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Cable Technology Feature Article

September 27, 2014

Cable Spotlight Week in Review: J.D. Power Rankings, Netflix Growth and More

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Over-the-top (OTT) news dominated this week’s news in the video sector, kicking off with the news that Netflix usage continues to grow impressively: streaming traffic has increased 350 percent during the last 10 quarters according to the Diffusion Group (TDG), reaching seven billion hours as of the second quarter of 2014. However, not everyone is watching House of Cards and Orange is the New Black in quite the same way. New research has revealed that a growing number of U.S. households are relying on dedicated set-top boxes (STBs) and digital media players to watch Netflix on a TV set, rather than via laptop or mobile devices.

In fact, according to a survey from GfK study, 28 percent of those who stream Netflix on a TV are turning to devices like Roku, Apple (News - Alert) TV or Chromecast—and this is nearly double the 2013 level (15 percent). Meanwhile, gaming consoles like the Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation are still the most common hardware for Netflix viewing on a TV screen, having been first movers in the stream-to-big-screen movement. But, they’re now used much less than they were three years ago. The report shows wide generational differences in how people access Netflix; for instance, Generations X and Y are twice as likely as Baby Boomers to use a video-game system to watch Netflix on TV.

To see the full analysis, click here.

And because of their popularity, Netflix and Hulu are the first things that come to mind for streaming video for most people, with many also considering Amazon. But there are many, many other options out there too, including Popcornflix, a site that offers television show episodes and complete movies; a site that will soon be putting up its offerings in seven different markets in Asia. More specifically, Popcornflix will be bringing its brand of big- and small-screen entertainment options to both the main website and to the Popcornflix app on iOS and Android (News - Alert) in several places, including Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, and South Korea.

To find out more about Popcornflix’ momentum, click here.

Thanks to the focus on Web-based alternatives, traditional pay-TV is increasingly embracing cloud-based solutions and digital distribution as consumers take up over-the-top (OTT) options like Netflix and Amazon Prime. And the opportunity to provide a standardized operating system or centralized user interface to aggregate various video sources to the TV has become an important trend. Though many are ready to stake their claim on being the best option for doing so, one analyst makes the case that TiVo (News - Alert) “is the globe's only true, independent supplier of such a solution.” The reasoning to arrive at TiVo as the Chosen One, as it were, to usher in an era of hybrid TV and consumer nirvana has several prongs.

“Highly regulated and bureaucratic, the global pay-TV industry has historically been impervious to innovation,” said Brandon Ferro, a hedge fund analyst at Only Prices Matter, in an analysis. “However, the rapid convergence of technology from other areas into our TVs is changing that dynamic.”

Read more about why TiVo is the chosen one for hybrid strategies, by clicking here.

While TV providers aren’t known for their stellar customer satisfaction ratings, but results are nevertheless in from the latest J.D. Powers rankings, showing that satellite and telcos are doing the best in the field. DirecTV and Verizon FiOS rank highest (in a tie) in TV customer satisfaction in the East region; AT&T (News - Alert) U-verse ranks highest in the North Central region; Verizon FiOS snags the title in the South region; and DISH Network (739) ranks highest in the West region. In an encouraging statistic, across the board, satisfaction with performance and reliability has improved to 743 in 2014, an increase of 17 points from 726 in 2013. The firm pointed out though that TV satisfaction rankings don’t exist in a vacuum, however; operators need to look at their customer experience metrics holistically, across multiple services.

Check out all of the details in our full analysis.

Meanwhile, niche cable networks have historically been faced with a conundrum: they provide valuable diversity in TV programming and allow their pay-TV carriers to differentiate themselves; yet by their very lack of mass appeal are often relegated to premium and specialty tiers within cable content bouquets, thus limiting their audience and ability to sell advertising. Nielsen and Simulmedia have inked a deal to improve their lot, with research into "long-tail" TV network measurement. The theory is that there is sizable audience activity that goes unmeasured today on niche cable networks. Improved ratings measurement systems tailored to these networks will give them more reliable, qualified data to present to media buyers.

The agreement is the culmination of more than a year of joint research involving the Nielsen People Meter panel and Simulmedia's set-top box (STB) viewing data, which represents 50 million viewers.

Check out the analysis of what it means for smaller channels, by clicking here.

Rounding out the week’s news, we turn to the broadband realm. TV white spaces, the airwaves once occupied by UHF television signals, are widely seen as an affordable way to provide high-speed Internet to remote areas. The same propagation characteristics that once carried UHF television broadcasts around trees, buildings and hills and into America's living rooms lend themselves well to the delivery of non-line-of-site wireless broadband, making connectivity possible in places previously difficult or prohibitively expensive to reach. TV white space (TVWS) specialist Adaptrum has now announced that it has launched a second-generation TVWS product, targeted for volume production and outdoor deployment, certified with both the Google (News - Alert) and Iconectiv TVWS databases by the FCC in the United States.

For full details, click here.

To check out more details on all of this and more, visit our homepage. And have a great weekend!

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