Category Archives: Digital Cable

Report: 2.65m US pay-TV subs ‘cut the cord’ in 2008-2011

Some new evidence from the US claiming that ‘cord-cutting’ may be a real phenomenon after all.

Today’s Morning Bridge cites research from Convergence Consulting Group saying that “2.65M Americans between 2008-2011 canceled their pay-TV subscriptions in favor of those offered from internet streaming services.” Convergence predicts that by the end of this year, “as many as 3.58M consumers will cut their cord.”

The Bridge adds that in a separate report, Leichtman Research has found that the top 14 US MVPD operators added 175K fewer subs in 2011 than in 2010.

Claims about the impact of cord-cutting have frequently been disputed because it is difficult to gauge what proportion of customers are churning out of pay-TV simply because they’re cutting back on their entertainment expenditure during the recession, or for other reasons unrelated to the availability of OTT services such as Hulu and Netflix.

Update: Leichtman Research has pointed out to Connected TV that it was Convergence Consulting Group and not themselves which was responsible both for the 3.58M cord-cutter prediction, and the conclusion that OTT was the culprit. This was not made clear in the Morning Bridge article, and the above post has been amended accordingly.

IBC 2011 – The wall-size interactive display surfaces at NDS

Take a screen as big as a wall linked to a connected TV, open half a dozen of the OTT apps or widgets at once, and enlarge and scatter them around a centrally-displayed video image. In a nutshell, that’s the NDS ‘Surfaces’ concept: an imagined scenario of how future display technologies could be deployed that the technology company believes could be only five years away.

However, the dynamic visual experience this set-up makes available is considerably richer than that thumbnail sketch would suggest. Controlled through a tablet, ambient lighting can be varied, the video display expanded and shrunk, and different sets of widgets called up depending on who’s in the room. In one of the scenarios shown, a family breakfasting could have weather and travel information showing either side of a TV news bulletin ‘screen’, below which a display of contextual headlines (triggered by tags embedded in the news video stream) would continually update.

Other scenarios showed the entire wall being used for an expanded super HD movie viewing (with the lights dimmed), and a talent show invoking social media applications such as Twitter or Facebook around the screen, together with a voting app. One of the key notions involved is the triggering of changes in the display through meta-data in the broadcast stream.

Simon Parnall, UK Vice President Technology at NDS, said one of the motives behind the demonstration was a recognition that more attention needed to be paid to the consumer’s viewing experience. Given the continually expanding screen sizes available, the scenario being presented was not that far-fetched, he suggested.

The wall-sized video ‘surface’ apart, all the technologies used were available today, with the entire demonstration being run through a Google Chrome web browser using the new HTML-5 standard.


Non-linear delivery: Nielsen and IHS tell traditional broadcasters not to worry… yet

Two new pieces of research suggest a limited impact so far by OTT and non-linear TV delivery systems on traditional forms of TV consumption:
1) First, IHS is claiming that ‘Broadcasters Have No Cause for Panic Over Rise of Nonlinear TV’, based on predictions that DVR, on-demand and other forms of nonlinear programming will account for “only 15.8% of television viewing in the United States in 2015, up from 9.9% in 2010″ – while in the UK, non-linear will account for 12.7% of television viewing in 2015, up from 7.8% in 2010 (see here).
2) Second, Videonuze, citing a new study by Nielsen and CTAM for the US market, concludes - with caveats – that for those fearing that video consumption through mobile and connected devices threatens to disrupt traditional linear TV viewership, it may not be “happening en masse, at least not yet”. The study suggests that 85% of video app users are watching the same or more regularly scheduled [amounts of] TV.

TBone rebrands as ‘Zeebox’, targeting social TV

PaidContent is running an exclusive on TBone, brain-child of Anthony Rose, the man credited with turning the BBC iPlayer into a runaway success.
TBone is to be launched as ‘Zeebox’, in the form of an application initially for iPads, which will allow users of companion devices to control TV sets in line with what their ‘friends’ are watching on Facebook and Twitter.
An intriguing aspect of the technology, according to PaidContent, is the use of an ‘automated content recognition’ system, which will automatically display ‘infotags’ in real time related to the semantic content of the TV programme being viewed, potentially allowing contextual linking to relevant sites.
Zeebox is due to go live in October.

QR codes for TV-based smartphone transactions?

Interesting think-piece here by Rick Howe at Tracy Swedlow’s Interactive TV Today.
Rick wonders if the use of QR codes might take off on (US) TV as a way of enabling secure purchases via smartphones in response to a TV screen prompt. His article contains a number of video-grabs of US examples of such applications.
Rick bases his argument on the growing popularity of QR functionality in mobile phones.
QR codes (short for Quick Response codes) are a high-data-content variation on barcodes (see here).
They can be captured and analysed by phone camera software, triggering a link to a relevant website.
As an example, the QR code below contains a link to farncombe’s website (