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Recap: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Comcast Q2 Earnings

Alphabet Q2 Earnings: Google’s first ever revenue decline, ad revenue down 8%. Total revenue $38.6 billion, down 2%; YouTube ad revenue $3.8 billion, up 6%, but down from $4.04 billion in Q1; Cloud revenue $2.7 billion, up 43%.

  • Total revenue of $38.6 billion, down 2%, total profit overall of $6.4 billion
  • Ad revenue down 8%, a first for Google who’s previous advertising revenue had risen every quarter of its 22-year history
  • YouTube ad revenue of $3.8 billion, up 6%
  • Cloud revenue of $2.7 billion, up 43%
  • Google’s board of directors has authorized an additional stock buyback of $28 billion
  • No update on the number of YouTube TV subscribers
  • Stock is up $11.63 (+0.76%) after hours, as of 6:09pm ET

Apple Q2 Earnings: Announces 4-for-1 stock split. Revenue of $59.7 billion, up 11%, Services revenue of $13.1 billion, up 14.8%; iPhone revenue of $26.4 billion, up 1.6%. (all y/o/y) No guidance for Q3. More details:

  • Announces 4 for 1 stock split
  • Will release its fall update of iPhone models a few weeks later than usual, pushing the release into October
  • iPhone revenue of $26.4 billion, up 1.6%
  • Services revenue of $13.1 billion, up 14.8%
  • Mac revenue: $7.08 billion, up 21%
  • iPad revenue: $6.58 billion, up 31%
  • Other Products revenue: $6.45 billion, up 14.8%
  • Sales in China rose slightly to $9.33 billion
  • Stock is up $16.54 (+4.93%) after hours, as of 4:46pm ET

Amazon Q2 Earnings: $88.9 billion, up 41% y/o/y; AWS revenue of $10.8 billion, up 29% y/o/y. Invested $9 billion in capital projects. More details:

  • Revenue of $88.9 billion, up 41%
  • AWS revenue of $10.8 billion, up 29%
  • Amazon provided a one-time Thank You bonus totaling over $500 million to all front-line employees and partners who were with the company throughout the month of June
  • Invested over $9 billion in capital projects, including fulfillment, transportation, and AWS
  • Prime Video introduced Prime Video Profiles, allowing customers to create and manage up to six profiles within a single account
  • Announced new live content integrations on Fire TV from YouTube TV and Hulu, and expanded discovery options including the new Free tab which helps customers find free movies, TV shows, and more
  • Amazon expects to spend roughly $2 billion in coronavirus-related costs during Q3
  • Stock is up $186.12 (+6.10) after hours, as of 4:27pm ET

Facebook Q2 Earnings: $18.69 billion; Monthly active users of 2.7 billion, increase of 12%; Daily active users of 1.79 billion, increase of 12%. More details:

  • Facebook daily active users (DAUs) – DAUs were 1.79 billion on average for June 2020, an increase of 12% year-over-year
  • Facebook monthly active users (MAUs) – MAUs were 2.70 billion as of June 30, 2020, an increase of 12% year-over-year
  • Family daily active people (DAP) – DAP was 2.47 billion on average for June 2020, an increase of 15% year-over-year
  • Family monthly active people (MAP) – MAP was 3.14 billion as of June 30, 2020, an increase of 14% year-over-year
  • Expects quarter year-over-year ad revenue growth rate for the third quarter of 2020 to be roughly similar to this July performance
  • Stock is up $13.00 (+5.14%) after hours, as of 4:15pm ET

Comcast Q2 Earnings: Lost 477,000 pay TV subscribers; 10 million sign ups for Peacock TV; Revenue of $23.7 billion, a decrease of 11.7% year-over-year. More details:

  • Cable Communications Total Customer Relationships Increased by 217,000 in the Quarter, the Best Second Quarter Result on Record
  • Total High-Speed Internet Customer Net Additions Were 323,000, the Best Second Quarter Result in 13 Years
  • Broadcast Television revenue decreased 1.6% to $2.4 billion, reflecting lower advertising revenue, partially offset by higher content licensing revenue and distribution and other revenue
  • Filmed Entertainment revenue decreased 18.1% to $1.2 billion in the second quarter of 2020, primarily reflecting lower theatrical revenue
  • Cable capital expenditures represented 9.3% of Cable revenue compared to 10.3% in 2019
  • Launched Peacock, NBCUniversal’s New Highly Anticipated Streaming Service, Free to Xfinity X1 and Flex Customers on April 15, Ahead of National Debut on July 15, With 10 Million Sign-Ups to Date
  • Sky Successfully Retained 99% of Total Customers and 95% of Sports Subscribers
  • Stock is down $0.16 after hours, as of 10:26pm ET

NAB Cancels In-Person Portion of NAB Show NY in October, Will Be Online Only

The NAB Show NY, planned for October in NYC will no longer be an in-person event. The NAB announced today that the event in October will be online only. I am still looking at the options for doing an online version of the Streaming Summit, so if you’d like to be involved content wise and have ideas or suggestions, please contact me (dan@danrayburn.com). If there is enough of a demand and speakers and vendors want to participate, I’ll help organize sessions. Note that the April 2021 NAB Show and Streaming Summit in Las Vegas are both confirmed to take place in-person.

CDN/Media Pricing See’s Big Drop for Largest Customers: Pricing Down to $0.0006

I just finished surveying over 600 customers that use third-party CDNs for the delivery of video and software downloads and the data shows there’s been a big decline in Q1 pricing, year-over-year, for the largest customers. Some of the biggest OTT and gaming companies are now getting pricing as low as $0.0006 per GB delivered. (Contact me if you are interested in purchasing the data) While the list of companies that can get pricing that low is very short, they are also the coustomers that tend to generate the largest portion of the overall total growth of the video and software download traffic in the industry. In the survey data I saw only one customer getting $0.0006 per GB, but I saw a couple brand names we all know getting $0.0007 per GB delivered. A year ago I reported that some of the lowest pricing around was $0.001, and I saw AWS starting to allow $0.0009 on select deals, but pricing has now fallen even below that.

This decline in pricing for some of the largest customers in the market is also one of the reasons why some CDNs pass on taking on video and software traffic at these price points. The margins are simply too slim, and outside of CenturyLink, none of the other major third-party CDN providers own their entire network, where theoretically their costs should be lower. I won’t mention CDNs by name, but I know that some third-party CDNs internal cost per GB delivered is in the $0.0007 range. So taking on customers at that price point means they aren’t making any money on the deal, unless they are able to up-sell the customer on other services, which most times they can’t.

As I wrote two years ago, the current Infrastructure strategy to support OTT services isn’t economically sustainable for third-party CDNs. They can only make up for the low pricing with volume, which is hard to get since all large customers use a multi-CDN strategy or sell other services at a higher margin, which even if sold, are nowhere near the volume of video and software download traffic. And for those that think the recent pandemic is going to produce a large growth in sustained traffic, overall traffic growth specific to video on third-party CDN networks was only up between 12%-20% in March, when compared to February.

Even for customers not doing insane amounts of volume, a mid-sized customer can now get pricing starting at around $0.007 per GB delivered, with a commit of something north of 20PB of traffic a month. Get into the 40PB a month range, and pricing is around $0.005 per GB delivered, depending on the CDN. If you’re a content owner reading this, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the rate you should be paying if you have this level of volume. There are a lot of variables that determine the final quoted price and if you need help in your RFP process, reach out to me at any time. I’ll help you free of charge and I take NO kickback from any CDN.

When you add in the fact that there is currently a large wave of new CDN DIY deployments taking place, the market for third-party CDNs is going to get very interesting in the next 18 months. And for those, like Apple, who already built out their own CDN, they are now branching out to work with even smaller ISPs with a minimum requirement of only 25 Gb/s of peak traffic across all Apple services. I am not predicting doom and gloom for third-party CDNs that deliver a lot of low-margin bits, but change is coming to the CDN landscape in the next 18 months in the wave of new DIY deployments, new competitors with scale, and a shift in traffic commitments across multi-CDN deployments. Pricing will probably drop to $0.00045 for the largest customers, in the next 12-months.

CDN Fastly Wins Content Delivery Business For Amazon.com and IMDB Websites

I’ve been tracing a lot of content over the past 60 days to see what changes have taken place with the surge in certain types of content consumption, specifically across OTT video, Xbox and PlayStation software downloads and commerce sites. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen a change where images that use to be coming from Amazon’s CDN CloudFront, are now coming from Fastly for both the Amazon.com homepage and their IMDb website. This isn’t any sort of test or trial as it’s been consistent like this for a few weeks.

As you can see from the screenshot above, images from Amazon.com’s homepage are now being delivered by Fastly. While many CDNs are trying to grab a large share of the long-form video traffic and gaming downloads in the market, that’s business Fastly has mostly stayed away from. OTT video and software download traffic has very low margins, if any at all. Some of the largest customers get to set the price and CDNs that want that business don’t have much leverage to push back.

But with small object delivery, like images loading fast on Amazon’s home page, it’s the opposite. Customers will pay for a better level of performance and in this case, Fastly clearly outperformed Amazon’s own CDN CloudFront. This isn’t too surprising since CloudFront’s strength isn’t web performance, or even live streaming, but rather on-demand delivery of video and downloads. I can’t tell what volume of traffic this equates to for Fastly, but even though all the images are very small in size, it’s the home page of Amazon.com and IMDb, so it is substantial. Amazon.com is usually ranked in the top 15-20 largest websites, in terms of traffic by Alexa, and IMDb usually hovers around number 60.

While all of the commercial CDNs are typically group together from a product comparison standpoint, many of them really do target certain markets over others. Fastly does have some overlap with other third-party CDNs when it comes to media delivery, but not for the commoditized high-volume traffic. For video, they have fine tuned their network specifically for live and don’t want the kind of big SVOD traffic that many of the OTT providers have, since it requires a big capex spend, for little if any profit in return. And with pricing for the largest media customers having seen a big drop in the last quarter, Fastly continues to target customers that simply don’t want the lowest price around. That’s a good strategy considering the pricing I saw in Q1 on some of these large volume media deals are now down to the $0.0006-$0.0007 per GB delivered. At that price, it’s almost impossible to make money, unless you own the network or have some other kind of cost advantage.

Announcing The Launch of “OTTVIDEO.NEWS”: The Best OTT News & Industry Data, Curated Daily

I am excited to announce the launch of www.ottvideo.news, the best OTT news and industry data, curated daily, by a team of streaming execs. For the industry, by the industry. [Follow #ottvideonews on Twitter and LinkedIn]

While many want to pull back in these current times, my approach is to do the opposite and double-down. Now, more than ever, with the streaming and OTT industry in the spotlight, it’s time we have a way to make it easy for everyone to stay on top of the latest news, deals, data, earnings and events, without having to spend hours each searching for the best content, or having to visit dozens of websites, blogs and newsletters. One site that sifts through all the garbage to bring you the best news, analysis, and data that matters most.

The new site is fast, clean, easy to scroll, with no big images, no ads, and no pop up windows. Get in, see the news, get back to your job. Unlike many news sites that are designed around CPMs and page views, this site is about content first. Articles will link to discussions on LinkedIn and Twitter and you can sign up for a news digest weekly. [Daily option coming soon]

I am excited to announce that at launch, I have 10 curators who have joined me to help highlight the best news daily. They are Yves Boudreau, Tal Chalozin, Lee Chen, Mark Donnigan, Scott Favelle, Glenn Goldstein, Shrishti Gupta, Matt McClure, Andrew Rosen and Jon Watts. Their combined expertise covers video business, monetization and engineering topics across the U.S., Europe, India, APAC and Australia regions.

If you have any questions, comments, see something not working right, or want to give feedback of any kind, I’d love to hear from you at any time. 917-523-4562 | dan@danrayburn.com

My mission is simple. To highlight content that informs, educates and empowers professionals in the streaming and OTT video industry – to help the entire industry grow. I look forward to hearing your ideas, how you want to contribute, what resources you would like to see in the market, and how best I can help you and the industry. Stream on!

Quibi Has Flawless Launch: Negative Press Due To Lack of TV App Unjustified

Quibi has officially launched in the market and so far, based on what I have seen, users aren’t reporting any problems with creating accounts or video playback. I was notified at 11:15pm ET on Sunday night that the app was ready to download and the process of creating an account was simple and quick. I was in the app and watching videos in under a minute. The service is getting some negative reviews in the media today for things like a “lack of a TV experience”, and “no iPad app”, which completely misses the point of the service.

Giving Quibi a negative review because the content isn’t for viewing on a big screen is like complaining a motorcycle is a bad means of transportation because it can’t carry four people like a car. Quibi was made for a specific type of viewing, for a very specific device. Quibi does exactly what it said it would do. It isn’t trying to be a TV app today. Down the line it might, but today it’s filling a specific role in the market for a mobile only experience. The navigation is easy, the video looks great for me on wifi and 4G and it has options to download content, change the quality settings and minimize data usage. All the things you would want and expect to see in a mobile video experience. While I have no confirmation from the company, I do think that Quibi could add a tablet app sooner rather than later.

Quibi will be an interesting one to watch over the next 12-months. We’ve never seen a focused video service like this in the market and while some suggest it can’t compete with Netflix, it’s not trying to. Netflix is long-form video, no ads, available on every screen possible. Quibi is content that is 10 minutes or less in length, ad supported, available only on mobile. So while the services aren’t competitive from a content standpoint, all video streaming services are competing for our eyeballs. We have a limited number of hours in the day to consume entertainment, news and music, both short and long-form, and it’s too early to know how successful Quibi can be in capturing our on-the-go video viewing. I expect we’ll hear some metrics from Quibi before too long on the number of downloads of their app, or accounts created, but with a 90-day free trail, we really won’t have any metrics that matter until Q3, when we know what percentage of users turn into paying customers.

Updated April 7: Now that I’ve spent the past 24 hours using Quibi, here’s my list so far, of the UI/UX features that Quibi is missing. Some of them are pretty major.

CDN Video Traffic Update: Higher Demand for VOD Content and Software Downloads, Offset By Loss Of Live Sports

Over the past week I’ve spoken to nearly every major CDN, many ISPs, as well as dozens of content owners to get an accurate sense of the traffic growth they are seeing for live and on-demand video streaming. Based on those I talked to, overall traffic growth specific to video on third-party CDN networks was up between 12%-20% in March, when compared to February. Video on demand traffic and game downloads are up, as one would expect, but overall video traffic growth isn’t higher as some might think, due to the loss of live sports.

While the media is quick to use all kinds of numbers when talking about the growth of streaming, use cases like video conferencing and multiplayer gaming has little to no impact on the CDNs. It’s important to know which services use third-party CDNs, what technology they are using and which online services deliver a lot of the content themselves.

Zoom and other web collaboration services are designed as one-to-few solutions, not one to many, like webcasting based offerings that use streaming media technology. The majority of services like Zoom don’t use CDNs to deliver their video. Sometimes they rely on third-party CDNs for the caching and acceleration of APIs or other pieces of content that are very small in size, but that doesn’t drive much in the way of additional traffic to CDNs. [Side note, this morning Zoom said it’s daily meeting participants went from 10M in December to 200M in March.] And when it comes to multiplayer gaming, third-party CDNs don’t deliver any of that video. None of that video goes across their network.

CDNs do deliver software downloads of games like Fortnite and Call Of Duty and CDNs are seeing a big growth in that traffic. To put it in perspective, a two-hour movie streamed at 4.5Mbps takes up just over 4GB of data. The last COD update on the PS4 in February was 51GB in size, the one before that was 53GB in size, and the COD 1.18 update that rolled out on March 27th was 11.5GB in size. The last three updates combined were over 115GB of data, for just one game. That’s equivalent to watching 29 movies, at two hours each, encoded at 4.5Mbps. This is why when CDNs like Akamai and others report earnings they always mention that “software downloads” was the big driver in the media vertical.

This isn’t to say that third-party CDNs deliver all of these game downloads. Many ISPs utilize virtual servers from the game companies/platforms to help deliver the content inside their networks, but some third-party CDNs certainly do benefit. It should be noted though, this is not “video” traffic, it’s software. So for all the media reports saying “streaming” is the biggest driver of growth for CDNs, many times that’s not accurate. “Gaming” is a use case, it’s not a “type” of delivery. Talking to ISPs in the U.S., March 10th was the largest day of traffic on their networks so far, even surpassing any traffic they have seen since then. ISPs told me that Xbox One and PS4 game download traffic was up “40%” on average that day, with one ISP saying the traffic was up “62%” on the 12th.

When it comes to video streaming, traffic is up across all of the third-party CDNs I spoke with, but it’s not up by that much, due to the loss of live sports streaming. More people are watching video during the day, both VOD movies and TV shows as well as live news, but the traffic at night looks similar to a month ago. I’ve seen some reports that talk about the peak hour of usage on ISP networks, but that’s talking about all traffic on their network, not just video streaming. For video streaming, the peak hours are 7pm-11pm Eastern Time and Sunday night is the busiest night of the week. CDNs I spoke with told me that a week ago, Sunday night traffic was up, but not by much. ISPs I spoke with said traffic was up 7%-10% on average, specific to streaming.

Some have suggested that the launch of Disney+ in Europe will be a large surge of traffic for the many third-party CDNs that Disney is using, but that new traffic for Disney’s service was already baked into CDNs projections for “new” traffic growth in March and April. So while that is new traffic, it’s not traffic that’s specifically being generated by what’s currently going on in the world. I’ve seen numbers saying that video streaming was up anywhere between 26%-80% in March, but note that a lot of the growth, whatever the accurate number is, comes from Netflix and other services that deliver most, and in some cases like Netflix, all of the video themselves. So while usage is up for Netflix and others, third-party CDNs don’t benefit financially from that growth.

According to Nielsen, (who’s data should not be quoted as the Bible as it’s missing a lot of measurements), Netflix and YouTube made up 49% of all content streamed to TVs the week of March 16th. Even if their numbers are off a bit, it’s safe to say we all know that Netflix and YouTube combined, usually take up about 50% of viewing hours or more. And 100% of that video traffic is delivered by Netflix and Google themselves. So when the media throws out all kinds of numbers around how fast video is growing, for those tracking the CDN market, it’s important to note that the growth of DIY companies usually has little to no impact on the revenue growth of third-party CDNs. The key is too look at the growth of video services from Hulu, ESPN+, Disney+, CBS All Access, Showtime, Sling TV, Fubo and many others who rely on third-party CDNs. Although some, like Disney and others, are already building out their own DIY efforts.

So what does this mean for third-party CDNs in 2020 from a business growth standpoint? Overall, the CDNs will see some nice traffic growth from new services launching like Disney+, Quibi, Peacock and consumers signing up for other already established OTT services. They will also benefit from larger game downloads but it should be noted that game developers have already said that these downloads will get smaller going forward. As an example, see this thread from Infinity Ward that talks to their intentions to “keep future updates from being this large” and to “minimize” their size. This follows in the footsteps of Apple and many others who have continued to cut their size of their software updates by a big percentage every year.

The downside for third-party CDNs is that live sports streaming on the Internet doesn’t exist and we have no real indication of when it might start again. None of the CDNs I spoke with said they had enough details yet to know what the impact would be to their business over the course of the year. How quickly sports comes back, and which leagues don’t, is anyone’s guess. If live sports don’t come back until Q4, the CDNs will have missed two quarters of live sports streaming traffic, which will impact the growth of their overall revenue numbers. I’m not saying they won’t grow at all, they will, but the rate of growth is what’s in question. The loss of some live sports traffic will be able to be made up in the form of additional traffic from VOD movies and TV shows, but live streaming of sports typically happens at a higher bitrate and users watch for longer periods of time, both of which contribute to more GBs delivered overall. I’ve seen a few people say things like, “the loss of real-time video delivery will be more than offset by increased traffic in VOD,” but that is NOT guaranteed at all and there is no data to back that up.

The other unknown is when people go back to work, which OTT services could get delayed in their launch and what the world looks like in another month or two. The delaying of the Olympics isn’t a big deal for any CDN, as it won’t have a material impact on their company from a revenue standpoint. Some CDNs I spoke with also suggested another potential scenario. When people do go back to work and things start to try and get back to some normality, many people will want to do more outside, spend time seeing others, visit places they haven’t been able to get to and potentially, spend less time in front of their TV. So some of the growth we are seeing now may not spill over into future months and the usual traffic they see on their network when things are back open, may have a lot more peaks and valleys and more unpredictability. There are bunch of unknowns right now, but the good news is, CDNs will benefit from the increased demand for video streaming, the question none of us yet know, is what that demand will look like for the rest of the year.

Side note: I just completed my media CDN pricing survey for Q1 2020. Please contact me if you’d like details on how you can get access to the raw data, minus customer names.

Starz President and CEO to Conduct Fireside Chat at NAB Show Streaming Summit

I’m pleased to announce that Starz President and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch will sit down with me for a fireside chat at the NAB Show Streaming Summit in April. We’ll discuss the premium cabler’s transition to the digital world through OTT and mobile apps, the priorities and insights on how a platform strategizes its domestic and international expansion, from the diversification in meeting subscribers/viewers to data and analytics on what makes specific content successful.

Registration is open and you can get a discounted pass for $695, if you register before March 22nd. If buying 3 or more tickets, contact me for a group discount code. #streamingsummit

First Streaming Summit Keynote Announced: Jeremy Legg, CTO, WarnerMedia

I’m excited to announce the first keynote for the NAB Show Streaming Summit, taking place April 20-21. Jeremy Legg, CTO, WarnerMedia will discuss his experience with building a streaming video platform in the ever-evolving media landscape, industry trends, the importance of user experience, future proofing, and predictions in media. Full conference program will be live next week! #streamingsummit

Live Updates: Testing Super Bowl Stream Across a Combo of 50+ Apps/Platforms

10:47pm ET: And that’s a wrap! Congrats to the FOX Sports team for a great overall Super Bowl streaming experience. Very minor issues, as is the case with all live events online. Interested to see the numbers tomorrow, I’m guessing 3-3.5M simultaneous.

8:30pm ET: So far on the iPad/iPhone, the Super Bowl stream is looking great on the Hulu, Fubo TV and FOX Sports app with startup times of around a second, on WiFi. 4G still good, with startup of about 3 seconds.

8:17pm ET: The Sling TV Super Bowl stream on iPad gives me a message of “NFL Football is not currently available”, yet it shows it as an option for viewing. Don’t know if it’s a local blackout issue, but problem currently unknown. Update 8:58pm ET. I have restarted the iPad and now the Sling TV stream is working.

7:09pm ET: The Super Bowl stream is looking good so far on Fubo and DAZN on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon and Fire TV. Fubo won’t let me get the 4K stream though, message says my LG OLED TV doesn’t support it, which it does.

6:58pm ET: You can also use the NFL app to stream the Super Bowl, there is an option to skip authenticating or signing up for an account. Streams looks good, but it’s not the 4K version.

6:55pm ET: At kickoff the Super Bowl stream is looking good on FOX Sports, Hulu and Sling TV on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon and Fire TV. I’m seeing latency of 12-25 seconds. But sound volume is all over the place. Hulu on Roku I have to turn my TV up to 50, FOX on Roku only 20.

6:19pm ET: If you want the 4K stream of the Super Bowl it’s only on Amazon Fire TV and Roku in UHD/HDR and AppleTV 4K in UHD/SDR. (Apple does not support HDR @ 60fps). So no 4K on Xbox or PS4.

4:08pm ET: I expect the Super Bowl stream to have a delay when compared to cable TV of anywhere between 10 seconds to 60 seconds depending on the device/platform. And for all those that will complain, it’s not a big deal, it’s a free stream. Latency is not a big deal, until betting happens.

3:27pm ET: FOX Sports says the Super Bowl HD stream will max out at about 7.5Mbps and 20Mbps for UHD. No international broadcasters are taking the 4K feed, FOX Sports has rights for U.S. and Territories only. 

3:20pm ET: If you have any Super Bowl streaming issues with the video or apps please put them in the comments on this post (or email me dan@danrayburn.com) and I’ll send directly to FOX Sports tech team. Make sure you update the device OS and then update whatever app(s) you’re using. Most problems can be fixed simply by doing that. In your comments put ALL details; device, model number, device OS, app, app version, internet connection.

2:40pm ET: I’m running Charles to take a look at how the Super Bowl streams are being delivered, which looks to be across third-party CDNs including Fastly, Verizon Media, Akamai and Limelight Networks. [Updated: Amazon Cloudfront as well] Feel free to send me any logs or traceroutes if you like. FOX Sports looks to be ready.

2:30pm ET: Here’s what the 4K badging will look like for the 4K stream. Select that option if you have at least 25Mbps and your TV and streaming hardware supports 4K.

2:27pm ET: I’ll be testing the Super Bowl stream across 50+ apps/platform combo on Apple TV, Roku, Xbox, PS4, Fire TV, iPad, iPhone, Samsung Galaxy Tab, smart TVs from LG, Vizio and Samsung. Follow this blog post for updates. Below is my setup so far with more to come.

  • Connection: Verizon FiOS currently getting 77Mbps down.
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2015)
    OS 10.13.6
    Safari Version 13.0.5 (13608.5.12)

Running all latest apps from FOX, Sling TV, Hulu, Fubo, YouTube, DAZN and AT&T on these phones/tablets:

  • iPad 10.2” (2019)
  • iPhone 11 Pro (2019)
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5″ (2019)

Here’s the specs for the TVs and streaming boxes: (more to come)

  • LG 55” TV 4K (Model OLED55C9AUA)
    Software Version 4.71.05
    FOX Sports App (not available)
    Sling TV App 2.8.34 Player Version 5.4.2
    Hulu Live App 6.5.9
    Fubo TV App (not available)
    YouTube Live App 1.0.22
    DAZN App 2.50.8
    AT&T TV Now App (not available)
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (Model E9L29Y)
    Software Version OS (NS6268/2315)
    FOX Sports App v3.23.20 (15140) Prod
    Sling TV App Player Version 6.17.9
    Hulu Live App 97EAA109P3.6.203
    Fubo TV App 4.23.1
    YouTube Live App
    DAZN App 1.63.2
    AT&T TV Now App 3.0.20202.02122
  • Apple TV 4K (Model A1842)
    Software Version 13.3.1 (17K795)
    FOX Sports App 3.23.2
    Sling TV App Player Version
    Hulu Live App 828 Build 42
    Fubo TV App 4.3.2
    YouTube Live App 1.5.0
    DAZN App 2.2.1
    AT&T TV Now App 1.0.0 Build 1
  • Roku Ultra 4K (Model 4670X)
    Software Version 9.2.0 (4807)
    FOX Sports App 3.23 Build 12658
    Sling TV App 6.7 Build 215
    Hulu Live App 6.25.4
    Fubo TV App 3.8 Build 2001211353
    YouTube Live App 1.0 Build 91000019
    DAZN App 3.0
    AT&T TV Now App (not available)

UPDATED: Verizon Ditches Cable Bundles and Contracts, Offers New “Mix & Match” Options With No Surcharges and Sports Network Fees for NEW Customers Only

[Updated Jan 11th: While not mentioned by Verizon, if you are a current Verizon customer you can’t make any changes to your account via phone. You have to use the Verizon website, which is HORRIBLE and tries to add new set-top-boxes and even assign me a new phone number, when I already one. You also can’t continue to use cable cards, which isn’t mentioned anywhere. The press release also says there are no fees on top of the costs, other than tax, but they are fees still for each cable box and for a router.]

Thanks to the impact of all the OTT services in the market and the number of options consumers have for getting their video fix, Verizon announced they are doing away with FiOS bundles and contracts, and allowing customers to pick and choose options for TV, internet and phone.

As a current customer of Verizon’s triple-play bundle for FiOS, I pay $109 a month, before taxes and fees. Under the new plan, I would pay $110 a month before taxes and fees. So initially the pricing is the same with no savings. But Verizon has also announced that all of the new “Mix & Match” options have “no added surcharges, no broadcast or regional sports network fees.” Verizon will charge only state and local tax on top of the new options. Removal of all the surcharges and sports network fees would save me $31.38 per month. And if you also happen to be Verizon Wireless customer, there is also an option to save $10 or $20 per month, depending on your plan, by joining Verizon’s Mobile+Home Rewards program.

Under the new “Mix & Match” options, customers can pick from 100 Mbps, 300 Mbps or Gigabit internet, costing from $39.99 per month up to $79.99 per month. TV options include $50 per month for 125+ channels, $70 per month for 300+ channels or $70 per month for 425+ channels. You can also add a landline for $20 a month.

Verizon is also offering a YouTube TV option for $50 a month. So if you wanted live TV via streaming, plus 100Mbps Internet connection, your cost would be $90 a month, before taxes. Note though that YouTube TV has a limit of 3 simultaneous streams from one account, so if a family of 3 or more all needs to watch content at the same time, you’d run into a limitation.

Verizon’s change towards triple-play bundling is just another example of how OTT continues to disrupt the pay TV market and provide more options for consumers. While the flexibility and no contract tie in is a good thing, for those not taking pay TV to begin with, Verizon’s news doesn’t lower their costs. And as most live streaming services continue to raise pricing each year, don’t expect OTT services to go down in price at any point. Content is expensive to license and produce, so we should expect to see additional price increases ahead.

Call For Speakers Open for NAB Show Streaming Summit, Closing Soon

I am actively placing speakers for the next NAB Show Streaming Summit, taking place Monday April 20th and Tuesday April 21st, in Las Vegas. The two-day show will once again be in the North Hall and have close to 100 speakers across fireside chats, technical best practices presentations and round table panels. [Submit here: The deadline for submissions is January 17th] If you are interested in moderating a session or would like sponsorship details, or discuss your submission idea before you send it in, please call me any time at 917-523-4562 or email me at dan@danrayburn.com

Streaming activities at the NAB Show are expanding greatly this year, with the inclusion of the “Streaming Experience“, a new demo area where attendees can test out over 50 OTT platforms and devices, in a living room style setting. We’ll also have a big Beer Garden networking event on Monday April 20th, so save the date!

New Podcast: D2C Streaming Service Launches, My First Impressions

Thanks to Beamr for having me back on their Video Insiders podcast to share my first impressions on the state of the new D2C video streaming services. With significant M&A activity closed, and press briefings completed, there is a lot to discuss. Today, new services launching are having investor days where before the service goes live, companies are projecting to investors when these services will become profitable. Talk about a shift in our industry. Hear my thoughts on why the stakes are higher than ever for all streaming services.

Amazon Acquires QoE Streaming Tech From Net Insight For $33.5M

As expected, on January 3rd, Net Insight announced they have divested their streaming technology product Sye, by selling the business to Amazon for $33.5M. The Sye technology was already being used by Amazon Prime Video for many of their live streaming events and works to reduce end-to-end latency, sync video across multiple channels and allow instant channel changes. [see my post here: A Detailed Look At How Net Insight Syncs Live Streams Across Devices] The tech also has some dynamic server-side ad insertion, metadata synchronization and time-shift functionality. Sye generated less than $2M in revenue for Net Insight in 2019 and Amazon was their largest customer making up the majority of their revenue. Net Insight disclosed that to date, they had “invested around $22.9M” in the product. About 30 employees and consultants have been transferred to Amazon in the deal. Sye was built on top of Microsoft Azure, so it’s an easy assumption that Amazon will now further integrate the technology into their Amazon Web Services platform.

Announcing the “Streaming Experience”, a New OTT Demo Area at the NAB Show in Las Vegas

I’m very excited to announce the “Streaming Experience“, a new hands-on area at the NAB Show in Las Vegas where you can test out over 50 OTT platforms and devices, in a living room style setting. Taking over the North Hall lobby April 19-22, I will be curating and showcasing the best SVOD, AVOD, live linear and authenticated OTT apps.

From Netflix, Amazon and Hulu to new services by Disney and Apple, consumers now have many choices of where to get their video fix. But what are the REAL differences between these services from a quality, content and cost standpoint? See and compare:

    • Video quality: compression, HDR and 4K
    • Content bundling strategies
    • Video delivery: low-latency and QoS
    • Ad formats: pre/post roll in live and SVOD
    • Connected TV advertising
    • Playback and UI/UX

If you’re interested in sponsoring The Streaming Experience or having your content featured, please contact me directly and check out the website for more details.

The Streaming Experience will feature hardware from Amazon, Apple, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, LG, TCL, and Samsung – all showcasing dozens of streaming apps including: Disney+, Apple TV+, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, CBS All Access, YouTube TV, AT&T TV, Sling TV, ESPN+, HBO Now, Showtime, Epix, Discovery, Fubo TV, Acorn TV, IMDb TV, Tubi, WWE, MLB.TV, NHL.TV, NBA TV, MLS, DAZN, FOX Sports, NBC Sports, The Roku Channel and many others. New services from HBO Max, Peacock and Quibi will also be showcased, depending on their launch dates. We’ll also have many of these companies speaking during the two-day Streaming Summit.

Videos From NAB Show Streaming Summit Now Online: Call For Speakers Open For Vegas

All videos from the October NAB Show Streaming Summit in NYC are now available online including the keynotes, presentations, fireside chats and round-table panels. You can check them out here and are welcome to share as you like. And if you’re interested in being considered for speaking at the next NAB Show Streaming Summit, April 20-21 in Las Vegas, the call for speakers is now open and I am accepting ideas, pitches and proposals.

Thanks to Mobeon for capturing all the content and to Kaltura for their video platform.

Here’s The Best Black Friday Deals on Streaming Devices ($18 Roku/$20 Fire TV Stick)

Black Friday is almost upon us and it’s time for some of the best pricing you will see all year on streaming media devices and this year, with $18 Roku’s and $20 Fire TV Sticks, there’s no reason not to add one to each TV. I’ve looked through all the deals in the market and below are the lowest prices I’ve found on streaming hardware for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV Stick/Cube, Chromecast, Xbox and PS4. I will do a separate post on smart TVs shorty. Note that many of these deals say they will have “limited quantities” and you’ll want to check which of these are being offered online vs. in-store, or both. Some don’t have links live as of yet, so check their websites for when they launch.

Purchase a new Roku device (from any retailer) and upon activation, get 3 months of Hulu and Pandora Premium free.

  • Walmart will have an “exclusive” Roku SE on sale for $18, starting 11/28. [normally $50] The SE model does HD streaming (not 4K) and comes with an HDMI cable.
  • Walmart, Roku.com and other retailers will have the Roku Ultra on sale for $48, starting 11/28. [normally $100]. The Ultra model does 4K, comes with JBL earbuds and a voice remote.
  • Roku.com and other retailers will have the Roku Streaming Stick+ on sale for $30, starting 11/24. [normally $50] The Stick+ model does 4K and comes with a voice remote.

Amazon Fire TV Stick/Cube
Amazon is offering their usual discounts on everything in the Fire TV lineup. I’ll cover their Fire TV enabled TV sets in another post.

  • The Fire TV Stick will be on sale for $20, starting 11/28. [normally $35] The model does HD streaming and comes with an Alexa remote.
  • The Fire TV Stick 4K will be on sale for $25, starting 11/28. [normally $48] This is the model you want if 4K is important and comes with an Alexa remote. It also supports for Dolby Vision and HDR, HDR10+
  • The Fire TV Cube will be on sale for $90, starting 11/28. [normally $120] The cube does 4K streaming and has Alexa built so you can use your voice to control compatible soundbars and A/V receivers, and change live cable or satellite channels with your voice. It also supports for Dolby Vision and HDR, HDR10+

Apple TV
There are almost no discounts available on Apple TV devices that have been announced, which seems to be the norm each year. Rarely are Apple TV devices discounted for Black Friday.

  • Meijer is offering a credit of $50 off a future order, if you buy an Apple TV for $150 or more.
  • Your best bet for a discounted Apple TV is to keep checking Apple’s refurbished Apple TV store page, because when they do have inventory, they typically discount them by $30-$50 and comes with the same 1-year warranty.

Most retailers online and in-store will have Chromecast’s discounted by $10-$20.

  • Best Buy and Target will have the Chromecast on sale for $25. [normally $35]
  • Best Buy will be offering the Chromecast Ultra 4K on sale for $50. [normally $70]

Xbox One/PS4
There are a ton of great deals on Xbox and PS4 consoles this year and far too many bundles with extra games and controllers to list. He’s the best pricing I’ve seen so far on some of the more basic bundles for those more interested in the hardware.

If you see any better deals that I missed, please feel free to add them to the comments section.

Disney+ Tech Problems: What We’ve Learned and What Needs Fixing

With the launch of Disney+ being such a big deal for consumers and the streaming media industry, many have been giving their take on what caused the problems, why it happened, or want to point to poor planning on Disney’s part. But the fact is, the majority of those commenting don’t have any details on what Disney has built, don’t know what needs to be fixed, and have no experience themselves in building such services – at scale.

I’m not going to speculate myself as to what caused all of the different problems as I don’t know all the details. But from talking to some folks involved and looking at all of the different problems I’ve seen personally, or that have been reported by users, there are some things we do know.

Some want to immediately suggest that Disney, “doesn’t have enough servers”, or “isn’t doing load balancing right”, or “needs a multi-CDN strategy”. For starters, public data shows Disney has a multi-CDN strategy, using at least six CDNs for different parts of the workflow from vendors including Verizon Media, Akamai, Fastly, Limelight Networks, CenturyLink and AWS. Almost no one is complaining about the videos streaming, the problems are around non-streaming issues like account login, setting up profiles, apps freezing or crashing, media not able to be found and other user management issues.

Disney announced today that more they got more than 10M signups for Disney+ and even if 100% of them were all streaming at the same time, delivering 10M video streams across so many different CDNs would not be a problem. 10M simultaneous streams across multiple CDNs is a very low number so it’s not a “capacity” problem when it comes to video. Disney is also using services from AWS in at least three regions including us-east-1, us-west-2 and eu-west-1. So the idea that Disney isn’t load balancing the website or other parts of their platform is not true and suggesting Disney isn’t purchasing enough capacity or resources from cloud and CDN providers is simply not accurate. [side note: For all the media outlets that are reporting that Disney+ got more than 10M signups “on day one”, or “10M subscribers”, that’s not accurate. Subscribers were signing up for Disney+ months in advance and I have 2 accounts, but am only 1 “subscriber”. Hence why Disney correctly said “sign ups”, not subs.]

To build a platform like Disney+ there are more pieces in the backend than most are ever aware of. The website, authentication, billing, subscription management, user profiles, account personalization, error beacons, API calls, Swagger tools, support for Widevine and Fairplay, QoS monitoring by Conviva, metadata, transcoding, storage (of more than just video), plus all the delivery, playback, reporting and analytics, etc. and that’s only scratching the surface. All of these components have to talk to one another and some can have issues and not impact other parts of the workflow, while others pieces when they fail, cascade down the line causing other unintended problems. That’s the nature of the streaming media workflow when building such a complex platform.

While I expected there to be some issues on day one, I was disappointed in how widespread the problems were and the number of different issues viewers experienced. No doubt Disney Streaming Services is learning a lot from this, as have all of the OTT services that have launched in the market. But for those to suggest that Disney Streaming Services didn’t plan in advance, or didn’t test things first, that’s simply not accurate. You can do all the testing you want at scale in a controlled environment, but until you put real traffic over the platform, you can only know so much. No amount of pre-testing can replicate what will happen when a service goes live, which is why Disney+ was rolled out in the Netherlands so they could get some real-world feedback.

What problems Disney saw in the Netherlands (few were reported) and how much of an insight that gave them at scale, I don’t know. I also don’t know to what degree Disney tested each portion of the workflow separately or together, and at what scale. But we’ve seen everyone including HBO, WWE, Sling TV, AT&T, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, CBS and now Disney all have problems, of varying degrees. It’s also worth noting that HBO had repeated problems with Game Of Thrones, which we now know from AT&T’s presentation last month, peaked at 5M simultaneous viewers. What this shows us is that it’s difficult and complex to build out a consumer video service, even when you are talking 5-10M subscribers.

While I don’t know why Disney made some of the decisions they did, I was surprised that they decided to push out the Disney+ app across all platforms, at the same time. Many video services in the past would allow users to download and login to the app before the service launched, so any authentication issues could be worked out in advance. That seemed like a risky approach, but maybe there was a good reason why Disney did it. I also found it odd that platforms like Roku and Fire TV were promoting the Disney+ app, but you couldn’t download the app as it wasn’t yet in the store since that takes time to propagate. We know the app can’t show up at once for everyone, but why not wait to showcase it on the main screen until it’s actually available for download? The very first experience I get with Disney+ is that the app can’t be found.

For me, the big failure on Disney’s part, was the lack of communication and setting customers’ expectations properly. Complaints where coming in for almost 4 hours before Disney put out a short statement on Twitter saying “The consumer demand for Disney+ has exceeded our high expectations. We are working to quickly resolve the current user issue. We appreciate your patience.” But they didn’t give a list or acknowledge which issues they were working on or an ETA as to when they would be resolved. Blaming customers for signing up for a service you ask them to buy is a really bad strategy. It also didn’t help that wait times with support would say 20 minutes, but hours later still you could not get through. Disney set expectations and then didn’t live up to them and saying on Twitter, “please note that due to the overwhelming response to Disney+, wait time may be high for customer service”, is a really poor reply. Especially since the support chat window says, “Please expect wait times to be longer than normal.” What is normal? It’s day one of the service.

As of now, Disney has 30 different error codes listed on their website, but yesterday when I was on their help page looking for specific ones, they didn’t come up. Today they do, but some are confusing as they give two very different responses, to the same error. Error code 9 says they can’t process my payment, but it also says it could be a not logged in error. Also, if you want to send Disney an email to let them know of a problem, you can’t type in your problem and only get to select from four options in a drop down menu, and none of them are related to logging in, or any of the issues people are having. And they ask you to select which device you are using, but Roku isn’t listed in the drop down menu and if I select Apple TV 4 as my device, why am I getting an option to say it’s connected via 3G, 4G and 5G? When you do send in a report of a technical issue, you get a pop up window telling you, “Unfortunately sometimes we just aren’t able to show or license a particular movie or show.” That has nothing to do with the subject of the message I sent in.

While it appears the service is now working for the majority of people and complaints on social media have died down from day one, there are a lot of little bugs that still need to be fixed. For instance, if I start playing a video and exit it, when I go back in, sometimes it won’t pick back up where I left off. Issues like this Disney is working to fix but since they haven’t published any kind of functionality spec of what the user experience supports, we also don’t know which features are having problems or simply are not supported in the current build. For instance, the second episode of the Mandalorian comes out on the 15th, but nowhere on the show page does it tell me that. How can that be missing? I see lots of things that need to be fixed across different platforms, for instance on my MacBook, every show I start is muted by default, but that’s not the case on my iPad, Amazon or other devices. If you are watching something episodic, it will start the next show in the series automatically, but it doesn’t tell you that something is coming “up next”. These are just a few of the user experience issues myself and others have documented.

Disney Streaming Services knows what needs to be fixed, what’s not working right and what they need to do to improve the user experience. I expect they will resolve all of these issues sooner than later and the next major build and release of Disney+ should include all kinds of new features and improvements. But what those will be and when they will come out we just don’t know. While Disney Streaming Services has been working on the Disney+ platform for a while leading up to launch, now their work really begins to make it a feature-rich and reliable service that can scale to tens of millions of users, with good quality and a great user experience. The hardest part is now over with the launch, but they still have a lot of work ahead of them.

Just Announced! Marc DeBevoise, President & COO of CBS Interactive to Keynote Streaming Summit

I’m excited to announce that Marc DeBevoise, President & COO of CBS Interactive will be the closing keynote on day one at the Streaming Summit, taking place October 16-17 as part of the NAB Show New York event. Taking place at Stage 1 on the exhibit floor from 5:15pm-6:00pm, you can see Marc’s keynote for FREE by getting a pass here bit.ly/2ASEsy4. And stick around after the keynote for free drinks and networking! #streamingsummit

Hosting Private Dinner With Akamai for Wall Street Investors/Analysts, Nov 7th in NYC

For those on Wall Street that would like to get a better understanding of Akamai’s business, especially in the web performance and security markets, I’ll be hosting a private dinner on Thursday November 7th in NYC. I will be leading a discussion with Rick McConnell, President of Akamai and GM of the Web Division, along with Josh Shaul, VP Product, Web Security. The discussion will be centered around Akamai’s performance and security solutions detailing customer use cases, how these services are deployed from a technical standpoint, the value they offer to customers and short and long-term trends the company is seeing in the market.
If you are interested in attending the dinner, please reach out to me (917-523-4562) for details but note that the dinner is only for Wall Street investors and analysts.