Report: OTT Revenue to Grow to $44.2 Billion in 2022

Convergence Research estimates U.S. OTT access revenue grew 35% to $22 billion in 2019 and forecasts 29% growth to $28.5 billion for 2020 and $44.2 billion for 2022.

That’s based on 77 OTT services (more than 50 providers) led by Netflix, Hulu and Amazon analyzed in its 2020 Couch Potato Reports. The forecast assumes the coronavirus will not be as major a disruptive force beyond 2020.

Given the accelerating decline in TV subscribers, revenue, and the ongoing programming cost and TV access price increases, TV advertising revenue has also started to decline, according to Convergence. The firm estimates 2019 U.S. cable, satellite, telco TV access revenue declined 3% to $100.4 billion and forecasts a decline of 6% to $94.8 billion in 2020 and higher percentage declines in 2021 and 2022.

Convergence estimates 2019 saw a decline of 6.36 million U.S. TV subscribers, 2018 a decline of 4.03 million, and forecasts a decline of 7.1 million TV subs in 2020. U.S. TV subscribers declined by more than 7% in 2019 and more than 4% in 2018, according to Convergence, which forecasts a 9% decline in 2020 and higher percentage declines in 2021 and 2022.

As of the end of 2019, the firm estimates more than 36% of U.S. households did not have a TV subscription with a cable, satellite or telco TV access provider, up from 31% at the end of 2018. Convergence forecasts 42% at the end of 2020 and 54% at the end of 2022.

The firm estimates 2019 saw more than 7.2 million U.S. cord-cutter/never household additions.

From the end of 2019 to the end of 2025, Convergence sees a decline of more than 50% of U.S. TV subscribers, more than 40% of annual TV access revenue, while cord-cutter/never households and OTT access revenue more than double, with OTT access revenue surpassing 2025 TV access revenue.

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The firm estimates 2.74 million U.S. residential broadband subscribers were added in 2019 and revenue grew 8% to $66.7 billion. It forecasts additions will moderate in 2020 and that 2022 residential broadband access revenue will almost be on par with 2022 TV access revenue. Residential broadband subs surpassed TV subs in 2017.

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Cable continues to add the lion’s share of residential broadband subs (telco has lost residential broadband subs every year since 2015). AT&T, CenturyLink and Frontier were responsible for the majority of 2019 telco broadband losses, and Convergence forecasts they will contribute the majority of losses in 2020 as well.

“With programmers having jumped in with both feet, and Apple, DAZN, and Quibi joining Netflix and Amazon’s spending parade, the OTT arms race has truly begun,” reads the report. “We believe Netflix no longer has the same flexibility to raise pricing as frequently as it has in the past. Alternatively, Amazon and Apple have the luxury of expensing OTT programming as an additional operating cost to their core businesses. Amazon has clearly demonstrated its programming commitment to OTT. It remains to be seen if Apple is willing to endure the long-term spending campaign required to become a key OTT player.”

“The Battle for the American Couch Potato: OTT and TV” and “The Battle for the American Couch Potato: Bundling, TV, Internet, Telephone, Wireless” samples, summary and contents can be found here.

TiVo ‘Wins’ Another Round in Comcast Patent Dispute

TiVo June 4 received a favorable ruling by Administrative Law Judge MaryJoan McNamara of the International Trade Commission (ITC) that select aspects of Comcast’s cloud-based X1 video platform infringe Rovi’s patents.

Rovi, which acquired DVR pioneer TiVo in 2016 for $1.1 billion, operates under the TiVo brand name.

TiVo has a worldwide portfolio of over 5,500 patents. Patents involve advertising, analytics, DVR, guide, search and record, interactive TV and apps, AR/VR, multi-screen, parental controls, VOD/OTT, social media, sports, personalization and voice.

This was the second positive ruling for TiVo. In November 2017, the ITC issued a final ruling that Comcast had infringed two Rovi patents around ‘remote record’ functionality.

Comcast subsequently removed this feature from their products, according to TiVo.

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Then on May 23, the ITC launched a third investigation into Comcast for infringing six Rovi patents including: X1 Sports App, multi-room DVR features, and set-top box integrations of apps like Netflix.

That query has also been assigned to McNamara.

“We are thrilled by yet another legal victory,” Arvin Patel, EVP and chief intellectual property officer at Rovi, said in a statement. “We hope that today’s decision will encourage Comcast to pay the necessary licensing fees so their customers can once again access advanced cable features.”

That may be wishful thinking.

McNamara’s ruling is just one required step before the ITC can mandate Comcast make additional changes or pay license fees to TiVo – which the latter would prefer.

The cable behemoth contends TiVo’s technology is outdated and has instituted proprietary technology in the X1 platform.

In a statement, Comcast viewed McNamara’s decision a victory since the judge found “no violation” regarding two of the three other patents involved in the complaint.

“We look forward to the full commission’s review of the one remaining patent later this year, but we are confident, regardless, this ruling will not disrupt our service to our customers,” Comcast said. “We will continue to resist Rovi’s efforts to force Comcast and our customers to make unreasonable payments for aging and obsolete patents.”

 

Report: Video Streamers Covet TV Antenna

It may be a digital world driven by over-the-top video distribution. But as millennials opt away from traditional pay-TV, they are also embracing the old-school TV antenna, according to a new report.

Horowitz Research suggests that while TV viewers in the U.S. are experimenting with online TV services such as YouTube TV, Sling TV, DirecTV Now and PlayStation Vue, among others, they are increasingly opting for digital antennas.

The study finds that 34% of TV content viewers are accessing OTT video content via digital antennas, which came about following the federal government’s mandated switch from analog to digital TV transmission.

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Antenna owners are younger (40% of antenna owners are 18-34 vs. 31% of total TV content viewers) and skew male (59% vs. 49% of total TV content viewers).

Among non-pay-TV subscribers, 51% report owning an antenna. Antenna owners are more likely to subscribe to one of the three major SVOD services (78% subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video, vs. 67% of TV content viewers). Antennas are also popular in traditional pay-TV subscriber households: 30% of traditional subs report owning an antenna.

Horowitz’s data suggest antenna owners spend 19% of their time using an antenna, 44% streaming, and 32% through an MVPD, watching live, DVR, VOD and packaged media

“With today’s stronger signals and advances in technology, along with improved design aesthetics, antennas are re-emerging as an inexpensive and practical way of accessing TV content,”  Stephanie Wong, director of insights and strategy, said in a statement.

With new technology allowing for the recording of over-the-air content, including TiVo’s Bolt OTA, Plex, and Amazon’s Fire TV Recast, Horowitz said consumers are replacing cable with SVOD services and over-the-air broadcasts.

With the pending rollout of ATSC 3.0, which would allow for 4K resolution and enhanced sound to broadcast TV, Adriana Waterston, SVP of insights and strategy for Horowitz, contends pay-TV’s perceived advantage in picture quality and reliability is waning.

“As the broadcast industry works to improve its standards and achieve widespread adoption of ATSC 3.0 — about 40 markets by 2020, according to NAB — that advantage gap has the potential to shrink, with adoption of over-the-air viewing increasing,” Waterson said.

Parks: Confidence in Online TV Increasing Among Younger Consumers

Following a fiscal quarter that saw pay-TV operators lose about 1 million combined subscribers, new data from Parks Associates finds consumers’ willingness to recommend their service (net promoter score, or NPS) is waning.

The average NPS for traditional pay-TV providers in the third quarter was minus 19, down from minus 15 in Q1, although some providers such as Optimum and Dish Network improved their individual scores.

By comparison, the average NPS for the major online pay-TV and over-the-top video services was positive, although their overall scores declined from 2017 to 2018.

“The percentage of U.S. broadband households that do not subscribe to traditional pay TV increased from 16% in 2011 to 22% in 2017,” Brett Sappington, senior director of research, said in a statement. “With each quarterly earnings report, pay-TV providers and their stakeholders are hyperaware of variances in subscriber figures, and they are trying to reverse this trend with their own brands of OTT services as well as other value-added services. A positive NPS score for these services suggests a positive perception and strong word-of-mouth activity.”

Parks said 79% of U.S. broadband households reported had traditional pay-TV subscriptions in early 2018. About 33% of pay-TV subs made a change to their service between Q1 2017 and Q1 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A key challenge for pay-TV providers is to design and launch services that will inspire loyalty among younger households,” said Sappington. “Older consumers profess higher loyalty to pay-TV providers, whereas younger households are more likely to have an OTT service.”

 

Altice USA Softens Q3 Pay-TV Subscriber Losses

Cable operator Altice USA reported third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) pay-TV subscriber losses of 28,000, which was more than 15% improvement from 33,000 subs lost in the previous-year period.

New York-based Altice USA, which was created as a separate entity following the 2016 acquisition of Suddenlink and Cablevision by Netherlands-based multinational telecom Altice, attributed the improvement to few sub losses (7,000) at Suddenlink than in the prior-year period (14,000).

Suddenlink ended period with 1.01 million pay-TV subs compared to nearly 1.05 million during the previous-year period. Cablevision ended with 2.3 million from 2.38 million.

Overall net income topped $33.7 million on revenue of $1.05 billion, compared to a loss of $192 million and $1.07 billion last year.

 

 

 

Pay-TV Q2 Sub Loss Lowest Since 2014

Pay-TV operators, including cable, satellite and telecom, lost about 800,000 video subscribers in the second quarter – down from 930,000 subs in the previous-year period, according to new data from the Leichtman Research Group.

The losses were offset by ongoing gains in online TV services such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now and Spectrum TV Plus, which totaled 385,000 subs.

Leichtman found that the largest pay-TV providers in the U.S. – representing about 95% of the market – lost about 415,000 net video subs in Q2.

Specifically, satellite operators Dish Network and DirecTV shed 480,000 subs – the largest in any previous quarter.

The top six cable companies lost about 275,000 video subs compared to a loss about 190,000 subs in Q2 2017.

Telecoms lost about 45,000 video subs, compared to a loss of 270,000 subs last year.

The top pay-TV providers now account for about 91.3 million subscribers – with the top six cable companies having 47.4 million video subs, satellite TV services 30.6 million subs, the top telecoms 9.1 million subs.

Online TV services Sling TV and DirecTV Now have 4.2 million combined subs.

“This marked the fewest net losses [among pay-TV operators] in the traditionally weak second quarter since 2014,” Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, said in a statement.

Leichtman said the rise in online TV is both a product of consumers opting for more economical services, as well as changes in providers’ strategies.

“This newer segment of the industry has helped to mitigate overall pay-TV losses, while also contributing to a share shift from traditional services,” he said.

Apple Previews New Operating System for Apple TV 4K, Announces Deal With Charter

Apple June 4 previewed the tvOS 12 operating system for Apple TV 4K with support for Dolby Atmos audio, new features to easily access shows and movies, and aerial screensavers shot from space. The company also announced that Charter Communications, the second-largest cable operator in the United States, will begin offering Apple TV 4K to its customers.

Apple TV 4K debuted last fall. The service offers customers the largest collection of 4K HDR movies, according to Apple, including free 4K HDR upgrades to previously purchased movies in customers’ iTunes libraries.

“This fall, iTunes will be home to the largest collection of Dolby Atmos-supported movies anywhere, and these titles will also include Dolby Atmos audio for free,” according to an Apple press release. “With tvOS 12, Apple TV 4K will be the only streaming player both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos certified, delivering the highest quality cinematic experience of stunning 4K HDR visuals and immersive sound that flows all around in three-dimensional space.”

Also, later this year, Charter customers in nearly 50 million households will have access to live channels and tens of thousands of on-demand programs via an all-new Spectrum TV app on their Apple TV 4K, iPhone and iPad, integrated with Siri and the Apple TV App, Apple reported. In addition, as part of this collaboration, Charter will be offering iPhones and iPads to customers as they grow their mobile presence. Charter joins AT&T’s DirecTV Now in the United States, CANAL+ in France and Salt in Switzerland, which have begun offering customers Apple TV 4K with their services.

The Apple TV App on iPhone, iPad and Apple TV allows customers to find and watch TV shows and movies from more than 100 participating video apps in 10 countries, according to Apple. Single sign-on for Apple TV and iOS has allowed users to sign in once to get access to all the video apps available through their cable subscription. With tvOS 12, Apple further simplifies the authentication process with “zero sign-on.” Apple TV detects the user’s broadband network and automatically signs them in to all the supported apps they receive through their subscription — no typing required, according to Apple. Zero sign-on begins with Charter later this year and will expand to other providers over time.

In collaboration with the International Space Station National Lab and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Apple unveiled new aerials shot from space by NASA astronauts, “so Apple TV customers can enjoy even more stunning scenes filmed in 4K HDR,” according to Apple. Aerial screensavers will also be more interactive, allowing viewers to see the location information and swipe between dozens of aerials, the company noted.

Additional tvOS 12 features for Apple TV 4K and Apple TV 4th generation make it easier for customers to access shows and movies, according to Apple:

— With iOS 12, users can securely AutoFill passwords from iPhone and iPad to Apple TV to easily sign in to Apple TV apps.

— The Apple TV Remote will be automatically added to Control Center on iPhone or iPad for Apple TV users, giving users quick access to Apple TV controls.

— Home control systems such as Control4, Crestron and Savant can be used to control Apple TV, including using Siri for voice search and control.

“The arrival of Dolby Atmos on Apple TV, ‘zero sign-on,’ a deal with Charter Spectrum, a new TV OS and, perhaps more tangentially, Siri support for third-party apps, all point towards an evolutionary product, rather than a revolutionary one, which we have become accustomed to from Apple over the years,” read a Futuresource Consulting blog in response to the announcements.

Futuresource estimates that there were approximately 21 million Apple TVs in use worldwide at the end of 2017, approaching half of these in the United States.

“Apple TV continues to add features, build partnerships and is clearly striving to offer the best quality digital streamer experience there is — albeit at a higher price than its competitors,” read the Futuresource blog. “Service partnerships will therefore be key to driving the attractiveness of the product and a channels approach, akin or better than Amazon Channels and Roku’s equivalent, will also be hugely important if Apple still wants to become the main entertainment hub in the home — something which Amazon arguably has gained a lead in.”

The new tvOS will be available this fall as a free software update for Apple TV 4K and Apple TV 4th generation. For more information, visit apple.com/apple-tv-4K.

Report: Multichannel Subscriptions Fall Slightly in Q1, But Get Virtual Lift

Combined cable, direct broadcast satellite (DBS) and telecom multichannel subscriptions fell 0.8% sequentially in the first quarter ended March 31, to 93.2 million, including 90.3 million residential customers.

That’s according to the Q1 2018 U.S. Multichannel Subscriber Report by Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.

However, noteworthy gains for virtual platforms DirecTV NOW and Sling TV cut the quarterly subscription losses in half, raising the overall residential figure to 94.1 million.

Other findings:

  • The residential multichannel penetration rate stood at 76.1% as of March 31 when including the virtual smartphone platforms owned by AT&T and DISH Network (DirecTV NOW and Sling TV).
  • Cable operators logged their largest first-quarter video subscriber decline on record, with the top two multiple system operators, Comcast and Charter, accounting for 59% of the drop.
  • Telco video appears to be regaining its footing as AT&T’s U-verse stabilizes. The platform’s video customer losses fell below 100,000 for the first time since the third quarter of 2015.
  • DBS losses ramped back up in the first quarter, bringing the sector’s total down to 31.1 million.For more information, visit www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence.

Research: U.S. Pay-TV Affordability Has Dropped Since 2000

Consumers who complain about their cable bill may have good reason.

Multichannel video affordability in the United States has plummeted since the turn of the millennium, squeezing the penetration rate, particularly among the more economically vulnerable households, according to new data from Kagan, S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Since 2000, there has been a 74% increase in the inflation-adjusted pay-TV bill while incomes have stagnated, according to the research.

The estimated nominal average monthly multichannel revenue per subscriber across the cable, DBS and telco platforms rose at a 5.5% CAGR between 2000 and 2017. Kagan calculated U.S. multichannel purchasing power based on 2017 inflation-adjusted annual multichannel average revenue per user, or ARPU, and average income figures. The affordability calculation dropped from a 10 in 2000 to a 6 in 2017.

Multichannel offerings have evolved a great deal since 2000, including a greater number of networks and advanced services such as video on demand, DVR services and improved user interfaces, with the vast majority of the packages delivered to subscribers digitally and in HD, but consumers’ ability to pay the price for that improvement didn’t grow much.

“The eroding legacy multichannel affordability partly explains the popularity of over-the-top services such as Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video,” according to Kagan.

Research: OTT Sub Households to Far Outstrip TV Sub Households in 2020

U.S. OTT subscriber households will far surpass TV subscriber households in 2020, according to new data from Convergence Research.

In five years at the current run-rate Netflix will have in the United States as many subscribers as all the the traditional TV access providers combined, according the Convergence’s Brahm Eiley. Amazon Prime at the current run rate will surpass the traditional U.S. TV access providers in terms of subscribers in three years.

However, the average revenue per unit (ARPU) for U.S. TV subscribers in 2020 will still be four times U.S. OTT subscriber households’ ARPU, down from 6 times in 2017.

Convergence has just released its annual 2018 Couch Potato Reports, “The Battle for the American Couch Potato: OTT, TV, Online” and “The Battle for the American Couch Potato: Bundling, TV, Internet, Telephone, Wireless.”

Convergence estimates that U.S. OTT access revenue (based on 55 OTT providers led by Netflix) grew 41% to $11.9 billion in 2017, forecasts $16.6 billion for 2018 and $27.6 billion for 2020.

The firm estimates 2017 U.S. cable, satellite and telco TV access (not including OTT) revenue grew 1% to $107.6 billion ($94.30 per month ARPU) in 2017, forecasts $107.4 billion ($97.90 per month ARPU) for 2018, and $106.9 billion for 2020.

In 2017, the United States saw a decline of 3.66 million TV subscribers and in 2016 a decline of 2.2 million. Convergence forecasts a decline of 3.72 million TV subs for 2018.

The firm reports that 2010 saw the start of the rise in cord cutter/never households, and as of the end of 2017 estimates 32.13 million U.S. households (or 26.1% of households) did not have a traditional TV subscription with a cable, satellite or telco TV access provider, up from 27.56 million (22.6% of households) at the end of 2016. Convergence forecasts 36.76 million (29.6% of households) will be cord cutter/never households by the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, 2017 saw U.S. residential broadband subs surpass U.S. TV subs, growing to 96.95 million. Convergence estimates 2.33 million U.S. residential broadband subs were added in 2017 (2.66 million in 2016) and revenue grew 7% to $56.8 million; the firm forecasts 2.57 million additions and 6% growth to $60.5 billion for 2018.

“The gloves are off,” commentary in the report reads. “The TV-movie Industry is being reconstructed from the inside and by the outside, as programmers now directly compete against their traditional TV access and independent OTT buyers that rival them in terms of content spend. Amazon, Apple, DAZN, Facebook, Google and Netflix all have the money muscle to finance their own productions or outbid on programming including major sporting franchises.”

Because the OTT services are acting more like studios and vying for top content, traditional content owners may fight back, the commentary reads.

“We expect especially for the U.S. market going forward fewer content deals between programmers and independent OTT providers: 2017 saw Disney choose not to renew with Netflix and embrace OTT, HBO not renew with Amazon in the U.S., Hulu (which is spending more on content on a per U.S. subscriber basis than Amazon or Netflix) continue to bolster its offerings, compete more directly against TV access providers, and A+E, AMC, Discovery, Scripps, and Viacom back supply Philo,” the firm commented. “The traditional TV ecosystem does not show decline ‘yet’ except for TV subscribers. TV access players continue to raise prices (ARPU is growing but we forecast TV access revenue decline going forward), and programmers have kept up increases in programming fees and advertising rates, but this architecture cannot last in the long run.”