Category Archives: Media and Telecom Industry Analysis

The video acronym that needs to die

Dish Network Corp.’s breakthrough online video service addresses a marketplace sweet spot with such earnestness and resolve that it’s a shame to see it tarred with that sour and pejorative acronym of the new video era: OTT.

Short for “over the top,” this three-letter malcontent of a descriptor has always been a sketchy way to label genuinely innovative and interesting video business models that make use of the Internet. Dish’s millennials-targeted Sling TV is the latest, and the boldest, of the bunch. Continue reading The video acronym that needs to die

How to make a TV commercial vanish

Here’s the trick question of the day: How do you make a 30-second mid-roll commercial break within a cable VOD stream vanish?

The answer: stop watching the on-demand video stream before the mid-roll break ever happens. When that happens, the video stream gets interrupted and the session gets torn down. So do the advertising breaks that were supposed to be planted within the forthcoming content.

It happens all the time in the online video space, where completion rates for requested videos vary wildly. But in the advanced cable advertising environment, there’s an extra complication that has to do with the business relationships between TV networks and local cable companies. Continue reading How to make a TV commercial vanish

Cable ad veteran Paul Woidke on the state of the biz

Had a chance to catch up with the dean of cable advertising technology, Paul Woidke, last week. Came away as always with some fresh ideas about where the business is going.

Woidke is cable advertising’s version of Leonard Zelig, the Woody Allen fictional character who managed to be just about everywhere. In the 1990s, Woidke was one of the instrumental figures in building Adlink, the Los-Angeles multichannel video advertising interconnect now owned by Time Warner Cable. There, he helped instigate early applications of digital video advertising distribution technology plus two ahead-of-their time applications for customizing advertising content (known as AdTag and AdCopy). Later, he (along with other Adlinkers including Charlie Thurston and Hank Oster) joined Comcast’s advertising sales group as SVP of technology, where he helped to shape the seminal industry standard for advanced ad delivery known as SCTE-130. Woidke is now SVP of strategy for Nagra, whose Eclipse line of software traffics close to 100 million spots a month for cable advertising partners.

Here’s Woidke on the state of the cable ad business today, and where it’s going tomorrow. Continue reading Cable ad veteran Paul Woidke on the state of the biz

Cable rep firm NCC: advancing the agenda

Not so ago, the cable-owned spot rep firm NCC Media was all about linear. With affiliation deals covering most of the cable markets in the U.S., NCC’s world rotated around the tried, true and tested 30-second commercial.

Brokering a share of the local commercial inventory controlled by its affiliates, NCC has made a living for years aligning national advertisers and brands with the sometimes-peculiar geographies and processes of the local cable ad business. Through NCC, an automaker with a line of convertible cars, for instance, could heavy up a spot cable ad campaign in sunshine markets where buyers are more likely to cruise with the top down. The advertiser would choose the markets, supply the creative and write the check, and NCC would go about the workmanlike tasks of getting the right spot to run in the right geographies, on the right cable systems and on the right networks.

Today, that essential process is still the bread-and-butter business of New York-based NCC. Last year the company delivered (drum roll here) more than 34 million 30-second spots across roughly 2,900 cable systems, according to President and CEO Greg Schaefer (pictured). That’s more than 2.8 million spots per month, or 94,000 per day, flowing through the advertiser-to-NCC-to-local cable ecosystem. Continue reading Cable rep firm NCC: advancing the agenda

How to make TV ads really valuable? Block (some) people from seeing them

Interesting point made by Blackarrow President Nick Troiano in a recent conversation about cable’s emerging advanced advertising marketplace. A big driver of value for advertisers, Troiano thinks, is the flipside of what theorists most often talk about, which is audience targeting.

Instead, Troiano suggests the real economic advantage comes from excluding people from seeing commercials.

You heard that right: One of the advantages of addressable television advertising is the ability to keep commercials away from certain viewing groups. In other words, it’s about excising the worry about wasted circulation that has haunted advertisers ever since the 19th century department store maven John Wanamaker uttered his famous bromide that “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Continue reading How to make TV ads really valuable? Block (some) people from seeing them

Buzzkill from the social TV front lines

The most notable thing about GetGlue’s agreement to be acquired isn’t who’s buying the social TV pioneer. It’s who isn’t.

The buyer, for the record, is Viggle Inc., a competitor in the social TV space that, like GetGlue, doles out rewards for people who use its social media application while watching television. The $110 million cash-plus-stock offer for GetGlue gets Viggle 35 employees, including Alex Iskold, GetGlue’s founder, and a registered user base that’s reported at around 3 million.

So them’s the numbers. What’s telling, though – and not in an altogether positive way for social TV – is that GetGlue’s exit ends up being something less grand than what enthusiasts have envisioned for the category. Lost Remote, a website for the social TV category, speculated in October GetGlue might attract interest from the likes of Twitter or Nielsen, for example. Instead, the buyer is a virtual-crosstown rival. Their merger – two smallish upstarts – does not signal an epochal moment for social-TV in the way that another sort of transaction could have. Continue reading Buzzkill from the social TV front lines

For Viamedia, cross-channel inventory is key

Cable TV ad rep firm Viamedia made its way into the business in an unorthodox way, by striking alliances with non-traditional video service providers like SureWest and Frontier Communications to sell local TV advertising inventory.

But the Lexington, Ky. company has discovered one key to growth is an entrenched staple of the business: cross-channel promotion for a video provider’s own products. Continue reading For Viamedia, cross-channel inventory is key

This Technology: alternative content is the splice of life

If you thought cable advertising was starting to get hyper-targeted before, here’s a news nugget that stretches the boundaries of the medium ever further.

Denver-based This Technology, a provider of software that injects dynamic video advertisements into on-the-fly video streams, has figured out a way not only to associate targeted ad spots within IP video streams that show up on tablets and smartphones, but to get targeted ad spots placed within alternative programming that’s used as a replacement for what’s normally on the air.

Dizzy? That makes two of us. Continue reading This Technology: alternative content is the splice of life

The tablet just ate my TV!

Today’s New York Times story points out how television set manufacturers hope to ignite lackluster sales by building improved “smart TV” functionality into their mainstay products. Among initiatives is a move by Roku, the nimble provider of Internet video electronics, to embed its platform into a new line of TV sets. Samsung and others also are said to be “bullish” about the budding prospects for smart TVs, which plant Internet connections, processing capability and operating systems into TV sets.

This notion of improving the big-screen TV experience by adding Internet connectivity and easy access to streaming applications is attractive if you’re a TV set maker looking for a growth story between now and sometime when Ultra HD really happens – if it ever does. Video streaming, as everyone knows, is the rising star of television, and the fact that millions of people have rigged up external devices to connect TVs to the Internet – video game systems and boxes like Apple TV and Roku among the notables – is proof positive of

But just as TV set makers get wise to the possibilities of built-in Internet connectivity, a more meaningful revolution is brewing that threatens to undercut the strategy: The TV set is being displaced.

By a little tablet computer. Continue reading The tablet just ate my TV!