Behind the News: TiVo, Google, Level 3 and AT&T


What a difference a week makes in the video industry. The closing days of July saw developments that are proof positive of important new and emerging trends in consumer consumption and the expanded delivery of valued programming services.

TiVo on OTT Use

A customer survey from TiVo Research and Analytics, Inc. Monday claimed Netflix customers are currently using the streaming service in addition to, but not in place of, cable, telco and satellite TV services. This is not that shocking, as customers often try out new offerings as part of a gradual migration to them. And with TiVo customers already comfortable with the company’s DVR products used with pay TV subscription services, it’s far less of a surprise.

What has been reinforced here – and is the more interesting of the TiVo survey results – is that consumers are subscribing to more than one OTT service (8 percent use the ‘big three’: Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus). Given the services’ low monthly subscription prices, it confirms my belief that consumers are taking a build-your-own TV sundae approach to get a feel for what these services have – and lack.

TiVo’s continued surveys and analytics provide the industry a valuable periodic view of video consumption trends because they are based on user surveys. Their collective insight helps content owners, distributors (service providers and broadcasters) and advertisers learn more about evolving and mini trends in video viewing.

Image via Shutterstock

Google Chromecast

The development that holds the most potential (emphasis on ‘potential’) to reshape the TV landscape is Google’s Chromecast, a $35 HDMI port plug-in product that enables TVs without the Wi-Fi or the “smarts” to connect to the Web to do just that. This potentially throws the doors wide open to live streaming and customer gains by Netflix and rivals for starters.

Enabling those with “dumb” TVs to stream content from OTT services and more without upgrading to a smart TV, portends to provide a sea of consumers access to web video offerings as previously mentioned. The numbers in this story were forecast pre-Chromecast. While early sales are reportedly epic and the product has been reviewed by some critics, the bigger picture to watch is how TV makers – Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, Vizio et al. – react to a development that could have a chilling effect on their current and future advanced TV sets.

Stay tuned closely on this item as content owners and distributors will likely weigh in on the availability of a potentially game- (and video industry) changing device. If a relative newcomer to TV – Google – can come up with a simple yet powerful device, how many other companies may follow suit? Maybe the TV makers themselves, at a price above $35? Do the floodgates open for such products/capabilities?

These are fundamental questions. Stay tuned for the eventual answers – and forthcoming reactions from different camps.

Level 3 and MLB

In the online live sports front, Level 3 Communications signed a deal with Major League Baseball Advanced Media, the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball that is designed to spread and enhance baseball’s digital media products properties including MLB.TV live video streaming both in the U.S. and abroad, an effort critical to the long-term survival of the most international of the four major U.S. pro sports.

Pro sports teams and their leagues are pulling out all the stops to give current and prospective fans easy options to follow franchises on wired and wireless devices, in part to help deal with continually climbing rights fees for live sports matches – the most coveted live-streamed programming.

As a result, this is far more than a typical customer contract expansion/extension. Other top sports are struggling mightily with international expansion – and in some cases, just building viewer interest outside the 50 states. Having teamed with longtime CDN turned diversified media and communications services kingpin, has access to a breadth-and-depth global network and attached resources (350 data centers in the U.S., Europe and Latin America) that can take MLB to the next level of customer acquisition and engagement.

AT&T’s 45

In the never-ending race between telco TV providers and cablecos to provide faster Internet access to subscribers, AT&T Monday announced its fastest ever offering – 45Mbps – initially for U-verse customers in California and Nevada.

The new speed tier is part of the U-verse bundle of services, which includes TV and voice services as well as a fast growing list of features and functionality that is credited with the brand’s continued success in the marketplace.

While the service comes with only a 6Mbps uplink speed, the 45Mbps downlink provides customers bountiful bandwidth for consuming a widening array of video services – live and on-demand – as well as OTT content beyond subscription service.

Bottom Line

While attempting to connect the dots with multiple relevant developments in an industry can result in a force fit, the events above individually help reinforce and fuel new and emerging trends within the overall video industry. Its seemingly ever-changing ecosystem bears close attention moving forward as it complexion changes with each potential breakthrough and change in consumption in the broadband economy.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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