Google Set to Reveal Video Game Streaming Service

As online gaming grows (and disc-based video games decline), tech/media giants such as Google and Apple are eyeing the $100 billion industry for new cloud-based streaming platforms.

Google is reportedly set to disclose a streaming platform March 19 offering high-end games across all platforms, including Android, iPhone, Mac, Chrome, Windows 10 and TVs at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The search behemoth teased a YouTube video about it.

The company, which would enable users to buy games directly from the TV screen or portable media device, will also unveil a gaming controller (and possibly a console) that could be used with a smart TV.

The move comes as the gaming industry – dominated by Sony (PlayStation), Microsoft (Xbox) and Nintendo – grapple with changing consumer habits and distribution revolving around their longstanding gaming consoles.

Google’s service could enable users to play top games without having to buy an expensive console.

“Cloud gaming will enable publishers to broaden their reach even further by potentially taping into new audiences on any device and any screen,” Thomas Husson, analyst with Forrester Research, told CNBC. “Beyond music or video, gaming represents another opportunity to offer recurring streaming revenue for companies in the gaming ecosystem. For cloud platforms like Amazon, Google or Microsoft, it will also become an opportunity to offer cloud storage and services to game publishers, who spend more and more in their IT infrastructure.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purdue University Bans Netflix, Other Streaming Use in Classrooms

Purdue University has begun banning students from accessing streaming video services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube in classrooms.

The reason: Burgeoning streaming video and music service use during classes had slowed the school’s Wi-Fi speed to a crawl and was distracting students.

What began as an experiment in the fall expanded across the West Lafayette, Ind., campus March 18 as students returned from spring break.

“There’s a finite amount of bandwidth available,” Mark Sonstein, executive director of IT infrastructure at Purdue, told the Chicago Tribune. “If you have people who are streaming a movie, then they are consuming all of the available bandwidth.”

While many high schools and middle schools routinely collect cellphones from students before classes, Purdue reportedly is one of the first universities to erect a tech barrier.

“I heard about the bandwidth problem, but when the solution was implemented, I heard crickets,” said chemical engineering professor Steve Beaudoin.

Indeed, student reaction to the ban has been scant as most aren’t streaming episodes of “True Detective” or “Game of Thrones” during Chem 101, despite sitting in a lecture hall that seats 100.

Nineteen-year-old computer science sophomore Nick Pappas told the Tribune he doesn’t believe SVOD use in classrooms is as common as school officials contend. But he has seen some students engage – especially if they have wireless earbuds.

“People can get away with it so easily,” he said.

“If the bulk of the students participate, either because they agree with the purpose of the program, or because they aren’t inclined to take the steps necessary to circumvent it, then the purpose — freeing up bandwidth for academics — will be achieved,” Sonstein said.

 

 

Twitter Testing ‘Subscription’ Feature

President Trump’s favorite communication platform, Twitter, is reportedly testing a “subscription” option that would enable users to link to threads without commenting or adding a post.

The subscription option is similar to what YouTube and Instagram employ enabling users to keep track of third-party video posts without actively engaging directly or paying for them.

Twitter told DigitalTrends the test is part of the social media platform’s attempt to attract more casual users and entice advertisers.

The social media platform, which recently released an experimental app, Twttr, designed to offer more chat-like features, said it wants to make the service “more conversational.”

Separately, at last week’s SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, Twitter disclosed a new camera for the app affording users easier sharing of videos and photos.

 

 

 

 

 

Maine Man Arrested After Driving to California to Threaten Google About Shutting Down His YouTube Channel

A YouTube video channel operator from Waterville, Maine, was arrested after driving to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., to complain about his channel being shut down.

Kyle Long, 33, was arrested by authorities on Hwy 101 outside Google headquarters for making criminal threats and held in a local jail on $25,000 bail.

Kyle Long

Long’s odyssey began after he believed Google had shut down his YouTube channel, which reportedly offered video instructions how to monetize the platform.

Long apparently thought Google had taken down his videos, when in reality it was his wife who dismantled the channel, claiming the videos were nonsense, according to NBC News.

“His wife took it down as soon as he put it up,” Long’s father told NBC, adding that the videos didn’t make any sense to him either.

“It was dumb; it was crazy,” the father said. “He showed it to me and it was most bizarre thing. It wasn’t reality.”

The situation turned serious after Long engaged in an awkward conversation about losing money on YouTube with a state trooper at a gas station bathroom in Iowa. That chat prompted the trooper to contact authorities in Maine.

Local police there also reportedly learned that Long had threatened “physical” violence if his interaction with Google didn’t go well. That prompted a call to Mountain View police.

 

 

 

Disney Outranks Netflix and Amazon Prime in Brand Study

Disney ranked No. 1 followed by Amazon Prime and Netflix in the media and entertainment industry portion of MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2019 Study.

The study is the largest study of brands based on emotions, according to the company.

Disney rose in the ranking from fifth overall in the 2018 study to first this year.

The remaining brands in the Top 10 for the media & entertainment industry were, in order, PlayStation, YouTube, Xbox, Nintendo, Hulu, HBO and WWE.

MBLM defines Brand Intimacy as “the emotional science that measures the bonds we form with the brands we use and love.” Top intimate brands in the U.S. continued to significantly outperform the top brands in the Fortune 500 and S&P indices in both revenue and profit over the past 10 years, according to the study.

“Media & entertainment continues to be our most intimate industry,” Mario Natarelli, managing partner of MBLM, said in a statement. “The need to escape reality, consume content on demand, and lose ourselves in stories is a powerful combination of factors. Disney is leveraging its nostalgic associations to cultivate stronger bonds with customers. It has also improved its performance with men, while continuing to innovate and expand its offerings.”

Additional findings in the media and entertainment industry were:

  • Disney was the No. 1 brand with both men and women as well respondents aged 45-64;
  • Disney was also the top brand for people making over $100,000;
  • YouTube ranked first for millennials;
  • YouTube also ranked first for those making $35,000-$50,000; and
  • Media and entertainment was also the No. 1 industry for millennials.

The Brand Intimacy 2019 Study is based on the responses of 6,200 consumers and 56,000 brand evaluations across 15 industries in the United States, Mexico and the UAE. To view the media & entertainment industry findings, please click here. To download the full Brand Intimacy 2019 Study or explore the Data Dashboard click here.

WWE YouTube Channel Reaches 40M ‘Subscribers’

World Wrestling Entertainment announced on Twitter that its YouTube channel has generated 40 million subscribers and 30 billion lifetime views.

A YouTube channel subscriber is typically generated when someone clicks to follow for free.

The channel, which essentially markets WWE pay-per-view events, branded pay-TV channels (“Raw,” “Smackdown Live”) and WWE Network subscription streaming video service, streams highlight clips, interviews and promotional PPV segments.

“Thank you to everyone that chooses to watch http://YouTube/WWE!” tweeted chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon.

WWE earlier this month disclosed that its SVOD service had topped 1.59 million paying subscribers.

Report: YouTube Top ‘Most Intimate Brand’ Among Millennials

YouTube ranked the “most intimate brand” among millennials for the first time, climbing from third last year, according to MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2019 Study, a study of brands based on emotions.

The firm defines brand intimacy as something that leverages and strengthens the emotional bonds between a person and a brand.

“YouTube ranked 10th with millennials just two short years ago and has steadily made its way to the top,” said Mario Natarelli, managing partner, MBLM, in a statement. “The brand has demonstrated an ability to entertain a diverse millennial audience through its extensive content. It is also continuing its expansion of services, including the launch of YouTube Music in 2018, as it finds new ways to connect with consumers. Millennials in particular bond strongly with the media and entertainment industry, and YouTube is doing a good job at building a brand that caters to the wants and needs of this audience.”

Apple and Netflix ranked as the second and third most intimate brands for this generation. Comparatively, in MBLM’s 2018 study, Apple placed first followed by Disney and YouTube.

The other brands that rounded out the top 10 were, in order: Disney, Nike, Target, Xbox, PlayStation, Google and Walmart. Millennial men selected Xbox, PlayStation and Spotify as their top three and millennial women selected Target, Amazon and Disney.

The Brand Intimacy 2019 Report, to be released in full Feb. 14, contains the most comprehensive rankings of brands based on emotion, analyzing the responses of 6,200 consumers and 56,000 brand evaluations across 15 industries in the United States, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates, according to MBLM.

TiVo: Netflix ‘Essential’ to 52.7% of Consumers

With more than 58 million domestic subscribers, Netflix is considered “essential” among consumers to their entertainment consumption, according to new data from TiVo.

The SVOD pioneer (52.7%) topped YouTube videos (45.9%) and cable TV (39.5%) as the primary source for home entertainment, according to a survey of 4,458 adult respondents in the United States and Canada conducted in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Just over 40% of respondents selected cable TV as supplemental to their home entertainment needs, suggesting consumers are divided in their loyalties to pay-TV, according to TiVo. This split doesn’t exist for Netflix, which is considered supplemental by only 30% of respondents.

The report found the average household among survey respondents used 2.75 media services in 2018 — up 26% since 2017.

“Live TV is still favored, but content providers such as Netflix and YouTube are gaining ground,” wrote TiVo.

The DVR pioneer, which has conducted its “TiVo Trends” media analysis since 2012, found that combining Netflix with Amazon Prime Video and pay-TV was a favored (10.6%) bundle among consumers. Other bundle options included Facebook, YouTube and pay-TV (7.5%) and YouTube, Netflix and pay-TV (7.5%).

Indeed, Comcast now offers direct access to Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video for Xfinity X1 subscribers. TiVo said 63.6% of respondents watch one hour or more of live TV per day, which tops OTT video (52.2%), recorded programming (51%) and live sports (45.6%).

“Clearly, consumers are still turning on their TVs and watching live content every day,” wrote TiVo.

The report found 69.3% of respondents use over-the-top video services while 30.7% do not. Among OTT video users, Netflix (50.4%) and Prime Video (21.8%) lead the pack among streaming video platforms.

Other included YouTube TV (11.9%), Hulu (9.5%), HBO Now (7.5%), Hulu with Live TV (6.9%), DirecTV Now (6.3%), CBS All Access (5.2%), PlayStation Vue (4.4%), Showtime OTT (4.1%), Starz (3.6%) and Sling TV (3.2%).

 

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Netflix Overcomes Brazil Hurdle

In 2011 Netflix launched service in 43 Latin America countries, beginning with Brazil. Expansion into Brazil — the fifth-largest media market in the world, after China, India, the U.S. and Indonesia, was fraught with challenges.

Consumers were less familiar with using credit cards to pay for recurring charges such as over-the-top video. In addition to spotty broadband penetration, the lack of localized content (at the time) on Netflix alienated potential subscribers.

“Brazilians enjoy different things, like UFC and stand-up comedies, while hating telenovelas that are made in other Latin American countries,” former chief communications officer Jonathan Friedland told the Brazilian press.

Long-time Netflix bear Michael Pachter, digital media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, went so far as to predict Netflix wouldn’t make it in Latin America.

“This just won’t work in Ecuador or Costa Rica or even Mexico as it has in the U.S.,” Pachter told the Associated Press. “It’s going to depend on how many households have broadband access and what the quality of the content will be like.”

Fast-forward to the present and Netflix is a shining star in Brazil.

Along with Google’s YouTube, Netflix is the first OTT video choice across all devices, according to new data from IHS Markit. About 28% of respondents claim they turn to Netflix first when looking for something to watch, followed by YouTube at 24%. More than 63% of Internet users in Brazil, between the ages of 18 and 64, had access to Netflix, of which 86% claimed to use the service at least once a week.

IHS says that along with growth in OTT video, the installed base of Internet-connected devices grew by 10%, rising to more than 310 million devices in 2018.

More than 40% of survey respondents said they have a personal computer connected to their primary TV screens, while 35% claim to mostly use their smart TV apps to access video content on their primary TVs.

IHS contends that with on-demand video becoming ubiquitous around the world, and Brazil is no exception.

“The country has been experiencing a significant economic slump in recent years and, like other Latin American markets, Brazil’s legitimate pay TV and OTT subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service providers have seen subscriptions fall or suffer reduced growth,” Erik Brannon, associate director of research and analysis, wrote in a note.“Laptops, tablets, streaming sticks and other devices increasingly pose a threat to cable TV and other traditional TV services.”

In terms of perceived quality, Netflix and YouTube were significantly ahead of pay-TV providers in the following categories: ease of use, flexibility (i.e., “ability to watch what I want when I want”), largest catalog of content, quality of content, and value for the money.

Although this finding is a victory for OTT providers, Netflix and other OTT video services must focus on local language content to remain relevant in the long term, according to Brannon.

Despite the vast library of foreign content Netflix has to draw upon, the amount of Brazilian and Portuguese content remains minimal, which is why the company is now partnering with local producers to boost local content in its library.

As the Brazilian economy continues to improve, growth in pay-TV households is expected to resume. At the same time, a surge in growth is expected in the OTT market as well.

IHS found that pay-TV monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) can cost five times or more than the monthly ARPU of Netflix. Subscription sharing also seems to be a profound problem in Brazil, since nearly 63% of survey respondents reported having access to Netflix, while Netflix subscriptions penetrated less than 25% of all broadband households.

“Connected consumers in Brazil are interested in viewing content in non-traditional ways, which will put added pressure on traditional content and distribution systems when the economy recovers,” wrote Brannon.

 

 

CES: Speakers Discuss the Growing Pains and Promise of Direct-to-Consumer Entertainment

LAS VEGAS — Speakers discussed the variety and expansion of online services, as well as strategies to cut through the content clutter and engage the online entertainment consumer during the panel “Into the Zeitgeist — The Direct-to-Consumer Entertainment Economy” at CES Jan. 9.

The panel took place at the Variety Entertainment Summit during the Las Vegas show.

The advent of pending services from the Walt Disney Co., WarnerMedia and Apple “certainly makes our lives more interesting,” said Hulu’s Kelly Campbell, adding the question is if they can scale quickly.

Farhad Massoudi, of the AVOD service Tubi, said there was a limit to what average consumers will spend on subscription services and that it was “ludicrous” that average income folks would subscribe to a growing smattering of subscription video-on-demand services. That’s where ad-supported platforms such as Tubi, which sports a movie and TV library much bigger than Netflix, come in, he said.

“Most SVOD services are going to struggle,” he said.

FandangoNow’s Cameron Douglas doesn’t consider these services competitors to the company’s transactional VOD business.

“We’re really agnostic as to what people are consuming and where,” he said.

In fact, they successfully distribute Amazon’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and would love to have a transactional offering of Netflix’s hit Bird Box.

“We do hope all of the studios, Netflix included, allow us to monetize those products,” he said. “There’s no reason that movie content that starts in the digital space can’t find a home on transactional.”

Whatever the distribution model, engaging the consumer is key, panelists said.

“We always want to super serve the super fans,” said Discovery Networks’ Peter Faricy. Discovery along with the PGA Tour created the Golf TV brand, which underpins a new live and on-demand international video streaming service specifically for golf fans.

Another way to attract consumers is by offering products that serve their needs.

“Consumers want choice, flexibility and control,” Hulu’s Campbell said. To that end, Hulu offers the choice of live, ad-supported and ad-free subscription options.

FandangoNow’s Douglas said the VOD service leverage’s its relationship with online movie ticketing platform Fandango by “taking 60 million Fandango uniques every month” and touting availability of transactional digital movie and TV offerings for home viewing.

“The [transactional] space is growing about 10% each year, and we are tripling that growth,” he said.

The service also attracts consumers with superior content quality, such as 4K UHD titles and — through a deal just announced — Imax content.

YouTube’s Neil Mohan said the online behemoth, which adds 400 hours of content a minute every single day, serves its viewers with recommendations that cater to them.

“The recommendations that we give to you should really speak to you,” he said.

Tubi, too, uses recommendation algorithms to serve its audience, Massoudi said.

The content itself should also engage consumers, said Conde Nast Entertainment’s Oren Katzeff. His company, which he said has some of the most binged shows on Netflix, creates content in a way that makes viewers want to watch more episodes.

He said engaging consumers also requires looking at data to see not just what they want, but when they want it and how they want it.

Ideally, content should build a relationship with consumers.

“From a creation standpoint, how do you create content that people not only want to watch [but to comment on and engage with further],” he said.