Nov 16, 2015

Week In Review: Cord Cutting. Still Not Happening.

Welcome to Edition 2 of the new Friday Week In Review edition of TVREV. Where we’ll be examining the top stories of the week in detail, looking at why they matter and what you should do about them.

Much to the dismay of the tech community, pay TV’s numbers held fast this quarter, with Comcast in particular coming on much stronger than in Q2. While the MVPDs are not gaining any subscribers, they’re losing them in teeny tiny increments. What many seem to forget is that a number that makes for a great Business Insider headline is actually a rounding error for an industry that has close to 90% penetration. This past quarter, those numbers were considerably smaller — Comcast, for example, only lost 48,000 subscribers, which constitutes 0.02% of their user base. Certainly not the stuff trends are made of.

WHY IT MATTERS: Pay TV is proving increasingly difficult to kill off. As TV Everywhere takes off in light of the new Nielsen OTT measurement system (TAM) it’s going to be even harder to eliminate. It may evolve — several MVPDs are following Dish’s lead and offering internet-only “skinny bundle” packages — but the appeal of a single bill, a program guide and DVR and lots of free channels is hard to beat.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO: Keep on keeping on. There’s no need to drastically alter your pay TV plans or worry about a music-industry style collapses. Keep an eye out for broader trends around cord cutting, but right now nothing is.

The suddenly hot Hulu introduced yet another layer to their viewing model: viewers will have the option to watch a :30 interactive ad up front, allowing them to skip the two and a half minutes worth of interruptive advertising that would otherwise follow. While this option will initially only be available for viewers of Fox family shows on mobile devices, Hulu has plans to roll it out platform-wide.

WHY IT MATTERS: At a time when interruptive advertising gets less and less respect (and, more importantly, views) the industry is looking to find alternatives. Interactive advertising is appealing as it allows marketers to get in the more hard-sell messaging many of them miss in other “new advertising” formats like native, branded and #createdwith

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO: If you’re a network, think about what adding interactive ad units, and offering them as an alternative to interruptive ones, would do for your bottom line. If you’re a network whose viewers lean heavy on the fast-forward button, then interactive makes sense as well. If you’re a marketer, think about what your brand’s interactive ad might look like. And hit up Joe Marchese at True[X] to learn more about what they have to offer.

In what’s rightly being hailed as a significant legal victory, the MPAA has managed to get the plug pulled on illegal streaming site PopcornTime. PopcornTime had Hollywood very freaked out because the interface looked prettier than Netflix and the platform made pirating movies a snap.

WHY IT MATTERS: While this probably isn’t the last we’ll hear of PopcornTime, and similar sites, there may just be a realization that there are financial consequences to piracy. Regardless, the ability of the MPAA to shut it down should have a chilling effect on others who are looking to do the same.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO: Nothing. Piracy is still a real concern, sites that illegally stream movies and TV shows are more of a threat than download sites because they provide instant gratification. PopcornTime is still problematic in that it proved the value of a well-designed interface for video-based file sharing sites.

Chasing innovation wherever they can find it, Twitter changed the icon for the favorites logo from a cold-but-bold star to a touchy-feely heart. Users reacted badly as the overall feeling was that the star was less about praise than acknowledgement and Twitter had (once again) fixed something that wasn’t broken.

WHY IT MATTERS: With quarter after quarter of flatline user growth, Twitter (and their new CEO Jack Dorsey) need to prove that they’re doing something to promote user growth. A heart probably isn’t it though, fellas.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO: Treat the heart the same way you treated the star. Not worth stressing out about. You might also want to offer a prayer to the social media gods that Twitter figures out how to do something about that shrinking user base. Before said shrinking user base does something to Twitter.


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