Pluto TV Lands on Roku Platform in Latin America

ViacomCBS’ ad-supported VOD platform, Pluto TV, has inked a distribution deal with Roku for the streaming video device manufacturer’s platform in Latin America.

The agreement is aimed at expanding access to Pluto TV’s planned 70 channels featuring curated Spanish-language content in 17 Latin American countries. Pluto TV, which ViacomCBS acquired in 2019 for $340 million, has more than 33 million users internationally (including the U.S., Europe and Latin America).

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The deal sees Pluto TV available on The Roku Channel Store in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru.

“The arrival of Pluto TV to Roku…will allow our users to have an excellent experience of streaming content on a bigger screen, easily, comfortably and without restrictions,” Marco Nobili, SVP of emerging business and strategy at Pluto TV, said in a statement. “We believe Pluto TV is a great complement to all of our distribution partners who can offer free fan-favorite content to their subscribers and users on the same platform that they consume content.”

Yulia Poltorak, director of international content distribution at Roku, said the deal expands upon The Roku Channel’s ad-supported free content outside the U.S., which includes content from film studios, TV channels and production companies from around the world.

“Now more than ever, our users are asking for [more] free content,” Poltorak said.

Nielsen: 25% of U.S. Homes Stream Video on the TV

Jumpstarted by a global pandemic, more Americans are streaming video in the home on their television than ever. New data from Nielsen found that 25% of consumers’ collective time is spent with over-the-top video services — including among people 55 years and older.

According to data from Nielsen’s Streaming Meter, a subset of over 1,100 streaming capable homes from the National TV panel, as of the second quarter 2020, streaming comprised 25% of all television minutes viewed, with Netflix being the largest contributor to streaming share at 34%, followed by YouTube (not YouTube TV) at 20%. Disney+, which only launched last November, now accounts for over 4% of total streaming time — underscoring the strength of the Disney brand.

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And despite a full menu of SVOD and AVOD services available to consumers, and available either free (ad-supported) or month-to-month without annual long-term contracts, Nielsen found that consumers aren’t just spending more time streaming video; they’re also willing to spend more to stream video. According to the survey, only 2% of adults said they are reducing the number of paid services they subscribe to, while 25% have added a service in the past three months. Hispanics have adopted new OTT video services even more aggressively at 40%.

“With the number of new streaming entities coming to market and the demand for both original and legacy content growing by the day, how the streaming market evolves in the coming months and years should be not just top of mind for content creators,” Nielsen wrote. “Additionally, these trends should be top of mind for media owners seeking to license programming, as well as marketers and brands, who might have additional opportunities for connecting products and services with engaged consumers via in-content brand placements.”

Samsung: More TV Owners Stream Video Than Watch Linear Programming

Samsung, the largest manufacturer of Internet-connected televisions, or smart TVs, in the United States (ahead of LG Electronics), says consumers in the United Kingdom accessing over-the-top video on its TVs now exceeds consumers accessing linear programming.

The data from Samsung Ads Europe from January through June mirrors TV consumption habits of 50 million Samsung smart TVs in the United States the South Korean manufacturer disclosed in June. Specifically, Samsung found a 59% increase (or 38 minutes daily) in OTT video consumption across the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. About 72% of survey respondents said they stream and watch pay-TV.

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“Streaming is no longer just an emerging behavior, but rather a central viewership method,” Alex Hole, VP of Samsung Ads Europe, said in a statement. “As such, advertisers need to adjust strategies to reach all TV viewers as they consume a wider selection of content from both linear and OTT sources.”

Hole said consumption of linear TV continues, but advertisers should consider avoiding “over-exposure” to this viewer at the expense of OTT video consumption.

Samsung has a vested interest in streaming video. It launched a few years ago an ad-supported VOD platform dubbed “Samsung TV Plus,” featuring 135 channels across various news, sports and entertainment genres.

Indeed, Samsung said it saw the largest spike in ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) consumption among consumers in the U.K., up more than 30%, or about 1 hour and 39 minutes per day. SVOD use increased 26%, while on-demand broadcast content increased 9% and TVOD remained flat.

“A media plan that understands the importance of targeted advertising across the connected TV environment is pivotal for advertisers looking to reach consumers across all their viewership habits,” Hole said. “This is heightened as households move seamlessly from linear to VOD services.”

NBCUniversal’s Peacock Streaming Service Now Available on Roku

As expected, Peacock and Roku Sept. 21 officially announced that the Peacock streaming video app is now available nationwide on the Roku platform, reaching households with an estimated 100 million people. The agreement followed months of negotiations that saw NBCUniversal’s SVOD service enter the market without distribution on Roku and Amazon Fire TV — both considered must-have distribution channels in the over-the-top video ecosystem.

Comcast chairman/CEO Brian Roberts last week disclosed that Peacock, which is available for $4.99 per month with ads; $9.99 without, had attracted 15 million subscribers without Roku distribution since launching nationwide in July.

In addition to a SVOD option offering subscribers access to more than 20,000 hours of on-demand movies and shows, as well as live news and sports programming, Peacock offers a free, ad-supported option featuring more than 13,000 hours of current, classic, and original movies and shows, as well as live and on-demand content across news, sports, reality, late-night, and Spanish-language.

“Roku customers are engaged streamers and we know they’ll love access to a wide range of free and paid content,” Maggie McLean Suniewick, president, business development and partnerships, Peacock, said in a statement.

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“Audience demand for compelling content is fueling a surging shift to streaming for a majority of American households today,” said Tedd Cittadine, VP of content acquisition, Roku. “We’re focused on delivering the kind of high-quality news and entertainment content Roku users want and love…and help NBCUniversal build a bigger fan base.”

In addition to current season programming from NBC and Telemundo, Peacock have access to live sports like upcoming coverage of the Premier League; hundreds of blockbuster movies like Trolls World Tour, 3:10 to Yuma, and Beetlejuice; iconic shows, including comedies Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, 30 RockSaturday Night Live, The King of Queens, Everybody Loves RaymondTwo and a Half Men, FrasierGeorge Lopez, and Cheers; dramas Law & Order: SVU, Downton Abbey, Yellowstone, Friday Night Lights, House, Battlestar Galactica, Psych, Parenthood, Monk, and Heroes; kids programming, including Curious George, Where’s Waldo?, and Cleopatra in Space; reality hits, including the Real Housewives franchise, Top Chef, and Below Deck; and Peacock Original series, including dramas Brave New World, Noughts + Crosses, The Capture, and Departure; comedies Five Bedrooms, Intelligence, and A.P. Bio;  documentaries, including Black Boys, The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show, and A Most Beautiful Thing; and late-night shows, including Wilmore with Larry Wilmore and The Amber Ruffin Show.

In addition to the Roku platform, Peacock is currently available on Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD; Google platforms and devices, including Android TV devices, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices; Microsoft’s Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One S and Xbox One X; and VIZIO SmartCast TVs, Sony PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro, and LG Smart TVs. Comcast’s eligible Xfinity X1 and Flex customers, as well as eligible Cox Contour customers, enjoy Peacock Premium as part of their subscription at no additional cost.

Redbox Free Live TV Lands ‘Bob Ross’ Painting Channel

Redbox has added “The Bob Ross Channel,” about the joy of art painting, on its ad-supported VOD platform, Redbox Free Live TV. The kiosk disc rental giant secured the channel in a distribution deal with Cinedigm, whose streaming channels, Comedy Dynamics, CONtv, Docurama and Dove Channel are also available on Redbox’s AVOD platform.

Redbox Free Live TV also offers users curated content including a wide-range of catalog movies and television shows.

“Bob Ross left an incredible legacy as an artist and was an inspiration for millions of people around the world,” Laura Florence, director of content partnerships for Redbox, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to add the channel to our service and continue delighting fans and giving voice to Bob Ross for a new generation to discover him.”

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The Bob Ross Channel showcases moments and paintings from Ross’ long-running public television series, featuring approximately 380 classic episodes. As part of Cinedigm’s agreement with Bob Ross Inc., Cinedigm has produced and distributed special messages of support for public television on the channel, as well as spots highlighting official Bob Ross painting products, and Bob Ross Certified Instructors.

Redbox Free Live TV is available within the Redbox app for the Roku platform, iPhone, Apple TV, Android-enabled devices, Vizio SmartCast TVs and LG Smart TVs.

Tubi Says Monthly AVOD Consumption Up 104%; Launches Spanish-Language Platform

Tubi, a division of Fox Entertainment, Sept. 16 announced a record 33 million monthly users in August, up 65% from the previous-year period. Since April and coronavirus pandemic, Tubi has averaged 200 million hours per month — an average monthly increase of 104% year-over-year.

Internationally, Tubi saw record increases in all countries where it operates. Year-over-year viewership rose 95% in Canada, and 242% in Australia. The company launched operations in Mexico this past June and has seen 900% growth.

“Tubi’s surge in viewership is a testament to 2020 becoming the year of AVOD,” CEO Farhad Massoudi said in a statement. “As we further grow our offering and capitalize on our partnership across Fox’s IP, we continue to develop a unique value proposition for many of today’s households seeking cost-free premium entertainment.”

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Separately, the service announced the launch of Tubi en Español, a dedicated Spanish-language destination within the Tubi app, on Roku devices in the U.S. Presented by Metro by T-Mobile and offering more than 1,000 titles and more than 3,000 hours of content, Tubi en Español features titles such as Biutiful, El Callejón De Los Milagros, El Violín, Ma Ma, Juana La Virgen, MasterChef Colombia, and MasterChef México. Tubi en Español complements Tubi’s overall library of more than 23,000 catalog movies and television shows.

Cyber Group Studios Lands Kidvid Distribution Deal with Kidoodle.TV, Giant Pictures

Cyber Group Studios on Sept. 11 announced it has secured distribution deals with Kidoodle.TV and Giant Pictures for multiple series for kids.

Kidoodle.TV, a global AVOD service targeting children under 12 and their families, will increase its content offering in the United States by securing a number of series from Cyber Group Studios. Several of Cyber Group Studios’ popular series that are based on books, such as “The Pirates Next Door” and “Mirette Investigates,” will be new additions to Kidoodle.TV’s content library.

Giant Pictures, a digital distribution firm focused on independent content, will distribute 10 series across various AVOD platforms in the United States. Series include “Leo the Wildlife Ranger” for preschoolers and “Mini Ninjas,” based on the video game of the same name, for older kids.

“Giant is in an ideal position to support the digital streaming industry’s increasing demand for children’s content with our streamlined global distribution capabilities,” said Nick Savva, head of Giant Pictures. “We are thrilled to be in business with Cyber Group Studios as Giant continues to rapidly expand and diversify our digital services with exciting new distribution relationships.”

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Cyber Group Studios is a leading producer and distributor of animated series and a developer of global entertainment brands for children and families worldwide. Founded in 2005 and employing around 150 people, the company has set its headquarters in Paris, two production studios in Paris and Roubaix (France), an office in Los Angeles and strategic partnerships in Russia and China. The company says its mission is to produce safe and entertaining content for children around the world.

Kidoodle.TV is a family-focused AVOD streaming channel committed to ensuring children have a safe alternative to stream their favorite TV shows and movies. Available in over 140 countries, on thousands of connected devices, Kidoodle.TV is available on iOS, Android, Apple TV, Fire TV, LG, Samsung, Chromecast, Roku, Amazon, Connected TVs, HTML5 Web, and many other streaming media devices.

Giant Pictures is a subsidiary of Giant Interactive, an award-winning digital media and technology services company based in New York City and Los Angeles. For 15 years Giant has provided leading Hollywood studios and entertainment companies with delivery solutions for OTT, digital platforms, discs and streaming. With 40+ direct accounts as a digital aggregator, Giant distributes movies, documentaries and TV content to VOD and OTT platforms in North America and worldwide.

Tubi: 25% of SVOD Subs Have Dropped Service for AVOD

Tubi, Fox Corp.’s ad-supported VOD service, Sept. 10 released new data underscoring what it claims is a rise in popularity of so-called “free streaming” or ad-supported video-on-demand services.

Citing data from research firm OnePoll, Tubi said 25% of survey respondents have dropped a SVOD streaming service in favor of AVOD in the past few months. In addition, 37% surveyed said they would try a new streaming service with ads to discover new content. The OnePoll online survey polled 2,000 people nationwide from Aug. 7 to 12, 2020.

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San Francisco-based Tubi, which Fox acquired earlier this year for $440 million, said the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has caused financial difficulties resulting in 33% of respondents reevaluating their subscription streaming services. To save money, 25% started a free trial and canceled it before paying the subscription fee, with the average person who employs this tactic doing so three times.

Meanwhile, 17% have shared passwords with others in order to gain access to streamers they don’t subscribe to, with 38% of respondents 18-24 and 31% of 25-34 participating in password swaps.

The survey also showed that streaming has continued to boom with social distancing practices still in place, with over half of respondents (52%) stating that they streamed more than they would in a typical summer due to stay-at-home restrictions with COVID-19. Over the past two months alone, the average person has binged four shows and watched 20 movies.

Respondents ages 25 to 34 increased their streaming the most this summer, with the average person watching an additional four hours of content a day on top of what they were watching at the start of quarantine in March or April.

Streaming has also continued to be a resource for parents with children at home, as two in five parents — nearly half — estimate that their child is streaming more now than when the pandemic started. With many activities canceled this summer because of the pandemic, a third of parents were dependent on streamers to keep their child busy. At the same time, over half (55%) think that TV has become an educational tool to keep their child learning when school is not open.

In addition, 39% of respondents are struggling to find new content on streamers, leading 35% to try a new streaming service to find different content.

Facebook Watch Claims 1.25 Billion Monthly Views Worldwide

Facebook Watch, the social media giant’s video-on-demand platform, has topped 1.25 billion monthly views globally, according to a blog post by Louise Holmes, director of entertainment partnerships for EMEA at Facebook. That’s a significant bump from June 2019 when Facebook reported that 140 million people per day spent at least one minute on the Watch platform, and 720 million viewers per month. Facebook claims more than 1.86 billion active monthly users.

Launched on Aug. 9, 2017, Facebook Watch affords content creators with a distribution channels allowing them to keep 55% of advertising revenue on original content (Facebook keeps 45%). 

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Facebook cited viewership gains in France and Germany, including 77 million viewers for reality show “France’s Got Talent,” in addition to “Top Chef” and  “Les Marseillais,” among others. In Germany, Facebook’s partnership with ProSiebenSat.1 resulted in the broadcaster more than doubling its one-minute video views, while organically acquiring 2.5 million new follows across their show pages such as “The Voice of Germany” and “Galileo.”

“Over the past two years, we’ve seen a diverse range of partners eagerly embrace Watch — from established and emerging global creators engaging with fans, to publishers finding new audiences by distributing timely videos spanning news, sports and entertainment,” Holmes wrote on the post. “These partners have successfully engaged Facebook’s audience … to speak to their communities, surface new, innovative content, and build digital revenue streams that are complementary to their business models — through [advertising and subscriptions].”

Reports: AVOD Revenue to Grow 25% in 2020

Subscription streaming video’s counterpart, advertising-supported VOD, continues to gain traction among consumers — and advertisers. New data from eMarketer suggests AVOD revenue will grow more than 25% this year compared to 2019.

The AVOD market, which is spearheaded by The Roku Channel, Disney-owned Hulu, NBCUniversal’s Peacock, Redbox TV, Amazon’s IMDb TV, ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV and Fox Corp.’s Tubi, among others, saw ad revenue skyrocket 31% to $849 million in the most-recent quarter, according to MoffettNathanson Research.

“AVOD advertising benefitted from heightened usage and a mix shift in advertising budgets to OTT platforms, growing sizably in the quarter,” senior analyst Michael Nathanson wrote in a note.

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Speaking Aug. 20 on the DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group Mid-Year 2020 Digital Media Entertainment Report webcast, Nathanson called AVOD the underreported streaming video story.

“That 28% of streaming minutes is where we think the streaming wars are actually happening,” Nathanson said.

With many of the AVOD players owned by major media companies, much of the ad growth would appear to be due to shifting third-party ad dollars from linear TV to connected televisions.

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But with four of the five AVOD platforms owned by major media conglomerates, some of this growth is likely coming from reallocated TV spend. eMarketer contends the 31% rise in AVOD revenue among the top platforms compares with an estimated 28% decline in national broadcast and cable TV ad spending in Q2, according to Nathanson.

Eric Haggstrom, forecasting analyst at Insider Intelligence at eMarketer, believes that while marketers warm to AVOD, much of the revenue revolves around media giants pushing advertisers to proprietary streaming platforms.

“Some advertisers who bought ads in the upfronts are shifting money within the same media company to streaming services,” Haggstrom said.

Indeed, Tubi earlier this year added all episodes of Fox’s “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back,” in addition to 300 hours of separate Ramsay content, which includes “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Kitchen Nightmares” and “The F Word.” Tubi also added Fox’s music competition show “The Masked Singer.”

“Making this show available on Tubi alongside Gordon’s other series, will only grow his footprint while also further promoting his programs on Fox,” said Rob Wade, president of alternative entertainment and specials at Fox Entertainment.