More Young People Now Cutting Video Cord, As Well

It has long been established that young consumers are more likely than their older counterparts to forgo wireline voice telephone service in favor of wireless.  A newly-released report from Experian Marketing Services finds that a growing number of young people are becoming video cord cutters, as well.

According to the report, the number of video cord cutters—defined as those with a broadband connection but not a cable or satellite TV subscription—has grown by 44% (from 5.1 million to 7.6 million homes) since 2010. This represents 6.5% of all U.S. households.

Among those households which include anybody between the ages 18 and 34, the percentage of cord cutters grows to 12.4%. Even more dramatically, among those households with a Netflix or Hulu account, 18.1% do not have a cable or satellite TV subscription.

“The young millennials who are just getting started on their own may never pay for television,” said Experian Marketing Services senior analyst John Fetto. “Pay TV is definitely declining.”

Fetto believes that cable companies will need to find creative ways to make up for lost revenue, such as imposing data caps or implementing tiered pricing, whereby consumers who consume more data are charged more.

Most TV Viewing Is Still ‘Live’

According to a recently released poll, the vast majority of TV viewing by adults is done “live.” “Live” meaning via a cable/satellite subscription, or via broadcast TV, and not using the DVR, while actually watching the commercials. The poll included just over 15,000 people from about 20 countries worldwide.

Nearly 86% of those responding to the poll watch traditional, live TV; 27% report that they watch video online, via a computer; 16% stream Internet video to their TV; 16% use a DVR; and 11% watch video on a mobile device.

Not at all surprisingly, the numbers change based on age. Those aged 50-64 watch more live TV; they watch live TV 91% of the time. For those aged 35 to 49, the number drops to 88% and drops to 81% for those under 35.

Some other interesting statistics from the poll: among the 20 countries included in the poll, watching live TV is most popular in France and streaming Internet video content to a TV is most popular in Turkey. Watching TV on a mobile device is most popular in South Korea.

Interesting numbers, no doubt. Of course, if you’re like me, you may have asked, “why is live TV still so popular? Seriously, who would willingly watch a commercial these days? Heard of the DVR?” Unfortunately, the poll did not answer this question.  In the next few weeks, I think I’ll dig into the issue more, so stay tuned for that.

But, with all of the options out there for streaming online video, I’m hoping this poll is done again in a few years. It will be interesting to watch the trends evolve.

Video Buffering Times Down, But Not Enough For Consumers

Rural carriers that also provide video have long known that if voice service goes down for just a few moments, customers will usually make another attempt to get through before giving up.  In most cases, service is quickly restored with relatively few complaints.  But if there is so much as a slight imperfection in video quality, or worse, a service interruption of a few seconds or more, a flood of complaints come in, fast and furious.

A recent study shows that high consumer expectations apply to over-the-top (OTT) video as well.  Even though the performance of video streams has improved a bit, consumer demand for a good video experience has grown, according to the 2014 Viewer Experience Report from research firm Conviva.  The report indicates that the number of OTT video views that encountered buffering delays fell from 39.3% in 2012 to 26.9% in 2013.  However, the data also indicates that if a viewer encounters buffering, they will quickly give up. Read more

Cox Media Testing ‘Addressable Advertising’

The advertising division of Cox Communications announced this week an “addressable advertising” trial to be conducted in partnership with Invidi Technologies (self-described as the “world’s only truly addressable targeted television advertising and marketing solution for cable, satellite and IPTV service providers”).

The goal of the Cox/Invidi trial is to measure the effectiveness of so-called “addressable advertising,” where marketers pinpoint targeted audiences based on viewer specific criteria. In its most advanced form, a household profile is created using data such as income, ethnicity, presence or number of children in the household, and even very specific information such as whether someone in the house may have a car lease set to expire. The advertising agencies are then able to work with cable providers to determine the number of households that fit their target and serve commercials to just those individual homes. Read more

Sony Creates Original TV Series for PlayStation Gaming Console

Sony has released details of the first original series it has developed for its PlayStation gaming console.

The show, to be entitled “Powers,” is based on a graphic novel and follows the exploits of a mortal private detective in a world of people who possess incredible superpowers.

“Powers” will be produced by Sony Pictures TV, which has already churned out such hits as “Breaking Bad,” “Masters of Sex,” and “Hannibal.” Shooting on “Powers” has not yet begun. The show had previously advanced as far as the pilot stage with the FX network.

Reportedly, “Powers” will be available through the PlayStation network itself; users will be able to stream it in the same manner as they stream content from Hulu or other online providers. Sony has not yet released any information on pricing or availability.

The move allows Sony to enter the world of original production, following the successes of Netflix (“House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black”) and Amazon (“Alpha House.”)

Microsoft is also reportedly working on original programming for its Xbox console—a show based on the video game “Halo”–but has not yet offered any concrete details.

Amazon’s Set Top Box Reported to Ship with Netflix and Hulu Plus

Amazon’s long-anticipated set-top box, intended to serve as the company’s competitor to Roku, is reportedly nearing release. The Amazon device was originally scheduled for release during the 2013 holiday season, but those plans were scuttled for unspecified reasons.

Actually, Amazon’s “box” likely won’t be a box at all, but rather a dongle or a stick.  Reports speculate that the device will ship with a traditional remote control.

In addition to allowing users to access Amazon’s own video streaming and MP3 services, the device will also facilitate direct competitors Netflix and Hulu Plus. Unconfirmed reports say that the device will support streaming full PC game titles.  If true, this would position the Amazon device as a direct competitor to Xbox and PlayStation consoles.

Amazon recently registered to use DIAL multiscreen protocol. If DIAL is incorporated into the new device, users will be able to launch streaming video content directly from their phones.

The device could begin shipping as early as April, and will be available at Best Buy and Staples stores, as well as Amazon’s website. While the pricing is subject to speculation, it seems likely that Amazon Prime subscribers will receive some form of discount.

Xbox One vs. PS4: An Update

It’s been a while since I’ve touched on the topic of Xbox One and PS4 and the whole “multimedia entertainment hub“ idea. I’ve been going back and forth on which system I want to buy, but for those who may have read about my never-ending quest to buy a new TV, you know I’m not the most decisive consumer in the world.

Since their respective releases, PS4 has outsold Xbox One. According to this Forbes report, PS4 sold about a million more units than Xbox One in 2013 and PS4 sales were nearly double those of Xbox One in the United States in January 2014. Why is PS4 winning so far? I wish I had a definitive answer (since it would help me choose which gaming system to get), but this analysis of the two is consistent with most I’ve read: PS4’s graphics looks much better and it’s $100 cheaper. Read more

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