Sports Leagues Must Get Cord-Cutters Back in the Lineup

Thanks to the folks at broadcastingcable.com for the opportunity to guest blog.  Here’s the article in case you missed it!

Football

In the last year, professional sports leagues have embraced live-streaming to reach cord-cutting fans who have been desperate for access to their favorite games and events. Even so, many of these streaming packages aren’t quite what leagues chalked them up to be, leaving something to be desired for sports enthusiasts. Strict blackout rules and device restrictions kept many cord-cutters from catching the game from the comfort of their own home in 2016.

Despite the challenges cord-cutters face with watching live sports, they aren’t jumping back on the pay-TV bandwagon. More and more consumers are cutting the cord, even sports fans, as ESPN’s recent filing revealed, are saying good-bye to traditional TV subscriptions in favor of lower priced, over-the-top (OTT) options. Despite challenges with current OTT or streaming sports solutions, fans are willing to make it work to avoid paying the high-cost for cable packages, but we can’t expect them to deal with these issues forever.

Leagues need to spend more time and money on building better OTT and streaming solutions or eventually they’ll suffer the same fate as the once untouchable ESPN.  I am part of this tech-savvy generation of sports fans and I along with many others won’t put up with low-tech solutions that are too expensive and riddled with problems. We’re rooting for the leagues, but we have a few demands for 2016, including:

1. Access Anywhere

Leagues need to think beyond delivering content to the TV. Consumers are accustomed to accessing content anytime and anywhere, so leagues need to develop comprehensive streaming packages that allow users to tune in on-the-go, across any device. Delivering content to fans’ phones and tablets will help leagues create a more complete viewing experience. Though some leagues have rolled out streaming packages for cross-device access including NBA’s League Pass, many still require users to log in via their cable subscription, so it’s virtually unusable for cord-cutters unless they use a friend or family members’ subscription.

2. A Solution for Local Blackouts

Without a doubt, sports fans’ primary complaint with current streaming services is the issue of local blackouts. These blackouts occur so leagues can restrict live access to local games in order to boost stadium ticket sales. Though, tech savvy cord-cutters have found plenty of workarounds. For example, we’re seeing people bring back the ancient technology known as “bunny ears” (TV antennas) or they’re running IP vanishing apps to trick the service, so it appears that their Internet traffic is coming from somewhere else. But these solutions can still be unreliable and the only tried and true option is going to a local bar or restaurant, which for most sports fans is not a preferable option week after week. Cord-cutters are looking to cut costs, but still have access to their favorite shows, games and movies. It may seem like they’re asking for a lot, but this is today’s reality and leagues should know that one way or another cord-cutters will find a solution and it probably won’t be the solution leagues want or need.

3. More Content, Old and New

As leagues continue to improve their own streaming platforms, they will inevitably join the content development business. Leagues will need to create strong wrap-up and highlight content, introducing sport personalities and giving fans more access to behind the scenes content. Leagues themselves must become content machines, likely in the form of mini creative studios, which house producers, creative directors, and development teams. In addition, it’s not just new content leagues need to focus on, they need to archive the older games and major sporting events that fans want to re-watch anytime and anywhere.  This is how they’ll remain competitive amongst other OTT services that are doing this well right now.

Sports have, and will continue to be a major pain point for fans looking to cut-the-cord, and in the year ahead it’s likely we’ll begin to see leagues respond more directly to consumer challenges in order to create a more seamless viewer experience. Leagues don’t want to succumb to the same fate as networks like ESPN, and in order to remain competitive and retain fan attention they need to address these major issues within their current offerings. Let’s hope leagues take what us fans are saying to heart and create a solution that shows they’re in tune with today’s marketplace.

– Brandon Eatros, CEO & co-founder

Binge Watch Star Wars! Sounds Great but How?

star-wars-all.jpg

I couldn’t wait to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I was so excited that I decided to purchase and binge watch the first 6 episodes offered online as “Star Wars: The Digital Movie Collection”. I’m writing this small guide to help inform you of the major and minor differences before (or after) committing to purchasing content on one of the digital video platforms. You can read more about my experience below or scroll to the bottom to skip to the important part.

Let me start by saying I’ve been very comfortable as a cord cutter for the last 2 years. I have access to all of the popular streaming services which I have found to be pretty straightforward to operate. As a result of my familiarity, I figured I’d be watching the original Star Wars in a few minutes. I was so wrong! An hour after starting my search my girlfriend was wondering why we weren’t watching the movie yet, and I gave up on the attempt to determine which of the popular streaming services was my best bet. How was it that an hour of research couldn’t get me to the point where I was comfortable making the purchase?! Every platform I encountered limited my ability to watch the movies based on my existing hardware setups at home and work. I’ll admit I’m a picky buyer and I was looking for a platform that would allow me to play on Google, Apple and Microsoft hardware, but consumers are increasingly caught in the middle of the platform battles between Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft.

At Yidio, our goal is to help connect consumers directly with their desired TV shows and movies. Much of this information, such as price comparison and direct platform availability, is readily available in our app and on our website. This situation was particularly confusing so I decided to go a level deeper to help you determine which platform might be the best fit for you. I hope this helps!

starwars

Google Play

Price: $89.99

Works on: iOS devices, Android devices, PC, Chromecast, Roku, and various televisions with the Google Play app.

Limitations: iTunes, Apple TV, Amazon devices, Xbox One.

Workaround: Disney Movies Anywhere. You can airplay from an iOS device to an AppleTV with Disney Movies Anywhere, but it does not include Episode IV: A New Hope. It also limits the use of your iOS device and doesn’t always provide full resolution. Disney Movies Anywhere is available on PC, iOS devices, Android devices, Xbox One, Amazon devices, and Roku. Google Play purchases are also sometimes available in the “purchases” section of the YouTube app (which is available on Apple TV), but additional steps may be required to view the content.

Verdict: One of the more open platforms, but has limitations if you also want to easily watch on other platforms, especially Apple.

iTunes

Price: $89.99

Works on: iOS devices, Apple TV, PC.

Limitations: Android devices, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox One.

Workaround: Disney Movies Anywhere. You can cast from an iOS device to a Chromecast with Disney Movies Anywhere from an iOS device or cast from either a Chrome web browser or Android device to a Chromecast using the “cast screen” option, but it isn’t a seamless experience like app enabled casting. Disney Movies Anywhere does not include Episode IV: A New Hope and is available on PC, iOS devices, Android devices, Xbox One, Amazon devices, and Roku.

Verdict: Apple is a very closed platform, only purchase here if you’re already locked into the platform.

Amazon Video

Price: $89.99

Works on: Amazon devices, Android devices, Chromecast (from Android devices), PC, Roku, Xbox One, and various televisions with the Amazon Video app.

Limitations: Apple TV.

Workaround: Amazon app and Disney Movies Anywhere. You can airplay from an iOS device to an Apple TV with the Amazon Video app or Disney Movies Anywhere. You can also cast from either a Chrome web browser or Android device to a Chromecast using the “cast screen” option, but it isn’t a seamless experience like app enabled casting. Disney Movies Anywhere does not include Episode IV: A New Hope, and it is also available on the Xbox One, Amazon devices, and Roku.

Verdict: I wish Amazon enabled casting to Chromecast within its apps. I made my purchase from Amazon because I have Apple, Google, and Microsoft devices and Amazon works on all of those plus my Panasonic TV. It presented the most hardware options for me at the lowest available price.

Microsoft

Price: $89.99

Works on: PC, Xbox One.

Limitations: iOS devices, Android devices, Chromecast, Roku.

Workaround: Disney Movies anywhere. See above for platform and content restrictions.

Verdict: Microsoft is a very closed platform, only purchase here if you’re planning on watching on a PC or Xbox One.

Vudu

Price: $99.99

Works on: PC, iOS devices, Android devices, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox, and various televisions.

Limitations: Price. This is the only platform that currently costs $99.99. Apple TV.

Workaround: Vudu app and Disney Movies Anywhere. You can airplay from an iOS device to an Apple TV with the Vudu app or Disney Movies Anywhere, but it limits the use of your iOS device and doesn’t always provide full resolution.

Verdict: It costs $10 more than all other solutions. It does support Chromecast in-app for iOS (and Android), which is a step above most other non-Google platforms. If you don’t care about the extra $10, this solution has few platform limitations. Vudu also works with Disney Movies Anywhere.

– Christian Peterson –  Finance Guy / Star Wars Fan

Welcome to TV’s Golden Age!

yidio-badgeOne of our favorite aspects of television’s new golden age is the amount of quality television that’s being produced…

Now “quality” is a nebulous term, as everyone has their own definition of what constitutes great television and what doesn’t, but what’s notable is that there’s a lot more programming out there that people think is good, and here’s why that’s important: as the number of outlets for television programming has expanded several hundredfold from just three networks, the overall quality of television programming has improved. This is in large part due to the fact that new players have the opportunity to serve niche markets that were previously underserved by a system that needed to cater to the masses.

Catering to the masses also meant catering to the advertisers that wanted to reach those masses. In the pre-cable days, the three networks wanted to gather as many viewers as possible in order to get as much advertising revenue as possible.

That makes it all the more impressive that shows like Mork & Mindy, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and MASH were able to make it on air. Quality was not the order of the day: reaching the lowest common denominator was.

The status quo changed with the advent of cable, as more and more new channels hit the air, channels who were designed specifically to appeal to niche audiences. Those niches rarely equaled “quality” though (their targets were a little too narrow for a mass audience) until HBO began creating its own series in the late 1990s and shows like The Sopranos took off. What was unique about HBO (and its competitor, Showtime) was that they were subscription networks who relied on gaining and keeping viewers, not advertisers.

Freed from the need to appeal to a mass audience or the lowest common denominator, premium cable networks were able to go after a more highbrow (or middlebrow) type of programming, one that appealed to a media savvy audience. This created more buzz around their shows, which got them more subscribers, which gave them the revenue to produce more shows… well, you get the picture.

This paradigm has been replicated again recently, by streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and even Vimeo and YouTube. They’re all chasing after the type of audience that’s enamored enough of high quality television to pay for it on a monthly subscription basis. These viewers are easier to maintain than viewers of ad supported programming because you’ve only got to rein them in once a month (or once a year, depending on the contract.) Networks who run ad supported programming have to rope their audiences in every time the show airs, a much trickier proposition.

These new providers will continue to grow — both in size and number — as the demand for quality television grows. The problem, of course, will be finding a way to sort through all the great television that’s out there.

Where there was once only one Sopranos, one Wire, one Homeland now there are now dozens of them. Throw in the ability to binge watch series you’ve missed, and you’ve just turned finding what to watch into a major job.

That’s the problem we’re trying to solve. With so much good television to watch, how do you find the shows you’re looking for? Even more importantly, how do you find the ones you’re not looking for, but should be?

We do that in many different ways: by surfacing our 15 million active users current favorites, surfacing recommendations based on your preferences and previous activity and by letting you search by keywords and genres through every streaming service you’re signed up for (or want to sign up for…).

As the number of good TV options grows larger and larger and as the number of sources for good TV grows, discovery will become even more important. This is especially true as the new wave of content producers tend not to release their programming on a weekly linear basis: like Netflix and Amazon, they release their series all at once. This makes tune-in messaging less necessary and discovery tools more necessary.

It’s a brave new world out there, but we like the way it looks. Quality television is growing and Yidio will be there to help you find where to watch, what you want to watch, when you want to watch it.

So about Universal Search…

universal search

If you are a cord cutter or want to become one, we have some great news for you – it’s becoming easier and easier to do so. Every day more and more amazing TV shows and movies are becoming available online. According to Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, this is just the beginning of the content revolution. Hastings believes “there’s not nearly enough [television]” to keep up with consumer spending trends that he says are “… growing faster than disposable income”. Unfortunately, all this great content isn’t well organized. It actually isn’t that easy to find something new to watch that you actually like. Sometimes it’s even hard to find where to watch a show or movie when you know the name! If consumers are already drowning in content and finding where to watch something is hard now then what will the future hold?  This is the reason you’ve recently heard a lot about universal search.

I suppose a definition of universal search is in order. I’ll admit ahead of time that I’m focused solely on entertainment for the purpose of this post even though universal search encompasses much more than just this singular category. That said, our working definition for universal search is the aggregation of TV show and movie content from all online providers in one searchable interface.  As you can imagine, this is no small task. Even Apple has recently taken on the challenge of universal search, joining the ranks of Roku and Yidio

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.46.03 PM

A few weeks ago at WSJD, Tim Cook called the new Apple TV “the foundation of the future of TV”. With the new Apple TV, you can navigate a variety of different media applications to discover your favorite TV shows and movies. Unfortunately it only applies to content partners whom have agreed to enter the AppleTV ecosystem.  Granted this list of partners will grow over time but some may never join. This could prove to be a major stumbling block for the universal search platform that Apple is building. In the end, the consumer might not find the search functionality on AppleTV to be truly universal…

Like Apple and Roku, Yidio is  committed to universal search, but we have a different idea of what that means. For search to be truly universal, it can’t be bound by a particular software or hardware platform. We believe the best solution is the one that is best for the consumer. Rather than the consumer needing to bend behavior to the limitations of the platform, the technology needs to bend to meet the consumer’s needs regardless of platform, technology or software. As we continue to build the most consumer friendly universal search possible, we’d love to hear from you about what you’d like to see in order to make our applications even better.

Yidio in the News!

Two weeks ago we officially launched the updated app for iOS and Android.  So far feedback has been great and people love the new enhanced search and discovery capabilities of the app.  Every update is a direct result of user  feedback.  We read every email and comment to get ideas and make sure that future iterations are awesome.  While we’re in between app updates check out some of the recent articles featuring Yidio and some of the coverage of the app!

USA Today400x400

 

USA Today, Cutting the Cord: Changes abound for consumers, September 27, 2015

“Right now, competition is fierce among (over-the-top video) providers and networks alike to capture and retain consumer attention, and this is driving massive innovation and change in the industry,”said Brandon Eatros, CEO of Yidio, an online and app-based next generation TV guide. Yidio, which aims to serve as a caddy for streaming video, recently increased the online video content it searches across the 180 content providers.

As providers such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu — and others — secure more movies and shows, and create new ones on their own, viewers have trouble finding what they want. Yidio helps users navigate “the growing numbers of services and providers in order to easily find shows and movies – without having to search each individual app, one at a time to find what they’re looking for,” Eatros said.

Appadvice

 

AppAdvice, Track shows and movies you have seen with the Yidio update, September 25, 2015

When you are on the train, sitting at the coffee shop, or taking a break at work, being able to watch one of your favorite shows is a great way to pass the time. But, sometimes you wonder where you can watch, which app to use, or how much it will cost. Yidio is an app that provides all of this information for you. So, never wonder again where to catch the latest episodes of “Supernatural,” “Empire,” or “Scandal.” From TV to movies, Yidio has you covered.

WeWork

 

Creator – WeWork blog, 5 Must-Have Apps for TV Addicts, September 29, 2015

When I found this app, I was all, “Where have you been all my life?”

Quick! Tell me where you can find episodes of New Girl. While you are running around trying to figure out where you can watch it, I looked it up on Yidio. Season 4 is available on Hulu Plus, Fox Now, Xfinity, DirectTV, Amazon, Vudu, iTunes, and Google Play. But if you want to watch it from the beginning, you’ll only find the first three seasons on Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, iTunes, and Google Play.

New Look, New Features, New Yidio!

Thanks to your feedback, we have been making frequent updates to improve your Yidio experience to be the best it can be. Today, we’re pleased to release a completely new version for Android and an updated iOS 9 experience! This new version increases the number of sources in the app by over 40%, gives you information about the watching experience for each provider and makes following and managing your shows and movies easier than ever.

With the increase in the number of ways to watch your favorite show or movie we made sure to include as many sources as possible in this new version. In addition to popular sources like Netflix, Hulu Plus and iTunes we have added Xfinity, DirecTV, HBO NOW, Cartoon Network and more. With one simple search you will find where to watch anything, anywhere.

In addition to source expansion, we now show detailed information for each source about the episode and movie. The newly added information includes casting options, pricing, ad-supported, and if closed captioning is available. We are positive you will find what you want to watch and where you want to watch simpler and easier than ever.

New iOS Movie and Show Pages

Finally, the app has a completely new look and feel! For Android, we updated the entire app to be a seamless navigation experience and match material design practices. We completely redesigned every screen of the app to make a beautiful, thoughtful and consistent experience across all screens. For iOS, we’ve designed with iOS 9 and the user in mind. We’ve paid special attention to the show and movie screens and highlighted the actions that you find most valuable. Now marking shows as watched, favoriting and finding movie and show recommendations is simpler than ever.

Android Redesign

If you haven’t already downloaded the latest version of Yidio for Android and iOS, you can get the update from the iTunes and Google Play stores.

Also don’t forget to like us and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest entertainment news.

Whats New? Link Your Netflix Account and a Personalized Feed

In the past week Yidio has enabled some great new features on our website and in the Yidio Alerts platform, all of which are designed bring to TV you.  Now, all your favorite TV shows can be configured, managed and viewed in the MyYidio section of the website.  Start adding favorites by linking your Netflix account and connecting with Facebook.  Then visit My Feed for a real-time stream of TV episodes, news and airing information on the shows you’ve selected as your favorites.  Enable personalized alerts by selecting your channels — email, Facebook feed or Twitter feed.

Signup now to get started!

 

Here’s a quick slideshow of the new and improved MyYidio:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.