MAD Perspectives Blog

The Power of Original Content

Peggy Dau - Monday, April 03, 2017

What did you watch on 'TV' last night? Did you watch it on your TV or on your device? Was it live, recorded or streaming? Actually, it doesn't matter. There is a lot of powerful original scripted content being created and delivered into our homes. Despite the rise of reality TV that is cheaper to produce, consumers are enjoying great dramatic series. Just look at the 2016 Emmys nominees for Best Drama:  Game of Thrones (winner), The Americans, House of Cards, Downton Abbey, Better Call Saul, Mr. Robot and Homeland. These series represent “addictive” content with passionate fans that consume each episode live and on-demand. 

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has noted the rise of content creation in their September 2016 The Future of Television report. The report reflects upon the disruption of the Free-to-Air/Pay TV business model by the s Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) distribution of video via OTT channels. As OTT providers have grown in popularity, so has the demand for flexibility and volume of scripted content. While broadcast TV depends on a combination of scripted, sports and entertainment content, it is the entertainment programming that drives the bulk of broadcaster or Pay TV operator revenue. Additionally, BCG notes the increased value of top tier content, namely sports and scripted or unscripted entertainment content.

Content budgets are on the rise. Netflix has announced an anticipated spend of over $7B on original content creation in 2017. Amazon is on track for the same amount, while broadcasters NBC and CBS will each spend over $4B. It is the lifetime value of scripted content that is not only benefiting the producers and rights holders of that content, but also the consumer.

As a consumer, I find myself recording more broadcast programming even as I stream content online. For me it is about convenience. I can watch this season’s episodes of Scandal live or on-demand, based on my schedule. Or, I can binge watch past seasons of Scandal (as if I could wait that long!) on Netflix. However, content is big business for distributors and rights holders. The traditional broadcast revenue model is dependent on advertising, while content producers generate revenue from licensing. Often the broadcaster (e.g., CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX) is also the content producer. Top tier content creates greater long-term revenue than sub-par content.

Of course hugely popular content drives up advertising rates, but it also increases licensing revenue. While advertising revenue is tied to a specific broadcast season, licensing revenue is recurring. For example, the NBC hit Friends, which ran from 1994-2004, is still in syndication. Warner Brothers earns ~$1B per year in syndication rights for Friends. 

Accenture’s The Future of Broadcasting V report notes the economic value of original content. Broadcasters such as the UK’s ITV have shifted their revenue strategies to place more emphasis on content and reduce their dependency on advertising revenue. In 2008, advertising represented almost 69% of ITV’s revenue. By strategic investment in its content production subsidiary, ITV Studios, and acquiring other content production companies, ITV has increased both their domestic and international content licensing revenue. A focused content strategy has diversified their revenue flow and potentially improved their overall financial performance.

Accenture has also found that broadcasters who earn at least 20% of their revenue from content production and licensing outperform peers who rely on ad income alone. They achieve better capital efficiency and larger operating margins. It’s no wonder that content production is on the rise. Libraries of original scripted content not only improve long-term revenue projections, they send a message to consumers about the broadcaster’s commitment to providing their audience with quality content. 

Content IS King.

What's your perspective?

2017: The Artificial Intelligence Tipping Point?

Peggy Dau - Monday, January 02, 2017

As we enter 2017 we are seeing the natural evolution of the Big Data discussion. Even as many companies are still coming to grips with how to collect, aggregate and analyze all their data, we began hearing about artificial intelligence. We are now seeing AI discussed in the main stream media - perhaps a sign that there is some solid foundation to the predictions about the rise of artificial intelligence.  Of course this is not the first time we’ve heard about AI, but it may be the first time it can truly be applied in a measurable manner.

I guess we should have seen this coming. We’ve been collecting data for decades, yet Big Data has been the driver of many corporate conversations related to product management, customer engagement, marketing campaigns, supply chain management, financial oversight, succession planning and more. We’ve been gathering and parsing the data from internal databases and external sources in the attempt run our business more efficiently, drive greater innovation and better understand our customers. So, why do we need artificial intelligence? Aren’t we all smart, savvy business people?

The answer is, yes, of course we are all smart, savvy business people, but don’t we all crave a competitive edge? Don’t we all want to “discard” those tasks that are repetitive and time-consuming? This is the promise of artificial intelligence.

Thanks to advances in compute power (and the related decrease in the cost of that power) and the development of complex and deep algorithms (by really smart people) that became known as machine learning (computers analyzing data over and over again to recognize patterns and deviations from said patterns), computers now have the ability to learn, reason and recommend.

While I’m not ready for HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, to run my world, most initial forays into artificial intelligence are about improving the customer experience.  In fact, we are already welcoming AI into our daily lives with the use of Siri, Cortana and Alexa. These “digital assistants” help us find answers to questions, recommend music, capture shopping lists and more. 

In fact, MIT has defined three forms of artificial intelligence – and I’m sure each of us can think of examples of how we have already experienced each of these types of AI:

  •      - Assisted intelligence – automates basic tasks so that they can be done more quickly and cheaply
  •      - Augmented intelligence – helps people make more effective decisions based on their circumstances
  •      - Autonomous intelligence – where a human is no longer involved in the decision making and control is given to the machine

We’ve seen examples of assisted intelligence with the use of robots in warehouses, selecting products from vast shelves and placing them in a cart. And we experience augmented intelligence every time an insurance company or bank assesses risk. We are seeing a rise in the use of augmented intelligence in as we receive content recommendations from Netflix and product recommendations from Amazon, and other online retailers. Autonomous intelligence is the future as exemplified by NASA’s Mars Rover.

2017 will be the year artificial intelligence becomes part of our daily lexicon. Some applications of AI will be exciting, like smart cars. Others will be concerning, especially when it comes to automating jobs. Some will augment our user experience, like enhancing character behavior in video games. Others may frustrate us as they continue to mature (e.g., customer support). With access to scads of data and the computing power to analyze it, 2017 may be the tipping point in the commercialization of artificial intelligence.

What’s your perspective?

Olympic Inspiration for Innovation

Peggy Dau - Monday, October 03, 2016

Quadrennial sporting events like the Olympics and FIFA World Cup have become benchmarks in how we consume and enjoy live content. The broadcast industry invests in advancing technology and preparation for these events is HUGE. Do other industries have similar events that drive innovation and technological advancement? If we look at other consumer-centric industries like retail or hospitality, we can see industry disruption in the form of e-commerce, online travel sties and e-payments. If we look at financial services, retail banking technology continues to evolve around mobile and online banking. But, there are no significant or recurring events that drive technology innovation.

The Olympics, as an example, drives and inspire technologists and broadcasters to create new ways to engage the viewing audience. Any way to capture a better images, share a more compelling store and encourage incremental viewing is on the table. Broadcasters test technology in advance of these global events. And consumers anticipate how these technologies will enhance their viewing experience.  To be clear, tech advancements around sports are not limited to the broadcast community. Rio was the inspiration for technology such as underwater lap counters, electronic scoring for archery - with accuracy to within .2mm, balloons with high-resolution cameras for security.

However, the technology that enhanced our viewing experience included:

      •      - Drone cameras to provide better view of rowing
  •      - Augmented reality to highlight diving entries into the pool or swimmers setting world record paces
  •      - Virtual reality footage providing Samsung Gear VR users with exclusive immersive experiences
  •      - 4K content provided by NBC to Olympic Broadcast Services partners and NHK in Japan (albeit with a 24 hour delay due to the time it takes to process 4K footage)

In fact, NBC provided more than 6,700 hours of coverage. Yet, only 260 hours were broadcast on linear TV. The rest was streamed at or on the NBC Olympics app. But this discussion is about the technology. What will we see in PyeongChang in 2018? Expect more 4K and even 8K content - particularly as the South Korean and Japanese audiences have been testing distribution throughput.  Expect a strong mobile-centric strategy for sharing content. The U.S east coast is 13 hours behind PyeongChang. There is no hope for live linear TV coverage. Yet, as proven in Rio consumers are more than willing to enjoy content online and on their devices.  I also expect a greater use of IoT technologies and data by and for athletes, judges, broadcasters and consumers.

Are you ready? I can't wait.

What's your perspective?

Where's Waldo? Or, Where the H@%# is my Content?

Peggy Dau - Thursday, June 30, 2016

Where's Waldo? Or more aptly, where's the content i want to watch, when i want to watch it?  As the number of options for consuming TV content continues to expand, the ability to find the programs we want is like Waldo - sometimes you just get lucky. While Pay TV operators tweak their electronic program guides to make it easier for subscribers to find content, that content is limited to the library for which they have obtained licenses.  Nor do these outdated EPG's reflect the on-demand availability of the Pay TV Operator's linear content. Netflix, who has raised the bar for content discovery and recommendations, still only facilitates search for content provided by their service.

Content Discovery is a burning issue for both TV content providers and subscribers. It can single handedly drive subscriber acquisition and subscriber engagement while reducing churn (that ugly term for loss of subscribers).  The importance of content discovery is reflected by the rise in merger & acquisition activity in 2016.  Ericsson acquired FYI Television, the premier entertainment metadata and rich media content supplier, in January.  Rovi, provider of cloud-based TV analytics & metadata, announced it's acquisition of Tivo in April.  This acquisition is much about Tivo's knowing what subscribers are watching as its about Tivo's ownership of DigitalSmiths, a cloud-based provider of content discovery solutions.

These acquisitions follow ComScore's acquisition of Rentrak last fall, which signaled the importance of digital audience measurement. Understanding a subscriber's intent is the foundation for providing targeted advertising and personalized content recommendations. Whether it is Pay TV Operators (e.g., Comcast, Verizon, Dish), OTT providers (e.g., Netflix, Amazon, Hulu) or streaming sticks (e.g., Chromecast, Roku, AppleTV), leveraging content metadata is the key content monetization. Analysis of content discovery, recommendation and consumption provides insight driving advertising, EPG layout, content licensing, marketing programs and business models.

There is no holistic content discovery solution today. For subscribers, access to a universal listing is highly appealing, however the reality is likely years away due to exclusive content licensing deals. However, the power of the subscriber should not be under estimated. As the TV continues to evolve with Pay TV Operators adding OTT channels or cord-cutters choosing to consumer content via alternate channels, content discovery will be at the heart of the evolution.  The providers that win will be those that can improve the subscriber experience and help them find Waldo.

What's your perspective?

The New Reality is Virtual

Peggy Dau - Friday, April 01, 2016

Earlier this year i claimed that the buzz word for 2016 would be the term "immersive". It's still too early to tell, but Virtual Reality is certainly garnering a lot of attention. With front page images from Mobile World Congress in February to this week's reviews of Occulus Rift - Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are front and center. A simple definition of VR says that it results from a combination of computing power and audio/visual optics to create a sensory experience for the enduser. 

A VR experience requires a unique device such as Google Cardboard (on the low end) and Occulus Rift (on the high end) plus some type of computing device such as a smartphone, laptop or gaming device.  VR got its start in the military as a method of providing combat training while the bio-tech industry has used forms of virtual reality to enhance research. The emergence of immersive experiences into the mainstream, opens a completely new reality for enjoying entertainment, training emergency response teams or enhancing 3D modeling.

Research firm TrendForce predicts 16 million virtual reality devices will be sold in 2016.  Deloitte, predicts 2016 revenue of $700M in hardware and $300M in content. While the entertainment sector will lead the way in the adoption of VR related to gaming, sports and music, industrial segments such as automotive, aviation or architecture will benefit from the ability to replace physical prototypes and models with virtual reality.  Even tech evangelist Kevin Spacey (yes, that Kevin Spacey) is enamored of VR. in a 2016 interview in Davos, he proclaimed the virtues of virtual reality (around minute 18). He recognized the value of the 3D experience of for entertainment, but also for education.  

The hurdles to widespread adoption of Virtual Reality are not insignificant, but like other emerging technology, these barriers will lessen over time. The primary challenges for consumer oriented services are:

     - Development of VR content -  While this a boon for the computer generated graphics (CGI) industry, creation of relevant, engaging content requires are variety of talent, skills and technology tools.

     - Content files are BIG - requiring bandwidth and PC processing power (which could be why Occulus Rift requires a PC not a smartphone). PC vendors will benefit as wireless devices do not yet have the processing power, nor do wireless networks have the necessary bandwidth (LTE Broadcast or 5G networks may help, but they are not widespread at this time).

     - Hardware is expensive - unique headsets are required and they are currently quite expensive. But like all technology, they will only improve in form, feature, functionality and price as time goes by.

While virtual reality is an immersive experience where early growth will be driven by consumer applications, the long term benefit and value will be achieved by enterprises using virtual reality to lower the cost of product development, improve the delivery of healthcare solutions and energizing robotics developments. Are you ready for the new reality?

What's your perspective?

TV As We Knew It - Changed Forever

Peggy Dau - Monday, January 04, 2016

2015 may well be remembered as the year when mainstream media finally embraced the relevance and importance of OTT (over the top or internet streamed) video. Content owners/producers (e.g., HBO, CBS) and TV Provides (e.g., Comcast) announced, pursued and launched OTT services to complement their "traditional" ad or subscription supported TV services. Of course, the new OTT model is still ad or subscription funded, but is the consumption model that has changed dramatically.

Just look at your tweens, teens and twenty-somethings. How are they enjoying television content? On the TV? Nope. It's more likely you will find them upside down in a chair or scrunched up in their beds with their eyes glued to their smartphone or tablet - enjoying their preferred content (which may or may not be produced by a big name studio or network). And, it's not just the kids. We adults have quickly realized the benefits of binging or consuming our favorite programs when our schedules allow - NOT when the networks deem it most advantageous. 

While it may be argued that TV was the greatest invention of the 20th century, the most dramatic change to the television industry is happening in the 21st century. Business models are being turned upside down. Content aggregators are becoming producers (yes, that's a call out to Netflix, Amazon and YouTube). Advertising technology is now a major investment area. The result is some really great content.

Greater competition for eyeballs has upped the game for broadcast, cable and streaming networks. It also presents incremental monetization opportunities. Content IS STILL King! None of these viewing alternatives would have evolved if the consumer did not enjoy the content.  Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Transparent, The Walking Dead, Scandal. Each of these series enjoys a rabid fan base which drives advertising or subscription revenue.

And now, just as we are adjusting to seeking content on the variety of Subscription VOD (SVOD) or Advertising VOD (AVOD) services available to us, we can consider the appification of TV. This is what Apple announced in September, but what has already been happening in a small way. This is the presence of apps on your internet-connected Smart TV.

Whether it is an app for Netflix, HBONow, CBS All Access or MLB.TV, it is the concept that you will pay for internet access, a service or device such as Apple TV, Sling TV or Google Chromecast, plus the monthly or annual app subscription (e.g., $9.99/month for Netflix; $129.99/year for MLB.TV). It's not necessarily cheaper, but perhaps it is easier. These models address consumer desire for on-demand viewing on the device of choice - which may or may not include the device called TV.

TV as we knew it has changed, but we still crave the experience it provides.

What's your perspective?

Recognizing the Signals

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 29, 2015

A fast paced world requires the ability to recognize the signals. Like Native American smoke signals, Morse code, or even a baseball managers swiping the rim of his hat, signals guide and alert us. Various forms of technology represent today’s signals. Whether they are social media, wearables, apps or platforms designed to monitor and measure – we are seeking signals to warn us of potential failures and to identify opportunities. This is why Big Data is so omnipresent – it is perceived as one method of identifying signals.

Broadband penetration in the U.S. has grown from 20% in 2004 to 79% in 2014 (Leichtman Research Group 2014), while broadband connection speeds have increased from 56Kbps in 2003 to and average of 11.1Mbps in 2015 (Akamai State of the Internet Report, May 2015).

Many a start-up will tell you that their foundation was based on spotting a gap (aka opportunity) in the market that they knew they could fill. The ability to create a new reality is called progress. Look at the adoption of social media. The grand daddy of social media, Facebook, has 1.44B monthly active users (MAU) based on their April 2015 earnings report.  That’s larger than the population of China. 70% of that MAU is mobile. That’s a signal.

When it comes to video, the power is shifting. YouTube was and still is the king of online video. Before YouTube online video was proprietary with inconsistent performance. The broadcast and cable industry did not consider online video a challenge or an opportunity. However, YouTube changed that by providing a user-friendly ability to upload AND view user-generated content. That’s a signal.

Facebook has entered the online video segment and is challenging YouTube for the all important ad dollars. The popularity of both platforms is not in question. The challenge will be who can better optimize the video experience, for both uploads and viewing, for the mobile audience. BTW, I’m defining the mobile audience as users viewing content on a tablet or smartphone via a Wi-Fi or 4G/LTE connection. Ooyala says that mobile now accounts for 42% of all online video viewing. That’s a signal.

What’s the next step in the progress of sharing and viewing video? For sure it is mobile? But what does that look like. What signals are we seeing from device manufacturers? Are you ready to watch TV on your smart watch?

What are the signals in your industry? How will financial services capitalize on tweets? Will railroads improve safety and optimize routes using communications and Internet of Things technologies? Will your car not only tell you that you need gas, but also the location of the closes gas station?  By paying attention to the signals that are shared every day, perhaps you can identify the next big idea!

What’s your perspective?

Clouds Taking Shape For Broadcast & Cable

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 08, 2015

Clouds are a good thing. Really. They are. Especially when they bring opportunity, flexibility and innovation. 

Cloud solutions are making the news on an increasingly regular basis. The M&A activity related to cloud technology is hot as companies throughout the media lifecycle look to the cloud to drive new business models. Whether it is in post-production, the newsroom or cable head-end, cloud is the word. Cloud computing has been the talk of the IT industry for almost 20 years, but it is thanks to Google and Amazon that the terminology, and the technology, is now part of our everyday conversation. Clouds, you remember them - those white fluffy things up in the sky, are flexible and ever shifting. This is the premise behind cloud computing - on demand access to technology resources.

As the media industry increasing adopts IP and IT technology to enable media workflows, live broadcast and content distribution, cloud provides opportunities. In all cases, the consideration of cloud is driven by the need for flexibility without incurring unnecessary cost. Examples of cloud solutions changing the shape of the broadcast and cable industries:

  • Workflows - From content ingest, to transcode, edit, QC, review, and syndication, cloud solutions enable production and post-production teams to collaborate without geographic boundary. Solutions, from vendors such as NativAframe and Forscene, deliver flexibility in orchestrating tasks, resources and people. They simplify upload of footage and stories from remote locations, accelerate the editing process,and improve collaboration. They integrate with established editing solutions, while also forcing those solutions to transition to the cloud themselves.

  • Newsroom - The fast pace of live news requires solutions that allow field reporters to easily upload footage, incorporate user generated content, capture social perspectives. Established newsroom vendors such as Avid and Dalet are now using the cloud to capture real-time content, share and modify rundowns and allow reporters to do what they do best - discover and tell the story.

Distribution - It could be said that the distribution and delivery of content is the original cloud solution. Back in the 1990's content delivery networks emerged to enable digital delivery of media content across IP networks. Akamai emerged as the kind of CDNs enabling services for a variety of online video providers such as Brightcove and media companies such as NBC, MTV and Discovery. However, CDN itself is changing as vendors such as Scality bring the combination of object storage and cloud together to address the storage demands of CDN origin and edge servers. Offloading the storage demands from the CDN to the cloud provides increased storage scalability and economic flexibility as content libraries grow.

Consumption - Cable operators recognize the demand from consumers to enjoy content when, where and how they want. The set-top box has long been the hub which controlled how consumers could watch content on-demand. However, Charter is changing the game with its stake in ActiveVideo. By pushing DVR functionality into the cloud, they increase storage capacity, unify processing functions and eliminate silos of technology specific to ingest, transcode and streaming. They can simplify content discovery and personalize EPGs without concern for the STB hardware. 

Across the media supply chain, vendors are changing the strategies to capitalize upon the cloud. Ericsson is a primary example of a traditional network equipment provider recognizing the future of TV. Through acquisition and R&D, Ericsson enables cloud solutions for: media processing and contribution; delivery of TV content with MediaFirst a software-defined, media-optimized platform enabling the next generation of PAY TV operators; time-shifting and viewing on any device with cloud DVR. 

Cloud computing, for media, offers opportunities to innovate and bring great stories to market more quickly. It provides greater flexibility in serving content as consumers demand it. And, most importantly it enables innovation and flexibility in cost-effective model. Cloud reduces hardware acquisition challenges while improving scalability, turns capital expenses into operating expenses, and frees up time to create service differentiation.

What's your perspective?


Data at the Root of OTT Services

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Video is entertaining. Video is memorable. Video is sharable. And, video is consumed across an increasing number of distribution channels, platforms and devices. Whether it is professional or user-generated, video is inescapable. While much data is captured, analyzed and shared about how and where we consume video, none of this would be possible without the underlying network technology.

As noted by Nielsen, our behavior shifts depending on individual circumstances. The flexibility we now take for granted is dependent on the underlying distribution and delivery networks. It is dependent on network bandwidth to deliver sufficient data throughput to ensure an satisfactory consumer experience. With all the noise around big data - seemingly defined as that data that can be captured in tabular form and visualized in infographics, it is possible to forget about other perspectives on data. 

Network operators have been advancing their capabilities to deliver content via broadband, WiFi or wireless (e.g., 4G, LTE, 5G) networks. These core networks are often overlaid with incremental content delivery technology which applies complex algorithms to determine the most efficient and effective path to deliver content to endusers. The rise of OTT video services is a boon for these content delivery network (CDN) providers. For CDNs, data is representative of network bandwidth. For them, the data of the network has never been so important.

It's a double edged sword. On one side it's about enabling bandwidth to move volumes of data traffic. For example, it has been reported that Netflix represented nearly 1/3 of all internet traffic in the U.S. in 2014. Network specialist, Ciena, sponsored research from ACG Research in 2014, which reveals that the shift to OTT viewing will increase annual household bandwidth requirements by 31%. Yet, even as we anticipate the arrival of even higher quality content in the form of 4K, a recent report from Akamai indicates that the U.S. is lagging the rest of the world in its ability to offer consumers sustained broadband speeds of at least 15Mbps. In fact, while U.S. leads the Americas region in average connection speeds, it is not even in the top 10 countries globally. Enjoying OTT content is all about the data throughput of both broadband and mobile networks.

Without the underlying network infrastructure we cannot binge, we cannot download, stream or upload videos. Network intelligence has long been big business in the telecommunications industry. The ability to monitor and predict network performance is critical for even the most basic of services - voice. However, when it comes to video delivery, network capacity is just one piece of the puzzle. Other pieces include technologies to compress content into smaller packages thus requiring less bandwidth for delivery; to guarantee in-order delivery of all those data packets and avoid a degraded consumer experience; or to protect both the network itself and the content against unwanted intrusion - these are all data centric solutions. 

Tablets, smartphones, connected TVs - these are the devices driving increased bandwidth consumption. These are the alternatives to traditional TV viewing. They increase demand for bandwidth on all types of networks. Our expectation for video consumption is persistent regardless of place or device.

OTT is here to stay, but it has only been welcomed thanks to the capacity of the underlying networks. Millennials and Gen-X'ers have never known the challenges of the AOL dial-up tone. Or, the massive re-buffering of early streaming media solutions. They have the same expectations of OTT as they do of TV - when they turn it on, it works, regardless of which type of network they use for accessing content. Content delivery happens thanks to the continuous investment in network technology to support anticipated data throughput. Worried about your mobile data plan now? Just imagine what it will look like in 5 years.

What's your perspective?

AOL's Pivot Results in a Match with Verizon

Peggy Dau - Monday, May 18, 2015

The big news last week was Verizon's acquisition of AOL. It's a little bit funny how one of the original Internet stalwarts has been punted around the media and telecom sector. Even as we remember that AOL inspired a movie based on a service that is considered irrelevant by some, many have forgotten that AOL still exists. Since AOL's spin-off from their disastrous merger with Time Warner, it has been focused on content and advertising.

Is there any other way, other than content, to be relevant and influence audience in these days of content everywhere? AOL made the decision to focus on content through acquisitions (TechCrunch, HuffPo), technology (, Convertro) and community (20,000 bloggers). They've invested in content development, mobile platforms, video technology. As a result they have reach, influence

Why is all this interesting for Verizon? Verizon has been an enabler of content delivery to its subscribers for 20+ years. However, they've stepped up their game in recent years through their Digital Media Services group. Their capabilities help customers to prepare and manage video content for delivery to subscribers on broadband, WiFi or wireless networks. They provide the infrastructure that we all take for granted that delivers voice, data and TV services to our devices wherever they may be. But, Verizon doesn't own content. Some of their competitors do (e.g., Comcast, Cablevision). Verizon has the ability to reach it's customers in ways that these competitors cannot - they are a mobile network operator. Mobile is the future. And the future of mobile is content, whether it is informational, entertainment, or advertising.

Moreover, the benefit of mobile is increased volumes of contextual data. Verizon has a view of its subscribers through the data gleaned from subscription plans as well as user behavior while consuming content across TVs, tablets and smartphones. The content and ad technologies that come with the AOL acquisition are complementary to Verizon's Digital Media Services. They provide Verizon with the potential for creating original content, increase advertising revenue through multi-platform ad tech and enhanced data to define further revenue opportunities. The mobile data provides perspective on where and what an individual may be doing as they engage with content and ads on their mobile device. The appeal to brands is evident. Verizon is definitely growing its capabilities beyond being a mere pipe.

While AOL still offers email services, its original business of connecting consumers to the Internet is long dead. In fact, that service was displaced by companies like Verizon. However, AOL was savvy enough, over time, to adapt and pivot. They recognized the value of compelling content and the opportunity to monetize its consumption across multiple channels. As a result they've become highly attractive 

What's your perspective?