Parks: Streaming Media Player Ownership Flattening With Roku and Amazon Leading Space

More than a third (39%) of U.S. broadband households own a streaming media player, but that’s a mere 1% increase from 2018, according to new research from Parks Associates.

Ownership has flattened, the firm noted, although purchase intentions are higher for 2019 compared to previous years.

The report, 360 Deep Dive: Adoption and Use of Connected Video Devices, found connected video device manufacturers may need to shift focus from hardware sales to service and advertising revenue, as ownership reaches saturation, according to Parks.

“Streaming media has reshaped how U.S. consumers interact with entertainment content and services, so as the market matures, sales increasingly come at another vendor’s expense,” said Parks senior analyst Kristen Hanich in a statement. “Video-quality features are the most important factors when consumers buy a connected video device, although Roku and Amazon have certainly benefited among streaming media players by having broad product portfolios that include lower price points.”

Among streaming media players, Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV are the clear market leaders with almost 70% of the installed base of streaming media players in the United States, according to the firm. Consumer-reported data reveals that between Q1 2017 and Q1 2019, Roku’s share of the U.S. streaming media player installed base grew from 37% to 39%, while Amazon’s share of the installed base increased from 24% to 30%.

The report looks at the state of the connected video device space, including smart TV platforms, streaming media devices, smart set-top boxes and gaming consoles, examining the changing roles of these devices and how consumers are engaging with new functionality, such as voice control and live TV integration.

“As the addressable market shrinks, rivalry increases,” said Parks senior analyst Craig Leslie in a statement. “The combined installed base for Roku and Amazon is three times larger than the nearest competitor. The adoption of Roku and Fire TV streaming media players continues to grow at the expense of Chromecast and Apple TV.”

Vevo Ups Music Video Consumption 140%

Music video platform Vevo June 19 announced that its catalog of videos saw a 140% increase in U.S. viewing during the first quarter (ended March 31) compared with the fourth quarter of 2018 (ended Dec. 31) on its app on Amazon Fire TV Edition Smart TVs.

The service said the results show audiences will watch music videos on the best screen available, including in their living rooms. Vevo music videos are now available on several major video devices, including Fire TV.

Vevo’s monthly views on all connected TVs have grown 47% since 2018, and in the last year the service saw more than 33 billion views across these properties in the U.S. alone.

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News of Vevo’s distribution expansion comes as the changing consumption of TV has shifted in recent years and OTT enters the mainstream and with a target approach to reaching viewers who seek music content.

With back-to-back years of streaming growth in the living room, nearly 20% of Vevo streams now occur on connected TVs.

“We have begun to re-define the return of music videos to the living room for consumers and advertisers,” Kevin McGurn, president of sales and distribution at Vevo, said in a statement.

Vevo is available on the following devices and services: Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Echo Show, Roku, Apple TV, Virgin Media (U.K.), Sky Q (U.K., Germany, Italy) and Sky’s Now TV (U.K., Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain).

Amazon Reveals 34 Million Fire TV Users, Topping Roku

Amazon has quietly staked the lead in active users of streaming media devices. The ecommerce giant disclosed it has 34 million Fire TV users – about 5 million more than Roku.

Amazon revealed the data May 14 in a presentation by Jen Prenner, global head of marketing at Fire TV, at the Pay TV Show in Denver.

The tally, first reported by TechCrunch, represents a 13.3% increase from the 30 million users Amazon disclosed in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

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Amazon now claims Fire TV has become the No. 1 streaming media device in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, India and Japan.

Roku, by comparison, claims its operating system was embedded in 33% of all Internet-connected smart TVs sold in the U.S. in the first quarter.

Roku Shares Dip on News Amazon is Looking to Expand AVOD Service

Shares of streaming media device manufacturer April 3 Roku closed down nearly 3% after a news reports suggested Amazon is looking to expand ad-supported video-on-demand content on its Fire TV media devices.

If true, the news is significant for Roku, which operates The Roku Channel AVOD service – the fifth most-popular app on the Roku platform.

BusinessInsideand Chedder, citing sources familiar with the situation, said Amazon has been seeking bigger advertising commitments from marketers for the expansion.

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Advertisers spent more than $7 billion on digital spots in 2018, according to eMarketer. Fire TV reportedly has 30 million active registered accounts compared to 27 million for Roku.

The reports say Amazon has been asking for ad pricing commitments comparable to what media companies ask for primetime TV upfronts. Marketers reportedly have been reluctant since Amazon has not disclosed the scope of its expanded content offering.

While Amazon wouldn’t comment, the reports say the ecommerce behemoth is offering marketers targeted viewers, in addition to specific sales data and related non-personal information verifiable by Nielsen.

Separately, (Amazon-owned) IMDb’s AVOD service, Freedive, recently upped its offering of catalog movies, including Blade Runnerand Legally Blonde, and TV shows, “Heroes,” and “Fringe,” among others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epix Now Streaming Service Available on Roku, Amazon Fire TV Devices

Epix, the pay-TV network owned by Metro Goldwyn Mayer, March 28 announced that its new streaming service, Epix Now, is available as an app on Roku devices and Amazon Fire TV. The SVOD service offers the network’s full library of original programming and movies for $5.99 per month.

“Today’s announcement is part of an ongoing rollout … making our streaming service available to everyone no matter where or how they want to watch TV,” Michael Wright, president of Epix, said in a statement.

Epix Now subs have access to original program such as “Get Shorty,” “Berlin Station,” “Deep State,” “Elvis Goes There” and “Punk,” as well as upcoming premieres of original series “Godfather of Harlem,” starring Forest Whitaker; “Pennyworth, the origin story of Batman’s butler Alfred, from Warner Horizon and DC; “Perpetual Grace, LTD,” from MGM and featuring Sir Ben Kingsley; “Belgravia,”from Julian Fellowes; docu-series “Slow Burn, based on the podcast.

Subscribers will also have access to thousands of hit Hollywood movies and classic film franchises.

Roku and Amazon Fire TV subscribers also have access to all four Epix live channels and a host of new features. Programming in 4K Ultra HD is also available to stream on supported Roku devices and will be coming soon to Amazon Fire TV.

Tubi Inks NBC Universal Catalog Deal

Ad-supported streaming video service Tubi Feb. 28 announced a content deal with NBC Universal, adding nearly 400 television episodes and movies. The deal is part of a strategy to invest over nine figures into content acquisitions in 2019.

Tubi users will have free access to catalog series, “Xena: Warrior Princess,” “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” “The A-Team,” “Punky Brewster,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Quantum Leap” and the original versions of “Magnum, P.I.,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Bionic Woman” and “She-Ra: Princess of Power,” among others.

“We’re excited to be a home to this robust library of content … that appeals across generations,” chief content officer Adam Lewinson said in a statement. “We are aggressively working to expand our library, and this is one of many deals to come for Tubi.”

Tubi’s content library contains more than 12,000 movies and TV series –  claiming to double Netflix’s at 40,000 hours. The service’s app ranks as one of the most watched on Amazon Fire TV, Roku iOS, Android, and Xfinity X1, among others.

San Francisco-based Tubi ended 2018 with more than four-times the content on the service over the previous year. Viewers last December streamed nearly as much content as was consumed in all of 2017.

 

DC Universe SVOD Service Available on Amazon Fire TV

DC Universe, WarnerMedia’s superhero-centric subscription streaming video service, is now available on Amazon Fire TV. The $7.99 monthly service ($74.99 annually) can be accessed from the Fire TV Appstore.

Launched on Batman Day, Sept. 15, DC Universe is also available in the U.S. on iOS, Android, Apple TV, Android TV and the Roku platform, as well as the Web.

The service on Dec. 21 released the first season of original series “Titans” season 1 finale will be released on Dec. 21. Other original series include “Green Lantern: The Animated Series,” available on Jan. 1, 2019, as well as live-action Warner Bros. catalog movies Batman(1989), Batman Returns, Batman Foreverand Batman & Robin.

Upcoming series include “Young Justice: Outsiders” debuting Jan. 4, plus “Doom Patrol,” “Swamp Thing,” “Stargirl and Harley Quinn” coming in 2019.

“Giving the tens of millions of Amazon Fire TV users in the U.S. the ability to view DC Universe’s first original series ‘Titans,’ and all of the amazing library shows and movies, is a win for DC fans and Fire TV users alike,” Sam Ades, SVP and GM, DC Digital Services, said in a statement. “DC Universe offers fans the opportunity to explore the iconic characters, series and movies from DC and we are excited to bring it to Fire TV users, not to mention digital comic books, a daily news show and a world of content made for the advanced features and voice functionality that Fire TV devices are known for.”

 

Why Amazon Should Buy Barnes & Noble

When Amazon launched in 1994, founder Jeff Bezos envisioned his online bookseller competing against local stores and national chains such as Barnes Noble.

And for four years Amazon did just that: Sell books over the Internet more cheaply than anyone else – including Barnes & Noble, which remains one of the last-standing brick-and-mortar book (and packaged media) retailers.

Now Barnes & Noble is in financial trouble. It generated an operating loss of $26.7 million in the most-recent fiscal period. Revenue dipped 2% to $753.2 million.

The Nook segment – B&N’s attempt to compete with Amazon through a branded tablet device and digital (movies, TV shows, music) content – posted a $1.5 million operating loss. Revenue dropped nearly 17% to $21.7 million from $25.9 million last year.

The company hasn’t turned a fiscal profit in nearly two years. It is in litigation with its former CEO over inappropriate workplace behavior allegations and facing a make-or-break winter holiday period – at a time when sales should be booming.

As the retailer looks at “strategic” alternatives, including selling the company – Amazon, by comparison, is minting money.

Having long ago expanded beyond pulp fiction selling merchandise of every variety, in addition to Web services and retail grocery (Whole Foods), the company just posted its best-ever Cyber Monday, with customers ordering more than 180 million items through the five-day Thanksgiving weekend period.

Amazon ended the recent fiscal period with $56 billion in sales and profit approaching $3 billion.

Bezos is one of the richest, if not the wealthiest person on Earth. In 2013, he bought money-losing The Washington Post for $250 million – part vanity play and part attempt to support democracy.

Earlier this year the company became Mercedes-Benz’ largest single customer for the Sprinter van – a fleet order many speculate the company will use for local deliveries.

Acquiring Barnes & Noble would give Amazon 633 retail/distribution locations – many in prime mall locations.

The Amazon/Barnes & Noble store would have lots of cost synergies, including ramping up branded Amazon Go cashier-less convenience concept, showcasing the Amazon connected home (Kindle, Fire TV, Echo Dot, Ring doorbell, banking, etc.) – and selling books.

Report: Third-Quarter Streaming Video Consumption Up 63%

Consumption of streaming video – via over-the-top platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu — continues to mushroom.

New data from digital measurement firm Conviva found a 63% increase in third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) video viewing hours from the previous-year period. Video program plays increased 53%.

“Streaming TV consumption shows no signs of slowing down, and publishers have stepped up to the plate, delivering better quality and reliability that viewers have come to expect,” Conviva CEO Bill Demas said in a statement. “The demand for quality is pushing connected TVs to the top in terms of device share, commanding more than 50% of total viewing hours at the expense of PCs that have lost 7%, while mobile remains relatively flat.”

Indeed, the report — based on Conviva’s claims of tracking 1 trillion data events daily around the world – found that live sports (i.e. NFL football) streaming increased 3% in September, driven by Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football webcasts. Amazon said more than 8 million people collectively streamed the first four games of the season.

Connected TV video plays increased 145%, while viewing hours increased 103%. Online TV platforms such as Sling TV, YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, Spectrum TV Plus, PlayStation Vue, Pluto TV and Fubo TV helped mushroom video plays 292%, including 212% increase in viewing hours from the previous-year period.

And consumers are streaming longer-form (TV shows and movies) entertainment, with 111% increase in video plays and 93% increase in video hours streamed.

Finally, Roku remains the No. 1 streaming media device, commanding 40% market share in viewing hours.

Amazon’s IMDb.com Launching Ad-Supported Streaming Video Service

Taking a page from Roku and Hulu, Amazon reportedly plans to launch a free streaming video service under its IMDb.com brand and accessible via the Amazon Fire TV streaming device.

The service, which could be launched as early as this week, would offer catalog movies and TV shows – with advertisers getting access – for the first time – to proprietary user data, according to CNBC.com, which cited multiple sources familiar with the situation.

The IMDb service would be separate from Amazon Prime Video and enable Amazon to expand its digital advertising market penetration – currently around 4%, according to eMarketer.com. The marketing service said Facebook and Google have a combined 57% market share in digital advertising.

Ad-supported video streaming is the backbone of The Roku Channel, Hulu’s entry-level subscription plan, Sony Crackle and Shout! Factory TV, among others.

The Roku Channel launched in 2017, is now the fifth-most popular service on the Roku platform, according to the Los Gatos, Calif.-based tech company, which helped Netflix bow a branded streaming media device in 2008.

“Our users are looking for great free content, and with the launch of The Roku Channel we are making it easy for them to find it,” said Rob Holmes, VP of programming at Roku.

Needham & Co. analyst Laura Martin in August valued The Roku Channel at around $1 billion – about 20% of Roku’s market cap.