VIDEO INSIDER: Amazon Could Move Into Pay TV - Premium Subscriptions Still Growing - Twitter's TV Push

Welcome to our new Video Insider newsletter, a morning email with the top news and analysis on the digital video industry, produced by BI Intelligence.

AMAZON MAKING A PLAY AT PAY-TV?: Amazon is reaching out to media and entertainment companies to float the idea of licensing these companies’ shows for a new online pay-TV service. The service, according to The Wall Street Journal, would offer online live TV channels. While Amazon has roundly denied the report, the effort is in line with Amazon’s growing presence in the digital video space. Amazon Prime Instant Video offers original and licensed streaming video content to subscribers. In addition, The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Amazon was developing a set-top box along the lines of Roku.

Should Amazon move into pay TV, which is a tentative possibility at best, they face a particularly challenging industry. The announcement yesterday of the acquisition of Intel Media by Verizon is indicative of the potential and difficulty in the digital TV space. Intel Media had plans to launch its own set-top box and over-the-top services but partnering with entertainment companies, among other issues, proved too much for a company with a very different core focus.

One of the key challenges for a pay-TV venture is that media companies are extremely protective of their original content and wary of new digital video competitors taking more viewers away from TV. Amazon does have the advantage of already having a digital video product and entertainment industry relationships, however. (The Wall Street Journal)

LOST PREMIUM SUBSCRIBERS FOUND: Yesterday, we wrote about a survey from the NPD Group, which found that the number of subscribers to premium channels like HBO and Starz had declined six percentage points, while the number of subscribers to Internet streaming video services rose. But many of these premium channels have reported healthy growth recently, suggesting that the survey’s significance may be overblown. “Showtime and every other premium network have increased both subscribers and penetrations over the last two years,” a Showtime spokesperson told the L.A. Times. The spokesperson said Showtime had added one million subscribers each year for six of the last seven years. Financial company BTIG also took issue with the study, pointing out that the major premium channels, including HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz have most recently reported increased subscriber numbers. (L.A. Times, BTIG)

GO AHEAD, SHARE THAT HBO PASSWORD: And speaking of premium cable channels, HBO knows all about people sharing their HBO GO password and they’re totally fine with it, perhaps a further indication that HBO is not concerned with any loss of subscribers. HBO says they would rather get people hooked on their content, even if that means not paying for a subscription right now. And so far, password sharing hasn’t cut into HBO’s bottom line. (AV Club)

WELCOME, VIDEO INSIDERS:The Video Insider newsletter covers the day’s most important topics in digital video, as well as news exclusives of interest to industry insiders. We look forward to the newsletter becoming an important part of your morning routine.

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NETFLIX EARNINGS ARE COMING: Netflix is expected to announce fourth quarter 2013 earnings today, and an analysis by predicts that those reported earnings will be healthy. However, this quarter is the one to watch out for. There is concern that the net neutrality ruling could result in Netflix paying higher fees to stream bandwith-heavy content to users. In addition, the streaming video space has gotten much more crowded, with a wider variety of original content available from different providers, and an array of streaming services to choose from. (Business Insider)

TWITTER GETS SERIOUS ABOUT TV: Twitter is especially strong as a social TV platform. It is where many of the real-time conversations about TV shows take place and where media figures have some of their most active and engaged fan bases. Now, Twitter looks like it’s going to further leverage that strength. The company has been promoting a new set of ad measurement products that appear focused around analysing sentiment and user data on the network to glean insights about people’s viewing habits and preferences. This can then be used to better target TV-related ads. Twitter is aiming to be the most important second-screen, and leverage that position to become an extension of advertisers’ TV ad buys. (Adweek)

BBC LAUNCHES INSTAGRAM VIDEO: Twitter is by no means a lock for that position as go-to second-screen network, though. Facebook and Instagram, with their recent video offerings, are also proving compelling for advertisers and content creators. As a case in point, the BBC last week launched video programming on Instagram, called Instafax. The UK network is posting three 15-second clips on Instagram each day on the day’s top news. (The Verge)

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