08 May, 2015

News Views

Welcome to News Views, CASBAA’s news round-up culled from sources across the industry for the week ending May 8th. Curated by CASBAA, News Views keeps you in the loop. We always value your feedback, so tell us what you think!

Brought to you by:

now TV
Christopher Slaughter

Christopher Slaughter

CEO

In the US, the upfronts are almost about to start, and despite the fact that the annual network dog-and-pony show that began in 1948 is regularly derided as irrelevant, there are plenty of reasons why TV is still sold the way it is. But there is also no question that the upfront market dynamics are changing, largely because of competition from the digital space, as highlighted at the seventh iteration of the NewFronts last week and this week. This is the third year the market has been organised by the IAB, and the event is definitely gaining in importance among media buyers. A somewhat more manic version of the upfronts, as highlighted in a snarky video made by the “Honest Trailers” guys (who are themselves part of digital media company Defy), the message at this year’s NewFronts is clear: even though TV still has a bigger audience, millennials are online.
John Medeiros

John Medeiros

Chief Policy Officer

CASBAA led the way: NCTA President Michael Powell told the audience at INTX (rebranded Cable Show) this week that really, he hates the name “Cable Show” which needed to be retired, because after all “your past can be a part of your glory but it also can be a weight around your ankle. And it also doesn’t fairly capture what (we) do.” Well. At CASBAA we gave up the “cable and satellite” words four years ago. They’re still a part of our history, but this industry today is so much more. So we gave up the words, and kept the initials. And we’re happy to have the NCTA follow our lead. (But what does INTX mean, anyway?)

Elsewhere, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts summed up his company’s stance: “Thank You, Time Warner Cable, but we’re moving on.” He then went on to poke fun at his own disasters, playing a cute video that likened the ill-fated merger to an exploding package. I guess his Board must have a sense of humor.

Meanwhile, another session featured all the other major US cable CEOs (less Comcast’s Roberts) talking about the hottest issues confronting the industry there. It’s all online if you want to watch. FCC Chairman Wheeler spoke just before them, and they all trashed his plan for increasing regulation of the industry. And the Cablevision CEO publicly asked Time Warner cable to buy his company… sending his stock up 7%!

Mark Lay

Mark Lay

Vice President, Singapore

The deal between Comcast and Time Warner Cable in the US might be off, but neither company is standing still. First-quarter earnings results from each company provided interesting insights; Comcast is now officially an Internet service provider with a side business in cable TV.  (That’s not actually a bad business, since SNL Kagan estimates cash flow margins for Internet were 60 percent for cable companies at the end of last year, while video margins were 17 percent.) Meanwhile, Time Warner cable has added new subscribers in all areas of its business, and it’s in discussions with Charter again, this time about a “friendly” merger.
Desmond Chung

Jane Buckthought

Advertising Consultant

In an on again –off again saga the newly launched television audience measurement Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) in Indiawas asked to stop releasing ratings by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting this week over issues related to its registration. Meanwhile the rival and incumbent Television Audience Measurement (TAM) has said its business as usual and will continue releasing rating data. Then in an apparent about face the MIB have said the matter is resolved andBARC can continue to release ratings after all. With some companies already having declared their intention not to renew their TAMsubscription and probably breathing a sigh of relief, the most obvious thing was this was never going to be straightforward.
Desmond Chung

Anjan Mitra

Executive Director, India

Here’s an interesting take on the Net Neutrality issue, by a UK-based consulting firm. They note that the rise of online broadcasting has made what was a “technical” issue (access to websites) into a much more commercial one: who pays whom, and how much, for carriage of TV content. And because the issue is now about TV, it involves a lot more complicated equities, including things like national content support, media plurality, etc. etc. Welcome to the world of the Tilted Playing Field, boys. (Warning: there aren’t any answers in the paper – just questions!)

Kevin Jennings

Programme Director

In a move that some would say has been too slow in coming German TV ratings will now start to include YouTube and other online video platforms in its viewing data, including reach. It’s a step in the right direction for sure and means we will see a slew of other markets following suit if they aren’t already working their way down this path ( some countries in Asia are being very progressive in this area, others – not so much). It’s still not a perfect system as online video usage will be monitored by collecting data from an Nielsen’s online panel and GfK’s cross media panel rather than using more precise digital measurement on servers…but we can expect to see a chunk of advertising revenuemove online once there is a uniform currency.
Christopher Slaughter

Christopher Slaughter

CEO

Over the May Day weekend, I was with a group of friends in Phuket, where we watched the big Manny Pacquiao/Floyd Mayweather fight on True Visions. Of course, the broadcast was in Thai, so we were second-screening like crazy, getting our colour commentary from live blogs and Twitter, a very 21st-century TV experience for such a decidedly non-millennial group. Turns out, though, that the real millennial experience was happening on Twitter-owned livestreaming app Periscope, which a worryingly large number of people were using to watch “shared” live streams of the televised fight — in short, pirating it. The app is being blamed for a loss in pay-per-view orders, although it clearly had nothing to do with Manny’s loss in the title bout. Still, the whole debacle highlights the challenges Twitter faces in wooing the media companies from whom it is also inadvertently helping people steal content.
Mark Lay

Mark Lay

Vice President, Singapore

Vice has come a long way from being a Canadian government funded magazine in 1984 to recently receiving funding from 21st Century Fox ($70 mil), A+E Networks ($250 mil) and another $100 mil for a joint venture with Rogers Communications. Last week we heard rumors that Vice may be heading into the mainstream by coming out with a full channel, possibly as a rebranding for A+E’s H2. But as Vice moves more to TV possibly they will tone down their lineup somewhat from shows such as “Weediquette” and “Gaycation”. That may not matter though, as its CEO says Vice TV Network has already sold three years’ worth of ad time.
Christopher Slaughter

Christopher Slaughter

CEO

Speaking of “Weediquette”, our favourite web series “High Maintenance” is joining the big leagues, with a six-episode deal on HBO. The show’s online video partner Vimeo is calling the deal “bittersweet”, and while acknowledging the primacy of TV, looks forward to a time when online and broadcast are on a more equal footing. Meanwhile, a number of YouTube stars have been