Michael HawkeyTV search and discovery and user guide specialist Rovi has named Michael Hawkey as senior vice-president and general manager of its Discovery business group.In this role, Hawkey will lead the growth initiatives, overall strategy and profitability in multiple areas across the Discovery group’s product development, including product lifecycle management, programme management and product marketing, and will also oversee the engineering, architecture and user experience of Rovi’s discovery products.Hawkey, who was previously senior vice-president and general manager for EchoStar’s Sling Media, will report to John Burke, Rovi’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.“With more than 25 years of industry experience, Michael brings tremendous expertise to Rovi and a solid track record in driving digital entertainment software and solutions across multiple screens and mobile devices worldwide,” said John Burke, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Rovi. “Michael’s leadership in successfully managing product development and bringing next-generation products to market makes him well-suited to support Rovi’s rapidly growing Discovery business.”
France Télévisions has struck an agreement with producers that will enable it to exploit content exclusively on its own free and subscription digital packages.The deal will enable France Télévisions director-general Delphine Ernotte to make good her ambition to withdraw series financed by the pubcaster from Netflix and other third-party platforms ahead of the planned launch of Salto, the OTT joint venture between France Télévisions, TF1 and M6.Delphine ErnotteUnder its new deal with producers, the broadcaster will be able to distribute content it has ordered across linear TV, catch-up, video-on-demand and subscription video-on-demand, enabling it to decide on its own distribution strategy. Hitherto, producers retained the rights to sell content purchased by the pubcaster to third-party SVOD platforms.As a trade-off, producers have secured the concession that the period of linear broadcast exclusivity required by France Télévisions will be reduced from four years to three, or to 30 months for single-episode telefilms. The pubcaster has also agreed to up the quotient of its production guaranteed for independent producers from 75% to 82.5%, while also upping the quotient allocated for internal production from 12.5% to 17.5% and eliminating the 12.5% previously allocated on a flexible basis.Ernotte has for some time been proselytising the benefits of French broadcasters retaining exclusive rights to their own content in order to “protect French fiction”, citing the example of Disney deciding to retain its own US rights rather than license content to Netflix.France Télévisions, TF1 and M6 Group teamed up last June to announce their plan to launch joint national OTT TV platform Salto, with a promise that it would “actively participate” in the creation of French and European original content.
Kudelski Group, owner of content security specialist Nagra, has named Dave Luken as CEO of Skidata, the Group’s Public Access division, which develops solutions to manage access to parking facilities, ski resorts, stadiums, fairs, and amusement parks.Luken will report to André Kudelski, CEO of the Group, and will lead the Public Access business into the next phase of its evolution. His initial focus will be to improve profitability and cash flow generation by optimising operations and leveraging tighter cooperation with the other global product units and support functions of the group and he will also further develop Skidata’s global strategy for its next generation of solutions for people and vehicle access management.Luken previously worked at Honeywell, where he held several positions before being appointed VP of its global Airlines Business Segment. Following his time at Honeywell, Dave joined Zero Mass Water, a technology company advancing global water quality and resilience.“We are very pleased to welcome Dave Luken to the Group. Dave is a recognized global technology leader,” said Kudelski. “I am confident he will further build on the successes that the Skidata team has achieved over the past years. I would also like to thank Hugo Rohner for his positive contributions, particularly in expanding the global footprint of Skidata, and I wish him all the best for the future.”After a transition period, Rohner will pursue new opportunities outside of the Group.
The ongoing unbundling of pay TV by Netflix, Disney+, and other direct-to-consumer (D2C) video apps will undoubtedly be one of the defining trends of 2019. But the year will also see Apple, Amazon, Google, Roku, operators, and others seek to insert themselves between these apps and consumers in new and disruptive ways – with major implications for how TV is discovered, watched, and paid for.Ovum estimates that US$7.2 billion, or 22%, of total paid OTT video revenues flowed through such “re-intermediaries” in 2018 (see Figure 1). Consumers paid for UKS$3.9 billion of video rentals, downloads, and subscriptions via app stores and $2.1bn via telco bundles or their broadband or mobile bills, a mechanism known as carrier billing. A further US$1.6 billion of fees for D2C apps were billed via Amazon’s Prime Channels platform. Each re-intermediary took cuts of around 10–30% of these charges, equal to US$1.4 billion.In 2019 and beyond, the TV re-intermediary market will expand beyond these key sources of revenue as Apple, Google, Amazon, Roku, and operators launch and evolve existing and new offerings around these strategies:Winning customers: Taking the friction out of subscriptions. Ovum’s preliminary analysis suggests that by 2020, paid OTT video revenue billed through re-intermediaries will more than double to over US$16 billion, or 34% of the total, and their cut will approach £3.2 billion. Why? It’s more convenient for consumers’ increasingly smartphone- and app-centric lives. One major platform, for example, recently found that a significant number of customers continued to sign up via Apple’s App Store even after the provider increased fees by 30% for this option to offset Apple’s cut.Content discovery: The new TV home screen. Historically, the placement of TV channels on pay-TV operators’ electronic program guides has had a major effect on their viewing figures. This influence will extend to the current and future TV re-intermediary plays of Amazon, Google, Apple, Roku, and others – but with an added twist. On “a la carte” platforms that allow users to pick and mix what they subscribe to, D2C apps may sink or swim depending on when and where they appear.Digital real estate: Pay to get played. The prominence of D2C apps will be determined partly by the re-intermediaries’ algorithms, but also by their commercial interests. More friendly partners might get preferential treatment, while direct competitors might be buried or rarely surfaced. Re-intermediaries already charge for placement, promotion, search, and concessions on revenue share deals. Only the most powerful brands will rise to the top without paying, especially as algorithms will remain a “black box” to outsiders.Video advertising: Cutting in on the value chain. Re-intermediaries will also seek to make money from video advertising within D2C apps. Late last year, Amazon told app providers on its Fire TV platform to hand over 30% of their ad space for its own use and use only its ad network to serve their own adverts. Such hybrid strategies will be critical to the tech giants growing their share of the US$180 billion-plus TV and video advertising market, combining their rich customer data with high-value TV shows, sports coverage, and other traditional content that many major brands still want their ads to appear next to.Bigger data: All-knowing, all-seeing, all-conquering? The role of re-intermediaries in providing a single place to search for, subscribe to, and watch TV will grant them a more unified view of consumers’ preferences, habits, and spending patterns than any single app. This data will not only offer powerful leverage in commercial negotiations with D2C providers, it could also fundamentally alter OTT video competition. Say an app, genre, or show suddenly shoots to popularity, a re-intermediary could quickly copy or buy it – just as they have in the traditional app world.Netflix recently became the first app provider to publicly address the challenge of TV re-intermediaries, by dropping the ability of new users to sign up via Apple’s App Store. But it will probably be one of the few video apps powerful enough to convince people to subscribe independently and the tech giants to bend to its will; most consumers just don’t have time or interest to seek out and manage multiple video apps. For many D2C app providers, the future of TV might be less direct than they planned for.Straight Talk is a weekly briefing from the desk of the Chief Research Officer. To receive this newsletter by email, please contact us.