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Hot TV News: 2015 Predicted “The Year of OTT”; Netflix vs Popcorn Time



The buzz was all around OTT TV this week, with Dish’s limited launch of its Sling TV offering, and a new survey which predicts the success of HBO’s future OTT service. Sunday night will bring tens of thousands of Football fans to Arizona’s University of Phoenix Stadium, and millions of U.S. Dollars to advertisers. Netflix said piracy poses a real threat to its service -here’s a summary of this week’s industry buzz.

HBO success predicted (Parks Associates; LightReading; The Verge; Advanced Television)

OTT was the talk of the town this week. A Parks Associates study predicted that 17% of U.S. broadband households are likely to subscribe to HBO’s new online TV service at an estimated cost of $14.99 per month. The service has not been launched yet, but the survey went on to predict that 91% of those online HBO subscribers will be existing pay-TV customers, and that about half of them – once signed up for the OTT service - will quit their more expensive TV packages in favour of keeping HBO as a sole TV provider.

The new HBO service isn’t the only pay-TV player to offer OTT services. Last fall, CBS launched CBS Access All for $5.99 per month. This week, Dish Network sent the first invites for its new over-the-top streaming service, Sling TV. Looking at the numbers in the study, Park Associates’ Brett Sappington predicted that “2015 is set to be the year of OTT….We expect several other players to launch or announce services in the U.S. market in the next few months." Verizon’s Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo joined the OTT fest and told investors “there were a lot of positive things coming out”. Shammo refused to give details about the planned midsummer launch of Verizon’s OTT service.

Others in the industry voiced more modest assessments. The success of these new services, wrote LightReading, depends on many factors, with content offering and cost likely to play a significant role.  Analyzing the nuts and bolts of the Sling TV service, The Verge concluded: “If you're barely watching TV as is and the math works out in your favour (with Netflix and/or Hulu included), it could simply be a great way to cut down on your bills every month.”

Piracy is a Real Threat to Netflix (Broadband TV News; TorrentFreak )

Netflix told investors last week that piracy continues to be its biggest competitor. Looking at data supplied by Google Trends – which showed a sharp rise in searches for Popcorn Times, the streaming video giant said these numbers are “sobering”.

Popcorn Time has been called the Netflix for pirates, as it gives access to torrents in an environment similar to Netflix’s. On the Google Trends graph, Netflix and Popcorn Time are way ahead of HBO in terms of searches in the Netherlands.

In September, TorrentFreak reported Popcorn Time had an install base of 1.4 million in the United States, and 1.3 million installs in the Netherlands.

 Super Bowl Weekend: Time for Fast Athletes and Creative Advertisers to Shine (Reuters; Forbes; AdWeek)

The 49th annual championship game of the NFL - or as it is better known – the Super Bowl – will take place in Arizona on Sunday. It’s one of the most viewed TV broadcasts in the United States, and the most anticipated advertising showcase. This year, an unprecedented $4.5 million price tag for a 30-second spot means, according to Forbes, that the game needs 120 Million viewers “for advertisers to win”.

Companies who have used the expensive commercial breaks in the past – such as General Motors and Volkswagen, pulled out of the game this year, but others – like Budweiser, Sneakers and Mercedes Benz will broadcast their commercials on Sunday night – and have already released online commercial teasers.  NBC added a twist to the spending per viewer ratio when it said it will post commercials that air on TV to a Tumblr page. This way, fans who are watching the game on NBC's live stream – which includes a different set of ads from what is shown on TV, will be able to watch the “original” TV ads without switching on their TV sets.

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Photo credit: nahlinse / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Topics: OTT, broadcast TV, Cable TV, Content Delivery, Content Discovery, HBO, Industry, Netflix, piracy, Super Bowl, TV, TV service, Verizon

Merav Cunningham

Merav Cunningham led VO’s digital content strategy and execution, part of VO’s global strategy from 2012 until 2016. She also oversaw VO’s marketing content creation, VO’s blog and all social channels. Merav holds a BA in Psychology from Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland.

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