Hyatt Partners With Sonifi To Update Room Entertainment With Streaming Service

What Happened
Hyatt is updating its in-room entertainment choices by offering hotel guests access to a number of OTT streaming services. Partnering with Sonifi, an L.A.-based interactive content and connectivity solutions provider, the global hotel chain will let guests access popular streaming services like Netflix and Hulu for free through the World of Hyatt app and a Chromecast device. Fourteen Hyatt hotels are already equipped with the new streaming capability, and the company says it has plans for a broader rollout.

What Brands Need To Do
This is the latest example of a hospitality brand aiming to modernize their guest experiences with over-the-top streaming services. Previous examples include JetBlue Airlines, which has been providing its passengers with free Amazon Prime Video streaming for in-flight entertainment since late 2015.

While Hyatt is appealable for recognizing the growing popularity of streaming services and shifting viewer behaviors, it fails just short of providing a truly personalized experience for the guests. According to the press release, there is no need for the guests to enter a code or personal credentials on the TV to access the streaming services, which eliminates the hassle of signing in and preempts any privacy concern guests may have. 


Source: Sonifi (press release)


Time Inc. To Launch Ad-Supported Streaming Service

What Happened
Publishing giant Time Inc. announced at its NewFronts event on Thursday that it will launch a free, ad-supported video streaming service. The content will mainly come from two of its subsidiaries People Magazine and Entertainment Weekly, which are slated to produce more than 100 hours of original programming and a library of more than 50 hours of content.

Why Brands Should Care
Since many SVOD services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are not ad-supported, the majority of those viewers are not reachable by traditional means of advertising, save for product placement. Therefore, brands should pay attention to the new ad-supported streaming services that have been popping up, and work with the content creators to reach the audience they are after.

To read more on how brands can deal with TV’s shift toward streaming platforms, please check out the Appified TV section in our Outlook 2016.


Source: AdWeek

Event Recap: NY MusicTech Meetup February 2016

On Thursday, February 25th, the Media Lab attended the NY MusicTech Meetup. The groovy event was hosted at the Harman store on Madison Avenue where a number of interesting music startups demonstrated their products for the crowd.

The first was CymbalFM, a social music discovery app for iOS. Users post their favorite song of the moment so others can listen and discover new tunes. Users have the ability to like and comment on posts, or explore a friend’s entire history of posts as one playlist. The platform is built on top of Spotify and Soundcloud’s APIs so people can listen directly on the platform. Soon they will be launching a discovery-specific page that surfaces trending hashtags and recommends users that have similar tastes as you.

Next was Cadenza, an app that provides an entire classical orchestra to accompany you while you play your instrument. Through AI and machine learning, the app adapts the tempo to your playing style in real time to create an ensemble performance consisting of one musician. The app is currently being used by young students who are taking music lessons and has a user base of around 40,000. They also have a social component where people can record their sessions and share to Facebook. Cadenza is a very powerful tool for beginning and intermediate musicians and it will be exciting to see how they grow as their tempo matching technology becomes even more robust.

Finally, discussed how they are helping aspiring musicians get discovered on streaming services. Their ad platform allows users to easily create and distribute sponsored songs that play natively during a user’s listening session. The artist can customize their message, a call to action, and their album artwork as well as select which region, genre, and tags they would like to target. The average cost-per-play is around 2 cents. However, there is no cost if the user skips the song before 30 seconds has elapsed. The ad unit is currently integrated into 8Tracks with plans to expand to 3-4 more services during 2016 (although they were not able to share which ones at the time).  There is an opportunity for advertisers to brand the info box that appears with the sponsored tracks or even sponsor the artists’ advertising budgets themselves in order to provide real value to consumers by surfacing new music.

Lots of exciting things are happening in New York’s music tech scene. As audiences become increasingly averse to being served with bland messaging, there are lots of opportunities in this space for brands to provide audience with real value to earn their attention.

YouTube To Launch Ad-Free Monthly Subscription Service

What Happened
After months of speculation, YouTube has finally confirmed the launch of a paid subscription service called YouTube Red. Set to launch on October 28th in the US, the $9.99/month subscription service will allow users to watch YouTube without ads, save videos for offline watching, and keep video playback running in the background on mobile. YouTube is also planning to put some new original content created by its top content creators behind the paywall. In addition to the YouTube content, subscribers will also gain access to the entire library of Google Play Music as well.

Market Impact
Currently boasting over 1 billion monthly users worldwide, YouTube has long been the number one destination site for digital videos. Yet it still struggles with turning a profit. Launching an ad-free subscription tier opens up a new revenue stream for YouTube, while also putting it in direct competition with other subscription-based music streaming services. As a distribution platform, the site offers some of the best video ad products in the industry thanks to its scale and support from its parent company Google.

Overall, YouTube Red won’t necessarily reduce the streaming site’s existing ad scale by much – after all, 10 dollars a month is not that cheap – but it could cause a certain high-income demo of YouTube viewers to opt out of seeing ads, therefore costing some brands that specifically targeting this demo their targeted audience.


Source: The Verge

Header image courtesy of YouTube

Why Verizon Is Launching Its Own Streaming Service Go90

What Happened
Verizon is reportedly getting ready to launch its own mobile-first, video streaming service named Go90 this summer, which will allow users to stream full episodes of TV shows from selected networks as well as music videos and other short-form content. Sources claim that Verizon will offer the service entirely free of charge, at least initially. Some of the content that Verizon gained through the recent AOL acquisition will also be added to the service.

What Brands Should Do
Verizon has long been making good use of the vast amount of consumer data gathered through its wireless service., including app usage and web browsing habits. That, coupled with the ad tech that AOL owns, could offer brands strong ad targeting tools on Go90’s ad-supported platform. Admittedly, it may be too early to tell if Go90 will be able to attract enough users that warrants brands’ attention. Nethertheless, brands need to be mindful of the great advertising potential it has.


Source: Variety

Why Streaming Services May Soon Get The Broadcasting Channels

What Happened:

A federal judge ruled on Thursday that streaming company FilmOn could “potentially” be entitled to a compulsory license to retransmit broadcasters’ copyrighted content, suggesting that OTT streaming services should be treated like traditional cable providers. If the ruling survives scrutiny on appeal, the broadcasting channels – CBS, Fox, NBC and ABC – will have to license their content to a digital outlet at below-market rates, which means that streaming services like Sling TV could add those broadcast channels if they pay the retransmission fees.

What you should do:

If this decision holds, it will hasten TV’s transition from a network-cable structure to OTT services. Brands should prepare for this possibility by testing media on existing OTT services, and carefully monitor their customers’ usage patterns and adjust their spend accordingly.

Source: The Verge

Why Hulu Is Considering An Ad-Free Tier

Hulu is ready to ditch the ads, at least partly. Wall Street Journal reports that Hulu may roll out an ad-free tier this fall and charge somewhere from $12 to $14 per month for it. Paid subscribers of Hulu (a tier formerly known as Hulu Plus) have long complained about having to sit through commercials despite paying $9.99 per month for the subscription.

While this move could finally help align the TV streaming service with its rivals Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, it also implies a lack of audience data on Hulu’s part to get the higher CPM rates for targeted ads, thus for it to be willing to forgo some of the ad revenues to gain more on subscription fee instead.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Why Netflix Is Having Such A Good Year… For Now

Netflix seems to be having a very good year so far. In an earnings call earlier today, the company reported that it has added more subscribers than expected around the world during its most recent quarter, generating more than $1.6 billion in revenue. The better-than-expected performance propelled the stock share of the streaming service giant to increase 10%.

Already bigger than all cable channels, analysts predicted that by next year Netflix U.S. viewing will surpass all big four broadcasting networks. In a letter to its shareholders, Netflix highlighted its slew of original shows launched this year as a major factor for its accelerated growth, citing that “90% of Netflix subscribers have engaged with original content.”

Meanwhile, in other good news, the 2015 Emmy Nominations were announced this morning, and Netflix’s original shows scored 34 nominations in total, up from 31 last year. OTT streaming services have been steadily encroaching on TV networks in attention and awards, a trend that this year’s nominations reflects.

Despite the double good news, however, Netflix does have a potential issue in the fact that it doesn’t actually own any of its originals. Its hit series Orange is the New Black, for example, is produced and owned by Lionsgate Television, while its Emmy-nominated freshman series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt comes from Universal Studios. In comparison, rival Amazon’s critical darling Transparent is produced by its in-house Amazon Studios.

Acquiring content from outside studios is a smart and cost-effective move for a new platform seeking content, but if web-based TV continues to grow in prominence, Netflix could very well lost their original shows to growing rival platforms. In order to avoid losing the brand value it has built upon its original content, Netflix will probably need to bring more production in-house in the future.


Video-Gaming Goes Streaming: PlayStation Now Launches App

Sony launched PlayStation Now, an all-you-can-play game subscription service back in January on PlayStation 4, but its gameplay experience left much to be desired. Now, Sony is looking to fix that with a new dedicated subscription app. Launched today on the PlayStation store, the new application aims to streamline the navigation process and make it easier for users to find the game they want to play among the over 125 games currently available for streaming.

For now, Sony charges $19.99 per month, or $44.99 for 3 months for the gameplay streaming service, which are significantly cheaper than buying individual games for dedicated gamers. That said, the games are not the current titles which typically sell for $59.99 each but are older games which might retail for $19.99 or less and were released for the Playstation 3, not the Playstation 4.

Following the subscription-based model that Netflix helped popularize, it may not be too far off to imagine that Sony would start selling gaming consoles on a discounted price in order to get more players to use its streaming service and thus locked in its ecosystem. Microsoft tried this strategy towards the end of the Xbox 360’s life in 2012.

In the past few years, the all-you-can-consume subscription-model has quickly swept the entire media industry – be it news, TV, or music, every media owner started selling consumers access to their content on a month-to-month basis. In this regard, gaming is the latest addition to the subscription craze, and we think this new model is most likely here to stay.


Source: Engadget

Music Streaming War Heats Up As Google Music Launches Ad-Supported Free-Tier

Read original story on: AdWeek

Merely one day after the music industry was consumed by the brilliant co-promotional spectacle orchestrated by Taylor Swift and Apple Music, Google hijacked the headlines with a surprising launch of a free, ad-supported tier of its $9.99 per month Google Play Music streaming service. Less like Spotify and closer to Pandora, this new free tier will not allow users unfettered access to specific songs on demand, but rather offers curated playlists and algorithm-based radio channels.

Obviously, when it comes to competing for ad dollars, Google has one great advantage over its competitors—the vast amount of user data. Both Pandora and Spotify have worked to add better targeting options, but they pale in comparison to Google’s trove of data from search and email unified under a login account. Back in early 2012, Google specifically modified its privacy policy to allow for user data to be shared across the various products and services it provides. If Google can deliver a highly customizable ad unit that leverage the data it harnessed into targeting tools, which they probably will, this free version of Google Play Music just might grow into the next great ad platform for brands and advertisers alike.