Today's VideoDaily Roundup focuses on big media, starting with Barry Diller, who throws a punch at media and telco firms in his written Senate hearing testimony. We follow this by profiling a TV Everywhere service that aims to play nice with big media firms. After that, Hulu investor Providence Equity Partners takes a stake in former News Corp. COO Peter Chernin's new media venture. Next, online video enters the classroom (in a good way), and finally: will premium publishers soon be forced to put their video inventory on ad exchanges?
Diller Takes Shot at Big Media with Senate Testimony
In written testimony submitted to the Senate Commerce Committee's hearing on video migration on Monday, IAC/InterActive Corp. Chairman Barry Diller accused big media of “experimenting with forms of economic discrimination." Diller urged Congress to “prevent cable and telecommunications companies from leveraging their dominance in existing markets for video delivery to control emerging markets.” He did not name any names.
Diller, whose latest big investment Aereo is attracting litigious attention from the likes of Walt Disney Co.'s ABC and other networks, was among several witnesses called to the hearing to examine how Web video technologies are blurring the traditional concept of television. Aereo, for example, is a service that allows users to access broadcast TV on any device for $12 per month -- without the networks' consent.
TV Everywhere Service Aims to Woo Big Media Firms
It's part Slingbox, part DVR -- but without the need for a set-top box, says GigaOm's Ryan Kim. NimbleTV, a NY-based startup, on Monday launched a beta TV Everywhere service that allows customers of pay-TV subscription plans to have their content streamed to them on any device. Subscribers to the service would pay their regular fee to their provider, and would add another $20 or so per month (the exact fee is still unclear) for streaming access, unlimited DVR storage, and the social recommendation tools that NimbleTV provides.
At the moment, it is unclear which TV providers are signed up for the service, which is debuting in NY. Other reports claim that NimbleTV will start offering satellite service through its software, at which time exact pricing will be announced. By keeping the pay relationship intact, NimbleTV hopes to avoid lawsuits. “I imagine that a lawsuit from distributors is probably in NimbleTV's future,” Kim asserts, adding that investors are already planning for that eventuality.
Hulu Investor Pumps Cash into Hulu Champion's New Media Firm
As COO of News Corp., Peter Chernin spearheaded the creation of the joint video venture Hulu, owned by News Corp., The Walt Disney Co., and Comcast Corp. Now, Providence Equity Partners, which owns 10 percent of Hulu, is making an investment in Chernin's media investment/production house, The Chernin Group.
The agreement sees Providence Equity acquire a large minority stake in the Chernin Group and receive multiple seats on its board of directors. The Chernin Group will use the cash -- rumored to be close to $200 million -- to look for new media investments.
As The LA Times points out, the partnership with Providence Equity will likely put to rest the endless speculation surrounding Chernin's future -- he is often linked to just about any major vacant job at a big media firm. It seems Chernin wants to build his own media empire now.
Online Video Augments Classroom Learning
Online video has become a valuable 21st-century learning tool, Forbes.com reports. Predictably, most educational video content is found on YouTube, but the problem is that many school districts prohibit use of the Google video service due to the amount of potentially distracting and inappropriate content it contains. Hence, the emergence of a new breed of teacher-approved video sites, such as the educational video portal WatchKnowLearn, and education-focused YouTube copycats like SchoolTube and TeacherTube.
Not to be outdone, YouTube itself has made a bid to appeal more to educators and students with a new network setting called YouTube for Schools, which only allows access to some 750 approved channels from education partners.
Will Publishers Soon Be Forced to Put Video Inventory on Exchanges?
Speaking at the BrightRoll BRX Video Summit earlier this month, AOL SVP of Video Ran Harnevo claimed that within two or three years, only four or five of the biggest premium publishers will sell their inventory directly to advertisers, while "the rest of the publishers will have to cooperate with exchanges to create efficiency for the buying side." That's a bold prediction, given that publishers generally only use exchanges to sell remnant video inventory, and the demand for premium online video content is still so much greater than the supply.
What will force publishers to put their premium inventory on ad exchanges? As Harnevo himself pointed out, AOL's video inventory has been 98 percent sold out for the last six months. David Derobbio, Eastern sales director for NBC News Digital, added that his company's digital properties are anywhere from 92-95 percent sold out. Part of the reason for this, Derobbio said, is that NBC's digital video content is intended to complement its TV news product, which means NBC hasn't made a significant push to bolster its video offerings.