Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Content Marketplace

So, it's showtime all over the world. NAB in Vegas, MIP in Cannes and the TV industry is at work being as inefficient as it ever has.

Trade shows favour big players who can throw money to their promoters. A kind of tax to stay in the game.

I can't remember when anything vaguely interesting was announced at either show, even at a time when the whole industry is in flux.

I've attended, exhibited and spoken at both shows and I'm not sure if it has ever done any good for my business.

But the ability to see a potential customer face to face and potentially sell something cannot be underestimated.

So, no one has created an online version of these markets. Providing the tools and interfaces required to totally disrupt the TV business model is something TV Everywhere is dedicated to do.

We'll be shortly rolling out some new products and services to directly address this and to make trade markets a thing of the past.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Voting Power

Well, here we go. There are elections in both the UK and US. So what effect will they have on those  of us furrowing in the media industry ?

In the US the polemic will persist, but the morons and crackpots that find such a great stage on Fox News will be shown to be the tiny minority that they are. The irony is that conservatives could do no more good to their cause than to close down their dreadful biased mouthpiece that brings so much division and hatred to US politics. Fox News just breads democrat voters, if all the research I've seen is correct.

Likewise in the UK, we have an incumbent party that should be walking the election, but their success is based on following their main opponents' policies to the letter, not their own. And their packaging and presentation is laughable. They have no confidence in anything and their Australian election guru looks like a total idiot.

Yet none of them are promising proper broadband connections, or freedom from snooping, or anything that is relevant to my world. It's all about economics and NHS and stuff..

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Vivendi, vidi, vici ?

So, Vivendi is rumoured to be back in the fray trying to build a pan European media giant by gobbling up newly rolled up Sky.

On one hand it makes sense - the combined company would have a hefty footprint over most of Western Europe, and the financials make sense since Sky has burdened itself with debt in rolling up its UK, German and Italian operations, but throws off massive operating cash flow.

It makes even more sense in the new regime of pan European rights that has been promised by the EC.

However, it's difficult to see Sky controlling shareholder Rupert Murdoch rolling over. 

And then there's the nature of the businesses. They are essentially old media operations. Vivendi is also said to be looking to acquire French based YouTube competitor Daily Motion, so Vivendi's charismatic boss Vincent Bollore.

Europe needs a world sized TV business that can survive an onslaught from the US, so this could be an interesting development. 

Meercat, Periscope, Ustream - demand for single phone live ?

With lots of PR around the launch of Meercat and Periscope (mobile apps which allow easy live streaming from a mobile phone) it may be worth quickly reviewing the potential demand and success of these new apps.

Live streaming from a mobile device is not new and Ustream have been providing that capability for some time - albeit that the app often crashes on my phone. However the speed of mobile networks has significantly improved making the whole process more viable.

In addition the timing may be right now. Microsoft will remember that they introduced the touch screen tablet before the IPAD but for a variety of reasons it did not grab the consumer - until Apple waved the magic wand. The second mouse often gets the cheese as they say / even a blind squirrel eventually finds a nut etc etc.

The profile of these new apps is such that Bob Bowman President and CEO of MLB advanced media has stated that the MLB are relaxed about fans using them. IP lawyers generally get all excited about these apps as technically the copyright is owned by the camera / phone operator - although conditions of access on tickets generally prohibits filming.

YouTube has had live capability for some time but so far the profile of the VOD aspect of the channel is much greater.

The answer to the question may be that live video  is simply a much more difficult medium to make work and be visually appealing especially from a single camera or now phone. Live events that are "no-brainers" for live video coverage such as major sporting, news, music and cultural events are generally well covered at high cost.

With web cam / laptop costs where they are any event which is not totally spur of the moment will probably warrant more than "single phone coverage" possibly interrupted by an incoming text or call.

So it seems probable that if when walking down the street you suddenly spotted Elvis Presley (he lives) you would certainly try and grab a picture or video and publish quickly via social media but would the desire be there to "go live" ?  

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Why Are Online TV Interfaces So Bad ?

I can't be the only person in the world who has linked my mobile, tablet or PC to a big screen to watch telly instead of using the 'smart TV' option and its dearth of apps or content (my LG doesn't have 4OD, ITV, S4C BT Vision or Sky: Chromecast and Apple TV have similar shortcomings.)

But connecting your mobile, tablet or PC to your big screen is easy - just a HDMI cable and maybe an adapter or using Mirocast or WiDi.

But here comes the first problem - some service such as Sky block the HDMI port. Considering I'm already paying top dollar for their service I onoy hope that this is a contractual thing with rights holders, otherwise it's just cynical and stupid.

Then comes the experience. Boy oh boy, trying to navigate the interfaces which are data heavy and slow to load as well as difficult and inconsistent to navigate drives me nuts...

Worst of all is the Clicks To Play metric. In my view this should be zero. If I access a TV I expect video to play. That's a CTP of 0. Irrespective of the fact that I'm on the web, I want the same experience for OTT, not click, click, click, username, password, click, click (this is BT Vision) or having to right click every time to load the Silverlight plugin on many services.

The whole experience stinks of a bunch of web designers trying to get to grips with telly and the results are shockingly bad for us users.

At TV Everywhere we're so fed up with it that we've decide to open source a framework for designing TV interfaces. It's based on a three column approach that adapts to a single column on mobile, two columns on tablet and three columns on larger screens with a big screen option.

It has login, comments, personal playlists and everything else you'd expect, but it's lightweight and totally customisable. And the first thing it does by default is play video at you. That's a CTP of 0.

You can find it here Our video mangement system allows you to build channels on VideoUI without any coding (or you can totally customise if you want to hand it over to designers and developers).

Now, can we please fix some of those bloated clicky interfaces out there...

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Television Of Politics

So, here we go, here we go, here we go...

The UK airwaves are relatively full of politicians. Milliband, the Labour leader, who looks and sounds dreadful on TV seems to be doing well, whilst the ultra smooth Cameron seems to be running scared from the cameras, and the plethora of minority parties are changing the face of the dual system which has largely ruled British politics for centuries.

Recent elections in Greece, Israel and France have shown a predilection for extremists, even in the US the Republicans seem to have managed a polemicism which is depressing in the face of the demographics they should be courting. We are in a world of alienation and national exceptionism, from Russia, to Egypt, to Israel and the US, we have spittled hatred and a lack of common morality. The media loves this, of course. Consensus makes for very bad television.

And then there are the cliches. If I hear the words 'hard working families' one more time I will throw away my remote. How about 'hard working immigrants' or 'lazy British spongers'?

Everyone hates politics and politicians, yet we put them in place and support them. Perhaps the ballot should carry an 'anything else' option. And perhaps the media should get more real about how to cover the disfynctionality of politics in a way that resonates wih voters and not Oxbridge presenters.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Major Changes Ahead For European Media

There are major changes coming to the European media industry thanks to a trio of new initiatives laid out by the European Commission.

They are going to push for better access to digital goods and services across borders by introducing harmonised consumer and contract rules, with more efficient and affordable parcel delivery, tackling geo-blocking, modernising copyright law and simplifying VAT arrangements. In other words the likes of Amazon and Netflix will be dealing with one country, not twenty eight. But they are likely to have to charge VAT and possibly even pay some corporate tax. For content owners this is bad news since they will be able to sell into one market not twenty eight. It will particularly impact on sports rights, which shows why companies like Sky and Liberty have been investing in building pan European networks.

Secondly, the EC is to tackle issues related to digital networks, reviewing  current telecoms and media rules to encourage investment in infrastructure, work towards a unified European approach to spectrum management and look at how to strengthen trust in online services through more transparency and the swift removal of illegal content. It also called for the quick adoption of new data protection rules. This means that the big networks will become even bigger monopolies and it will make it far more difficult for new entrants to enter the market since they will need to invest in pan European infrastructure.

Finally, the Commission is to promote a European digital economy by promoting interoperability of technologies, tackling issues related to unlocking the potential of big data, and promoting government e-services. The theory is that you can create European tech giants like Google, Facebook, Uber or Air BnB. The reality is that regulation is the barrier to these companies, and the example the UK is showing with driverless cars and drone deliveries is the approach that is needed, not more blanket red tape.

In recent years the EC has done good work in harmonising mobile roaming charges, but surely the first priority in achieving all of the above objectives is ensuring that all citizens have good, reliable broadband access ? The danger with the above is that it encourages massive multinationals and actually makes it much easier for US companies to take over the parts of the European media industry they don't already own.

May we live in interesting times, as the Chinese curse says...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fun and games with rights valuation

A well known and successful figure in the sports rights industry identified two approaches to valuing sports rights;

a) Bid the maximum amount you can afford without busting your business
b) Estimate the revenue generating potential of the rights and bid accordingly

In the case of top tier rights b) is very rarely effective. However the perception of value can be misleading.

BT Sport very much appeared to take the approach in a) with the Champions League and blew the armies of bean counters at ITV and SKY clean out of the water. Given the size of BT they could have bid more but will have taken a best guess on the top price coming from the competition.

Does this mean that the rights are worth what BT paid ? (£897 million).

From an accounting perspective there are three main methods of valuing IPR / intangible assetts

1)Cost method (pleasingly circular argument)
2)Income based method
3)Market based method

Clearly on a cost based method BT paid the right price (!), a market based method suggests too much was paid but how about the income based method ?

If we make a massive assumption that each BT quad play (now they have mobile too) customer is worth £30 per annum to either keep or acquire then how many customers need to be impacted by the Champions League to break even ?

The answer on the figures above is 10 million customers per year. Since BT consumer has about 18 million customers now this seems plausible.

If we continue on this flight of fancy the next question is why didn't BT take such an aggressive approach with the Premier League rights ?

Potentially the EPL has been overvalued and the Champions League undervalued - but a good buy by BT perhaps and an error from Sky. Forgetting the piracy issue of course......