Category Archives: Market Trends

Streaming Content vs. Cable – From the floor of NCTA

Cable Companies Are Working to Keep Up With the Consumer

How you consume media has changed. According to industry experts, while TV sets are still the number one way to consume video, watching content on a device other then TV is up 400% in the past 18 months. In fact it has been widely reported that in 2013 the number of cable subscribers dropped for the first time since cable TV launched.

Netflix and YouTube account for at least 50% of all streaming content online in the US.

So what does that mean for the cable industry?

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association renamed their annual convention The Internet & Television Expo or INTX for short.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association renamed their annual convention The Internet & Television Expo or INTX for short.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association held its annual meeting last week in Chicago. Interesting enough, The National Cable Show has rebranded and is now called The Internet & Television Expo, or INTX for short. Not only has the industry recognized the need to include the Internet, it got first billing at the show.

CableLabs is a non-profit research and development consortium that works with the large cable companies in developing technology at a rate that is affordable and meets the ever changing demands of the consumer.

Phil McKinney, President and Chief Executive Officer of CableLabs, says there is no doubt the industry is changing. “Cable providers are looking less and less like cable companies and more and more like IP (Internet Protocol) delivery providers.”

Worth noting, cable TV is still the largest form of delivery of content. Currently 90% of US Homes still pay for TV. But, as McKinney points out, more and more providers are using the Internet to delivery content.

Will there be enough bandwidth to keep up with the demand?

“Technology is pushing Internet speeds,” says McKinney. “We continue to see more bandwidth being developed than what is needed.”

Just last week Comcast announced plans to roll out multi-gigabit broadband service to its 2.4 million Chicago based customers. And SpectrumMax, a San Antonio based company, announced two new products that it promises will allow “cable operators to eliminate customer losses and successfully compete with cellular or wireless carriers.”

Will streaming content online verses cable or satellite save the consumer money? Is the Internet the answer to the demand for an “al a chart” menu of programming?

The cost for traditionally produced content continues to rise eight to 12% annually.

The cost for traditionally produced content continues to rise eight to 12% annually.

Yes and no to both questions.

By opening up content via the web, or what the industry refers to as “over the top,” meaning content delivered by the Internet verses the cable set top box, there are less bandwidth issues. Even satellite has a limit to the number of channels they can deliver. But the Internet, at least for now, seems to have an unlimited amount of bandwidth. More bandwidth gives smaller, more affordable programmers an outlet to deliver their content. This means the consumer has more choices to fresh new content at an affordable price.

Where the consumer will find cost going up is the more traditionally produced content they currently get through their cable provider. ESPN is the perfect example. Under the current cable model, the consumer pays about five dollars per month to get ESPN. Yet, set top box data shows less then 20% of consumers actually watch sports. NFL being the exception, drawing about a 30% audience.

So imagine the cost of ESPN in an “al a chart” world. Think Pay Per View. In ESPN’s defense it is not cheap to produce a live sporting event in HD. So if the cable industry moves away from traditional cable to an “al a chart” model, the cost would increase for those consumers who want the content.

“The cost for produced content continues to rise eight to 12%,” says McKinney. “The cable industry is absorbing most of the cost, knowing the consumer wants a cheaper monthly bill.”

Sudden Link Cable went as far as to drop all Viacom (CBS) programming because of the rising cost of produced content.

In truth the answer seems to lie somewhere in the middle. Dish’s Sling TV is perfect example. Sling TV offers consumers a package of channels they can watch on their mobile device, tablet or traditional TV through RoKu. Bandwidth delivery gives the consumers the freedom they want, and the package keeps the prices at a lower rate.

Channel Master rolled out its new IP box at the National Association of Broadcasters Convention last month. The box combines an over the air antenna, built in DVR and channel apps for additional content. The antenna helps Channel Master avoid retransmission fees, which are fees the big networks charge cable companies for the rights to carry their content. The content is free over the air, so that alone saves the consumer money. The built in DVR allows the consumer to watch the content on demand, and the built in channel apps gives access to additional content. Not currently offered on mobile devices, but another example of how the Internet can reduce the cost for the consumer.

Social Media Has Influenced How We Consume Media

Before social media, content on TV was used to drive an audience to a website. Social media has reversed that by using Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites to drive an audience to TV.

But the biggest issue with social media according to McKinney is spoilers, “where east coast viewers spoil the end of a TV program for the west coast viewers.”

Live programming has been the only answer to the problem, like a sporting event. Both east and west coast viewers are watching the sporting event live, so no spoilers.

Some networks are solving this problem by having viewers interact with live programming in real time on the east coast, and then playing back the interaction during the west coast feed. Youtoo America is a perfect example. In the interest of full disclosure, the parent company of BizTalkRadio and BizTV also owns Youtoo America.

The concept behind Youtoo America is that you, the viewer, can be on TV. The Network launched two live shows last week that discuss the trending topics of the day. The viewer or consumer can interact with the program by voting on the question of the day in real time, texting a message that scrolls across the bottom of the screen or even submitting a short video that could be played with in minutes on TV.

The idea is to use social media to drive an audience back to watching live content. The trending topics are first put out on social media. Viewers tune in live to see if their comments or videos made it on air, or to see how the rest of the country voted in the poll.

Interesting enough, the NBA is taking the opposite approach in its telecast according to McKinney. They find that sports consumers want to watch the game on TV without a lot of distraction on the screen. So the NBA is experimenting with an app that will provide stats, the score and social media comments. The app will run live during the telecast of the game.

Finally, is there any new TV technology to keep the consumer’s interest?

Yes, and it is called Ultra HD. But it is not what you think. Ultra HD is not about a higher resolution, like the first generation HD TVs.

Ultra HD is all about the amount of color it can display. Current HD sets only allows about 38% of colors the human eye can see. Where Ultra HD allows up to 70% of the colors the human eye can see.

“Resolution will not be as important as the color spectrum with the new TVs,” says McKinney.

The good news for consumers, the price of an Ultra HD TV is expected to come down in the next couple of years.

The Bottom Line:

Technology changes, and media has always been evolving and reinventing itself. Cable TV is the latest medium to use the Internet to deliver content. The biggest hurdle is not the distribution, but how the industry keeps the cost of produced programming down in the fragmented world of delivering the consumer the content they want, on the device they want, when they want to watch.

scottScott Miller is the EVP of Centerpost Limited, a private media holdings company that owns BizTV, BizTalkRadio and Youtoo America. Miller recently attended the Internet and Television Expo in Chicago and reports on how the industry is dealing with the changing landscape.

Getting Started: What Markets are Best for Startups

You want to break away from your day job, but you’re not sure if your industry is ready for a new voice. Well, here are the best industries for startups right now.Getting Started: What Markets are Best for Startups

1. Environmental Consulting

Going green is going anywhere. IBISWorld valued environmental consulting is valued at $17.8 billion. A 9% growth is expected in the next five years. If you’re an independent contractor, your installation skills will be put to good use with gear like wind turbines, solar panels, and eco-roofs. Now’s a good time to get your green consulting going.

2. Tea and Healthy Drinks

Tea is the 6th most popular beverage in the U.S. after carbonated soft drinks, bottled water, beer, milk, and coffee. However, the top 4 teamakers control 88% of the market. The 12% represents $264 million in the market controlled by small, independent growers. On top of that, the market has grown 5% over the last five years.

3. Mobile app design

Does it seem like apps are flooding the market? Maybe, but there’s still a need for more. Mobile app design growth might be linked to location services. In the last three years, location-based apps have received $656 million in 67 deals, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. If you have the know-how, definitely go for it!

4. Testing

Do you want to help other companies test the quality and safety of their products? Now is your time. Laboratory testing is a $15 billion industry, according to data from IBISWorld. The industry is expected to grow 5% every year for the next 5 years. As companies increase their funding for research and development, the testing industry has nowhere to go but up.

5. Crafts, hobbies, and musical instruments

It seems oddly specific, but craft stores, hobby shops, and musical instrument retailers have been performing better than traditional retailers across the board. found a growth rate of 9 percent, which also took into account toy and game retailers. If this is a product of the recession, ride it out. The industry says go.

What are you thinking of getting into? Have you done your market research to see whether or not it’s a good time to get started on your startup? Share in the comments below.

Inspiration: Infographic – The Evolution of the Entrepreneur


Inspiration: Freakonomics The Movie

After Chad Troutwine read Freakonomics and its exploration of neoclassical microeconomic principles in rational utility maximization, he thought, “This should be a movie!” As an entrepreneur and filmmaker, he actually was able to pursue his crackpot fantasy with the zeal of a young Howard Hughes.

Hounding the authors’ talent agency for nearly a year, Troutwine eventually saw his perseverance win the day. He optioned the cinematic rights to Freakonomics and began assembling a team of directors to each tackle a different Freaky topic. He met Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) at the Sundance Film Festival and quickly enlisted him. Next, Troutwine recruited Academy Award-winner Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) who suggested adding the directorial team Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp). Spurlock recommended Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight), and Troutwine invited Seth Gordon (The King of Kong) to share in the producing duties and to direct the film’s introduction and the connective interviews between the four primary segments. Freakonomics: The Movie was the Closing Night Gala film at the Tribeca Film Festival, premiering before a capacity crowd of more than 1,000 Festival attendees … and Robert DeNiro.

Staying true to the irreverent spirit of co-authors Levitt and Dubner, Troutwine pursued a risky and unprecedented theatrical distribution strategy. He and Magnolia Pictures released Freakonomics: The Movie in the Apple iTunes Store and on pay-per-view before exhibiting it in theaters. An instant success, the film jumped to the top of the Documentary film category in iTunes and spent months in the Top 30 ranking of all films (just above a little film called Avatar). Further challenging conventional wisdom, Freakonomics: The Movie premiered in 10 large U.S. cities with a catch: moviegoers could pay whatever amount they wanted for tickets. The “Pay What You Want” screenings and unorthodox release strategy have prompted several commentators to wonder if Freakonomics: The Movie has ushered in a new era for independent film distribution. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences recently added Freakonomics: The Movie to its permanent collection at the Margaret Herrick Library. It is currently available for rent or purchase digitally and on Blu-ray and DVD.

Inspiration: Infographic – Everyone Will Become An Entrepreneur

Are you ready to innovate?Everyone will become an Entrepreneur

Capitalizing on Opportunity

According to the papers, the Ravens won the Super Bowl.

According to Twitter, the winner was Oreo. And they won with an ad that didn’t go to CBS.

Everyone knew that this Super Bowl was going to be big for second screen viewers. If you aren’t familiar with “second screen” yet, the second screen refers to when television viewers have another screen in front of them, be it a computer, a smartphone, or a tablet. Super Bowl XLVII generated 231,500 tweets a minute, racking up 24.1 million tweets over the course of the whole game.

  • The big moments included:The power outage (231,500 tweets per minute, or TPM);
  • the 108-yard kickoff return by Raven’s Jacoby Jones (185,000 TPM);
  • the Raven’s winning moment (183,000 TPM);
  • Jones’ 56 yard caught pass for a touchdown (168,000 TPM);
  • Gore’s 49ers’ touchdown (131,000 TPM).

Beyonce’s halftime show generated 5.5 million tweets itself, which was more than was tweeted during the entire Super Bowl last year.

Most of the Super Bowl ads had some kind of hashtag tie-in to get people taking it to the second screen.

So why is Oreo the winner?

Oreo jumped on the blackout with this picture attached to a tweet. Their tweet read “Power out? No problem.”

The message caught on almost immediately, getting nearly 15,000 retweets (as of this writing) and more than 20,000 likes on Facebook.

Oreo has a 15 person social media team standing by to react to whatever happened during the Super Bowl. They had their own ad that aired which featured it’s own social media call to action to get people to pick sides: Creme or cookie? (We all know the answer is that it’s a perfect balance.) The team featured copywriters, artists, and strategists to respond to any situation. The company that handled the game day tweeting for Oreo was digital marketing agency 360i,

Oreo proves that while you can’t plan ahead for what might happen on social media, you can plan ahead with the right people to respond to whoever does.

While you might not have the budget for a 15 person social media team, you should still be aware of the trends are where your customers are. Don’t be afraid to drop a relevant tweet. You might just go viral.

The Domestic Production Comeback

As potential business trends are identified for 2013, one of the ones that stands out is the return of domestic production. Will we start seeing “Made in USA” stamped on our goods again? Let’s take a look.

In September 2012, PricewaterhouseCoopers report alluded to a “renaissance” in U.S. manufacturing stemming from factors like more affordable labor, higher shipping costs and a better financial climate–and the fact that “re-shoring” (returning production stateside) could mitigate $2.2 billion in losses from supply-chain disruptions in 2011.

Another factor is innovation of the startup kind. One of the biggest examples, Tesla Motors, focuses on how things have gotten more efficient in the light of economic downturns. What was originally filed as a lower priority has turned into companies trimming the fat on production and distribution.

As some retailers and startups are either heavily represented or exclusively active online, keeping production in the US can give them a home court advantage. What might have taken an extra day or two to travel from an overseas supplier can now be sent straight out the door.

Perhaps the biggest indicator that domestic production is making a comeback is the growth and sustaining power of local businesses. People have been making a living off Etsy stores and “local” businesses have a strong appeal because they are local.

While all these things factor in bringing more production stateside, will it bring more jobs? Maybe not as many as you would hope. Robots tend to keep the prices down and so far haven’t formed any unions.

What do you think? Is there a future for “Made in USA?” If so, is it coming this year or will we have to wait to see much of a difference?

Let us know below!

How to make working from home work

More often, it seems entrepreneurs and small business owners are falling back on the home office. It is their base of operations, their command center, but it’s still where you call home. Having home life and work life butting against each other can be a difficult adjustment. The sink is full, the lawn needs to be mowed, vacuuming needs to be done.

Here are some helpful tips on adjusting to the home office:

1. Give yourself structure

Segment out your day in a way that makes sense to you. Make sure you know when all your meetings are, when you have to be on a call and make sure those times are set aside for those activities. Then, over the course of the day, make sure you know when you’re working and when you aren’t. Make sure your office is set up in a room with a door that you can close. If people bugging you is a possibility, make up a Do Not Disturb sign. It might feel strange doing that at home, but it could offer you the peace and quiet you need to do your job.

2. Use the amenities of home

Just because you’re working doesn’t mean you should lose sight of the fact that you have you’re whole home right in front of you. Take a lunch break and watch something on Netflix. Turn up your stereo. Buy that yogurt that your coworkers usually steal. Make an individual cup of coffee because you don’t have to make one for the whole office. When you’re working from home, hours can be flexible. Just don’t lose your sense of structure.

3. Leave the house

Some of the appeal of an office is seeing different people and talking around the water cooler. You have a chance to break away from the usual. When you work from home, you fall into the same patterns. If you start to feel overwhelmed or stuck, find a coffee shop with WiFi or somewhere with the same resources you have at home. Spending three hours working at the library may be all you need to knock you out of a funk.

4. Get dressed

One of the big draws of working from home is staying in your pajamas all day. While one or two days like this might work, you’re much more productive if you take a shower and put on some real clothes. The habit of getting ready for the day can jump start your creativity.

Do you have any tips for working from home? What works and what doesn’t? Share your thoughts below.

The History of Black Friday

Remember when all the deals on that Friday after Thanksgiving were called “Day After Thanksgiving” sales?

Black Friday has changed over the years. The term, meaning businesses go from “in the red” to “in the black”, originated in Philadelphia in the 60’s, but spread throughout the US in the 70’s. The Philadelphia police coined the term to describe the out of control atmosphere of the crowds, but the term has now been used as a term of tentative endearment. Black Friday is the official kickoff of the Christmas shopping season. While the day has often been the benchmark for deals and spending sprees, it wasn’t until the 00’s that stores crept from 6:00AM openings to 5:00AM or 4:00AM. The ’10’s became the first time that stores opened at 12:00AM. It’s described as the busiest shopping day of the year, known for aggressive crowds and mob mentality.

Black Friday has inspired a sort of fandom of its own. There are the ones who brave the crowd every year and see waiting in line as a kind of tradition with store schedules and maps while others hunt for their deals whenever they want to find one.

In 2005, a press release coined the phrase Cyber Monday for the online deals that flood e-commerce sites the Monday after Thanksgiving. Consumers spent $1.028 Billion online on Cyber Monday, the highest spending day of 2010 according to ComScore.

In 2010, small businesses launched a counterpart to Black Friday called Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday encourages shopping at brick and mortar establishments as opposed to the big box retail and department stores that benefit from Black Friday. American Express conceived of the holiday and promoted it across social media. Small Business Saturday isn’t limited to the Saturday after Thanksgiving. There are a few Small Business Saturdays throughout the year, often popping up as trends on Twitter when they occur.

The weekend after Thanksgiving launches the holiday shopping season.

Share your deals and Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday stories in the comments!

Crowdfunding for the Entrepreneur

The term “crowdfunding” was originally coined to describe the process of raising money for video projects online. Since then, sites like Kickstarter have increased the prevalence and notoriety of crowdfunding services. Crowdfunding replaces the need for grant applications and other traditional fundraising techniques. Crowdfunding relies on the community that you have already built around your project or idea. It aggregates your social networks to give everyone the chance to be part of your project.

Many of the popular crowdfunding sites that are out now are reward based. This is a tiered system that offers rewards based on how much money is contributed. The contributions can be a wide range. The initiator of the crowdfunding project must set a goal and a time limit.

A successful crowdfunding project depends on your pitch. It isn’t simply asking for money, it’s showing your potential investors why your project is important. What is your message? Why are you passionate about your business? How can you turn your customers into investors? A large part of crowdfunding is reaching out to people who will make a commitment to your business and these committed fans are poised to become the advocates of your business.

One crowdfunding site, Rock The Post, is a site specifically for small businesses. The team at Rock The Post not only get your project up and running on the site, they also offer consultations on how to make to make your crowdfunding project a success. You get expert advice from people who know how to launch a successful campaign. From pitch to reward system, you’ll have a quality project to present to your community.

If you decide to use crowdfunding with your business, make sure you find the site that’s right for you. Kickstarter tends to fund media projects, from video games to music videos.  IndieGoGo is a mashup of projects, including causes for the Red Cross. Make sure you know where your project belongs before you try to raise your money.

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