April 30, 2021
New data from Samba TV finds the Dec. 25, 2020 debut of Disney/Pixar’s Soul remains the most-streamed movie in the past seven months — topping Warner’s Wonder Woman 1984, Godzilla vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat and Amazon Prime Video’s Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm, among others.
Fallout from the pandemic has seen Hollywood alter traditional movie distribution to include direct-to-streaming launches for new titles. Disney and WarnerMedia have led the move, followed by Hulu, Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video.
Warner is releasing its entire 2021 theatrical slate on HBO Max concurrently with box office rollout.
Direct-to-streaming movies continued to roll out, with major blockbusters hitting living room screens the same day as, or even before, their theatrical debuts across all major platforms. While Soul and WW84 continued to lead the pack from the fourth quarter of 2020 over both their three-day premiere window and for 30 days after, March held some huge debuts as well, with HBO Max’s Zack Snyder’s The Justice League and Godzilla vs. Kong seeing sizable three-day viewership tallies.
Through the end of the first quarter, Soul had generated more than 5.8 million household views, followed by WW84 with 4.3 million. Mortal Kombat started strong with 3.6 million households since its April 23 launch. Detective drama The Little Things has slightly more than 3 million households.
Pay-TV Viewership Decline Continues
Separately, according to Samba TV’s analysis, there was a 10% quarter-over-quarter decline in the daily average number of TV-viewing U.S. households consuming linear-TV, along with a 14% decline in total minutes viewed. Every month since November has progressively seen lower daily average U.S. household tune-ins than the previous month.
On top of that, linear-TV advertising impressions were down year-over-year across the U.S., U.K., and Germany showing that demonstrates that the industry has not quite returned to pre-pandemic levels and likely will continue to shift to digital as viewers increase time-shifting and streaming behaviors.
Interest in premium linear content is down: The average number of households that watched Showtime, HBO and Starz each day in the first quarter of 2021 was lower than it was in the fourth quarter of 2020. Starz saw the steepest drop-off at -21%, followed by HBO (-17%) and Showtime (-6%).
Linear-TV losses were widespread: 81% of U.S. TV networks saw quarter-over-quarter declines based on average daily household. Live sports continued its viewership slide as well. Q1 2021 was full of major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, but overall sports viewership continued to decline year-over-year, which started with the stoppage of major sports leagues in March.