Disney Makes Streaming Services A Centerpiece Of Its Future

How seriously is Disney taking streaming direct-to-consumer video services?

Starting next year, the Direct-To-Consumer/International business unit will be one of four business segments the company breaks out earnings for in its quarterly reports to investors.

On the company’s latest quarterly earnings call Thursday, Disney CEO Bob Iger went into detail about its streaming video future, with an emphasis on three products: ESPN+, Hulu, and next year’s family-focused service, which Iger says will be called Disney+.

Disney+ will mark Disney’s biggest dive into streaming video, becoming a one-stop shop for Disney movies and content from Pixar, LucasFilm, Marvel, National Geographic and other Disney-owned brands.

Disney is developing a series based on the Marvel character Loki, and on the “Star Wars” film Rogue One. Both will star the lead actors who appeared in the movies.

“As with ESPN+, the launch of Disney+ will just be the starting point,” Iger told analysts on the call. “We plan to continually elevate the experience and enhance the value to consumers with a constant pipeline of exclusive new content as we move forward.”

Iger added that the company will be taking Disney+ international after its U.S. launch, with some local content added to the mix to comply with local rules in the E.U.

Disney will have a controlling stake in Hulu once its deal to acquire 21st Century Fox closes, although Comcast will still own 30% of Hulu, and AT&T will own 10%.

Iger told analysts “anything we do with Hulu will be done with an eye toward being fiscally responsible to the other shareholders, even though they’re minority shareholders.” While the company plans to invest in Hulu, it may not be able to take the big swings it is making with Disney+.

Hulu will serve as a general entertainment service, in contrast to the sports-centric ESPN+ and the family-focused Disney+.

In particular, Hulu presents a distinct opportunity for advertisers through its basic ad-supported tier and multichannel video service.

“[What] I think has been somewhat under-appreciated about Hulu in that it is a very strong play for advertisers, because it can offer targeted ads and is just a great user experience,” Iger said.

He added that the company will invest more in Hulu’s original programming and experiment with pricing, particularly with regard to its multichannel video service.

Hulu is currently only available in the U.S. Once the Fox deal closes, the company will talk to Comcast and AT&T about launching Hulu internationally.

Finally, there was ESPN+, the first streaming service launched by Disney in the U.S. earlier this year. Now with over 1 million subscribers, Disney CFO Christine McCarthy said the company plans to invest $100 million in the service in the first quarter of 2019.

“We’re kind of just in the early innings, to use a sports analogy, of where we’re going to be product-wise,” Iger said. “And then we’re also in the early innings in terms of where we’re going to be from a feature set perspective.”

The company’s BamTech unit is developing personalization and customization technology that will serve subscribers content based on where they live, or their favourite team or sport.

The company will also start marketing ESPN+, beginning by targeting alumni of certain colleges whose teams don’t typically play on national sports networks.

Talk of streaming dominated the earnings call, with the company’s TV networks barely getting a mention from analysts, and only a few questions on the company’s theme parks.

During the company’s earnings call in late 2017, Iger said Disney+ would be priced “substantially below” Netflix, to account for its smaller library of content. He did not provide an update on the latest call, with pricing still TBD.

Disney is betting its content expertise will make for a competitive product with Netflix when it launches.

Source: mediapost.com; 9 Nov 2018

Indian YouTube channel will soon dethrone PewDiePie in subscriptions

T-Series, a YouTube channel dedicated to Indian music videos, will soon surpass PewDiePie as the most subscribed account on YouTube, according to Tubular Labs. PewDiePie — a Swedish vlogger best known for his video game commentaries — has 67 million subscribers to his channel, inching just ahead of T-Series at 66 million subscribers.

But the latter is growing at a more rapid clip — T-Series expanded its subscriber base by 4.2 million in September against PewDiePie’s 863,000 — and Tubular predicts the Bollywood channel will hit No. 1 next week. The data underscores the growing importance of India — and the greater Asia-Pacific (APAC) region — for US-based tech companies as the next major market for expansion.

Here’s why India is a strategic international market, and how some major tech firms are starting to adjust their strategies:

– Smartphone penetration is still growing, and sits well below 50%. India’s smartphone users are estimated to reach 466 million — or 34% of the population — by 2020, up from 308 million (24% penetration) in 2018, per eMarketer. Smartphone users in the US stand at 252 million, good for 77% of the population, so the opportunity to grow customers domestically pales in comparison to the opportunity in APAC. While China has the largest base of smartphone users on Earth, US-based companies have struggled to launch there because of strict regulation. India presents the best opportunity to reach a massive, largely untapped market.

– India has the world’s fastest-growing economy. While access to a large and growing audience is a vital step in international expansion, companies still need a viable way to monetize audiences once they reach them. The Indian economy is the fastest-growing in the world, forecast to jump 7.3% year-over-year (YoY) in 2019, and 7.6% YoY in 2020, according to the Asian Development Bank. The twin factors of an accelerating economy and steady smartphone penetration are positive signs that demand for advertising and subscription-based services will continue to rise in the country.

– Streaming giants are localizing content to cater to Indian consumers. Netflix is launching local content across the globe, but the streamer is particularly bullish on the Indian market. Earlier this year, when Netflix’s global subscribers stood around 120 million, CEO Reed Hastings claimed: “the next 100 million is from India.” Meanwhile, the number of Amazon Prime Video users in India is growing faster than any other country, according to its Head of International Originals, James Farrell.

– Facebook has more users in India than in any other country. The social giant’s monthly active user base in India stands at 251 million, higher than in the US & Canada where it has 241 million users. And Facebook-owned WhatsApp is India’s most-used app, according to comScore. For now though, Facebook’s main role in India is serious damage control after misinformation campaigns have led to dozens of lynchings, per CNN.

The increasing western influence could spark Indian government to impose new rules and regulations on American tech companies. Last summer, the country’s Supreme Court declared that Indians have a fundamental right to privacy, and pushed Parliament to pass a data privacy law, according to The New York Times.

Potential legislation could hinder growth in India, or limit how user data can be used by tech, much like GDPR in Europe. In the meantime, global companies should start thinking about localization strategies to capture a piece of the market.

Source: businessinsider.com; 25 Oct 2018

YouTube launches new ad formats to enable better video storytelling

YouTube is introducing more ad extensions to enhance video ads with additional information that will hopefully encourage consumers to take action. Currently, brands are able to add location and form extensions to TrueView in-stream ads.

The new ad extensions will encourage viewers to complete lower-funnel actions such as finding the next movie showtime, downloading an app or booking a trip.

According to Vishal Sharma, vice president, product management YouTube Ads in a blog post, this is in a bid to help marketers become more effective full-funnel storytellers using YouTube’s creative canvas and Google’s machine learning and measurement solutions.

Among the list of brands that have started using extensions for videos ads to bring more relevance to their mobile ads and drive impact on important metrics include Vodafone, 20th Century Fox and Maybelline.

Meanwhile, it also introduced two new metrics – lifted users and cost-per-lifted user to help marketers easily optimise their campaign’s effectiveness and cost-efficiency. Lifted users are the number of people influenced by the brand’s ad while cost-per-lifted user makes it easier for brands to optimise their campaign’s effectiveness and cost efficiency.

Additionally, YouTube is also evolving its Brand Lift solution, a free tool for measuring the effectiveness of video ads, and partnering with big data provider IRi Worldwide to make it simpler for advertisers to measure and act upon upper and lower-funnel metrics.

Based on brands’ feedback, they will be able to set up Brand Lift studies directly in Google Ads or Display and Video 360, and view reporting alongside other ad metrics.

YouTube has also started sending Brand Lift surveys continuously throughout the duration of the campaign to better understand how the brand’s video ads are influencing viewer perceptions in real time.

Sharma added that the company is “ramping up” on its investments in Google Measurement Partners to ensure its advertisers can measure YouTube media with measurement solutions that meet rigorous, verified standards.

Source: marketing-interactive.com; 2 Oct 2018

YouTube TV is rolling out a bunch of new features to woo cord-cutters away from cable

YouTube’s streaming alternative to cable TV has earned rave reviews since its launch nearly two years ago — but YouTube isn’t resting on its laurels.

On Thursday, YouTube TV introduced a bunch of new features that improve the user experience of the subscription streaming service and enhance its DVR capabilities.

The new features come as YouTube TV continues to expand its content menu beyond its existing selection of cable TV and traditional TV channels. Earlier this week, Cordcutters.com reported that the NBA League Pass would soon become available on YouTube for $40 a month or $249 for the entire 2018-19 season.

As a growing number of consumers look for ways to “cut the cord,” YouTube TV has emerged as one of the stronger alternatives to traditional cable TV. Here’s how Alliance Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi Jr. put it in a May report:

“YouTube TV remains a shockingly good deal. And remember, this is with no yearly contract, and no hidden fees. The cost savings are only part of the story…the fact of the matter is that YouTube TV is not merely cheaper than cable TV, but it is also better.”

The newest YouTube TV features, most of which will automatically update for users, are another step forward.

Check out some of the coolest new features coming to YouTube TV:

You can now choose whether to watch a show, say, a sports event or your favourite series, via video-on-demand or a DVR version.

You can now choose whether to watch a show, say, a sports event or your favorite series, via video-on-demand or a DVR version.

If you click on the DVR version, you get more playback flexibility.

YouTube’s DVR let you pause anytime, rewind, and fast forward—even past ads.

The service also offers unlimited storage space for cloud DVR, and that means nobody has to worry about exceeding limits. Users can load as many shows, games, and movies as they want into YouTube TV’s DVR.

YouTube TV added a dark theme to cut down on glare.

YouTube TV added a dark theme to cut down on glare.

The dark theme darkens the background on your PC while you watch YouTube TV.

According to YouTube, not only does this reduce glare but it also lets viewers “take in the true colours of the videos.”

These are the kinds of user-experience bells and whistles that help YouTube stay ahead of the likes of Comcast and AT&T. And this might be a good place to explain the reasons Sacconaghi said he believes YouTube TV is better than traditional cable.

“Cable companies are not tech companies,” he wrote. “Their apps never work quite right. The user interfaces lag. The streams don’t buffer properly. Cloud recordings mysteriously fail to record.”

Source: businessinsider.com; 4 Oct 2018

Twitter announces host of new APAC content deals

New partnerships across live, sports, entertainment and news take the platform to more than 50 in the region.

Twitter has unveiled a raft of new content partnerships throughout Asia-Pacific, further bolstering the social-media platform’s stable of premium video content.

The deals, announced at this year’s All That Matters conference in Singapore, range from short- to longer-form video content across Twitter’s focus areas of sports, news and entertainment. They include the likes of Sony Music, Vice Media and UEFA Champions League on FMA Indonesia.

“We are proud to expand our livestream and video highlights programming that is brand safe and will appeal to the audience and advertisers in APAC,” said Maya Hari, Twitter APAC vice president.

In entertainment, new deals have been signed with Sony Music, providing custom content and behind-the-scenes clips from major music acts; Red Chillies Entertainment in India, producing content with Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan; and NBCUniversal, bringing its E! programming onto Twitter.

In sports, Twitter has partnered with FMA Indonesia to provide UEFA Champions League highlights; Fox Sports Asia for Formula One content; and Stadium Astro Malaysia for English Premier League.

Finally in news, new partnerships were announced with Vice Media over content throughout APAC; Network18 in India for video content around major events including India’s budget announcement and elections; and NET TV in Indonesia, which renewed and extended its Twitter partnership around bringing TV programming and bespoke content to the platform.

Kay Madati, Twitter global vice president of content partnerships, said APAC is driving growth for the company. “Our unique and strategic value proposition that positions Twitter as a complement, not competitor to traditional media companies, has delivered great success.”

The new content partnerships take Twitter’s total to more than 50 in APAC.

Source: campaignasia.com; 12 Sep 2018

Facebook rolls out Watch video platform to Asia-Pacific

Ad Breaks program expands to ANZ now and Thailand in September, sharing revenue with publishers and creators.

Facebook Watch, the rival to YouTube that the social network launched in the US a year ago, is now available in the rest of the world. Watch exists as a personalised video feed on Facebook and is designed to be a social experience, with users able to see comments other people are making on a show.

“We’re excited to announce that we’re making Facebook Watch available everywhere, giving people in Asia Pacific a new way to discover great videos and interact with friends, creators, and other fans,” said Saurabh Doshi, director of entertainment partnerships for Asia-Pacific in an emailed statement.

Doshi noted expanding Watch’s availability would create new opportunities for creators and publishers in the region, but noted Facebook “still had work to do.” No Asia-Pacific-specific funded content was announced for the launch. Instead, the global announcement highlighted the popularity in the US of shows such as Red Table Talk with Jada Pinkett Smith and Huda Boss by beauty mogul Huda Kattan.

But all Page videos are available to be published on Watch and Facebook says its focus will remain on video experiences that connect people. As examples, Facebook pointed out creators from Asia like Ms Yeah with over 3.5 million likes and 4.2 million followers, or How to Dad from New Zealand who has built a community of 1.8 million followers.

While Watch has struggled to gain traction with viewers since its US launch, Facebook head of video Fidji Simon said in a blog announcing the move that the total time spent watching videos in Watch has increased fourteen-fold since the start of 2018.

Source: campaignasia.com; 30 Aug 2018

Tencent Video leads OTT content market in China

Tencent Video to maintain its edge over rivals iQiyi and Youku over the coming years, according to eMarketer.

Tencent Video is the leader in China’s subscription over-the-top (OTT) video market, according to eMarketer’s latest market-share estimates, with Baidu-owned iQiyi and Alibaba-owned Youku the next two key players in a tight race.

eMarketer expects 24% out of 229 million people who watch video via a subscription streaming service that bypasses traditional distribution in China will subscribe to Tencent Video by the end of 2018, and that figure will surpass 29% by 2020. iQiyi and Youku are expected to attract 22.9% and 22% of subscribers respectively.

Youku secured rights to stream this year’s FIFA World Cup, resulting in anticipated growth in its subscriber base by 55% this year, stated eMarketer. This means Youku may overtake iQiyi for second place by the end of 2019.

“Competition in China’s OTT market, fuelled by growing internet connectivity and a broader shift toward internet entertainment, is cutthroat. As subscriber churn rates are high, content remains a critical part to improve user stickiness,” said eMarketer forecasting director Shelleen Shum.

Source: campaignasia.com; 24 July 2018

YouTube tweaks monetisation model in response to ‘adpocalypse’

Social video sharing platform YouTube is rolling out a “channel membership” paid subscription option to its top creators, following criticism that its latest ad policies make it hard for publishers to earn money.

In a model already employed by competitors such as Twitch and Patreon, the platform will let publishers with more than 100,000 fans charge $4.99 a month for access to exclusive content, while those with over 10,000 followers will be able to host live-streamed “premieres” and advertise merchandise beneath their videos.

YouTube updated its advertising policies in the wake of a number of complaints about popular brand ads appearing next to inappropriate content on the site, branding a large portion of videos “unsuitable for advertisers”.

However, this prompted a backlash from YouTube’s video-maker community who called the update the “adpocalypse”, many of which saw their income from advertising fall as a result.

Competitor pressure

The announcement from YouTube comes just days after Facebook launched Instagram TV (IGTV), enabling users to publish vertical videos of up to 60 minutes long on the popular photo-sharing app, in what Marketing Tech reported to be a bid to move in on YouTube’s long-form influencer marketing ad revenue.

While YouTube may have reacted to early rumours in launching its membership options today, it’s more likely the platform has been reconsidering its monetisation strategies in recent months in order to catch up with aforementioned rivals, Twitch and Patreon.

However, the launch of IGTV may have thrown a spanner in this plan, attracting influencers currently active on both YouTube and Instagram to consolidate their efforts onto the app, which may eventually result in a migration of some of its key creators.

Speaking to BBC News, editor of YouTube magazine TenEighty, Alex Brinnand, said; “Creators are largely in favour of the direct-to-creator monetisation options, as it offers them higher revenue from people who are passionate about watching their content.

“This is something we’ve seen on crowd-funding platforms for a long time now, so it is really interesting to see the online video industry adopt this revenue model.”

Source: marketingtechnews.net; 22 Jun 2018

Reddit to feature native video ads starting today

Reddit, the world’s third most popular website after Google and YouTube, is starting to roll out native video advertising across its website and mobile apps following a site-wide redesign. The company is launching the new ad format with select partners, but plans to eventually open it up to all advertisers later this summer, according to a blog post.

The video ads will only be served to redditors that are using the expanded card display layout which is the default of three new modes in Reddit’s latest redesign, which has been met with mixed reactions from users – many are opting to use the old design instead of the new one.

Reddit noted some interesting stats about video consumption in the blog post announcing the pre-roll ads:

– More than 2x video views, growing 23% each month since the start of 2018.
– The website is now averaging more than 5 million minutes of views per day.
– Since launching, videos uploaded via our native player receive twice as many views as YouTube videos on Reddit.
– Native video has taken off in a variety of communities and now accounts for as much as 20% of content in a number of major ‘subreddit’ communities such as r/oddlysatisfying, r/aww and r/FortniteBR for example.

The native video ads will be offered on a cost per view basis and is also offering video-only campaigns for the first time. VP of brand partnerships Zubair Jandali believes that the new format is adding to the utility that the company offers marketers, which are eager to tap the company’s base of 330 million monthly active users.

While Reddit’s website has remained relatively unchanged for the past five years, recently it has increased its product growth with a redesign of its mobile apps and desktop site. Part of that redesign includes giving users the ability to host images and video natively on the platform.

Source: marketing-interactive.com; 13 June 2018

Chinese spend 2 hours, 39 minutes on mobile every day: eMarketer

Contrary to popular belief, mobile screen time is only overtaking TV viewing time in China starting this year. But, mobile video time is growing by about 25% per year.

Smaller screens are set to eclipse television sets in terms of viewing time for the first time in China this year, according to a media forecast report by eMarketer.

Citing digital video as a key driver for increased mobile time, the report estimates that Chinese adults will spend 2 hours and 39 minutes a day on mobile devices. That accounts for close to half of their daily media time (41.6%), up 11.1 % compared to last year.

Nevertheless, TV viewing time is expected to decline by only 2%, to 2 hours and 32 minutes a day, making up 39.8% of daily media time.

The report further estimates that Chinese adults will spend 58 minutes per day this year watching video on mobile, up by nearly 26% year over year. They are expected to spend almost a third of their daily digital time watching video by 2020.

Shelleen Shum, forecasting director at eMarketer, noted that both commercial and user-generated content have had explosive growth over the past year. “Short video apps like Xigua and Kuaishou have received heavy investment in the past year to help commercialise content,” she said. “Ecommerce and news aggregator apps have also used short video content as a way to increase engagement among users.”

However, brand-safety issues and crackdowns by authorities may be a concern for advertisers on these popular platforms. News aggregator app Toutiao, as well as short video apps Kuaishou and Douyin came under scrutiny recently for misleading advertisements and inappropriate content.

Meanwhile, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent also announced investment into short video content during the past year. An eMarketer report released in January predicted that close to 229 million Chinese would watch video on OTT platforms this year. That amounts to about 37% of digital viewers in China, while more than two-fifths of digital viewers in China will subscribe to OTT services by 2019.

Source: campaignasia.com; 19 Apr 2018