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Thread: Daily Satellite TV News

Hulu Plus cracks six million subs, invests in content Michelle Clancy | 01-05-2014 Hulu Plus, the paid arm of the

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    Hulu Plus cracks six million subs, invests in content

    Michelle Clancy | 01-05-2014

    Hulu Plus, the paid arm of the Hulu over-the-top (OTT) online video service, has now surpassed six million subscribers.

    And, when it comes to viewer engagement, on the desktop, consumers of the service spend an average of nearly 50 minutes per session and stay engaged for longer stretches than any other ad-supported premium video site in comScore's top 100.

    These successes aside, Hulu has been focused on widening its platform support. It has decided to make its advertising-supported content available via mobile devices for the first time, and Hulu in general is now accessible on more than 400 million Internet-connected devices in the United States, including Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Chromecast, and most recently, Amazon's new set-top box, Amazon Fire TV.

    "After redesigning our living room devices such as Roku and Wii-U, we saw average minutes viewed increase by over 30%," said Mike Hopkins, Hulu's CEO, in a broad-ranging company update. "And out of our tens of millions of viewers, there are 3,000 unique ways Hulu viewers access content on Hulu and Hulu Plus (for example, I watch on my iPad and Apple TV)."

    Along with subscriber growth and distribution comes content investments. Hopkins said that over the next year, Hulu will more than triple its content marketing spend to grow awareness for, and interest in, Hulu Originals.

    "It's not enough for us to simply invest in acquiring and producing great shows ... we want to make sure viewers know where to find them – only on Hulu and Hulu Plus," he said.

    So far, Hulu has ordered a second season of Deadbeat, which has become one of the most watched shows on the service in its first few weeks since airing, and has set premiere dates for second season returns of the Awesomes, Quick Draw and East Los High. Also, the Chris O'Dowd comedy Moone Boy has returned for its second season.

    Niche content is a focus, too. "Doozers, our first Hulu Original for Hulu Kids, debuted and is setting the pace among the most popular shows on the kids' hub with its first seven episodes," Hopkins said. "Meanwhile, acclaimed sports mascot docu-series Behind the Mask is up for the Sports Emmy next week, which garnered Hulu its first Emmy nomination for a Hulu Original. On May 28, internationally beloved teen dance drama The Next Step debuts in the US just before the highly-anticipated return of breakthrough teen drama East Los High."

    And in July, Hulu plans to debut reality TV satire Hotwives of Orlando.

    The company has also launched three new ad units. The In-Stream Purchase Unit, set to roll out later this year with Pizza Hut as a launch partner, will enable consumers to make an order for pick-up or delivery without leaving the Hulu environment.

    "With our effective targeting capabilities, this new innovation allows advertisers to target the right demographic, at the right time – all while allowing viewers to immediately pick up where they left off once their order is placed."

    Cross platform interactive ads meanwhile use an algorithm that predicts the appropriate audience for the given brand, and serves an interactive ad that's optimised for the user's device. Corona Extra will launch the first campaign, across mobile devices.

    And, the Hulu 360 Ad takes into account the device a viewer is on, and goes "beyond the traditional video ad to serve a groundbreaking viewing experience."

    Hulu is also partnering with comScore for multi-platform measurement at an individual viewer level that includes co-viewership for living room devices, Hopkins noted.

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    Time Warner nearly doubles profits to reach $1.29BN

    Michelle Clancy | 01-05-2014

    Media giant Time Warner had a nice turnaround in earnings for its first quarter, reporting a $1.29 billion profit, or $1.42 per share, up from just $754 million, or $0.79 per share, one year ago.

    The firm (not to be confused with the No 2 US cable MSO and $45 billion target of Comcast's affections, Time Warner Cable), clocked revenues of $7.55 billion in the quarter, compared with the prior-year figure of $6.94 billion, beating analyst estimates of $6.61 billion. Excluding Time Inc, which it's in the process of divesting, quarterly revenues increased 10% to $6.8 billion in the first quarter of 2014 due to growth at Warner Bros, Turner and Home Box Office.

    Including Time Inc, adjusted income per share from continuing operations were $0.91, a 20% increase from $0.76 last year and beating analyst expectations of $0.88 for the quarter. Excluding Time Inc, the firm posted adjusted earnings per share of $0.97, versus $0.77 for the year-ago quarter, reflecting higher adjusted operating income and fewer shares outstanding.

    Further, the board declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.3175 per share, payable in cash on 15 June 2015 to stockholders of record as of May 31, 2014.

    Time Warner also updated its full-year 2014 outlook. With the company's separation of Time Inc likely to be completed in the second quarter of 2014, Time Warner expects its full-year growth rate in adjusted income per share to be in the low teens off a 2013 adjusted earnings per share base of $3.51. Analysts are more bullish and expect the company to report $3.94 per share for 2014.

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    Vevo takes online video distribution to Mexico

    Juan Fernandez Gonzalez | 01-05-2014

    The online music video distributor Vevo is to start operating in Mexico, offering a catalogue of over 100,000 videos and shows. The platform will be available through Vevo.com and mobile apps.

    The service is already broadcasting in the country through YouTube Music and, according to the news agency Notimex, this alliance won't be broken despite Vevo's independent launch.

    Through the new channel, the Mexican audience will receive official music videos and original shows produced by Vevo TV, as well as concerts in HD. The mobile platform will be available on computers, iOS, Android and Windows Mobile.

    Vevo decided to launch in Mexico, the country which completes the platform's presence in the larger North American markets, following the success of the YouTube service. In the last month, the Mexican viewers have played Vevo's content on YouTube over 500 million times.

    Vevo Mexico will be integrated into the company's international hub. "Our Mexican viewers consume a great amount of music videos, and we want to take this experience to a new, higher level," said Nic Jones, international senior VP at Vevo.

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    Nickelodeon lands in Madrid theme park

    Juan Fernandez Gonzalez | 01-05-2014

    In times of mobile screens, multimedia applications and augmented reality, Viacom International has found yet another route to bring the country's most popular cartoon characters to life, by opening a Nickelodeon-branded attraction in Madrid.

    Nickelodeon has taken its characters, interactive shows and attractions to Parque de Atracciones de Madrid. Nickelodeon Land will feature 15,000sq m of customised Nickelodeon-branded attractions starring in by its most popular cartoons, including Dora, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob and Patrick Star.

    "We are thrilled to bring this new Nickelodeon attraction to our fans in Spain through our partnership with Parque de Atracciones de Madrid," said Gerald Raines, VP for recreation business development at Nickelodeon. "Nickelodeon Land will give kids and families in Spain, and those who visit the park from surrounding regions, the opportunity to experience our Nickelodeon characters in a new way."

    Nickelodeon Land at Parque de Atracciones de Madrid will join several other Nickelodeon-branded attractions and parks around the world such as Nickelodeon Universe in Minneapolis' Mall of America, SeaWorld on the Gold Coast in Australia and Nickelodeon Land at Pleasure Beach Blackpool in the UK.

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    BBC Latin America takes formats to LA Screenings

    Juan Fernandez Gonzalez | 01-05-2014

    BBC Worldwide Latin America, the BBC's commercial subsidiary, will take ten new international productions to market at the LA Screenings event which takes place in Los Angeles from 16 May.

    The British network will present The Fear, a Mafia drama; the natural history series Dolphins Spy in the Pod; and the medical drama Junior Doctors USA. In addition, it will premiere The Beckham Documentary which was filmed using Red Epic cameras, enabling 4K resolution.

    The BBC will also present another documentary, the Monkeys Revealed, while the drama section will be completed with the series Prey. Two children's shows - Sarah & Duck and Dinopaws - the music programme Artifact and the comedy Mr Sloane will be the other formats showcased at the event.

    "This year we will take a variety of content to illustrate the BBC's diversity," said Fred Medina, VP and director at BBC Worldwide for Latin America and the US' Hispanic audience. "We really trust titles like The Fear and Dolphins; we believe they will achieve success in the region."

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    AT&T poised for $40BN DirecTV acquisition

    Editor | 01-05-2014

    Leading US financial news outlets are reporting that communications giant AT&T is set to make a pay-TV market-disrupting acquisition of US satellite firm DirectTV in a deal worth $40 billion.

    According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, a buyout has been prompted by Comcast's prospective $45 billion acquisition of fellow cableco Time Warner Cable. If the deal goes ahead, and it would be subject to the same regulatory scrutiny, AT&T would be able to rival Comcast in terms of size and reach in a company boasting 26 million TV subs, six million of which would be from the AT&T U-Verse service. Analysts also believe that arch-rival Verizon would feel the need to make its own similar strategic acquisition.

    To date neither AT&T nor DirecTV has commented on any possible takeover.

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    Churn watch: Cable MSOs can use OTT to woo back customers

    Michelle Clancy | 01-05-2014

    Cable MSOs have more to gain from the over-the-top (OTT) video than they do to lose from it, a survey from IE Market Research asserts.

    The research shows that just over three-quarters of those respondents who have cut the cord or reduced the size of their subscription stated that they would reconsider if they were given one service that aggregates all video content, in a hybrid TV service.

    Thanks to clear strengths in customer experience, providing one service that enables subscribers to search, discover and consume their video content from both MSO and OTT sources can help retain subscribers and drive future revenue growth, the report found. In fact, 66% of all respondents said they would prefer that option, and of those, 40% would be prepared to pay more for such a service. In fact, customers are prepared to pay up to 10% more for outstanding experience in the areas of content (62%), multiscreen provisioning (44%), user interface (30%) and customer service (25%). An ideal pay-TV service would include additional services such as video gaming (23%), social media (21%), music (18%) and user-generated content (17%).

    "The survey shows that in this challenging time for the pay-TV market, including competition from OTT players leading to cord-cutting and cord-shaving and the need to deliver a next-generation TV experience, MSOs have some clear strengths that can be leveraged both in terms of customer experience and the actual viewing experience," said Nizar Assanie, vice president of IE Market Research.

    He added: "By understanding customer preferences for every aspect of the customer experience ‒ from selling and billing to support and consumption – MSOs can leverage their strengths and emerging services to retain their customers and drive growth. People are looking towards their MSOs to be the single source of their video and entertainment consumption."

    MSOs are already viewed by respondents as outperforming OTT players in terms of customer service (92%), content (89%) and video quality (83%), while the most complaints about OTT players' performance centre on content (39%) and customer service (22%).

    However, the shape of the packages matter. For instance, half of consumers polled would like to pay only for the channels or content they watch in an Š la carte model, 19% want a basic package plus only the channels and content they watch, and 31% want a one-size-fits-all package. 31% also said they wanted this one-size-fits-all package as part of a larger bundle of communication services.

    "The combination of Amdocs' CES 9.1 portfolio, strategic partnerships and services enables MSOs to deliver next-generation TV experiences that ensure MSOs can capitalise on all aspects of the viewing experience," said Rebecca Prudhomme, vice president for product and solutions marketing at Amdocs, which sponsored the survey.

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    Despite the hype, Millennials aren't cutting the cord, that much

    Michelle Clancy | 01-05-2014

    A report from eMarketer shows that the current buzz about cord-cutting is ahead of actual behaviour.

    The proliferation of digital video has raised the spectre of large-scale cord-cutting by Millennials, or those aged 18-29. The plausible premise is that this young demographic gets so much video online that they see little incentive to pay for cable or satellite service or for premium channels. But that premise hasn't quite translated to reality.

    "Millennials are indeed more likely than their elders to forgo pay-TV services, as one would expect of people who have tight budgets and the technological savvy to access tons of free online video," the firm said. "But they have yet to cut those cords en masse."

    Quantitative data backs this up: November 2013 polling from Verizon Digital Media Services found that just 13% of Millennials making do without any pay-TV service — a higher number than for non-Millennials (9%), but not high enough to count as widespread in absolute terms.

    There are signs, however, that the movement away from pay-TV, as slow as it may be, is inexorable. An Altman Vilandrie & Company survey in July 2013 found that 47% of 18-24-year-olds and 40% of 25-34-year-olds spent less on cable due to the availability of digital video, eMarketer pointed out.

    "There is some basis for the perception that Millennials want to spend less for TV service," the report said. "One caveat: People sometimes profess a greater frugality than they really practise."

    Meanwhile, an Ipsos MediaCT report from October 2013 gave a sense of the mixed state of play on this issue. While fewer than one in ten Millennials identified themselves as cord-cutters or 'cord-nevers', about three in ten said they had reduced pay service within the six months before being queried.

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    Viacom to buy Channel 5 for £450MN

    Editor | 01-05-2014

    While many assumed BSkyB would swoop following Discovery's withdrawal from the bidding race, Viacom has swept in to acquire UK broadcaster Channel 5.

    Even though Channel 5 owner Richard Desmond will not get the £700 million he was reportedly looking for in the sale of the UK's fifth largest broadcasting outfit, he will receive more than four times the initial investment of £103 million made by his Northern & Shell company in 2010. Under Desmond's stewardship, Channel 5 — heavily cross-promoted by Desmond's stable of UK newspapers — returned to profitability and posted operating profits of £20.6 million in the first half of 2013 compared with a £16.1 million loss a year earlier.

    "Since Northern & Shell's acquisition of Channel 5 in 2010, the financial and operating performance of the business has been transformed with improved audiences and content offering," commented Channel 5 COO Paul Dunthorne. "The combination of Channel 5 with Viacom's global resources, technology and expertise adds further to the momentum of the business and offers numerous exciting opportunities for the channel's future."

    The Channel 5 portfilio will incliude not only the core channel itself but also the multichannel 5* and 5USA services, the Milkshake! pre-school children's programming offering and the Demand 5 video-on-demand service, which is claimed to be offered on more viewing platforms than any other commercial broadcaster in the UK, and delivered over 23 million views in January 2014.

    Viacom - which boasts media networks reaching approximately 700 million global customers watching including MTV, VH1, CMT, Logo, BET, CENTRIC, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, TeenNick, Nicktoons, Nick at Nite, COMEDY CENTRAL, TV Land, SPIKE, Tr3s, Paramount Channel and VIVA - says the transaction will provide it with the "programming grid prominence" associated with Channel 5's public service broadcaster status, and will complement its pay-TV networks. It believes that its global resources, technology and expertise would help Channel 5 develop "more compelling programming" and provide content to consumers "in exciting new ways."

    "The acquisition of Channel 5 accelerates Viacom's strategy in the UK, one of the world's most important and valuable media markets," commented Viacom President and CEO Philippe Dauman. "Channel 5's momentum is indisputable, with impactful programming, increasing popularity and a growing digital platform. Channel 5's management and employees have done an outstanding job building their brand and we are pleased to welcome them to our team."

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    Sky TV growth spikes with Paramount, PlayStation deals set to kick in

    Joseph O'Halloran | 01-05-2014

    UK pay-TV giant BSkyB has resuscitated its previously flat-lining TV service in what it has described as a strong quarter of growth despite falls in profit.

    In addition, and indicating where it sees the key future areas of growth to be, it has reported record viewing figures for English Premier League football for which it holds premium rights. It has also struck a key content deal with Paramount Pictures and inked a deal with Sony Computer Entertainment UK to make the multiscreen Sky Go and the NOW TV over-the-top (OTT) services available on the PlayStation (PS4) game console.

    Regarding financial performance, for the nine-month period ended 31 March 2014, Sky generated revenue of £5.666 billion, up 6.6% year-on-year. However the £1.2234 billion EBITDA and operating profit of £910 million were down by 2.4% and 8.5% respectively compared with the corresponding period a year earlier.

    For the third quarter of the year, Sky added 764,000 new paid-for subscription products, meaning 2.4 million in the year to date. Among these were 74,000 net new TV customers, more than double growth in QI 2013. Sky added that connected TV services were ahead of plan and delivering clear benefits and that almost half of its TV customers were now connected and that on-demand usage tripled year-on-year. By the end of the quarter there were a total 3.7 million Sky Go unique users, up 13% year-on-year.

    The pay-TV firm also revealed that its flagship SkySports service has already set new records for live Premier League football with two weekends remaining as what it calls the most exciting Premier League season in years reaches its climax. Sky Sports customers have set new records for viewing across TV and mobile and based on data for the season so far, average audiences for live matches on Sky Sports are up 7% on last and dispute huge competition from a buoyant BT, Sky noted that 49 of the season's 50 most-watched Premier League matches were live on Sky Sports.

    Commenting on the year to date Jeremy Damrosch, chief executive, said: "We have had a strong third quarter and continued to grow at an accelerated rate as customers respond to the quality and breadth of our offering. Nine months into our plans for the year, we have added almost a third more new paid-for subscription products than in the same period last year. We are making good progress in developing new revenue streams. Our targeted advertising service, AdSmart, is attracting many new advertisers to Sky while our new Buy & Keep service in Sky Store opens up the DVD purchase marketplace for the first time."

    The new multi-year licensing agreement with Paramount Pictures will bring Sky Movies customers exclusive access, during the first pay-TV window, to current hit titles such as Noah, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, as well as future releases such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers: Age of Extinction. Sky Movies will be the first subscription service in the UK and Ireland to show new Paramount Pictures movies. Sky Movies customers will be able to enjoy exclusive access to new titles from Paramount around eight months after they are released in cinemas. Once on Sky Movies, the films will be available exclusively on the service for more than a year.

    As part of the Sony deal, Sky users will be able to watch NOW TV on the PS4 from this summer with Sky Go becoming available later in 2014. NOW TV customers will be able to connect their PS4 to their TV and home Wi-Fi to watch the OTT service's content on their main TV as part of their subscriptions. Meanwhile Sky TV customers will be able to watch TV from Sky Go on a PlayStation3 (PS3) or PS4 for the first time.


 

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