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

Study: More Than 60% of U.S. Households Have at Least One Internet-Connected TV

According to a study recently released by The Diffusion Group (TDG), more than six in 10 U.S. households have at least one television connected to the Internet in order to access content from online services such as Netflix and Pandora.

The study, “Benchmarking the Connected Consumer, 2014,” finds that 63% of U.S. households have at least one net-connected television, up from 53% in 2013.

“Though broadband diffusion may be slowing as the market matures, the expansion of broadband-connected TVs continues at a rapid clip, up 19% in the past year,” said TDG President and Director of Research Michael Greeson.

The study further found that 42% of connected TV owners report having two or more Internet-connected televisions.

“Whether net-to-TV will somehow topple traditional pay-TV service models has been a red herring from the beginning,” said Greeson. “The real debate is the extent to which the growing availability and expanding use of ‘OTT TV’ services will have on the time viewers spend watching traditional pay-TV given the growing array of sources at their disposal.”

In conducting the study, TDG randomly surveyed 1,500 adults that subscribe to a home broadband service.  According to a company press release, the study “examines a broad array of behaviors across a multitude of net-connected devices, from net-connected TVs to tablets, and from PCs to smartphones.”

Facebook vs. Twitter in the ‘Second-Screen’ Showdown

Unlike a number of folks, I do not look at my smartphone or use any social media while watching TV. During the last football season, I went to a bar with five friends to watch a game and three of my buddies were using their phones during much of the game, monitoring their fantasy teams and chatting with other players on social media, while simultaneously attempting to watch the game on the TV. I prefer to focus on the game, and my beer (PBR in a can!) and my wings (hot!). Plus, my fantasy team (and my real team, the Detroit Lions) usually stink, so talking trash on social media doesn’t have much allure for me.

Watching TV while using social media is referred to as the “second screen,” in other words, people who talk about a TV show on social media. Obviously it is pretty important for advertisers who want to target certain consumers. Read more

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