Category Archives: Content Production

Television for Dogs?

DSCN1739A sure sign Television is going through massive disruption. DogTV offers a 24/7 digital TV channel consisting of “dog friendly programing scientifically developed to provide the right company for dogs when left alone”. As described at the DogTV website:

“Through years of research with some of the world’s top pet experts, special content was created to meet specific attributes of a dog’s sense of vision and hearing and supports their natural behavior patterns. The result: a confident, happy dog, who’s less likely to develop stress, separation anxiety or other related problems.”

Can a concept like Television for Dogs really survive? Yes. At least, Discovery thinks so. According to Advanced-Television.com, Discovery Communications invested in DogTV and will roll out programming in North America, South Korea and Japan.

“More than 40 million American households own dogs, and they are spending more than $55.8 billion annually on their pets. It’s a thriving industry,” said Yossi Uzrad, Chairman of DOGTV. “DOGTV is a proven tool for relieving stress and anxiety for stay-at-home dogs, and a partnership with Discovery will help accelerate the network’s growth, while making DOGTV even more accessible to dog owners,” added Gilad Neumann, Chief Executive Officer of DOGTV.

Congratulations to Ilo Ilo

best-new-director-iloiloSurprise! Singapore’s Ilo Ilo by first time director Anthony Chen, has just won Taiwan’s Golden Horse Award for best Chinese Language Film. According to Variety, “Ilo Ilo,” about a Filipino maid’s awkward relationship with her employers during the Asiam Financial Crisis, was named best film, and earned Chen best script and best new director awards, while Yeo Yann Yann was named best supporting actress.

Here is the official trailer:

First Singaporean Contestant on The Voice

VCE_204-cilla-chanCongratulations are in order for Ms. Cilla Chan, the first Singaporean-born contestant to be accepted on to the hit US TV show, “The Voice“.

Cilla, who is a Singapore PR (Permanent Resident) and also an American citizen, was chosen by country singer Blake Shelton to be on his team.

According to NBC.com, Cilla grew up in Singapore where she hails from a musical family. She moved to the U.S. to attend college at Stanford. After graduating, Cilla put job offers on hold to audition for The Voice and hopes that this platform can launch her career in America. Follow Cilla on Twitter at @cillchan.

Here is the video of her getting chosen by Blake:

And here is an interview of how she feels to be part of season 5 of The Voice.

A special congratulations to Ms. Cilla Chan from Bhaalu Singapore!

Two Hong Kong FTA Broadcast Licenses Granted

fta-govBig television shake-up in Hong Kong as the government approves initial permits for two companies to obtain the highly coveted Free-to-Air broadcast license. The last time a Free-To Air broadcast license was granted in HK was nearly 40 years ago, to a company named Commercial Television Ltd., which went out of business 3 years after.

The initial approval for the FTA licenses was won by and I-Cable (Fantastic TV) and PCCW, (NowTV), which is one of the largest IPTV providers worldwide, and the first to pass the 1 million subscriber mark nearly four years ago.

While both PCCW and I-Cable shares jumped on the news, Hong Kong Television Network Ltd. (HKTV, Wai-kay’s Hong Kong Television Network), saw its shares dropping more than 31% and said they will cut 320 jobs after its FTA permit application was rejected.

According to sources at SCMP:

A senior government source said a consultant’s report had shown HKTV, previously known as City Telecom, to be the weakest applicant, and that Exco approved the licences “on merit with no political considerations”.

But the rejection of HKTV’s application, which was against the Broadcasting Authority’s earlier recommendation that all three licences be granted, prompted a swift backlash. By 1.30am today, a Facebook page calling upon the government to issue a licence to HKTV had attracted some 256,000 “likes”. Internet users were also preparing a protest on Sunday.

Asked if the deviation from the Broadcasting Authority’s recommendation would be against procedural justice, So said the authority made recommendations not decisions. He said Exco had considered “a basket of criteria” including programme planning, technical soundness, investment and public opinion.

But he refused to explain why HKTV was considered inferior to its competitors. HKTV can’t appeal to Exco against the decision, but it can file a judicial review in court, he said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong already has two FTA broadcasters (TVB and ATV), both are now challenging the government about why two contracts were awarded at all. They both fought against the governments consideration of 3 potential new licenses, and it seems that they at least for now, won the battle against Ricky Wong’s HKTV, (formerly called City Telecom, and now called HKTV, Wai-kay’s Hong Kong Television Network).

According to Bloomberg:

“We estimate new operators could launch the free-to-air TV services within 6-12 months and new competition could start as early as 2014,” Mandy Chan, an analyst at Merrill Lynch, wrote in a report. “We expect TVB to face challenges in keeping its near monopolistic hold of the Hong Kong free-to-air TV market.”

The awards to I-Cable’s Fantastic Television Ltd. and PCCW’s HK Television Entertainment Co. will double the number of free-to-air TV operators and bring in more investment, Commerce Secretary Gregory So said yesterday.

“This will not only provide more program choices for the audience, but also create more job opportunities in the creative industries,” So said at yesterday’s briefing.

Television Broadcasts’ flagship channel has a 93 percent audience share during prime time on weekdays, according to the company’s 2012 interim report.

Both TVB and ATV’s FTA licenses are due to expire in 2015, forcing them to re-apply in order to maintain it. Ricky Wong, the Telco entrepreneur in charge of Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV) denied that he will re-apply for an FTA license or acquire either TVB or ATV at that time.

Singapore Cross Carriage Act Update

The Media Development Authority (MDA) introduced a cross-carriage measure back in 2010, mandating that screening rights for all exclusive television content deals be made available to the customers of competitive Pay TV operators.

The act originated from a bidding war between StarHub and SingTel to obtain broadcasting rights for the 2010-2013 English Premier League football season. SingTel Mio TV won contract by paying a heavy price, which would eventually be transferred down to the consumer. In exchange, obtaining this contract helped drive their Mio TV subscriber base nearly 400%, from 117,000 in 2009 to just over 400,000 subscribers in 2013.

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According to Adeel Najam of Frost & Sullivan, SingTel lost money by acquiring EPL broadcast rights. Specifically, it is estimated that they paid $350m to acquire EPL rights, but only brought in $200m throughout the duration of the EPL contract.

  • SingTel’s mio TV service would gain 360,000 subscribers by 2013 and is expected to have a pay TV market share of 46% by that time.
  • Of the 231,000 subscriber additions in 2010 alone, 90,000 will be churned from Starhub (these subscribers will switch from Starhub to SingTel) and 100,000 subscribers will take up mio TV service for sports in addition to keeping their Starhub subscriptions in 2010.
  • The sports content acquisition will enable SingTel to double its ARPU by 2013. SingTel’s mio TV ARPU is expected to reach $45 by 2013 and this will be very close to the current level of Starhub’s pay TV ARPU.
  • Starhub which will now face stiffer competition from SingTel and experience a decline of 68,000 pay TV subscribers in 2010.
  • The key risk for SingTel is that this costly investment will make it more challenging for it to turn its pay TV business profitable. On a conservative basis, with an ARPU of $28 for the EPL content, SingTel will be able to accumulate $164 million in the three years from mio TV. Adding revenues from internet and mobile TV platforms this can reach around $200 million. This is 43% below the estimated bid price of $350 million by SingTel for the EPL content rights. Other risks SingTel might face are consumer backlash and regulatory scrutiny.

The Media Development Authority (MDA)’s cross carriage measure enacted on 12 March 2010, was to address the concerns over the nature of competition in the Singapore pay TV market, to put an end to the fierce bidding frenzy for exclusive content, which only served to drive prices up for both Singaporean TV operators and the public.

In theory, the measure would work as follows… StarHub subscribers who want to watch EPL, can simply pay an additional fee for access to this content. StarHub then pays that additional fee to SingTel, who then provides the channel content back to StarHub for delivery back to their customers. The reality of this measure however has proven different.

Last year, StarHub won a contract for the UEFA Euro 2012 matches. The Cross Carriage measure kicked in for the first time, and SingTel Mio customers were given access to theses live matches on their Mio TV box, so far, so good. The act seemed to be working.

However, soon after, SingTel obtained the exclusive contract for the 2013-2016 season EPL football broadcast rights. StarHub customers tried to pay for access to this content but SingTel refused to provide it, claiming that the contract was non-exclusive. The Straights times explains as follows:

This is the first time the cross-carriage rule is being challenged – ironically by SingTel, which benefited from the rule during the screening of UEFA Euro 2012.

SingTel took the auction for EPL broadcast rights in Singapore off the table last November, forcing StarHub to sit on the bench, while the first round of bidding kicked off all around Asia.

It is unusual not to have an auction. Still, SingTel said its deal with the Football Association Premier League (FAPL) was “non-exclusive”. This meant two things: StarHub was free to negotiate its own EPL screening rights at some point; and the cross-carriage law – which applies only to exclusive deals – could not kick in to force SingTel to share the content with StarHub.

SingTel tried several times to not provide EPL game content, arguing first that the deal wasn’t exclusive. After that argument fell through, they took the position that it is not reasonable to require them to subsidize a competitors subscribers. Straights Times writer Loh Keng Fatt explains:

SingTel had tried to argue that its EPL deal wasn’t exclusive, but the regulator didn’t buy that argument. The telco reacted to the order to share EPL by raising rates, arguing that it could not subsidise its competitor’s subscribers.

The upshot? SingTel’s existing mio TV subscribers will still pay the old rates. But new subscribers and those recontracting will pay from $64.90 a month for a Gold Pack, which includes movies and entertainment. This is substantially more than the $34.90 charged previously for a sports bundle, including EPL.

StarHub viewers will pay $59.90 a month to watch EPL. StarHub has also rolled out packages to entice those in the rival camp as well as encourage its subscribers to stay with it to watch EPL and other content.

But amid the fancy brochures and touted savings dangled by both telcos in playing up their packages, the fact remains that the cost to watch EPL has ballooned – compared to last season’s basic $34.90 deal.

Worst off are probably mio TV subscribers on the old $34.90 basic football deal.

It is no wonder then that the 400,000-plus mio TV subscribers – many of whom probably signed up for the football – may now wonder if the cross-carriage rule, though well-intentioned, has scored an own goal instead.

The current status of cross carriage measure in Singapore can be found at this Straights Times article. Another perspective can be found here. And the Hardware Zone has a good discussion thread about this issue.

Maybe the cross carriage measure will eventually function as it was designed, to keep costs down. Time will tell. But in it’s first iteration, it has essentially served to doubled the price of Pay TV sports packages in Singapore.

More Original Content from Netflix

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Following 14 total Emmy Award nominations for its original series House of Cards, Arrested Development, and Hemlock Grove, Netflix says it plans to expand its original content repertoire.  Not only has it ordered new seasons for all of its shows, but the company said in a letter to its shareholders that it also intends to venture into stand-up comedy and full-length documentaries.

Netflix’s long-term goal is to overtake rival HBO as the go-to provider for video content.  To do that, says Joan E. Solsman, the company will have to overcome deficiencies between it and HBO:

“Unlike HBO, Netflix doesn’t own own the content it’s helping to produce, though that would be a natural path for Netflix to take in the long term. And Netflix international reach is trifling compared to HBO’s. Earlier this year, Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes said HBO has 114 million global subscribers. Netflix’s worldwide subscribers were more than 37 million, it said Monday.”

Although Netflix recently edged out HBO in US subscribers, the fact that HBO owns all of its content allows it to have an overwhelmingly superior global presence.  Having “original” content is all well and good, but Netflix will continue to be globally overshadowed by HBO until owns outright all the content it produces (the global success of Game of Thrones is proof of this).  

In the meantime, however, we can all be resigned to the fact that we will, for the foreseeable future, have to use services like MyRepublic’s Teleport if we want to watch shows like House of Cards (which is fantastic, by the way).  

Referenced from TechCrunch and CNet

Slo-Mo Filming for iOS 7?

1373426908Alongside the anticipation of Apple’s new iOS 7 operating system (still in beta testing) is the widespread expectation of the iPhone 5S’s US release this fall.  And if we know anything about iPhone releases, we know that the months leading up to them are fraught with rumors of the phone’s new features, and this time is no different.

The feature that most people expect to be included in the 5S/iOS 7 is a new camera mode, called “Mogul,” that can shoot video in super-slow motion.  Although slo-mo video apps already exist for current phones and operating systems, Mogul would be integrated directly into the phone’s camera, making slo-mo filming as easy as flicking a switch (so to speak).

John Koetsier says the new feature could be an avenue for Apple to one-up the Samsung Galaxy S4′s existing slo-mo capability:

“Typically slow-motion video capture requires lower-resolution capture — the Galaxy S4′s 13-megapixel camera captures slo-mo at only 800-by-450 pixels, almost certainly due to the massive flood of visual data pouring into the camera, CPU, and Flash memory at 120 individual frames every single second…One way Apple could differentiate itself with a coming iPhone 5S, of course, is allow full-frame slow-motion, which would be spectacular.”

If the new feature does end up on the new iPhone, imagine what kind of implications that would have for Instagram or Vine, especially if the videos are in HD.  If so, I really hope somebody decides to re-create Bo Derek’s slo-mo beach run.

Referenced from VentureBeat and cnet.com

Vimily Launches Business Video App

coverBrand exposure is always a challenge for a startup venture trying to push its product or service into the market.  Especially in the early stages of the company, resources are hard to come by, and funding always seems to be in short supply.  Between looking for investors and finding cheap avenues for brand promotion, all while trying to improve the product itself, startup operators might easily become flustered.

Australian startup Vimily has just launched their app that (somewhat ironically) targets startups by providing a cheap and effective way to shoot video for promotional purposes.  The app allows businesses to conduct on-the-spot interviews with potential customers, or just shoot promotional videos, and post the video content on a platform hosted by Amazon Web Services.  The videos can also be integrated directly with social media websites via links embedded in the videos themselves. Vimily also allows businesses to keep track of the people interviewed and send them a link to the video so they can share it with their friends.

Krisana Gallezo adds that Vimily plans to expand the apps capabilities once the funding is there:

“…the company has a lot of exciting product developments in the pipeline to build out both the market research functions of the platform, and the branding opportunities available in the videos. For example, the company aims to open our API to support customised app developments using Vimily’s technology. They are also looking at how they can incorporate pre-roll video advertisement in each video to enhance brand recognition with audiences.”

Although Vimily is only in the pre-seed stage of funding (SG$270,000 thus far), it plans to soon expand its business to Asia and has Singapore clear in its sights, according to founders Matthew Barnett and Katrin Suess:

“The Asian market, in particular Singapore, is of great interest to us due to the market’s early adoption and high levels of engagement with user generated video content. I would say in many ways Singapore is ahead of the curve here, so…this market really excites us.”

See the full article at SingaporeBusinessReview

Hulu Deal Falls Through

DirecTV-HuluRemember when we wrote that DirecTV was supposed to put pen to paper on a deal to acquire Hulu by the end of last month?  Big news: the deal, which would have given DirecTV the online presence it desperately needs, has been called off by Hulu owners 21st Century Fox, NBC Universal and Disney in a joint press release last Friday.  This is the second time Hulu’s co-owners have canceled acquisition proceedings for the company in two years, as they did the same thing in 2011 (although the group of owners then had different members).

In these most recent dealings, DirecTV is said to have offered just over US$1B (S$1.26B) for the OTT platform, which Hulu’s owners were supposedly prepared to accept.  However, they have obviously had second thoughts, and are now planning on infusing US$750 million (S$950 million) of their own funds in an effort to realize Hulu’s potential.  

Jim O’Neill thinks that said potential, and not necessarily an inadequate offer from DirecTV, was the driving force behind the decision to axe the deal:

“The easy answer, but not necessarily the correct answer, is that the price being offered just wasn’t enough…The right answer may be more that the triumvirate finally realized they had a plum in their hand.

[Hulu]‘s got cheap, fresh content coming in from its three owners, 4 million paid subscribers, and a lot of potential. It just hasn’t been realized by anyone other than its original CEO, Jason Kilar, who tried and tried again to tell his bosses what a great company he’d made for them.”

Hulu sits in a distant third place behind American OTT providers Netflix and Amazon, and this fresh supply of cash from its owners is certainly a step in the right direction.  However, Netflix dishes out more than US$2B (S$2.5B) per year to both buy and create new content, and Amazon reportedly spends about half that.  Furthermore, Hulu’s owners have made it clear that their new funding for the company will not be a yearly expenditure, so it seems that the company’s management will continue to be a step behind its competitors.

Referenced from theConvergence.tv and allthingsd.com

Magnify Gets US$1M in Funding

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Budding video discovery business Magnify recently closed US $1M (SG$1.3M) in outside funding, including investments from TEDx’s Chris Anderson and former Facebook general counsel member Chris Kelly.

This new round of investments highlights the market’s need for increasingly competent and efficient video discovery and curation programs, says Magnify founder and CEO Steve Rosenbaum:

“Content creation used to be the log jam because it was expensive to produce, host, and distribute. Now the problem is that there’s too much content and no way to sort through it.

Especially with the wave of [short video] services…we think the next big opportunity in the video space has shifted to curation.”

Although video curation – manually collecting videos from around the web – seems simple in principle, finding enough pertinent video content and creating a viewing platform requires more time and effort than site owners are willing to expend.  That’s where Magnify comes in. Its product eases the load on web publishers by giving them both categorized video content to sift through and a viewing platform that is integrated directly into their site.

Magnify’s clients pay a monthly subscription and also get 50% of the revenue generated by ads for Magnify’s content partners, AOL On and Yahoo!.

Read full article at VentureBeat