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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

TiVo Wants Its Piece Of The Aereo Market

As Aereo's business model fades away, others are trying to pick up the pieces.  The latest to step in is TiVo who has announced a new DVR box that can receive digital broadcast signals from an at home antenna and deliver DVR functionality, all without a cable subscription.  Per Multichannel, the Roamio OTA box "is also compatible with the TiVo Stream, a Slingbox-like device that can stream live and recorded TV to smartphones and tablets in or out of the user’s home". 

The TiVo box costs under $50 and requires a monthly subscription to TiVo at about $15 a month, a little more expensive than what Aereo charged, but cheaper than a cable subscription.  The service is clearly aimed to the cord cutters and antenna households that might want more functionality and channel availability at a lower price than cable TV.  Given the court decisions against Aereo, this device might be a great solution, but it is not the only one as other services are popping up as well.  With Aereo on the way to oblivion, others are clearly picking at its carcass.
is also compatible with the TiVo Stream, a Slingbox-like device that can stream live and recorded TV to smartphones and tablets in or out of the user’s home - See more at: http://www.multichannel.com/news/technology/tivo-roamio-ota-model-targets-cord-cutters/383346#sthash.TIBw6cO4.dpuf

Monday, August 25, 2014

Is Aereo Dead?

Now that the Supreme Court ruled that Aereo doesn't have the right to repurpose free over the air signals to consumers, now comes news that a federal court also ruled that Aereo can't operate as a cable TV operator either.  Aereo can't seem to find any wiggle room it seems to continue to operate as an OTT service for broadcast signals.  Will Aereo continue to fight or is time to shut down completely?  For consumers seeking a low cost way to get broadcast signals that can be streamed to their mobile devices, it may be time to buy a digital antenna and a sling box.

Friday, August 22, 2014

GameStop Soars Despite Landscape Changes

It is hard to stay relevant for a long time in an ever changing world.  Technological change, environmental change, social change all can either propel or damage commerce.  We have seen such an effect that digital has played on big box stores competing against Amazon or how technological change has hurt the Radio Shack brand.  For those that adapt to changing market forces, like Netflix who moved from DVD to streaming, a future continues, but for those that don't shift to changing conditions, both macro and micro, like Sears, the future looks bleak.

So it is a bit surprising for many that GameStop continues to see record earnings as game use has shifted to tablets and platform games can be downloaded for play rather than purchasing a disc.  But GameStop took advantage of the new gaming platforms from Xbox and Playstation to exceed expectations.  Per the Wall Street Journal, "The retailer previously has struggled with a slowdown in sales of videogame discs as game developers and rivals expanded software downloads and other digital offerings. In one recent example, Electronic Arts Inc. EA +0.55% introduced a subscription service that lets Xbox One owners play EA's games for $4.99 a month."  A subscription service could truly hurt the current GameStop model.

Still, the problem with downloads is that once tired of the game and looking for the next one to buy, consumers are unable to sell it to someone else.  GameStop's service of purchasing and reselling used games appeals to a budget conscious consumer.  Simply put, a downloaded game can't be resold.  But GameStop can't believe that this model will be enough to remain competitive.  It must seek new sources of revenue and adapt to the changing landscape of digital.  A GameStop subscription service might just be a possible future to explore.  For now, congrats on staying relevant, but don't stop keeping your eye on future growth. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Barnes & Noble Partners With Samsung

A partnership has brewed between these two forces as the Nook is finally a part of the Galaxy line of Samsung tablets.  Per AP, "The 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook will sell for $179, the same entry price of the non-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab 4."  According to the report, the new Nook has access to both Google and Nook stores and the device will have a camera on both the front and rear.  

Will customers flock to the new device or wait to see what Apple offers in September?  Regardless, this move from B&N to partner with an established brand like Samsung is a smart one.  It should open more distribution opportunities for both and more access to a wider variety of apps and downloads. 

Playstation Converted Xbox Users To Their Platform

According to a Nielsen report announced by Re/code, "an April Nielsen study found that 31 percent of PS4 owners did not own Sony’s previous console, the PlayStation 3, but did own an Xbox 360 or Wii."  And while no particular analysis has been confirmed, it seems that gamers may be a fickle lot. 

As a parent of a gamer, I was involved in the lunacy of announcements with both Sony and Microsoft introduced last holiday season new gaming platforms that required new games to use.  It meant that Xbox 360 games couldn't run on Xbox One and PS 3 games wouldn't run on PS 4.  My son is always looking at the next new game so that development led him to compare and decide which system best served his future needs.  And he, like the other 31 percent switched from Xbox 360 to PS4.

Would the outcome have been any different if these consoles enabled older versions of games to play, I'm not certain.  But I do know that by having both companies push new gaming platforms, they each pursued a strategy of touting platform superiority.  For Xbox, it was as both a gaming and entertainment console; for Playstation as a better gaming experience.  For pure play interests, PS 4 won.  Given that both companies embraced a due over of their respective platforms, it is a no-brainer that consumers would compare and pick based on which platform best served their interests. 


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Apple's Stock Price Echos Investment Strategy

As Apple reaches an all time high in its stock price, it reminds me of the adage, buy on the rumor, sell on the news.  On September 9, Apple is expected to announce new versions of its iPhone, possibly new versions of its iPad, and the first launch in a number of years of a new product, the iWatch.  That is three weeks away so till then we can only speculate on what gets announced.  But for those that are fans of Apple and invest in it as a company as well, that potential news will drive the price up into Septemebr 9. 

Post that date, profit takers will no doubt sell on the news of product releases.  Yet that is short run thinking and for those that invest in the long run, the combination of long run growth and dividend return should continue to make Apple a valued investment.  For it is more than just one or two products; Apple has built an ecosystem where its products work easily with one another, iMac to iPad to iPhone to Apple TV to possibly the iWatch. Products that work seamlessly and easily with one another. 

So enjoy the up and down ride of the stock price.  Some investors will chase the short term profit while others will enjoy the long term journey.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

RIP Don Pardo

Don Pardo passed away at the age of 96, with over 4 decades in media.  From radio to television and even on digital, Pardo has touched multiple media platforms.  And while his work was mainly that of voice overs, he occasionally appeared on screen as well.  He was known by multiple generations of fans, in his early days on quiz shows like Jeopardy to his most recent work on Saturday Night Live.  And as these shows have made their way on web and OTT platform, so has Don Pardo.  He will be missed.

Football Equals Primetime Broadcast Ratings

This year, CBS begins to air Thursday Night Football to all its broadcast markets.  Certainly seeing the success that NBC has had with its Sunday Night Football games, CBS wants a similar outcome.  For both broadcasters, it attracts a large Nielsen rated audience in primetime as well as serves as a promotional vehicle to its other primetime shows.  It has previously worked for NBC in past years to raise its ratings and should do the same for CBS.

But this is not a new phenomenon.  For years, ABC was the proud owner of Monday Night Football across its broadcast footprint.  It was the home for Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford, "Dandy Don" Meredith and more recently John Madden.  But a few years ago, ABC made the decision to move its football franchise off broadcast and onto its sister cable network, ESPN.  And while it surely helped ESPN ratings and assured higher license fees, I'm not sure if their ABC parent wouldn't mind now having their Monday night franchise back. 

Now as a football fan, I worry that too many nights of football will kill the golden goose.  It's one thing to commit to a Sunday afternoon of football, but the more hours and more days, the harder it is to stay tuned in.  Sometimes too much of a good thing is simply too much.  Yes Thursday Night football was first on the NFL Network, but with its move to a broadcast network, it will surely ask for bigger rivalry games to attract bigger audiences.  Thursday Night, Sunday Night, and Monday Night might just be too many.  But as we have come to learn, its never about the fan, only about the revenue.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Xbox Entertainment Might Still Have A Future

With Microsoft concentrating on cloud and products, their adventure into video content creation became short lived.  The Xbox gaming platform has been successful, but entertainment is a more risky business.  So with plans to shutter their Xbox Entertainment Studio (XES) arm, the possibility of a sale has emerged.  Per the Hollywood Reporter, "XES is shopping for a new home and has had preliminary talks with Warner Bros. about possibly becoming a stand-alone entity based at the studio. In that scenario, Warners would look to merge XES with Machinima, the video game-centric YouTube network in which it owns a stake." 

Given the rise of OTT platforms, this kind of deal makes tons of sense if the content inside the Xbox pipeline has some value to begin with.  A deal with XES doesn't necessarily automatically deliver a platform deal to the WB.  In addition, I would love to learn through Xbox research how many hours of video content are already being consumed through the platform.  I can only imagine that the vast majority comes through Netflix, Hulu, and You Tube access.  Lastly, one can only hope that the content coming out of XES is both desirable to the core audience and able to deliver some revenue in return.

In this case, it appears XES may have some distribution opportunities on premium cable as well.  Valuable content with cross platform interest that grows audience interest and long term appeal can do quite well.  Their hope is that their Halo franchise is case in point.  For Warner Bros, it is a continued eye on a future outside the traditional platforms of theatrical and television.  The rise of digital distribution across OTT platforms adds another market to mine.  And having content that appeals to the Xbox core audience demo may be a good fit.