Data-Driven Marketing at Sirius XM

November 4, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Data-Driven Marketing at Sirius XM 

by Colleen Quinn, Senior Director of Interactive Advertising for Teradata Corporation

With increased competition and media consolidation for audience share, content programmers and distributors are more focused than ever on how to attract, retain and engage their consumers. For companies like SiriusXM – the world’s largest satellite radio provider – new competition and distribution channels, like mobile and web, create opportunities and challenges.

Despite different opinions on how to tackle evolving business strategies, executives and analysts agree on one thing: marketing analytics that extract the full value from enterprise data are essential. Read more

Pay-TV Operators Eye Mobile Video To Reduce Subscriber Costs

September 18, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Pay-TV Operators Eye Mobile Video To Reduce Subscriber Costs 

By Paul Sweeting

The incumbent pay-TV and wireless operators aren’t the only ones trying to figure out how to get a piece of the mobile video future, however. Many major content owners, particularly sports leagues, see mobile as an opportunity to go direct to consumer, rather than through aggregators, and may not make the expanded, out-of-home rights [Comcast CEO] Brian Roberts is counting on available.

New-entrant OTT services also see mobile as critical to their future. The FCC also seems anxious to promote mobile video as a competitive alternative to the incumbent, fixed-platform providers and could raise regulatory hurdles to efforts by Comcast, AT&T et. al. to bring their full scale and leverage to bear in the nascent mobile market… Read more

Will The FCC Finally ‘Tear Up The Set-Top Box’?

September 4, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Will The FCC Finally ‘Tear Up The Set-Top Box’? 

By Paul Sweeting

Promoting the availability of competitive navigation devices that could effectively replace operator-provided set-top boxes has been the goal of Congress and the official policy of the FCC since 1996, when Congress passed the Telecommunications Act, which directed the FCC to find a technical solution that would allow retail set-top boxes to interoperate with pay-TV services’ conditional access systems. The result was the CableCARD, which filled a niche but fell well short of fully solving the problem and was not widely adopted in CE devices apart from TiVo DVRs.

More recently the FCC has focused on downloaded security that would enable any set-top device to connect with and navigate any pay-TV service, regardless of type, by downloading the appropriate conditional access and content security software. But efforts to develop a downloadable security standard have largely been thwarted by pay-TV operators… [more]

Hulu’s Ad-Free Epics

August 31, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Hulu’s Ad-Free Epics 

By Paul Sweeting

Those looking for evidence that Hulu is getting ready to introduce an ad-free, premium-plus tier got a big helping of it Sunday when the streaming service announced a deal with digital movie network Epix after Netflix decided it would not renew its expiring, five-year old deal with the three-studio consortium.

The big question facing Hulu as it contemplates adding a premium-plus tier is whether simply offering its current TV content without ads is enough to persuade people to pay the $12-$14 a month it’s reportedly considering. Read more

Cracking The OTT Ice On Live Local Sports

August 20, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Cracking The OTT Ice On Live Local Sports 

By Paul Sweeting

What a difference a spin-off makes. Barely a week after Major League Baseball’s 30 team owners approved the spin-off of BAM Tech, the streaming technology arm of MLB Advanced Media, reports surfaced that the league is drafting deal papers with Fox Sports to extend authenticated in-market streaming rights to Fox’s 15 regional sports networks (RSNs) beginning with the 2016 season.

Like most major sports leagues, MLB controls streaming rights for all of its teams’ games and game-related content. The league sells a high-end package of out-of-market games through, but only the Toronto Blue Jays currently offer in-market streaming. The league and U.S. RSNs, led by Fox, have been negotiating over in-market streaming rights for years, but the league’s insistence that all streams be hosted by MLBAM –officially to ensure stream quality — has long been a roadblock to any deal because it would require Fox’s pay-TV affiliates to share subscriber information with the league during the authentication process.

Under the deal now being finalized, according to the reports, Fox will handle authentication and fans will be able to access the games through their local RSN’s website, via the FoxSportsGo app, or through their service provider’s TV Everywhere app.

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Retransmission Discontent

August 14, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Retransmission Discontent 

By Paul Sweeting

Last week’s meltdown among media company stocks seems to have subsided for now, but not before wiping out $60 billion in market value. Shares of Viacom fell 17 percent between August 4 and August 11; Discovery Communications and 21st Century Fox each fell 13 percent; Disney shares dropped by 11 percent; Time Warner by nine and Comcast (NBCUniversal), CBS and Starz all fell by mid-single digits.

Media CEOs complained, and many analysts concurred, that the sell-off was overdone, and that neither the actual earnings news that triggered it nor the underlying fundamentals of the business justified such a drastic repricing. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that the market overreacted to events in the short term.


Turning Talking Heads

August 2, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Turning Talking Heads 

By Paul Sweeting

With apologies to LBJ, but when you’ve lost David Byrne, you’re losing the argument over whom to blame for music artists’ meager share of the streaming pot.

Two years ago, the former Talking Heads front man came out as the scourge of Spotify, casting the streaming service in an op-ed that ran in the Guardian, as a sort of malevolent force that was destroying all that was good and holy about the music business:

Other artists, like Dave Lowry of Cracker, joined the sad chorus. But in an op-ed published in the New York Times on Sunday, Byrne struck a very different tone regarding streaming, even managing a (somewhat begrudging) compliment for Spotify for trying to illuminate the industry’s opaque payment system…

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The Unknown Unknowns Of Buying Sports Rights

July 30, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on The Unknown Unknowns Of Buying Sports Rights 

By Paul Sweeting

The process of deciding whether to greenlight a movie in Hollywood involves a lot of variables and input from multiple studio divisions, but the math is pretty straightforward: Each distribution unit — domestic theatrical, international, home entertainment, TV, etc. — is asked to estimate how much revenue it could deliver based on the “elements” attached to the proposed film (script, director, stars), the genre, the proposed timing of its release, competing projects at other studios, and other such factors. Each division, in turn, has its own methodology for arriving at its estimate, based on the track records of the stars/director/etc., the performance of “comparable” recent films, and so forth.

Those projections are then weighed against the project’s proposed budget and projected marketing costs, allowances are made for non-quantifiable variables (star relationships, etc.), and a reasonably well-informed gut call gets made.

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The FCC’s Imperfect Path To More Video Competition

July 24, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on The FCC’s Imperfect Path To More Video Competition 

By Paul Sweeting

The conditions the Federal Communications Commission has attached to its approval of AT&T’s merger with DirecTV are being met with a predictably mixed response.

Some groups, such as Comptel, a Washington-based lobbying group representing Netflix, Amazon, Cogent Communications, Level 3 and other network operators and service providers, praised the FCC for requiring AT&T to disclose details of its network interconnection deals. Others, such as Free Press, blasted the conditions for not going “nearly far enough” to address the problem of pay-TV consolidation.


OTT Retransmission: The Next Net Neutrality

July 23, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on OTT Retransmission: The Next Net Neutrality 

By Paul Sweeting

Come the fall, the Federal Communications Commssion’s consideration of its proposal to reclassify some over-the-top video services as multichannel video programming providers (MVPDs) is likely to become the agency’s next highly divisive issue, reprise the same ideological and partisan differences that marked the debate over net neutrality.

Last month, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler confirmed that the commission will take up the proposal in the fall, and indicated that he favored making the switch, which would grant online video distributors (OVDs) the same program access rights as cable and satellite providers while also imposing some of the same restrictions andrequirements. But in a speech to the Churchill Club in Palo Alto, Calif., last week, Republican commissioner Ajit Pai, who had dissented at great length from the FCC’s net neutrality rules, laid down the gauntlet again.

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Netflix Flexes Its Muscles

July 17, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Netflix Flexes Its Muscles 

By Paul Sweeting

Having played a pivotal role in persuading the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice to reject Comcast’s attempted merger with Time Warner Cable, Netflix has seemingly done an about face and given its blessing to Charter Communications’ bid to acquire TWC. In a letter to the FCC dated July 15, VP of global public policy Christopher D. Libertelli said, “Netflix supports the proposed Charter – Time Warner Cable transaction if it incorporates the merger condition proposed by Charter.”

Key to the apparent change of heart was precisely that “merger condition proposed by Charter,” specifically a commitment by Charter to offer settlement-free peering with edge providers like Netflix across its entire expanded footprint.

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LiveXLive Deal A Showcase For Verizon Digital Media’s Full-Stack Strategy

July 8, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on LiveXLive Deal A Showcase For Verizon Digital Media’s Full-Stack Strategy 

By Paul Sweeting

Newly launched live concert network LiveXLive, a subsidiary of Loton Corp., has picked Verizon Digital Media Services to power delivery of its live-streaming content to all devices, the companies announced this week.

Under the deal, Verizon will manage all elements of LiveXLive’s video workflow, from ingest and cloud-based encoding to content delivery and dynamic ad insertion. The partnership will kick off in earnest this fall, when LiveXLive plans to broadcast three, day-long music festivals, all featuring multiple live stages. The broadcasts will include a mix of live, on-demand and virtual reality content, as well as social media integration, the company said.

“We’ve been watching Verizon Digital Media Services expand its network while adding to and enhancing its suite of services, and we’re completely blown away by the turnkey, scalable offering of their video platform,” John Petrocelli, president of LiveXLive, said in a statement. “The ease of use combined with the deep technical suite of services, scalability and affordability made it an easy decision to select Verizon Digital Media Services.” Read more

Does (Screen) Size Matter?

June 26, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Does (Screen) Size Matter? 

By Paul Sweeting

Conventional wisdom in the video industry has long held that programming preferences were closely correlated with screen size. Thus, smartphones, with their small screens, were best suited and most widely used for short-form video “snacking,” apart from the occasional live stream of a sporting event or other time-critical content being watched away from home. Long-form programming such as movies and TV shows were preferentially watched on the big-screen TV in the living room. Tablet viewing was somewhere in between.

Data from Ooyala’s Q1 Global Video Index, however, suggests that conventional wisdom needs to be revised. According to the report, the correlation between program length and screen size is rapidly breaking down…


Social Media’s Enterprise Moment

June 22, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Social Media’s Enterprise Moment 

By Paul Sweeting

The recent troubles at Twitter, culminating in the announced departure of CEO Dick Costolo has occasioned all manner of postmortems and punditry as to “what went wrong” and what should be done now to fix it. Most of the suggestions have focused on fixing Twitter’s dreadful UI and discovery tools to make it easier for ordinary web surfers to use, and figuring out how to better measure ROI for marketers.

All of those things could help. But they’re also premised on the idea that the key to success for Twitter is to behave more like Facebook: expand its user base, increase user engagement, then sell that engagement to marketers looking to target consumers based on their interests.

That would be a reasonable strategy — and in fact has largely been Twitter’s strategy — were Twitter really suited to competing with Facebook. But it’s not, and shouldn’t try to be — or shouldn’t only try to be. Read more

ESPN and the Skinny Bundle

June 19, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on ESPN and the Skinny Bundle 

By Paul Sweeting

The results of a consumer survey released Wednesday by Digitalsmiths raised some eyebrows for what they said about pay-TV viewers’ channel preferences in a hypothetical a la carte pay-TV universe, particularly with respect to ESPN.

Asked if they would prefer to be able to select the channels they subscribe through a la carte, rather than in pre-selected bundles, nearly 82 percent said “yes.” That group was then given a list of 75 channels and asked to pick their own, ideal bundle. Fewer than 36 percent included ESPN in their ideal bundle, putting the top rated cable network in the U.S. well behind the Discovery Channel, which was cited by 62 percent of respondents.

It should not have come as a surprise. ESPN is a niche channel, with very high appeal to a slice of the TV audience — roughly a third based on the Digitalsmiths findings — and little to no appeal among the rest of the audience. Its ratings success, and more critically its pricing power with advertisers and cable operators, is tied to the dynamics of the big bundle. Eliminate that dynamic and ESPN’s current business model collapses.


YouTube and Twitch Channel Cable TV

June 17, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on YouTube and Twitch Channel Cable TV 

By Paul Sweeting

With the upcoming launch of YouTube Gaming, YouTube will have dedicated apps for its three most popular categories of videos: music (Music Key), kids (YouTube Kids) and now video games.

While the Google-owned site has long supported discreet “channels,” those are largely a convenience for individual video creators as they look to build their own corporate or personal brands. They were not created by YouTube with an eye to sorting the content in its vast online library by category or genre. Nor, by extension, were they created to try to segment YouTube’s vast audience by interests, tastes or demographics the way, say, a category-specific cable TV network like Nickelodeon or CNBC seeks to do.

By creating category-specific apps, however, YouTube is clearly edging toward that model.


FCC Engineers Some Cable Consolidation

May 27, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on FCC Engineers Some Cable Consolidation 

By Paul Sweeting

Earlier this month, just after Comcast dropped its bid for Time Warner Cable in the face of opposition from the FCC and Justice Department, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler separately called TWC CEO Rob Marcus and Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge, along with several other senior cable industry executives, to let them know they shouldn’t consider all M&A deals to be off the table just because the agency put the kibosh on Comcast, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

On Tuesday, Charter took Wheeler up on that seeming invitation and announced a plan to acquire TWC for $56 billion. Charter also reaffirmed its plan to acquire it smaller rival Bright House Networks for $10.4 billion.

Should those deals go through — and it would be some pretty dirty pool by Wheeler to block them now, after personally signalling his openness to the idea — Charter would move up in weight class to just behind Comcast, with 17.3 million video subscribers, compared with Comcast’s 22.4 million, and 19.4 million broadband subscribers, compared with Comcast’s 22 million.

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#MayPac: When Piracy Goes Mobile

May 5, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on #MayPac: When Piracy Goes Mobile 

By Paul Sweeting

Pay-per-view operators in the U.S. had trouble handling the last minute rush of signups for the “Fight of the Century” on Saturday, forcing promoters to delay the start of the welterweight championship bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquaio by 45 minutes as operators scrambled to process the late orders and maximize the take.

In contrast, the live-streaming apps Periscope and Meerkat worked flawlessly — so much so that it was possible to watch the entire fight for free as thousands of “Meerkasters” and “Periscopers” turned their phone cameras to their TV sets and rebroadcast the official HBO and Showtime broadcasts. There were so many streams available that Twitter users were able to catch every round, even as Periscope and Meerkat scrambled to respond to DMCA takedown requests, simply by jumping from one stream to the next.

There were also, of course, any number of free live streams of the fight available online for those who wanted to search for them, just as there are for any such big-ticket event, many of higher quality than anything you could see on Periscope or Meerkat. Boxing promoters in particular, in fact, have been battling pay-per-view piracy since the days of illegal, “black box” decoders in the 1980s and 90s.

What Meerkat and Periscope bring to the mix is the power to make such piracy viral, social and mobile — and as easy to do as taking a selfie — potentially amplifying its impact. Many of the streams from the MayPac fight were poor quality, and none were better than second-generation rips created by pointing a cellphone camera at the TV screen. But that didn’t stop individual streams from registering 10,000 or more viewers at a time.

Truth be told, many of not most of those viewers were likely casual fight fans, attracted as much by the novelty of the still-nascent mobile live streaming phenomenon and the lure of the big event as by a genuine interest in the fight.

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Bad Sports: ESPN Sues Verizon

April 28, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Bad Sports: ESPN Sues Verizon 

By Paul Sweeting

No U.S. television network is more invested in, or has benefited more from the dynamics of the bundle than ESPN. The combination of must-have programming for a key segment of the pay-TV audience, and the must-carry leverage of its sister-broadcast network ABC, has given the Disney-owned sports network the power to command the highest per-subscriber carriage fees in the industry, ensure placement on basic tiers, and compel carriage of ancillary networks like ESPN Classics and ESPN Deportes.

For those pay-TV subscribers not in the ESPN demographic, however, that leverage has acted like a tax, imposing higher costs for networks and programming they don’t watch, yielding what amount to windfall rents for ESPN.

Those windfall rents, in turn, have given ESPN the wherewithal to pay the skyrocketing rights fees for live sports. Those inflated rights fees, in turn, have become the primary economic engine of most professional and big-time amateur sports while acting as a formidable barrier to entry for would-be competitors to ESPN, yielding a virtuous cycle that reinforces ESPN’s dominant position within the pay-TV ecosystem.

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Comcast’s Bid for Time Warner Cable Gets Bundled Away

April 24, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Comcast’s Bid for Time Warner Cable Gets Bundled Away 

By Paul Sweeting

The collapse of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger comes just as the TV industry is embarking on what is likely to be a long and contentious renegotiation of the size and cost of the bundle, and of the terms of distribution generally. In just the past few months we’ve seen the launch of Sling TV, Dish’s greatly slimmed down bundle of channels delivered over-the-top, the launches of CBS All Access and HBO Now outside the bundle, and Verizon touch off a brawl with ESPN, Fox and (irony alert:) NBC with its unilateral rollout of FiOS Customer TV, offering subscribers mix-and-match packages of channels at reduced prices.

Up to now, thanks in large part to legacy FCC rules like must-carry and retransmission consent, the media companies, especially those tied to broadcasters, have held the upper hand over distributors in setting the price and scope of the bundle, leaving cable operators like Comcast squeezed between ever-growing carriage fees and increasing resistance to rate hikes by consumers. But Comcast, along with Verizon and other major ISPs with significant pay-TV interests, have made it very clear, in their dealings with Netflix for instance, that they would like to see a very different dynamic, and very different terms, emerge for over-the-top distribution.

For all its claims of consumer benefits that would have flowed from being allowed to merge with TWC, Comcast’s main goal in pursuing the acquisition was to gain scale and leverage for the negotiations to come over the terms of over-the-top distribution.

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Apple’s Non-Disruptive 4K Strategy

April 8, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Apple’s Non-Disruptive 4K Strategy 

By Paul Sweeting

For all the disruptive innovation Apple has unleashed on the markets for devices and software it has not been particularly disruptive to the content markets it has entered. Often just the opposite.

By the time Apple introduced the iTunes Music Store the record business was already reeling from the impact of Napster and its progeny. Rather than disrupt the business, Apple’s entry created a new market for paid downloads. The record companies later came to rue the terms of the deals they made initially with Apple, the iTunes store helped restore legitimate commerce to digital music platforms and on balance has been a net positive for the incumbent rights owners.

Apple is now trying to do the same thing in music streaming, relaunching a paid-only Beats Music service as the record companies try to marginalize free streaming platforms.

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Apple’s Bring-Your-Own-Streams OTT Hedge

April 6, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Apple’s Bring-Your-Own-Streams OTT Hedge 

By Paul Sweeting

According to a report by Recode’s Peter Kafka, Apple is asking the TV networks to provide their own streaming infrastructure and handle their own video delivery as part of Apple’s planned subscription OTT service.

The two leading theories for why Apple is looking to take such a hands-off approach are a) to avoid the costs involved in building out its own streaming infrastructure, and/or b) Apple thinks cable-based ISPs would be less likely to engage in f@ckery against the service if the networks are delivering the streams.

Neither theory is entirely persuasive.

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M&E Journal: The Next Evolution in Cloud Services: Managed DAM

March 31, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, Uncategorized · Comments Off on M&E Journal: The Next Evolution in Cloud Services: Managed DAM 

By John Libby, President, MediaMax Online

Does this sound familiar? A time critical digital asset like an image, ad or video needs to be quickly created and delivered. The process requires many steps for review, approval, edits, final approval, mastering, distribution, reporting and inventory management.

Marketing, sales, executives and even finance are awaiting the success of the asset. In the case of most companies, this process gets repeated frequently in many time zones, territories, languages and variations along with timing and security requirements. Technology and personnel are clearly the linchpins to the successful workflow that can and will occur at any time.

Enter, the “cloud.” Cloud is a marvelous marketing term to rebrand “off-premise” business functions enabled by Internet connectivity. Thankfully, the cloud is much more than hype as evidenced by the considerable business improvements, cost efficiencies and seemingly endless entrepreneurial creativity exploding from the Internet. This realized delivery on the cloud promise fuels the continued adoption and expansion of cloudbased technology, services and staffing.

Traditional cloud hosted data center services have provided reliable and scalable computing platforms for storage, servers, bandwidth, hosting, streaming and application services with cost-effective precision. Companies benefit from reducing headcount and avoiding the pitfalls of constant technology refreshes.

A 2013 study by Gartner demonstrates acceleration in cloud adoption, predicting that global spending on public cloud services will grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.7 percent from 2011 to 2016. The Infrastructure-as-a-Service segment leads with the fastest predicted growth of 41.3 percent through 2016.

Outsourcing and staffing have evolved into a cloud delivery system as well by leveraging the Internet and software tools residing “on-premises” or “off-premises” to effectively manage a wide range of company functions, such as finance, accounting, information technology, procurement, legal, human resources and marketing operations.

Just like cloud computing, the trend is increasing in adoption and acceleration, with the entertainment, media and publishing industries expecting to increase outsourcing by 80 percent, according to HfS Research.

Screen shot 2015-03-31 at 8.53.35 PM Furthermore, cloud staffing is becoming an established staffing model as entrepreneurial staffing firms are rebranding themselves for business functions provided by virtual staff located off premise.

Digital Asset Management (DAM), like every other software category, has clearly adopted cloud offerings with traditional “on-premises” software vendors offering hosted options. In addition, new DAM cloud offerings continue to provide media solutions for enterprise DAM, encoding, media services, workflow, project collaboration and file sharing. DAM related cloud service segments are predicted to grow, according to Gartner, at an annual rate of 25.9 percent for enterprise content management and 36.4 percent for storage through 2016.

With the continued adoption and acceleration of cloud computing, cloud staffing, cloud media services and cloud DAM, it seems logical that enterprise media management would benefit from the convergence of these trends.

Outsourcing provides a means for companies to focus on their core competencies and business competitiveness. Leveraging their assets and content is a core competency but the technical workflow can be left to cloud sourcing options. More and more companies are accepting the practice of trusting asset management and librarian functions to cost-effective experts.

Expanding managed DAM in the cloud

As a developing area, cloud sourcing options for managing an enterprise or departmental DAM can be found in relatively limited vendor offerings such as post-production or
library service companies. Post-production companies have long coupled together end-to-end media services to accommodate media workflow and now include options for DAM with its management and maintenance.

Post-production companies have facilitated the monetization of content libraries with the creation, on-going management and support of DAM driven sites for the likes of Johnny Carson’s television episodes and Paul McCartney’s music library.

Post companies have created specialized business units to manage client media workflow and DAM management, such as DVS InteleStream for the distribution of marketing and publicity materials for film, television and music. LAC Group uniquely provides Library as a Service (LAAS). There are an array of DAM, archiving, research, preservation, curation, library outsourcing services and experts in DAM platforms such as North Plains, OpenText, Xytech, etc.

Per Robert Corrao of LAC Group, options for the digitization and management of your assets include:

1. Outsourcing the recovery of archives, assets lost in a crisis, including storage repository recovery and expansion. The digitization and organization of specific assets for a specific project.

2. Outsourcing the cataloging, meta-tagging, and organization of your digital and physical assets, followed by training of your internal information management staff for the ongoing administration of your library from in-house.

3. Outsourcing the digitization of your assets and retaining a contracted digital asset managers as part of your IT team for the ongoing administration of your asset library.

4. Adding an experienced digital asset manager to compliment your in-house employees for the digitization and/or permanent administration of your library.

Cloud hosted and managed DAM reliably handles the technology burdens of support, training, performance, storage, business continuity, capacity planning, technology refreshes and application development. Business unit leaders prefer to focus on their core business practices and not engage IT in continuing projects to upgrade on-premises software systems and related infrastructure.

Technical and end-user training concerns are minimized as the managed DAM vendor typically runs the system and facilitates training for only client oversight, as needed.

A managed DAM adoption clearly alleviates many technology burdens but clients also benefit from continued software enhancements released into a platform.

As managed DAM clients essentially partner with their provider, their collective ideas materialize into software features and even industry improvements.

Cost savings

The New York Times in 2009 reported a predicted tripling in the need for DAM professionals this decade. Companies that implement DAM certainly know the cost
dynamics of staffing the operation, which often comes as a surprise.

Experts like Jeff Lawrence at Celerity and industry implementation guides like North Plain’s “The 13 Cost Areas for a Digital Asset Management System” routinely cite the overlooked cost areas of DAM manager, business support and technical support. Most traditional DAM or cloud DAM implementations will require the hiring of additional staff to support and maintain the new DAM system.

According to the DAM Foundation’s salary survey, the mean reported salary for Digital Asset Managers is $82,198. DAM software makers have used Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) models to demonstrate organizational value in software solutions. Recent studies performed by Gistics with OpenText on outsourced or cloud-based DAM services solutions show a remarkable improvement on TCO for an enterprise size implementation with 5,000 global consumers.

Three-year operations costs with startup were approximately 71 percent lower for an outsourced DAM ($1.57 million versus an internal deployment DAM ($5.34 million). The cost reductions come from typical areas like avoiding hardware purchases and internal implementation staffing. (However, an outsourced DAM three-year implementation cost still includes 52 percent internal staffing for library services and end-user training for a monthly cost of nearly $23,000.)

The Gistics’ study, although obviously just a hypothetical case, does certainly highlight the internal staffing costs that cannot be overlooked with a company DAM operation. A managed DAM cost improvement would be expected given the nature of the pay-as-you-go model and leveraged resources of a cloud based provider across many clients.

A managed DAM avoids the direct and indirect costs of traditional staffing, such as turnover, hiring, training, management and budgetary headcount. Most importantly, a
professional service resource, like a managed DAM, provides the accountability and performance demanded by leading companies.

…and what happened to the time critical digital asset? With the managed DAM solution, the finished time critical asset example is handed off to a managed DAM vendor’s
client representative, who shepherds the asset, variations, communications, ingestion, tagging, delivery, archiving and reporting while the client focuses on the ultimate
promotion and success of their business.

The managed DAM provides the end-to-end service that’s reliable, timely and works in partnership with a client’s common goals.

Click here to download a PDF version of this article


John Libby, President of MediaMax Online and MESA Board Member, is a 25 year veteran of entertainment technology and marketing. MediaMax Online specializes in hosted media management, monitoring solutions, media analysis and software development such as EPK.TV, MMD.TV, and Daily Buzz.

YouTube Needs To Get Its Live Act Together

March 27, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on YouTube Needs To Get Its Live Act Together 

By Paul Sweeting

YouTube is not confirming but not exactly denying a report by the Daily Dot on Wednesday claiming the video site is getting ready to relaunch its live-streaming platform in with a new emphasis on games and e-sports. An announcement could come as soon as June, during the E3 game expo in Los Angeles, the report said.

Asked for comment, YouTube provided the website with a link to a GIF with no further explanation. Asked in a follow-up inquiry whether the GIF was meant as a joke, YouTube replied that no, “the GIF really was [its] official response.” Make of it what you will. But for YouTube’s sake I really hope the original report is correct, because Google really needs to do something big in live streaming, and soon.

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NFL Testing New Formations

March 26, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on NFL Testing New Formations 

By Paul Sweeting

The NFL seems to be in a test pattern. On Monday, the league announced that it will make next season’s match-up between the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars available exclusively via the internet outside of the teams’ home markets, rather than on national television. That was followed by an announcement that the league will suspend its local TV blackout rule for the entire 2015 season allowing games to be shown in their local markets even if the game is not a sell-out.

The league described both moves as tests, although what exactly is being tested in each case was left a bit vague.

The Bills-Jaguars game is a one-off, and a low-risk one at that. The game was set to be broadcast by the NFL’s own NFL Network, so there were no pre-existing rights deals to renegotiate, and involves two struggling teams with little national following in a game to be played in London and shown in the U.S. at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Even if the test is a disaster the damage will be limited.

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From Apple Pay to Apple TV, Leveraging a Lack of Knowledge

March 19, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on From Apple Pay to Apple TV, Leveraging a Lack of Knowledge 

By Paul Sweeting

We are not in the business of collecting your data,” Apple senior VP Eddie Cue declared in announcing the Apple Pay mobile payment system. “When you go to a physical location and use Apple Pay, Apple doesn’t know what you bought, where you bought it, or how much you paid for it.”

The line was clearly meant as a swipe at Google and other competitors in the mobile payments space, who do collect purchase data and use it in ways that can implicate users’ privacy. But Apple’s studied indifference to the details of purchase transactions is also central to Apple strategy in launching Apple Pay.

When a iPhone user adds a credit card to her Apple Pay account, the card information is encrypted by the device and sent to Apple’s servers, where it is decrypted to identify the issuing bank, and then forwarded to the bank in re-encrypted form.

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M&E Journal: One Cloud, Many Uses: Leveraging Private Clouds Built for M&E

March 18, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, Uncategorized · Comments Off on M&E Journal: One Cloud, Many Uses: Leveraging Private Clouds Built for M&E 

By Andy Hurt, Senior VP, Global Product Management and Marketing, Front Porch Digital

Private-cloud solutions offer more than disaster recovery, which is what people often think of when they consider cloud implementations. Disaster recovery is certainly an important use case, but a private cloud can do so much more. Once the content is in the cloud, a private cloud can be configured to accommodate a variety of workflows, in many cases automating repetitive processes while scaling massively.

CSM as a foundation

The ideal private-cloud for any M&E organization starts with a content storage management (CSM) system, which automatically retrieves broadcast-quality content from any storage infrastructure — disk, datatape library (with the aid of a robot), optical archive, etc. — and delivers it to an edit station, a playout device, or wherever else it might be needed. CSM systems were invented for media companies.

Unlike IT-based storage systems, which are designed to handle documents, numerical data, and the like, CSM systems are primed for the big-data requirements of video files, with built-in “video-aware” characteristics such as file-based quality assurance, timecode-based partial restore, and in-path content transcoding.

CSM systems are also designed to automatically handle difficulties arising from file compatibilities, essence types, wrappers, etc., in a highly active media-storage environment. These and other advanced features allow media organizations not only to store limitless amounts of high-resolution video assets, but to share those assets seamlessly throughout their organizations.

In short, CSM systems help content owners cope with what would otherwise be an overwhelming volume of content, to address the video-specific complexity of that content, and to facilitate smooth integration with video operations.

Deploying CSM in the cloud yields a feature- rich system built for media, without the infrastructure investment and overhead costs that can be a barrier for many organizations, but with all the advantages of the cloud’s unlimited storage space and computing power.

Active-archive cloud solutions exist as a counterpoint to the public-cloud scenario. They offer cost-effective big-data storage and mediacentric features in a pay-per-use, “CSM as a Service” package. They are also built to meet all SLAs, however stringent, that an organization defines.

Creating a purpose-built private cloud with these cloud-based CSM services lets media organizations overcome financial barriers and address the challenges associated with cloudbased video management. With CSM in place in a private cloud, that cloud can become far more than a storage center.

Figure 1

Disaster recovery

Disaster recovery (DR) is perhaps the most obvious use for a private cloud. In one implementation, a well-known global entertainment conglomerate uses a massive CSM-based private cloud as the backup and DR archive for its entire organization. As depicted in Figure 1, the private cloud, located in another part of the country, is configured to ingest archived content from the company’s West Coast operations
to an off-site datacenter.

Business continuity

Unlike a DR implementation, where the restore function happens reactively, this private cloud is configured to be an active archive, where content is simultaneously and continuously being ingested and restored every day. The same conglomerate that uses a private cloud for DR also built 14 separate private clouds for some of its distribution networks.

This implementation takes a proactive approach to disaster by ingesting a continuous 14-day playout scheduling, with elements of the programming coming from two separate locations on the West Coast into one datacenter in a third location. From there, the private cloud continuously restores that content to a redundant playout center on the East Coast.

If ever there is an event that affects the primary playout center on the West Coast, the East Coast center can — with virtually the flip of a switch — ensure that playout on the 14 channels
continues uninterrupted.


A private cloud can also be configured for active use, such as in editing and postproduction workflows. In this way, the cloud becomes a universal, collaborative workspace that is especially useful for multisite organizations.

Split storage

In countries where laws require that a subset of the data cannot leave the country, companies can split the data as appropriate, storing some in a private cloud within the country, while sending content intended for more long-term storage and archiving to a private cloud within a datacenter in another country.


In another scenario, a sports team built a private cloud to connect directly to its onpremises archive. It also created an iPad app to be used internally, so that coaches can share video clips with players. Selected clips are sent from the local archive to the cloud, and from there, a cloud-based distribution workflow publishes the video to the app. This example illustrates how, once content reaches the cloud, it can be repurposed and published to any platform.

Economic benefits

No matter how it is used, a purpose-built private cloud using CSM as a service has its economic benefits. As discussed, cloud-based CSM solutions were created with video in mind, so they provide video-centric service for a fraction of the cost of a traditional cloud service. Building cloud-based workflows that take advantage of the video-aware features of CSM can not only alleviate budget-intensive local equipment and processes, but automate parts of the workflow to make them more efficient. In addition to DR and business continuity, the cloud can also handle other mission-critical but expensive services such as technology refresh and migration to new tape technologies, thus eliminating significant capital expenditures.

Click here to download a PDF version of this article

Andy Hurt has more than 13 years of experience leading product development, management, strategy, and operations in multiple global technology organizations. He previously worked at Level (3) Communications, First Data and DISH Network. He is certified as a New Product Development Professional from the Product Development and Management Association.

Meerkat and Dawn of Sender-Side VOD

March 17, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Meerkat and Dawn of Sender-Side VOD 

By Paul Sweeting

There are plenty of live-streaming platforms out there for anyone who wants to set up their own broadcast on the cheap. But few have caught on as quickly or generated as much buzz as Meerket, the barely month-old streaming app that rides atop Twitter.

Or at least it did until Friday, when Twitter abruptly cut off Meerkat’s ability to easily access users’ list of followers to automatically alert them to when a new “Meerkast” is in progress. The move was neither unprecedented for Twitter, which has never been overly developer-friendly, nor particularly surprising insofar as Twitter announced its acquisition of Periscope, a competing live-streaming app, reportedly for $100 million, on the very day it shut the door on Meerkat.

So much for platform neutrality.

It’s not hard to see why Twitter would want to reserve the opportunity represented by Meerkast for itself, however. It has the potential to become a very powerful platform in its own right.

Live video streaming is not a new technology. But the Meerkat app got a lot of things about it right. The app is launched and streams are initiated from a smartphone (so-far iOS-only but an Android version is in the works) and, like Snapchap photos, the streams are ephemeral. There is no pausing, rewinding or sharing during a Meerkast (although the originator can download a video of the stream).

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FCC Unloads, Releases 313-page Report and Order on Net Neutrality

March 12, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on FCC Unloads, Releases 313-page Report and Order on Net Neutrality 

By Paul Sweeting

The full text of the FCC’s open internet order has now been released, along with 305 additional pages of exegetical elaboration and 79 pages of formal dissents from the two Republican commissioners.

From an OTT perspective, there isn’t much in the full text that wasn’t already known from what the FCC released last month when it voted to approve the rules: The order’s “bright-line” rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization do not apply to commercial interconnection arrangements. However, the FCC will consider complaints regarding those arrangements and will take (unspecified) enforcement action if an ISP’s behavior is determined to violate the order’s “general conduct standard,” prohibiting actions that “unreasonably” interfere with or damage consumers or edge providers.

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M&E Journal: Post-Production Steps Out of the House

March 11, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, Uncategorized · Comments Off on M&E Journal: Post-Production Steps Out of the House 

By: FilmTrack

As the media and Entertainment industry continues its rapid digital transformation, post-production houses, and those that work tangentially to the post house, are experiencing a bit of trepidation about what the future may hold. Even the word post-house itself, which implies a physical structure, has become something of a misnomer as a new generation of SaaS-based companies are entering the post-production space offering cloud-based, end-to-end platforms for production, post-production, distribution and delivery with very limited physical infrastructures. The challenges and opportunities facing post houses are significant as studios and filmmakers seek out more collaborative, connected, cost effective and scalable platforms to manage their content.

The Future of the Post House
It is a widely accepted fact that the media management role of the post house, along with key staff positions such as the digital imaging technician (DIT), remain exceptionally important in the modern film industry. The management of the media itself and the need for efficient quality control has also helped enhance the role of the post house.

However, current trends in the industry have reduced the need for a traditional post house as it was once understood. For example, one of the most outwardly visible signs of Hollywood’s conversion from film to digital is the successive closure of the town’s once great film processing labs. In May, the Deluxe Hollywood Lab, which was built on the Fox Hollywood film lot in 1919, finally closed its doors. Technicolor has shuttered both its Glendale lab and its iconic boxy black building on the Universal lot (now a cutting-edge NBC Universal media center.) And this past year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences offered the ultimate posthumous tribute to the film-processing business when it presented an honorary Oscar to the men and women who operated the labs, with Chris Nolan giving a stirring eulogy for their “more than a century of service to the motion picture business.”

These lab closings have helped spark an intense debate over the direction of post-production in the digital age. One of the key questions is whether a centralized brick-and-mortar post facility still makes sense at a time when so many film companies are turning to a cloud-based post-production model, in which work is globally dispersed and subcontracted to a wider range of companies.

On the one hand you have giants of the business like Technicolor, Deluxe and ModernVideoFilm which have made significant investments in physical infrastructure. All these major players are transforming themselves and adding new digital services and cloud-based offerings to meet the changing needs of their clients. On the other hand you have companies like Hulu Post and platforms like Amazon Web Services and the Google Cloud Platform, which allow for a virtual workflow and don’t necessarily require a physical infrastructure. Both sides are searching for a business model adaptable to an industry that requires ever more streamlined and connected solutions to manage the digital production and post-production value chain.

I’ve worked on the creative, production and technology sides of the film industry for more than two decades and have seen countless business models come and go. When we stared FilmTrack more than 14 years ago, the relationship between content creators and post-houses had been largely unchanged for decades. Film companies would simply hand over their materials to a single post-house with instructions for distribution and delivery, and the post-house would handle the entire back-end servicing.

Today FilmTrack manages the content and data for close to 200 companies and works with some of the leading post-houses to define what the next-generation post-house will look like. I’ve seen the complexities of this process through our employees’ involvement in organizations like the Hollywood Post Alliance, EIDR and SEMPTE. The forces driving these changes to the post-production landscape are manifold: vast improvements in technology and processing power; huge increases in digital and file-based content that is cheap to produce; and the vast amounts of data and metadata that must now be cataloged and stored for every film and television series.

The evidence is right before our eyes: Studios and filmmakers are now thinking in terms of end-to-end solutions for their artistic and business workflow – from ingestion to vault/storage, transformation, QC, delivery and commerce. More and more they’re relying on cloud-based platforms which have the potential to provide content owners, distributors and their customers with a safe, secure and sophisticated model for the long-term life-cycle management of their content. In conjunction, the rate card for services found within the traditional post house are changing as functions like encoding and transcoding can be done with out-of-the-box software.

However, when you look at final color correction, visual effects and sound mixing, these processes are more complex than ever, and no less time consuming than 10 years ago. According to Bob Pfannkuch, an industry pioneer who founded Rank Video Services, now a division of Deluxe: “The post house of the future may be called a ‘finishing house’ not a ‘post house.’ It will be known for taking content that is 90 percent done and finishing it.”

Such changes have fueled consolidation among the industry’s bigger players, with traditional rivals like Technicolor and Deluxe working together to offer complimentary services. This evolution has also created opportunities for new SaaS-based companies which provide a whole new level of flexibility and collaboration to meet evolving industry needs.

They’re also fundamentally transforming the way in which studios do business with post-houses. As James Staten, a Vice President at Forrester who blogs about cloud computing and next-generation business intelligence, points out: “Disney’s Frozen required 50,000 CPU cores crunching simultaneously to process its 3D effects and meet its opening date. The next Frozen, shot in 4K, will up the effects complexity 10-12x, according to visual effects experts.” Staten also observes that, “on-premise workflow systems are hitting the limits both in ability to on-board and manage a federation of identities and support the collective editing of the growing video files. As such, nearly all the major workflow tools makers now offer SaaS-based workflow systems that are either used purely in the cloud or in a hybrid mode with some workflows on-premise and others delivered from the cloud.”

This is forcing industry professionals and technologists to start thinking in terms of file access rather than file transfers. Right now the major emphasis is on how fast can you transfer files, speed and bandwidth. But we want to get to a place where we’re giving access to files, not transferring files around. On a consumer level, we’re already doing this with music, pictures and email that are stored in the cloud and accessed with different devices. We’re going to get there on the B2B level too: eventually the file will exist in one place in the cloud. That will bring cost savings and reduce concerns about asynchronicity since everyone will be working on same thing at same side.

These changes cut across the whole production, post-production and distribution cycle. Dailies captured on set are now routinely managed through virtual platforms that can be run for directors and producers in far-flung locations and allow for transcoding and color correction on premise. The dailies business has quickly morphed into another role managed by the DIT and others.

Furthermore, the management and delivery of global marketing assets has been radically transformed by the advent of cloud-based DAM services. In other words, a lot of things that used to be done with hardware processing are now being done with software updates and SaaS solutions. However, creative services for quality films with extensive digital effects will still be performed by the post house.

Bob Pfannkuch points out that “regardless of whether you have a big centralized lab or remote worker utilizing the cloud, the common and necessary thing for a post production house is to tie information together — the necessity to keep track of who’s doing what and where everything is.”

Moshe Barkat, CEO of Modern VideoFilm, agrees: “Regardless of whether you have a big lab or people at home with storage in the cloud, you need a data infrastructure so that everyone can collaborate.”

That’s been a core mission for FilmTrack, as we team with partners across the industry to help them collaborate and connect the dots across the entire life cycle of their IP. At FilmTrack, we understand there is no one-size fits all solution. That’s why we’ve made all metadata fields user-definable and configurable allowing clients to develop standards that fit with their unique business needs.

As we consider the future of post-production, one thing is clear: the business of content is expanding not shrinking. Emerging distribution platforms like Neflix, Hulu and Amazon are fueling this transformation, as is the rapid proliferation of devices on which content is being viewed – from iPhones to Androids, smart TVs, HD sets, 4K sets all of which have different constraints. Furthermore, the consumer is becoming more and more demanding – expecting more personalization and interactive options. The critical question is whether cities like Los Angeles, or even the US itself, will continue to serve as the hub for post-production.

HBO Leaves in the Middle Man

March 10, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on HBO Leaves in the Middle Man 

By Paul Sweeting

HBO just can’t quit the bundle. With HBO Now, it’s new, over-the-top streaming service, the network for the first time is making its content available to stream without a pay-TV subscription. But HBO still hopes to sell it as part of a bundle. The only differences are the the other components of the bundle and the identity of the bundlers.

At launch, HBO Now will be sold exclusively by Apple and available on Apple devices only. According to HBO’s FAQ, “you can subscribe to HBO NOW℠ using your iTunes account. Customers can access HBO NOW℠ by going to, through AppleTV® or by downloading the HBO NOW℠ app in the Apple App Store®.” Apple and HBO will then share customer support duties.

After a three-month Apple exclusive, HBO will make the service available to other digital distributors, such as Amazon and Roku, presumably on terms similar to Apple’s, with the distributor doing most of the heavy sales lifting. But the network is also very much hoping to persuade its current cable-operator affiliates to bundle HBO Now with their broadband-only offering, so far with little success.

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Supply-Side Content Discovery

March 6, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Supply-Side Content Discovery 

By Paul Sweeting

Nearly a decade after Netflix went over-the-top, at least a full decade after the launch of YouTube, and more than two decades since Bruce Springsteen first sang of having “57 channels and nothin’ on,” the video industry, which we used to call the TV industry, is still wrestling with the problem of content discovery.

If anything, the problem is getting worse, not better, as the volume of programming and the number of program sources are both growing rapidly thanks to the new digital platforms.

Heroic efforts have been made over the years to tame the flood, using search technology, algorithmic recommendation engines and various other big-data strategies.

Rovi’s Fan TV, for instance, which it acquired late last year and reintroduced at CES in January, uses voice-activated semantic search and leverages Rovi’s vast trove of video metadata to generate recommendations or locate specific titles in response to natural-language queries.

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Finger-pointing Over Interconnection

March 3, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Finger-pointing Over Interconnection 

By Paul Sweeting

When a consumer’s OTT video stream starts rebuffering, or suffers packet losses resulting in degraded quality, it’s often hard to know where to direct blame. The problem is typically caused by congestion somewhere between the content’s originating server and the consumer’s receiving device.

But exactly where in the chain of transit that congestion is occurring, and more importantly who is responsible and why, can be difficult even for engineers — and virtually impossible for consumers — to ascertain.

Back when it appeared the FCC was poised to classify interconnection arrangements between last-mile ISPs and third-party transit and content providers as a new, distinct type of Title II service the question of liability for congestion in the chain of transit suddenly became urgent for those involved in wholesale traffic exchanges.

Fearing the new classification would leave them at a disadvantage in negotiating interconnection agreements with content delivery networks (CDNs) and other transit providers and worried they’d be blamed for problems occurring elsewhere in the transit chain, ISPs rushed to the FCC to insist that any new rules regarding traffic exchanges cover both parties to the exchange.

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For OTT Providers, ‘Strong’ Net Neutrality May Be Losing Its Strength

February 25, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on For OTT Providers, ‘Strong’ Net Neutrality May Be Losing Its Strength 

By Paul Sweeting

Don’t look now OTT fans but the net neutrality rules expected to be enacted Thursday by the FCC may turn out to be not as OTT-friendly as it originally appeared they would be.

When FCC chairman Tom Wheeler unveiled his “fact sheet” on the upcoming rules on Feb. 4, it looked as if the commission was poised to adopt the “strong” version of net neutrality pushed by Netflix and others. According to the fact sheet, the rules would treat interconnection arrangements between ISPs and third-party edge providers as a Title II service subject to the same “just and reasonable” standard that will apply to ISPs’ management of their last-mile networks.

Since then, however, as noted in a previous post here, even some net neutrality advocates have raised questions about the legal and statutory grounds for extending Title II to interconnection arrangements. In a letter to the commission dated Feb. 11, Free Press policy director Matthew Wood warned the interconnection arrangements were unlikely to qualify as Title II services as defined by the Communications Act, creating an opening for a legal challenge to the new rules.

Democratic FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn is reportedly also having doubts about applying Title II to interconnection. According to a report Tuesday by the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill Clyburn is seeking eleventh-hour changes to the proposed rules, including dropping plans to classify interconnection as a distinct Title II service.

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The Next OTT Battleground: Zero-Rating

February 23, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on The Next OTT Battleground: Zero-Rating 

By Paul Sweeting

The FCC this week is expected to approve on a party-line vote chairman Tom Wheeler’s long-gestating plan to impose new net neutrality rules by reclassifying internet access as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act, setting in motion a process by which the world will finally get to see the full text of the 308-page Memorandum and Order and begin fighting — almost certainly in court — over its particulars.

One thing that apparently will not be in the order, however, is any bright-line rule banning so-called “zero-rated” data plans offered by wireless operators and ISPs under which particular applications are not counted toward a user’s monthly data cap.

“We do not take a position on zero-rating,” the FCC’s special counsel for external affairs Gigi Sohn confirmed last week on the C-Span program The Communicators. Instead, she said, the agency would review complaints about zero-rated services on a “case-by-case basis” to determine whether they harmed consumers.

That has many OTT providers, start-ups and VCs worried that wireless carriers and ISPs will rush to embrace zero-rated data plans, producing the same sort of anti-competitive and market-distorting effects as paid prioritization, which the new rules do explicitly ban.

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Confessions of an Academy Screener Sneak

February 20, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Confessions of an Academy Screener Sneak 

By Martin Porter

Dear Academy:

I don’t know who else to write to… so considering that this Sunday is your big day of the year and ultimately your show is the marketing force behind my story… you’re it. I have a confession to make because I have sinned.

You better than anyone know that it is screener season and we all know what that means. There are discs of all those great movies everyone has been meaning to see circulating at parties and among friends, creating a virtual industry underground among those who should know better but simply can’t resist watching one of your Academy Awards contenders for free.

My recent failing involved the Sony Pictures Classics picture “Whiplash,” which appealed to my childhood obsession with jazz drummer Buddy Rich. It was also one of the many other movies that are still on my pre-Academy Awards broadcast must-see list. I actually paid to view the movie in my hotel room during a recent vacation, which was cut short by my car service to the airport arriving too soon. I never saw it to the end and I was obsessed with seeing it through (take note for an opportunity here UltraViolet).

Unfortunately, despite a tease on VUDU that it was coming soon, the movie was nowhere to be found legally on the web. (The fact that I never considered checking out Fandango to see it in the theater is as much a reflection of my travel schedule as it is the state of theatrical affairs). I’m at least ethical enough to steer clear of the bootleg sites.

But then, by happenstance, the screener surfaced during one of those all-too-common industry chats that were taking place over the past few months among those somehow connected (albeit by 6 degrees) to an Academy-voting member.

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Net Neutrality Disconnection?

February 18, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Net Neutrality Disconnection? 

By Paul Sweeting

As ISPs, both large and small, gear up to sue the FCC over its forthcoming net neutrality order, even strong supporters of net neutrality have begun pointing to potential legal problems with the proposal outlined by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler earlier this month. One of biggest potential problems, as far as OTT providers are concerned, was flagged by Free Press policy director Matthew Wood.

As described in the fact sheet distributed by the FCC, the order will treat the “service” ISPs provide to OTT services and other edge providers as a Title II service, just as it does the internet access services ISP’s provide to subscribers, giving the commission the authority to review interconnection agreements between OTT services and ISPs and potentially declare them not to be “just and reasonable” as required by Title II:

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The Daily Show With Jon Stewart’s Legacy

February 12, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart’s Legacy 

By Paul Sweeting

It’s hard to remember now, but Stewart took over anchoring duties at the Daily Show nearly 17 years ago — more than six years before YouTube was invented. Yet they seemed made for each other. The show’s easily chunkable format was ideal for the atomized milieu of YouTube, especially in the early days when YouTube uploads were tightly restricted by length, and the website quickly became the Daily Show’s second time slot — for better or worse.

Even today, after an epic legal battle between Comedy Central’s parent company, Viacom, and YouTube, the online platform remains a critical outlet for the Daily Show. As Peter Kafka noted on Re/Code, the Daily Show draws about a million viewers in its initial airing. But millions more see it on YouTube the next day on their laptops and smartphones, or at least the bits their friends alert them to via Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels.

Viacom’s nearly decade-long litigation against YouTube for copyright infringement, in fact, was in large measure about the Daily Show, along with the Colbert Report, South Park and a few other properties. It was the unchecked, unauthorized uploading of clips from the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, as much as anything else, that spurred Viacom to launch its $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube (and later Google ex-acquisition) in 2007.

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Music Streaming Business Gets Funky

February 9, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Music Streaming Business Gets Funky 

By Paul Sweeting

Music subscription service Spotify last week hired Goldman Sachs to help it raise around $500 million at a valuation in the neighborhood of $7 billion. Private market analysts currently value the company at around $6 billion.

The new fund raising round likely pushes back any plans the company had for an IPO, no doubt disappointing some investors. But it buys the company some time before it has to focus on IPO prep as it gets ready to face its first real competition. According to a report by the usually well-sourced 9to5Mac, Apple is gearing up to relaunch a Beats-branded music streaming service this summer.

Rather than simply dropping a Beats app onto Apple devices, the report says Apple has been working on a deep integration of Beats technology and functionality into iOS, iTunes and Apple TV.

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Different OTT Strokes for Different Folks

January 30, 2015 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Different OTT Strokes for Different Folks 

By Paul Sweeting

We’re just at the dawn of the virtual MVPD era and we’re already seeing signs of more market segmentation and product differentiation than with the current, facilities-based service provider model.

sling TV logoOn the heels of Dish’s breakthrough launch this week of its Sling TV service, Sony has begun to pull the curtain back a bit on its own virtual pay-TV service, PlayStation Vue, which is expected to launch by the end of the first quarter. GigaOM’s Janko Roettgers got a sneak peak courtesy of a beta tester, including some screen shots of the UI, and it’s clear the Sony service is a very different animal from Sling TV.

Unlike Sling TV’s low-priced, slimmed-down bundle of a dozen channels built around ESPN, PlayStation Vue includes a nearly full load of broadcast and pay-TV networks — over 70 according to the list provided to GigaOM — along with catch-up VOD and cloud-based DVR functionality, and is likely to cost $60 to $80 a month — roughly the same as traditional cable or satellite service.

The difference in the bundles reflects the very different audience segments Dish and Sony are targeting as well as their different strategic goals. Sling TV is targeted at the 10 million or so U.S. households, many of them counted among the Millennials, who currently have broadband service but do not subscribe to pay-TV.

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Media Big Data; Getting to Value

November 25, 2014 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Media Big Data; Getting to Value 

By Don Terry

Big Data…Hadoop…Data Lakes? Everywhere you turn there is a lot of industry buzz in the news about the value of “Big Data”, and the potential for this exciting new technology.

Big Data may indeed be a buzzword, but if so it’s a buzzword that can have a measureable and incredible impact on a company’s top, and bottom lines.

At its core, the concept of Big Data is that of supporting executive decision-making with the most accurate, current, comprehensive and comprehensible presentation of all information available regarding a business. Unstructured data is doubling every year, per IDC, driven by mobile devices, gaming consoles, social media, the Internet of Things, second screen and digital “non-linear” television viewing. But why does this matter? The promise was that Big Data was going to cure cancer make our lives easier and change our lives forever.

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The Final Barrier to Media Workflows in the Cloud

October 9, 2014 · Posted in Featured Blog, Featured Blogger · Comments Off on The Final Barrier to Media Workflows in the Cloud 

By Chuck Parker

It seems everywhere you look these days there is something about “the Cloud” in front of you. Twitter, LinkedIn, the tech press, and seemingly every press release you read has the various players in the Media and Entertainment industry describing what they can do for you in the cloud.

The promise of the cloud is BIG. At its most basic level, there is the opportunity for a company to turn its fixed investments in CAPEX into variable (or “burstable”) spend when required as OPEX. For smaller companies and companies without legacy infrastructure this is potentially the best way forward so that their costs are directly tied to their revenue stream whether those requirements are storage, transcoding or rendering for post production and visual effects work flows.

For larger and more established companies, it is the opportunity to exceed current infrastructure capacity to take on that surprise project. It is also the opportunity to set an investment level threshold where companies build to the “trough” rather than the “peak” for the inherent variability in the media industry business season.

But this isn’t a new promise in the IT world. Back in the early 2000s, this promise was held out to the largest companies in the guise of “outsourcing”. What’s changed now? First, CEOs and CFOs in the M&E industry are well educated now about “cloud” and understand enough to know that their businesses should be at least experimenting with workflows in the cloud.

Additionally, the “burstable” nature of the cloud means that businesses can actually “test drive” new capabilities in their workflows without significant investment or risk to their business. These two structural changes have resulted in a proliferation of growth in “back office” workflows across industries. SaaS (which is the ultimate cloud approach where the application and infrastructure are “by the drink”) has been a driving force here, allowing companies to put their expense systems, HR systems, and even sales and CRM systems into the cloud (think with great success for the companies who are deploying them.

But putting production systems into the cloud has been elusive. These applications are both complex and customized to the point where SaaS is not really an option. Even when two companies are using the same rendering application for their workflows, they are often managing their compute and storage in entirely different ways. So the industry has coined a new term to attempt to educate the CxO suite on how to approach this landscape – IaaS – or “Infrastructure as a Service.”

At its most basic level, when you retain control of the application but are leaning on the cloud for storage or compute resources, this IaaS term describes your approach to leveraging the cloud. But while this approach has better economics and risk models than the “outsourced” approach in the industry from 10 years ago, it isn’t exploding at the rate you would expect with its promise of “on demand” and “less investment”.

So what is holding the M&E industry back from investing in the cloud for its primary workflows?

Two things: security and connectivity.

Security. While every major cloud provider goes to some length to describe what kind of security protocols their customer’s data lives in while on their servers, we still hear horror stories every day about large companies being hacked for their valuable resources (Target and Home Depot are the most recent infamous incidents). In our specialized industry, all of us know that one single breach of pre-release materials can be the death of a company and no amount of promised encryption, even when from established and emerging cloud platforms, can alleviate those fears.

Further, if the project you are working on isn’t your IP, you are likely already bound by contract to use certain security measures that preclude using “public” cloud infrastructure for your workflows. The ability to audit security processes and posture is important to trusting partners in the service chain and remains a requirement for the most important content workflows.

Connectivity. The challenge of delivering the promise of “burstable”, “on demand” storage and compute power to these resource intensive applications comes down to the internet’s age old axiom: sustainable bandwidth. While there are plenty of companies that can drop a multi-gig connection to a cloud provider, there are few that have the expertise to connect your application into the cloud resources right to where they need to be and integrate with your existing network and workflow – taking account of aspects like low latency requirements.

Even then, just finding a “large pipe” for your data doesn’t complete the business model—if you cannot get your bandwidth to be as “burstable” as your storage and compute power, the investment model for cloud falls apart.

At Sohonet, we believe the key to unlocking the M&E industry’s “cloud potential” is the ability to offer studios, post production houses and visual effects companies options for getting their applications connected to public and private
cloud infrastructure in a manner that meets their low latency and security requirements while still meeting the “on demand” business model to support their ability to “burst” into the cloud for production.

We believe that the M&E industry will embrace a mix of three approaches to meet their production workflow and business model requirements. Inherent to all three approaches is unlimited or inexpensive egress (essential for the unpredictable production process), improved security posture, and (most critically) access to 24/7 support resources that understand their unique workflow requirements.

  • Low-cost access to generic compute and storage resources (public cloud) coupled with sustained low-latency bandwidth that includes unlimited egress.
  • Access to application-specific low-latency and/or industry standard security approaches (private cloud) for storage and compute resources coupled with sustained low-latency bandwidth that includes unlimited egress.
  • High-speed, burstable connectivity to major cloud providers where the support for the application and security are already “in-house” and the only missing component is the “burstable” bandwidth directly into their resource center that provides the lowest possible latency and inexpensive egress while still improving the security posture.

We believe that access to cloud resources is critical to the industry’s progression along ever-increasing data storage and compute requirements as 4K workflows begin their progression to 8K and High Dynamic Range workflows and while 4K consumption becomes mainstream in consumer homes. As the trusted communications partner for the M&E industry Sohonet is committed to providing the same Fast, Flexible and Phenomenal customer service that has built our brand and reputation over the past 15 years, and that delivering on the promise of “Connected Cloud Services” is critical to our customers’ future.

For more information please visit or contact him directly at


It’s All About The Showrunners

October 2, 2014 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on It’s All About The Showrunners 

By Alan Wolk

For all the debate around who should be in charge of second screen and social TV efforts, one thing is becoming very clear: the key to success rests with the showrunners.

That’s because when the showunner is involved, along with the actors and the writing staff, it seems like the second screen experience is an actual part of the show, not some sort of bolted-on afterthought. In fact, a recent study from Twitter, Fox and the Advertising Research Foundation revealed that 40% of viewers prefer to see tweets from cast members versus 18% who wanted to see tweets from the official show handle.

This stands to reason on many levels: the type of viewer who is fan enough to want to tweet about a show is the type of viewer who’s likely formed some sort of connection with the actors and wants to read their tweets…

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SiriusXM Hits Fast Lane Using Integrated Marketing & Analytics

September 10, 2014 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on SiriusXM Hits Fast Lane Using Integrated Marketing & Analytics 

As my kids get older, I’ve had to cede control of the car radio. One result? Thanks to the forced waning of my NPR habit, I’m much less interesting at cocktail parties than I care to be. Another consequence? Trying to smoothly navigate radio programming that doesn’t meet my parental, shall we say, scrutiny – nor, assuage the pop-cultural tastes of the wannabe teenager.

Satellite radio – long dominated by SiriusXM Radio – brought peace of mind to parents everywhere by offering up more programming options in the car than we ever thought possible. But – like the living room before it – the car is becoming the latest field on which today’s digital media game plays out.

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SiriusXM Hits Fast Lane Using Integrated Marketing & Analytics

September 8, 2014 · Posted in Colleen Quinn's Blog · Comments Off on SiriusXM Hits Fast Lane Using Integrated Marketing & Analytics 

As my kids get older, I’ve had to cede control of the car radio. One result? Thanks to the forced waning of my NPR habit, I’m much less interesting at cocktail parties than I care to be. Another consequence? Trying to smoothly navigate radio programming that doesn’t meet my parental, shall we say, scrutiny – nor, assuage the pop-cultural tastes of the wannabe teenager.

Satellite radio – long dominated by SiriusXM Radio – brought peace of mind to parents everywhere by offering up more programming options in the car than we ever thought possible. But – like the living room before it – the car is becoming the latest field on which today’s digital media game plays out.

New streaming music providers offered multi-platform music experiences that were highly personalized, mobile, and which threatened to make in-car satellite services too niche. (Register here for the Sept. 23 webinar to learn how SiriusXM navigated new channel demands with analytics and explore how SiriusXM is leveraging customer data integration, behavioral analytics, and real-time interaction to build deeper relationships with their subscribers.)

With more than 25 million subscribers, SiriusXM didn’t seem to be in a bad position. Still, with increasing competition from streaming music entrants like Pandora and Spotify, SiriusXM Radio needed a strategy to future proof their business, and meet subscribers’ demands for content anywhere, at any time.

Like many companies who don’t fully realize the treasure that is customer and marketing data, SiriusXM had outsourced marketing technology. When the time came to quickly respond to the shifting music market, a key first step was to bring their most valuable asset back in house. This step marked the first in a journey for SiriusXM Radio to develop and deploy next generation marketing analytics that would allow them to reinvent their relationships with subscribers and prospects, and take ownership their data.

Across media & entertainment and digital media, the expectations of consumers continue to shift. More than ever, audiences expect deeply personal messages on their platform of choice, at the right time. Yet, many companies don’t leverage their most valuable asset – detailed insight into audience behavior. And, in some cases, that data is left to third parties to manage.

If your business is ready to take control of marketing data to drive a more personalized, engaging customer experience, here’s your chance to learn from the top. SiriusXM Chief Information Officer, Bill Pratt, is sharing his experience about his company’s analytics journey in a live, one-hour webinar on September 23rd.

Sports and Second Screen – The Winning Combination

April 21, 2014 · Posted in Featured Blog · Comments Off on Sports and Second Screen – The Winning Combination 
Sports are big for TV. To be convinced of this, just look at the amount paid by BT to broadcast the football games of the European Champions league: £900m ($1.5bn/€1.1bn). As BT won the football rights, BSKYB the losing bidder saw its share price drop 11%[1] and £1.3bn ($2.1bn/€1.6bn) was wiped off its market capitalisation in one day.
Clearly, the loss of football games rights was seen as a major risk to its future profitability[2]. According to the Telegraph, BSKYB even lobbied Champions League officials for three days to reopen the bid after it was excluded from the auctions.
Sports are big for TV because it can draw a huge number of fans who are ready to pay for content. Together with Hollywood blockbusters, sports form the basis of pay TV. Contrary to films, sports is also very big for 2nd screen.  Nielsen compiled the below statistics[3] that shows that sports is the main driver for tweets about TV shows. Forget about the “X-Factor”, and the US Presidential race–this is all about the Super Bowl; 50% of tweets about TV are about sports. Why do sports events drive so much social TV activity? This is due to the nature of fans and of sports events themselves. Sports fans are really engaged and very emotional about their teams and players. Sports events are broadcasted live and drive immediate reactions.

Dell Helps Studios Maximize Compute Power and Minimize Energy Costs

April 18, 2014 · Posted in Featured Blog · Comments Off on Dell Helps Studios Maximize Compute Power and Minimize Energy Costs 

In this M&E Journal Digital Exlusive, Rakesh Nair of Dell discusses how they are powering the compute-intensive needs of the Media & Entertainment industry with their products, technology and for their creative partners. For example, the 45-second tracking shot of Paris that kicks off Academy-Award winning animated film “Hugo” entailed some serious animation rendering.

Pixomondo, the visual effects company tasked with rendering the film, needed high-powered computing to support this complicated composite, which for just that 45-second tracking shot, cost tens of thousands of dollars in power alone. It is not hard to imagine then that things like hardware performance, technology footprint and heating and power efficiency play a major role in the ability of Pixomondo and similar companies to turn a profit.

Click here to continue reading or click here to view and download a PDF version of the entire article.

Q1 2014 Quarterly Second Screen Update: Impacting the 1st Screen

April 15, 2014 · Posted in Chuck Parker's Blog · Comments Off on Q1 2014 Quarterly Second Screen Update: Impacting the 1st Screen 
2nd Screen has continued to reveal evidence of progress in both monetization and engagement.  In addition to our focused research on monetization in Q1, we have been completed a 30-page research report on Sports on behalf of our society members to help them and their primary stakeholders (investors, customers, management) cut through the hype and the disillusionment and focus on clear examples of what is working…

Second Screen by the Numbers, Q1 2014 – more growth, more engagement, more monetization

April 10, 2014 · Posted in Chuck Parker's Blog · Comments Off on Second Screen by the Numbers, Q1 2014 – more growth, more engagement, more monetization 

2nd Screen Viewing Experiences: 73% of TV Everywhere views are on a 2nd Screen.  ReelSeo.  Feb 6th. 89% of video views on the BBC’s iPlayer are VOD vs. Live. Click link to view Infographic.

Facebook Didn’t Need To Go Sci Fi To Own Hollywood

April 3, 2014 · Posted in Featured Blog, M&E Daily · Comments Off on Facebook Didn’t Need To Go Sci Fi To Own Hollywood 

If Facebook’s new acquisition –Oculus Rift – sounds like something out of a Science Fiction movie, your gut isn’t that far off. The virtual reality headset maker – snatched-up for the astonishing  $2 BILLION in a surprise move – is the ultimate in geek chic. The device – which can create rich virtual reality, immersive experiences for gamers and beyond – already has a devoted if pocket-protector-wearing fan base. But, what does it mean for Facebook?

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