07 August, 2015

News Views

Welcome to News Views, CASBAA’s news round-up culled from sources across the industry for the week ending Aug 7th. Curated by CASBAA, News Views keeps you in the loop. We always value your feedback, so tell us what you think!

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Christopher Slaughter

Christopher Slaughter

CEO

We keep talking about the many ways OTT services are different to broadcast, but they also face many of the same problems; chief among them, subscriber churn. A recent US report tracked 75 OTT services (!!!!) and found that smaller  players are seeing churn rates close to 60%, and even the bigger players have worryingly high rates of subscriber drop-out. Meanwhile, HBO’s online service, HBO NOW, seems to be defying that trend so far, although analysts disagree on estimated subscriber numbers (registration required) since the service launched in April. The company isn’t disclosing the numbers, but is “extremely pleased” with how the service has been received — and with the fact that less than 1% of cable subscribers have dropped their bundles to go online-only.
John Medeiros

John Medeiros

Chief Policy Officer

In case you missed it… last week’s exchange about Facebook video was thought-provoking. First, YouTube star Hank Green criticized Facebook for “lying, cheating, and stealing” with regard to its video plays. Among other things, he pointed out that counting three seconds of auto-roll playback as a video “view” is a joke. (There are some interesting analytics of the different video platforms here.) A Facebook exec responded, defending (not very persuasively) the company’s practices, claiming that they take IP rights seriously. And that engendered further commentary, and attention to “the blaring failure that is Facebook’s efforts to protect intellectual property in their videos,” according to a Techcrunch blogger, who opined that if Facebook wants a future in the video industry, it should be wary that its “mantra of ‘move fast and break things’ is going to end up pissing off a lot of the video creators that they’ll likely soon be relying on to grow their service further.”
Mark Lay

Mark Lay

Vice President, Singapore

Lots to consider as this business morphs. There are definitely more, but here are 5 reasons broadcasters need an OTT strategy. Also, in a time when anyone with a cameraphone can create a “channel” re/code explains why it’s a fragile moment for big media. And, with the various social networks attracting billions of users is audience ownership becoming harder to sustain. Then there is the switch to 4K. But how to get programming to the TV when the cable box is only HD. FOX has done a deal with Western Digital for 4K UHD movies. The box comes pre-loaded with a few movies and additional content can be purchased via on-line retailers. Which leads me to wonder if OTT will be what drives 4K adoption. Lots to consider, indeed.

Kevin Jennings

Programme Director

Sad news from Britain’s TV Land with media outlets reporting that Cilla Black died  at the weekend. Cilla had already cut a successful music career in the 1960s with 19 consecutive UK Top 40 hits, including 11 top 10 singles before she turned her attention to television, establishing herself as one of the most in-demand presenters of her day, regularly commanding audiences over 20 million. She was the first woman to have her own prime-time show on BBC and went on to become the highest paid female performer on British TV with LWTs Blind Date on ITV in the 1980s.
Desmond Chung

Anjan Mitra

Executive Director, India

A Twitterrati observed his bookmarks paled in comparison with government’s list of 800+ porn websites to be blocked by ISPs. Jokes like this flooded social media when Indian Government announced the list. But days after widespread outrage on what seemed more of right wing moral policing vis-a-vis adult choice and freedom, government hamhandedly backtracked taking refuge behind technicalities, saying only child porn should be made off limits and put the onus of doing so on ISPs who rightly termed the rollback vague. Commentators said such bans are like treading a slippery slope, but one critic aptly summed it stating government’s naiveté would indeed have been charming were it not so misplaced.
Desmond Chung

Jane Buckthought

Advertising Consultant

Currently, advertising is the biggest component of the over-the-top (OTT) TV and video revenue pie in Asia-Pacific. According to estimates from Digital TV Research Ltd., advertisers in the region spent $1.61 billion on the channel last year, compared with $1.03 billion in subscription revenues. But as both figures grow, a switch is expected by 2020, when subscriptions will bring in $4.76 billion and ads $4.35 billion.
Christopher Slaughter

Christopher Slaughter

CEO

In the US, the Television Critics Association‘s annual summer tour is underway, and this week, Amazon Studios  hogged the spotlight, starting with their announcement about closing a deal with the Top Gear team. The nature of the TCA tour means lots of stories along similar lines, although there are somewhat different takes that do emerge from the same briefing sessions.
Christopher Slaughter

Christopher Slaughter

CEO

Continued fallout from the whole BBC licence fee imbroglio; now commercial rival ITV seems to be getting ready to sue if catch-up TV viewers are required to pay licence fees. (Bear in mind, the story seems to have been broken by Sky News, which, of course, competes with both ITV and the Beeb.) Meanwhile, just to add to the delightful summer Auntie has had so far, the BBC’s Royal Charter is up for renewal, a process which ensures the domestic debate will carry on for some time yet.
John Medeiros

John Medeiros

Chief Policy Officer

The North Korea-inspired hack of Sony’s emails has produced public evidence of how even innocuous sci-fi films are edited to take China’s content sensitivities into account. In this commentary, Reuters observes that not only content going into China is affected — global content is being altered to suit Beijing’s censors. Reuters itself is no stranger to the censors’ lash, as its services were blocked in C