By Rob Scott
April 4, 2011
In the wake of disappointing 3D TV sales for 2010 (due in large part to a lack of 3D content), this year may see new traction as television vendors switch their strategy to marketing 3D as one feature of new high-def sets, rather than the single selling point. More 3D content is on the horizon via cable and satellite TV channels, Blu-ray Discs and video games. Eventual adoption may also be impacted as consumers shoot their own video with 3D-enabled camcorders.
Disney’s ESPN 3D sports channel began broadcasting in mid-February — while Sony, Discovery and Imax launched their 3net channel the same month. Comcast and DirecTV already have 3D channels, and more than 100 3D channels worldwide are expected by 2015.
“Clearly, lack of content has been holding the market back,” explained Chris Chinnock, president of research firm Insight Media. “But one or two years into the HDTV transition there wasn’t much programming either … It took about seven years to reach 11 percent (household) penetration with HDTV.”
DisplaySearch predicts 6.6 million 3D TVs will ship in North America in 2011 (16 percent of the more than 40 million sets expected to be sold). The research and consulting firm is targeting 15.2 million 3D TVs to ship in 2012 (up 130 percent).
By Rob Scott
March 28, 2011
As alternatives to traditional cable TV services continue to be introduced, the discourse grows regarding whether or not consumers are ready to “cut the cord.” Recent data from ESPN and research firm SNL Kagan suggests that any cable subscriber losses are being offset by gains elsewhere. However, as a percentage, fewer households are subscribing to cable than in the previous year. And financial services firm Stifel Nicolaus recently reported that pay TV might not be making a comeback over the longer term. The research report indicates year-over-year subscriber growth was at a mere 0.3 percent during 2010 — “the lowest year-over-year growth on record.”
According to Stifel Nicolaus analyst Christopher King: “Cable operators have been quick to point to housing and the anniversary of the nationwide digital transition in 2009 as reasons for recent subscriber declines; however, our analysis suggests that growth in the pay TV market has underperformed household formation in recent quarters and the impact of the 2009 digital transition should no longer be an issue.”
The pay TV market is over-saturated (at more than 84 percent of households), and while many continue to blame the state of the economy and the saturation on the declining numbers, it is interesting to note that Netflix added 6.4 million subscribers during 2010. As the cost of pay TV subscriptions continue to rise, consumers are beginning to “further re-evaluate the value they place on traditional pay TV services which bodes well for the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Apple TV among others,” King wrote in the report.
Editor’s Note: For those interested, the GigaOM post “Cord Cutting Threat Ain’t Over Yet” features some very interesting charts including Pay TV Subscriber Growth 3Q09-4Q10, Pay TV Penetration 4Q06-4Q10, and Netflix Subscriber Growth 2010 (as compared to Pay TV).
By Rob Scott
March 28, 2011
Earlier this year, Mass Relevance commented on the possibility of “Social TV” developing from the interaction of Twitter and television. The post indicates that successful integration could, in fact, rescue live TV.
Addressing the NewTeeVee Live conference on this topic, Twitter Media team’s Robin Sloan discussed how Twitter has recently been used to enhance the live viewing experience, including: running commentary from reps of a given show, viewers tweeting about a program, and live integrated content where viewers tweet about the show and selected content is actually incorporated into the program. The posts suggests that this last approach is, “tremendously undervalued, and represents no less than a complete revolution for the television industry.”
Mass Relevance reports that tweeting to a show could create some dynamic possibilities for increasing viewer engagement. Examples include swapping out viewer mail segments on talk shows with live tweets, soliciting questions via live tweets on political commentary programs, and incorporating Twitter into the rapid-fire approach of sports analysis shows such as Pardon the Interruption on ESPN.
The report summarizes the win/win potential: “With the audience actively participating — to drive the direction of the show, to interact directly with TV celebrities from the comfort of their living rooms, and ultimately to see their name in lights — media companies will be rewarded with a truly engaged audience, something that is not possible in a DVR-recorded, time-shifted world. Since audience members only get this shot at notoriety by interacting with the show, they are effectively forced to watch it live. This social TV experience is good for the media companies (increased ad sales), good for the advertisers (increased exposure), and — if they’re smart enough or witty enough or artful enough in their Tweets — good for the watching participant (a shot at glory).”
By Rob Scott
March 28, 2011
Baseball and basketball fans can now turn to the second-generation Apple TV for live and on-demand archived games streaming in HD. The subscription service will cost $100/year for MLB.tv (spring training and regular season games and access to archived games). A $120 premium version provides access to both home and away games. Basketball games are accessible via the NBA League Pass Broadband service. The NBA service offers two options: a $65 version lets users follow up to seven teams throughout the regular season, while a $99 option provides games from all 30 teams.
Both services have blackouts based on the subscription’s registration address.
Access to the new services is enabled by the iOS for Apple TV 4.2 update, and will work similarly to Netflix. Users sign in via an account and password, and then access whatever content the subscription permits. Roku has offered similar MLB.tv access for some time and recently added NHL and UFC options. This could be what sports fans need to ditch traditional cable services.
In a related Wall Street Journal “All Things Digital” article (3/14/11), ESPN reports that only a tiny fraction of sports fans have cut the cable cord, a number that may be moot considering the equal number of fans who added cable and broadband access during the same period.