Interactive TV News Round-Up (V): Roku, Synacor, Turner, Pay-TV VOD vs. Netflix

--Roku Launches Android App
--Synacor, Turner Expand their TV Everywhere Partnership to Provide Live "March Madness" Coverage
--Report Argues Pay-TV VOD Is Underperforming, Calls for Dynamic Ad Insertion, Better EPG's

Because the [itvt] editorial team has been working on The TV of Tomorrow Show 2012, we are covering stories in this issue in round-up/summary format.

  • OTT specialist, Roku, has launched a free app in the Android Market (note: the company launched an iOS app last December). "Use the app to explore, rate channels, and much more--all with the tap of a finger," the company states on its blog. "What else does it do? Glad you asked: 1) Instantly replay your favorite movie moments. 2) Quickly add and remove channels. 3) Control and switch between multiple Roku players...4) Features a handy keyboard for text entry. The Roku app will run on any Android device with Android version 2.1 or later installed."
  • Synacor, which provides TV Everywhere services and Web portal software to such companies as Charter Communications, CenturyLink and Grande Communications, announced last week that it has teamed with Turner Broadcasting System to enable authenticated pay-TV customers to access the latter's live coverage of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament ("March Madness") on the Web. "Synacor also will integrate Turner's embed video player into select operator portals, providing subscribers with an enhanced online content experience," the company states in its press materials. "The collaboration between Turner and Synacor will make it possible to bring the authenticated live games from Turner networks to a broader group of affiliates." Said Turner's VP of business development and multiplatform distribution, John Harran: "Our goal with Synacor is to create flexible approaches to authentication, enabling more content to distributors who chose to utilize their platform. With Synacor, we can deliver rapid-deployment solutions that allow cable, satellite and telco providers the ability to offer their subscribers authorized access to our popular programs, including the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, on a larger scale than ever before."
  • TDG senior analyst, Bill Niemeyer, has authored a report, entitled "Making Ad-Supported VOD Work," which argues that pay-TV operators' VOD services are significantly underperforming both in terms of viewership (representing only 1% of all US TV viewing) and revenue. According to the report, this underperformance is the result of VOD's inadequate advertising support and of "awkward" program guides that limit availability and viewing of ad-supported VOD content. "Operators have failed to take advantage of VOD to build subscriber satisfaction, generate ad revenues, and head off competition from over-the-top (OTT) providers like Netflix," Niemeyer said in a prepared statement, adding that he estimates that in Q4 2011, Netflix US subscribers watched 80% more streaming video hours than were viewed in the same period on all US pay-TV VOD platforms. "Ad-supported VOD is a significant missed opportunity for pay-TV operators," he continued. "They are investing significant resources in TV Everywhere (TVE) but have ignored the fact they have a potentially viable ad- and revenue-generating on-demand platform already in place in over 50 million US homes in the form of VOD." The report suggests a range of remedies, arguing for example that VOD viewership and ad revenues could be increased "by a factor of three or more" by deploying dynamic ad insertion, better measurement technologies and improved EPG's.
North America