Original content is the future for streaming video services. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon may have started their lives streaming licensed content, but today, their most popular content is content they create themselves. Amazon crowdsources what they make, while Netflix and Hulu create large amounts of content. No one can argue that Netflix in particular loves original content, and viewers love Netflix's original content.
Between series like Orange is the New Black and Stranger Things to partnership programs like Jessica Jones, Daredevil and Luke Cage and a large variety of stand-up specials, original content is all over Netflix. In 2016, the company is releasing 600 hours of original content, up from 450 in 2015. The spending of $5 billion is expected to jump to $6 billion next year. This, however, is just the beginning.
In the next few years, Netflix is planning to expand their original content to cover 50 percent of all content available on the network. This could mean one of two things: either Netflix is going to dramatically decrease the amount of content they license, or they will dramatically increase the amount of content they will produce. Based on what we have seen so far from Netflix, it is likely that they will scale back slightly on licensed content and scale up greatly on original content.
An increase in Marvel content and comedy specials, plus a focus on successful projects, like Stranger Things, could direct the company's development, for better or worse. If the company continues to produce content at the high quality that their previous and current content is produced, then this move will certainly succeed. In fact, with this kind of move, it could put Netflix far above its competitors and could possibly even do damage to the broadcast networks.
A timetable for this development increase has not been discussed, but if Netflix wants to flex its muscle in the market, a faster deployment would accomplish that goal. Hopefully this will not lead to another price increase, however, but it is always a possibility.
Since Twitter first got started, it was never clear how the service planned on making enough money to keep its lights on. Even Twitter didn't know what they were doing. After rounds of investment and an IPO, they are still working that concept out. While Twitter might not know how to generate profit, some other companies have some ideas how it might be valuable.
Twitter's board of directors could be considering a sale of the company to one of several other corporations. It is likely that these suitors have plans for the company and most likely the data that Twitter generates. If ever a company wanted to collect information, for any number of reasons, Twitter could be a great source. Let's take a look at who these suitors are, and why they might be interested.
Google's participation in social networking has been questionable at best. Google+ has been almost entirely dismantled at this point, Google Wave imploded for day 1, and even YouTube has seen continued controversy. Google desperately wants live access to trending content data to enhance its own search data. With trending topic access at a level above public APIs, they could help tailor search results on a moment-to-moment basis. They could also integrate trending topics into YouTube and Google Search results pages to enhance cross-data.
While Microsoft could be interested in similar features as Google, including Bing search listings and trending search results, they likely have other intentions as well. Trending data could easily be used to pave the way for trending topic enhancement in MSN News, Weather and Sports. Twitter data and topics could also find their way into Azure in several new and interesting ways. First, an Azure-specific API through Azure Search could enhance developers usage of the technology, but that isn't even the best place for this data.
I would hope and expect that Microsoft would push Twitter data through Cortana's Natural Language Processing neural network, bringing enhanced language processing to Cortana herself. This would enhance recognition on Windows 10, Mobile, Xbox, HoloLens, and wherever else Microsoft is hoping to bring Cortana support. That could see extended uses for the technology that current users already love.
Twitter could also be an interesting acquisition for Microsoft because of their recent acquisition of LinkedIn. This would put 2 of the 4 main social networks within the Microsoft camp, leaving Facebook/Instagram and Snapchat as the other collectives.
A telecom company purchasing a social media company makes sense. Verizon purchasing a social media company makes even more sense. Marissa Mayer purchased Tumblr in an attempt to mine data to enhance their news portal. Similar to Microsoft's potential usage of Twitter for MSN, Verizon could use trending Twitter data to help shape the content available on their newly acquired media platforms: AOL and Yahoo.
This could be the exact push that Yahoo has needed and that Mayer always wanted. It could also be the thing that brings the AOL brand back to the forefront, and an enhancement for brands like Engadget.
While initially this one had me a little stumped, I can see some places where Salesforce could use Twitter. Trending data could be used to enhance corporate communication, especially for sales people to help create communications that are completely modern. A communication could also be made as information begins to appear in the public. Imagine a company like General Electric who has a secret project in the works and Salesforce is able to detect for their press department that the codename is beginning to circulate on social media. The PR team could then react ahead of time, letting them get out ahead of the story instead of reacting only after it has become a real story.
Just shy of 20 years ago, when online multiplayer games were a fairly new concept to the public, Blizzard created a website and a brand around their gaming platform: Battle.net. It became the foundation for all future Blizzard games, including their blockbuster franchises: Diablo and Warcraft. The name appeared front-and-center throughout many games, being added later to Warcraft 2 and included in the original Diablo.
After 2 decades of this branding, Blizzard is officially retiring the brand name. This change is happening mainly because the offerings of the service have changed greatly over the years. While a brand like Xbox Live or PlayStation Network can be used to describe a wide variety of services and features, Battle.net certainly suggests online battling. This is not all of what the service offers today.
In addition to online play, the service offers game streaming, voice chat and more. Because of this, these individual feature sets will receive branding similar to the direction that Microsoft and Apple have gone. Rather than Battle.net Streaming, gamers will see Blizzard Streaming. Blizzard explains the change like this,
When we created Battle.net, the idea of including a tailored online-gaming service together with your game was more of a novel concept, so we put a lot of focus on explaining what the service was and how it worked, including giving it a distinct name. Over time, though, we've seen that there's been occasional confusion and inefficiencies related to having two separate identities under which everything falls - Blizzard and Battle.net. Given that built-in multiplayer support is a well-understood concept and more of a normal expectation these days, there isn't as much of a need to maintain a separate identity for what is essentially our networking technology.
This change has already begun and will continue over the coming months. In just a few months, this legendary brand will be no more, but the technology and mechanics it brought to gaming will remain.
As Sprint and T-Mobile have moved back to offering unlimited data, Verizon's CFO has taken a different route. At an investor conference, Fran Shammo said,
At the end of the day, people don't need unlimited plans.
While this might be correct for many people, there are those of us who use a lot of bandwidth. Combine high usage with Verizon's view on data plans and you end up with a portion of the market incapable of using Verizon Wireless as their provider. Luckily, this is a scenario handled by the market, which is why there is more than a single provider.
Verizon's reasoning, though, remains a bit strange. They continue to say that the reason they do not offer unlimited plans is that it is impossible to make money on unlimited data. Obviously the other carriers don't agree with that sentiment. But Verizon is also quick to point out the sub-clauses in their competitors' agreements. For example, T-Mobile charges more for high quality video and slows tethered connections.
One thing Verizon has generally focused on is not having a knee-jerk reaction to competitor business decisions. The company prefers to watch the market and make decisions based on what customers are asking for, and this suggests that they believe they are not losing business, or at least not enough business, because of unlimited data. Shammo said on the topic,
We look at our competitors closely. We'll respond when needed.
At least that means that Verizon is not entirely opposed to the idea in the future, they just don't see the merit in it today.
A few weeks ago, rumors began circulating that Apple wanted to purchase Tidal, the troubled music streaming service purchased by Jay Z. The company has had trouble since it began, and padded its numbers when Jay Z showed interest, in order to get a higher purchase price. Despite constant work, the service has not had any luck in turning around.
Those rumors made little sense to our team, and seemed to make little sense to the rest of the industry. Why would Apple be interested in purchasing another struggling streaming service when they already have one? Beats Music was a disaster before the minor rebrand that left us with Apple Music. That service has had more success under the new name, but that would have only worked once.
The only thing that Tidal has going for it is a small number of exclusives, but that is a trend that will not last long. Tidal may pay artists more, but they can only do that for as long as they have revenue. A former colleague of mine once said in regards to MetroPCS, though it applies here as well,
You can sell dollar bills for 90 cents and you will do well, but eventually you will run out of dollar bills.
That is the scenario that Tidal is in with artists, and one that the rumor would have transferred to Apple. Apple has played the loss-leader game before, but unlike Wal-Mart, Apple does not know how to make that work. They are far more comfortable selling dollar bills for $5 each and burying the extra money in a hole in the middle of nowhere.
This week, Apple confirmed what everyone already knew - they had no interest in Tidal. Jimmy Iovine said in an interview with BuzzFeed,
We're really running our own race. not looking to acquire any streaming services.
There's no arguing what the firmness of that statement. There is also no arguing that position - Apple does not need to acquire anyone to become competitive. They merely need to beat Google at their own game, by bundling the service with their devices.
The move that Spain made that pushed Google's hand was to charge Google for use of any content reproduced within Google News. The immediate response was a full service shutdown. Germany made a similar move, making Google pay 11 percent of revenue generated by content to the original authors. To this day, Germany's law has not generated any revenue for content producers because Google News does not generate any revenue.
Following in Spain's massive success, the EU is currently considering enacting the same ruling throughout Europe, with an added detail: it would affect all syndicated content. That means that if Google shows any snippet of content, they would be required to pay the content creator for the use of that content. Most, including Google, would argue fair use, though Spain and the EU disagree. They are not the first to disagree, either. IN 2011, Rupert Murdoch said,
There's a doctrine called fair use, which we believe to be challenged in the courts and would bar it altogether, but we'll take that slowly. The people who simply just pick up everything and run with it - steal our stories, we say they steal our stories - they just take them.
There is no telling if the EU will actually pass this regulation. If they do, it is even harder to guess what Google's response will be. In China, Google was willing to be censored completely rather than do it themselves, denying a government demand. Clearly this would not be the first time Google has shut down or ignored a government rule in the interest of an open and accurate internet, so it is likely that Google will fight with everything they have.