Comscore Launching Cross-Platform Movie Transaction Data Service

Comscore Jan. 25 announced new software that aims to report daily movie sales regardless of release windows and platform. This will include a new reporting system to track box office movies’ performances across all platforms.

Dubbed “Movies Everywhere,” the new product will meld Comscore’s census-based box office and transactional video measurement with OTT video rentals and streaming views. The service will measure a movie’s box office performance in combination with demographics, audience sentiment and consumer behavior, from the big-screen theatrical presentation to the small screen multi-platform release.

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“The undeniable reality is that the pandemic has forced us all to throw out conventional wisdom and take a fresh look at how we operate,” Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution at Paramount Pictures, said in a statement. “We’re confident that people are going to return to theaters in force. But with more consumer choices for content consumption, means we need new solutions to truly understand audience behavior as they engage with content on their terms and their screens. We all have to adapt.”

Comscore will provide the ability to track and synthesize the demographics of moviegoers as well as individuals who viewed advertisements. In the face of rapidly-evolving media consumption patterns, studios could benefit from having audience information available at both the national and regional levels — to identify behavioral trends that can help inform optimal release windows.

“We’ve seen incredible changes in audience behavior over the past year in the way that people consume content,” said Erik Lomis, president of distribution, United Artists Releasing. “As a result, the industry needs to reinvent the way we capture audience engagement.”

Movies Everywhere is the latest in a series of product innovations that Reston, Va.-based Comscore has developed during the coronavirus pandemic, including a new and improved movies reporting and analytics suite and the release of its next generation movie theater management system.

“Just as we delivered the first transparent studio share reports and the first Movies on Demand promo conversion analysis, we are once again innovating to provide studios the consideration needed to reinvent their strategies and thrive in this new era,” said Comscore CEO Bill Livek. 

Comscore: 2020 Global Box Office Revenue Plummeted 71%

The global pandemic wreaked havoc on the movie theater business as thousands of screens were ordered shuttered beginning last March to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Global box office plummeted 71% to $12.2 billion, compared with $42.5 billion in 2019, as large percentages of screens remained closed or operating under limited seating restrictions.

New data from Comscore  attempts to put a positive spin on the situation, suggesting that a combination of a well-managed pandemic response coupled with strong local product led to a strong theatrical recovery in many countries in the second half of the year.

Though as expected the results were much lower than in a traditional year, the aforementioned revenue demonstrates that with careful planning, adherence to local health regulations and engaging content, studios and exhibitors found a path to survival even as the world continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

The $2.25 billion performance of the North American box office underscored the fact several new movies found audiences both at the drive-in and in the limited number of brick-and-mortar theaters that were open despite an almost unlimited availability of filmed content at home on the small screen. Films as varied as Tenet, Wonder Woman 1984, The Croods: A New Age, Unhinged and The Wretched drew movie fans to the big screen in 2020.

China has seen the strongest box-office recovery post-lockdown. Initially closing in January 2020, the Chinese market remained closed for a full six months (despite a brief, and quickly abandoned, re-opening in late March). The whole-market return approach seems to have sold the message better to moviegoers, rebuilding a broader consumer confidence more quickly with local titles like The Eight Hundred and My People, My Homeland powering this rebound, both movies generating more than $400 million in revenue.

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Japan, like every other country, was affected by the reduction of worldwide theatrical releases. However, the ability to have local titles (like Demon Slayer: Mugen Train and I’m From Today!) released into the market allowed Japan to continue to operate with a steady stream of films and thus continued to attract audiences.

Like China and JapanSouth Korea has also realized gains from showcasing local product, allowing the Korean market to boast solid results with the appeal of films The Man Standing Next and Deliver Us From Evil reflected in their strong box office performance.

This success was not limited to the Asia Pacific region, other countries such as Spain had success with individual titles such as Padre No Hay Mas Que Uno 2 (Father There Is Only One 2) that back in late-July served to jump-start Spain’s box office by 100% week over week. The film was number one in Spain, in 2020 generating $15.2 million.

“Though the pandemic has caused much disruption to the theatrical business, there are encouraging signs of recovery in many countries around the world,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, said in a statement. “Today we know that audiences are anxious to return to enjoy the theatrical experience, and the many notable successes prove that if cinemas are open and offer great content, moviegoers are indeed excited to watch appealing movies on the big screen.”

Comscore Nears Refinancing Deal With Charter Spectrum, Retail and Private Equity Groups

Comscore, the media metrics company headed by former Rentrak CEO Bill Livek, is reportedly finalizing a fiscal restructuring agreement that includes funding from cable TV operator Charter Spectrum, the corporate owner of QVC and Home Shopping Network (HSN), and private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.

Charter is a customer of Comscore’s media tracking software, a market that is rapidly evolving as a result of consumer migration toward over-the-top video consumption, including SVOD and ad-supported VOD. Major rival includes Nielsen Holdings, which in September began tracking Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video content ratings over connected televisions.

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Bill Livak

When finalized, Comscore would be in a better position financially to deal with more than $200 million in debt repayment due this year, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited sources familiar with the situation. Charter, in return, would garner enhanced media metrics across its growing distribution channels including pay-TV and broadband.

Comscore in 2019 named Bill Livak CEO after the firm acquired the assets of Rentrak Corp., the Portland-based former DVD revenue-sharing distributor and upstart media metrics company, for $768 million. At Rentrak, Livak spearheaded the firm’s move away from packaged media to next-generation products aimed at measuring theatrical and digital movies and TV everywhere content.

 

Report: Disney+ Generated $270 Million in ‘Mulan’ PVOD Sales

The Walt Disney Co.’s calculated foray into premium VOD distribution for original movie Mulan reportedly has been a fiscal home run. Yahoo! Finance, citing data from 7Park Data, contends the movie has been purchased by 9 million Disney+ subscribers for $29.99 each through Sept. 12. That tally would suggest the $200 million budget movie, which was released on Sept. 4, has generated an impressive $270 million in direct-to-consumer revenue.

Unlike a typical PVOD transaction that gives a viewer a limited time period, usually 48 hours, to watch the movie, the Disney PVOD system, dubbed Premier Access, is set up to allow Disney+ subscribers to pay the premium fee to unlock the movie on Disney+ for as long as they are subscribers, effectively giving those who pay early access to the movie before it becomes available to all subscribers in a few months.

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App download tracking firm Sensor Tower previously disclosed that downloads of the Disney+ app skyrocketed 68% through the Labor Day weekend (Sept. 4-6), compared with the previous-week time period. Samba TV, which tracks viewership on smart TVs, reported that 1.1 million U.S. households watched Mulan on Labor Day weekend.

Disney has not officially released any Mulan sales data, but CFO Christine McCarthy Sept. 10 told an investor group the media giant was “very pleased” with PVOD sales data thus far.

The results, if true, would be another dagger to the theatrical window and suggests that Disney’s theatrical brand resonates (at significantly higher margin) as much with consumers in the home as at movie theaters. Disney generated a staggering $11.1 billion at the global box office in 2019 — including 33% of all domestic box office ticket sales. It was the first time a studio had controlled that much of the North American box office since 1999, according to Comscore.

Regardless, the movie, which stars Liu Yifei in the iconic Mulan role, had received middling reviews, plenty of controversy over filming locations in China accused of violating the human rights of ethnic Muslims, and lackluster box office sales in the Communist country.

Comscore: Five OTT Services Command 80% of Streaming Hours in U.S.

Comscore on July 6 released new data that found five streaming video services (Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, Netfli and YouTube) collectively represent more than 80% of all OTT streaming hours in the United States.

Since the report is co-partnered with YouTube, much attention is given to the Google-owned social media platform, including increased (by 13%) household penetration in 2020, and 34% uptick since March 2019.

“We uncovered recent, rapid changes in the industry due to the growth of OTT services, content and devices, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on consumer behavior,” Comscore’s Alison Robart and Kim Gardner wrote in a post.

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They wrote that since January, while all streaming services have increased their reach, most of the growth came from services that reached ad-supported households. Overall, ad-supported video-on-demand services have extended their reach at a faster pace than non-ad-supported services (+9% growth in reach vs. +5%, respectively, between January and April).

“This is good news for advertisers, as it means their content is getting in front of more viewers,” Robart and Gardner wrote.

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While traditional devices such as desktops/laptops, phones and tablets have the largest reach across U.S. wireless households, Internet-connected TVs reached more than 70% of domestic households.

In addition to the growing reach of connected TVs, the amount of time spent watching content has increased as well. Time spent on YouTube increased 22% for total hours streamed (March 2019 vs. March 2020).

Notably, with audiences home more than ever, ComScore found that more than 60% of signed-in viewers of YouTube on TV watched a videos featuring titles that contain “Home Workout” (+340%), “Cooking/Recipes” (+45%), and “Meditation Videos” (+45%) and “Self-Care” (up +100%).

 

Comscore: Transactional VOD, SVOD Sales Peaked in April

The coronavirus pandemic has increased consumer consumption of home entertainment platforms such as subscription streaming video and transactional video-on-demand across all content genres.

New data from Comscore said TVOD sales peaked in April, but were consistently above 12 million for the months of March, April and May. The peak month of April represented a 33% increase in TVOD sales from February.

Subscription video-on-demand transactions followed a similar pattern, peaking in April 2020 with over 262 million transactions. But transactions declined in May 2020, potentially signaling a gradual return to pre-pandemic levels.

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Ad-supported VOD transactions, which Comscore said is the VOD category with the highest transaction rates, also peaked in April but held steady through May as well. AVOD transactions numbered approximately 518 million in April and approximately 515 million in May, which represents a less than 1% decrease month-over-month.

 

“When we look at year-over-year change by key genres, we see that April had the greatest year-over-year increase — confirming that April was likely the peak of VOD viewing during the coronavirus pandemic,” Comscore said in a statement. Across all categories, VOD transactions were up 24% in April over April 2019. Transactions declined in May, but still remained about 9% higher than May 2019.

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With a shutdown in live sports and fitness gyms, Comscore said sports and fitness VOD saw 232% and 486% increases, respectively, in transactions through April. The sports category continued its rapid growth in May, generating 925% more transactions than in May 2019.

“This underscores just how much Americans have missed live sports and fitness content during the peak months of April and May 2020,”Comscore said.

Comscore: April U.S. Consumer Consumption of OTT Content Grew in Both Households and Total Hours Over Last Year

U.S. consumer consumption of over-the-top content grew in both total households and total hours from April 2019 to April 2020, according to a report from Comscore.

In April 2020, 69.8 million homes used OTT, an increase of 5.2 million homes compared to April 2019, and the average home viewed 102 hours of OTT content (including AVOD, SVOD and TVOD) during April 2020, an increase of 17 hours compared to April 2019, according to the “State of OTT” report.

There has been a spike in OTT engagement since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that is holding steady for now, according to Comscore. OTT consumption saw “exceptional growth” starting in early March 2020 through April 2020 and has since plateaued, according to the report.

The “Big 5” streaming services (Netflix, Disney+, Amazon, Hulu and Youtube) accounted for 82.5% of OTT streaming hours in April 2020. In monthly OTT households from January 2020 to April 2020, Netflix grew 6%, Youtube 13%, Amazon 10%, Disney+ 14% and Hulu 17%.

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Growth in reach of ad-supported services is outpacing that of non-ad-supported services with ad-supported services growing 9% when comparing April 2020 to January 2020. Non-ad-supported services grew only 5%.

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Households streaming on smart TVs grew the most, up 22% from April 2018 to April 2020. Households streaming on boxes/sticks grew 15% during the time period, while those streaming on gaming consoles fell 6%.

Total viewing hours increased 2.3 billion viewing hours across live TV, DVR, VOD, and OTT in April 2020 versus April 2019. Of this, OTT alone added 1.4 billion total viewing hours.

In April 2020, 21% of connected TV viewing households were cord cutters (households who cut the cord within the past five years), up 3% from April 2019, with 21% cord nevers (households with no cable/satellite subscription in the past five years), up 3% within the same time frame.

The use of pure-play virtual MVPDs to view OTT content has seen a 70% year-over-year growth between the three-month average of February through April 2019 and 2020.

CNN, Fox News Continue Monthly Digital Viewership Battle

With President Trump regularly politicizing news coverage on CNN and Fox News (and other media outlets), both media companies have gone on the offense touting monthly digital viewership and market penetration.

CNN June 16 proclaimed it had “172 million U.S. Unique Visitors in May,” or 64% of the domestic Internet population, according to Comscore.

Fox News Digital said it finished May tracking double-digit increases versus the prior year across several performance indicators, including multiplatform views (up 17% from May 2019) and multiplatform unique visitors (up 12% increase).

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It claimed a sixth consecutive month with more than 100 million multiplatform unique visitors, adding that its Fox News Mobile App finished ahead of the CNN Mobile App for the 18th month in a row in unique visitors (8.5 million vs. CNN’s 7 million), and its third month scoring over 8 million unique visitors.

CNN countered that CNN.com had 151 Million mobile unique visitors in May compared with 94 million for FoxNews.com. The WarnerMedia property had 668 Million multiplatform video starts in April compared with 379 million for Fox.

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Among millennials (between the ages of 18-34), CNN touted 46 million unique multiplatform visitors compared with 21 million for Fox. For political coverage, CNN reported 74 million multiplatform unique visitors in May compared with 29.7 million unique visitors for Fox News Politics.

Meanwhile, Fox said its online coronavirus landing page was the top category page on the site in terms of page views and visitors spent five times longer on Fox News Digital’s coronavirus landing page than CNN’s live blog, according to data from SimilarWeb.

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%)
CNN.com – 5.4 billion (up 90%)

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

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

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