Tag Archives: Streaming

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

Innovation or Inevitability?: The Future of Selective Music Pricing

There aren’t many business models that would ever propose you let the consumer name their price as low or as high as they want for a product or service, yet that’s exactly what the artist Pretty Lights (Dereck Vincent Smith) has done with his label Pretty Lights Music.

In an ever-changing digital music market, the artists and music producers of today face overwhelming odds when it comes to distributing their music in a way that differentiates them and appeals to consumers, especially in a world of torrenting and mp3 conversion.

music pricing torrentDereck Smith and some of his fellow producers such as Griz and Gramatik of Grizmatik think they’ve found a solution through selective pricing, giving far more power to the consumers in the way they can freely access music.

When it comes to the consumption of music, the early 2000s marked a strange time in the Industry with the emergence and rise of illegal downloads through torrenting. Since then, it’s safe to say illegal downloads have become a regular means of obtaining music with millennials and younger generations in general. As early as 2006, Pretty Lights sought to adapt to this drastic change in consumption by adapting the way his music was priced along with two of his friends and fellow producers Griz & Gramatik.

pretty lights music pricing

“There is no escaping that reality” according to Gramatik. From artist Gramatik’s standpoint and the standpoint of many, the issue comes down to the idea that in music consumption there are two types of people; Those who will pay for the music they love no matter what to support those artists, and then there is now individuals who avoid paying for music as much as possible.

The shift in consumption has been partially because of the technology available for obtaining music, and much of the change is simply due a strong disinterest from millennials to pay for all of the music they have such easy access to.  With the rise of digital distribution and streaming services, the amount of music millennials find themselves having access to compared to older generations is staggering.

Though there have been those who have shown a fair amount of success through choosing to distribute their music through a selective pricing options , there remain many skeptical of the direction of selective pricing. Some believe selective pricing doesn’t offer a large enough portfolio for artists, putting them at a disadvantage against other artists by not providing a large enough portfolio of music at a consistent and predictable price.  But observing the success of artists like Pretty Lights, it seems hard to deny that selective pricing may become the primary distribution channel for artists to reach consumers.

Tom Randolph

Advanced Tech and the Rise of Indie Film Quality

movie film strip

High quality video production technology for storytelling has never been more accessible. Nowadays, you can create beautiful pieces simply using a smartphone. If you want to get even fancier than that, the barrier to entry for high quality video production, namely price, has dramatically decreased.

red digital cinema  gopro

Those in the industry know that companies like Arri and RED have ruled the high definition video production scene with 2k-8k cameras. These cameras cost upwards of $20k. In addition to that their operators use stabilizer rigs and drones to get amazing cinematic shots which add to the production value and cost even more.

On the other end of the spectrum, GoPro just announced some new gear that does all of that for $1,100 and fits neatly in a backpack. Plus, many consumer DSLRs and mirrorless cameras now shoot in 4k and do it for around $3k or less which is far easier on the wallet than that Epic RED Dragon people keep raving about.

Another thing any indie-filmmaking-baller-on-a-budget has going for them is the ease of access to incredible resources for knowledge. NoFilmSchool, CreativeLive, and VideoCopilot are just a few of those great resources. When you pair the lower cost of high quality gear with the ability to learn the do’s and don’ts of filmmaking from anywhere with an internet connection, you have the opportunity to create some very high quality content.

Does this sound like the perfect storm for discovering the next Quentin Tarantino or just a sign that cat videos will have higher production value?

tarantino

Amazon and Netflix have taken notice of this trend and have been acquiring the streaming rights to many indie films at various film festivals. This is a good strategy to hedge their bets against the possibility of major studios and TV stations pulling their content as tv ratings decline and more consumers cut their cable cord. It has created an opportunity for indie filmmakers to gain global distribution for their work through these two corporate giants, which in turn gives the giants great diversity of content to drive subscriptions. It’s a win/win. Sounds great, right?

amazon netflix

As the saying goes, anything worth having doesn’t come easily. One of the biggest obstacles with any indie film project is funding. While this decrease in price of high quality video production equipment helps immensely, there are many other costs involved. For example, talent can be fairly expensive depending on the actor. A well-known actor with solid performance will come at a premium while an unknown will be a risk but cost much less. Let’s face it, the audience will not care if the film was shot in 4k if the acting is shit.

Many filmmakers, photographers, and creative storytellers will tell you that the best camera is the one you have with you. While I agree with this statement, I cannot deny the positive impact new technology has had on the production quality of creative work. It’s refreshing to see that high quality is no longer exclusively paired with the big six studios and that sometimes even the big six use gear typically aimed at the average joe.

The barrier of entry into indie filmmaking may have decreased with inexpensive gear and copious knowledge of technique online, but the aspiring indie filmmaker now faces a new problem. There’s a plethora of people producing films with high quality video. With that in mind, how does anyone stand out?

One of my favorite indie short films is Uncanny Valley. Yes it has amazing special effects but the more compelling part of this film is the story. It tackles a concept that is relevant, thought-provoking, and original. Hollywood blockbusters have been rehashing ideas for years now, so this was a very welcome retreat from that.

uncanny valley

That is the answer to my question. Original ideas stand out. But that’s just part of the answer. The other part is development. Original ideas that have been developed from pre-production to distribution are unstoppable. I believe this trend in technology and creativity will all lead to more original content being fully developed and produced at a very high quality. And I am very excited for that.

Devin Harschnek

NAB Show 2016 Recap

Ten students from the University of Northern Iowa had the opportunity to participate in the 3rd Annual Expedition to the NAB Show in Las Vegas this spring. They studied everything from post production editing and media distribution to the latest trends in virtual reality. Check out their videos on the UNI Digital Media Leadership YouTube channel and like our Facebook Page for more post-show updates!

NAB Show 2016 Overview

Here is an overview of the NAB Show 2016. This will give you look and the size and scope of the convention and a taste of the fun these students had.

 

Post Production Overview

Check out the latest in post production software and equipment. These students got a firsthand look at the latest products from companies like Black Magic, Adobe, and GoPro.

 

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality was a hot topic this year at the NAB Show. Media producers are experimenting with new ways of storytelling and incorporating VR into new media work flows.

Media Distribution

The world of media distribution is constantly changing and the sources of revenue for content has shifted a lot in the last few years. See how come companies are staying ahead of the curve.

 

Special thanks to the IBA for making this trip possible! We’re looking forward to next year’s trip and planning to bring you more great content straight from the NAB Show floor.

NAB Show 2016 UNI Digital Media Leadership

Spotify: Who’s the Real Enemy?

Music is the most universally emotional device in the world. Whether it’s a first world country full of technology or a tribe of indigenous people with a bunch of handmade drums, music plays a role in their culture. There’s something about music that allows people to connect to emotions. Whenever I’m feeling nostalgic, I put on The Early November.

With that being said, it’s obvious that the music industry is a multibillion-dollar industry. But the question remains, how do these companies get music into the listener’s hands? Since there is so much money involved, the market is plenty saturated. The mainstream methods of my youth were CDs. One would go to their local Sam Goody, Hastings, or Best Buy and pick up the album of an up and coming artist on a Tuesday. However, that has changed drastically.

spotify streamingIn 1999, Napster was created to allow anyone to file-share music. Due to the legal infractions on copyright, it didn’t last long. Fast-forward to 2006, Spotify was founded. Rather than file sharing, Spotify allows listeners to stream music on an ad-based platform or pay up to $9.99 for an ad-free listening experience on the go with access through smartphones.

This seemed like a great outlet for artists to get exposure through digital distribution and to make a little money on the side. You can find pretty much any song from any artist on there. However, there have been mixed reviews about whether or not this is good for the music industry.

Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify last year. She believes that Spotify is robbing artists of money and squashing creativity. Swift told Business Insider, “I’m always up for trying something. And I tried it and I didn’t like the way it felt. I think there should be an inherent value placed on art.” She went on to explain that streaming has greatly decreased the amount of money artists can make.

Spotify DownloadDaniel Ek, CEO of Spotify feels differently about their distribution model. Ek explained in an article that “Our whole reason for existence is to help fans find music and help artists connect with fans through a platform that protects them from piracy and pays them for their amazing work.” He continued stating that the real enemy is piracy. Piracy is how listeners are stealing from artists. Spotify has paid out $2 billion dollars to artists since it’s inception. That’s compared to a whopping $0 that piracy has contributed.

Victory recordsIt’s clear that Spotify has paid out artists compared to other venues like Pirate Bay. But there is some shady stuff going on. Last week, I was feeling nostalgic again and I tried to pull up Hawthorne Heights to only find that it has been removed from Spotify. In anger and frustration, I began to blame Victory records for removing their artists from Spotify.

After a little digging, I found that Spotify is allegedly the one to blame at this point. The record label was quoted in a Rolling Stone article saying, “Victory Records’ catalog of music was pulled from Spotify last night [Monday] as a result of Spotify not properly paying publishing revenues due to Victory Records’ artists in blatant violation of US Copyright laws.” However, it came out that Victory records is not paying their artists and holding all the profit. Spotify will likely resolve this issue with Victory Records once they make some form of agreement to pay out artists properly.

The way people are receiving content whether it is movies or music is evolving into a streaming method. Ek said Spotify is not only streaming, but mainstreaming. It will affect content creators regardless, but is it wise to go against the grain? Ironically enough, the week after Taylor Swift pulled 1989 from Spotify, it was the number one downloaded album on Pirate Bay.

Peter Seifert

Death to the Download: Why the Competition for Listens is Tougher Than Ever

For most of the 2000’s, digital music downloads made up the majority of ways people would buy and listen to music. Everyone you knew in 2008 had an iPod/mp3 player and if they didn’t, they sure wanted one. To be able to take your little square music box and your white headphones anywhere you wanted was a total game changer. This was the way we listened and would continue to listen to music forever. Or so we thought…

Streaming MusicWith the emergence of streaming websites such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and Tidal, we no longer have to pay for each individual song. Remember the countless hours of putting together the perfect playlist and waiting through downloads upon downloads? Well now Spotify does that for you. Do you remember spending hours and hours surfing the net to find that new sound you had been looking for? It was just barely worth showing your friends the next big song. Now Pandora does that for you.

Pandora LogoPandora is a massive player in the music streaming industry. Pandora was founded in 2000, establishing itself as one of the first sites to jump start the streaming bandwagon. Pandora attempts to be a different animal, and the same beast (maybe this will make that reference work a little bit better for you). It changes the game with how it lets you stream music. You don’t pick songs to listen to, you pick a song you like and it plays you songs that you would be interested in based on that selection. This clearly has it’s uses, and its drawbacks.

Spotify LogoAnother one of the music industry giants that contributed to the gradual decline of download music is Spotify. Based on its website, Spotify claims to have over 75 million active users. If each of those users listen to one song a day (which some won’t, but some could listen to dozens a day) that’s at least 75 million plays a day. I imagine the number is much higher than that, but that is a lot of traffic on one site. Spotify also boasts a library of more than 30 million songs, rivaling that of Apple Music. These numbers should be more than terrifying to Apple and Amazon, similar to trends of people ditching cable for streaming, it is apparent that people know what they want, and they aren’t going away from it any time soon.

Apple Music  Tidal Music

Apple Music and Tidal are a little bit new to the streaming scene. Apple quickly recognized that what it was doing before was no longer an option, so they had to change. Enter Apple Music. It’s a streaming service that for a monthly fee you can listen to all of the songs that you want on itunes. It also creates playlist based on songs you already have downloaded. It is by Apple obviously, so people like it because they already have their macbooks and iphones so the integration is nice.

Tidal is a new company that is more for the artist. Tidal, by far, pays more to the artist for their music. Spotify pays the least. Tidal is a pretty fresh concept and so far hasn’t worked out like they had planned. It definitely has potential, but it is almost too early to tell in many ways.

Company Pros Cons
Spotify User friendly, large library, free. Ads, some artist refuse to use it (Taylor Swift).
Pandora Free, large library. Can’t choose specific song.
Apple Music Apple integration, large library, huge potential. Not free, relatively new and unknown.
Tidal Jay Z’s circle, fresh idea, pays more. Not free, to new to fully understand.

To me the clear winner in this comparison is Spotify. It has a hold on the streaming game and is not about to let go any time soon. That being said, Apple Music and Tidal do have the potential to overtake Spotify if they make all the right moves. If Jay Z can get music that other services can’t, it will put a real strangle hold on Spotify. Apple Music already has the plat form to be successful. They just need to utilize what they have and not be ignorant to what the people want. As for now, however, it is and will continue to be all about Spotify.

Trey Kamberling

Floating Down the Video Stream: The Future of Television

The future of media distribution is certainly at a crossroads right now. We are seeing a tumultuous period in traditional forms of media, and television is no exception. More and more American’s are opting out of expensive pay-tv subscriptions in exchange for digital antennas and subscriptions to streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus.

videoTrends in media consumption have changed radically even within the year, with digital viewing increasing at an impressive rate. According to a recent Nielsen report growth for digital viewing rose 53% for individuals ages 18 to 43 over the past year. In fact, this high growth of digital viewing is even more pronounced for older demographics with an 85.7% rise in 35 to 49 year olds and a 72.7% rise in 50 to 60 year olds. TV, on the other hand, saw a 4.2% average drop in adult screen during the past year.

Video2These discernible growth rates in digital viewing should serve as a wakeup call for pay-tv providers. No doubt they have felt the stinging winds of change; digitaltrends.com revealed that 2013 marked the first year in the history of television which pay TV providers lost more subscribers than they gained. Not only that, but there are now over 10 million households in the U.S. with internet services but no traditional cable or satellite connection. And over half are subscribed to some sort of monthly streaming service.

Video3There are many additional choices to be made once deciding to cut the cord on cable, most importantly how to create your own bundle of content. Many sports fans may have the most difficult time taking off the noose of pay-tv, but that too may be changing soon. Recent deals made between the NBA and ESPN have made internet streaming of live basketball games possible for anyone willing to pay for the subscription cost with no cable or satellite needed. The new streaming service will host 100 live games, 750 hours of additional new content, and archival footage. ESPN has also expressed interests in doing the same for additional sports.

If deals can eventually be made and sports move to pay streaming services, it could ultimately mean the end of the pay-tv we know today. But there is a way to save the industry, and that involves following the lead of our neighbors to the north.

According to Nielsen, the average American only watch 17 different channels, yet some plans include hundreds upon hundreds of channels. Verizon has been showing an increasing interest in developing a pay-per-channel (or “a la catre”) system of allowing consumers to buy their television. This practice of “a la carte” television has been successfully practiced in Canada with television service Telus’ Optik. Subscribers pay a low rate of $26 a month for 40 US and Canadian channels while having the option to buy channels specially bundled “themed packs” for an additional $8.00 a month, or buy any channel individually for $3.50 a month.

While the vision of a la carte television may be only a pipe dream for U.S. consumers, many are creating their own version of this system by cord-cutting. As more and more channels offer streaming subscription services we are moving closer and closer to a world without traditional television. How can these television networks (primarily local network affiliates) expect to survive if something is not done to our current industry model? Is there any hope to save traditional television, or are we simply seeing a redefinition of what it means to be “watching television” in an evolving industry?

Cutting the cord may not be the best answer to the current state of, but changes to television distribution must happen and quickly and right now cord cutting seems to be the most viable option for change. New technologies should continue to supplement traditional media, not supplant it.

Aaron Sprengeler