Comcast Lost 389,000 Q4 Video Subs, Upped Broadband Sub Loss to 34,000

Comcast’s legacy cable pay-TV business saw 389,000 subscribers drop video service in the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2023. While the sub loss was lower than the 440,000 subs lost in the previous-year period, the loss continues a trend of more than 2 million subs annually dropping pay-TV service.

Comcast ended the year with 14.1 million pay-TV subscribers, down from 16.14 million subs at the end of 2022, and 18.17 million subs at the end of 2021.

The nation’s last broadband provider reported a net loss of 34,000 high-speed internet subscribers, up from a loss of 23,000 subs in the previous-year period. For the fiscal year, Comcast lost 66,000 broadband subs, compared with a gain of 243,000 subs in 2022.

Comcast ended 2023 with 32.25 million high-speed internet subs, down from 32.31 million at the end of 2022.

Regardless of the sub losses, Comcast president Michael Cavanagh said the company’s legacy cable business, in addition to Xfinity streaming platforms and broadband reach remain a competitive advantage for both original and third-party licensed content.

“We’ve seen a lot of collaboration with players that want to reach the kind of consumers we have through broadband and video,” Cavanagh said.

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Nielsen: December Household TV Streaming Inched Up 1.9%

Household television streaming video usage increased 1.2% in December 2023, but the uptick was not enough to maintain streaming’s November market share, and the category fell to 35.9% of overall TV usage (-0.2%). Streaming still dominated overall, with cable realizing 28.2% market share, followed by broadcast (23.5%) and “other” at 12.5% — the latter driven by video games. The streaming increase was led by 18-24 year-old viewers, whose usage was up 2.7%.

Netflix viewership climbed nearly 6% to account for 7.7% of TV usage (+0.3%). Fox’s free ad-supported streaming platform Tubi saw a 6.6% bump in viewing to maintain 1.4% of TV usage. YouTube’s share of TV fell to 8.5% (-0.4%) following a 3.4% drop in usage, but it still maintained the top spot among streaming platforms.

Netflix’s usage increase was partially driven by this month’s top two streaming titles: licensed episodes of “Young Sheldon” (also streaming on Max), which was the No. 1 most-streamed title with 6.7 billion viewing minutes, and the Netflix original movie, the apocalyptic thriller Leave the World Behind, which claimed No. 2 with 4.5 billion minutes.

Meanwhile, December marked the second-highest month of TV viewing in 2023 — behind January 2023. Monthly TV usage increased 1.7% vs. November. December recorded five days with more than 100 billion viewing minutes, with Dec. 31 totaling more than 105 billion minutes (the second-highest day in 2023 behind Super Bowl Sunday on Feb 12).

Following four consecutive months of growth (August through November), broadcast TV viewing decreased 4.3% from November. Decreased viewing was led by viewers 25-34 who watched 13% less broadcast programming than in November. Sports remained the most-watched broadcast genre, accounting for 28.5% of broadcast viewing, with NFL games accounting for 12 of the top 13 broadcast telecasts during the month. ABC’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” took the 13th spot.

Cable viewing climbed another 1.3% this month, but due to the larger increase of overall TV usage, cable gave up a 0.1% share point to finish at 28.2% of total TV usage. Cable sports viewing was up 8.4% versus November, led by both NCAA bowl games and NFL programming. The top telecast went to ESPN’s NFL matchup between the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 30, which totaled more than 11 million viewers. Feature film viewing nearly tripled that of sports, however, accounting for 21.4% of cable usage compared with 8.1% for sports.

Sci-Fi Thriller ‘Project Dorothy’ Due on VOD Jan. 16 From Gravitas Ventures

Gravitas Ventures on Jan. 16 will release the sci-fi thriller Project Dorothy on VOD and cable.

From director George Henry Horton (Dreadspace, Dark Obsession), the film stars scream queen Danielle Harris (the “Halloween” franchise, the “Hatchet” franchise, “The Conners”) as the titular AI, alongside Tim DeZarn (The Cabin in the Woods), Adam Budron, Emily Rafala (“Katy Keene”), Olivia Scott and Horton.

In Project Dorothy, small-time criminals James and Blake flee the police and take refuge in an abandoned scientific facility. Their attempt to restore power activates an AI, Dorothy, responsible for the former occupants’ demise. They realize their predicament is worse than evading the law; they must use their streetwise instincts to thwart Dorothy’s escape into the world.

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Nielsen: Streaming Loses 1% October Market Share as Sports Ups TV Broadcast

Household television video streaming in October surrendered a percentage point for a third consecutive month, although usage was almost flat with September (-0.6%), according to new October data from Nielsen.

Affecting the decline in part was Nielsen’s decision to split Hulu SVOD streaming from Hulu + Live TV online television. The reclassification resulted in about half a share point, which affects both Hulu SVOD and total streaming market percentages.

Without the methodology change, the share loss would have only been 0.4 instead of 0.9. While usage was largely stable across platforms, October featured a couple of unique data points.

“Suits” remained the top program, but viewership was down a third from September. Netflix, which offers the show along with Peacock, retained eight of the top 10 streaming titles in October.

Streaming video remained the largest segment of household TV viewing at 36.6%, followed by cable (29.5%), broadcast (24.6%) and other (9.3%). YouTube TV (9.1%) remained the largest streaming operator followed by Netflix at 7.2%.

Disney+ viewing was up 1.5%, and held the other two October top streaming titles: “Bluey” and Elemental. Prime Video usage was up 1% and continues to peak on Thursdays due to NFL games.

Indeed, the strong NFL schedule and the MLB’s World Series were the primary drivers of the 15% rise in sports viewing across broadcast channels, powering October to its third consecutive month of broadcast gains. It was also the largest gain for broadcast since January. The increase in sports viewing also attracted an influx of younger viewers: broadcast viewing among 18-24-year-olds was up 15%. On a year-over-year basis, however, total broadcast viewing was down 5.6% and the sports genre was down by 8%.

Top 10 streaming programs in October:

    1. “Suits”
    2. “Grey’s Anatomy”
    3. “Bluey”
    4. “Fall of the House of Usher”
    5. “NCIS”
    6. “Love Is Blind”
    7. “Gilmore Girls”
    8. “Cocomelon”
    9. Elemental (2023)
    10. Reptile (2023)

Streaming Video Supplants Cable/Satellite Viewing in Vizio TV Households

A majority of Vizio smart TV owners now stream video entertainment rather than access legacy cable or satellite TV distribution, according to new data from Inscape, which tracks ACR data from millions of Vizio TVs.

Looking at the second fiscal quarter over the past three years, streaming has captured 9.7% of viewing share from cable/satellite for U.S. TV households, according to the report. As a result, streaming’s share of viewing has increased from 44.1% in Q2 2021 to 53.8% in Q2 2023. Meanwhile, cable/satellite’s share has fallen from 46.9% to 37.1% during the same period, while gaming and over-the-air antennae viewing share has remained relatively consistent during this time.

A rise in availability and consumer usage of streaming apps and free ad-supported TV (FAST) services has made streaming the “new normal” in media consumption, according to Inscape. This is also underpinned by the continued penetration of smart TVs themselves.

Indeed, by early 2022, streaming had displaced cable/satellite as the most-viewed TV source by U.S. households, according to Inscape. In the quarters since, it has steadily grown its share of viewing time and there are no signs of a slowdown.

The report found that FAST, which offers a free, easy entry experience across a wide variety of curated programming, continues to gain popularity among consumers. FAST viewing time increased by 70% from Q2 2022 to Q2 2023.

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“As the viewing landscape continues to shift, marketers, measurement providers and media owners alike need to understand where and how consumers are connecting in order to create and implement the best strategies to reach them and drive optimal business outcomes,” read the report.

Lionsgate Nabs SVOD, AVOD, Cable and FAST Rights to Hit Comedy Series ‘The Conners’

Lionsgate’s Worldwide Television Distribution Group and distribution company Debmar-Mercury have partnered with Tom Werner’s Werner Entertainment on a global licensing deal for the hit comedy “The Conners,” the companies announced Aug. 8.

Lionsgate will handle global distribution, including SVOD, AVOD, basic cable and FAST rights, while Debmar-Mercury will oversee domestic syndication. The deal covers all five seasons of the series as well as rights to future seasons following ABC’s first window.

“The Conners,” which has been renewed by ABC for a sixth season, ranks as the network’s top-rated scripted series. It leads in key demos and has posted strong season-to-season growth in its fifth season, a feat matched by only by “Seinfeld” among all syndicated off-network sitcoms, according to the release. The show garnered 4.9 million viewers in its season finale, with an adult 25-54 audience of 3.6 million.

“We’re proud to be selected by a great force in television like Tom Werner and Werner Entertainment to bring this incredible property to buyers around the world,” Jim Packer, Lionsgate president of worldwide television distribution, said in a statement. “This agreement shows Lionsgate’s ability to marshal all of its resources, combining the strength and prowess of our global distribution with Debmar-Mercury’s unparalleled syndication expertise in support of a remarkable brand and series.”

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The series, a spinoff of “Roseanne,” stars Sara Gilbert, John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf and Lecy Goranson. “The Conners” is produced by Werner Entertainment. Tom Werner serves as executive producer, along with Gilbert, Bruce Helford, Dave Caplan, Bruce Rasmussen and Tony Hernandez.

The deal was negotiated by Packer, Bernstein and Marcus for the studio, and UTA and Jackoway Austen on behalf of Werner Entertainment.   

‘Tulsa King’ Greenlighted for Season Two After Strong Premiere

Paramount Global has greenlighted a second season of the Sylvester Stallone series “Tulsa King” after it topped yearly linear cable series debuts and drove Paramount+ its the highest single day of sign-ups ever.

The series, which debuted Nov. 13 on both Paramount+ (two episodes) and Paramount Network (as a sneak peek of episode one), is an American crime drama created by Taylor Sheridan (“Yellowstone”) in which Stallone plays a mafia capo.

“Tulsa King’s” linear preview on Paramount Network made it the biggest new series premiere of 2022 across cable with 3.7 million total viewers, besting “House of the Dragon” and “The Old Man.”

“‘Tulsa King’ scored as the No. 1 new series of the year, topping all others including the ‘Game of Thrones’ sequel ‘House of the Dragon,’ with its preview on Paramount Network, and on Paramount+, it shattered records, driving us to our biggest new sign-up day in history — which is why we instantly greenlit season two,” Chris McCarthy, president and CEO of Paramount Media Networks & MTV Entertainment Studios, said in a statement. “’Tulsa King’ together with ‘Mayor of Kingstown,’ ‘1883’ and the upcoming ‘1923,’ undeniably confirm the success of our strategy to franchise ‘Yellowstone’ and use it to supercharge streaming growth — none of which would be possible without the creative mastermind of Taylor Sheridan.”

“With the combination of the incomparable Sylvester Stallone and Taylor Sheridan’s darkly comedic twist on the beloved mobster genre, we have found our latest hit in ‘Tulsa King,'” Tanya Giles, chief programming officer of Paramount Streaming, said in a statement. “The series’ premiere on Paramount+ helped drive a record sign-up day fueled by our unique ability as Paramount Global to tap into Paramount Network’s incredible ‘Yellowstone’ audience.”

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“We could not be more excited about the success of ‘Tulsa King,’” David C. Glasser, CEO of 101 Studios, said in a statement. “It’s a fun, fresh show that audiences are truly embracing in no small part because of its star, Sylvester Stallone.  We are thankful to Chris McCarthy and MTV Entertainment Studios for their continued support and we are looking forward to getting back on set for season two.”

Research: U.S. OTT Access Revenue Grew 37% to $39.4B in 2021

Convergence Research estimates U.S. OTT access revenue grew 37% to $39.4 billion in 2021 and forecasts $51 billion for 2022 and $69 billion for 2024.

That’s based on more than 75 OTT services (more than 50 providers) — led by Netflix, Disney/Hulu, Amazon and Warner Bros. Discovery — analyzed in its 2022 Couch Potato Reports.

The firm forecasts 2022-24 annual U.S. OTT household penetration, subscriptions per household, and net OTT subscriptions added will each progressively see more moderate growth. Convergence forecasts 80 million additional U.S. subscriptions in 2022 and 50 million in 2024.

Convergence estimates 2021 U.S. cable, satellite, telco TV access revenue declined 4% to $91 billion and forecasts a decline of 6% to $85.5 billion in 2022 (hence ARPU should grow 3.5%), with higher revenue declines in 2023 and 2024. The firm estimates 2021 saw a decline of 6.5 million U.S. TV subscribers, 2020 a decline of 6.5 million, and forecasts a decline of 7 million TV subs in 2022 and 7.2 million in 2024. In its U.S. Cord Cutter/Never Household Model, as of year-end 2021, Convergence estimates 47% of U.S. households did not have a TV subscription with a cable, satellite, or telco TV access provider, up from 42% at the end of 2020. The firm projects that figure will rise to 53% by the end of 2022 and 64% by the end of 2024. 

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Convergence estimates 3.715 million U.S. residential broadband subscribers were added in 2021 (down from 5.1 million in 2020) and revenue grew 10% to $79.6 billion, and forecasts 4.3 million residential broadband subscriber additions in 2022 and 7% revenue growth to $85.5 billion. While cable dominates residential broadband and continues to add the largest share of residential broadband subs, telco and fixed-wireless sub additions continue to improve, according to the firm.

Gravitas Ventures to Distribute Doc ‘The Holy Game’ on VOD

Gravitas Ventures has acquired worldwide rights (excluding Canada) to distribute the documentary The Holy Game. The title will come out on cable and digital video-on-demand platforms June 29.

From director Brent Hodge (I Am Chris Farley, Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary), the film offers an exclusive look at an officially sanctioned Vatican soccer tournament for priests. Beyond the Vatican walls, there is a soccer championship like no other in which young priests in seminary from around the world gather to play in the Clericus Cup. The documentary feature explores religion, sport and tradition, and looks at why anyone in this era would sacrifice so much to become a priest.

“Brent’s documentary is a fascinating peek behind the curtain, grappling with controversy and harsh truths alongside inspiring observations and amusing anecdotes from the next generation of the priesthood, all set against the backdrop of this unique tournament,” Tony Piantedosi, VP of acquisitions at Gravitas Ventures, said in a statement.

Gravitas Ventures released Hodges’ previous documentary, Who Let the Dogs Out in 2019.

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“We are thrilled to be working with Gravitas again on the release of The Holy Game,” Hodge said in a statement. “I am always in search of projects that reveal unique windows into different worlds, and this doc is truly that. Not only do we have direct access to the priesthood, the Vatican, but we also get a glimpse into this one-of-a-kind soccer tournament and where religion fits in modern day culture. We are excited for people to see it.”

Horror Thriller ‘Sound of Violence’ Due on Cable and Digital VOD May 21 From Gravitas Ventures

The horror thriller Sound of Violence will debut on cable and digital VOD May 21 from Gravitas Ventures.

The film, written and directed by Alex Noyer (808, SXSW 2015) premiered at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival and stars Jasmin Savoy Brown (the upcoming Scream revival, “The Leftovers”), Lili Simmons (“Ray Donovan,” “Banshee,” Bone Tomahawk), James Jagger (“Vinyl,” The Outpost) and Tessa Munro (“S.W.A.T.”).

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The film follows Alexis, who recovered her hearing after witnessing the brutal murder of her family when she was 10. The experience awakens synesthetic abilities in her and starts her on a path of self-discovery through the healing tones of brutal violence. Supported and loved by her roommate Marie, who is unaware of the dark secrets behind her music, she goes on to pursue a career teaching and experimenting to find new sounds. Faced with the likelihood of losing her hearing again, Alexis escalates her pursuit of her masterpiece through gruesome sound experiments.