Tag Archives: television

Apple TV’s so so content depends on ecosystem integration for success

by Steve Blum • , ,

Apple tv keynote aniston witherspoon 25mar2019

Apple unveiled a new subscription video service last week. If it were any other company except Apple making the announcement, there would have been a huge yawn from the market. The Apple TV service, at least what we know of it, isn’t significantly different from other over-the-top services. They’re borrowing business model bits from several different platforms and putting the pieces together a little differently and, but overall it looks very familiar.

Apple will have exclusive programming, as the big OTT players do, and that will help it position its video brand as it has for HBO and Netflix, but it’s just icing on the same cake as everyone else’s.

What makes it different is the Apple branding, and Apple’s ability to leverage its existing customer relationships and its hardware/software ecosystem. It’s a fair question whether that’s going to be enough to make it stand out in the TV business, but it’s a unique advantage and Apple is smart to use it like this. The future growth of the company will have to come from services. Apple’s hardware and software lines aren’t hurting, but the market is maturing and whatever growth comes its way will be incremental.

The move into video by Apple – and others – and is a lot like the early days of digital satellite TV in the mid–90s. There was some programming that was unique to particular platforms – such as DirecTv’s NFL package – but for the most part programming line-ups were identical. What distinguished them was 1. bundling – DISH, for example, focused on low-cost packages – and 2. distribution – DirecTv and U.S. Satellite Broadcasting (my company) were launched via RCA’s then-formidable consumer electronics retail channel.

Apple brings customer relationships and system (and revenue) integration to the table. Netflix, Roku, Hulu and the rest built subscriber bases, but do not play in the consumer technology space. The question is whether Apple’s advantages amount to a unique selling proposition that’s meaningful to consumers. If Apple TV creates the same kind of seamless user experience that iPhones and Macs deliver – seamless technically, operationally and transactionally – then it has a shot. If it can’t, it’ll be just another OTT service.

Cable subs shave before they cut

by Steve Blum • , ,

The pay TV subscriber count in the U.S. dropped below the 100 million mark in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Nielsen. That’s the number of households that buy traditional television programming packages from either cable, telephone or satellite companies.

The declining fortunes of traditional linear television are directly linked to the viewing – and buying – habits of young adults, age 18 to 34. These cord cutters are more likely to have broadband connections with enough oomph to handle video streams and pay for subscription video on demand (SVOD) services like Netflix.

But it’s not just younger cord cutters that are giving the cable industry heartburn. Cord shavers of all ages – people who trim back the number of channels they buy – are an even bigger problem, according to a story in Broadcasting & Cable

Nielsen’s cable universe estimates for April show a 1.7% decline in pay TV households but a bigger drop in subscribers for some cable network owners, according to analyst Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research.

To Wieser that suggests that while cord-cutting might not be the threat it was cracked up to be, cord shaving could be a bigger issue.

The acceleration in the cord shaving rate also indicates an increasing reliance on broadband connections for television viewing. Money gets spent on SVOD service instead of a fatter cable package. But there’s still a huge demand for linear video service at some level – 99 million customers is nothing to sneeze at. It’s still 85% of the U.S. market. Only 3.9 million households rely solely on broadband for television, about 3% of the market. That’s why Google Fiber bothers to include linear video service in its offerings, despite lagging take rates.

The end of TV and the rise of the microwave oven will define consumer electronics of the future

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

Twilight of the gods.

“The TV has been challenged for the the last four or five years and, frankly, it’s on the way out unless they reinvent its presentation in the home”, said Peter Corcoran, assistant dean at the National University of Ireland. He spoke yesterday at a CES session sponsored by IEEE and focused on future technology.

“The TV needs to reinvent itself”, Corcoran said. The way to do that is to marry it to smart phones and tablets and make it a two screen experience.

Mobile devices will increasingly dominate the consumer electronics industry. “We’ve seen single function devices being swallowed up by multifunction devices”, said Tom Wilson, a partner at XworX, pointing out that no one has a stand alone MP3 player anymore. Devices originally intended to do one thing will, he speculated, be hacked into doing many unanticipated things: a camera on a car dashboard could watch the driver, monitor his heart rate, detect stress or fatigue, and structure the audio system’s playlist accordingly.

Idle equipment is an opportunity, Scott Linfoot, a consultant with ICCE, pointed out. He said processors in, say, household appliances such as microwave ovens, can be networked together to “use the downtime to crunch data…merge between personal big data and the personal cloud”. The growth of sensor-based home health care, for example, will produce a flood of data that can be sifted and winnowed close to the source, so the relevant bits can be sent off for detailed analysis.

“Anything that crashes Excel is a big data problem”, he said.