Tim Cook once opined “The Future of TV is Apps” and those words were proudly displayed on a screen behind him when he introduced the updated Apple TV back in 2015. Just a week after the fourth-generation Apple TV went on sale, Apple commanded 31% of the streaming market, well ahead of Amazon and Roku, which at that time were the leaders. Two years on, we haven’t seen much new innovation from Apple TV but we have certainly seen a lot of content development, innovation and marketing and licensing leadership from Amazon.
This week Amazon and the National Football League (NFL) announced a licensing partnership for the 2017 season. Amazon will have the streaming rights to 10 Thursday night games during the Fall 2017 season. The deal is a switch from the NFL’s 2016 season partnership with Twitter. In 2016 Twitter and the NFL debuted their Thursday night streaming partnership with the N.Y. Jets vs. Buffalo game and reached 2.1 million people. Just as with the Twitter partnership last year, Thursday night games will be simulcast on network broadcast (CBS or NBC) and on cable via the NFL Network. That’s where the partnership similarities end.
Twitter streamed the games free of charge. Amazon will only make the Thursday night games available to Amazon Prime members. Amazon is said to have paid $50 million for the 10 games, whereas Twitter paid $10 million for their deal last year. Of course, Amazon has an existing streaming service whereas Twitter did not. Amazon also has a platform with all sorts of commerce opportunities, Alexa their AI assistant and, perhaps more importantly, millions of member profiles with credit cards on file. This partnership is rife with many more opportunities beyond the streaming games — the power of the Amazon platform.
Last year’s test with Twitter was another proof point that showed the NFL and the entertainment world that consumers are happy to get their sports content streamed across any device and it showed a snippet of possibility. At the time I wrote how Twitter was a great partner to drive engagement for their platform as fans could talk smack throughout the game with the close proximity of game/tweets. While that was great for driving higher active-user numbers for Twitter and growing their user base, there wasn’t any commerce connected. Amazon has the ability to drive equal engagement (sans tweeting in the interface) and, more importantly, more folks opting into Prime (NFL games, music, and free shipping …) and the biggest and e-commerce platform. For those reasons and only streaming to Prime customers are probably big contributors to the NFL doubling their asking price for the 10 games. Even without knowing all the details, this is big win for both Amazon and the NFL.
Where does this latest entertainment leave Apple TV? While I’m a big fan of Apple, I have to say this is yet another area where Apple has been outdone by a Seattle tech giant. In the last year, Amazon has continued to build out their entertainment business, adding more original content and winning their first ever Golden Globes. The future of TV may be apps but the content and the power of the platform behind the apps has to be creating better and more licensing deals that deliver more eyeballs and potential revenue upside. Apple seems to continually be outplayed — although they do have a shiny new company headquarters.
This new partnership with Amazon should be a great testing ground for Amazon partners looking to take advantage of the Amazon streaming sponsorship. Now is the time to start thinking about your commerce partnership with Amazon and how you can work your way into their advertising opportunities. And let’s not forget about testing ways to get your brand content into Alexa as a way to accompany all those information and service requests during Thursday night games. As marketers, our job is to ensure our brands and services are nimble enough to adapt and execute for this upcoming season and test several plays.
“I don’t have any experience in running up a $4 trillion debt. I don’t have any experience in gridlock government, where nobody takes responsibility for anything and everybody blames everybody else.”
— Ross Perot at the 1992 presidential debate
Some of you reading this will remember the 1992 presidential debates with Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, and George H.W. Bush. Many thought Perot was a bit kooky with all of his charts and some of his one-liners. Oh, how Mr. Perot makes the current presidential cycle look tame. And that is about as close as I will get to making this month’s column a political missive. Instead, let’s talk about TV audiences, Sunday Night Football and Twitter.
A year ago, if I had predicted that the presidential debate would have a near Super Bowl-sized viewing audience, close to Super Bowl 50, many, if not all of you, would have laughed and made what would have seemed like a sure bet. In fact, according to Nielsen, the first presidential debate brought in 84 million viewers across 13 of the TV networks that carried it live. And that 84 million doesn’t include people who watched via numerous live streams online or at bars and restaurants. This means the actual total audience was even higher. Did I mention this was a presidential debate? For perspective, the last presidential debate between Obama and Romney in 2012 averaged 67 million viewers.
But what is amazing to me is that Twitter reported their live streams of the first two presidential debates had more viewers than the NFL games.
As many readers may know, Twitter recently began streaming select NFL games, starting with Thursday Night Football. During their first event (N.Y. Jets vs. Buffalo), Twitter’s live streams reached 2.1 million people. Football fans enjoy “smack talking” during games. Twitter knows tweets spike during games, so matching that insight with live-streaming NFL games seems a spot-on way to drive engagement on their platform. And Twitter could certainly use some higher engagement numbers. The first NFL game certainly was proof for their streaming experiment. I’m interested in seeing how Twitter’s live-streaming numbers continue during the rest of the NFL season. I would love to see them prove out this concept for the long haul and see it move into other live-events, such as the hockey, tennis, and award shows.
Twitter’s NFL live streams and now the presidential debates give them the proof they need to support their belief that Twitter can be a live-video delivery platform. While many in the industry may think the concept is a stretch and just another desperate advertising solution concept for Twitter’s weak monetization efforts, I have long believed they are the perfect platform to surround great content for passionate consumers during live events.
Are Twitter’s NFL streaming numbers huge by traditional TV standards? No. But we are still very early in their grand live-streaming experiment. Let’s give it some time and see how things go and where they innovate and iterate on the service. At a minimum, they have proved their live-streaming point.
The live-steam presidential debate numbers also point out that consumers have a thirst for content they are passionate about on non-traditional platforms. If Twitter can continue to identify passion-based content (e.g., music, sports, politics), I believe the audience will show up and engage. As marketers, we all know what happens when the audience shows up — advertising solutions follow. So, here is another chance for passion-based marketers (QSR, auto, etc.) to get in and test a still unproven area and get some great learning
Every September Apple announces big product news. This September continued that tradition with the much-anticipated iPhone7 announcement. The new iPhone7, AirPods and the updated Apple Watch, were all very cool and great steps forward for Apple. What was huge news was that Nintendo’s Mario is finally coming to iOS.
While the news of Nintendo’s beloved Mario coming to the iOS world is medium-sized news for Apple, it is huge news for Nintendo. The fact that Nintendo’s legendary Shigeru Miyamoto appeared on stage at the event to announce was a very clear sign at how big and important this news is for the company.
As prologue: While many in the marketplace have been focused on the overwhelming success of Pokémon Go as a Nintendo windfall — it isn’t. Nintendo owns the IP but doesn’t make the Pokémon Go game, and it has produced very little revenue for Nintendo. Pokémon Go is collaboration between The Pokémon Company and Niantic Labs, the developer of the game. In fact, when the investors realized this, the sharp rise in Nintendo stock price saw an equal correction. In fact, Nintendo is in search for a big hit for the upcoming holiday season.
Nintendo has been slow to develop games for third-party platforms since they have historically made their own consoles and handheld devices. But that business has struggled for several seasons. Putting their most famous and beloved character on iOS is a huge step for Nintendo and I’m betting they have very big revenue forecasts tied to Super Mario Run for Holiday 2016.
If you watched the closing ceremony at the Sumer Olympics, it’s clear how popular Mario is around the world. And by putting Mario into the hands of millions of fans and, hopefully, new users around the world, the Mario franchise will see downloads and revenue stream the likes of which Pokémon Go experienced earlier this year. Even a fraction of Pokémon Go’s revenue numbers will be a success.
A key theme to recognize in both games is to understand the classic “fish where the fish are” strategy. By limiting their investment in a lagging console business and instead writing game software for a third-party platform, Nintendo has the chance to rescue their gaming business and un-chain themselves from their expensive proprietary device bondage. Also, it will be much easier for Nintendo to create commerce opportunities in an app environment as well as easily deliver updates and new adventures for Mario in a bit-based world.
Lastly, this is big news for Nintendo because Japanese companies are historically better at building “things” vs. software. Doubt that? How many Sony Walkmans do you see today? Software eats the world and has gobbled up the days of simply building a better mousetrap. If Nintendo’s Super Mario Run is a hit, this will signify a big transformation for Nintendo’s legacy as a game and hardware maker and transition to being software driven.
As marketers grapple with how to better engage with their customers, Nintendo may be a company to emulate and take some pages from their updated play book. Here’s looking to a great holiday season for that little dude in red overalls!
We are always under tight deadlines, because time is our most valuable asset.
If you make a promise, set a date. No date, no promise.
If you set a date, meet it.
If you can’t make a date, tell us early and often. Plan B well prepared is a better strategy than hope.
Clean up your own mess.
Clean up other people’s messes.
Question premises and strategy.
Don’t question goodwill, effort or intent.
“I’ll know it when I see it,” is not a professional thing to say. Describing and discussing in the abstract is what we do.
Big projects are not nearly as important as scary commitments.
If what you’re working on right now doesn’t matter to the mission, help someone else with their work.
Make mistakes, own them, fix them, share the learning.
Cheap, reliable, public software might be boring, but it’s usually better. Because it’s cheap and reliable.
Yesterday’s hierarchy is not nearly as important as today’s project structure.
Lock in the things that must be locked in, leave the implementation loose until you figure out how it can get done.
Mostly, we do things that haven’t been done before, so don’t be surprised when you’re surprised.
If an outsider can do it faster and cheaper than we can, don’t hesitate.
Always be seeking outside resources. A better rolodex is better, even if we don’t have rolodexes any more.
Talk to everyone as if they were your boss, your customer, the founder, your employee. It’s all the same.
It works because it’s personal.
cribbed from @sethgodin because it’s great and this is how I operate, too!