Comscore: Streaming Services’ Share of Streaming Hours Surged During Pandemic

Engagement with streaming services surged in the beginning of May 2020 as Americans adjusted to stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new research from Comscore.

Among the “big five” streaming services — which still account for upwards of 80% of total hours streamed at home —Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ saw growth in share of streaming hours in the week of May 11 versus the week of Feb. 3, according to Comscore.

Netflix’s and Amazon’s streaming hour share each grew 1.5% while Disney+’s grew 0.5%. YouTube’s was steady, down just 0.1%. Hulu’s was the only share to fall, down 2.9%.

While Disney+ held a smaller share of streaming hours among the “big five,” it is nearly two times larger than the next video-oriented OTT app offering in terms of streaming hours, according to Comscore.

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Other key points included:

  • Average in-home data consumption was up 33% during the first 10 days of May 2020 compared to the first ten days of May 2019 (May 1-10, 2020 versus May 1-10, 2019). This follows 28% and 36% year-over-year increases in March and April 2020, respectively. Smart TVs (+60 percent), mobile phones (+47 percent), streaming boxes/sticks (+39 percent), and smart speakers (+35 percent) are driving the year-over-year growth trends.
  • In-home data usage remained strong through the week of April 20, 2020 but began to decline in recent weeks, possibly due to some states easing their social distancing protocols.

Fox News Digital Eyes Double-Digit Viewing Increase in April

Fox News Digital said it finished the month of April with double-digit viewership increases, including multiplatform views (up 26% from April 2019), multiplatform minutes (19%) and multiplatform unique visitors (20%).

Fox attributed the increase to viewer interest in the coronavirus pandemic.

The network, citing ComScore data, also reported new highs in multiplatform unique visitors (121.5 million), total multiplatform views (1.9 billion) and total multiplatform minutes (4.5 billion minutes). This April marked the second-highest month of multiplatform unique visitors, coming only behind March 2020, as well as notched the network’s fifth consecutive month with over 100 million multiplatform unique visitors.

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Fox said its branded mobile news app topped CNN’s app in viewers with 8.7 million unique visitors compared to 7.3 million for CNN.

Multi-Platform Total Minutes
Fox News Digital – 4.5 billion (up 19%) – 5.4 billion (up 90%)

Multi-Platform Total Views
Fox News Digital – 1.97 billion (up 26%) – 2.93 billion (up 100%)

Multi-Platform Unique Visitors
FOX News Digital – 121.5 million (up 20%) – 165 million (up 33%)

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Comscore: VOD Consumption in March Grew Nearly 30%

New data from Comscore shows a significant increase in VOD consumption in March as millions of Americans complied with pandemic stay-at-home orders.

Looking at all set-top box-based VOD (including free on demand, SVOD, TVOD and EST), the month of March saw a nearly 30% increase in average transactions per household that subscribes to VOD year-over-year — with the average subscribing household accessing, purchasing or renting 16 titles of VOD content over the course of the month. That’s nearly four more transactions per VOD subscribing household than in March 2019, according to Comscore.

Of the VOD subcategories, SVOD had the highest growth, with a 53% increase in average transactions per subscribing household March 2019 versus March 2020. Free on demand was next with a 21% increase for the same time period.

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Week-by-week, Comscore’s research shows a steady upward climb for VOD in general with the week of March 29, 2020 having the highest growth for 2020 thus far, up 57% versus the same week in 2019. Of the subcategories, SVOD saw an 116% the week of March 29 from the same week in 2019, while free on demand and TVOD saw 38% and nearly 41% increases, respectively.

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When focusing in on key genres within set-top VOD, the largest increase for transactions in March 2020 versus March 2019 occurred “Fitness” (up 147%), “Life and Home” (up 64%) and “Premium” (up 54%) (e.g., HBO, Showtime, and Starz content). Meanwhile, “Music” fell 10% for the same time period comparison.

Comscore: OTT Streaming Grew by Double-Digit Percentages in Early March

OTT streaming has significantly increased across connected TVs and streaming boxes/sticks in recent weeks amid the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing stay-at-home measures, according to new research from Comscore.

In comparing OTT streaming behavior March 1-16 in 2019 to the same period in 2020, the research found notable year-over-year growth in both the number of households and time spent with OTT content on both connected TVs and streaming boxes/sticks.

Streaming hours grew 24% on connected TVs and 16% on streaming boxes/sticks. Overall, streaming boxes and sticks made up 56% of to-date OTT streaming hours in March 2020, and connected TVs accounted for 32%.

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The number of households grew as well comparing the two periods, with connect TV OTT households jumping 29% and streaming box/stick OTT households soaring 43%.

At the app level, the “big four” streaming services still accounted for the majority of total OTT hours viewed on both connected TV and via streaming boxes/sticks with Netflix leading both categories for March 2020.

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“Comscore’s latest information shows that the millions of Americans who are remaining indoors to comply with coronavirus public health measures are hungry for news and entertainment, and streaming options are an increasingly important piece of the consumption pie along with traditional TV,” said Bill Livek, Comscore CEO, in a statement. “Advertisers who are looking to pivot their planning to match the rapidly-changing media consumption landscape can benefit from engaging with these growing audiences.”

Comscore is providing frequent updates on its Coronavirus insights hub.

comScore Reports Surging Levels of In-Home Data Usage

With millions of people quarantined in their homes to help thwart the spread of the coronavirus, new data from comScore says average in-home data use has jumped 18% so far in March compared with the previous-year period.

With upwards of 70% of American schools shuttered amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the report found that the most notable device-level data usage increases are for mobile phones, smart speakers, connected TVs and streaming boxes/sticks. These increases are likely attributable to more Americans using the Internet on their phones to work from home and all family members interacting with more streaming media while staying home.

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Indeed, video game consoles (+48%), smart speakers (+44%), streaming boxes/sticks (+38%) and connected TVs (+37%) all saw significant year-over-year upticks in data use.

“If the current quarantines continue across the country, we expect this upward data usage trend to continue, as consumers shift their work, school, information gathering, shopping and entertainment habits amid the COVID-19 crisis,” Bill Livek, CEO of comScore, said in a statement.

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Weekend Domestic Box Office Plummets to 20-Year Low

As expected, the weekend domestic theatrical box office tanked as exhibitors limited seating capacity and local governments called for no large group gatherings in an effort to thwart the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

With studios scaling back new releases such as Disney’s Mulan and Paramount Pictures’ The Quiet Place Part II, among others, the North American box office tallied just $55.3 million — the worst total in nearly two decades, according to comScore.

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For the second consecutive weekend the top-grossing title was Disney’s Onward with $10.5 million, which represented a 73% drop from the animated film’s original weekend release — the largest decline ever for a Pixar Animation movie.

Lionsgate’s faith-based I Still Believe was second with $9.5 million, followed by Sony Pictures’ Bloodshot, starring Vin Diesel, which generated $9.3 million. Universal Pictures’ The Hunt grossed $5.3 million followed by the studio’s The Invisible Man.

While major exhibitor chains scale back operations, the virus pandemic is wreaking havoc for smaller independent theaters.

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“There are a lot of independent theaters out there and we’ve got to worry about our landlords, we’ve got to worry about paying rent, paying employees, taxes,” Jeff Brein, who operates nine indie theaters in the Seattle area, told The Wall Street Journal. “It would be a horrible thing to come out of this thing on the other side and having lost a number of community-based small theaters that were unable to survive.”


CNN Records Largest Digital Audience In History In January

WarnerMedia Entertainment’s CNN news division began 2020 with the highest audience numbers in its history for both total audience and mobile audience, outpacing all competitors for nearly four years for U.S. unique visitors, nearly five years for video and nine months for global unique visitors.

Citing ComScore monthly data, CNN’s digital audience in the U.S. in January was a record 148 million unique visitors and a record 128 million mobile unique visitors. CNN held the position as the #1 global digital news brand in December 2019.

Adobe Analytics data revealed record CNN global traffic in January as well, and underscored the brand’s strength in the U.S., ranking again as the #1 digital news outlet in January in the key categories of multi-platform unique visitors, mobile unique visitors, multi-platform video starts (Dec. 2019), millennial unique visitors and political unique visitors.

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CNN saw a larger global audience than any other news platform in the world in December 2019, with 165 million unique multi-platform visitors, 20 million more than second place BBC and 37 million more than third place The Daily Mail. Other top sites included: Yahoo News – 123 million unique visitors; The New York Times – 118 million unique visitors; – 104 million unique visitors.

CNN posted 148 million unique multi-platform visitors domestically in January. This was 34 million more unique visitors than second-place Fox News and 41 million more unique visitors than The New York Times.

Others included – 93.3 million unique visitors; – 92.6 million unique visitors; – 89 million unique visitors.

CNN’s mobile audience continued to top 100 million unique visitors in January with an all-time record of 128 million mobile unique visitors – 33 million more mobile unique visitors than both second-place Fox News and third-place The New York Times. Others included – 84 million unique visitors; – 83 million unique visitors; – 79 million unique visitors.

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CNN again ranked as #1 in digital video with 522 million multi-platform video starts, generating 210 million more video starts than its nearest competitor Fox News in December 2019. Others included Yahoo News – 290 million video starts; Sites – 153 million video starts; MSN News – 123 million video starts; MSNBC TV – 116 million video starts.

CNN saw a larger audience of millennial multi-platform unique visitors (between the ages of 18-34) than any other competitor in January with 42 million. Others included The New York Times – 30 million millennial unique visitors; – 28 million millennial unique visitors; – 27 million millennial unique visitors; – 24 million millennial unique visitors, and – 23 million millennial unique visitors.

CNN continued to reign on top of all political news sources at the start of Election Year 2020, as the #1 ranked political news destination in January with 58 million multi-platform unique visitors, 50 million mobile unique visitors and 74 million multi-platform video starts (December 2019) .

January was the second biggest month ever for CNN politics mobile audience behind December 2019. CNN has remained the #1 online political news outlet since March 2015 when the first person declared their candidacy for president in the 2016 race.

Other top political platforms include –34 million unique visitors; – 31 million unique visitors; Fox News Politics– 24 million unique visitors; MSNBC TV – 15.4 million unique visitors and Politics – 14.7 million unique visitors. 

EMA Elects Officers, Appoints Board Members

Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment, Fandango, has been re-elected chairman of the home entertainment trade group the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA). Douglas will be serving his second term as chairman.

Joining Douglas as officers are vice chair Suyin Lim, senior director, content acquisitions and partnerships, PlayStation Video; secretary Pedro Guiterrez Jr., director, digital stores movies and TV business and category management, Microsoft Corp.; and treasurer Michele Edelman, head of growth, Premiere Digital Services.

Eric Opeka

Bill Kotzman, Google/YouTube’s partner product manager, TV and Film; Erick Opeka, president, Cinedigm Digital Networks; and Jason Peterson, CEO of GoDigital Medial Group, will also serve on the association’s executive committee as at-large members.

Amazon returns to the EMA’s board, now represented by senior product manager Jude Fitzmorris.

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Other returning board members are Amit Balan, head of marketing at Vudu, and Marty Graham, SVP at ComScore.

Three members newly appointed board members are Opeka, Edelman and Elissa Brown, VP of finance and operations at Movies Anywhere.

“The companies on EMA’s board of director reflect the variety of delivery mechanisms and business models in our vibrant industry,” said Mark Fisher, EMA president and CEO. “Each director brings an important perspective, and their wealth of experience will benefit the membership as EMA continues to be the forum for the home entertainment industry.”

The EMA is a not-for-profit international trade association. Members include digital retailers, MVPDs, AVOD and SVOD networks and channels, platforms, companies creating and/or distributing content for these channels of distribution, and companies providing services or technology for the use of others in this community. EMA was established in April 2006 through the merger of the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) and the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA).

Industry Veteran Lands at Analytics Firm

Chris Roberts, a veteran of the home entertainment industry, has been appointed VP of Sales by Transform Inc., a Seattle-based company involved in applied audience analytics for video.

Roberts is charged with expanding Transform’s customer base by offering content creators new ways to expand and connect with their viewers. The company says its machine-learning and artificial intelligence platform for video “answers the fundamental questions of why audiences connect, react and engage.”

Roberts previously spent two years as SVP of sales, OnDemand Everywhere, at comScore Inc., a Reston, Virginia-based media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers.

Chris Roberts

There, he helped launch two services: Digital Download Essentials and Digital Download Industry, the first industry-view for the iVOD and EST channels for movie studios and television networks.

Roberts came to comScore through its acquisition of Rentrak Corp., where over the course of a 27-year run he played a key role in the company’s transformation from a VHS videocassette distributor to a global media measurement and research company serving the entertainment industry. He most recently was VP of Sales, Home Entertainment, leading a team that measured DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales and rentals in the United States.

“The extensive experience that Chris brings with him is invaluable at our stage,” said Randa Minkarah, Transform’s co-founder and COO. “Our focus is on growing and developing revenues, and Chris has an extraordinary ability to pinpoint the concerns and goals of today’s media companies.”

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“I look forward to building a sales team and showing leaders in media the incredible value of Transform’s technology,” Roberts said. “Content creators, more than anything, want to have meaningful engagement with their audience, and we can now give them advanced tools that show exactly what brings viewers in and what keeps them watching.”

Roberts, a father of four daughters, is also a music composer and film producer, and has been on the board of directors of Our Family in Africa, a non-profit agency that provides aid to orphans throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Comscore Partnering with Snap for Content Viewership Data

Data measurement firm Comscore Nov. 5 announced a partnership with Snap to integrate Snapchat Discover traffic into Comscore’s digital audience measurement. The deal is expected to better qualify Snapchat traffic on both owned-and-operated and distributed content platforms.

“We are committed to helping our partners and advertisers have a better understanding of their audience in order to build long-term, sustainable business models,” said Nick Bell, VP of content at Snap, said in a statement. “Our integration with Comscore is another important step in our continued progress towards establishing valuable measurement practices.”

Indeed, Comscore in February said that 63% of U.S. households (59 million) with high-speed Internet streamed an average of 50 hours of OTT video that month – ranging from 20 minutes to more than three hours per day.

Better understanding its audience has been a priority since the social media platform earlier this year redesigned the Snapchat Discover app, including separating content – including video – from friends, celebrities and publishers into different categories.

The move angered many Snap users, including reality TV star Kylie Jenner, whose tweet that she didn’t use Snapchat much anymore resulted in a $1 billion market valuation drop.

Comscore said the new partnership affords a more “holistic” view of audience scale, with the addition of audience viewing of publisher’s content on Snapchat, to traffic from the publisher’s own entities.

“With so many consumers viewing content through social platforms, it’s vital that this consumption is adequately accounted for,” said Dan Hess, chief product officer at ComScore. “We are excited to partner with Snap to integrate Discover traffic into our digital audience solutions so both publishers and media buyers have a more complete view of audience size, engagement, and potential value.”