The Week In Review: CES And Chill

1. Netflix And Chill

Hundreds of thousands of Hollywood, Madison Avenue and Silicon Valley types invaded Las Vegas this week to attend CES, or, for many of them, to take meetings in hotel rooms while CES was going on.

That’s less an aspersion on them as it is an acknowledgement that not much of anything really happens at CES.

The trends— VR and IoT— have been the trends for the past several years, and what’s on display mostly consists of vaporware or the supremely impractical (cabinets that inventory what canned goods you’re storing in them, and our personal favorite, the adjustable belt which (for realz) eases itself open slightly when it senses you’ve eaten too much.)

There were two big announcements that affect the television industry, one far more significant than the other in the long run.

The lesser of the two announcements was the Dish HopperGo, a small portable device that allowed you to play the contents of your DVR virtually anywhere, even when there’s no WiFi.

Given that FIOS now has that watch-your-DVR-anywhere capability on it’s mobile apps,       and others are sure to follow, the Dish device is only notable for its ability to allow you to watch sans WiFi connection, a limited use case if there ever was one.

The bigger announcement came from Netflix, who announced they are planning to expand to over 130 countries this year (with China noticeably absent), creating the first truly global TV company. Not every show will be available in every country, but their plans were far more ambitious than anyone had suspected and that certainly grabbed the attention of much of the industry.

What remains to be seen is how this all plays out. Some observers have noted that Netflix’s business plan seems to rely heavily on a constant influx on new subscribers, which is well and good in the early stages, but what happens when the market gets saturated and they need to raise prices? Will that lead to greater churn or will viewers see a value in a $15/month Netflix?  All that remains to be seen, but in the interim, “Netflix and chill” seems to be well on its way to becoming a global expression.

Why It Matters

U.S. networks and studios make a lot of money off of global rights. In a digital age, many wonder why national borders still matter. Netflix’s expansion may amplify that conversation.

What You Need To Do About It

Talk to your global distribution team and educate yourself on your current position. Once you’ve got that down, talk to them again and understand what your options are if there’s pressure to change.

2. Snapchat And Chill

One other major trend we’re noticing from CES is the rapid rush of mainstream companies to Snapchat. Whereas even six months ago it was dismissed as a toy for sexting teens, this year brands, ad agencies and studios seem to have suddenly discovered its charms and are busy snapping their stays at CES. That’s not a bad thing—Snapchat has many charms and is likely to surpass Twitter as the number 3 social network after Facebook and Instagram.

For TV networks looking at new ways to engage an audience and promote their shows, the platform’s expansion beyond it’s teen base (remember that Facebook was once for college students) is a good sign. The notoriously impenetrable interface will prove to be a sticking point, but we’re still expecting rapid 2016 growth.

Why This Matters:

The ability for networks to put together stories-that-are-longer-than-thirty-seconds gives them a brand new way to promote new and existing shows, allowing for greater creativity and engagement. That’s a win all around.

What You Need To Do About It:

If you don’t have a Snapchat account, get one. And as the esteemed Gary Vaynerchuk notes, if you can’t figure out the interface, YouTube offers a virtual library of explanations.

The Week In Review: “Too Much Good TV” Is Linear Thinking

1. 409 And Counting.

There are now 409 scripted original series on television.

If you watched each one for a half hour, once a week, you’d need a 29-hour day to complete the task.

That’s a lot of TV.

A lot of really good TV too, and clearly the issue arises that there’s not enough time to watch all of it.

Some people see this as a problem. We don’t.

There are far more good books out than anyone will ever have time to read. Yet no one is suggesting that fiction writers put down their pens because there’s just too much good literature being produced.

“Too much good TV” is Linear Thinking. It’s saying that all of these shows are competing for the viewer’s attention at the same time.

Non-Linear Thinking says it doesn’t really matter, that people watch some shows live and some shows much later. And that it’s not so much a matter of liking one better than the other as it is a matter of convenience.

TV, as we’ve said before, is about to become a lot more like books and movies. Where there are libraries of classics and cult hits and no one is ever going to read or see all the good ones. That makes it a more important medium and brings in the specter, raised in this most excellent New York Times article, that it might even become an art form.

Why Should You Care

The bar keeps getting set higher and higher. That’s tough, because you’ve really got to search to find the gems these days, but it’s amazing because it means TV is going to attract the best and the brightest in every field.

It also means that this is a strong and vibrant medium that’s not going to be replaced by YouTube videos. No matter how loudly the tech blogs protest.

What You Need To Do About It

Be the best TV network/writer/director/producer/actor/technologist /marketer/advertiser/blogger/social media expert/critic/fan you can be. Keep the quality going and things will fall into place. Not for every series or every network, but for the industry at large.

2. FIOS, FIOS, Everywhere

Remember when we told you that TV Everywhere was about to really take off now that Nielsen’s TAM was going to be measuring all those non-linear views?

We weren’t lying.

Verizon FIOS confirmed that customers who have the FIOS Mobile app are now able to watch anything that’s currently on their DVRs. That’s just the first step in what promises to be the total liberation of programming from the confines of the set top box and a big win for FIOS.

Why You Should Care

Because with TV Everywhere comes the whole shift to addressable advertising or what we have been calling “Audience Parting.” Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) in tandem with programmatic buying and selling will make this real and the whole monetization ecosystem will get turned on its head.

What You Need To Do About It

Figure out how you’re going to take advantage of the shift and start planning now. Familiarize yourself with Audience Parting and start figuring out the ramifications for your organization.

What You Need To Know To Win At eSports

“Wait, you’re telling me tens of thousands of people show up to a stadium to watch people playing video games for nearly an entire day? And millions tune in to live streams of players practicing?”

If you’re shaking your head thinking this must be some “niche” group of super geek gamer fans, then you’re about to be on the wrong side of the tsunami that is eSports. the name given to organized multiplayer video tournaments that are often played in front of live audiences in large arenas.

The BRaVe and TVREV teams recently joined the discussions at the inaugural eSports Industry Brand Summit at the Paley center in New York, and unlike the repetitive conversations at the seemingly endless number of Future of Programmatic/Branded Content/OTT summits, there was a palpable feeling of excitement and awe that eSports is a truly game-changing movement. (Pun intended.) To better understand why, we focused on three fundamental reasons why every media and marketing exec needs to better understand eSports.

 

IF YOU THINK eSPORTS IS A NICHE PLAY, YOU’RE GRAVELY MISTAKEN.. IT’S THE NEXT GLOBAL SPORT

As Jason Lake, CEO of Complexity Gaming, very matter of factly stated, we are on the verge of seeing eSports become the next global sport. This is not some click bait statement, it’s fact: As of 2014, there were 89 million global eSports enthusiasts. By 2017, that number will reach 145 million, according to Craig Levine, EVP at ESL Gaming.

When you compare this to sports like volleyball (which the same report says had 186 million enthusiasts in 2014) and football (151 million), you begin to realize how big and how fast eSports is growing.

Andy Swanson of Twitch drew an interesting parallel between the rise of poker and eSports as spectator sports: both have huge built-in audiences that technology has suddenly given behind-the-scenes access to (pocket cams for poker, spectator modes for eSports). Our infographic outlines some very interesting stats on how eSports is distributed and watched.

 

IT’S ABSOLUTELY STILL THE ‘WILD WEST’ AND THAT MEANS OPPORTUNITY IS THERE FOR THOSE THAT DARE TO BE BRaVe

Now is the time during which those involved will be defining the value chain, the profit pools, the deal stakes, and ultimately, and most importantly, learning what it takes to be successful in this arena.

Approximately $110 million in corporate sponsorships went into eSports in 2014, and large brands such as Red Bull, Coke, Intel, and T-Mobile have begun making initial forays into the space, but there’s still a huge first mover advantage up for grabs.

Several eSports executives at the summit stressed that there are plenty of white space opportunities available in eSports. Tobias Sherman, head of WME/IMG’s eSports division, added that “we are in a unique situation where we can invent what brands need.” Both games and players are ready to cooperate: but authenticity is critical so don’t come knocking with interruptive advertising pitches.

 

MAJOR MEDIA COMPANIES ARE ALREADY JUMPING IN

Naturally the BRaVe and TVREV team smiled when we heard Turner Sports’ EVP, Head of Content, Craig Barry, reflect that this is more of a revolution than an evolution, when it comes to sports. And you’re either driving it or following it—Turner is already choosing to drive it, having recently announced the creation of a new eSports leaguewith WME/IMG, which will air on TBS in 2016.

Just last week, massive video game maker Activision Blizzard also announced that they were hiring Steve Bornstein to head up their new eSports unit. Who is Steve Bornstein? No big deal, just the former CEO of ESPN and the NFL Network who helped shape the NFL into the media behemoth it is today. At ESPN, Bornstein helped create NFL PrimeTime and SportsCenter. When major “traditional” media players start jumping to eSports it reminds us of the talent poaching that marked the early days of Facebook and Twitter. Hey traditional media/marketing execs, you know that rockstar on your team that’s been talking about eSports for the past year. Say bye bye!

Still trying to wrap your head around it? We’ve taken a crack at pulling some of the most salient points and insights from the day into this infographic for you to share.

And finally, congrats to Sparks & Honey and GMR for launching this summit. BRaVe minds think alike.

Facebook Vs. Twitter: The Battle For The Second Screen

Facebook and Twitter rolled out some new features last week to increase viewer engagement. More than that though, these new features signal a potential new business model for social and second screen TV. The infographic below looks at how they stack up and what’s in it for TV networks and other content owners.

 

What You Need To Know To Win At eSports

“Wait, you’re telling me tens of thousands of people show up to a stadium to watch people playing video games for nearly an entire day? And millions tune in to live streams of players practicing?”

If you’re shaking your head thinking this must be some “niche” group of super geek gamer fans, then you’re about to be on the wrong side of the tsunami that is eSports. the name given to organized multiplayer video tournaments that are often played in front of live audiences in large arenas.

The BRaVe and TVREV teams recently joined the discussions at the inaugural eSports Industry Brand Summit at the Paley center in New York, and unlike the repetitive conversations at the seemingly endless number of Future of Programmatic/Branded Content/OTT summits, there was a palpable feeling of excitement and awe that eSports is a truly game-changing movement. (Pun intended.) To better understand why, we focused on three fundamental reasons why every media and marketing exec needs to better understand eSports.

 

IF YOU THINK eSPORTS IS A NICHE PLAY, YOU’RE GRAVELY MISTAKEN.. IT’S THE NEXT GLOBAL SPORT

As Jason Lake, CEO of Complexity Gaming, very matter of factly stated, we are on the verge of seeing eSports become the next global sport. This is not some click bait statement, it’s fact: As of 2014, there were 89 million global eSports enthusiasts. By 2017, that number will reach 145 million, according to Craig Levine, EVP at ESL Gaming.

When you compare this to sports like volleyball (which the same report says had 186 million enthusiasts in 2014) and football (151 million), you begin to realize how big and how fast eSports is growing.

Andy Swanson of Twitch drew an interesting parallel between the rise of poker and eSports as spectator sports: both have huge built-in audiences that technology has suddenly given behind-the-scenes access to (pocket cams for poker, spectator modes for eSports). Our infographic outlines some very interesting stats on how eSports is distributed and watched.

 

IT’S ABSOLUTELY STILL THE ‘WILD WEST’ AND THAT MEANS OPPORTUNITY IS THERE FOR THOSE THAT DARE TO BE BRaVe

Now is the time during which those involved will be defining the value chain, the profit pools, the deal stakes, and ultimately, and most importantly, learning what it takes to be successful in this arena.

Approximately $110 million in corporate sponsorships went into eSports in 2014, and large brands such as Red Bull, Coke, Intel, and T-Mobile have begun making initial forays into the space, but there’s still a huge first mover advantage up for grabs.

Several eSports executives at the summit stressed that there are plenty of white space opportunities available in eSports. Tobias Sherman, head of WME/IMG’s eSports division, added that “we are in a unique situation where we can invent what brands need.” Both games and players are ready to cooperate: but authenticity is critical so don’t come knocking with interruptive advertising pitches.

 

MAJOR MEDIA COMPANIES ARE ALREADY JUMPING IN

Naturally the BRaVe and TVREV team smiled when we heard Turner Sports’ EVP, Head of Content, Craig Barry, reflect that this is more of a revolution than an evolution, when it comes to sports. And you’re either driving it or following it—Turner is already choosing to drive it, having recently announced the creation of a new eSports leaguewith WME/IMG, which will air on TBS in 2016.

Just last week, massive video game maker Activision Blizzard also announced that they were hiring Steve Bornstein to head up their new eSports unit. Who is Steve Bornstein? No big deal, just the former CEO of ESPN and the NFL Network who helped shape the NFL into the media behemoth it is today. At ESPN, Bornstein helped create NFL PrimeTime and SportsCenter. When major “traditional” media players start jumping to eSports it reminds us of the talent poaching that marked the early days of Facebook and Twitter. Hey traditional media/marketing execs, you know that rockstar on your team that’s been talking about eSports for the past year. Say bye bye!

Still trying to wrap your head around it? We’ve taken a crack at pulling some of the most salient points and insights from the day into this infographic for you to share.

And finally, congrats to Sparks & Honey and GMR for launching this summit. BRaVe minds think alike.

Totaling It Up. Will Nielsen Have An Audience For TAM, Or Is It Too Little Too Late?

Nielsen finally revealed details and a launch date for its OTT measurement system, dubbed “Total Audience Measurement” and the industry may never be the same. We’re (mostly) impressed with what they’re trying to accomplish and believe that it will kickstart TV Everywhere, so that 2016 will be the year we finally see the radical changes everyone has been waiting for.

Total Audience Measurement: What We Like

Ad Views versus Program Views: Total Audience Measurement (TAM) addresses the issue that in the brave new world of TV viewing, ads and shows need to be measured separately. That’s because someone watching the digital broadcast or VOD broadcast of a show may not see the same commercial load as someone watching the linear feed. Nielsen’s plan is to create two different metrics, one that will allow networks to know how many total viewers a particular show has, and one that allows advertisers to know how many people actually saw an ad.

Just About Every Device: TAM will be able to count views on just about every streaming and mobile device out there: PCs, mobile devices, tablets, VOD and streaming devices like Xbox, Apple TV and Roku. A few niche devices like the Apple Watch won’t be counted, but their low usage rates would not effect ratings anyway.

Bigger Panels:  Nielsen is doubling the size of their panels from 20,000 households to 40,000. While we’d still like to see a measurement system that counts every single view, we also realize that no one is going to let the MVPDs (who are the only ones who have that capability) have that kind of power. Given the complex nature of TV rights and negotiations, responsibility for ratings are always going to fall to an impartial third party.

Moving Beyond C3 and C7: Nielsen has the ability to measure way, way beyond the C7 window. The reason they don’t is that the current rules, which date back to 2006, do not allow them to. To remedy this, Nielsen is working with the major ad buying agencies and networks to change those rules, something they say they’re not getting much pushback on. So we should soon be seeing accurate ratings many days out, which will allow for a more realistic picture of current viewing habits.

Moving beyond C7 also acknowledges the rapid growth of ad-supported VOD, which means that views 21 or even 91 days out are as likely to be on VOD as they are on DVR. Those numbers are going to prove very useful to networks when making programming decisions, as they’ll be able to gauge which shows have developed bigger audiences in the off-season—a powerful piece of data since audiences who discover shows via bingeing tend to be far more evangelical and passionate than those who discover the shows via linear.

Measurement For Streaming Services: Sort of. While YouTube and AOL will be fully measured, Netflix and Amazon don’t want Nielsen poking under the hood. But it seems that several of the major studios want to know how their shows are doing on those streaming sites and are supplying Nielsen with audio files so they can find out. We wish Hastings and Bezos would stop being so secretive—we get that they don’t rely on ad revenue, but releasing ratings numbers would allow everyone to know just how popular their new shows are and with whom, data that can influence programming decisions on ad-supported networks too.

What We Don’t Like

Still No Social. As we pointed out last year, the key measurement missing from TV ratings systems is social. While Nielsen does measure Twitter, it’s an open secret that Twitter ratings are reflective of what’s popular with Twitter’s unique audience clusters and not with the viewing population at large. You can see this by looking at the social TV ratings from companies like Shareablee, where Instagram sometimes outranks Facebook, and both leave Twitter in the dust, the latter often accounting for well under 10% of audience interactions.

Adding social ratings, especially social ratings that take context into account, will give a clearer picture of what shows, ads, actors and genres are resonating with viewers. As more and more marketers move toward smarter insights like “emotional resonance” and “advanced sentiment analysis” to derive true meaning behind flat metrics. It will also give a clearer idea of what else those viewers like (Psychographic insights) allowing networks and advertisers to see patterns between the shows and the show’s audiences. In addition, the size of the social audience, Facebook in particular, provides census-level data, which can serve as a check on Nielsen’s panel data.

Or Is There?  We keep hearing rumblings about Nielsen adding anonymized Facebook data to the overall Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings data set. When you break down the Nielsen SDK demo process, it seems that Nielsen will be bumping up its data to Facebook anyway in order to attach demo and psychographic info. So, while we can only assume that Nielsen’s next step, after TAM is released, will be to go to Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat (and maybe even Tumblr) and start incorporating their numbers into the social rating, the question remains as to how they’ll do it in a way that’s “fair & balanced” to their long time partner Twitter? If the social TV ratings from companies like Shareablee, which consistently show Twitter responsible for less than 10% of the social TV traffic for most hit shows are any indication, it’s going to be rough roads ahead for Twitter’s relevance here

Branded Content and Brand Funded Content

As consumers continue to find ways to avoid interruptive advertising, brands are taking a #CreatedWith approach to ad integration, looking to place their messages within the content of the show. As these executions become more popular, Nielsen will need to start measuring their effectiveness as well. This is particularly important if these executions are going to become part of the programmatic buying systems that are all the rage today. Without a way to measure #CreatedWith and other branded integrations, TAM is going to fall short. It’s our opinion this should be the next challenge Nielsen tackles.

What Happens Next

TV Everywhere Explodes. This is the real benefit to TAM. Because once the networks know that all those non-linear views will be counted by a universally accepted measurement system, their objections to TV Everywhere melt away.

Until now, the networks have been (rightly) worried that views on tablets and VOD and streaming devices equaled money down the drain, as those viewers meant lower ratings and thus less ad revenue. Hence all the restrictions on TV Everywhere apps. But now that everything’s being counted, the networks are more than happy to let you watch whenever, wherever and however you want— the more the merrier. They know that when people have more ways to watch TV, they actually do wind up watching more TV. Ratings go up along with ad revenue, and everyone is happy.

The MVPDs, who provide both pay-TV and broadband service will also be more than happy to have you watch TV via an online connection, since the more bandwidth you use, the more money they make. That’s because MVPDs make their real money on broadband— pay TV provides very thin margins.

That means the MVPDs will be rolling out new and improved versions of their TV Everywhere apps, which will be freed from the restrictions they’ve had until now. So you’ll be able to tap into their VOD libraries, watch whatever you want when you’re away from home, pause and rewind, and otherwise enjoy a superior TV experience.

Audience Parting

As OTT viewing explodes (along with the ability to measure it), we will see much more of what we call “Audience Parting”—advertisers buying specific audiences rather than specific day parts. Time shifting will play a huge part in this as well, since buying prime time shows (or shows that originally ran in prime time) is no longer a guarantee of anything—early research shows that there are significant differences in the audiences who watch TV live, the audiences who watch 3-7 days out and the audiences who watch 3-7 weeks out. By buying specific audiences, advertisers will be able to replicate the powerful targeting capabilities currently available online, without sacrificing their ability to reach mass audiences. It may be more work for the networks ad sales teams, but should result in higher fees for the more targeted audience. If Nielsen’s TAM works as expected, audience parting should become the rule, rather than the exception.

A Data Explosion

While Nielsen may begin collecting additional data from all the OTT sites they’ll be monitoring, they’re far from alone. The networks have been busy collecting first-party data on their viewers via systems like Viacom Vantage, NBCUx and Turner Data Cloud and using that to power new programmatic style ad buying programs. These systems will serve to keep Nielsen on its toes as the first party data the networks collect is deeper and less reliant on panels. Nielsen will need to continually innovate to keep pace with TV’s new digital-centric reality, particular when it comes to data. Advertisers will be the real winners however this shakes out, since the more data they have (regardless of its source) the better decisions they’ll be able to make.

Maybe The Future Isn’t About Apps, Tim. 

As much as we want to love everything Apple does, the problem with an app-based future, is there’s no program guide, no central organizing system that keeps track of your shows and where they are.

Siri might someday fulfill that role, but for now, for anyone who watches more than just a few hours of TV a week, the MVPD offerings, which combine in-home set top box delivery with full TV Everywhere service for hundreds of channels, will be the way to go, providing access to just about anything you’d want to watch (including short form content from YouTube and others) along with an easy way to find and organize it all. Throw in a single bill for all your TV and broadband needs, and it’s a hard deal to turn down. Comcast has done a stellar job of driving this paradigm to reality.

The Change Is Now. 

As all TV begins to feel like Netflix, we’ll be seeing even more changes in the way we watch. It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for and with the launch of a universally accepted measurement system, there’s nothing to hold it back.