Report: Ad-Supported Streaming Market Share Surged, SVOD Declined in the First Half of 2021

The rise in AVOD and free ad-supported streaming TV use among consumers continued to attract viewers, marketers and generate commercials in the first half of 2021.

New data from FreeWheel found that streaming services accounted for 45% of all ad views through June 30, overtaking TV Everywhere — pay-TV’s longstanding attempt to combat over-the-top video with ad-supported on-demand viewing for subscribers.

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Connected TV accounted for 60% of total ad views with Roku and Fire TV devices continuing to lead market share with 43% and 26% of CTV views, respectively. Entertainment programming led the premium video ecosystem, with 92% of ad views, according to the report.

FreeWheel found that similarly to linear TV, digital platforms offer diverse content appealing to a broader consumer base, with 51% of ad views driven by live TV, with on-demand content at 37%.

Live content feeds are the cornerstone of the FAST business model and have become popular with consumers since they are free, have myriad channels selections, and limited commercials. According to a recent consumer survey, 20% of respondents said they would be interested in using free streaming platforms to replace their SVOD services.

Indeed, SVOD pioneers Netflix and Hulu each saw their domestic market share decline in the second quarter, ended June 30. Market leader Netflix’s share fell from 37% to 29%, while Hulu dropped to 19% from 22%. Disney+, HBO Max, and Paramount+ saw market share increases to 17% (from 16%), 11% (from 8%), and 8% (from 6%), respectively.

“New technology, political tensions and a global pandemic in 2020 transformed and accelerated how people access, consume and respond to media and advertising and we’ve seen this evolution continue into the first half of 2021,” read the report. “Advertisers, marketers and their content, distribution and technology partners can expect the change that was spurred in 2020 and is persisting into 2021 to continue, if not accelerate.”

FreeWheel said changing consumer viewing and buying behavior will push the continued evolution of data capability, accuracy and availability.

“The industry is at the beginning of a long-term, data-driven evolution of how advertising and marketing are done,” read the report. “Keeping up in the industry will require a focus on the data that provides insight into viewer behavior and what impacts it, and enables the reach, targeting and reporting that marketers crave.”

Data: FAST Revenue to Reach 216 Monthly Users, $4.1 Billion in Revenue by 2023

The rise in AVOD and free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) platforms and viewers suggests consumers don’t mind watching commercials to stream free content.

New data from nScreenMedia — sponsored by Verizon Media — contends the domestic FAST industry will drive ad revenue earned by online channels from $2.1 billion this year to $4.1 billion in 2023, including generating 216 million monthly active users.

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FAST platforms include Pluto TV, Tubi, IMDb TV, Peacock, HBO Max, The Roku Channel, Xumo, Crackle, Redbox Live TV and Shout! TV, among others.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based nScreenMedia’s white paper reports that FAST content features from 13-14 minutes of commercials per hour, with ad breaks occurring every 6-to-9 minutes, with 3-to-6 ads per break. FAST viewers report spending as much as 20 minutes per day with the aforementioned services.

“There was a time when many forecast the death of linear TV viewing,” Colin Dixon, Chief Analyst at nScreenMedia, said in a statement. “However, it is now clear that the format continues to deliver value to viewers. The FAST market has just begun a long period of rapid expansion.”

The data would seem to support the investment in the FAST market made by video platform providers such as Verizon Media, whose brands include Yahoo, TechCrunch, AOL and Engadget, among others.

“At Verizon Media, we’ve witnessed the evolution of OTT and the rapid adoption of FAST platforms as our customers look to increase their audience reach and provide greater pricing flexibility to consumers,” said Ariff Sidi, GM and chief product officer of Verizon Media Platform. “We are encouraged by [the] market validation as we continue to deliver … for both subscription and ad-supported video consumption.”

FilmRise Acquires Domestic AVOD Rights to British Series ‘Line of Duty’

Seeking to up its profile of British-centric programming, FilmRise Aug. 25 announced the acquisition of U.S. AVOD distribution rights to 23 episodes of the BBC popular drama series “Line of Duty.” The program follows the investigations of AC-12, a controversial police anti-corruption unit.

The series follows Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (Martin Compston), a former authorized firearms officer who was transferred to Anti-Corruption Unit 12 (AC-12), a unit tasked with uncovering police corruption. Arnott is partnered with Detective Constable Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure), a highly commended undercover officer with a keen investigative instinct. They work under the supervision of Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrien Dunbar). Throughout the series, AC-12 investigates seemingly disparate cases involving allegedly corrupt police officers, with each season focusing on a different corrupt officer.

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“Line of Duty,” garnered 4.1 million viewers collectively when it originally aired in 2012, becoming the best-performing drama series in 10 years on BBC Two. The series won the Royal Television Society Award for Best Drama Series, an Edgar Allen Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America and has been nominated for a number of BAFTA TV Awards. Due to its success, “Line of Duty” began airing on BBC One in 2017, where it launched its fourth season.

The deal was negotiated by CEO Danny Fisher; Max Einhorn, SVP of acquisitions and co-productions; and Berry Meyerowitz, president of Quiver Entertainment.

“This award-winning and critically acclaimed series is a wonderful addition to our recently launched British TV OTT channel,” Fisher, CEO of FilmRise, said in a statement. “Now, for the first time, U.S. fans can enjoy ‘Line of Duty’ without having to subscribe to a streaming service.”

Documentary+ Streaming Platform Joins Comcast’s Xumo Network

Documentary+, the streaming video platform of nonfiction films and series, is joining Xumo’s expanding library of 200+ premium ad-supported channels reaching more than 24 million unique users each month.

Documentary+ launched as an AVOD streaming service in January featuring an extensive library housing titles, including Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour and VICE’s JungletownSluteverThe Last Shot and films from award-winning filmmakers such as Spike Jonze, Kathryn Bigelow, Penny Lane, Elaine May, Jessica Beshir, Terrence Malick, Werner Herzog and Sam Pollard, with The Imposter, Cartel Land, and Life, Animated to name a few

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The Documentary+ channel on Xumo will feature 24/7 curated content from feature documentaries to cult classics and shorts and series, providing XUMO audiences access to their premium library of documentaries. Launching first on XUMO, the Documentary+ channel will be available on more FAST platforms soon, further expanding the platform’s streaming presence.

“With Xumo we can reach big new audiences and give our fans a 24/7 experience to watch the best in documentary film and television,” founder/CEO Bryn Mooser said in a statement.

Comcast-owned Xumo is available via a multi-screen distribution network of smart TVs, mobile, Web and popular streaming boxes. The Documentary+ on-demand streaming app is available globally for free on all streaming platforms including Apple TV, Amazon and Roku, mobile devices and www.docplus.com.

“The Documentary+ channel will engage millions of Xumo users with its extensive range of premium documentary films and series,” said Stefan Van Engen, SVP of content partnerships and programming at the Irvine, Calif.-based platform. “[We continue] to partner with best-in-class content providers and this new offering from Documentary+ is no exception.”

Cricket Wireless Offering Ad-Supported HBO Max Service Free to Customers

Starting August 20, Cricket Wireless will offer the ad-supported tier of HBO Max ($9.99 per month value) for free to new and existing customers on its $60 per month unlimited plan.

That wireless plan comes with 15GB of mobile hotspot and access to Cricket’s 5G network on eligible devices.

“We are always looking for ways to bring our customers the best value possible. We know they are hungry for content and HBO Max offers the most cutting-edge and high-quality entertainment available,” Tony Mokry, VP and chief marketing officer of Cricket Wireless, said in a statement. “From cult classics to new HBO Max Originals, we know our customers will be smiling ear to ear when they dive in. We’re so excited to be able to bring this incredible service and library of content to our beloved customers.”

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“Since launching HBO Max last year, we’ve continually expanded customers’ access to the product, and partnering with Cricket, our first prepaid wireless distributor of the streaming platform, is a great opportunity to offer millions of customers instant access to HBO Max at no cost to them,” Jennifer Mirgorod, head of partner management and partner marketing for WarnerMedia, said in a statement.

“The ad supported tier of HBO Max is a best-in-class, consumer-first media experience featuring the most premium content alongside an industry-leading limited advertising environment,” JP Colaco, president of WarnerMedia ad sales, said in a statement. “As we continue to see strong growth to this offering, we are pleased to further expand our footprint and welcome the Cricket Wireless customers.”

In addition to viewing shows from their phones, customers can access the streaming service by downloading the HBO Max app on a supported device.

Existing HBO Max customers who are on Cricket’s $60 unlimited plan can download the app and use their Cricket Wireless credentials to start this benefit. New and other existing customers can get or upgrade to the $60 per month plan and get access to the ad-supported tier of HBO Max.

Nielsen: As Home Entertainment Options Grow, So Too Does Viewer Diversity

When combining linear television with growing subscription streaming video and free, ad-supported options, the choices in consuming video in the home have exploded. Now, new data from Nielsen contends that as distribution options proliferate, so too does the diversity among video consumers.

In June, Nielsen found that white audiences accounted for 66% of the minutes of linear TV programming viewed, a percentage that increased when including SVOD — driven by Hulu with 69% white viewership.

Among black streamers, 18% gravitate toward Amazon Prime Video, followed by Hulu and linear TV (17%), Netflix (15%) and Disney+ (10%). Latinos prefer Netflix (22%), followed by Disney+ (17%), linear TV (12%), Hulu and Prime Video (11%). Asians account for 4%-6% of streaming/linear TV viewers.

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Black audiences accounted for 24% of all minutes viewed across all AVOD services in June. Among AVOD platforms, Tubi, owned by Fox, attractted the largest share from black audiences: they watched 39% of the minutes viewed from this platform in June, significantly more than the 17% of the minutes they watched on linear TV. Pluto TV, owned by ViacomCBS, also attracts a sizable black audience, which accounted for 36% of the platform’s viewed minutes in June.

Hispanics account for 19% of the U.S. population, which is very close to their representation in the U.S. TV universe (18%). This community, however, spends notably less of its time with traditional TV than it does with streaming services, including AVOD platforms such as Pluto TV and Tubi. The real standout, however, is YouTube, which accounted for 21% of viewing minutes among Hispanics in June.

Nielsen said race and ethnicity aren’t the only demographics content publishers can hone in on. Disney+ attracts the biggest share of minutes viewed among minors, given its extensive catalog of animated classics as well as content from Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars.

Meanwhile, people 55 and older continue to dominate linear TV viewing, while also accounting for notable share of time with Prime Video, AVOD and online TV.

“No matter the platform, creating content that resonates with unique audiences, especially those that have been historically excluded from representation on TV, is a strategy that continues to win with viewers, advertisers and new entrants to the streaming wars,” wrote Nielsen.

Redbox Inks Free Streaming Deal With Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud Comedy Brand

Redbox and Laugh Out Loud (LOL), the global multi-platform comedy brand founded by Kevin Hart, have announced a content deal to bring more than 100 hours of stand-up specials and television shows to Redbox’s free AVOD streaming service.

The titles will be available through the Redbox streaming app via the LOL! Network, which is available on a wide range of devices, including Roku, Vizio, Samsung, LG, Xbox, iOS and Android.

The lineup includes comedy series, stand-up specials and television shows from LOL, including “All-Star Comedy Jam: I’m Still Laughing,” “All-Star Comedy Jam: Orlando,” “Gary Own: True Story,” “Kevin Hart: What Now? All Access,” “DeRay Davis: Power Play” and “Shaq and Cedric the Entertainer Present All-Star Comedy Jam.”

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Kevin Hart’s LOL! Network free streaming channel is also available to watch 24 hours a day via the Redbox app.

“Laugh Out Loud has an amazing collection of comedy specials and movies that will entertain our viewers for hours and hours on end,” Chris Yates, GM of Redbox On Demand, said in a statement. “Kevin has created a media powerhouse and we’re excited to add Laugh Out Loud’s amazing and hilarious content to Redbox On Demand.”

“Our goal at Laugh Out Loud has always been to be where the audience is. We are comedy in color wherever, and whenever, our audience wants or needs a laugh,” Laugh Out Loud CEO Jeff Clanagan said in a statement. “Redbox has been a dominant force in home entertainment for years, and we’re excited to partner with Redbox to bring our catalog of original series, stand up specials, and movies to millions of households throughout the country.”

Roku Expands AVOD Channel Lineup With 17 Additions

Roku Aug. 17 announced addition of 17 new channels launching this week on The Roku Channel. Viewers can now stream 16 new ad-supported linear channels across a variety of genres. Additionally, a new channel dedicated to “The Wiggles,” an Australian-based children’s band, goes live Aug. 19.

The new channels include: “AccuWeather Now,” “Baywatch,” “CBC News,” “El Rey Network,” “Estrella Games,” “FilmRise Horror,” “FilmRise Kids,” “FilmRise True Crime,” “IGN,” “Mega Noticias,” “RCN Más,” “Real Madrid TV,” “So … Real ” and “The Only Way Is Essex.”

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“The demand for free, quality programming continues to be of importance to our streamers,” Ashley Hovey, director of The Roku Channel, said in a statement. “We’ve seen linear streaming explode over the last year.”

Indeed, Roku reported that total time spent streaming on its AVOD platform and others increased 2.8 billion minutes, or 19%, to 17.4 billion in the second quarter (ended June 30), compared with the previous-year period with 14.6 billion minutes.

The Roku Channel first launched live/linear programming in 2018, adding a “Kids & Family” platform in 2019. In Q2 2021, kids and family programming on The Roku Channel was streamed by more households than any other AVOD kids and family standalone channel on the Roku platform.

The Roku Channel now features more than 200 linear AVOD channels across news, sports, kids and family, lifestyle and Spanish language entertainment, among others.

Quarter of U.S. Internet Users Rely on Mix of AVOD and SVOD

A quarter of U.S. Internet users now rely on a mix of ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) and subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services for their entertainment, according to research firm Ampere Analysis.

The figure has risen from 15% in Q1 2020.

The quality and popularity of SVOD services is typically driven by their exclusive titles whereas AVOD services tend to rely on high volumes of non-exclusive content from major studios to bolster the quality perception of their catalogs, according to Ampere.

“Ampere’s analysis demonstrates the potential for AVOD services to co-exist with well-established subscription services and offer a cheaper way to view content online for price-sensitive consumers,” according to Ampere.

AVOD viewers tend to be older and less affluent than their SVOD counterparts and tend not to stack multiple SVOD services, preferring traditional pay-TV packages. In the study, older users (ages 55-64 years old) were the fastest-growing age bracket of AVOD viewers, with a seven-percentage-point increase in AVOD uptake among the group in the last year alone. This was also the fastest-growing age bracket for SVOD, but due to the greater maturity of the SVOD market, saw the cohort post just a 3.5 percentage point growth in the last year.

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“We can see the appeal with older audiences at present, but AVOD services will need to compete more directly with the content on SVOD if they want to attract the younger, more affluent audience already familiar with SVOD,” said Ampere analyst Tom Bell.

U.S. AVOD catalogs are large — but are primarily made up of older, non-exclusive titles, according to Ampere. While SVOD services typically rely on their vast catalog of exclusive titles to increase the quality and popularity of their content offering, this is not the case for AVOD services. The quality and popularity of AVOD catalogs is driven mainly by non-exclusive content, with their large catalogs made up of a much higher proportion of studio titles that are also licensed to other services.

All major SVOD services in the United States offer some content that is available on AVOD for free, according to Ampere. Amazon, Hulu and Peacock have a significant amount of content that is also available via AVOD services. In total, 12% of titles on SVOD are also available on a free AVOD platform in the United States. However, a small number of platforms account for the majority of the overlap between SVOD and AVOD. Amazon Prime Video has the greatest overlap with Fox-owned AVOD service Tubi, with 6,600 titles shared between the two services; over 90% of these are lower-value movies. This is followed by NBCU-backed Peacock, with 715 titles available free on Tubi, with the majority of these also available via Peacock’s free AVOD tier.

Looking ahead, the AVOD players are starting to move into original programming to differentiate their catalogs and reduce reliance on licensed content, Ampere noted. Roku, Vudu, Crackle and IMDb TV have all begun to commission original programming, focusing primarily on documentary and comedy titles. Rival service Tubi has also committed to original productions, targeting 140 hours of new original content in late 2021.

“As studios are reserving an increasing proportion of their content for their own platforms, AVOD platforms are beginning to follow suit and commission their own originals,” Bell said in a statement. “While content exclusivity remains a key difference in strategy between AVOD and SVOD platforms, these early moves into original commissioning bring AVOD players a step closer to increasing their catalog exclusivity and quality and differentiating themselves in a crowded market.”

Roku Bowing 23 New Original (Quibi) Programs Aug. 13

Roku Aug. 9 announced a new slate of Roku Originals will be available to stream on The Roku Channel beginning Aug. 13. The lineup features 23 titles, including four all-new premieres, available exclusively on the free ad-supported platform in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. 

The series come from shuttered streaming service Quibi, whose 75-program portfolio Roku reportedly acquired for around $100 million earlier this year. Among programs launching are the Emmy-nominated show “Mapleworth Murders from writers Paula Pell, John Lutz and J.B. Smoove.

“While it’s only been a few months since the launch of Roku Originals, the response has been overwhelming,” Brian Tannenbaum, head of alternative programming at Roku, said in a statement.

Pell said making “Mapleworth Murders” was a “glorious crime procedural romp through a field of pure nutbaggery.”

“We are so incredibly excited that … millions of viewers can watch a lesbian spinster and dipstick sheriff and deputy try to solve some of the most ridiculous daily murders in an otherwise charming town,” Pell said. “Full disclosure, we wrote almost all of it in a melatonin twilight.”

Roku Originals continue to help drive strong viewer engagement for The Roku Channel since its launch in May. The top five streamed TV programs by unique view on The Roku Channel this summer (from May 20 to July 18) were all originals. The Roku Channel saw strong growth with streaming hours more than doubling year-over-year in Q2 2021. According to Nielsen streaming reach ratings for the month of June, The Roku Channel was the No. 6 streaming channel by household reach in America, coming in after Disney+, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube and Netflix.

The complete lineup: “&Music,” “The Andy Cohen Diaries,” “Benedict Men,” “Elba vs. Block,” “Eye Candy,” “Fierce Queens,” “Floored,” “Gone Mental with Lior,” “Mapleworth Murders,” “Memory Hole,” “Nice One!,” “Nikki Fre$h,” “Run This City,” “The Sauce,” “Sex Next Door,” “Singled Out,” “Skrrt with Offset,” “Squeaky Clean,” “The Stranger,” “Survive,” “Thanks a Million” (Season 2), “What Happens in Hollywood” and “Wireless.”