Peacock Gets Amazon Fire TV Distribution

NBCUniversal’s SVOD/AVOD platform Peacock is finally getting distribution on Amazon Fire TV — a gateway (along with Roku) the streaming service has lacked since launching a year ago. The absence, say many observers, has contributed to sluggish subscriber growth for Peacock, while app downloads have increased.

NBCUniversal and Amazon disclosed that Peacock, along with 15 network apps, would be made available on Fire TV and Fire tablets in the United States beginning June 24. Amazon, along with Roku, reportedly represent gateways to 70% of connected homes domestically.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

In a virtual call last month with a Wall Street investor group, Comcast Corp. chairman/CEO Brian Roberts said he was looking for more Peacock sign-ups going forward.

Comcast reported 42 million Peacock sign-ups (not subscribers) through the end of the fiscal period ended March 31. But that tally includes three access options, including a free ad-supported option with limited content; a $4.99 monthly option with ads; and a $9.99 ad-free tier.

The Wall Street Journal last month reported that only about 10 million people actually pay for Peacock on a monthly basis.

Report: First-Quarter Streaming Video Use Cools; Roku Market Share Dips

Streaming video continues to resonate with consumers globally, albeit not as strongly as last year when the pandemic was in its infancy, resulting in the abrupt closure of movie theaters, sporting events and sequestering consumers in their homes.

New data from Conviva found that viewing time grew 36% during the first quarter, ended March 31, compared to the previous-year period when streaming video growth topped 57%.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

While North America, the world’s biggest streaming market, saw solid 18% year-over-year growth in streaming viewing, that was down from 57% last year, which included South America. The true streaming explosion occurred internationally, with South America (up 240%), Africa (149% vs. 25%) and Europe (+122% vs. 70%) experiencing triple-digit growth.

Data for the report was primarily collected from Conviva’s proprietary sensor technology currently embedded in 3.3 billion streaming video applications, measuring in excess of 500 million unique viewers watching 180 billion streams per year with 1.5 trillion real-time transactions per day across more than 180 countries.

The report also revealed that as more consumers are migrating to connected TV devices, smart-TVs and gaming consoles (73% market share), current device leaders Roku and Amazon Fire TV’s share of the streaming device market is eroding.

Roku and Amazon Fire TV saw a slight decline (2.9% and 3.6% respectively) in share of viewing time in Q1, as international viewing and smart-TVs continued to surge globally. While Roku captured a significant 30% share of global big-screen viewing time, this dominance was primarily driven by North America, where it commanded 37% share in Q1. In Europe, Roku’s second-largest market, Roku accounted for only 8% share of the big screen, and it did not fare any better in other regions, with 4% share or less in Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America.

“In every region in the world, streaming viewership is growing, representing a global shift in the way people consume content,” Bill Demas, CEO of Conviva, said in a statement. “This rapidly expanding international audience has created an enormous opportunity for content developers, device manufacturers and advertisers to engage new audiences as the brands and publishers who understand exactly how, when and where people are streaming, will inevitably triumph.”

According to Conviva, there is significant variation in the way consumers in different regions stream on TV screens. In Africa, where TV screens represent 56% of all viewing time, the CanalPlus set-top box was the preferred device, with 54% share of all Q1 screen viewing time. In Asia, Android TV held 49% of all Q1 screen viewing time, while in North America, where TV screens are responsible for 81% of all viewing time, Roku continued to dominate with 37% share. In Europe, screen viewing time was divided relatively equally among devices, while in Oceania, Chromecast ruled with 24% and in South America, Samsung TV held 30% share of TV screen viewing.

Social platforms continue to deliver strong return-on-investment (ROI) for streaming publishers, delivering new audiences and increased engagement. The total number of posts from streaming publishers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube combined grew 99% in Q1 2021 as compared to Q1 2020, with total videos increasing 39% and total engagements increasing 24%. Audience growth across all social platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, grew 61% year over year.

 

 

Roku Dominates ‘March Madness’ Streaming

With the 2021 NCAA College Basketball National Championship Tournament, a.k.a. March Madness, readying for the Sweet 16 elimination rounds, sports fans are increasingly streaming games via standalone media devices and connected televisions. The opening round set new records with more than a billion minutes streamed across 32 games in just two days, according to new data from Conviva.

The tournament thus far reveals an ongoing trend streaming games on the big TV screen. Historically the first day of round one sees the most viewership. This held true this year as day one netted 15% more time spent streaming than day two, according to the report.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Streaming on television increased significantly in the first two rounds to 68% share of time spent in round one, from 48% in 2019 and just 41% in the opening days of 2018. While streaming games on the PC lost market share, the increase in TV consumption comes primarily at the expense of mobile viewing, which decreased to less than half the share held during the previous March Madness. The report attributed this to the pandemic-trend of in-home viewing and the overall, multiyear trend of increased streaming via televisions.

More than 40% of the tournament thus far has been streamed on TVs through Roku devices, followed by Amazon Fire TV (26%), Samsung TV (10%), and Apple TV with 8% share. LG TV and Xbox each tallied 4% share, with Chromecast picking up 3%. Irvine, Calif.-based Vizio, Android TV, and PlayStation lagged behind the field with under 2% share of viewing time.

Conviva reported that social media engagements per post rose an average of 164% for teams in round one as compared to the regular season. Teams tallied 3 million total cross-platform engagements over just two days in the first round of the tournament, with Wisconsin, Syracuse, and Illinois taking the top three spots for total cross-platform engagements.

March Madness often vaults unexpected teams into national view. This year it’s Oral Roberts with 15 times the number of social media engagements per post versus the regular season, and leading in cross-platform, Twitter, and Instagram engagement rates.

Report: Amazon Topped Roku in Q4 Streaming Media Device Sales

Roku, along with Netflix, invented the subscription streaming video market more than a decade ago. Along the way, Roku streaming devices have led the market in unit sales. That trend reportedly changed in the fourth quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2020).

New data from Strategy Analytics found that Amazon Fire TV controlled 12.1% of the 109.1 million (13.2 million) streaming media devices sold in the period. Samsung Smart TVs and Sony PlayStation 5 followed with 11.9 million (10.9%) and 8.9 million (8.2%) units, respectively.

Meanwhile, Roku finished sixth in the quarter with 6.3 million (5.8%) units sold. Google Chromecast and Apple TV finished with 4.7 million (4.3%) and 4 million (4.3%) devices sold, respectively.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“[The fourth quarter] is always a strong period for home entertainment products, and, in spite of the pandemic 2020, didn’t disappoint,” David Watkins, director, TV streaming platforms, said in a statement. “Demand for connected TV devices remained strong throughout the holiday period as consumers in most major economies preferred to enjoy streaming video services on their big screens.”

 

Vudu Coming to Amazon Fire TV Edition Smart TVs and Fire TV Streaming Devices

Vudu, the transactional VOD service owned by Fandango, is launching in March on Amazon Fire TV Edition smart TVs and Fire TV streaming devices.

Consumers will be able to purchase or rent titles from Vudu on a mobile device or computer and the titles will appear instantly in their Vudu library on Fire TV for playback.

Consumers can also stream Vudu’s catalog of 4K Ultra HD content on Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube, or the Fire TV Edition smart TV’s 4K models.

Vudu offers more than 150,000 new-release and catalog movies and TV shows, along with an extensive library of content in 4K Ultra HD. The service has experienced double-digit growth in new accounts in 2020 year over year, according to a Fandango release.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

 “We want Vudu fans to be able to watch movies and TV shows on all of their favorite devices, and Fire TV has been one of our customers’ most-requested devices for streaming content,” Kevin Shepela, EVP and chief commercial officer at Fandango, said in a statement. “With Vudu’s vast library of premium content from new release event movies to favorite films and TV shows, we are excited to deliver to Fire TV users so many new viewing options to watch in their living rooms, many in breathtaking 4K.”

Last week, Vudu launched on Xfinity Flex and X1, and in 2020 it launched on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and S, and TiVo. Vudu can also be found on dozens of connected television devices and streaming platforms from Roku, LG, Sony and many others.

Jeep First Auto Maker to Offer Access to Amazon Fire TV

The upcoming launch of the 2022 Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer SUVs will include a first: onboard access to Amazon Fire TV, the streaming video intermediary to Prime Video and third-party video apps.

“Amazon Fire TV for Auto” interacts directly with Jeep’s Uconnect 5 software system, expanding on Alexa Auto in-vehicle technology to help drivers stay focused on the road and keep passengers entertained. Content syncs with an existing Amazon account like other Fire TV devices, making it easy to navigate favorite apps and resume playback of a show. With Fire TV built-in, customers can pause a show in their home and seamlessly continue watching once they get into their vehicle.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Launching Fire TV for Auto as an industry-first technology to the Wagoneer lineup illustrates one of the many ways we intend to deliver class-leading technology and connectivity to our customers,” Christian Meunier, Jeep Brand CEO, said in a statement.

Passengers can view Fire TV in high-definition from the rear seats and the front passenger screen (a privacy filter disables driver viewing). When the vehicle is in park, the driver also can view Fire TV on the main Uconnect 5 screen

Touchscreen controls and support for compatible content can be downloaded on trips where wireless service is limited or to save on data. A Fire TV for Auto-specific remote provides control of the experience and includes push-to-talk access to Alexa, making it easy to find and quickly play shows. The remote includes a button that connects Fire TV with the new Uconnect 5 system for control of vehicle features, such as climate, maps and more.

“We reimagined Fire TV for the automobile with a purpose-built experience that delivers the best in entertainment, anywhere you go,” said Sandeep Gupta, VP and GM of Amazon Fire TV. “With Fire TV built in, customers can stream their favorite shows, and see if they left the lights on at home with Alexa.”

Fire TV for Auto will be packaged with other connected services and made available in fall 2021 in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Fox Rolling Out ‘Free Like Tubi’ Weeklong AVOD Promotion

Tubi, the AVOD platform Fox Corp. acquired in 2019 for $440 million, is mounting a week-long promotional campaign — dubbed Free Like Tubi — with third-party services and consumer electronics manufacturers, to attract viewer eyeballs.

Beginning Feb. 8, Tubi will sponsor ad-free listening through the week on streaming music provider Pandora. Listeners will have free “Video Plus Access” throughout the week. Tubi will give mobile app players free rewards on mobile game provider Zynga if users watch and engage with sponsored Tubi video content.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Additional cross promotions include unlocking the paywall on Ad Age and giving readers complimentary access. Beginning Feb. 9, Tubi and Postmates will launch a “National Pizza Day” partnership to celebrate the special day and Free Like Tubi Week in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. On Feb. 10, Tubi will host free Amazon Fire TV 4K with Alexa Voice Remote device giveaways.

On Feb. 11, Tubi will partner with “The Ellen Degeneres Show,” where one audience player takes a popcorn quiz and goes on a search for the correct title in a huge bucket of popcorn. Additionally, 100 winners on Ellen’s IG (@theellenshow) stories will receive Visa gift cards courtesy of Tubi.

On Feb. 13, Tubi will give away one Vizio 55-inch V-series SmartCast TV and one Vizio V-series V21-H8 Soundbar. The next day, Tubi and Spotlight Cinema Networks will celebrate Valentine’s Eve with free concessions for the first 20 moviegoing cars at the Arena Cinemalounge in Hollywood, The Frida Cinema in Los Angeles, as well as the Skyline Drive-In and Plaza Cinema & Media Arts Center in New York City.

Tubi will host free Roku Express device giveaways on Feb. 14. On Feb. 15, to wrap up the campaign, Guillermo from “Jimmy Kimmel Live” will treat the audience to free giveaways. Additional swag giveaways include “The Masked Singer” (@MaskedSingerFox), “The Masked Dancer” (@MaskedDancerFox) and “Name That Tune” (@NameThatTune).

WarnerMedia Extends HBO Max Discount Pricing

WarnerMedia has quietly extended to March special pricing for subscribers willing to prepay for 12-months of HBO Max service. The service, which traditionally costs $14.99 — the most expensive SVOD on the market — is effectively charging $11.66 monthly for subs paying the annual $69.99 charge.

Since launching May 27, 2020, HBO Max has aggressively sought to boost sluggish subscriber growth that tallied just 8.6 million subs through Sept. 30, 2020 (upped to 12.6 million in December). WarnerMedia now combines Max subs with HBO to boast more than 38 million members.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The growth was hampered from the start when WarnerMedia failed to secure distribution through Roku and Amazon Fire TV — two major consumer gateways to third-party SVOD services. The Max app is now available on both platforms.

“We’re breaking new ground in the months ahead, and we can’t wait to work with our longtime partners at Roku to build on our past successes and bring Max’s entertainment to Roku’s large and highly engaged audience,” Tony Goncalves, chief revenue officer at WarnerMedia, said in a statement last month.

Amazon: Fire TV Saw More Than 50 Million Active Monthly Users Worldwide in 2020

Amazon’s branded streaming video device, Fire TV, generated more than 50 million monthly active users in 2020, a record according to the e-commerce behemoth. Fire TV, along Roku, Apple TV and Google Chromecast, represents the primary way most consumers connect the Internet to the television.

For 2021, Amazon is upgrading the Fire TV user experience with enhanced content selection software and content recommendations, among other features. The upgrades will be coming to all Fire TV Stick third-generation and Fire TV Stick Lite devices globally in the coming weeks. 

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The new experience is more personal and intuitive with user profiles, improved content discovery features, and Alexa voice navigation. The device also launched two-way video calling on the Fire TV Cube, new apps such as HBO Max, Pluto TV, and expanded live TV content integrations in the U.S.; live discovery features in Japan and India; dedicated experiences with Alexa on Fire TV in Mexico, Brazil, and Australia; Fire TV Cube in France, Italy, and Spain, among others.

 

HBO Max (Finally) Joins Amazon Fire TV Platform

WarnerMedia’s SVOD platform HBO Max Nov. 16 got a huge boost when it announced the streamer would officially join Amazon’s Fire TV platform, including Fire TV Edition smart TVs and Fire tablets, on Nov. 17. Max has been conspicuously absent from Fire TV (and the Roku platform) since launching six months ago — hindering subscriber growth, according to experts.

This launch brings HBO Max into the living rooms of tens of millions of Amazon device customers.

Upon Fire TV availability, current subscribers of HBO through Amazon’s Prime Video Channels will be able to log in to the Max app with their Amazon credentials at no additional cost. The HBO app on Fire TV and Fire tablets will automatically update to become the Max app; customers will be able to log in using their existing HBO credentials. New customers can also subscribe to Max directly in the app. Additionally, all existing Max customers — regardless of how they subscribe to the platform — can now access all of Max via supported Fire TV and Fire tablet devices using their existing provider credentials.

Previously, Max users could only access original and exclusive content when downloading and registering separately with the Max app — a scenario that hindered sub growth, according to observers. Max remains absent from the Roku platform.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“We are very excited that Amazon customers will now be able to enjoy the best-in-class content that lives within HBO Max,” Tony Goncalves, head of sales and distribution for WarnerMedia, said in a statement. “Fire TV is a favorite among customers and we look forward to working with the Amazon team to engage and grow our existing subscriber base by showcasing all that Max has to offer.”

With Amazon Alexa, at launch customers can navigate to the Max app by saying “Alexa, find HBO Max” with Fire TV’s included Alexa Voice Remote or a paired Echo device for hands-free control. Max content is also integrated into universal search on Fire TV, meaning that its content will appear in searches such as “Alexa, find dramas” or “Alexa, find ‘Game of Thrones.'” Customers can also ask Alexa to start watching something specific; “Alexa, play The Undoing.”

“We’ve worked closely with HBO for many years to bring their great content to Fire TV and to make it easier to discover and enjoy with features like search integration, Alexa and personalized recommendations,” said Marc Whitten, VP of Amazon Entertainment Devices and Services, “We are excited to continue that partnership with the launch of HBO Max to bring even more incredible content to customers on Fire TV.”

This month, Max features the debut of Max Originals, including “The Flight Attendant,” starring Kaley Cuoco, Superintelligence with Melissa McCarthy and the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion,” plus the premieres of HBO’s new series “Industry” and special event “Between the World and Me,” an adaption of the New York Times best-selling book by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Movies Magic Mike, 13 Going on 30 and The Dark Knight are also available on Max this month. December brings the return of “Euphoria” with a special episode and the debut of Steven Soderbergh’s film Let Them All Talk, starring Meryl Streep, as well as the platform’s very first holiday special, My Gift: A Christmas Special From Carrie Underwood.