Earlier this month, Netflix said they were going to expand into in 43 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean which sent the stock flying up to $291.23 before settling at $289.63, up $21.64, or 8.1%. It's expected that Netflix will pursue an IP only strategy rather than mail order DVDs like they did in Canada - meaning that web and Connected TV devices will be the focus of deliver.
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Sources at leading European film distributors say as recently as last week Netflix reps confirmed plans to put roots down in both Spain and the United Kingdom in the first quarter of next year. Netflix declined comment.
The European invasion would come after the 43-country blitz scheduled to take place by the end of the year across Latin America and the Caribbean. Netflix surprised many analysts who predicted the UK would be one of the first targeted territories only to end up absent from the list released last week.
That could be a reflection of tougher competition it will find in England, from Amazon-owned Lovefilm to incumbent multichannel services like BSkyB, which may seem newly vulnerable given the turmoil that has engulfed News Corp.'s aborted attempt to grab a bigger stake in the satellite service.
Ryan Lawler from Gigom also reported on the move:
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Interest in Spain and the U.K. markets makes sense, if only because by next year it will have both English and Spanish-language services in place. But unlike its venture to Latin America, where existing streaming operations haven’t taken hold, Netflix could face some stiff competition from existing services in Europe.
Lovefilm, which was bought by Amazon earlier this year, already has a robust streaming service in place in the U.K., Germany and the Nordics (Sweden, Denmark and Norway). And the U.K. market has a number of incumbent TV services that also have a streaming component. Take, for instance, the BBC’s wildly popular iPlayer, or BSkyB’s satellite service, which allows viewers to stream live and on-demand TV over the web and to a growing number of mobile and connected devices.
Meanwhile, in Spain, there are less visible streaming competitors, which could create a lower barrier to entry. But Variety notes the market is also known for being a hotbed of video piracy. At the same time, offering a low-cost alternative is one way Netflix could possibly help studios fight piracy there.
TV Genius has announced the launch of its Facebook-integrated TV guide solution, further improving content discovery experience for TV viewers.
The new solution (www.tvgenius.net/
As a Cloud solution, the Content Discovery Platform makes it easy to deploy Facebook-integrated EPGs on the web, connected TVs, smartphones, and tablets. Users of the TV guide will be able to quickly and easily find new content to watch that is personally relevant, while encouraging them to connect and engage with their friends in a new way.
The solution taps into the increasingly popular use of social media. A ResearchNow study, sponsored by TV Genius in September 2010, shows that while traditional media remain dominant over TV content discovery, newer media are also having an emerging influence, especially among the younger generation of ‘Digital Natives’.
“In world where operators are battling to be the key entertainment hub, a Facebook-integrated TV guide will increase stickiness, encouraging users to interact with the TV guide and their friends,” says Tom Weiss, CEO of TV Genius. “Powerful social recommendations will help viewers stumble across the content they want, while helping providers offer relevant, timely content.”
TV Genius is already powering TV-centric Facebook apps for ITV, Freeview, and Tjek TV.
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PlayJam, the world's largest TV games network, has launched its global games service for Samsung Smart TV.
PlayJam aims to create the richest environment for games on TV. Now live on Samsung’s 2010 range, the games network will roll out across Samsung Smart TV and blu-ray players.
Says PlayJam's CEO, Jasper Smith:
"Samsung is the world leader and we are delighted to bring a new generation of games to TV. I have a fundamental belief that games on TV will evolve in to a huge commercial opportunity and our combined aim is simply to provide the best games experience possible to our customers. To help make that a reality we offer great game developers simple access to our global games network - so that they can monetise their IP and make their games famous. TV has some extraordinary advantages over the web and mobile, and the ability to make stand out formats has never been greater. We are very excited to share our passion for bringing great games to TV with Samsung.”
The PlayJam service is a social and casual games network available at Samsung Apps-- the world’s first HDTV-based application store offering about 640 paid and free apps globally that help people connect to their various passions, PlayJam offers a mix of in house and leading brand titles, providing consumers worldwide with easy access to thousands of casual and social games at the touch of a button on the remote control.
The PlayJam games network is a social engagement and monetization platform that drives increased revenue and customer loyalty through core features such cross-network tournaments, leader-boards, real-time mass participation events, virtual currencies and recommendations. PlayJam has launched a beta SDK to provide game developers with a simple one-stop route to global games distribution via TV.
“The overriding mission of our Smart TV proposition is to provide easy access to content that can be shared and enjoyed by the whole family, and games are a key genre”. says Kang-Hyun Kwon, Senior Vice President of Media Solution Center at Samsung Electronics. “PlayJam’s gaming service can bring such enrichment to our Smart TV.”
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The current buzz around Transmedia is justified to its capital T, to listen to some of the original and fascinating ways theatre, film and even toys are being developed. The award winning Unlimited Theatre Co. and Makieworld were two of the best which showcased at the Children's Media Conference in Sheffield, UK, last week.
Unlimited is responsible for the hugely successful children’s production, Mission to Mars. The core story concerns the adventures of a pair of astronauts who set out on the first manned mission to Mars in 2035 but what makes it different, according Creative Director Jon Spooner, is the company’s trademark focus on the “liveness” of the experience and its “cross platform curiosity”. As well as being an engrossing yarn, the show imparts key science info and is the centre of a number of brilliantly executed satellite projects.
Most of these involve collaboration with real scientists, notably schools agency Radiowaves. Under their aegis, the company have mounted “performances” in a number of primary schools with The Astronautical Challenge, an adventure where the children can immerse themselves in space over a five week period, receiving packages and message from the astronauts and ultimately mounting a rescue mission. Unsurprising, kids LOVE IT.
And it doesn’t stop there. As well as employing the now ubiquitous social media websites, the company also engage their audiences in conversation via “Space Camp” – a game where children and parents train to be astronauts, which takes place at theatres, festivals such as “Greenman”, and London’s Science Museum. The kids get involved by asking the scientists any manner of questions from “how far is Mars?” to the jaw dropping “what is quantum physics?”
And Unlimited’s progress certainly looks limitless. Already holders of the National Charity Award, last week, they won the prestigious Sir Authur Clarke Award for Achievement in Space Education and Outreach. They have the ear of David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science, and are currently developing what Spooner describes as:
“A massive multiplayer online game – where you sign up, lead missions, team up and follow stories. It’s Hogwarts for geeks”.
At the other end of the children’s transmedia spectrum is London based Makieworld, founded by fount of all knowledge on toys: Alice Taylor. Alice’s description of her work at Makielabs brought forth gasps of amazement from the CMC audience because what they do is not just make toys but customisable, 3D-printed, locally made (i.e. not in China), and internet-enabled toys. According to Alice:
“These are ground-breaking, future-smashing toys that a user can customise to their liking, and have delivered from their digital avatar to their doorstep. It’s disruptive. We’re calling it 3D-Printed Fun: it’s an infinite loop between digital play and physical play. We have a 3D prototype doll (action figures and toys to come), an awesome team and some big ideas.”
The 3D manufacturing is taken care of by what is essentially a printer, there are several of these on the market including Makerbot, winner of last year’s Consumer Electronics Show and one by Z Corp. The price which used to forbidding is gradually coming down. The material used is usually the same plastic as that utilised by Lego but anything can used: gold, ceramics, the only impact is on the price.
What emerged from this panel and others at this year CMC is overwhelming evidence that today’s kids don’t want to be a captive audience. The phenomenal success of multiplatform products such as Moshi Monsters only goes to back up US company Latitude’s research that kids want participation with the computer and TV, they want to create and be involved. They are game players, watching the least TV and their imagination, of what’s possible in the future, has no boundaries: one of Latitude’s studies found that nearly 40% of kids imagined tech that bridged gap between virtual and physical experience: touching/feeling things on the screen.
In a bold move to try and reinvigorate Big Brother, a format that has been tanking over a decade of milking for Channel 4, has some industry insiders questioning whether it can be pumped back up, Channel 5 is to use Facebook as a voting platform for reality show Big Brother for the first time. It's one of the first real experimental journeys by a broadcaster to revitalize an older format using multiplatform engagement. And this is only good news for innovative 3rd party companies like MIG, The Application Store, Ex-Machina, Monterosa, Screach and Live Talkback who offer white label dual screen experiences for broadcasters and producers and could open up a significant new market pumping up older shows for them.
According to Jessica Davies at NMA, Facebook won’t be the only voting mechanism... but will be one of several on devices yet to be confirmed and Channel 5 also in talks with YouTube to extend the use of the platform beyond video content for Big Brother. Fans will be able to purchase votes using Facebook Credits to use on either their laptops or smartphones. Channel 5, which bought the rights to broadcast Big Brother after ten years at Channel 4, is yet to determine pricing.
Undoubtedly there are risks for all broadcasters that form tie-ups with third parties, particularly ones as powerful as Facebook. But all are aware that to meet the rising demand for social TV, they must collaborate in some shape or form. Channel 5 already took a risk when it bought Big Brother, a show which had been run to death for ten years on Channel 4, with audience numbers plummeting in its last few series.
It has also arguably made its bed when it comes to Facebook. It has embedded its TV catch-up player Demand 5 on the social network and remains the only broadcaster to have done so. It retains control of its video ads across its embedded player, while Facebook enjoys additional premium-quality broadcast content.
The broadcaster is working closely with Endemol, Facebook and mobile agency Mobile Interactive Group to develop a Facebook app that lets viewers vote for the contestants they want to leave the Big Brother house, using the social network’s Credits payment system - which is a significant shift from using telephony and SMS voting as has been done traditionally in the past. MIG’s mVoy Engage platform was also recently used for Sky’s Got to Dance iPhone App.
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Channel 5 is the first broadcaster to establish such a tie-up with Facebook, having embedded its TV catch-up player Demand 5 on the social network as part of its syndication strategy. This brought its entire catalogue of long-form content, including shows such as Home and Away, The Gadget Show and The Hotel Inspector, to the social network for the first time .
Fueled by millions of pounds from Google, Kantar, a WPP research company, has plans to recruit a 3,000-strong panel, representative of the UK population, by the end of this year, with data and measurement analysis offered to the industry by 2012, according to NMA in the UK.
The aim is to provide brands with a planning tool where they can benchmark the reach and footprint of a campaign that would run across TV and online. It aims to help them understand how leveraging spend between TV and the web can impact consumer interaction through a single source, rather than by fusing together two sets of data.
“For some of the things we want to be able to investigate, it’s necessary to have single source,” said Jonny Protheroe, research manager at Google UK. “A fusion between BARB and UKOM gives interesting data on people across those panels, but if you want to look at the footprint of a campaign across TV and online, it’s limited. With single-source data, however, you know an individual who’s been exposed to a campaign across both TV and online, and it produces more credible results.”
Bob Wootton, director of media and advertising at ISBA, told Brand Republic:
"As digital media channels proliferate and grow in importance, advertisers seek better understanding of their audiences. Yet the current resources are inconsistent and often incompatible, and their number confusing. We therefore welcome any initiative which promises to shed more light in this important area, as well as perhaps bringing things together."
Guy Phillipson, chief executive of the IAB, added:
"Between them, TV and online command 50% of total media spend in the UK. The Internet Advertising Bureau always welcomes new efforts to understand how consumers are using the internet and how online channels work in conjunction with other media."
In May, Nielsen and the UK Online Measurement company (UKOM), launched an industry-backed metric for video-on-demand (VoD), to measure how people consume and engage with internet video content. Google already has a similar study going on in Germany with research firm GfK. The 5,000-strong panel, which has been in operation for around 18 months, was... “the world’s first passive single-source panel which registers not only TV and online behavior but also purchases”.Add a comment
According to Santa Clara, California-based firm DisplaySearch research, by the end of 2015, over 500M connected TVs will have shipped. Products launched by TV manufacturers in 2011 show how critical internet services are to the future of TV. In 2011, more than 25% of all flat panel TVs shipped are expected to have some form of internet connectivity. According to the DisplaySearch Q2’11 Quarterly TV Design and Features Report, this number is forecast to grow to 138M units in 2015, accounting for 47% of all flat panel TVs shipped.
“The adoption of connected TV is not just taking place in developed regions,” said Paul Gray, DisplaySearch Director of TV Electronics Research. “Emerging markets often have good broadband services, and there is a thirst from consumers to get the best content available.”
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The uptick in sales of connected TVs is attributed to the continued worldwide growth in broadband adoption, particularly in developing countries, as well as the recent decision by the Indian government to switch off analog terrestrial signals and move to DVB-T2 by 2015.
WiFi technologies are the foundation of connected TVs and services like WiFi Direct, a new wireless broadband standard that simplifies the process of connecting TVs to the Internet, enable the TV to partner more readily with handheld devices in the home, such as smartphones and tablets, DisplaySearch said.
More than 98 million TV sets with 802.11 wireless networking built in will ship by 2015, the firm predicted. “We expect that in 2015, 35 percent of 46-inch or larger TV sets in North America will be smart TVs, defined as having the following capabilities: able to retrieve content from the Internet without the restrictions of a portal; intelligent search and recommendations; upgradeable by its owner; and able to network seamlessly with other devices in the home,” said Paul Gray, DisplaySearch Director of TV Electronics Research.
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The DisplaySearch “Quarterly TV Design and Features Report” is a quarterly update of the issues and rapid shifts in feature development in TV sets.
Social media is bringing dramatic changes to nearly every aspect of the TV business. Viewers are using Facebook and Twitter to comment about shows before, during and after they air. Television networks, grappling with the fragmentation of their audience, are experimenting with mobile apps, Twitter promotions and branded social networks in an effort to bring viewers back together. And a variety of other stakeholders are getting in on the social action as well.
“Experimentation still rules the day,” said Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer principal analyst and author of the new report, “Socializing the TV Experience.” “There is a great deal of uncertainty about the paths that social media and TV will take, and the extent to which they will converge over time.”
The many players involved are chasing a small but growing user base. While 43% of online adults have gone online or used social media to engage with TV programming in some way, according to 24/7 Wall St. and Harris Poll, only 17% said they do it while they are watching TV.
But the youngest respondents in the 24/7 and Harris survey—those ages 18 to 34—were significantly more likely than older respondents to have made the social/TV connection. And TV-related properties have become popular in social media. Just as consumers have shown their support by “liking” brand pages on Facebook and following companies on Twitter, they have turned to social media to share their TV-viewing experience.
When it comes to socializing TV in real time, Twitter has emerged as the leader. TV networks have begun to insert hashtags on-screen in an effort to bring real-time conversations together under a common banner, and encouraging actors and other talent to live-tweet to boost engagement.
When “Survivor” host Jeff Probst, for example, began live-tweeting during episodes of the reality program during the spring 2011 season, thousands of viewers followed his lead.
“Given the amount of activity surrounding social media and TV, some level of convergence is inevitable,” said Williamson. “But trends like timeshifting pose a potential obstacle—there’s not much pleasure in sharing your thoughts about a show when you’re watching it after it first aired. For the networks, social media may be one of the last best ways to bring viewers back together again.”
The full report, “Socializing the TV Experience” also answers these key questions:
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A fresh report due in July from Informa Telecoms & Media states that global sales of connected TVs will fly by games consoles for the first time in 2011. Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony will sell 37 million consoles this year, but consumers will buy 52 million connected TVs from the likes of Samsung, Sony and LG.
According to the report authors, the issue facing CE manufacturers is how to take advantage of forecasted burgeoning connected devices sales and whether they want to be a power gatekeepers or simply service providers.
“The market for connected devices - TVs, Blu-ray players, games consoles, media-streaming devices and hybrid set-top boxes - is continuing to grow globally, as consumers seek to access services such as Netflix and iPlayer via their TVs," said Andrew Ladbrook, analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, in a statement. "In 2016, 1.8 billion in-home video devices - including tablets - will be sold, an increase of almost 800 percent from today.”
Informa adds that the biggest losers will be media-streaming devices, like Apple TV. For Apple to effectively compete in this arena, Informa says, Apple must launch a TV, or turn Apple TV into something more than a convenient way to access video via iTunes.
The consumer electronics manufacturers giants like Samsung, LG and Sony stand to make the biggest gains but TV manufacturers will be faced with a conflict of interest. Do they take the reins of the horse or simply get in the carriage for the ride? Connected TV has the potential to be extremely disruptive to the traditional value chain in TV but it's also not very familiar territory for the CE builders.
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"These established companies should be wary of Chinese manufacturers such as Hisense and TCL," added Ladbrook. "These manufacturers are following the high-volume, low-price model laid down by Samsung and are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of connected TVs as the Chinese market burgeons to sales of over 47 million in 2016.