Archive for July, 2009

Is this good news: Microsoft focusing on what they’re good at and Five joining Canvas?

Friday, July 31st, 2009

And so we hear that Microsoft is launching a new, advertiser-funded video-on-demand service in the UK on the 3 ft, which will offer a wide range of content from distributors including the BBC Worldwide and All 3 Media. Starting small this new Microsoft platform will make 350 hours of material on the 3ft but in the long term the platform could stretch to the Xbox and mobile.

Microsoft asserts: This is really concentrating on the PC,….We’ve learned to understand the different audiences and their different requirements. We’re aiming to be one of the most popular services in VOD.

I think that by targeting the known users of PC’s will enable Microsoft to tailor specific content for the private viewing experience that is so highly prized on the 3ft by viewers. It is a good position to take in terms of familiarizing viewers at this early stage about content on the 3ft.  As ever navigation and intuitiveness of design are key to making this work in addition to delivering high quality relevant content to the viewer. Content  is critical in that the platform will be delivering content to the private viewer the bulk of the time.  Timing is also critical - obviously in anticipation of the huge PR that will be generated by the arrival of Hulu later this year, it will be good for Microsoft to position itself well now. Be interested to see their marketing and how they sell this to the private viewer!

On the 9 foot I can see why Five has joined Project Canvas. It must be because they are desperate to move fast to support Canvas in an attempt to prevent Sky from seizing the VoD market. Sky are currently positioned brilliantly and I can understand why now all the remaining main channels are clubbing together to push a defensive strategy.

In terms of adoption of PVRS : Enders/Opera/Oliver&Ohlbaum are all agreed that by 2013 adoption will be in the region of 75% – I think it may be sooner than 2013. Why is this so important? As we know the hierarchy of viewing is: Live, PVR, VoD (and the proportion of VoD in PVR households on the 9ft main set is tiny).  Furthermore since most PVRs are Sky, Sky are in the enviable position of having data on what the bulk of these viewers watch and they can promote  relevant/favoured VoD content  when they choose to launch their Sky VoD seriously!

The only hope in terms of VoD for the remaining main channels in the long term is to push Canvas as a matter of urgency to familiarize the audience with Canvas and market it so well that the PVR is then forced down into third position in terms of hierarchy of viewing. They are short of time and I think the task maybe too difficult especially with the rapid adoption of PVRs .  They will have a hard job to convince the viewers that the PVRs are less relevant but it maybe worth a try.

One Red Herring and 3 Powerful Points

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Further to the article by Emily Bell last week and the subsequent hoo ha regarding the MS article I think this is pretty much a red herring.

The main concern is that the industry that relies so heavily on claimed behaviour – delivering an overhyped impression of the impact of technology and the subsequent ‘liberation’ of viewing – this is the worry and those that continue to spend money on such research without a real grounding in actual behaviour will be in danger of delivering a misleading customer/consumer perspective to the industry and this will continue to be as it has already been a very expensive mistake.

Enders Analysis refer to the issue flagged up at the conference in their latest report and the issue to do with overreliance on claimed behaviour.

Enders Analysis has drawn upon the body of evidence presented at the LBS on the future of TV Anytime (On Demand and Convergence conference organised by ACB and LBS two weeks ago on 7th July) to deliver three main points that form the basis of a report and they are as follows (with my comments in red italics):

1. On-demand TV is but one form of TV Anytime. Other forms include DVD sales, rental and PVR timeshift, and internet streaming and downloads. Most are non-linear applications that enable viewers to access video content at their own time of choosing and without being dependent on any linear schedule. To these must be added certain linear options, such as staggered channels and repeats that also contribute to greater freedom of choice. Enders have reaffirmed the main definitions outlined in the conference that are helpful for the industry to truly understand the monetisation around on demand and not confuse it with other existing models.
2. Audience data for some popular programmes, which show how upwards of 50% of the total consolidated audience was generated outside the original time of transmission, indeed provide some support for the notion of TV Anytime. However, in the case of VOD, current research evidence shows a large degree of overlap and substitutability with PVR timeshift, where recency and catch-up are the main drivers of viewer use. And, of the two, PVR timeshift is much more heavily used. Some programmes (as ACB identified) are more likely to be delayed as opposed to archived on the PVR and then more likely to be watched within a few days. – this rich source of choice on the PVR of favourite archived content and catch up content makes it a tough for VoD to penetrate the PVR enabled tv. Personal choice is more powerful with the planner and the concept of having something saved to watch strongly influences what is watched after live.
3. Current VOD options include cable TV VOD services and IPTV VOD services delivered over the Internet. Although younger viewers access substantial volumes of video content off the Internet, the great majority of viewing across all age groups is to content delivered to the TV screen. We may expect significant relative growth in VOD audiences as broadband convergence enables viewers to watch IPTV content on their ‘living room’ TV screens; the actual amount subject to a number of factors, such as the outcome of the Ofcom pay-TV investigation and future of the BBC/ITV/BT project Canvas. Still, the experience of Virgin Media suggests that absolute VOD growth will be small and VOD share of total TV viewing will only amount to a few per cent in the foreseeable future. In addition, significant monetisation issues with respect to both the pay and advertising revenue streams are expected to hamper growth over the next ten years, at the end of which we expect the VOD viewing share to lie somewhere below 5% of total TV viewing.

Authors Toby Syfret and Ian Maude suggest that there is a need for more research into the use of the EPG and navigational issues that determine the audience journey.

Following on from their recognition of the problematic issues to do with claimed and actual one would expect that any serious researcher would have to conduct ethnography in the natural context to minimise bias.

Indeed as early as Phase 1 of the  1-3-9  media lab research proejct we found that participants were impacted by the introduction of the Sky HD EPG and that this had very different uses in terms of navigation – for example we saw participants going straight to the HD Channels and this impacted their choice of channels.

Are there any further pieces of research that are on going that address these research questions?

Are there any other burning questions such as those suggested by Enders that haven’t been answered by the research presented at the conference?

We have a list, but it would be interesting if you could share yours?

Seems like I’m not alone

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Following on from my post the other day about the Morgan Stanley article, a member of the LBS/ACB conference audience has sent me this article by Emily Bell - it’s good to see I’m not the only person who found the MS article worrying…..

Data shouldn’t be child’s play

16 July, 2009 | By Emily Bell 

If you are a highly remunerated strategist in a broadcast business, then there are two things that need saying: one, congratulations for holding on to your job; two, have you had that report by a 15-year-old work-experience boy from Morgan Stanley waved at you by colleagues ? Or have you waved it at them? (In which case, I refer you back to point one).

Morgan Stanley published the note from Matthew Robson, 15, describing it as: “One of the clearest and most thought-provoking insights we have seen.”

If this is true, then clients might want to reconsider their financial relationship with the bank. Mr Robson’s note is, indeed, authentic, and nicely phrased for a 15-year-old, but as for insightful, it tells us that teenage boys don’t like paying for stuff, they have a low threshold for long bits of text and they find advertising “annoying and pointless”.

Insight for twerps

As the parent of three boys who one day will be 15, and one who already thinks he is, I can tell you that they find many things annoying and pointless, including their parents. But it is ‘insight’ only to twerps who haven’t engaged with media consumption habits at all in the past 10 years, which might, as far as I know, include the entire research team at Morgan Stanley.

It did occur to me, however, that 15-year-olds are a bit passé so I conducted my own insightful research project with a five-year-old, an eight-year-old and a 12-year-old – which gives media companies a much broader-based, more future-oriented sample.

It turns out that when offered the choice between the comment pages of the Guardian or Ben 10 Alien Force, five-year-olds prefer the latter and actively encourage product placement for the Ben 10 Omnitrix. The five-year-old sample gave some devastating insights into TV branding: If Sky 1 is crystal, Sky 2 is slime, Sky 3 is magic dust, what is Sky 4?

The market shows an interesting shift for eight-year-olds, who in the space of a week switched from preferring the computer to the TV, “because I’m more into Torchwood and less into Adventurequest” (please don’t call social services – he hasn’t actually watched Torchwood). Bad news though for print: “Well, I am only eight so I don’t really read newspapers.”

When given the choice between an endless supply of comics or an iPhone, the five-year-old sample was conflicted and couldn’t choose, the eight-year-old picked the iPhone “but not to ring anyone up on as I don’t know anyone with a phone”, and the 12-year-old rolled his eyes: “This is, like, so lame.”

Lame indeed. We might be in trouble as an industry but we have to be able to do better than anecdote as data, or we will be as doomed as the investment banks themselves.

Emily Bell is director of digital content, Guardian News and Media

Thanks and what can we learn from a teenager?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Comments on the conference have been really positive:
“A steller line up with lots of very interesting presentations” to
“really useful and interesting with an incredible evidence base presented throughout the afternoon” and
“usually with these things there is a lot of overpromising and maybe one or two takeouts but the papers yesterday were uniformly great with some exceptional contributions“

So with such flattery I thought that we could get the blog site up and running so people could add their own comments on the future of on demand tv, take-up, usage and revenue. 

As you will see from the conferences page on the acb website,  all the presentations are available. and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

To kick off the blog I thought it a good idea to respond to a rather controversial piece of research thrown in the ring the other day. I have been asked to respond to this article by several of those that attended the conference.  So on that basis I have attached the article for you to read and also noted a few comments, but I would like to challenge you as the reader to consider what purpose do you think this serves?.  Morgan Stanley described the essay as ”one of the most clearest and most thought provoking insights we have seen”.  To view original PDF click here

I have no doubt it will spark debate as it has column inches. My point would be as always when drawing on claimed behaviour unless it is an attitude as such it really should be backed up with empirical research.  As you saw in the conference claimed behaviour is inherently unreliable.

I  am frankly surprised by Morgan Stanley, its relatively easy to rustle up some anecdotal teen claimed behaviour that we (the adult) and they ( the teen)  perceive as different, however because this is so unreliable,  you have got to question the context in which Morgan Stanley investment bank are interested in the perusings on a 15 year old.