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

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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.

Whats New on Yidio for the Fall TV Season

With the launch of Yidio Alerts, we’ve been adding new social features, more popular content and creating services to help you customize your viewing experience online.    Make sure you signup then set up favorite TV shows and movies to take advantage of our advanced personalization and recommendations.  Here are a few new reasons to find your shows with Yidio:

See who likes your shows.

1. More social features like “Faces” for show pages, where you can see the friends that like the shows you are looking for on Yidio. You can also set up alerts for favorites directly from the show pages that will provide updates on show airing, episodes available on line and news stories in your Twitter, Facebook newsfeed or via email.

2. Tons of extra footage, interviews, trailers, sneak peeks for the Fall season and other clips for your favorite shows are being added daily.

3. Yidio News provides the latest breaking stories centered on actors, TV show celebrities and red carpet events.  For all the hottest entertainment stories check the Yidio homepage.

Make sure to login and visit the “MyYidio” section to see a personalized activity Feed that allows you to browse airing episodes, recent clips, and news customized by the shows you select as your favorites.  Now you can see only the most recent and most relevant TV content for you.

Bringing TV to You, Yidio Alerts Launches

Just because TV is everywhere doesn’t mean you should have to look all over to find it. Yidio Alerts bring all your TV to you, leveraging the pre-eminent social channels to deliver a personalized, prioritized TV guide.

Yidio Alerts Splash Page

TV fans can now sign up to get push notifications for new episode broadcast airings, new online streaming episode availability, and new articles published on their favorite TV shows & movies.  The alerts can be delivered by email, Facebook, Twitter, or viewed on the Yidio website.

The public beta launch of Yidio Alerts services for Facebook, email and Twitter is a demonstration of the scalability and flexibility of the core Yidio API and program guide to aggregate, normalize and broadcast complex entertainment information.  Yidio Alerts makes it easy to find, watch and share TV and movies.

Try it today to get your personalized TV notifications.  Then let us know what you think!

Always More to Watch, and We Show You Where to Watch It

Its fairly easy to figure out how to watch current season and newly airing episodes of favorite shows, but if you missed the first season of Glee or Dexter, unless you follow Variety, you won’t know you can now catch those on Netflix streaming service, thanks to a new deal with 20th Century Fox. And yesterday, in an interesting move, WB, Sony and Universal and 20th Century will be making first run movie premiers available via DirecTV next month for $30 – turning your living room into a movie theater. If anything, the choices for watching TV and movies at from free to premium keep expanding, and fragmenting at the same time. At Yidio we scan hundreds of sources for television and movies to bring it all into one up-to-the minute and comprehensive guide. Our guide now indexes more than a million TV episodes wherever you want to watch it.