Analyst: Amazon Upping Prime Video Content Down Under

With Disney’s pending subscription streaming video service targeting Australia as a major market, Amazon has upped its Prime Video content availability in the region.

While Netflix remains the dominant over-the-top video player in Australia, new data from Ampere Analysis suggests Prime Video has been more aggressive with new content offerings in a SVOD market that will reach 65%  household penetration by the end of the year.

Prime Video increased its content hours by 84% from June 2018 through June 2019, compared to just 18% for Netflix.

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Ampere contends Netflix has produced fewer original productions (17) in Australia compared to other regions such as Mexico (36) and France (30).

“The Australian SVOD market is characterized by transition and opportunity, so it’s not surprising that Amazon has been concentrating efforts here,” Guy Bisson, director at Ampere Analysis, wrote in a note. “The new service from Disney will meet the demand for Children & Family and Action & Adventure content in particular, and by developing a family of streaming services, it will be a ‘super aggregator’”.

The London-based research firm says Aussie SVOD homes prefer indie/arthouse, horror, arts & culture, kids, romance and action compared to documentaries.

The latter among Amazon’s biggest content growth categories, in addition to action/adventure, crime/thrillers and reality.

Netflix continues to focus on romance, crime/thriller, comedy and drama, while local SVOD rival Stan targets kids and family.

“We believe [these trends] will continue, anticipating that the gap we’ve identified in the market for a premium streaming aggregator will be filled by partnerships, original productions and acquisitions,” Bisson wrote. “This is a great time to be a [streamer]in Australia.”

 

New SVOD Players Targeting Specific Audiences

With several new high-profile streaming video services about to launch, appealing to select audiences appears to be the initial strategy competing against Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

The London-based research firm Sept. 17 in a profile of six new services — Disney+, Viacom’s BET+, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, NBC Universal’s Peacock streaming service, Apple TV+ and short-form start-up Quibi — found that content strategies going forward is largely based on their media parents.

Some services will rely on original fare (notably Apple), while others will offer catalog content and third-party licensed programming.

Ampere says Disney+ will focus on family fare with 61 original series and titles, in addition to select catalog. The service is focusing on TV and movies, with TV spin-off The Phineas & Ferb Movie, and a live-action remake of The Lady and the Tramp. Over one-third of its original content is unscripted.

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With most of its mobile-centric content about 10 minutes or less in length, Quibi can compete with Disney+ in terms of number of titles, according to Ampere. The platform is entirely reliant on the success of its original titles as its short-form nature means there’s no back catalog and no acquisition targets.

The start-up has the highest proportion of unscripted content of the six players at 40% and is targeting it at a youth-skewing audience.

Apple TV+ is focusing on big-budget, big name flagship scripted series, such as “The Morning Show” featuring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. Indeed, about 87% of content is scripted.

Buoyed by strong catalog, Ampere expects WarnerMedia’s HBO Max to be led by premium scripted content, although it recently announced its first two unscripted original commissions.

With under five originals, Ampere expects NBC Universal’s service to be mainly catalog-focused. It has commissioned a third season of high school comedy “A.P Bio,” previously cancelled at linear network NBC. To date all announced content is scripted.

Viacom’s BET+ has less than five originals to its name to date, and so will also rely on its existing catalog rather than original content. Another similarity with NBC is that all announced content is scripted.

“Disney+ is focused particularly on family content, with nothing higher than a 13-years age rating, with more-mature content left to the bundle-able platforms Hulu and ESPN+,” analyst Fred Black said in a statement.

“Mobile-only short-form strategy is designed to target teenagers and young adults in the 16-40 years age bracket, while BET+ will be hoping to target the same African American audience as the successful linear equivalent. WarnerMedia, having decided to use the HBO brand name, will similarly be aiming to convert some of that linear audience to streaming subscribers.”

The research firm says three of the six new services have announced unscripted content. Disney+ and Apple TV+ have a strong focus on documentaries. Disney+ has named National Geographic a core brand and has also announced science history series, “The World According to Jeff Goldblum.”

Apple TV+ documentaries include dinosaur-themed “Prehistoric Planet.” In contrast, Quibi’s unscripted slate includes 10 reality titles, including motoring challenge show, “Elba vs. Block.” The player is the only new service to offer daily news and current affairs via partnerships with NBC and BBC.

Ampere’s analysis of upcoming originals found that 66% of content originates from its existing source material, such as movie brands and literary adaptions, which is more than any of the other three studio-backed services.

About 47% of Apple TV+ and 43% of HBO Max’s commissions are original concepts. Both players have turned to literary adaptions to build prestige, scripted content.

For instance, at Apple TV+ there’s Stephen King’s “Lisey’s Story,” and at HBO Max, there’s Alissa Nutting’s sci-fi drama “Made for Love.” In complete contrast, only 2c4% of Quibi’s commissioning is originals based on source material. They include four literary adaptations and three movie remakes, among them “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” NBC has yet to commission any original concepts.

More than 27% of scripted commissions across the six new services are sci-fi and fantasy, followed by crime & thrillers at 21%.

These genres have proved particularly successful for Netflix and Amazon, so it’s not surprising these new competitors have prioritized the genres, says Ampere.

HBO Max has Gremlins spin-off “Secrets of the Mogwai,” while Apple is combining sci-fi and crime with drama. For Disney+, children and family content will dominate alongside sci-fi and fantasy.

Disney+ originals are being used to drive early subscriber growth, leveraging well-known brands such as Marvel superhero titles “Loki” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and “Toy Story” spin-off “Lamp Life.”

Meanwhile, 43% of HBO Max titles feature a female lead. HBO Max is the only platform where female-led content is the most prominent category.

Disney+’s focus on spin-offs and reboots from older titles has left it with a more male-centric set of commissions, with 39% of titles with lead characters featuring a male lead.

Mixed gender group casts are however common at Disney+ (23%), as well among Apple TV+ (29%) and HBO Max (33%) commissions.

This compares to Quibi, where titles with protagonist groups account for only 4% of commissions. With episodes roughly 10 minutes long, titles by necessity tend to focus more on a specific male or female protagonist.

“Across the six platforms the two most popular genres for commissioners have been sci-fi and fantasy and crime and thrillers, showing a willingness from the new players to take on Amazon and Netflix’s original content head-to-head,” Black said.

Research: SVOD Outstrips Pay-TV in Australia and New Zealand

Subscription TV homes in Australia and New Zealand have already reached the inflection point where SVOD outstrips pay-TV, according to new research from Ampere Analysis.

Australia reached this milestone in 2017, and New Zealand in 2018.

SVOD has also surpassed pay-TV elsewhere in Asia-Pacific, including Thailand and Singapore — with Malaysia on the brink of achieving the turning point.

The only Western European markets that come close in terms of SVOD outstripping pay TV homes are Denmark, Norway and the United Kingdom.

Just 7.1% of streaming households view only broadcast VOD (BVOD) in Australia, compared with 14% in the United Kingdom. Almost one half (47.6%) of Australia households view SVOD without using BVOD services, much higher than the U.K.’s 21%. The difference is also stark when it comes to combining SVOD with BVOD: Australia’s 22.6% is just under half of the U.K.’s 50.5% of the audience. This suggests there is plenty of opportunity for Australian broadcasters to improve their content offering to appeal to streaming households looking to curate their entertainment selection, according to Ampere.

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“Australia is a hugely advanced market for streaming services and provides an interesting test case for the transition from traditional forms of paid TV distribution to the new,” said Guy Bisson of Ampere Analysis. “It’s no surprise that Disney has chosen Australia and New Zealand as two of the first four international markets for its direct-to-consumer streaming launches. If they are to stop Netflix dominating, local broadcasters need to evolve their own streaming platforms in order to maintain market and competitive position, leveraging strengths around local production and potentially co-operating on joint services and aggregation and navigation as well as exploring hybrid (mixed subscription/advertising) streaming business models.”

Analyst: Apple Expected to Top Netflix in Original Content Spend

With Apple rolling out its upgraded Apple TV+ in November, the cash-rich tech giant is reportedly set to beginning spending big dollars on original content.

New data from Ampere Analysis contends Apple will spend more than $6 billion on original content for its new subscription streaming video service — six times what it has spent in previous years, according to The Financial Times.

Apple has announced 36 original titles for the new service, an uptick in content spending that ranks it among Disney/Fox, NBC Universal/Comcast/Sky and Viacom/CBS.

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Notably, Apple’s burgeoning spending is expected to top Netflix’s $2.4 billion original content spend in 2019, according to Ampere.

“Apple’s significant increase in content expenditure highlights its commitment to the streaming video space, and its willingness to go head-to-head with the industry’s biggest spenders,” analyst Daniel Gadher wrote in a note.

Gadher believes Apple’s content spending underscore’s the company’s strategy to emulate Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu’s programming platforms.

With Disney+, HBO Max, NBC Universal’s unnamed service, and Jeffrey Katzenberg-led Quibi all entering the market, Gadher contends “high value” exclusive content will become key.

Disney has said it would spend about $1 billion on Disney+ original content, increasing to $2.5 billion by 2022. It has announced 43 original titles for the service.

Ampere expects Disney will spend $5 billion on original Disney programming plus the additional original spend from its acquired Fox assets.

Quibi, the mobile-only streaming platform concentrating on short-form video has committed $1.1 billion in original content in its first year. It has commissioned 44 new titles.

“The ability of the platforms to produce quality and differentiated content will be integral to success in a market where Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are already entrenched,” Gadher wrote.

Ampere: U.S. Subscription Streaming Video Growth Resumes

Netflix subscriber growth in the United States may be slowing, but the domestic market for subscription streaming video is poised for expansion, according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

The London-based research group said growth in SVOD subscriptions in the U.S. resumed after peaking from Q3 2016 and Q1 2018.

Much of that renewed growth has come from Hulu topping 25 million subscribers earlier this year, in addition to pending service launches from Disney, Apple, WarnerMedia and NBC Universal.

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Although the proportion of Internet users in Europe who have a SVOD subscription is lower than in the U.S., there continues to be healthy sub growth across the Atlantic.

“The growth in SVOD subscribers in both regions will come as welcome news, particularly to those looking to enter the market this year such as Disney and Apple as it shows there is still room for growth and the opportunity to take a share of the revenue,” Minal Modha, consumer research lead at Ampere, said in a statement.

Indeed, about 80% of Internet users in Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have at least one SVOD subscription. Japan and France are the only countries where fewer than 50% have a subscription.

Subscriptions are being driven by younger demographics, with those under 35 over-indexing in each market except Saudi Arabia where it is driven by those aged 45 years and over.

All but two markets analyzed enjoyed subscriber growth between Q3 2018 and Q1 2019, with Saudi Arabia (+8.1%), Australia (+6.8%) and Denmark (+6.3%) spearheading expansion.

The Netherlands and Japan are the only markets where subscriber growth has stagnated since Q3 2018.

Ampere: Netflix Expediting Comedy, Concert Releases

Seeking to get a jump on competitors in select genres, nearly 20% of Netflix original stand-up comedies and music concerts are released on the streaming service within two months of production, according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

This release strategy contrasts sharply with slow-burn release strategy for scripted dramas, which have an average production period of 13 months from announcement to release.

The report found that 39% of Netflix docs and 64% of reality series were released less than two months after they were first announced.

Children and family content had the longest production period, whether created by Netflix and a single producer, or as a co-production.

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Crime, thriller, sci-fi and fantasy productions each took a year to produce, with 25% of crime content released from 13-15 months after announcement.

“Netflix co-productions have a longer average creation time, taking an additional 2.8 months to craft compared to sole Netflix commissioned shows,” Fred Black, analyst and author of the report, said in a statement. “The shortest co-production was announced 109 days before release — by this point, 39 solo Netflix productions had already been released. Drama, documentary, sci-fi and fantasy are the most co-produced genres.”

Ampere found 36% of unscripted Netflix originals were released less than two months after announcement – versus just 7% of scripted titles.

By comparison, over 90% of productions taking 14+ months to release are scripted. Over half of Netflix scripted originals (52%) have taken longer than a year between announcement and release, compared to just 7% of unscripted titles.

Almost all (95%) of the slowest 19 releases were scripted (release after at least 600 days).

At more than two years in production, “Our Planet,” Netflix’s high-budget, David Attenborough-narrated natural history documentary, stands out as an anomaly in the unscripted space. “Magic for Humans” also had a long production period. Italian stand-up special from Edoardo de Carlo took two weeks, while Ellen Degeneres’ special, “Relatable,” was in production for 19 months.

“With competition heating up in the SVOD arena, Netflix is using its ‘surprise drop’ strategy to foil competitors and delay them from copy-catting new content formats,” Black said. “But this is not a simple approach, there are huge variations in the time content takes from announcement to release, based on genre, whether it’s scripted or not and if it’s a sole or co-production.”

Ampere: It’s Still a YouTube/Netflix Video World

Google-owned YouTube and Netflix remain the top sources for online video and subscription VOD, according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

The London-based research firm found that 63% of survey respondents streamed a video on YouTube in the past month, followed by 39% doing the same on Netflix and 27% on Facebook.

The survey is based on 41,000 online respondents across 20 markets conducted in the first quarter (ended March 31).

Ampere found YouTube ranked the No. 1 source for online video consumption in every region worldwide except the United Kingdom (BBC iPlayer) and China (iQiYi).

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Indeed, more than 60% of respondents in France and Japan watched YouTube, while less than 50% of respondents in the U.K. did so.

As expected, SVOD consumption is highest in the United States – birthplace to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

Notably, American tech platform – Facebook – continues to lose video views – down 5% to 23% of respondents since the third quarter of 2016. YouTube fell 4% to 66%, while Netflix increased 15% to 37% of respondents.

“YouTube’s global dominance in this space is evident in its monthly usage,” Minal Modha, consumer research lead at Ampere, said in a statement. “The differences in viewing between the U.S. and Europe in relation to catch-up and SVOD services is interesting because it shows that SVOD providers will have to work harder in Europe to grow their [market] share as they take on traditional TV channels’ catch-up services. This could be through their catalogue, price-points or communications strategy.”

 

Study Suggests Legitimate Streaming Is Curbing Piracy

Could the growth of legal streaming be cutting down on consumer piracy?

That’s what is suggested by consumer research by Ampere Analysis, which revealed a steady fall in the proportion of consumers who say that they regularly use pirate sites and services to watch online video.

In the three-year period between the first quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2019, there were particularly sharp declines in video piracy in Spain, the United States, the Netherlands and France, according to the study.

Spain, traditionally a very high piracy market, saw a 47% increase in claimed SVOD and catch-up viewing in the three-year period, and almost the same (45%) decrease in the proportion of internet uses regularly turning to pirate services, according to the study.

Just having access to on-demand services isn’t enough, according to Ampere; consumers must actually use the services for their usage of piracy sites to be impacted. The content on SVOD and catch-up services needs to be appealing for the audience, according to the study.

“On average, in markets where either catch-up or SVOD online video viewing has risen the most, piracy has experienced the biggest drop,” said Richard Broughton, director at Ampere Analysis, in a statement. “With the growth in all-you-can-eat legal services, users no longer need to turn to illegitimate sources to get their viewing fix.”

He cautioned, however, that legitimate OTT providers must keep attracting eyeballs.

“The on-demand market is moving into a period of ‘siloisation,’ where producer and distributor brands go direct to the consumer, at the same time restricting the amount of content they license to third party services,” he said in a statement. “If the mainstream OTT players have less of the content users want to watch, when they want to watch it, there’s a genuine risk that usage of these SVOD and catch-up services could begin to slump, something the pirate operators will be quick to capitalize on.”

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French Broadcasters Up Content Production to Combat Netflix, Amazon Prime Video

After a slow start, Netflix France has topped five million subscribers despite alienating exhibitors ignoring local theatrical windows for original movies.

To combat Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and over-the-top video distribution in general, French broadcasters are increasing their investment in local original productions.

Last year, the country’s top broadcasters — France Télévisions, Canal+, TF1, M6 and Orange — spent €5.4 billion ($6.1 billion) on content, with over 40% of that spending dedicated to original programming, according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

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At the end of May, 106 new local shows were in development or production, while Netflix is currently producing 15 new TV shows for the French market.

“French consumers are adopting digital TV subscriptions quickly, and the local broadcasters know they must respond fast if they are to protect their revenues in a changing media landscape,” analyst Léa Cunat said in a statement.

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While increased competition from OTT services has French broadcasters on the defensive, proactively engaging in content production in the face of waning advertising revenue and budget cuts has some operators rethinking their business models.

As a result, licensing third-party content has given way to original productions. This strategy offers two significant benefits, according to Ampere: monetizable IP portfolios and a diversified revenue stream.

Pay TV group Canal+ launched a new SVOD service in March – Canal+ Séries – dedicated to a younger audience, supported by shows such as “Mouche,” a reboot of the BBC’s “Fleabag”.

TF1 just announced plans to further enhance its TVOD platform, MyTF1, with new advertising inventory and new exclusive content.

France Télévisions is focusing on international partnerships with other broadcasting groups to help support its local content investments.

Orange created a new division – Orange Content – merging pay-TV operations with the film division to produce original episodic programming. Literary adaptation The Name of the Rose was the first  original show to air, broadcast in March.

Ampere says SVOD represented only 3% of France’s €14 billion ($15.8 billion) audiovisual market in 2018.

France’s OTT market lags a number of its peers – including Scandinavia, the U.K. and the U.S. – but digital subscriptions are growing rapidly.

To tap into this growth broadcasters France Télévisions, TF1 and M6 announced the creation of Salto, a new SVOD platform set to launch later this year.

Offered alongside their free channels, Salto will provide TV shows and exclusive content with an emphasis on French and European productions.

Through this new service, the broadcasters aim to generate revenue from subscriptions and maintain control over content rights following their initial broadcast window.

For instance, France Télévisions has said it will cease licensing the French digital rights of “Call My Agent!” to Netflix and has signed an exclusivity time period on digital rights for the shows it co-produces or commissions.

“With increasing competition from international behemoths Netflix and Prime Video, there’s no shortage of tactics and strategies being employed to stay in the game,” Cunat said. “It’s a fascinating market to watch as it transforms.” 

Indeed, French broadcasters are looking abroad to grow key markets, including Africa where Canal+ has more than 4 million subscribers across 25 countries. This market has a rapidly expanding middle class with growing disposable income, which makes it particularly appealing.

Once again, the broadcasters have taken different approaches to international expansion.

Canal+’s production arm StudioCanal launched a new TV production unit in February 2018, dedicated to creating premium original content for an international audience.

Canal+ also produces content dedicated to its foreign local markets: “Invisibles” was released in October 2018, the broadcaster’s first African original series, a market the broadcaster has earmarked for growth.

The pay-TV operator also collaborates at an international level and has worked on the U.S. remake of its original “Calls” with Apple TV+ and “Safe” with Netflix via a U.K.-based subsidiary.

TF1 is increasing its investment in European creation via Newen, a global production company it acquired in 2015. It has also bought stakes in European production houses in Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark. Shows created by these companies include “Versailles,” “Ares” and “The Bridge”.

France Télévisions partnered with Italian broadcaster RAI and German broadcaster ZDF to fund and produce TV series for domestic and international audiences. Projects announced thus far include “Leonardo” and “Around the World in Eighty Days”.

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Report: 22% of U.S. Households Likely to Subscribe to Disney+ Streaming Service

The Walt Disney Co.’s upcoming subscription streaming service Disney+ will reportedly attract 22% of U.S. households when it launches in November, according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

The London research firm, which cited data based on a survey of 1,003 Internet users in the U.S., said 27% of respondents are familiar with Disney+ streaming service, despite minimal promotional activity to date. 

There is greater awareness among the two audiences Ampere has identified as key for the Disney SVOD: 45% of 18 to 24-year olds and 36% of households with children were aware of Disney’s plan to launch a new streaming service.

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The report found that nearly two thirds of these people fall into two distinct audiences – those in the 18 to 24-year old bracket, and households with children – with minimal crossover between them.

“There’s no question of a strong appetite for the Disney+ service – particularly amongst two distinct target audiences: households with children and 18 to 24-year olds,” Minal Mocha, consumer research lead at Ampere, said in a statement. “Away from this core group, there’s also a clear opportunity to broaden the content offering and attract a new audience by leveraging the Fox movie catalogue with titles such as Bohemian Rhapsody and The Post to reach an older audience.”

Ampere found that Marvel, Disney’s catalog of animated films, and Pixar titles were perceived as the most valuable content to gain access to via Disney+. Programmes available via broadcast or basic cable channels, such as the Simpsons and National Geographic were considered less crucial.

Marvel was ranked as the most important content to have as part of Disney+ for those 18 to 24.

The 25 to 34-year age group have the most affinity with Disney’s animated films. This age group not only is significantly more likely to have children in their household, but also to have built an emotional connection with these films in childhood.

Those aged 35+ are more likely to value Star Wars compared to younger audiences where it underperforms. The franchise will be key to attracting older audiences to the service – these groups of consumers may be less influenced by Disney’s animated titles, and by the Marvel franchise.