TV Upfront Means Price Hike; Simulmedia Deposits $9 Million; Canoe Ventures Adding VOD

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May 16, 2011 – 12:03 am

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Broadcast TV Upfront Week Is Here! No Posturing Necessary?

The broadcast TV upfront is back to being the biggest advertising show on earth after some lean times in the past few years. But good times or bad, the networks will be trotting out stats that show why advertisers have to pay more, while media buyers will complain about last season's flops and ratings misses as an argument for paying less. But this year, there seems to be more agreement that ad rates will rise as "a decrease in overall broadcast-TV ratings, a rebounding economy and scatter prices of 40 percent above the cost of ads sold in last year's "upfront" market, some ad buyers privately confide that their clients may have to capitulate to the aggressive demands of TV's better-performing networks," writes AdAge's Brian Steinberg. If that happens, this would mark the first time since downturn eased that marketers would accede to broad price hikes above 9 percent.

Simulmedia Raises $9.25 Million

Targeted TV start-up Simulmedia is hoping to move beyond the experimental stage with yet another large round of funding. The New York company just raised $9.25 million – it's now raised more than $20 million in all – as its tries to lay the groundwork for translating the methods of online ad sales to television. Granted, there are a number of competitors – Mediabank, Invision, TRA are among the other pioneers of the targeted TV ad shop model – but Simulmedia has been able to play up its network agreements to a greater degree (It helps that Time Warner Investments is one of its investors). Part of the company's early success is due to the expert salesmanship of serial entrepreneur Dave Morgan (founder of Tacoda, which he sold to AOL), who tells NewTeeVee's Ryan Lawler that the company has anonymous viewing data from more than 16 million set-top boxes across the U.S. -- with 80,000,000 hours of viewing every day -- and data from all advertisements that are shown (55,000+ every day). Still, this is still a relatively small slice of the roughly 70 million households with set-top boxes. But it's surely a pretty good beginning.

Canoe's Plan For Making VOD Pay

Describing video-on-demand as "is a huge, yet unrealized, opportunity," Canoe Ventures' CTO Arthur Orduña told an audience at the B&C/Multichannel News On Demand Summit 3.0 last week that the cable industry joint venture plans to test a VOD dynamic ad insertion stewardship platform, B&C's Todd Spangler reports. The idea that VOD should emulate online video's ad model has been talked about for a long time. Since VOD is a paid service, cable companies had been loathe to throw in ads for fear of turning off subscribers. As subscriber losses appear to have turned around in most cases, cable companies are more willing to experiment. After all, with online video ads expected to reach $1 billion soon, not putting ads into VOD slots means that money is potentially being left on the table.

Spangler's Multichannel News counterpart Mike Farrell also covered VOD's ad future and found that greater transparency about the data gleaned from VOD, along with making navigation of these systems easier, will help open the door and make ads more appealing to consumers wary of yet more bombardment of ads. Interesting stat from the panel: Rentrak counted 7.8 billion on demand transactions last year and 74 percent of those transactions are free.

How Much Is VOD Is Killing Film Studios DVD?

By a lot, according to an SNL Kagan study, as the growing pentration of VOD and streaming video has been decimating DVD sales by film studios for years. The researcher tracked 415 titles DVD releases in 2010 and found that wholesale revenue dropped a "shocking" 43.9 percent to $4.47 billion. However, SNL did issue a caveat to that number: this does not include Blu-ray revenue, which grew significantly in 2010. It should also be noted that this sample of the video market does not include direct-to-video titles and TV on DVD, as well. When looking at the video retail market as a whole, consumer spending only declined 10.8 percent to $11.86 billion in 2010.

HBO Mobile App A 'No Go' For TWC, Cablevision

Google Android and Apple iPad users have downloaded HBO Go, the cable channel's streaming programming app, in droves, but if you're a Time Warner Cable or Cablevision subscriber, you can't get access, notes WSJ's Nat Worden. The HBO Go service is part of the TV Everywhere authentication concept that Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has been touting as the next big thing for cable programmers. That's all well and good for premium channels, as cable subscribers don't have to pay an additional fee for access. Not coincidentally, both TWC and Cablevision both happen to have their in-home viewing apps and they don't want to spire any cord-cutting by making sure subscribers don't veer to far from the set-top box that brings viewers their favorite shows. That's the source of the hold up in negotiations between the channel and the cable companies. (Incidentally, TWC was spun off from Time Warner about two years ago.)

Invidi Slaps Cablevision, Visible World With Patent Suit

Just weeks after The Dish Network and TiVo settled their long-running legal battle over the DVR provider's Time Warp time-shifted viewing function, now addressable ad company Invidi Technologies has filed a patent infringement complaint on May 5, against Visible World and Cablevision, Mediapost's Michael Kokernak reports. Invidi, which is heavily backed by the likes of NBC Universal's Peacock Fund and WPP Group's digital arm, is charging that Cablevision, by using Visible World's interactive ad software, has violated its intellectual property. Obviously, this is pretty complex stuff for the court to sort through by Kokernak, a founder of the BCM, which just launched its own "Clickable TV" solution for some local Southern stations, found the Invidi complaint "eye-opening." It shows interactive TV as an industry that will soon have a variety of initiatives to choose from. "I bet we'll find Visible World also might have a few important patents tucked away," he speculates.

Cox's 'TV Everywhere' Goes To The Browser, Not The App

Cox Communications is eschewing the app route taking by other cable companies and is applying the TV Everywhere concept to subscribers' web browsers. The cable provider will allow programming from TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network and TruTV along with "thousands" of movies from HBO, Cinemax, Epix and Vutopia. But you won't be able to watch it on your iPad – the only requirement is that your screen be Flash-enabled, and Apple mobile devices do not allow the Adobe software to run on them. Read the release.

Rentrak: Movies-On-Demand In Reach Of $1 Billion

The business of video-on-demand doesn't just rest on advertising, as a Rentrak study ahead of the B&C/Multichannel conference makes clear (see the story above). Among the stats in the Rentrak report:

  • The Movies-On-Demand business was up 9.1 percent, to almost $1 billion in revenue
  • VOD users had an average of 17.1 transactions per month in 2010
  • Last year, an average of 38 million set-top boxes per month accessed VOD content, an 11 percent increase over 2009
  • 44 percent of all enabled set-top boxes access VOD in an average month
  • VOD users had an average of 17.1 transactions per month in 2010. Read the release.

But Wait. There's More!

  • Charter Communications has activated the EBIF interactive TV spec for more than 1 million digital set-top boxes, covering nearly all systems that use Cisco Systems set-tops. – Multichannel News
  • Innerscope Research, Inc. and Fox Broadcasting have new biometric research on the roles of television and online media in creating and extending brand equity. -- Release
  • Rentrak Signs Multi-Year Contract Extension With SiTV -- Release
  • Rovi Collaborates with Sony to Launch Rovi Advertising Service on Sony Bravia TVs -- Release

By James Bailey

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May 16, 2011 – 12:03 am

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