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Call For Speakers Opens For NAB Show Streaming Summit

I am excited to announce that the call for speakers and sponsorships have opened for the NAB Show Streaming Summit, taking place April 17-18 in Las Vegas. Work on the conference program has started so if you are interested in speaking, moderating or being involved in some way, now is the time to reach out to me. Last year we had nearly 600 attendees, 75 speakers and 31 sponsors. Spots will go fast! I expect the show to bigger this year and the call for speakers page lists all the topics we do and don’t cover.

If you have questions about a speaking topic, idea you want to run by me first or need more details on the show, just call me (917-523-4562) anytime. Registration is also open for the Streaming Summit.

The Latest List Of Streaming Services ARPU (Average Revenue Per User)

For streaming services, ARPU (Average Revenue Per User), will become one of the most important metrics to watch in 2023. To date, ARPU numbers have been pretty easy to track but with more services like Netflix and Disney adding in AVOD plans and most FAST services not sharing any ARPU metrics of any kind, it will be harder to measure just how much money streaming services are averaging per month, per user. Based on all publicly available data from earnings, interviews and SEC filings, here’s a breakdown on ARPU for streaming services at the end of calendar Q3 2022, or in some cases, the last time ARPU was given out.

  • Disney+: Global ARPU, $3.91, Subscription plus advertising (Q3 2022)
  • Disney+: Domestic ARPU, $6.10, Subscription plus advertising (Q3 2022)
  • Disney+: International ARPU, $5.83, Excluding Disney+ Hotstar, Subscription plus advertising, (Q3 2022)
  • Disney+ Hotstar: ARPU, $0.58, Subscription plus advertising, (Q3 2022)
  • ESPN+: ARPU, $4.84, Subscription plus advertising, (Q3 2022)
  • Eros Now: India ARPU, Premium subscriber “in the range of $1.20 to $1.30”, Subscription (Q4 2022)
  • fuboTV: North American ARPU, $64.15, Subscription, ARPU $7.37, Advertising (Q3 2022)
  • fuboTV: Rest Of World ARPU, $5.30, Subscription, ARPU, $0.16, Advertising (Q3 2022)
  • Hulu: SVOD Only ARPU, $12.23, Subscription plus advertising, (Q3 2022)
  • Hulu: Live TV+ SVOD ARPU, $86.77, Subscription plus advertising, (Q3 2022)
  • iQiyi: China ARPU, $2.00, (Q4 2022)
  • LionsgatePlay: India ARPU, $0.50, Advertising (Dec 2022)
  • Netflix: Domestic ARPU, $15.74, Subscription only, (Q3 2022)
  • Netflix: EMEA ARPU, $11.18, Subscription only, (Q3 2022)
  • Netflix: LATAM ARPU, $8.54, Subscription only, (Q3 2022)
  • Netflix: APAC ARPU, $8.79, Subscription only, (Q3 2022)
  • Paramount+ Domestic ARPU: “Around $9”, Subscription plus advertising (Q1 2022)
  • Peacock TV: Domestic ARPU, “around $10”, Subscription plus advertising (Q4 2022)
  • Pluto TV: Global ARPU, $1.64, Domestic ARPU, $2.54, advertising (Q4 2021)
  • Roku: Global ARPU, $44.25 trailing 12 months, Advertising (Q3 2022)
  • Starz: Domestic ARPU, “around $6”, Subscription (Q2 2022)
  • Vizio: Global ARPU, $27.69, trailing 12 months, Advertising (Q3 2022)
  • Warner Bros. Discovery: Global D2C ARPU, $7.52, Subscription plus advertising, HBO Max and Discovery+, does not include Cinemax, (Q3 2022)
  • Warner Bros. Discovery: Domestic D2C ARPU, $10.66, Subscription plus advertising, HBO Max and Discovery+, does not include Cinemax, (Q3 2022)
  • Warner Bros. Discovery: International D2C ARPU, $3.68, Subscription plus advertising, HBO Max and Discovery+, does not include Cinemax, (Q3 2022)

No ARPU data released for: AMC+, Acorn TV, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, CuriosityStream, DAZN, Epix, Freevee, MotorTrend TV, NFL+, Sling TV, Tubi, YouTube TV and many others.

Episode 45: Ramp, Qumu and The Switch Acquired; NFL Sunday Ticket Tech Specs; 2023 Market Drivers and Restraints

Podcast Episode 45 is live! This week we highlight some of the tech details released around the NFL Sunday Ticket package coming to YouTube TV, which won’t allow consumers to purchase the package per team or per game. We also discuss YouTube confirming that 4K video quality was not required as part of their deal with the NFL and what we think that impact could be. Also covered are the acquisitions of eCDN Ramp by Vbrick, The Switch by Tata Communications and Qumu by Enghouse Systems. We close out the podcast with our thoughts on how companies will grow in 2023, what the market drivers and restraints will be and how companies can and will grow in the New Year. Thanks to this week’s podcast sponsor, Agora.

Companies, and services mentioned: YouTube TV, Netflix, NFL Sunday Ticket, Amazon Prime, Comcast, Disney, Apple, ESPN+, JioCinema, Video, Qumu, Ramp, Vbrick, The Switch, API. video.

Episode 44: Netflix’s AVOD Model Not Struggling; HBO Max Original Content Licensed to FAST Services; fuboTV Suffers Cyber Attack

Podcast Episode 44 is live! This week I highlight some of the recent news around Netflix’s AVOD business and the media’s ridiculous suggestion that Netflix is struggling after only six weeks. I also discuss why Warner Bros. Discovery has recently decided to license certain HBO and HBO Max original programming to third party FAST services, as a smart way to save money on residuals while making money on syndication. Also detailed are a news items from Peacock TV, fuboTV, Edgio, and Vimeo. Thanks to this week’s podcast sponsor, Agora.

Companies, and services mentioned: Netflix, Peacock TV, HBO Max, fuboTV, Edgio, Vimeo, Warner Bros. Discovery, JetBlue.

Enterprise Video Platform Qumu To Be Acquired for $18M by Enghouse Systems

Enterprise video platform Qumu, which spent over $150 million in the history of the company, is being acquired in cash for $0.90 per share, or approximately $18 million, by Ontario based Enghouse Systems. This marks the end for Qumu, formerly called Media Publisher, which struggled with every aspect of their business. Qumu had a long record of significant operating losses, even during favorable demand environments and at the end of Q3 2022, had only $6 million in cash and cash equivalents. The company reported negative $18 million in operating income in 2021 and in the past five years, averaged no revenue growth.

Qumu cycled through many executives at the CEO, CTO, CFO and CRO positions all of whom poorly executed on the business. Time and again the company hired management individuals with no prior experience in the video market, no insight into the competition and no real go-to-market plan for the company. Qumu was dependent on a small number of customers for the majority of their revenue and lacked a platform that could scale across a larger number of customers. I interacted with management multiple times and was always amazed at how they didn’t understand the needs of customers and was tone-deaf to current market conditions. The company announced their plans to merge with Synacor in 2021, which made no sense at the time, only to call off the deal four months later. In October 2021, Qumu’s management faced a big push back from some investors who detailed in a letter to Qumu’s board just how badly the business was doing and asked Qumu to seek a strategic sale process to benefit all shareholders.

On January 29, 2021, Qumu sold 3,708,750 shares at $6.75 per share in a secondary offering for net proceeds approximating $23.1 million and the next month, Qumu’s share price rose above $10 a share. 36-days later, on March 4, 2021, Qumu publicly released its 2020 financial results and 2021 guidance and reiterated its FY 2021 prior strong guidance. But then, only 60-days later, Qumu preannounced its second quarter results and strikingly changed its outlook and withdrew prior 2021 guidance. Qumu’s stock quickly fell to under $2 per share and shareholders demanded Qumu engage an investment bank for the sale of Qumu.

Qumu’s press release about their Q2 2021 financials shows just how tone-deaf management was to the market, talking to their “strategic roadmap” and their progress in undergoing a “significant business transformation”, all the while highlighting how little insight they had into their business. The company called out several challenges they were facing including business ramping “more slowly than expected”, the sales force not being “aligned”, underestimating a “quicker ramp in sales” and their ability to “effectively communicate” the value of their platform. The company highlighted these as “temporary growing pains”, even though the financial numbers told a very negative story. Over the past 18-months, multiple PE firms looked at Qumu’s business but quickly decided the numbers simply didn’t make sense for an acquisition.

In the press release announcing the deal, Qumu’s chairman of the board believes the transaction with Enghouse Systems “will deliver excellent value to our shareholders”, which is pretty laughable. Two years ago, Qumu’s stock price was over $10 a share and 12-months ago it hovered around $2 a share. Exiting at a price of $0.90 per share isn’t what anyone would consider to be “excellent value”. Enghouse Systems says the deal for Qumu is expected to close in February of next year.

Episode 43: Netflix Says Sports Isn’t Profitable; Paramount Warns of Declining Ad Revenue; Caesars Sportsbook App Streams a Low Latency NFL Game

Podcast Episode 43 is live! This week we breakdown the launch of AVOD on Disney+; the news by Paramount’s CEO of declining advertising revenue in this quarter; Netflix’s comment that licensing sports content isn’t profitable; NBCU’s announcement that Peacock has more than 18 million paid subscribers; how Netflix’s open source deal with GPAC gives them a competitive advantage for video packaging; and we detail Caesars streaming an NFL game via live low latency in the Caesars Sportsbook app. Thanks to this week’s podcast sponsor, Agora.

Companies, and services mentioned: Disney, Netflix, Peacock TV, Apple, Paramount, Microsoft, Caesars, Activision Blizzard, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, FTC.

Episode 42: Breaking Down The World Cup TV and Streaming Viewership Numbers

Podcast Episode 42 is live! This week we breakdown many of the World Cup TV and streaming viewership numbers from around the world, with most outlets not breaking out streaming only data. We also discuss the latest comments from Disney and Netflix’s CEOs around their ad supported models. Also covered, Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Diamond Sports Q3 earnings (Net loss of $1.2B); Yahoo’s 30-year deal with Taboola; NFL TV viewership numbers and the latest conflicting numbers around churn. Thanks to this week’s podcast sponsor, Agora.

Companies, and services mentioned: Disney, Netflix, Apple, MLB, Sinclair, Diamond Sports, Ballys Sports+, Yahoo, Taboola, Paramount, Antenna, Warner Bros Discovery, World Cup, BBC, FOX Sports, NBC Sports, NFL.

FIFA World Cup TV and Streaming Viewership Numbers

Here’s a list of some TV and streaming viewerships numbers I’ve seen reported from the around the world for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Note that almost every number given out combines TV and streaming and does not break out streaming only viewers or define what a “viewer” is:

  • BBC: England versus Wales saw a peak audience of 18.7M across the UK public service broadcaster’s platforms including linear television, iPlayer and the BBC Sport website.
  • Germany: versus Japan match drew 9.2M viewers for German public service broadcaster ARD, according to audience measurement specialist AGF, a decline of 64% from 2018.
  • Japan: versus Costa Rica match had 36.3M viewers and was 74% higher than the average domestic group stage audience during the 2018 event.
  • Portugal: versus Uruguay had 5.35 million viewers, (users who watched at least one minute of coverage) the highest TV audience in Portugal for a FIFA World Cup match ever.
  • Korea: versus Uruguay had 11.1M viewers, a 97% increase in audience compared to group stage matches at Brazil 2014; and 18% higher Russia 2018.
  • Spain: versus Germany had an audience of 11.9M across coverage on La1 and GOL MUNDIAL, exceeding the audience of any group stage game for the FIFA World Cup in 2018.
  • Mexico: versus Argentina delivered a national audience of 20.9M viewers. The combined share across three channels broadcasting the game was 67.9%.
  • France: versus Denmark on TF1 averaged an audience of 11.6M viewers and peaked in the closing minutes of the match as 14.5M.
  • Netherlands: versus Ecuador, 76.6% of all people watching TV in the Netherlands saw the game. This was the highest TV audience in the country in 2022 and greater than any match during the FIFA World Cup in 2018.
  • India: JioCinema says the World Cup final between Argentina and France attracted 11 million concurrent users on JioCinema with the average viewing time of 30-minutes per match. What’s unique about the 11 million number given out is the reference to “concurrent” streams, since others have only reported numbers using the “users” or “viewers” metric, which is not concurrent.
  • USA: Fox Sports, Brazil-Serbia scored 6.1M viewers across FOX and FOX Sports streaming services. It peaked at 13.4M viewers making it the most-watched non-U.S World Cup Group Stage telecast on record for English language TV.
  • USA: Fox Sports, the opening match of Ecuador’s versus Qatar had 3.2M viewers across FS1 and FOX Sports streaming services.
  • USA: Fox Sports, the Portugal versus Uruguay match peaked at 4.5M viewers and the peak for Brazil versus Switzerland was 3.6M.
  • USA: FOX Sports viewing numbers for the World Cup final was 16.7 million viewers, both TV and streaming combined.
  • USA: NBC Sports, Spanish-language coverage of Qatar versus Ecuador averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 4M viewers across Telemundo, Peacock and Telemundo digital platforms. The Average Minute Audience (AMA) was 832,000.
  • USA: Telemundo’s exclusive Spanish-language coverage of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 2.58 million viewers across Telemundo, Universo, Peacock and Telemundo streaming platforms. The Argentina v. France Final on Sun., Dec. 18, was the most-watched match of the tournament in Spanish with a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 9.0 million viewers.
  • USA: NBC Sports, Through the first six days, the 2022 FIFA World Cup averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 2.4M viewers for 20 games, up 14% vs. the 2018 tournament (2.1M).

I will add to the list as more numbers come out.

Podcast Episode 41: Bob Iger Comes Back As CEO of Disney, Why It Matters; Apple Details MLS Pricing and Video Quality

Podcast Episode 41 is live! This week we discuss Bob Iger coming back to Disney as the CEO and the impact it could have around Disney’s DTC business involving bundling, pricing, sports licensing and improving Disney’s balance sheet. We also highlight the new details Apple released around their MLS streaming service, MLS Season Pass, which will offer 1080p/60 video, launching in February for $15 a month or $100 for the year. Also included in the discussion is a list of all the Black Friday streaming deals and the negative impact that has on ARPU for streaming services. Thanks to this week’s podcast sponsor, Agora.

Companies, and services mentioned: Disney, Netflix, WarnerBros. Discovery, Disney+, Apple TV+, MLS, MLB, Hulu, Peacock TV, Paramount+, Discovery+, Roku, DISH, Amagi.

Netflix’s Open Source Deal with GPAC Gives Them a Competitive Advantage for Video Packaging

Motion Spell, the exclusive commercial licensor of GPAC, announced the conclusion of an 18-month transition phase working with Netflix for the integration of GPAC Open Source Software into Netflix’s worldwide content operations. This gives Netflix a lot of flexibility and being able to adopt new technologies, especially with them having recently started publishing AOM’s AV1 packages. From a competitive landscape standpoint, it also gives Netflix an advantage allowing them to move faster than their competitors.

Whether Netflix wants to do interactivity (e.g. Bandersnatch), live streaming or experiment with new codecs (xHE-AAC), the GPAC based solutions enable it. Speed is key and it seems that Netflix is moving faster than their competitors. But it’s not only Netflix. Facebook also recently mentioned how they leveraged GPAC’s MP4Box to alleviate Instagram’s video compute times by 94%. This choice prevented a shortage within 12 months in the capacity to provide video uploads for everyone.

Internally, GPAC came out as the best packager as a result of Netflix’s internal evaluations and while Netflix doesn’t communicate openly about the cost effectiveness on their business, there is value is the cost efficiency. “Open-source software is free. There are licensing costs, of course, but also distribution costs. Being smart and using an efficient packager should not be underestimated. The real question for any streaming service is, how much does a bad packager cost them? GPAC is free, efficient and flexible. GPAC is efficient because the GPAC source code has been scrutinized by thousands of eyes. For most companies, in an area where almost nobody is profitable, cost is important,” says Romain Bouqueau, CEO, Motion Spell.

Choosing GPAC also allows Netflix to play their part as a leader. For example, Netflix gives weight to some MPEG standardization contributions supported by the GPAC team and Netflix has also paved the way around accessibility in OTT. GPAC is quickly becoming an infrastructure for content packaging. GPAC’s model towards business is to rely on the combination of offering commercial licenses and professional services (Motion Spell’s GPAC Licensing).

GPAC makes all of this possible because the project has its roots in multimedia in the widest sense – not only TV-like experiences. It is a true open-source project with a community made of enthusiasts, researchers, and commercial users.

Podcast Episode 40: Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney CEO’s Discuss Churn, Pricing, Bundling and Focus on Profitability, Not Sub Count

Podcast Episode 40 is live! This week we discuss the recent comments from Warner Bros. Discovery’s CEO around profitability, retention, windowing, bundling and pricing of HBO Max and Discovery+. Profitability, not purely sub count is how they benchmark for success. We also discuss his comments on how collapsing all windows, starving linear and theatrical and spending money with abandon, while making a fraction in return on the service of growing sub numbers, has ultimately proven to be deeply flawed. On the topic of churn, we point out what the industry is getting wrong with their assumptions and highlight the recent comments from Disney’s CEO, who said that price increases don’t meaningfully increase churn or cancellations. We also recap Q3 earnings from Disney, Vizio, Akamai, Edgio, Kaltura. Thanks to this week’s podcast sponsor, Agora.

Companies, and services mentioned: Disney, Netflix, WarnerBros. Discovery, HBO Max, Apple TV+, Paramount+, Peacock TV, Vizio, LG, Akamai, Amagi, Edgio, Kaltura, FTX.

Podcast Episode 39: Q3 Earnings Recap from Disney, Netflix, Paramount, Roku, Fubo, WarnerBros. Discovery, FOX, Vimeo, Brightcove and Fastly

Podcast Episode 39 is live! This week we breakdown all the key numbers you need to know from Q3 2022 earnings from OTT companies and streaming vendors including Disney, Netflix, Paramount, Roku, Fubo, WarnerBros. Discovery, FOX, Vimeo, Brightcove, Fastly, Cloudflare, Altice, DISH, Lionsgate and AMC Networks. Learn the latest D2C subscriber numbers, ARPU per user and how much money OTT platforms are still losing (Disney lost $1.47B, Paramount lost $343M). Thanks to this week’s podcast sponsor, Agora.

Companies, and services mentioned: Disney, Netflix, Paramount, Roku, Fubo, WarnerBros. Discovery, FOX, Vimeo, Brightcove, Fastly, Cloudflare, Altice, DISH, Lionsgate, AMC Networks, Charter, Xumo, Tubi, NPR+.

Podcast Episode 38: Why Micro-Wagering Within Sports Streaming Services Is a Fantasy; Updated Sports Viewing Numbers

Podcast Episode 38 is live! This week we breakdown Fubo’s decision to close and exit the Sportsbook market along with DAZN’s comments that betting within streaming services isn’t a reality in the next few years. We also highlight some new sports viewership numbers from NBC Sports and NFL; cover some recent pay TV losses by pay TV providers; detail Apple’s new Apple TV boxes and discuss the NBA’s new app that has 12-seconds of latency. Finally, while almost no video vendors are profitable, let alone seeing a positive return on their stock price over the past 12-18 months, we detail the numbers that make Harmonic the exception. Thanks to this week’s podcast sponsor, Agora.

Companies, and services mentioned: Netflix, NBC Sports, Apple TV, Harmonic, Vimeo, NBA, NFL+, MLB, Amazon Prime Video, Verizon, DAZN, Fubo, Disney.

Podcast Episode 37: Netflix Announces New AVOD Tier With 720p Video; Are Consumers Willing to Sacrifice Video Quality for Price?

Podcast Episode 37 is live! This week we breakdown Netflix’s soon to be released AVOD offering and the fact that the video quality is limited to 720p with no ability for downloads. Are consumers willing to sacrifice video quality for price? Will the streaming industry need to re-think how they define video “quality” if consumers are willing to accept 720p as “good enough”? We also discuss Netflix’s measurement deals announced with Nielsen, BRB, IAS and DoubleVerify and what this means for advertisers. We also cover what some of the largest live streaming events on the Internet have generated from a viewership standpoint.

Companies, and services mentioned: Netflix, Peacock TV, Nielsen, DoubleVerify, Beamr, Roku, Apple TV, Disney+, BBC, Integral Ad Science, NBC Sports, Amazon Prime Video, Riot Games, Akamai, IPL. Thanks to this week’s podcast sponsor, Agora.

Companies, and services mentioned: Netflix, Peacock TV, Nielsen, DoubleVerify, Beamr, Roku, Apple TV, Disney+, BBC, Integral Ad Science, NBC Sports, Amazon Prime Video, Riot Games, Akamai, IPL.

Podcast Episode 36: Nielsen’s Confusing Streaming Ratings; Google’s Cloud Deal With MLB; Vizio FAST Ad Revenue; Vendor Layoffs

Podcast Episode 36 is live! This week we breakdown Nielsen’s confusing streaming rankings, which aren’t accurately comparing shows based on the same metrics. We also highlight Peacock’s latest paid sub numbers (15 million); Google’s expanded cloud deal with MLB; Mux’s recent round of layoffs; Vizio’s FAST ad revenue and Roku’s removal of all SDK1 channels. We also discuss how many companies hiring for new positions are not doing a good job following up, list jobs no longer open and need to do a better job of putting people first. Thanks to this week’s podcast sponsor, Agora.

Companies, and services mentioned: Peacock, Comcast, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, MLB, Google Cloud, Nielsen, Netflix, Disney+, PlayStation 5, ByteDance, Vizio, Roku, Amazon, eBay, Mux.

Developers Say Roku’s OS 11.5 Roll Out Leaves No Way To Update SDK1 Channels

In 2017, Roku said that SDK1 channels would be depreciated but no firm date was announced and there was no further communication until last month with the Roku OS 11.5 roll out. (release notes) On September 12th, Roku removed all SDK1 channels and deleted them from devices and their developer portal. Concerning is the loss of the installs and loss of ability to upgrade code base. It’s just gone.

I’ve been told that Roku’s Partner Success Managers are pointing to the Scenegraph SDK and stating that was the method to update. But there is no update path since all the channels have been removed from all devices and the developer portal. Even the link to the post about the SDK change has now been deleted from Roku’s website and the blog post gives a 404 error.

Roku says, “channels that still had these sunset components as of August 22nd were disabled and removed from the Roku Channel Store. These channels can no longer be installed or launched unless they were migrated to SDK2”. So unless developers already migrated to SDK2, there is no longer any way to update.

Roku developers have noticed 2 SDK1 channels that are unpublished and in the “Beta” state but it’s unclear what that means. Some developers say between all their channels, they have millions of cumulative installs. I’ve reached out to Roku for explanation and have not gotten any response. If someone from Roku wants to reply in the comments, please do so. You have some developers rightfully asking questions and looking for answers. I can’t find any thread on Roku’s developer blog that provides any more details.

Mux Does Round of Layoffs as More Vendors Cut Costs

It’s being reported across Twitter and LinkedIn that Mux did a recent round of layoffs of 20% of the company, or about 40 employees. (As of publishing, the company hasn’t replied to my inquiry) The company raised two rounds of funding in less than a year including $37M in a Series C round in 2020 and $105M in D Round in 2021. Too many streaming media vendors raised money during the pandemic thinking the growth of video consumption during that time would be the new norm, but that wasn’t reality. I still don’t know why companies had this line of thought since we all knew people would not stay inside their homes forever.

With Mux’s latest round of funding the company said they wanted to use the money to grow from 80 to 200 employees and they ramped up headcount. But like many other vendors, Mux had to pull back and do layoffs to cut costs. The valuation of companies like Mux, Vimeo, Hopin and others didn’t make sense at the time of their latest raise and companies set improper expectations with investors. During the height of covid and raising money, some streaming vendors were valued at 20x-70x revenue in their last round of funding. Just because a company can get that valuation, doesn’t mean they should take it or that it is good for their business. With big funding, comes big expectations.

I simply don’t understand why so many vendors are unrealistic when it comes to the true size of the market they are in and didn’t set proper expectations with investors. Doing so would allow them more time to organically grow their business in a more sustainable way without having to make big drastic changes when the growth doesn’t come. The moment a company takes hundred(s) of millions of dollars in funding, investors expect a level of growth that streaming vendors simply can’t match in the time frame investors expect.

Layoffs aren’t good, but if it helps re-set vendors and investors expectations on the proper TAMs (Total Addressable Market) and realistic rate of growth, then in the long run, this is a good thing.

IMAX Acquires SSIMWAVE for $21M, Wants To Enable The Highest Quality Video On Any Screen

IMAX has announced their acquisition of Ontario based SSIMWAVE, which licenses their AI-driven video quality technology to media and entertainment companies that includes Disney, Paramount Global, and Warner Bros. Discovery. IMAX is paying $18.5 million in cash and $2.5 million in stock for SSIMWAVE with additional earnout consideration of $4 million, subject to achieving certain operating performance and financial objectives.

To date, SSIMWAVE had raised just a few million dollars (under $5 million) and funded their entire operations based on the contracts they signed in the market. The company employees 40 people and the CEO tells me all employees including the current management team at SSIMWAVE will stay on with the acquisition. SSIMWAVE will be a fully owned subsidiary of IMAX but will keep operating independently and falls under IMAX Enhanced division.

This is an interesting acquisition for IMAX and a great fit for SSIMWAVE since IMAX has recently begun working on what they are informally calling IMAX 3.0. Their goal is to expand beyond film exhibition and add a regular slate of concerts, stand-up comedy performances and sporting events. The company also launched a major streaming partnership with Disney+ in Q4 of last year and created a series of exclusive events connecting theatrical and streaming. As part of that relationship, Disney has enhanced variations of select streaming titles on Disney+. The titles feature an expanded aspect ratio of 1.90:1 and allows viewers to see up to 26% more of the original image.

This is a great tie up for both companies since they are both focused on video quality. IMAX is all about the user experience within a theatre and it’s why consumers pay more for a ticket in IMAX. Using SSIMWAVE’s technology and expertise, IMAX wants to take that same approach with the use experience and bring a specific level of video quality to consumers at home. I’m excited to see what an enhanced video quality experience looks like within the home.

Some Advertisers Say Amazon Had 10 Million – 11 Million Viewers For Thursday Night Football, Unknown How Many Were Unique

[Updated 3:27pm] Amazon has put out a release saying they averaged 15.3 million viewers across all platforms for their first exclusive TNF game. Their number, which is different from Nielsen’s, includes set-top boxes, connected TVs, web and mobile, as well as Twitch, local over-the-air stations, out-of-home viewing, and NFL+.

[Updated 11:33am] The 13 million figure includes local over-the-air simulcasts in the home markets. Excluding those simulcasts — around 602,000 viewers on LA FOX affiliate KTTV and 555,000 on KC NBC affiliate KSHB — Amazon Prime alone averaged in the neighborhood of 11.8 million.

[Updated 11:12am] CNBC is reporting that “according to Nielsen”, Amazon averaged 13 million viewers based on data released by the company. As of now, there is no press release on the wire or on Nielsen’s website yet.

[Updated 10:14am] Shortly after posting, I see one article is reporting the number is 13 million viewers, with the source being Nielsen, but I don’t see any official release from Nielsen as of yet. I see a second article saying the number was over 15 million viewers, also attributed to Nielsen, so lots of conflicting numbers. I’ll update this post if/when Nielsen puts out a release.


Multiple advertisers tell me Amazon had between 10 million and 11 million total “viewers” for their NFL Thursday Night Football game on September 15th, with the actual number being closer to 10.5 million. A week after the game, Amazon and Nielsen still haven’t put out any numbers, which is odd. Leading up to the game, the media reported that Amazon was telling advertisers they were targeting 12.5 million viewers. If both of the numbers being reported are accurate, Amazon fell a little short of their goal. Amazon has been quoted as saying that their “audience numbers exceeded all of our expectations for viewership,” but we don’t know what their expectations were. If they were 12.5 million viewers, then the 10 million – 11 million number sounds low. [Updated: The numbers are low as Nielsen says the number is 13 million “average” viewers.]

Another key point is that the term viewer is vague, so without knowing how Nielsen and Amazon define what a viewer is, there’s no way to know what the true reach of the audience was. If a user streamed the game at kickoff time and then left, only to come back later to the game, were they counted as a single viewer or two viewers? Also, of the total number of viewers that were counted, how many were unique? And how is Nielsen counting multiple people in the room watching from a single device on a large screen?

We also don’t know what type of engagement Amazon saw during the game since the live stream was embedded on the home page of Amazon.com. If a user was on the website to search or buy something, but never made the video window larger, or clicked within the video window at all, were they considered a viewer? And, to be counted as a viewer, did the video stream have to play for a minimum amount of time? I don’t expect Amazon and Nielsen to give out many details, but knowing the number of unique viewers, average viewing time per user, number of simultaneous viewers (not just Average Minute Audience) and breakdown of viewers on large versus small screens is needed to judge the success.

On the tech side, from what I saw personally and was reported to me by other viewers, the lowest bitrate looked to be about 5.5Mbps and the highest around 7.5Mbps. So that would put the average bitrate delivered at around 6Mbps. For those like myself that were experiencing delivery problems, I didn’t see any issue with the multiple CDNs I saw Amazon using. All issues seemed to be with some ISPs and in particular, Comcast. I don’t know what the root cause of the ISP issue(s) were, but for all the talk within the industry of live events being “limited” by CDN capacity, the problem on QoE was once again down at the last mile level, not the CDNs.

The media has reported that based on an internal email Amazon sent out that Amazon, “saw the biggest three hours for U.S. Prime sign ups ever in the history of Amazon.” We don’t know exactly how many signups Amazon got and the key metric to watch is how many stay on after the 30-day free trial ends. For some NFL fans like myself that only watch one team, there is no reason to pay for a Prime account past the 30-day free trial if your favorite team doesn’t play more than once on TNF, or at all. For instance, the Giants are never on the TNF schedule and the Jets only play once on Thursday.

During the game I saw people on Twitter talking about how they shared their login with others so it would be interesting to know the total number of Prime accounts that were used to stream the game. It won’t be a 1:1 ratio of accounts to viewers, so the number of Prime accounts used would have to be less than 10 million, if the 10-11 million viewership number is right.

It’s interesting to see how Amazon isn’t acknowledging any of the technical issues in how they talk about the event. In their email to employees, Amazon references the, “stellar production of the game, to the quality of the stream customers watched at home.” We don’t know the exact number of viewers that had problems with the video and audio, but it was not isolated. Amazon’s President and CEO pushed out a Tweet during the game and was quickly met with 194 comments from viewers complaining about the quality of the video and/or audio. Across social, there was thousands of negative comments on the quality of the stream with viewers experiencing technical issues. Amazon should just address the issues some viewers had and talk about how they plan to improve upon them for the next game.

I’m sure some will say this was Amazon’s first TNF game this year so it is expected to get better over time, which very well could happen. But they are missing the point. Unlike other sports like MLB that have been streaming for 20 years, historically the NFL has always been a sport that most viewers have watched via cable or satellite. It works every time, with nearly the exact same quality no matter the city you are in. The cable company controls the set-top-box you are getting the video from and the pipe it’s coming across. The experience a viewer has is not based on their technical setup and it always works. It’s easy to use.

Streaming is the exact opposite and “maybe” you can have a good experience, or maybe not. In some cases, Amazon might control the hardware device, but they don’t control the last mile and can’t force ISPs to do what they want. Amazon can produce the best quality video possible, but once it hits the ISP, the success or failure of the stream is now in another company’s hands. Streaming can’t replace live cable TV as a distribution medium with the same reliability, scalability and stability. This is the same with any streaming service not being delivered by a cable operator and as a result, for the first time, the NFL is making fans wonder as they go to watch their favorite team “if” the video will even work. That’s not something NFL fans have had to wonder about in the past – until now.

Podcast Episode 34: Recapping The Good and Bad From Amazon’s NFL Thursday Night Football Stream

Podcast Episode 34 is live! This week we breakdown Amazon’s stream of their NFL Thursday Night Football game on September 15th and the wide variety of user experiences that were reported, both good and bad. We discuss the issue that some ISPs had resulting in poor video quality, the terrible job by Amazon support, a large group of people reporting audio and video issues and a host of other comments from viewers. We also highlight how the Amazon game is an example of why streaming will not replace cable TV as a broadcast medium with the same reliability, scalability and stability. Thanks to this week’s podcast sponsor, Agora.

Companies, and services mentioned: Amazon Prime Video, NFL, MLB.