Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Making money from online videos

I am speaking at an event tomorrow, where I will speak to this very topic. Come hear me to hear all my thoughts on this matter ;)

At the very basic level, there are only three ways to monetize videos - all of which have been exploited to the hilt for decades, by the various players in the ecosystem.
  • PayTV Model:
This is the traditional cable network model. An aggregator/channel such as ESPN contracts the rights for content from the rights holders such as NFL. They then license it on a per subscriber basis to the distributors (MSOs), who in turn pass on the fees to the end user/subscriber via TV packages.
  • Ad supported Model
This is the traditional broadcaster model. Content is effectively paid for by Advertisers, and has a nice downstream effect of being free to the end user.

  • Pay (own, rent or subscriptions)
This is the traditional blockbuster model - users pay to own or rent content. Netflix did well by introducing a subscription model here and extending it to be a streaming service.

The beauty of the Internet is that it can enable players in the ecosystem to employ a mix and match approach of these models, and also make the model more efficient and targeted.

For example ESPN3 has employed a variation of the payTV model for its online site. Only subscribers of affiliated ISPs can access content online - this is the traditional payTV model. However, taking advantage of the Internet, they also enable subscribers of the affiliates to access the site when traveling within the US - the premise of TV Everywhere. Outside of the US, you can use a pay model to access the content. See here for some very detailed analysis on ESPN3.
EpixHD also announced a payTV approach for broadband access of its content. is not tied to the payTV model, and is offering its content online directly to users on a pay/ala carte subscribe basis.

At youtube, premium content is mostly ad supported - ads can be targeted to preferred user demographics and can also be interactive. We are also working on pay content: A very innovative solution on ads is offered in the form of promoted videos. The concept here is that ads are also content - and can drive organic as well as promoted views in its own right. In fact, if you can drive more views for your video ads, that speaks volumes for the quality of the ad.

So which model will win on the Internet? Like I said, it will be a mix and match approach, with the winner being the ones who can take advantage of the unique aspects that Internet to make the model more effective and efficient for the end user.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

Media trends & analysis from Digitial Hollywood

I recently attended and presented at Digital Hollywood 2010. DH is an industry event which invites technogy companies (software: such as Adobe, Google/YouTube, MSft; hardware: CE mfgrs & chipset vendors,), cable operators (DISH, Comcast, DirecTV) and producers (mostly independents) to discuss and debate technology trends and how it impacts media.
Complete link is here:

The key takeaways for me from this event:

Highlights (The Winners)

1. Social is the mantra:
Youtube is still popular place for Indies, however there was a common theme on how media companies are relying more and more on FaceBook to generate traffic for their videos/content. Couple of real live anecdotes
  • One producer asked me if he should use YT anymore, since FB is apparently proposing to provide his users with the same level of video playback support that YT does. (We are of course, putting in a lot of effort to make sure his (and all of your) videos are displayed and distributed effectively to his audience.)
  • An ex-colleague of mine, who is now CEO of a widely distributed news site, commented on how much traffic from FB he was getting via Like/Share buttons - almost to the point where it was overtaking the referals he was getting from I asked him how it didnt bother him that FB was getting to know his user more than he could possibly know. His answer: 'I have no choice'. Thats very telling..
2. Advertising & Analytics:
All media companies & agencies said they were upping the ante on getting detailed analytics in order to figure out best ways to target audience and media buys, and to analyze how their campaigns were doing.
Further, they also commented that they could not rely on ad networks like Google or Rubicon. The CPMs were just too low - they had to supplement ads via their own direct sales force, for which the CPMs and ad quality was just much much better.

3. Ubiquitous video
TV Everywhere/video everywhere is still being hotly discussed and debated - who will be the winners and the losers in this new world (this was also the theme of my panel)?
My personal opinion: winners will be the content owners, with so many ways to distribute their content, they no longer have to be tied to one distributor for their success. Look at what the operators are doing!!

Lowlights (the Losers)

1. 3D in the Living Room
Although the conference tried to muster up enthusiasm for 3D in the home, almost all panelists and attendees agreed this was not the right time - not enough content, too expensive and most importantly it was still at the point which made people want to hurl when viewing at close qtrs in their living room.
I personally agree, although I will point out that I am very bullish on 3D in theaters.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What markets will the Apple ipad replace?

I got an ipad this weekend. After playing around with it for a few days, here is my experience and predictions on what markets its going to replace

  • Wow - the device syncs with my kindle online account and the books are really readable in bed (surprised about this actually). I stayed up reading Dan Browns ' - last night and did not go to sleep with a headache
  • Whats its going to replace? The market for Amazon kindle (the device, not the online store), Sony Nook.

  • Netflix app is awesome - as is the ABC viewer (did not test the CBS viewer which is presumably on HTML-5). Youtube is pretty good as well.
  • Whats it going to replace? portable DVD player market. Being able to download movies via iTunes and using the iPad for watching movies on the go is huge.

On the go productivity
  • I spend the whole day at work with just my iPad for taking notes and catching up on email during meetings. It was great oto have this light tablet in my hand rather than a huge heavy laptop. However:
  • What its going to replace? Nothing at this time. Apple needs to consider the following:
  1. Better input mechanism (the virtual keyboarddoesnt cut it;( Perhaps a voice input method.. Another thought is enabling web sites to be more browse/gesture based rather than only search based as the web is today.
  2. Multi-tasking: I really need to be able to have more than one window open at a time when at work!
More as I test further

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tablet Mania

At my recent CES event, I blogged about how tablets were being positioned as a multi-purpose device - useful for on the go computing, reading books/magazines (ebook reader) and a collaborative device for family members at home.
The part of being a collaborative home device really resonated with me. Imagine a tablet being hung up on the kitchen wall and serving as your good old family notice board, reminders, calendar, sticky notes, control of heating, cooking recipes, media playback at dinner time etc. I can really see families buying into that.
Now, WSJ reported what Apple may be thinking (hey - looks like great minds think alike!). Seems consistent with my own views on the topic.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

CES 2010 - Whats hot and whats not!

Every year, a couple of major themes prevail at CES. Usually its the CE industry's attempt to gather mind share and trigger an upgrade cycle or kick start sales for a new device category. This year was not too far.. Three themes that I gathered from my visit to CES 2010:
  • 3D (TVs and content)
  • Connected devices (touch screen devices and apps)
  • Green
Detailed notes and my own takeaways:
  • 3D
    • TVs:
      • The showfloor was abuzz with large 3D TV screens and content played in 3D - If I see one more trailer of Avatar in 3D I think I will puke ;).
      • All major vendors (Sony, Panasonic, Mitsubishi etc.) announced support for HD 3DTVs (buzzword alert!). Sony will be providing a firmware upgrade to their PS3 units to display video games in 3D on supported TVs, and will also upgrade the Blu-ray player to support 3D content. The Sony booth did have some light weight demos of 3D games that looked cool, but did not look production ready as yet. See here for some cool videos.
      • Panasonic announced a twin lens, full HD 3D camcorder (still pricey, but could be the content that we see on YouTube in the next few years)
      • Even Intel jumped on the bandwagon, claiming and demoing at their keynote, how their processors could handle editing of 3D content in real time.
    • Content:
      • Movie content is already on the 3D bandwagon - now comes time for TV content. ESPN announced it will launch a 3D TV sports channel, starting with the world cup. Sony, Imax and Discovery Communications unveiled plans for a 3D channel broadcasting films and children's shows.
  • Shalini's takeway: All 3D TV technology still require glasses - major bottleneck for consumer adoption. Note that sports content in 3D looked pretty realistic. Bringing this content to the living room may prove to get some mindshare from sports enthusiasts.

  • Connected Devices
    • Touch Screen Devices
      • Touch screen was the mantra of the day. Starting with mobile phones (The NexxusOne was well received) to tablets (posing as ebook readers or home collaboration devices) to video conferencing solutions, display solutions for retail all the way down to remote controls.
      • Tablets: Microsoft CEO showcased a tablet coming up by HP that can surf the Web, and display e-books and multimedia content. Many other vendors such as Lenevo and Fujitsu also demonstrated how their notebooks could be transformed into a tablet by detaching the screen. Intel's CEO demoed a tablet device posing as a home device for collaborative calendaring, controlling the lights/temperature and monitoring power around the home. He also demoed a touch screen display device for retail use - all based on Atom of course.
      • Remote Controls: Samsung talked up a touch screen remote control which demoed well, but I could not get my hands on. More here: I met with a company called AmTran that also showed me a wifi based touch screen remote control.
      • Video conferencing: Asus launched a touch screen video conference phone using skype. The reps could not get it to work at the booth, so I could not judge the interactive experience of it. He did say they would try to get gmail chat onto it as well.
  • Shalinis takeway: A generic tablet which can handle ebooks well, esp via wifi; as well as serve as a in-home device is a good market - the touch screen demos I saw were very easy to use and navigate. Touch screen remotes worked well, but i think cost will be a major aspect to consider (no one commented on costs).
    • Apps
      • Every single device was connected, and every single device talked up the apps available on their device..
      • Samsung announced their own apps marketplace for their TVs which would work across mobile, BluRay players and TVs. They also announced iPlayer being available on their UK TVs. Samsung currently does have apps via Yahoo widgets, it was unclear to me whether they were laucnhing their own marketplace, or this was something in conjunction with Yahoo.
      • Intel also announced their apps marketplace - via the beta launch of AppUp Center, the app store for Atom devices running Windows and Linux. Paul O. mentioned how this would be extended to cover mobile and TV devices.
      • Yahoo TV widgets was showcasing Netflix, VUDU, Amazon VOD, CinemaNow/Blockbuster, Showtime and CBS. Im impressed they are still around. Definitely having Amazon VOD and Netflix could prove to show some usage of their platform. I tested out my current Yahoo widgtes framework on my Samsung TV last night - still dont have Netflix or Amazon on it, but I could see myself using it when it arrives - more than my Roku box.
  • Shalini's takeaway: Big Hype around apps right now - I do see the argument for having apps work across devices.. In the end, there will only be a few players who survive through this- My bet would be on Apple, Android and just simply webapps. Yahoo Widgets seems to be getting mindshare, but the company fate is unclear.

  • Green
    • Well - not much to talk about here. All exhibitors were trumpeting their green credentials – from hydrogen fuel cells to laptops made from recycled CDs - and even the expo itself had signs all around about its recycling programme and "sustainable planet" exhibition. Something we should all be aware of as we think of our own products and launch plans around it..

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Successful panel at CES

More notes and comments in a later post:

Im not sold on TV Everywhere,2817,2356103,00.asp