Sandvine has just released its latest half-yearly Global Internet Phenomena Report. The reports are based on data collected by Sandvine from among its 250-plus customers spanning, well, the globe. Several items jump out this time, but two are especially interesting.
First, video continues to crush the numbers. Not that this is any surprise, since the dominance of video has been in the forecasts for years. What is surprising is the odd bedfellows that now account for 50+% of downstream traffic on wireline broadband in North America: Netflix and YouTube.
Netflix just won’t let up – in traffic share, share of mind or share price. Despite the ham-fisted attempts by ISPs like Rogers and Bell to make OVDs expensive for its customers by screwing them with data caps, Netflix’s traffic share is still holding at about the same level as six months ago – currently 31.6%. I’ve written a lot about Netflix over the last two or three years, much of that in defence of our right to choose what we watch in Canada. Continue reading →
Bricks and mortar with window, Spitalfields, London E1, August 2013
How can the CRTC do a better job?
As I argued in the previous two posts, the CMR doesn’t have a life of its own; it reflects the CRTC’s larger priorities. The big one here is research and evidence-based policymaking. A close second is the Commission’s still awkward fashion of trying to reach out to the little people – i.e. anybody besides the inner circle. Here are my suggestions for how it can do what it apparently wants to do, only better:
1 – Stop wasting money on online consultations. Redeploy it for real consumer research. Online consultations aren’t just a waste of money; they can also be highly misleading. One reason for their being unrepresentative is that online “surveys” of the public can’t reach Canadians who aren’t online to begin with. Unfortunately, the Commission isn’t going to find any new money for research, not as long as it sticks to the current Expenditure Profile. As shown in the graph below, the Commission’s spending is pretty much flat from 2009 to 2016, especially if these figures were converted to constant dollars…
It’s always been a challenge to figure out who the CRTC is talking to in its annual Communications Monitoring Report (CMR). This year’s edition, released last week, shows some progress has been made on the goal of putting the consumer first.
[Sept 30: some minor edits and corrections made]
What does the CMR tell us about its authors?
For anyone who cares to tackle well over 200 pages of really dense charts, tables and footnotes, with equally dense explanatory prose, the CMR can serve two very different purposes (this year it’s 262 pp: CRTC’s launch page is here). One is the obvious: use the data to better understand the trends in Canada’s legacy and digital media. The other is less obvious and to my mind a lot more interesting: use the details, the tone, the assumptions in these pages to gauge how the regulator is thinking about its changing role in the marketplace. Continue reading →
“What do [Canadians] think of this country’s ‘television’ system? Do they feel that the public interest is being served? I speak of ‘television’ for lack of a better word, because technology has outpaced language.” –JP Blais on pending CRTC review of TV policy
In his speech at the Banff Festival on June 12, Chairman Blais indicated the CRTC plans to undertake a top-to-bottom review of how to manage “television” in the digital age. The Chairman brings a tremendous amount of credibility to this exercise, which he’s earned in his first year at the CRTC helm (a Globe editorial called his speech “very promising” and “visionary”). But even this well-placed friend of the consumer is going to have a difficult time rescuing Canadian broadcasting from its current state of arrested development.
“It is absurd to suggest that, in today’s highly competitive video marketplace, obtaining some level of exclusivity is anticompetitive.” –Time Warner’s response to recent charges of anticompetitive behavior
“They are not paying for exclusivity. They are saying you can sell to X, to Y and Z, but you are forbidden from selling to this new class, called A.” –Richard Greenfield, market analyst, BTIG Research
In my previous post, from way back on June 8, I tried to explain some features of the Netflix value proposition, along with the battle that’s developed between Netflix and our conglomerates. That battle revolves around two topical points of contention: the Bell-Astral baloney about needing ever more concentration to fight off the American demons; and the outrageous use of data caps by the conglomerates to protect their legacy video businesses. I then said:
In Part 2, I’m going to add a few more comments about why the Netflix value proposition isn’t just about content, and challenge the idea that it’s going to need ”a lot of exclusive shows” (Pete Nowak’s take).
So here goes.
Nope, content isn’t always king I hear people say they’re not interested in subscribing to Netflix because much of its library consists of old movies and TV shows. But Netflix isn’t a poor man’s version of cable. If it were, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. “Old” content does not necessarily make an OTT streaming service any less original or innovative. Continue reading →
Why isn’t this man smiling?… “We are obviously very happy,” said Carl Icahn after his investment in Netflix hit $1.35 billion, a gain of over 400% in less than seven months.
The month of May saw a flood of discussion about Netflix. Much of the chatter was prompted by the launch of the reborn Arrested Development, with all 15 episodes of the new season going online on May 26.
Americans have treated the launch as an opportunity to be entertained, to conjure with insider jokes, to try out binge viewing, to speculate about where TV is headed (to a new “Platinum Age,” said Wired back in March; and by the way, the Nielsen family is dead).
Then there’s Canada. Our pols and policymakers have long insisted that television is a National Cultural Treasure designed not merely to entertain us but to make us Good. True to form, Canadians have been having worried discussions for the last two years about whether Netflix and its disruptive habits constitute a threat to our way of life.
Yesterday I landed on the Web page that’s home to tech omnivore Pete Nowak, where I was stunned to read the headline, The downside of Netflix-exclusive series. Impossible, I thought. Must be a typo, mental or otherwise.
As luck would have it, I’ve been posting notes myself on how the boob tube is morphing – including notes for my interminable series of posts on must-carry TV. Moreover, I’m a devoted Netflix subscriber and big fan of Reed Hastings and his disruptive business activities (apart from occasional lapses like his privacy-busting partnership with Facebook). Continue reading →
In post #3, I did some analysis of part of the national survey conducted by Canadian Heritage last fall and put into presentation form as Canadians’ Attitudes and Opinions Towards Canadian Feature Films (it’s taken from the full version that in report form goes by the name Canadian Books, Film, Music, and Periodicals Opinion Survey).
Today I’m adding a further critique of this kind of advocacy research, in the guise of the survey commissioned by Starlight for the current must-carry proceeding (they included both pieces of research in their application). Both surveys exploit similar tricks of the trade, with one big difference between them: the Starlight survey addresses the highly sensitive matter of price. But first… Continue reading →