Category Archives: Internet

Seeso’s Niche Streaming Service Competes with the Big Boys

In the online streaming market, giants such as Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube dominate with the amount of variety of content they carry.  On Netflix you can watch horror movies to your heart’s content, Hulu allows you to keep up with your favorite programs, and YouTube allows users to share and create their own content for all to enjoy.  But these services are broad, and lack any sort of niche appeal.  Enter Seeso, a new streaming service which focuses exclusively on comedy.

seesoSeeso is a service which is part of the recently formed NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises, which is headed by Evan Shapiro.  Seeso was officially launched on January 6th of 2016, after an open beta that started in December of 2015.  The service has a monthly subscription fee of $3.99/month to gain access to the ad-free content.

Seeso boasts an impressive roster of programs that include a number of NBC shows and original content.  Some of the NBC and NBC affiliated programs that Seeso currently carries include Saturday Night Live, Monty Python, Parks and Recreation, The Kids in the Hall and others.  But Seeso’s main appeal is its original content such as Take My Wife by Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito, Harmon Quest from Dan Harmon, and My Brother My Brother and Me which is based off of the podcast of the same name from the McElroy brothers.

When asked about original content Shapiro said this to Decider.com, “In the first month, our original content was less than 3 percent of our overall content, yet it still drove 40 percent of our subscriptions.  Seven months later, original content is around 8 percent of our overall content and drives more than 80 percent of our new subscriptions.”

Much of Seeso’s content and drive can also be found in its name.  A spokeswoman for NBC said this to the Wall Street Journal about the name of the new service, “The name plays off the curated experience and the ‘right brain comedy’ programming filter.  It’s a reference to the mapping the comedy genome philiosphy (the “You came to SEE The Office, SO we’ll show you other workplace comedies you’ll love.)”

Seeso is online at Facebook, Twitter, and provides content at YouTube.  Across all three social media platforms Seeso has maintained a consistent brand of brightly colored blues, yellows, and greys.  But it’s on YouTube that you see much of Seeso’s branding and promotional material at play.

Almost all of the videos are fast, bright, and most importantly funny.

Some even claiming that Seeso is a actually a cult in a series of short mockumentary style videos.  This series of videos are by far the longest and strangest part of Seeso’s marketing campaign.

While this promotional material may be incredibly funny, is it really effective?  Did they get more people to subscribe to Seeso, or at least try out the free trial?  That’s hard to say, especially since as of writing this, Seeso hasn’t released any subscription numbers or reported any earnings.  But it certainly is entertaining enough to warrant some thought into the service.

Chase Danielson

I’m Not Sure What I’m Trying to Sell You: The Problem with YouTube Red

What if I told you there was a subscription service out there with exclusive, original video content and a huge library of music you can watch and listen to at your leisure? YouTube has entered the streaming service ring with their own paid subscription service, YouTube Red, that boasts exclusive content, an ad free viewing experience, and offline options that subscribers can enjoy. So where has the buzz been for YouTube Red and why is every video for YouTube Music buried in dislikes?

YoutubeBefore we get into it, let’s go over what YouTube Red actually is and how it works. YouTube Red is a monthly paid subscription service where users are allowed access to YouTube’s exclusive, original content, an ad free viewing experience, background usage on mobile devices, and the ability enjoy downloaded videos and music offline. Since Google owns YouTube, a Red subscription also nets you access to Google Play’s large library of music in addition to YouTube’s selection. YouTube Red is priced at $9.99 per month – the same as Netflix.

Unfortunately for Google, the reception for the announcement of YouTube Red has been less than desirable. The beginning of the marketing hardships began with the announcement of YouTube Red in late October of 2015. The announcement was immediately met with aggressive criticism from both users and content creators on YouTube. Users who were excited by this announcement, however, are those subscribed to Google’s monthly “All Access” subscription, as the two services will be consolidated.

Why are consumers unhappy with this announcement? Apart from a single video advertising YouTube Red, nobody really understands what YouTube Red is supposed to be. The advertisement tells consumers about the advantages of having YouTube Red, but doesn’t do a good job about what YouTube Red is supposed to be. In fact, YouTube itself, disregarding the subscription service struggles to identify itself clearly. There’s educational content, gaming videos, reviews, advertisements, short films, tutorials, music, and so much more. The identity of YouTube depends entirely on the user.

As a music streaming platform, YouTube is number one. To cater to the music listening audience, and make an attempt at viral marketing, YouTube released several YouTube Music ads celebrating diversity involving subjects of different racial backgrounds and gender identities. Considering the timing of these advertisements, you could say this is a direct response to Donald Trump’s political campaign from 2016. Many Internet users rallied behind companies that stood up for diversity, and while YouTube’s approach seemed like a good idea, the campaign was negatively received. The advertisements showed up incredibly frequently, weren’t very well executed, and to add insult to injury, were unskippable. Which is unfortunate considering what appears to be a genuine attempt at acknowledging their diverse user base.

Apart from co-existing with Google Play, which is also owned by Google, and not expressly stated as being independent, or the same service, consumers were incredibly confused at what YouTube was trying to accomplish with these ads other than the aforementioned “celebration of diversity.” Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO said, “YouTube gives people of any race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or interest a place to come together and a place to belong.” An admirable sentiment about an incredibly powerful and diverse online platform that anyone can use. The source of this campaign’s failure lies within YouTube’s failed ability to brand themselves.

If you were asked what YouTube stands for, what would you respond with? Is it what YouTube really stands for or what you think it stands for? I think Observer nailed what was missing when they said, “YouTube carries everything—so it stands for nothing. No one knows what YouTube believes in, so no one cares what YouTube believes in. And you don’t pay for something when you don’t know what it means.”

Ultimately, I conclude that YouTube’s marketing failed in this aspect. Celebrating the one year anniversary of YouTube Red, numbers suggest they have roughly 1.5 million subscribers. Twitch Prime – has roughly 1.9 million subscribers within the first four months of its release. So what do you think? Would you purchase a YouTube Red subscription? Did YouTube’s lack of brand identity cause the negative reception of their service announcement? Comment below!

Kevin Thorn

A Techy Genie in a Bottle: “Just Ask” and the Amazon Echo Will Assist

If you want to order a pizza for dinner, you may look in a phonebook or the restaurant’s webpage. Maybe you want to know what’s going on in your community, so you pick up the local paper. How about some music? Turn on your stereo or pop in a CD. What if you simply asked and that pizza is already on its way, music starts playing, and the headlines are being read to you. With the Amazon Echo, it’s becoming the new reality and the “Just Ask” marketing campaign is highlighting it’s easy usage and how it’s geared toward everyday households.

Amazon

To begin, what is the Amazon Echo? Amazon released the product in the fall of 2014 to Prime and select members and then to the public in the summer of 2015. This is a digital speaker device focused on voice activation. It has the ability to play music through streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify, and iHeartRadio, list off news headlines, create shopping lists, provides weather information, and even find the closest restaurants to you and order meals. If you really want to get techy, extra additions are available to hook up around your home so the Echo can flip your lights on and off or control the thermostat. Are you an Amazon Prime member? The Echo can also order products off of Amazon through your account.

How does it work? The Amazon Echo is paired with Alexa, which is a cloud-based voice service. So, if someone wanted to know the weather conditions, all they would have to say is “Alexa, what is the weather today?” and it will rattle off whether or not it will be warm and sunny and so on. To ask it questions, you don’t have to be standing right next to it either. It can recognize and pick up commands and questions from across the room.

So how does Amazon push this amazing and futuristic product? Currently, Amazon is using a marketing campaign that focuses around the slogan and hashtag, “Just Ask.” The message is pretty clear and simple, right? That’s because it wants to reflect how the Echo is used: simply. It also highlights the fact that Echo is hands free and based around voice interaction. This slogan can be seen all over Amazon’s social media pages such as Facebook and especially on Twitter. Users on Twitter are using the hashtag #JustAsk to show how they are using their Echo on an everyday basis. Along with these pages, some advertisements show the product, the slogan, and nothing else to highlight these characteristics of the Echo.

Short commercials are also being played on TV. During Super Bowl 51, Amazon produced three 10-second advertisements to showcase the Echo. An additional three ads were aired leading up to the game as well. During these commercials, something unexpected would happen and a person would ask the Echo to help solve the problem and in no time, it was fixed. Again, literally all you have to do is ask and your requests are answered and filled. If someone sneezes in the chili, just ask Alexa and Domino’s is on the way. Did you find your dog eating your awesome snacks stadium? Order more.

Earlier advertisements featured big stars like Alec Baldwin and Missy Elliot. The situations were different than the ones in the Super Bowl commercials. The stars would be in glamorous situations, like wondering what fancy outfit to wear or needing new cashmere socks, and ask their Echo for assistance, whether that be to play music or order new socks. With the “Just Ask” campaign, however, Amazon has decided to demonstrate how the Amazon Echo is not just for the rich and famous, but for everyone and can be used for everyday tasks. The campaign also strives to showcase the voice interaction. For example, in commercials with Alec Baldwin, the Amazon Echo was seen sitting next to him. In the Super Bowl ads, however, the Echo was not seen, but rather heard. These ads may also highlight that you do not necessarily need to be close to the product to ask for assistance.

The Amazon Echo has done extremely well and their “Just Ask” campaign is helping with the numbers. Everyday people can bring the future to their home. So where does the campaign go from here? In one of the Super Bowl commercials, the woman asks Alexa to order Domino’s pizza. Companies, like Domino’s, are partnering with the Amazon Echo to help push their products and services as well. It’s great the Alexa can help with cooking measurements and play music, but the next step for the product is to connect other products and services to the device. FitBit is the newest brand to pair with the Echo and people with FitBits can now ask their Echo how they slept last night and how many steps they have. This will further push the “Just Ask” campaign and expand all that users can ask the Echo and in new and various aspects of their lives.

Casey Allbee

Pizzaslime: New Wave of Hip-Hop Marketing

If you’ve been on social media within the past year, you have seen the many challenges that start trending. Your friends, coworkers, and family members all start sharing the same video and it shows up on your feed about 50 different times yet, you still manage to watch it because there’s always a new variation to the challenge.

Mannequin Challenge

Since the fall of 2016, people have been involved in a challenge and weren’t even fully aware of it.

It all started with the infamous mannequin challenge. In early October, a group of students from Edward E. White High School in Jacksonville, Florida decided to pose like mannequins in awkward poses while one person walked around them and filmed the entire outcome.

Even though just about everyone has seen and/or participated in this challenge, nobody hopped onto the trend until one particular group popularized it with the help of one new marketing company.

Rae Sremmurd’s album, SremmLife 2, dropped in August of 2016 but only sold 27,000 copies compared to the 49,000 their previous album. However, in November, SremmLife 2 went from basically forgotten, to jumping 126 percent in album sales, and rising to #5 on the Billboard Hot 200 albums chart.

Rae Sremmurd was able to rise in the charts and popularize the mannequin challenge by teaming up with a company by the name of Pizzaslime.

In an interview with Pigeons and Planes, Pizzaslime owners Stoveman and Hobin, talked about how they teamed up with their friend Gunner Safron at Interscope records. Safron needed a marketing plan for the rap duo. They needed a nontraditional method to promote Sremmurd’s album and only had a month to do so.

Pizzaslime had seen the mannequin challenge gaining traction on Twitter and knew they should aim to use that for their marketing strategy. Sremmurd members Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi decided to do the challenge that evening at their concert with all of the audience. Except, for their version they used their song Black Beatles as background music.

Once they posted the giant concert challenge online, the mannequin challenge took social media by storm. Black Beatles instantly became the most recognizable and most played song of the moment, and SremmLife 2 went from an album flop to the top.

Pizzaslime’s success with Rae Sremmurd prompted another Interscope partnership, but this time it was with Kodak Black.

Kodak Black released his song “Everything 1K” in June of 2016. However, the current most unpopular, popular, person on the internet, Danielle Bregoli, decided to put out a clothing line. During her clothing line photo shoot, the director needed Bergoli to bring more energy to the shots. In order to do bring that energy, they played one of her favorite songs, Everything 1K.

The song helped bring so much energy, they filmed a quick music video starring Bergoli. Her team sent that to Kodak Black’s team who decided to use that as an unofficial video for the time being.

Pizzaslime was part of that team that received the video. They put their name on the title credits and this is the first time we actually saw the company’s name on something.

Everything 1K instantly started jumping the charts eight months after the initial release date. The video has reached over 12 million views on YouTube and continues to rise.

Pizzaslime has capitalized on social media trends in order to promote artists, songs and albums. Songs that were basically nowhere on people’s radars, have become instant chart toppers.

It’s just a matter of time before other companies and record labels start incorporating similar tactics to get more sales.

What do you think about this new style of music marketing? Will it stick around or is it just a fad?

Kaila Pacheco

Streaming TV: Is Amazon Prime the Jester?

Netflix is the King of streaming TV. Hulu is the Prince. Is Amazon Prime the Jester? Is Amazon relevant in this online streaming war? Amazon has made huge strides in online shopping. However, online video streaming is a different story for Amazon.

amazon primeLet’s begin with Amazon Prime vs Netflix. Prime costs a dollar less per month than Netflix which is nice, but is it really? According to money expert Matt Granite from USA Today, he says that Netflix has more selection and a better interface than Amazon. However, Amazon Prime gives you free two-day shipping and unlimited photo storage.

Next is Hulu. According to Business Insider, Hulu costs $7.99 per month (with ads) while Prime is about $8.25 per month. So Hulu is cheaper (at the expense of watching ads), but what does that mean for Amazon Instant Video? Well, Amazon does not have ads, but Hulu can get you the latest television episodes.

If you want to know how many subscribers each video streaming service has, here are some statistics. Netflix has more than 86 million subscribers worldwide (CNN Money), Amazon Prime has around 60 million subscribers (CNBC), and Hulu has around 12 million (CNN Money).

Amazon Prime Man In The High Castle

According to Caroline Nolan from The Street, “Without Amazon Prime membership, you will be paying $12 on average for two-day shipping on each purchase.” (Nolan, 1). If I bought two items from Amazon every month with two-day shipping without Prime, that would equal around $288 every year. However, this is shopping and spending all that extra money might be a problem!

I think a huge obstacle with Amazon Prime is their name. When people think of Amazon Prime, they think online shopping and not online video streaming. What Amazon needs is a clever name, and I might be able to help.

What Amazon should have called their online video streaming service is Amazon River. That is clever compared to Amazon Prime or Amazon Instant Video. It helps Amazon by making them more diversified. So Jeff Bezos, if you’re reading this, call me.

Anyway, when it comes to online video streaming, Netflix is the King (or Queen), Amazon is the Prince (or Princess), and Hulu seems to be lowly Jester. Amazon is relevant in the streaming wars, but I think they need to work on their identity. So, Amazon is relevant, but at the same time they almost aren’t, due to an undefined identity.

So, which is the best? Well, it depends. If you want television shows and you want it cheap, you can choose Hulu. If you want television and movies together, you can choose Netflix. If you are an online shopper and are not much of a television watcher but still want online video streaming, you can choose Amazon Prime.

What also matters is what shows and movies you want to watch. Amazon has Transparent and The Man in the High Castle, Netflix has Stranger Things and Luke Cage, and Hulu has The Awesomes and The Mindy Project.

I have also received word that Hulu has struck a deal with Disney and Fox to have live sports. This is exciting to see and unexpected to see. We’ll see what happens to Hulu in the future. This of course is a conversation for a different time.

Personally, I love Amazon Prime. I have had it for about a couple years now and I am quite satisfied with the two-day shipping and television shows. That is of course when I have time to watch them. The Man in the High Castle is pretty good.

What do you think about the streaming wars? Do you have Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, or all three? Comment below and tell me what you think.

Kyle Konigsmark

Watching OTT: Is The Selection of Devices Over The Top?

With the rise in popularity of watching content online through streaming services, many companies are looking to create devices to make watching a variety content easier on your TV. These devices can be stand-alone products like Google’s Chromecast or TV’s with similar features from manufacturers like LG. These devices are making our TV watching experience more enjoyable, but with some many devices out there, which one should people go with? We will take a look at the different products and see which device may be the best investment for the future of TV.

ott apple TVTV is not just what is on cable or broadcast over the air anymore. TV has become mostly digital and is now obtained in many areas. The first companies to release these devices were Apple and Roku, with their Apple TV and Roku DVP, respectively. These devices were released almost 10 years ago and started the push for content outside of your cable subscription. These devices saw the early adoption of Netflix and Hulu, both streaming services that gained momentum around 2010. These services brought many new challenges, both in getting the content to your TV and getting content to these services.

As many companies released their own services to stream and/or purchase media, people needed new places to take advantage of this content and its high quality. This brought devices like Google’s Chromecast, Amazon’s Fire TV and even a new breed of HDTV’s, dubbed Smart TV’s to market. These devices all had a similar goal, bringing the content that had been collected over the years on streaming services back to the TV.

Each of these devices catered to its company’s proprietary services, but also supported the services that had the top spots in the market. Even devices like game consoles started to support streaming services, leading to less devices under your TV. They all would evolve with the adoption of new technologies, some supporting TV newest change, Ultra HD or 4K resolution.

As these platforms gained popularity with 3rd party streaming services, TV and cable networks wanted to get their content on these devices. TV Everywhere was the first step, a platform that brought TV episodes online after they aired, only requiring your account details to confirm you had access to the channel. TV Everywhere is now available on most devices that offer Netflix and Hulu compatibility, as it only requires a browser or app to watch content.

ott google chromeThe spread of TV consumption was investigated by GFK in an Over The Top TV study they conducted. In terms of TV Everywhere, it found that DirecTV customers were the largest users of the service, overtaking the founders, Time Warner, who led in consumption the last two years. The study also claims that the most popular device is a Roku, with Chromecast coming into a close second. Chromecast and Roku are continuing to release new devices and the Chromecast Ultra is Google’s newest edition, featuring 4K content support and improved WiFi functionality.

In the technology space, people are always looking for what’s best. Some have tried to answer that question, but only you can decide what is right for you. If you game on a PS4, it makes sense to also use it as streaming device, making the purchase of a Fire TV not necessary. All of these over-the-top TV devices do similar things, making the decision more about what device fits you and less about which is “best”.

Chris Dummer

How to Compete with Netflix: Where the Streaming Industry Stands

Dan Harmon, the creator of critically acclaimed shows such as Community and Rick and Morty released a short series, Harmonquest, exclusively on the streaming service SeeSo. Naturally, I signed up for a free trial and binge watched the show in five hours. Beyond Harmonquest, SeeSo offers a load of popular comedy shows as well as quite a few entertaining original shows. To top it all off, it’s only $4 a month! However, I decided to promptly end my subscription afterwards. But why wasn’t SeeSo able to retain this subscriber to their service? What is SeeSo and the rest of the streaming industry doing wrong?

netflixWhen it comes to streaming movies and television shows, consumers aren’t asking for an be-all, end-all product. Here are the three most important characteristics of a quality streaming service. First and foremost is abundance and customization. Big streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu all have a wide selection of quality shows, with the ability to favorite shows and customize their viewing experience.

Almost every single service offers customization by making your own account, and services like Crackle and Tubi TV have tons of content to pick from, however, if you subscribe to Crunchyroll or Acorn TV you’ll find yourself surrounded with content directed at niche audiences. This can both work in favor or against a particular service, but may still fall within a customizable experience.

The second factor, and arguably more important than the first is that a streaming service must provide high quality, smooth streaming. This is where many free services, and some paid ones fall short.

netflixOn Crackle, if you go on their site to watch a movie, you are stuck with the highest quality stream at 480p. For those wishing to immerse themselves in whatever they are viewing, images riddled with blurry artifacts and muddy sound takes away from the experience. On SeeSo, when I subscribed back in mid-July of 2016, playback would often stutter despite having high connection speeds. Further research shows they have yet to optimize their playback technology for browsers. But even ignoring stuttering playback, there is no option to adjust quality settings for SeeSo, and with no high definition options available, SeeSo commits an unforgivable sin for a paid service.

The final part of streaming’s Holy Trinity is that the desired service can’t cost too much. The streaming industry has been giving cable providers trouble with super competitive pricing at less than $15 a month per service to cable’s monthly $100+ and it’s no surprise why. But this isn’t about how expensive a service is compared to cable, it’s about how they compare against other streaming services. SeeSo, Acorn TV, Crunchyroll, Mubi.com, all cost less than $8 a month. In fact, you could pay for SeeSo and Crunchyroll for the price of Netflix’s standard subscription fee. This is where many smaller streaming services beat the big players, and Netflix continues to gradually raise their subscription prices.

A similar war was fought before the video streaming war even began, and that is in the music industry. Services like Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, Pandora Radio, are constantly competing to gain and maintain subscribers to the services.

netflix netflix netflix

But how do they go about doing it? Unlike the realm of video, music streaming services can’t rely on simply specializing on a single genre like Acorn TV or Crunchyroll. Their war is shaped a little differently. Pricing will always come up when comparing services and Spotify has taken several steps to directly compete with Apple Music – lowering their family plan from $30 a month to only $15 for six users directly competing with Apple Music’s family plan at the same cost and number of users, and exclusives shine in the spotlight with Tidal pulling in users by getting first dibs on popular new releases.

While it may be nice to stick with comfortable picks like Netflix and Hulu, there are hundreds of other streaming services out there that have a lot to offer to consumers whether it’s unique, quality exclusives or just incredible bang for your buck. Ditch your comfort zone, end try leaving your Netflix or Hulu subscription behind to explore what else is out there for a month, while some experiences may not work out, there’s a chance you’ll find a service that is exactly what you’re looking for.

Kevin Thorn

Team Stream: The Beauty of Being Biased

People like to hear what they want to hear.  A simple concept and the foundation for team stream broadcasts. Last year’s NCAA men’s basketball Final Four and National Championship game featured a national broadcast, as well as two different team stream broadcasts, for the first time ever. How effective was this? Well, if you look at the ratings it may appear as a failure, but there is a lot more to it than that.

Bleacher Report’s team stream broadcasts stem from their Team Stream app. The app customizes your content to give you a better user experience based on your favorite sports teams. These broadcasts are created to cater to a  specific fan base. They display custom graphics, music, show packaging, team centric replays and custom halftimes with school features.

This year’s National Championship was not only unique because of the team streams, but also because it was the first time a national champion was crowned on cable. The championship game was broadcasted on three different channels. TBS showed the national broadcast, TNT  showed the UNC team stream, and truTV showed the Villanova team stream.

team stream

Why would such a big sporting event switch from broadcast to cable? Money. In 2010, a 14-year/$10.8 billion deal was made between CBS and Turner. They are scheduled to rotate years hosting the championship through 2024. However, there is the option for adjustments to be made at their yearly meeting if they feel a need for change. After the sharp decline in rating from 2015 to 2016, there is definitely a lot to discuss.

The 2016 championship game averaged 10 million fewer viewers than the year prior. In terms of household ratings, they were down 37% which made for the lowest-rated national championship game ever. There were three outlets to view the game, and it was a great game that came down to the buzzer. There are multiple reasons for the drop off and it sure is not the team streams.

team stream basketball

CBS is available in roughly 116.4 million homes, while TBS is only in about 93.8 million homes. This just goes to show how broadcast ratings crush cable. This was the second most-viewed basketball game ever on cable (averaging 17.8 million viewers and peaking at 22.3 million) but it was a bust in terms of a national championship audience.

Outside of the broadcasting conversion, there are several other elements to look at. Both Final Four games leading up to the Championship were noncompetitive. It is known that lack of momentum will affect ratings, and it did.

Also, the year prior prior had a lot more headlines and star power. It was Duke and Wisconsin in the 2015 Championship, both filled with NBA talent and very large followings. 2016 was North Carolina and Villanova, North Carolina is a big name but Villanova has a fairly small fan base. Last but not least, there was a late tipoff. The game tipped-off at 9:19 PM Eastern Time and didn’t finish until after midnight.

There was some negative feedback about the team stream broadcasts but most of that was simply confusion. People would flip to the first channel that had the game on not realizing it was a customized broadcast and find it “biased”. However, as more and more people become familiar with this process, the more popular it will become. I believe that this is a very unique idea and great moving forward in sports broadcasting. The switch from network to cable really didn’t allow us to get a true measure of how effective it is.

Right now it seems like CBS is taking same outlook as myself. The CBS Sports Chairman had this to say in response to if CBS will be using team streams next championship game “We have some issues to work through, like our affiliates. But I think Team Stream has been innovative. It’s a good way to increase exposure and promote the final weekend.”

Ryan Herring