Happy Friday! This week Netflix finally brought us the gift of offline support.
We can only imagine there is a mire of rights re-negotiation work in order to make this happen across its entire catalogue. The fact that Netflix has grown its original content so much recently, means that it can prioritise making this available, and gift us with a much welcome early holiday season present. Hoorah!
Let's get to it!
DirecTV Now: Everything you want to know
AT&T's new internet streaming platform DirecTV Now is here, on practically every device. The Verge has spent some time with it and written a comprehensive review.
The verdict? It's mostly good, especially at the introductory $35/month price. The streaming, the core of any internet TV platform, is very fast and buffering times are minimal. The UX is simple and straightforward, but this is also where some negative aspects of the review come in. At launch DirecTV Now is missing some core features, like DVRing a show for later (you have to hope it turns up on VoD), reminders when new episodes of your favourite shows are out and limited pausing during live TV.
But no doubt these kinks will be ironed out over time, and since the core part of the service, the streaming, is strong, the future looks bright for DirecTV Now and AT&T.
5 things I learnt as a designer at LEGO
At Rerun, we think it can be helpful to look at other industries to see if their experiences and principles might inform us more, or give us thoughts on how to be better at UX and DX design for digital products. Jonathan Bree recently worked as a designer for LEGO, one of the major businesses in the toy industry, and has some great advice to this end.
Bree, helped design a real life 12,000 m2, 75ft tall ‘LEGO House’ at their HQ in Denmark. In a recent blog post he wrote about some of the guiding principles that helped shape his approach in building the LEGO mecca.
Bree highlights that every product is really a service of some kind that should be considered holistically.
'At LEGO, the approach is to actually map the experiential journey that the product or service will exist within and seek to understand how that can be made better.'
For a product to be truly meaningful it should connect to the user at an emotional level. This can be achieved through moments and features that are fun!
'This is a key part of the LEGO philosophy; embed little surprising moments of play into everything.'
This is some great advice! Not just for the toy industry, but useful in designing and developing products in the digital field.
Creative Review's designer of the week: Eloisa Iturbe
Chances are you've already seen Eloisa's work, she's designed channels for some of the world’s biggest TV networks, including Turner, NBCUniversal, National Geographic, Discovery, Nickelodeon, MTV, VH1, Fox, AMC Networks, Vice and Corus Entertainment. In this interview with Creative Review she talks about her work both on and off the screen.
Designing for TV is a delicate balancing act between both loudly communicating a channel's personality and quietly fading in to the background when needed. A channel's branding can be used as simply as a logo on a piece of paper, or as a standalone piece of video content like an ident. Certainly a challenge, so what's Eloisa's advice for aspiring designers?
"Surround yourself with things that you like—in your workspace but also in your home, your car, your travels. Quality of design is directly tied to quality of life."
Future of TV
Turner CTO: We need a single app platform for all of our brands
“A lot of folks look at applications like Netflix or Hulu, for example, as a point of content consumption. They just have one app. If you’re a major media company, you have dozens of brands, and even within a brand you may have multiple applications.” Legg said.
This is an issue that we at Axonista are increasingly coming across in the market. Once apps start to diverge in functionality on different platforms, things can quickly become hard to maintain, and it delivers an inconsistent viewing experience.
The best way to control cost is to think and act like a software company and develop an SDK. An SDK is a set of tools which contains a pre-built core codebase, along with supporting documentation, creative assets and style guides. Reuse from product to product as well as localisation to different markets can be done within a customisation layer on top of the SDK and it can be handed to any developer to work with. It can also be surfaced within other apps, so instead of a building something new, you can drop your SDK into an existing app and have your player and its unique functionality launch within it.
To go all-in on this will necessitate a very disciplined approach to product management, but when done well, the result will be a digital product set that’s completely in tune with your brand and optimised for engagement with your audience. This is especially important as video becomes more interactive and differentiation becomes more about the overall UX of the product.
CNN brings in the social app Beme to cultivate a millennial audience
This week CNN announced they're acquiring & shutting down Beme, a popular video-based social app. But what they really want is its team and one person in particular, Casey Neistat. He's a prolific producer of short-form video on several platforms (including TV and his own platform, Beme) and his YouTube channel has almost 6 million subscribers and over 1.25 billion views.
CNN are likely going to incorporate Beme's technology into their existing portfolio, while Casey Neistat has been given the task of coming up with a new platform. Like Great Big Story, it'll likely operate independently from CNN, but with the financial backing that the cable giant provides.
How Spotify and Netflix creatively use customer data and behaviour in their ads
Spotify and Netflix have shown that ads don't have to be boring. They can be immensely fun! Both platforms have taken user data and behaviour to creatively market their products. At Rerun, we reckon such ads are more likely to draw attention. Well...they drew our attention anyway!
Spotify has taken user data, such as locations, playlists, song requests, and incorporated it into a number of eye catching billboards ads.
While Netflix recently promoted ‘Black Mirror’ by rewriting ad blocker messages. When ad blocker users visit the website 'The Next Web' they see the following notice:
'Hello ad blocker user. You cannot see the ad. But the ad can see you. What's on the other side of your Black Mirror?'
Non-ad-block users see a regular promotion for the show.
While such creativity is immensely fun, it does questions as to how these platforms should or should not be allowed to use customer information.
While we weren’t looking, Snapchat revolutionized social networks
Ahead of its rumoured IPO, Snapchat is bucking the trend among social networks. The much-imitated, mysterious and sometimes downright puzzling company values authenticity over viral content, and has continually innovated both its user experience and business models. From crowdsourcing news, to launching its own wearables, Snap Inc. has the ability to excite and impress with every new product offering.
This New York Times feature examines what makes it so special.
If you secretly harbor the idea that Snapchat is frivolous or somehow a fad, it’s time to re-examine your certainties. In fact, in various large and small ways, Snap has quietly become one of the world’s most innovative and influential consumer technology companies.
The holiday season seems to have given VR a reality check
Clearly, it’s still early days for VR. With high prices for headsets, no killer apps, and, generally, little content to excite and engage users, VR is years away from growing revenues. A recent chart from Statista, illustrating estimated unit shipments of VR headsets by the end of 2016, reflects market scepticism of the rate of VR’s growth.
Video game market research firm SuperData projects that shipments for VR headsets in 2016 are now estimated to be lower than the already meagre forecasts they had before the biggest shopping weekend of the year.
With the exception of the forecast for PlayStation VR, which is radically inconsistent with a previous forecast, most forecasts have remained consistent and very much on the cautious, conservative side.
How esports are pioneering new media models
Esports are expected to become a $1bn industry this year and hit over 250 million viewers in 2017. A big chunk of that is coming from League of Legends two year $200m streaming rights deal with Major League Baseball’s Advanced Media unit. Sponsorship, advertising and broadcast rights are big revenue generators, just like in traditional sports broadcasting, but what sets esports apart are the player-focused subscriptions and micro transactions.
So what does this mean? For big tournaments like the DOTA2 Championships, the majority of the $20 million prize pool came from the revenue generated from DOTA2 players buying in-game cosmetic items (like hats) for their characters throughout the previous year. Many players also regularly stream on platforms like Twitch, generating their own revenue in ways like subscriptions, donations and a special kind of 'donation emoji' called bits.
Of course none of these revenue streams are as reliable as a cable subscription, and as sponsors start to ask more questions about where their money is going, the esports industry is going to have to come up with some solid answers.
- Taylor Swift is now making original content for AT&T
- The British Film Institute plans to digitize at least 100,000 ‘at-risk’ TV programs
- BBC launches vertical news videos
- Amazon said to plan Alexa speaker with 7-inch touchscreen for 2017
- Facebook blocks Prisma’s live video filters
- Amazon begins reselling Frontier’s internet service on its site
- YouTube now supports 4K live-streaming for both 360-degree and standard video
MIT Team creates video from still photo
A team of scientists from MIT has come up with a way to create videos from still images using a deep learning algorithm. Amazing!
This is a great look at one way the coming machine-learning ('AI') revolution may touch the video industry. At Rerun, we're excited about the potential to apply this technology to still images from the past, before moving pictures existed. We're also flabbergasted - what a time to be alive!
The team started by setting up an algorithm to “watch” 2 million random videos—about two years worth—to learn scene dynamics, and use that knowledge to generate video.