curated selection of drama, comedy, discussion, narrative, documentary, and doc-shorts. We’re available on iOS, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android, and Amazon Prime Channels. A monthly subscription starts at $5.99 and you can save with a yearly for only $59.99.
We are not aiming to “compete” with other mainstream services but instead are looking to appeal to a particular frame of mind among consumers who are looking for a compliment to their typical entertainment options.
Most of the non-major streaming services program to a particular genre niche (horror, British, etc), but our vision is that Topic will appeal to a frame of mind or specific sensibility instead.
Our programming sits at the intersection of entertaining, provocative, meaningful, elevated, and smart, and we see ourselves as a compliment to the major streaming players and definitely not in direct competition.
We feel that there is room in our audience’s lives for a service they want to actively associate themselves with, that reflects their values, and says something specific to them with its programming.
2. What are your ambitions for the service over the next year or two? Do you intend to extend to new markets?
We have many exciting projects in the works for 2020. We’ve recently premiered French drama Vernon Subtext, Shane Meadow’s incredible drama series, The Virtues (starring Stephen Graham), as well as episodes of our discussion shows Rough Draft with Reza Aslan, What’s Your Ailment?! with Maria Bamford, and coming on April 30th, Soul City, a three-part Topic Original set in New Orleans.
In addition to many more drama and comedy series premieres, we’ll be releasing narrative and documentary films throughout the year, highlighting engaging and critically acclaimed films from around the world, as well as lesser known titles that might not have had a previous presence on streaming services.
Beyond that, we aim to super serve our intended audience by providing them with a curated selection of programming that appeals to their desire to experience stories and creators that aren’t represented significantly within mainstream North American entertainment choices. We also look to provide a distribution option for series and narrative & documentary film that deserves to be seen without having to attend festivals or awards shows.
If there’s a demand for Topic in markets outside the US and Canada, we’re certainly open to exploring that in the future!
3. How does working with 24i help you meet your mission to push the art of storytelling to new heights?
24i enables us to present Topic consistently across all of the major app platforms in a compelling and simple way. They allow us to focus on our programming and marketing, while knowing that our product experience is in solid hands. Backstage, 24i’s CMS, lets us make adjustments to how titles on Topic are presented in seconds.
Additionally 24i keeps each app up to date and best in class, allowing us to take advantage of new features and bring those quickly to our audience. Their experience working across so many different types of streaming services also benefits the overall product roadmap.
4. There has been a boom of streaming video services over the past few years and competition is fierce. What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own, direct to consumer service?
Zeroing in on the service’s niche is most critical. Audiences will support and make room in their lives for brands and services that speak to them directly and that they wish to identify with. Finding that audience connection is the key first step. From there, creating relationships with many of the established and emerging providers specializing in the streaming video space, such as 24i, enables you to get up and running at a fraction of the cost of a few years ago, while leveraging their scale and technology. Given the competition, one of the biggest challenges is creating awareness for your service among the intended audience. Experimenting with a variety of marketing and press levers is essential to figuring out how to break through the noise and ensure your programming is seen and understood by those who are most likely to subscribe. Testing and iterating across product, programming, and promotion to optimize your funnel can then kick in.
5. Since people started having to stay home because of the COVID-19 virus, demand for streaming services has never been so great. How is Topic managing this increased demand and are you doing anything special for your subscribers hungry for good programming?
We are grateful to be able to provide audiences with a unique source of entertainment during what is an extremely challenging time on so many levels. Working closely with our teams on the 24i side, we’ve increased server capacity to handle the additional subscribers and streaming time that we’re seeing. Additionally, we’re excited to imminently announce a limited series comedy special, that will include some extra special guests, taking place over April/May. It’s bound to lighten up people’s spirits. We have also rearranged our overall programming schedule to launch a few of our high-profile and most binge worth dramas and comedies earlier than initially planned.
We’ve also launched a special 30 day free trial that leads to a 50% annual subscription ($29.99), available here. Read the press release HERE
Contact us today to find out 24i can help you take your content to new heights.