Real-Time Entertainment Traffic: Have We Entered a Post-PC Era?

  • According to the new “Global Internet Phenomena Report” from broadband solutions provider Sandvine, North Americans have officially embraced the “post-PC” era.
  • The report suggests that for the first time, U.S. consumers are using their gaming consoles, smartphones and tablets more than PCs for entertainment.
  • “[We have] entered a post-PC era, in which the majority of real-time entertainment traffic on North America’s fixed access networks is destined for devices other than a laptop or desktop computer,” Sandvine reports. “Game consoles, settop boxes, smart TVs, tablets, and mobile devices being used within the home combine to receive 55 percent of all real-time entertainment traffic.”
  • Interesting stats from the “Beyond Bytes” infographic: 96 percent of broadband subscribers use real-time entertainment each month, 83 percent of broadband users access YouTube videos each month (compared to 20 percent for Netflix), and real-time entertainment as a percentage of peak period downstream traffic has doubled since 2009.

Home Video: Star Wars Collection Drives Major Surge in Blu-ray Sales

  • Last month saw a surprise boom in home entertainment as Blu-ray sales surged 156 percent over the previous year during the week of September 18.
  • Sales were also up 131 percent for the week prior and 60 percent the week before that.
  • The release of high-profile titles including “X-Men: First Class,” “Thor,” and “Star Wars” made significant sales, boosting overall numbers.
  • The $140 six-movie “Star Wars” collection was the biggest seller, possibly due to retailers such as Amazon and Walmart heavily discounting the set to as low as $80.
  • “Studios are starting to bring the crown jewels out of the vault for BD release,” said IHS video analyst Jan Saxton. “That, coupled with the first releases from a very strong summer box office, has the potential to turn the movie disc market around. Weak DVD sales have continually dragged the market down in 2011.”

TV Viewers Like their Tablets and Phones: Stay Tuned for More Innovation

  • A new study from Nielsen shows that approximately 40 percent of tablet and smartphone owners use their devices on a daily basis while simultaneously viewing television. The figures jump to 70 percent for users who do the same several times a week.
  • Most of these viewers are primarily checking email, followed by surfing information and accessing social networks, suggesting strong potential for second-screen applications.
  • The study suggests users are accessing social networks more than websites with information related to the TV program. “Unfortunately, the study doesn’t break down if people are 1) participating or just listening to social conversations and 2) if the conversations are related to the TV program at hand,” reports Lost Remote. “But it’s probably safe to say that more viewers are more inclined to talk about (or listen to) conversations about a TV show than proactively look up expanded content about it.”
  • Successful second-screen apps should bring together “social conversations, expanded content and interactive (even synchronized) advertising,” suggests the article. “Compelling second-screen experiences, in theory, will move the needle more in the ‘related’ direction, making TV viewers more engaged overall.”

Film Fades to Black: How Close is Hollywood to Going All-Digital?

  • Creative COW asks if film is getting ready to fade to black: “While the debate has raged over whether or not film is dead, ARRI, Panavision and Aaton have quietly ceased production of film cameras within the last year to focus exclusively on design and manufacture of digital cameras. That’s right: someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.”
  • “The demand for film cameras on a global basis has all but disappeared,” says Bill Russell, ARRI VP of cameras. “If you talk to the people in camera rentals, the amount of film camera utilization in the overall schedule is probably between 30 to 40 percent.”
  • While film may not be dead, it is most certainly on the decline. Digital production is on the rise, and for those still interested in shooting on film, used cameras are available.
  • “Almost nobody is buying new film cameras,” says Aaton founder Jean-Pierre Beauviala. “Why buy a new one when there are so many used cameras around the world?”
  • Stereoscopic 3D production may also be “accelerated the demise of film” says Beauviala, since it is “a nightmare to synchronize two film cameras.”
  • Russell predicts that film will eventually disappear, although the exact date is unknown. Phil Radin, executive VP of worldwide marketing at Panavision suggests the timing will be decided by the availability of resources. “Film will be around as long as Kodak and Fuji believe they can make money at it,” he says.

Cord-Cutting: Report Predicts Homes without Cable Will Triple by 2016

  • A new report from media forecasting firm Magnaglobal shows that by 2016 cable subscriptions will dramatically decline as online becomes the medium of choice.
  • Magnaglobal predicts that 9 million households will not subscribe to traditional pay TV services (triple today’s amount), of which 4 million will be cord cutters who cancel their service to opt for content via the Internet.
  • Additionally, The New York Times points out that the number of young consumers who have never signed up for cable or satellite service, but rely on services such as Hulu and Netflix for their media, will continue to grow. “The number of people who never signed up for cable is expected to double — to 5 million, from 2.5 million today — by 2016, according to the report.”
  • The growth of DVR ownership is also expected to decline, as consumers continue to adopt devices that enable streaming of content via the Web.

Author Asks: Are Tablets Changing the Way We Read and Write?

  • While tablets essentially allow users to have an entire bookstore in their hands, they also may lead to a reduction in readers’ attention to the content within the books.
  • Books require your attention to have a serious conversation with them. This conversation can become broken when we flip to another book, movie or social media connection. Today, there is less downtime (time required to “engage” with the written word) and more desire for immediate electronic stimulation.
  • “Many embrace this kind of electronic Darwinism as not only inevitable but preferable: complete freedom of choice — choice of what to buy and consume — has long been a mantra of the marketplace, and its advantages are inarguable,” writes novelist Andrew Winer for The Wall Street Journal. “But the marketplace has also produced its share of inconvenient effects, and, in the case of handheld screens, whether in tablet, phone, or e-reader form, it’s hard not to notice a few. A loss of good conversation may be one of them; a loss of good contemplation may be another.”
  • Tablets are also impacting the way writers engage with content, as Winer suggests, “here I’m speaking about how I use a book: how I write in its margins, in between its lines, even over its words. A writer reads a book and records the ensuing conversation/argument, throwing in her or his new ideas for good measure. Sure, the tablets and e-readers allow you to take notes, but the keyboards are clumsy and accessing the notes for later use clunky.”
  • Additionally, content offerings are being impacted by these technologies as an increasing number of authors are choosing to write about these trends “by producing works that celebrate (even as they mock) our addiction to the technological drip and the short attention spans entrained by that addiction.”
  • What are your thoughts? Are you able to “engage” with a book in the same way on a tablet?

Will Big Data Help Shape the Next Market Winners and Losers?

  • Forrester Research defines big data as “techniques and technologies that make handling data at extreme scale affordable.” The research firm estimates that companies effectively utilize less than 5 percent of available data, and further suggests that big data will help companies use information to dominate the competition in their market.
  • “It seems that every week another vendor slaps ‘big data’ into its marketing material – and it’s going to get worse,” writes Forrester analyst Brian Hopkins for Forbes. “Should you look beyond the vendor hype and pay attention? Absolutely yes! Why? Because big data has the potential to shape your market’s next winners and losers.”
  • Big data is not only concerned with the volume of information but also in velocity, variety and variability of data, since “data is usually generated so fast that you need to constantly capture more of it to be valuable for some decisions.”
  • The write-up in Forbes is promoting Forrester’s new report, “Expand Your Digital Horizon With Big Data.” From the executive summary: “At extreme scale, traditional data management and business intelligence (BI) become impractical, and your business does not get what it demands — more insight to drive greater business performance. Big data helps firms work with extremes to deliver value from data cost-effectively.
  • However CIOs must understand that this is not business as usual. In fact, big data will disrupt the data management landscape by changing fundamental notions about data governance and IT delivery. Take the time to understand big data as well as its implications and begin a balanced approach that considers more than just the technology hype.”

The Pros and Cons of Twitter: Analyzing and Manipulating Tweets

  • Twitter’s 200 million tweets per day are being analyzed to monitor political activity and employee morale, track flu outbreaks and food poisonings, map changes in moods around the world, predict box-office success or failure for new movies, and predict changes in the stock market.
  • Hewlett-Packard’s Social Computing Laboratory used Twitter to successfully forecast the box office of 24 films by analyzing “the intensity of the word-of-mouth” about them on Twitter. They are now looking at doing the same for other products.
  • The Twitter users are younger adults, more urban and less likely to have children, but there is enough diversity to make judgements from the Twitter’s 200 million user stream.
  • Twitter is also being used to manipulate public opinion. “Twitterbots” have been created to automatically generate messages and thereby attract large followings by building relationships with unsuspecting users.
  • “Network sociologists are worried that these newest contrivances may offer others a powerful way to manipulate people through Twitter on an even larger scale,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Doing this on Twitter with a thousand accounts or a million accounts is the next step,” said Indiana University computer scientist Jacob Ratkiewicz.

Disruptive TV Trends: What is the Future of the Business of Television?

  • Amsterdam’s annual IBC event offered a number of potential TV game-changers earlier this month, suggests TVNewsCheck. These include cloud-based or service-oriented architecture (SOA) applications for capturing, producing, processing and distributing digital video and audio; IT-based playout (channel in a box) tools that could potentially make broadcast playout more affordable; and 3D technology likely to be deployed for the 2012 London Olympics.
  • Also on display were technologies “aimed at making 3D production more affordable and compatible with standard 2D operations.”
  • Cloud services were at the forefront since broadcasters are now challenged by having to support an increasing number of distribution platforms.
  • Vendors discussed the fundamental concerns about cloud-based architectures, “notably content security, access to content, collaboration, bandwidth and workflow continuity,” reports TVNewsCheck.
  • In a related article from GigaOM that analyzes shifts in traditional television, venture capitalist Habib Kairouz writes that the TV industry is poised for some significant changes due to a number of upcoming trends: TV anywhere and anytime will catch on; the rise of the Internet-connected TV and interactive programming; and personalized advertising.
  • The article suggests that content owners will benefit as MSOs, IPTV providers, and others compete with one another. MSO’s are hedging their bets by purchasing both traditional and interactive content, while TV manufacturers are looking to build Internet services into their low margin businesses. We should watch for new entrants to increase the disruption in this space.

Viewership on the Rise: Online Video Ads Reach 50 Percent of U.S. Population

  • American consumers cumulatively watched about 2.5 billion minutes of online ads in August, according to a new report released by comScore.
  • The report indicates that 86 percent of U.S. Internet users watched at least some online video content last month, and more than half of that content was accessed via YouTube.
  • Also worth noting: Facebook, already the largest photo site on the Web, was the third largest video site in terms of unique viewers.
  • The rankings “find Facebook retaining third position in August, with 51.6 million unique viewers, trailing VEVO in second (with 62 million) and Google Sites (i.e. YouTube) at 162 million,” reports TechCrunch.
  • According to comScore, video ads accounted for 13.4 percent of all videos viewed — and Hulu generated the highest number of video ad impressions (996 million in August alone), compelling figures for advertisers when you take into account that Hulu does not allow you to skip over videos.

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