December, 2010

Pointing fingers at Netflix

Streaming Video Following up on his comments at a UBS media conference last week in which he criticized Netflix for its low pricing, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes was back with some even tougher words for subscription DVD and streaming service Monday in an  interview with the New York Times, calling it essentially a pip-squeak that will soon find itself out of its league.

“It’s a little bit like, is the Albanian army going to take over the world?”  Bewkes said. “I don’t think so.”

Why such animosity? Business Insider points to one likely reason: Netflix’s share price has surged nearly 250 percent this year while Time Warner’s has essentially flat-lined. Read More »

Netflix and the price of progress

Streaming Video Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes thinks Netflix is not charging  its subscribers enough to stream movies and TV shows. And he’s worried about what it could mean for the studios.

Speaking at a UBS media conference last week, Bewkes said $7.99 a month for unlimited streaming is not enough for Netflix to fund the acquisition of Time Warner content at the rates Time Warner believes it deserves.

Though Netflix is offering $50,000-$100,000 to stream current television shows, Mr Bewkes said, traditional channels still pay “millions of dollars” per episode, according to a report in the Financial Times. To get access to the same content, Bewkes said, Netflix will have to pay the same as traditional channels. Read More »

Measuring mobile marketing

I had the opportunity to lead a panel discussion at the DigiDay: ONMEDIA conference last week, on mobile marketing metrics. The panelists were Jami Lawrence of Publicis Modem, James Citron of Mogreet, and Carly Miller of Media Storm. A video of the panel is embedded below. You can also find links to videos of the rest of the panels at the day-long event at UStream.

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The real value of Widevine to Google

Deals Initial takes on Google’s acquisition of Widevine have focused primarily on the power of Widevine’s widely used DRM technology to help Google curry favor with content owners wary of Google TV and YouTube (see here, here and here). Also getting mentioned are the potential for Widevine’s extensive relationships with CE makers to boost adoption of  Google TV, and  the importance of Widevine’s adaptive streaming technology to Google’s Android platform, which currently has no effective way to cope with fluctuations in end users’ last-mile bandwidth (see here and here).

While nice, those factors are almost certainly incidental to Widevine’s real value to Google. As a threshold matter, none of those considerations required Google to buy the company, presumably at a premium to its current earnings. If it wanted to assure content owners of its commitment to protecting content on Google TV it could simply have licensed Widevine’s DRM like anyone else and added support for it to the Google TV platform. Ditto adaptive streaming. Read More »

Peer pressure

Streaming Video Netflix has been doing its best to stay out of the middle of the smackdown between Level 3 and Comcast, having judged — correctly in my view — that this particular dispute is not their fight. Notwithstanding Level 3’s efforts to portray Netflix as the victim anti-competitive behavior by Comcast, unless Comcast has some sort of death wish for its merger with NBC, which is still pending before federal anti-trust regulators, it’s hard to make the case that Comcast was targeting Netflix content per se in demanding higher payments from Level 3 (although video streaming expert Dan Rayburn has done his best to make precisely that case). The conflict still seems to me fundamentally a commercial dispute between two Internet infrastructure providers over how, how much and at what price they will pass bits back and forth between their respective networks–a conflict exacerbated but not caused by the surge in online video (those interested in the pro-Comcast perspective will want to read Stef van der Ziel’s post about the dispute on his CDN Strategy blog). Read More »