Archive for January, 2015

NO LONGER JUST TWO MAIN PLAYERS

Americans are quickly embracing the idea of being able to watch Netflix, YouTube and other online video providers alongside ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, ESPN, TBS, Nickelodeon and the like on their wide-screen TV set. The NPD Group forecasts that by the first quarter of 2017 there will be a streaming media player in 39 million U.S. homes. That’s 40% of all Households, up from just 16% at the beginning of 2014. That’s now estimated at 24% and rising fast.

In its infancy, the streaming media player market was driven by growth from Apple TV and Roku, but over the past year and a half NPD says Amazon and Google Chromecast have made a significant impact. In addition to streaming media players, Internet-connected TVs, video game consoles and Blu-ray Disc players also deliver apps to viewers’ TVs. Among these four device platforms, though, streaming media players are forecast to contribute the most growth—and connected TVs the second most growth—in installed and Internet connected TV devices over the next two years. The forecast says this will drive the total number devices delivering apps to TVs up to 211 million by Q1 of 2017.

Not surprisingly, the increase in streaming media players helped boost the use of streaming video services. According to another NPD report, usage of Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service saw the greatest percentage point increase, and all of the top five video services benefited from the growing streaming media device market. Netflix still ranks first for app usage, followed by YouTube, Amazon, Hulu Plus and HBOGO.

Putting online video on the same big screen as broadcast and cable TV channels obviously improves the market for over-the-top (OTT) services. What remains to be seen is whether the business is additive or cannibalistic for existing media companies. New research by Parks Associates finds that 17% of U.S. broadband households are likely to subscribe to an OTT video service from HBO. Among these likely subscribers, 91% are currently pay TV subscribers, and roughly one-half would cancel their cable/satellite/telco service after subscribing to this HBO OTT service. That runs counter to insistence by HBO officials that the OTT service will have little impact on its MVPD subscriber base.

Over 50% of U.S. broadband households subscribe to an OTT video service of some sort, but Parks Associates analysts say this finding does not mean consumers are ready to abandon their televisions. “Television is not dying, but it is evolving. Linear video comprises only a slim majority of video viewed on the TV screen at 51%, and overall video consumption has shifted to on-demand sources. The age of appointment television is coming to a close, and programming will need to adapt to an on-demand environment,” said analyst Glenn Hower. Parks Associates reports the average head of household in a U.S. broadband household watches nearly 3.5 hours of OTT video each week on a TV set.

Early Superbowl Ads

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The pre-game push from Super Bowl advertisers is entering full force with the online release of Super Bowl ads from marketers including Lexus and Toyota. But other Super Bowl advertisers are taking new advantage of the traditional TV network carrying this year’s game: NBC.

Super Bowl advertisers like Anheuser-Busch, BMW and GoDaddy are making NBC Universal’s properties a key part of their marketing strategy, showing TV viewers Super Bowl ads early during “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and the “Today” show.

It started Thursday night, when Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Bud Light premiered its Super Bowl spot during the “Tonight Show”, with Mr. Fallon introducing the ad before it ran during the show’s first commercial break.

Next week, NBC’s “Today” will preview commercials from BMW, GoDaddy, Snickers and Budweiser.

BMW’s spot even features a “Today” show moment that former host Katie Couric shared with her Bryant Gumbel, according to an NBC Universal spokeswoman.

Releasing Super Bowl creative ahead of the game isn’t anything new, as advertisers spending around $4.5 million for a 30-second spot aim to get as much exposure as possible. Typically, brands release teasers for the ads or the full commercial through YouTube or on their own microsites and then push them out via social media. Taking advantage of the network carrying the game, which has an interest in drumming up excitement, seems to be a new strategy that seems to benefit all sides.

That is, unless you count viewers who’d rather be surprised on Super Bowl Sunday. Marketers like Avocados of Mexico, Nissan and TurboTax, have decided to buck the trend by not releasing their spots or even trailers of the commercials ahead of the big game. While these brands are creating ancillary content to post ahead of the game, they are holding back the actual Super Bowl creative until the ad runs during the game.

“After nearly a two-decade absence from the Super Bowl as an advertiser, we want to maintain the excitement and anticipation of game day,” Fred Diaz, senior VP-Nissan Sales & Marketing Operations U.S., Nissan North America, said in a statement. “With so many commercials airing before the big game, I fundamentally believe it takes away much of the magic of showing the commercial on the biggest stage of the year.”

YouTube

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YouTube will offer a halftime show during the Super Bowl featuring some of its biggest online stars, part of a broader initiative to promote advertisements on the Google-owned video site.

Harley Morenstein, the ringleader of food stunt group EpicMealTime, will host the program featuring musical performances and stunts, while others will produce fake Super Bowl ads. The show will stream live on YouTube during the game, the year’s most-watched television event, airing Feb. 1 on NBC.

YouTube believes the growing profile of online stars like Freddie Wong, whose main channel has more than 7.4 million subscribers, and Toby Turner will help them vie for attention with Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz, NBC’s halftime performers. More than 60 million people subscribe to the channels of the participating YouTube creators, some of whom YouTube has been promoting on billboards in major U.S. cities.

“It’s a really good place to showcase our celebrities, our talent and our creators,” Suzie Reider, managing director of brand solutions at Google, said in an interview. “It will be fun afterwards to see what was Freddie Wong’s draw compared to Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz.”

YouTube will produce the program with Collective Digital Studio, a Los Angeles online video network that features many of the online stars. Ms. Reider described the show as counter- programming to what will be on TV, designed to appeal to viewers who care more about the ads than the game.

Late Night

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National Geographic Channel is boldly going where it’s never gone before: into late-night TV.

Author, astrophysicist, Cosmos host and Cannes presenter Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson will host Star Talk, the network’s first late-night series, debuting in April.

Based on Tyson’s popular podcast and radio show, Star Talk “will bridge the intersection between pop culture and science as it brings together celebrities, comedians and scientists to discuss the latest developments in our vast universe,” said Courteney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Channels.

The new program, announced at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, adds to Tyson’s lengthy list of TV credentials, including PBS’ Nova, Fox’s hit revival of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, a six-part lecture series available on Netflix called The Impossible Universe and many appearances on popular talk shows like The Daily Show.

Star Talk will be less like his intricately edited and computer-enhanced work on Nova and Cosmos, instead capturing more of the conversational tone from his chats with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

“It’s a very different way of bringing science to the public,” said Tyson, who will host the series from the site of his day job: the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium in New York. “Are people ready for it? We don’t know, but we have enough things going for it that I think it’s surely worthy of this foray.”

National Geographic Channel also announced it will be “returning to our roots” by resurrecting Explorer, the longest-running documentary series in U.S. history (totaling 25 years and more than 2,000 films), this summer.