nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Apple, Time Warner Inc, Disney need OTT strategy rethinks

Apple Disney HBO GO splash

Here are three examples of companies that may not be paying enough attention to what’s going on in their markets. Apple, TimeWarner Inc and Disney all could do with one more visit to the OTT strategy drawing board to get their market approach straight.

New Apple TV beats the competition, in price!

The hype is building over the purported release of the new Apple TV on September 9th. If the pundits are right the new device will sport a fast processor, Siri, an app store, integration with game controllers, and an innovative new interface. However, these are me-too features already available in streaming media players from the competition. What the competition doesn’t have is a $150-$200 price tag, the rumored cost for the new device. At that price Apple better have something else up its sleeve to sweeten the deal.  How about support for Ultra HD/HDR movies in iTunes and Apple TV? Still not buying? Me neither.

Disney XD leverages MCN talent, almost

Variety reports that Disney XD and Disney owned Maker Studios are co-operating to find young YouTube talent. The content giant will fund concept projects with $1000 or less which might be produced into shows and movies, and that might eventually get on YouTube and even Disney XD.com. This “best of the best” approach will help by “cultivating a creative community that drives inspiration, original storytelling and unique formats that can be shared globally,” according to Marc Buhaj, general manager and senior VP of programming for Disney XD.

I have a better idea. Why doesn’t Mr. Buhaj just look at who’s trending on YouTube? Many of the YouTube stars are already way more popular than the kids on Disney XD. A study last year found the top five personalities for teens were all YouTube stars. This is exactly how AwesomenessTV goes about it, according to Kelly Day, Chief Digital Officer at AwesomenessTV. The company looks for kids with big social followings and grooms them stardom on the MCN’s channel. AwesomenessTV let’s its audience decide directly which kids work out and which don’t by monitoring social activity. This sounds a much better approach than Disney trying to second guess what the market wants.

“Not that good” Netflix still better than HBO Go

According to Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner Inc chief: “Netflix is good, but not that good. The pessimism in the market about the sector is overdone – our industry will figure out how to take content and sell it on demand.”

How well is Mr. Bewkes flagship channel, HBO, doing online versus Netflix? In the U.S. at least, it’s not doing well at all. Digitalsmiths says that HBO GO had been downloaded by just 5% of tablet users in Q1 2015, and that 75% of those that had downloaded any TV Network app said they used it less than once a week. 46% said they subscribed to Netflix and over 50% of SVOD users said they watch over 5 hours of video a week through them.

Sounds like Mr. Bewkes is right when he said “our industry will figure out how to take content and sell it on demand.” It certainly sounds like his team at HBO hasn’t got it figured out yet. Does that mean HBO is “not that good” too?

Why it matters

If Apple introduces its new streaming media player at or above $150 it will not sell outside of the Apple fanatics market.

Rather than trying to pick top MCN talent for Disney XD with artificial competitions, the company should listen to social media and go where their audience is already going to find new talent.

Jeff Bewkes thinks that Netflix is “good, but not that good.” Looking at usage data for HBO Go, it seems like his flagship channel is not that good either.


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