Wednesday Webinar: Mobile Apps & Poor Mobile Performance

Mobile is now the first screen of choice for most people, and user intent is highest on smartphones than any other computing device. However, many times our mobile experience is poor and can be as bad as content not even loading. For companies reliant on conducting business via mobile, slow B2C mobile apps hurt in multiple ways: poor user engagement leads to abandonment, a leaking user retention funnel and eventually revenues.

On Wednesday June 24th, at 4pm ET, I will be joining Kartik Chandrayana, CEO and Co-founder of Twin Prime to explore the challenges that are unique to mobile, the efficacy of current solutions and approaches to solving the mobile performance problem. It should be a lively discussion with allotted time for Q&A so bring your questions. The webinar is free and you can register here to attend.

Call For Speakers & Moderators Open For Streaming Media West Show

SMW15 mini-header-CFS2The call for speakers is open for the next Streaming Media West show, taking place November 17-18 in Huntington Beach California. For those that want to speak on a round-table panel, you can submit your request and ideas via the website. If you want to play a larger role in the conference and help organize and moderate a session, or do a stand-alone presentation, please email me directly. I have already started to place presenters in the program and we get more than 500 speaking requests, 5x what we have room for. So the earlier you contact me, the better chance you have of being considered. If you’d prefer to discuss a session with me directly instead of email, which tends to work best, you can reach me at 917-523-4562 with any ideas, proposals or questions.

Streaming Video Alliance Looking To Hire Executive Director

SVA2The Streaming Video Alliance (SVA), a newly formed industry forum composed of leading companies from the online video ecosystem is looking for a full-time, paid Executive Director. This person will work with the Alliance Board, Officers and staff to confirm the organization’s vision, set strategy, establish operational goals, and implement related board resolutions.

Established Working Groups focused on Open Caching, Android Client Ecosystem, Quality of Experience and Content Ingestion have already been started and we have more than 20 industry-leading content providers, network operators, content delivery networks and technology providers working together. For more details on what the Alliance is about, you can watch the keynote address that Joe Inzerillo, EVP and CTO at MLBAM gave last month at our member meeting in NYC.

As of June 1, the SVA opened up membership to all interested companies, organizations and individuals with more than 200 companies interested in the Alliance. Current members include Alcatel-Lucent, Charter Communications, Cisco, Comcast, EPIX, Fox Networks Group, Intel, Korea Telecom, Level 3 Communications, Liberty Global, Limelight Networks, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, NBC Universal, PeerApp, Qwilt, Telecom Italia, Telstra, Ustream, Verizon, Wowza Media Systems and Yahoo.

If you are interested in getting more details about the Executive Director position, you can contact me for more details.

The Biggest Threat To Pay TV Providers Like Verizon Isn’t OTT, It’s Their Poor Business Practices

While OTT services are having an impact on pay TV providers business models, the bigger impact on the growth of their services comes from within their own companies. As a customer of Verizon’s FiOS service for almost seven years now, I continue to see first hand the impact that Verizon’s poor business practices is having on how they grow their pay TV business, from a subscriber standpoint.

Every consumer has their opinion on what’s they are willing to pay for pay TV services and for me, I’ve always said that a triple play bundle of $95.99 a month is something I consider to be reasonable. I get a lot of value out of pay TV, a fast Internet connection and a physical phone, especially since I work from home. But the rate at which all pay TV providers are raising their prices is getting to the point of where they are starting to push even their most loyal customers away.

The number one threat to Verizon’s business isn’t product related but rather account related. Verizon is simply charging too much, raising rates too high, too fast, and adding on all kinds of charges. My two-year contract just ended and Verizon raised my triple play price by $25 a month. That’s a 26% price increase. In 2010, my triple play package started off at about $79.99 a month. Then it rose to $95.99, then $109.99 and four years later, it’s now $124.99 a month. And while the Internet speed has double from 25Mbps to 50Mbps in that time, consumers can’t take advantage of it. This is what will stunt the growth of their business, their pricing. Not the speed, quality of the service, how their remote control mobile app works, TV everywhere, etc. – simply their price.

Verizon is pushing too hard, too fast, too often with pricing and industry-wide, the push back by consumers is only going to grow. And it’s not because of OTT services, that argument is overrated. For my viewing habits, Netflix offers less than 5% of the content I like to watch. Many OTT services are a fall back for some consumers, but most consumers can’t easily replicate what pay TV providers off, at the same quality, for a cheaper price. But that won’t last forever, and the pay TV providers know it. And what do you think will happen when the pay TV providers add 4K channels? Do you really think they will offer that for free? Of course not. The majority of consumers are not going to buy 4K quality, for an additional cost. No chance. But, we may be forced to as the pay TV providers could simply raise everyone’s bill, even if you don’t want 4K, and then justify that cost increase by saying they offer better quality, even if you don’t want it, can’t take advantage of it or don’t have a 4K TV.

Rate increases are expected as programming costs are going up, but at the same time, pay TV providers like Verizon are also increasing their profits. So while they always want to make it sound like it’s not their fault for raising prices and are simply being squeezed by the content owners, they also choose to pass that cost on to customers. Just because they now add a line item to my bill that says “Sports Network Fee,” that doesn’t mean it’s not their fault I’m being charged more each month.

I also don’t like how the pay TV providers as a whole purposely make their packages so confusing and in Verizon’s case, always try to trick me. While getting a FiOS quote for a friend last month, I was informed that Verizon has a new policy where they now charge a $70 “activation fee” to “turn on the internet”, even when it is a self install and no Verizon tech has to visit your house. They don’t even have to visit the location, but they still charge $70. That has nothing to do with content licensing costs, it’s just another way they try to squeeze the consumer for more money since no consumer can say no if they want the service. But the sales rep I spoke to when I got the quote didn’t mention the activation fee ever to me. She gave me a quote, was ready to sign me up, and when I asked if there was any install fee, only then did she disclose it. So for the average customer, that would have appeared on their bill after the fact, which is exactly what Verizon wants, because by then it’s too late.

FullSizeRenderPart of Verizon’s reasoning as to why they have to raise rates is that their costs go up, but the company also wastes a ton of money. Last week, I got six Verizon FiOS mailings delivered to my house. Six mailings in five days, advertising their FiOS service. You would think Verizon would not waste money delivering ads to customers who already have their service, but they don’t do targeted mailings. Instead, they choose to have it delivered to every single mailbox the postman visits, something my postman confirmed. So how much money is Verizon wasting to print and deliver ads, in repetition, to customers who already have the service? I don’t know exactly, but if you figure they spend $3 a year per household for mailings, (which I bet is a low estimate) and they have almost 7M customers getting the mailings, that’s a waste of $21M from their operating budget.

Verizon’s FiOS subscriber growth is showing signs of slowing because of price, plain and simple. When someone like me, who has been with FiOS seven years considers switching, they should be worried.

Sales Of Apple TV Led The Streaming Device Market In 2014 With 40.6% Market Share

The streaming media devices market has been upturned once again – Google leapfrogged to the number two position in terms of new units shipped in 2014 on the strength of its Chromecast shipments, and Amazon has emerged as a force to be reckoned with.

The slide below is an excerpt from Frost & Sullivan’s annual update of the Streaming Media Devices market, and shows how much the landscape has changed since 18 months ago. The study, compiled by analyst Avni Rambhia, details the market drivers, restraints to market growth, product and pricing trends, competitive landscape, and market forecasts and trend analysis broken out by region of the world for the next five years. Numbers are being updated bi-annually to keep pace with changing market statistics. Overall, we found the market nearly doubled in 2014 to ~31M units, propelled in large part by ~10M in Chromecast shipments. We expect the market will grow a further 25% to cross 40M by 2020.

Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 10.05.20 AMOur definition of streaming media devices covers both box and stick form factors, and does not include game consoles which are covered separately. Apple still led the market with 40.6% market share, but Google accounted for more than 1 in 3 shipments and leapfrogged over Roku to take second place in the market by shipments. An aging product design, limited content selection and intensifying competition are challenging AppleTV’s growth.

Apple recently announced a price cut to the AppleTV, which coupled with an expected product update this year and a far more aggressive content lineup initiative may help reverse the product’s loss of momentum. For now, however, this is one of the rare markets where Apple’s user experience is not quite at par with more innovative competitors. Roku and also recently Amazon have invested heavily in an easy, intuitive user experience; Roku in particular also boasts a massive channel line-up and a hassle-free search experience. Similarly Google has a reported 17M lifetime shipments under its belt but our research shows that less than half those devices are in active use today – although the level of engagement with in-use Chromecasts is growing.

As a result of this differentiation, we are seeing growing divergence between market share measured by annual units shipped and market share as measured by share of total deployed units in use for M&E applications. With the latter metric, Roku clearly stands out, despite its narrow geographical footprint.

One of the strongest drivers of streaming media device sales is the skyrocketing consumption of OTT content. That said, this is not in and of itself enough to generate demand for streaming media devices. In fact, the market is fairly treacherous and hence continues to see a steady stream of exits – Sony for example officially bowed out of the market, and TiVo retail numbers continue to dwindle as well. The challenges that are facing vendors in this market and also that are facing content owners who are seeking to capture increasingly elusive viewer attention, are discussed in our study.

In addition to streaming media devices, the analysis also breaks out market share and sales numbers for Smart TVs, based on region of the world, with projections for the next few years. Copies of the report are available to any customer who has a subscription to Frost’s Digital Media research service and anyone interested in getting a subscription can email me or Avni Rambhia for more details.

Also, while many research analysts at other firms won’t talk to someone unless they are a customer of that firm, I have and always will talk to any company who is interested in getting more details on any aspect of our reports, so email me or Avni Rambhia at any time. You can also call me direct at 917-523-4562.