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November 19, 2018
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streaming TV

TV streaming services see 212% jump in viewing hours over past year

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Live streaming TV services, like Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, Hulu with Live TV, and others, are gaining steam in the U.S. as more consumers cut the cord with traditional pay TV. According to a new report from Conviva out this morning, these services (called virtual MVPDs) now account for over three-quarters of all plays and viewing hours in the U.S. That growth has come at the expense of dedicated apps from individual publishers, the report found.

Over the past 12 months, streaming TV services – the virtual MVPDs like Hulu with live TV, Sling TV, or PlayStation Vue – have seen a 292 percent increase in plays and a 212 percent increase in viewing hours, while publisher apps have seen declines of 16 percent and 19 percent, respectively, across those fronts.

The services have also been improving over time. Many suffered from glitches and outages at launch – and this continues today, on occasion. But overall, they’re more stable than in the past.

The report found that across these streaming TV services, there’s been a 22 percent decrease in video start failures, a 7 percent shorter wait time for video to start playing, 25 percent higher picture quality, and 63 percent less buffering.

The draw of streaming TV services is a cable TV-like experience with added benefits, like the ability to watch across devices, record shows to a cloud DVR that’s not (in theory) limited by disk space on a set-top box, integration with your smartphone’s notification system for alerts about favorite shows or events, and more.

But the ability to tune into live content – like live events and sports – is a major draw for cord cutters, as well.

Year-over-year, live TV content has seen a 49 percent increase in plays and a 54 percent increase in viewing time. The NFL is a huge part of this, with plays up 72 percent and viewing hours up 83 percent in Q3 2018, versus the year-ago quarter.

In the weeks that games were airing, NFL viewership accounted for 3 percent of total plays and 2.8 percent of all viewing hours in the U.S.

Because many viewers tune in at the same time to watch a live broadcast, compared with other content, there’s still room for improvement on this front. The firm also found that live television streams take 10 percent longer for videos to start, and see 72 percent more exits before the video starts, as a result.

The way consumers are watching streaming TV services is changing, too, the study said.

Though one benefit of these newer services is no longer being tied to a TV for viewing, it seems many still prefer it. While mobile viewing continues to grow – it’s up 57 percent year-over-year – it no longer dominates.

Connected TVs – such as those connected to Roku players, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, etc. – now account for as many streaming TV plays (38% on TVs) as mobile devices (39%). They also account for more than twice the viewing hours, with a 56 percent share to mobile’s 25 percent share.

Viewing on the PC is down by 18 percent, meanwhile.

Conviva, like other reports, have found that Roku leads the market – in this case, in terms of viewing hours. Roku accounted for 40 percent of viewing hours, but Amazon Fire TV gained. Amazon’s connected TV device platform increased its share of viewing hours from 3 percent to 18 percent over the past 12 months, and increase its share of plays from 4 percent to 19 percent.

The report is a snapshot of the industry that comes from Conviva’s global footprint of 50 billion streams per year across 3 billion applications and 200 million users. The company works with brands like Sling TV, HBO, Sky, Turner, Hulu, Discovery, CBS, Canal Digital, and others. That gives it deep insight into the streaming TV space to see trends, but not a complete look as not all providers are Conviva customers.

 

 

 

News Source = techcrunch.com

Reelgood acquires Guidebox to bring streaming TV data to more places

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Reelgood, a startup aimed at helping cord cutters find shows and movies to watch on the services they subscribe to, has made an acquisition in the hopes of bringing Reelgood’s data to more places. The company has bought Guidebox, a streaming availability data provider which powers Roku, TVGuide, Metacritic and others.

Deal terms weren’t disclosed, but we understand the price was in the “multi millions.”

Guidebox began its life in 2012 as a consumer-facing website that brought together full show and episode data in one place, then pointed you where you could watch – very much like today’s Reelgood, in fact. But over the years, it shifted its focus to working with publishers and device manufacturers. For example, it’s been well known to be the service that powers Roku’s universal search feature.

It was most recently reported that Guidebox was sold to video data and recommendation startup ColorTV. However, Reelgood says that deal never actually happened – the announcement of the acquisition was premature. (ColorTV now appears to be shut down, as it turns out. We’ve attempted to reach them for confirmation.)

Reelgood says it decided to buy Guidebox because it aims to be more than just a guide for streaming TV.

“Imagine asking your Alexa, ‘Which of my shows has a new episode?’ or reading about a show online and, embedded within the article, seeing where you can watch it,” the company explains in its announcement about the deal. “For TV to ‘just work,’ we need to make it easier to get Reelgood’s data onto other products, too.”

The need for better organization of streaming services’ content is more critical than ever in today’s cord cutting era, as consumers increasingly ditch their cable and satellite TV subscriptions to build their own bundles of video services. The average U.S. household now uses four different streaming apps, says Reelgood, and this acquisition will allow it to expand its reach to over 50 million of those households.

The company says it will build on the existing Guidebox technology to make it even easier for companies to help their own users find streaming content. This data will be made available through an API.

That also means that Reelgood isn’t shutting down Guidebox or ending its existing business relationships – it aims to expand them, as well as pursue new business opportunities. It’s currently in the process of renegotiating some of Guidebox’s deals with larger TV and cable media-centric companies which provide service to some of the bigger networks, we understand.

Guidebox had been working with content providers like Lionsgate, the WWE and Fandor, Variety reported last year.

In terms of the Guidebox team, not all are joining long-term. The executive team is on an earn-out plan, and will help to integrate the technology with Reelgood and transition the client relationships. A few employees working on data  integrity and quality assurance have been hired by Reelgood to help as it expands the product and service.

“No one wants to spend time hunting through apps for the right show,” says David Sanderson, Reelgood founder and CEO, in a statement about the deal. “People expect their devices to help them decide what to watch and where to watch it. Whether it’s a search engine, website, streaming media player, or voice assistant, this is an opportunity for companies to get the experience right.”

News Source = techcrunch.com

AT&T’s streaming video device is now in beta testing

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AT&T has begun beta testing a streaming device that seems to be something of its own Roku competitor, according to a statement made by John Donovan, CEO of AT&T Communications, during the company’s third quarter earnings call. The device, first scooped a year ago by Variety is an Android TV-based set-top box which integrates other streaming apps and ships with a voice remote, according to an FCC filing.

While AT&T didn’t comment on Variety’s report at the time, it did later confirm the device on an earnings call earlier this year.

The box was then described as a way for customers to watch DirecTV Now or other streaming services from their home. The plan at the time was to have the device launched by the end of 2018, the company had said.

The word today is that timeframe has shifted.

Donovan said the service was in “beta testing” now, but added that AT&T planned to “roll out trials in the first half of next year.”

The thin client-based service – as this product was referred to as by the exec – would be the next step in transitioning traditional pay TV customers to the streaming service, DirecTV Now.

It could also be used to target cord cutters in search of a more traditional TV experience, by offering access to streaming TV without requiring the installation of a satellite dish.

“This will be a more measured roll out,” Donovan said, of the new thin client-based service. “Like our introduction of WatchTV, we expect this service to be EBITDA positive. And over time, it should lower our acquisition cost of our premium video service. And both of these use the common platform we introduced with DirecTV Now,” he noted.

The device’s arrival comes at a time when AT&T’s pay TV business is in decline.

The company reported a 346,000 net loss in traditional TV customers (DirecTV and AT&T Uverse) in the quarter. However, it gained 49,000 for its streaming service, DirecTV Now, which has grown to 1.86 million subscribers.

AT&T said it would also begin evaluating its channel lineups, in order to better “align content costs with the price.” That seems to mean that AT&T may also be thinking about breaking up content into even skinnier bundles – something that Hulu says it’s doing, as well.

 

 

News Source = techcrunch.com

PlayStation Vue is first US pay TV provider to integrate with Apple’s TV app

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Sony’s live TV streaming service, PlayStation Vue, announced this week it has become the first U.S. pay TV provider to integrate with Apple’s TV app in order to display content*. Until now, Apple’s TV app has featured content from both free and paid on-demand streaming apps like Hulu, Prime Video, HBO NOW, PBS Kids, The CW and others, along with those that require you log in with your pay TV credentials, like ABC, AMC, USA, SYFY, Showtime Anytime and many more.

With the new PlayStation Vue integration, subscribers to Sony’s pay TV service will be able to access all of Vue’s on-demand content across its nationally available channels in the Apple TV app. Live sports, including both national and regional sports networks, will be supported, too, the company says.

Explains Sony, users will be able to search and browse the PS Vue catalog in the TV app, while also taking advantage of TV app features like “Watch Now” and “Up Next” to organize their shows, movies and sports. When you find content you want to watch, it will open the stream right in the PS Vue app.

This integration will matter more to those who already subscribe to at least a couple of other streaming services in addition to PS Vue, as the TV app is designed to aggregate content and recommendations from across services in a single place. It works on iOS devices, including iPhone and iPad, and on Apple TV.

PS Vue is one of now several pay TV streaming services, and a rival to YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now and WatchTV. But it’s been lagging behind on subscribers.

Dish’s Sling TV and DirecTV Now lead the space, thanks to Sling’s early mover advantage and DirecTV Now’s distribution through AT&T’s wireless business. The former had 2.3 million subscribers as of June, while AT&T said DirecTV Now had 1.8 million, as of its earnings report in July. Hulu with Live TV cracked a million subscribers in September, ahead of YouTube TV.

Sony’s PlayStation Vue, meanwhile is just somewhere over half a million. It may have struggled to grow due to its branding, which seems to imply it’s only for PlayStation owners. (It’s not).

Perhaps the company is hoping the closer ties with Apple’s TV app will give its service more visibility.

The integration also arrives just ahead the launch of Apple’s own original content, which could bring more people back to the Apple TV app, further boosting PS Vue’s visibility.

While PS Vue is the first U.S.-based pay TV provider to offer this sort of integration with the TV app, it’s not the first worldwide. In France, for example, Canal+ “myCanal” and Molotov have offered this same sort of integration for some time.

*This is different from the ability to connect your TV provider – many streaming services/pay TV services are available from that setting, including YouTube TV, DirecTV Now and others. 

The Apple TV app has also supported TV Everywhere apps. 

But with the PS Vue integration, you’ll see PS Vue content – including on-demand and live channels – in the TV app’s Watch Now section. Here’s an example of that:

 

News Source = techcrunch.com

YouTube TV’s DVR now lets you fast-forward through ads on more major channels

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Since its launch, one of the top complaints about YouTube’s live TV streaming service, YouTube TV, was that its DVR feature would often default users to the video-on-demand version of the show – which means you’d have to watch the commercials. It’s been one of the biggest drawbacks to YouTube TV, and a selling point for competitors’ services, frankly. That’s been slowly starting to change, however. And this week, YouTube announced several more deals that will allow users to opt for the recorded version of the show instead of the ad-filled, video-on-demand one.

This includes deals with AMC, Disney/ABC, FOX, NBCU and Turner-owned channels, says YouTube. Thanks to these deals, a number of the most-watched TV networks will now allow users to switch to the recorded version of the show, where they’ll have full control over pausing, rewinding, and fast-forwarding at any time during playback – even during an ad break.

The change is not because of a technical advance, to be clear, but rather one that required negotiations on YouTube’s part. Its original compromise with TV programmers was that it would switch users to the on-demand version of the show, if available. But for YouTube TV subscribers, that’s been a subpar experience – and one that could drive them to rival services, like Hulu with Live TV or DirecTV Now, where fast-forwarding through commercials is supported.

YouTube also officially announced this week a number of other changes that aren’t brand-new, but recent ones it hadn’t publicly noted yet – including the rollout of a Dark Theme on the desktop – similar to the one on YouTube proper; the ability to personalize its Live TV Guide by reordering networks and hiding others; and the ability to turn off spoilers to hide sports’ scores.

The streaming TV service is one of the newer ones to arrive, and still behind market leaders Sling TV and DirecTV Now, which have millions of subscribers. However, YouTube’s service is growing quickly, having gone from an estimated 300,000 paying customers in the beginning of 2018 to 800,000 this summer. With the DVR improvement, those numbers could grow even more quickly.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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