MAD Perspectives Blog

Snip Snip - Hooray!?

Peggy Dau - Monday, October 20, 2014

At last. Premium content without having to have a cable or Pay TV subscription. Bowing to consumer demand, HBO and Showtime will offer access to their programming which includes the wildly popular, Game of Thrones, and critically acclaimed, Homeland. For those who have never subscribed to premium cable channels, this an opportunity to play catch up. But, more importantly this is the seismic shift that has been forecast since the rise of OTT services (streaming content over your broadband connection).

The benefit to HBO and Showtime is access to incremental revenue. Millions of households don't subscribe to their services which are priced as a premium over and above the selected Pay TV subscription bundle. There have been options for individuals to access this content via tablet based-apps, HBOGo and Showtime Anytime, using household or family member passwords. And, others have waited for series to be available on OTT services such as Netflix. Studies have shown the popularity of the content whether accessed on a tablet/laptop or using internet connected devices like XBox. We can expect an avalanche of other streaming offers to come from the rest of the cable channels. The difference now, is that fans don't have to wait top play seasonal catchup, nor do they need to "borrow" passwords. They can subscribe directly to HBO or Showtime, without an intermediary.

The announcement is timely given the recent reports from ComScore and Ooyala reinforcing where and how we consume content. The all important millennials (ages 18-34) consume ⅓ of their original series content on digital platforms. Why? Flexibility of place and time. The millennials are also much less likely to subscribe to cable or other pay TV services. An argument could be made that millennials don't have the income levels (particularly at the lower end of the age range) to support pay TV subscriptions. And, that others ARE subscribing and that they represent the majority. So why are millennials the driving force behind new business models? They represent the future and the habits they have and are forming today will stay with them. Like the publishing and music industries, the television industry is in the midst of a dramatic shift.

The shift is not due to a lack of interest in televised content. It's about the audience taking control of the schedule, and as a result the business model for accessing desired content. Approximately 40% of US households already have a paid digital video subscription via a service such as Netflix or Amazon. The success of these services has been debated even as subscriptions have risen thanks to the availability of original content or not grown as quickly as anticipated in new markets. Whichever side of the debate you may sit on, the adoption of streamed content is here to stay. Subscription plans and budgets will determine the uptake rate. 

Consumers are hopeful for options that allow them to maintain or reduce their existing TV-related costs, while gaining access to previously unavailable programs. As mentioned in my recent blog, Alternatives to Content Socialism subscribers have grown tired of cable bundles that include channels with content of little or no interest. The home audience isn't ready to give up its cable subscription. It simply wants options and flexibility. Even with broadcast TV viewership declining, the core U.S. networks, ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX, deliver must-see TV in the form of sports. These networks already provide live streaming alternatives, but it's the big screen experience that continues to bring fans together at the appointed game time.

No pricing for the streaming services has been shared, yet, by HBO or CBS/Showtime. When it is revealed, it will become clear as to how well these content creators understand their audience. There is a tipping point when it comes to pricing. They've shown they understand the shift in how consumers want to enjoy content. Do they also understand the value placed on that content in terms of monthly subscription pricing? Only time will tell and what seems like cause for celebration, may result in dissatisfaction.

What's your perspective?




Sports Leading Innovation

Peggy Dau - Monday, October 13, 2014

it's no surprise that sporting events drive technology innovation - or is it? If you were to ask a friend about the technology of sports, they might shrug or look at you with a quizzical expression. However, given a few more minutes to think about it, they might actually come forth with a few ideas. In fact, sports has driven development and mainstreaming of a lot of broadcast technology that we now take for granted. As an example, look at how the way watch and enjoy sports has benefited from the innovations noted in this 2011 article from Business Insider.

The sports industry is all about creating a compelling fan experience. Sure, teams seek out amazing talent, build attractive stadiums and play to win. But it is the fans that pay to attend games, that pay to watch events on TV, that buy merchandise, that share their passion on social networks, that buy the devices that enable them to access information about their team - anytime, anywhere. As FIFA prepared for this year's world cup they understood that global football fans would be accessing match statistics and video from a myriad of devices. As a result, they invested in delivering multimedia services to their licensed broadcasters serving local fans.

These services focused on enabling online and second screen experiences. FIFA partners with Netco do develop an app that could be white-labeled by broadcasters. The app, used by 40 broadcasters, resulted in 28 million downloads. One billion users visited FIFA's Global Stadium - the social online media hub. It was only on digital platforms that fans could view matches from EVERY angle. On the social network front, the World Coup attracted 451M Facebook users and 16M Twitter followers.

The technology demands of the first global sporting event capturing and producing content in 4K required a host of broadcast technology from vendors including Sony, EVS, Deltatre, Netco, Elemental, Eutelsat, Globosat, Aspera, Akamai and Microsoft Azure. The mix of traditional broadcast vendors and vendors enabling online streaming and second screen experiences is a sign of the future. EVS, long known for its sports broadcasting technology, has proven its ability foresee audience demand through development of C-Cast to enable second screen publishing (used at the World Cup 2014) and its recently released FanCast, designed to enhance the in-stadium experience (and sure to be used at the next Olympics).

The IBC2014 Judges Award for broadcast innovation was awarded to the FIFA World Cup 2014 - a confirmation of sporting events driving the future of broadcast technology and ultimately, the fan experience. Sports fans are passionate. Sports fans will invest in the tools to feed their passion. Teams, leagues and non-sports oriented event organizers (e.g., entertainment, political) must take note and adopt the tools that makes sense for their budgets to optimize broadcast and second screen experiences. 

What's your perspective?



The Third Dimension - Context

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The entertainment experience has been under invasion by social media and second screens for several years. Initially they were viewed with skepticism, then intrigue and ultimately accepted as the overall industry determined that they were more than a flash in the pan. They are more than a distraction and they are more than an incremental stream of revenue. They bring something extremely valuable to the audience experience. It is so valuable, in fact, that a lot of energy is being expended to ensure that they become even more tightly entwined with entertainment experiences, at home, or in stadium.

Yes, that's right at home or in stadium. Our entertainment experiences span many destinations. Not all of them are the optimal destination for accessing content via a second screen, so we'll focus on those locations that invite use of a screen to add context to the experience. Yes, context. This is the third dimension beyond time and content. Other than for live events, time has become a flexible concept (although, I suppose for physicists it has always been fluid). We access content as we like, wherever we are. In fact, we are willing to pay for that flexibility. However, the dimension that has been elusive has been context.

The rise of the second screen was initially touted as a distraction. It pulled the audience away from the action in front of them. However, comments on social media provided insight valuable to brands and advertisers. And, for sports fans, the second screen provided stats, comparisons and…yes, context. Context is defined as "the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood".  Whether we are enjoying scripted entertainment, reality programs, music or sports, thoughts are provoked which results in our accessing another screen to tap into the volumes of information available on the internet. We seek to validate or debate the moment which provoked the action.

Behind the scenes this craving for context is driving technology innovation. Whether it is platforms bringing together fans of the new season of "Scandal" or the legions of Champions League football fans. Whether we are in our homes or enjoying a match at the stadium, technology solutions are available, allowing us to access supplemental content which will provide context. Increasingly, technology vendors are investing in enhancing the stadium experience. It is no longer just about sitting in your seat. There are screens everywhere - from the very large to the very small. There is content provided by the sports club itself - some designed specifically for the big screen and other to provide context to the events on the field. 

The data - oh yes, there is a LOT of data, is aggregated, sliced and diced, to provide insight. It brings fans together as they compare performances. While the primary focus for augmenting the audience experience has been the use of second screens at home. The rise of second screen apps/platforms for use in stadiums is on the rise. It is more than ordering food to be delivered to your seat. They are apps developed by the stadium developers or sports club or league, designed to enhance the fan experience. The goal is to provide a more immersive experience - and it's all due to adding context.

We wrote about the rise of context earlier this year. It's about more than collecting the data, it's about using the data of add value. How often do you turn to your second screen for information to enhance an experience? Did you gain perspective about the event that prompted you to take that action? Did you add context to the situation? I bet you did.

What's your perspective?




Security and Protection Priorities Shifting

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Protecting assets, data and information, from unwanted intrusion, is front page news these days. It seems that retailers, banks and other enterprises holding customer financial data are under persistent attack. Whereas the primary concern used to be about the security of data centers retaining corporate information about products, pricing, R&D and customers, today hackers are finding different entry points to access sensitive data.  Corporate concerns about data breaches are warranted, as there is a direct impact on revenue. The hack of consumer payment data at Target was followed by a revenue decline of 5.3%

The media & entertainment industry is no different. In fact, while subscriber data is critical to the success of these companies, media organizations face issues beyond subscriber data management and protection. They must secure and protect the content assets themselves while they are being created, when they are prepared for delivery and when they are being transported to business partners and/or consumers. Content piracy was the term used by vendors providing solutions in this space.  Content piracy results in revenue leakage for both content providers.

Just as retailers, banks and manufacturers protect data using sophisticated encryption solutions, media companies protect media assets with conditional access system (CAS) and digital rights management (DRM) solutions. The challenge for  Pay TV services, such as Comcast or BSkyB, is in only allowing subscribers who have paid for content to actually access that content. When the service owns the distribution network, CAS solutions have been deployed utilizing encryption keys tied to the subscriber's set-top box. For OTT delivery across IP networks, fixed or wireless, DRM solutions have been deployed. Regardless of distribution model, protecting content at all stages of the media lifecycle has been critical. 

The shift to IP content delivery combined with the increase in content consumption via tablets and smartphones introduces new challenges to an industry that has been dependent on solutions designed for managed networks and managed devices.  CAS vendors (e.g., Cisco, Nagra, Irdeto) have invested in enhancing encryption solutions focused on protecting content on behalf of Pay TV Operators, using the set-top box as the managed device. DRM solutions are used to protect content, on behalf of the content owner. DRM provides copy protection for content being accessed via un-managed devices, such as smartphones and tables. 

The two perspectives are starting to converge as Pay TV Operators are forced to deliver content to screens beyond the TV. While content providers have focused on content protection and delivering the content consumers want, they have paid limited attention to protecting subscriber data. They use the data to identify new revenue opportunities, but have not yet had to apply the same level of protection to subscriber data. Security as about managing access to content. Protection is about securing content during network transport. Both are about protecting revenue streams.

What's your perspective?



Alternatives to Content Socialism

Peggy Dau - Monday, September 22, 2014

Insightful conversations are the benefit of attending conferences. At IBC2014, in Amsterdam last week, I had a number of those experiences. It was interesting to see that nothing really BIG was announced. 4K content, which provides a much high quality image with a high dynamic range of color, continues to be a driver across all aspects of the media supply chain. File-based workflows, which have been under discussion for over 10 years, are still a dominant part of the conversation.

However, perhaps the most interesting conversation was the one, with Colin Dixon of nScreen Media, about content socialism. Yes, you are reading that correctly. To be more specific, this is about content socialism in the United States. What? How could there be any thing socialist in the US? Well, there is and has been for quite some time in the business model pursued by the cable operators. Where else do you pay for something that you don’t want but do so because others may want it?

Colin coined this term earlier this year in his blog about the NBA inflating its license fees with Pay TV networks. US Cable Operators have long benefited from a business model which bundles an assortment of channels together, many of which we as consumers never even watch. The discussion about transitioning to an a la carte model has been debated widely, with those on the business side arguing that the a la carte model would be even more expensive for consumers due to the licensing fees between content owners and cable operators. The assumption is that consumers are currently benefiting from economies of scale in the current licensing agreements.

With this thought in mind, I visited various stands and an alternative became evident. IP delivery channels have become an accepted, valuable avenue for monetization. It was my chat with John Maguire of S3 Group that solidified the following thoughts. When looking at the capabilities at every point along the media supply chain, the focus on IP delivery of content is prevalent. It is evident in solutions focused on capture and transmission of audio and video across fixed, mobile or WiFi networks.  IP networks connect file-based workflows. And, they are the growth channel into the consumer home. So, with all this IP capability, why not create content for IP consumption only?

Why create special interest channels for cable? They appeal to niche audiences who would be willing to pay for access to content. It would be less expensive to create content for OTT consumption only. OTT providers such as Netflix or Amazon Instant Video, could offer specialized content at an incremental fee, thus expanding their revenue base. No, this does not address the concern of content socialization. Yes, this needs to analyzed more fully and I’m sure a lot of smart people have already had these thoughts, but with the increase in online content consumption and the ability to more easily create content, perhaps this is an idea whose time is coming.  After all, it only took 10+ years for video-on-demand to become mainstream or for file-based workflows to be fully implemented by broadcasters.

What’s your perspective?




Connecting Live is Still Relevant!

Peggy Dau - Monday, September 08, 2014

I've been writing about connectivity for the past few weeks. I've done this because I believe connectivity is at the root of our human experience. Whether it is our family, friends, business colleagues, or even those who remain nameless, but share a common interest, we are always connected to someone or something. We exist in organizations, be they schools, businesses, clubs, sports teams, religious organizations. We attend and participate for education, exercise, creativity or community. No wonder the advances in communications technologies and services fascinate us.

But none of those technologies can replace the benefit of face to face gatherings. I've been living in the technology, communication and media sectors for the past decade or so. I love technology in how it simplifies and enhances my life. I am able to stay connected to my friends, family and clients from a variety of devices. I stay abreast of industry news via those same devices. However, i look forward to opportunities for valuable face time (and i'm not talking about the Apple video conferencing app).

This summer my family celebrated a few landmark events by enjoying a vacation together. While this may sound like a set up for a tragic comedy, it was a wonderful opportunity for all of us to relax together. While we talk, text, email and FaceTime (yes, this time I am talking about the Apple app) with each other on a regular basis, the opportunity to be together for a period of time was fantastic. It is the same for business. it is why the golf game evolved as such an acceptable and successful business event.

The conversation that occurs over a period of hours or days has depth that cannot be attained as quickly or easily via apps or devices. Sure with the help of social media and big data analytics, we can capture, sift and assess online conversations to uncover trends that impact business. However, it is the conversation with a business partner or client, on the golf course or over dinner, that reveals new opportunities, politics of closing a deal, or challenges to overcome.

I'm attending IBC 2014 this week, a conference service the broadcast industry. I enjoy the opportunity to discover emerging technologies and uncover new opportunities. I look forward to insightful conversations with business colleagues. I am thankful that so many colleagues have agreed to meet with me as our conversations help me gain greater perspective on the impact of big data, cloud, social media, mobility and other trends on an industry that has been in our homes for years. I am connecting live - how about you?

What's your perspective?



The Connected Experience

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, September 02, 2014

What is the impact of our increasing dependency on all things mobile? How is the the connectivity between things impacting our daily lives? Our desire for connectivity is evident in the increased investment in the "internet of things". Simply put, this is the ability for devices to communicate with each other.  This may take the form of alerts to your smartphone or using your smartphone to control other devices.  Much attention has been paid to connecting to devices in the home such as, thermostats, lights, locks, refrigerators or TVs. It is all driven by our addiction to connectivity, but what about the experience?

Examples of machine to machine (M2M) connectivity include being able to verbally unlock the doors of your house by speaking into you smartphone. Future functionality might include asking your TV to find the content you seek - by name, genre or talent. The advances in technology and networks enable this "futuristic" connectivity - similar to what we once enjoyed in the Hanna-Barbera animated sitcom,  "The Jetsons".  we seek experiences that enrich or simplify our daily lives.

We've already proven that we are addicted to devices as evidenced by estimates from eMarketer, that 1.75 billion people will own smarthphones by the end of 2014. That translates to ~ 24% of the global population (as of July 1, 2014 based on estimates from the United Nations). Smartphone adoption is led by China, followed by the United States, with these countries and many others passing the 50% penetration mark in 2014 and 2015.

We've shown that we like to enhance our experiences by using devices. We use the map functions on our phones to guide our explorations. We plan running routes and track calories. We comparison shop and make dinner reservations. Why not connect to other devices and simplify repetitive tasks? 

Devices that enabled an internet connection to our TV entered our homes in the mid-2000s. Today Smart or Connected TVs enable direct internet connections that in turn allow connectivity to OTT providers such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, music sharing site Pandora or social media maven, Facebook, and others. The benefit is the enjoy the connected experience via our favorite in-home device, the TV. We choose to  enhance our TV experience with our mobile devices, enriching our experience through simultaneous connectivity to online information related to the program we are viewing, or sharing our experience on social sites or simply multi-tasking.

The connected experience is one that is constantly evolving as our definition of connectivity and tasks that can be enabled expand. Our expectations are limitless as behemoths like Apple and Google invest in enabling technologies while also defining ecosystems that may include traditional manufacturers as well as entrepreneurs. It is safe to say that the manner in which we connect and communicate, one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many, or thing-to-thing will be quite different five years from now. And, it is the focus on our connected experience that will drive this market evolution.

What's your perspective?




Connected Awareness

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 25, 2014

Last week i wrote about our addiction to connectivity, which when thinking about it further led me to consider what we could call connected awareness. With our addiction to devices and their apps, we have a heightened awareness of our friends likes or dislikes, to the behavior of celebrities (which broadly include movies stars, musicians, athletes, business leaders, politicians, etc.), entertainment trends (Hollywood, social media) and news. If not for social media, connectivity and awareness, ALS would not have raised $80 billion, yes that's a B!  This is a great example of connected awareness. The ground swell of ALS awareness has been astonishing as anyone from a friend, neighbor or family member to celebrities happily dumped buckets of ice and water overt their heads. Thanks to our addiction to connectivity where we scan the news or social sites while waiting in line or traveling, we are more aware than ever before.

There's a downside to connected awareness. This is exhibited by online bullying, lack of sensitivity (consider Zelda Williams's experience after her father's suicide) or  mis-statement of facts, to name a few. With a potential for groupthink mentality to set in, connected awareness can lead to negative behavior. Hopefully, that will be the exception. Brands, non-profits and politicians hope to capitalize on increased connected awareness.

The media and entertainment sector is and industry that's quite open about its goals to optimize on the connected awareness of its audience. In the TV space, a lot of attention has been paid to Social TV, the second screen and OTT consumption. Nielsen reported earlier this month that 25% of TV viewers were more aware of programs due to social media interactions. The second screen is used to become more aware of product advertised on TV, actors in the program being watched, statistics related to a live sporting event, or to engage with friends. Connected awareness is driven by tweets and Facebook posts.  

In fact, Nielsen has begun measuring the reach of these platforms. Awareness is not about the person sharing content, it's about who sees that content. Looks who's tweeting and what content is driving their activity. It's not wonder that advertisers are actively seeking insight from social networks.

Our connected awareness is influencing our thoughts and actions. We are stimulated by opinions from others about about TV shows, movies, concerts, vacation destinations, restaurants and more. We seek input from others either socially or via text or in some cases, email (which many consider of very old school communication tool). In any case, we are often doing so via our mobile devices with an expectation for immediate response. This expectation is borne from our connected awareness. We anticipate that our friends are accessible, online and ready to influence.

I anticipate that, very soon, we will see some type of connected awareness barometer. It's about measuring more than tweets or Facebook updates. It's more that a Klout score. It's understanding where we connect to obtain content and what action we take upon its receipt. Imagine that as we enter the next presidential campaign cycle, broadcast networks and campaign advisors will be seeking every advantage to understand and to influence the connected awareness of the voting populace. 

How are you connected?  When are you connected?  Where are you connected? And, what do you choose to connect to? Our very connectivity allows for collection and measurement of data. That data leads to a different kind of awareness, but awareness that is still driven by our connectivity.  How has your connected awareness shifted with increased access to smartphones or tablets?

What's your perspective?



Addicted to Connectivity?

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 18, 2014

Connectivity. Engagement. Data. Anytime. Anywhere.  These are the buzzwords that surround those of us in the communications, media & entertainment sector. We check the stats about the adoption of Smartphones and Tablets, using them to justify investment in new solutions and product updates. We track likes, hash tags, influencers and market trends. We use data to understand how customers, consumer or business, are accessing content and information. But, do we pay attention to how we access all that content, information and data?  

Not really. While we actively select our broadband and wireless carriers based on our needs, we take it for granted that that connection will be there when we need it. We increasingly use free Wi-Fi to access rich content on the go because we don't want to eat up the data in our data plans. We can do this because…free Wi-Fi is increasingly available at places beyond Starbucks and McDonalds. Anytime I’m traveling, especially internationally, I pop into such places to download email, check social updates and gather business news. I admit it; I'm addicted to connectivity.

Who supplies that connectivity? The telecommunications companies around the globe. They are AT&T, Verizon, BT, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Telefonica, Telecom Italia, NTT DoCoMo, and the list goes on. We expect these service providers to provide us with the connectivity that allows us to be informed, entertained and engaged. But, do we understand how it works? Do we care? Yes, we care in so much as when the network doesn't work, we are disgruntled. We may even tweet about it.

These communication service providers (CSP) have worried about becoming commoditized pipes. It's a fair concern, given that the motto, "Content is King" has never been more true than it is now. However, how would we access that content without network connectivity? How would all those big data companies scrape the Internet for social insights, search queries, opinions and recommendations, to augment internal, system driven data, without network connectivity? 

OTT content consumption has raised eyebrows for broadcasters, cable operators and the FCC in the United States. Why? Not simply because it changes the business model for content, but because it consume a LOT of bandwidth. Bandwidth provided by CSPs such as Verizon and Comcast. As wireless networks continue to improve and networks in general become more flexible due to evolving technologies, the bandwidth and services they can provide become more advanced. We are already enjoying content on the TV screen while using Wi-Fi or wireless networks to access incremental data related to the show we are watching, or to see what our friends our saying, or to check email or to [fill in the blank]. What happens next is dependent on the evolution of those wireless technologies enabling our connectivity.

Network technology is the secret sauce connecting our 21st century world. While CSPs are certainly not perfect in how they manage connectivity, they are persistently working to improve their capabilities. And, we are all addicted nonetheless.

What's your perspective?






Trends Proving True in 2014

Peggy Dau - Monday, July 14, 2014

I love this info graphic as it was created earlier this year and uses data to support its definition of the trends I've seen in 2014. I've been writing about them and their application for the media & entertainment and telco industries. It's a nice mid-year reminder that the trends are also the realities for clients as they invest to improve their storytelling capabilities.



What's your perspective?




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