Comcast Seeking to Jumpstart Peacock Sub Growth via Connected TVs

Comcast reportedly is working with Chinese TV manufacturer Hisense and Walmart to market a line of connected televisions featuring the Peacock app, among others.

The media giant reported 42 million Peacock sign-ups through the first quarter (ended March 31). While the tally may seem large considering the AVOD/SVOD platform’s launch just nine months prior, the number of actual paying subs (10 million, according to The Walt Street Journal) suggests the service needs some help.

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Peacock will figure prominently next month during the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Summer Olympics, streaming some marquee events live — to paid subscribers.

Increasing that paid base — at a time when rivals Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ have a combined 450+ million subs — has become a major goal for Comcast senior management.

Speaking May 26 on the virtual JPMorgan 49th Annual Global Technology, Media and Communications Conference, CFO Michael Cavanagh shed further light on the metrics, saying about one-third (or 13.8 million) of sign-ups use Peacock on a monthly basis. How many of them are paying a subscription remains unclear.

“We certainly would like to see more signups, more hours used,” Cavanagh said, adding the platform remains a work-in-progress convincing users to stream live sports (Premier League soccer), original sitcoms such as “Rutherford Falls,” “The Office” re-runs and live news going forward.

Earlier this month, NBCUniversal and Samsung announced that Peacock would available on Samsung Smart TVs. The partnership is noticeable since Samsung markets its own branded ad-supported streaming video platform.

“Samsung is a powerful platform and we are excited to bring Peacock to millions of their dedicated streamers across the country,” said Maggie McLean Suniewick, president of business development and partnerships for Peacock.

Indeed, Comcast wants to use Peacock as lure to entice CE manufacturers to incorporate the platform as a conduit for third-party apps linked to the internet, similar to what Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Google Chromecast market.

The Journal reports that under the project name “PlatCo,” the cable TV giant is working to develop a line of connected TVs manufactured by China’s Hisense and sold in Walmart stores under the chain’s onn brand. Walmart also works with Roku for onn-branded soundbars.

“We’re learning as we go [on Peacock],” Cavanagh said. “And that is shaping our plans as we go forward. We’ve brought content production back. Working on getting Peacock on other platforms.”

Report: Smart TVs Account For 50% of TVs Overall; Found in 70% of TV Homes

New data from Hub Entertainment Research shows that smart TVs are now in a large majority of TV homes, and account for over half of all TV sets.

The findings underscore the fact that in the streaming video ecosystem, how consumers access content is changing.

Ownership of a smart TV set is at 70% of TV households this year, a notable milestone in their adoption. Overall, 52% of all TV sets are now reported to be smart TVs, up from 45% in 2020. This indicates accelerated replacement of older, non-smart TVs with smart TVs. Homes with kids or younger adults are more likely to own smart TV sets. Greater proportions of smart TV ownership are found in homes with children under age 18 (59% of all sets are smart TVs), or in homes where the oldest person is under age 35 (61%).

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These findings are from Hub’s “Connected Home 2021” report, based on a survey conducted among 5,000 U.S. consumers. Interviews were conducted in February and March 2021 and covers consumer ownership of many types of media-related technologies.

The Hub study also revealed increasing ownership of TV sets with built-in operating systems from Roku or Fire TV — more than two in five TV households now have one of these sets. More than half (57%) of TV homes now say they have a Roku/Fire TV streaming device or a Roku/Fire TV set — a large increase over our year-ago measure (51%).
Households using televisions streaming content from the internet rose to 77% of all homes from 74% a year ago. Overall, 56% of all homes stream video using a smart TV at least once a month — up from 48% in 2020. In 2019, 42% of consumers planning to buy a new TV set said they would shop for it and buy it in a store; while 27% planned an online purchase.

During the pandemic, the numbers reversed: Only 29% said they planned to buy at a retail store, while 43% planned to buy online.

“The wider adoption of smart TVs and replacement of non-smart TVs turns up the pressure on connected devices like streaming boxes, streaming sticks, and video game consoles,” David Tice, senior consultant to Hub and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “This ‘eliminating of the middleman’ will have a direct impact on how future revenue is split on advanced TV businesses like streaming, interactive shopping, and addressable advertising.”

Report: U.K. Media Buyers Prefer Connected Televisions

Media buyers (advertisers) in the U.K. are taking to connected-television (CTV) advertising in a major way. New data from Unruly suggests that more than two-thirds (67%) of U.K. advertising professionals think CTV is a more-effective (i.e. less-expensive) ad channel than linear TV. The report found that 100% of media agencies and 77% of brands plan to invest more in online targeted marketing over the next 12 months.

CTV advertising, which is targeted toward viewers of streamed content via Internet-connected TVs, mobile devices, smartphone apps, tablets and other over-the-top video platforms, has become popular since it is less expensive than traditional TV marketing.

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Unruly found that 68% of media buyers across the U.K. ad industry believe CTV ads provide better value for money compared to linear TV, and 68% said it was more effective at reaching their target audiences.

CTV consumption has risen sharply over the past 12 months, with previous research by Unruly showing that 54% of consumers are spending more time watching CTV content since the start of the pandemic. With a plethora of new CTV channels and devices entering the market, the competition for CTV audiences’ attention is rising rapidly.

“With the number of U.K. consumers cutting the cord and switching over to free, ad-supported CTV devices and services accelerating since the start of the pandemic, our study shows just how much CTV has become a key channel for brands and agencies,” Alex Khan, Unruly’s international managing director, said in a statement.

The report found that 67% of survey respondents said CTV is more effective than linear TV, providing better value for money (68%) and better targeting (68%). However, the findings suggest more education and insights around CTV are key to driving further growth, with around half of brands (45%) and agencies (50%) wanting a clearer understanding of how CTV fits into their campaigns and more information about measurement and attribution.

Brands are much more likely to want training on the benefits of CTV (48%) and audience-specific insights (48%) compared to traditional ad agencies (23% and 31% respectively).

“With a possible return to normal following the COVID-19 pandemic on the horizon, we believe our research highlights CTV’s ability to deliver across a multitude of goals throughout the purchase funnel,” Khan said.

Rebecca Waring, global VP of insights and solutions at Unruly, said the report underscores that there is no single driver behind the growth of CTV, as buyers are attracted by a broad range of benefits.

“Likewise, in our experience, CTV campaigns are being judged on a variety of KPIs [key performance indicators] that spanned viewability, incremental reach and brand lift. It sounds like a challenge for one platform to satisfy so many different motivations and performance criteria, but according to our research, it appears CTV is rising to that challenge so far, with 98% of buyers happy with the outcomes of their CTV campaigns.”

Tremor Video Launching Connected TV Data Tracking Service

With the rise in ad-supported VOD and “free ad-supported streaming television” or FAST, Tremor Video March 23 announced the upcoming launch of its data-driven TV Intelligence platform. Building upon its experience in Connected TV (CTV) and addressable TV retargeting, Tremor contends its new software will allow advertisers to reach the most relevant consumers through greater breadth and depth of audience data assets.

Launching this May, Tremor Video’s TV Intelligence platform will leverage a set of television viewing and audience data coupled with video to support advertisers’ TV and cross-device media strategies. The software aims to combine “automatic content recognition” (ACR) and set-top box data across a domestic TV viewing footprint of more than 12 million households and 100 million addressable devices.

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Other platform features include combining “rich data sets” with advanced and customizable measurement solutions, working with a team of experts committed to developing campaign strategies unique to the nuanced objectives and needs of each individual client.

Tremor Video entered TV data analysis in 2016, strengthening its marketplace position by acquiring RhythmOne in 2019 and Unruly in 2020. The company’s Unruly subsidiary is recognized as a top supply platform, ranking the No. 1 direct CTV supply partner among Roku’s key app categories.

Vevo Brings Music Videos to Vizio Connected Televisions

Music video streaming platform Vevo Dec. 8 announced that its catalog of more than 450,000 music videos and original content is now available for free (with ads) on Vizio SmartCast Televisions. 

The partnership is part of Vevo’s expansion into the connected television space, as consumers increasingly choose to stream music videos in the home. An internal analysis of Vevo’s viewership metrics revealed a 27% year-over-year growth (Jan.-Nov. 2020 vs. Jan.-Nov. 2019) of music video consumption globally across connected TV devices.

Kevin McGurn, president of sales and distribution at Vevo, said the Vizio deal affords advertisers a guaranteed audience composition, brand safety for their media delivery.

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“Our research shows that consumers want to watch music videos in their living rooms and that they are watching alongside their friends and family,” McGurn said. “Together with Vizio, which has its own impressive scale and reach, Vevo’s content is now available to even more connected television audiences.”

Indeed, Irvine, Calif.-based Vizio was the second-largest shipper of TVs in the U.S. during the third quarter of 2019, with a 16.5% market share, according to data from IHS Markit.

Vizio joins a portfolio of existing Vevo partners, which include YouTube, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Roku, PlutoTV, Apple TV, NetRange, Virgin Media, Sky, Vewd, Xumo and Samsung TV Plus, among others. 

“By building personalized experiences and enhancing our platform with endless entertainment options for consumers, we are also able to serve up new direct-to-device advertising opportunities for brands and agencies,” said Katherine Pond, VP of business development at Vizio. 

 

Music Streaming Video Service Vevo Inks Smart TV Distribution Deal

Vevo Nov. 17 announced a deal with NetRange, provider of Smart TV and OTT video ecosystems, to include the music streaming video platform in nearly a dozen countries powered by the latter’s software.

Vevo is continuing to advance its distribution capabilities at the global level through a series of partnerships in the connected television space. With 26% year-on-year global growth of music video consumption across connected television devices, music video on the TV is enjoying a significant return to the living room, according to Vevo Internal Analytics.

“We are seeing very strong growth across our CTV partnerships, giving us the opportunity to make our content available to music fans across the world,” Rob Christensen, VP of advanced television at Vevo, said in a statement.

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NetRange will join a portfolio of existing Vevo partners, including YouTube, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Roku, PlutoTV, Apple TV, Virgin Media, Sky, Vewd, Xumo and Samsung TV Plus, among others.

“Music through the TV is enjoying an accelerating second wave of popularity driven by apps on connected Smart TVs,” said Tim Schröeder, CEO of NetRange. He said the deal helps consumers access Vevo’s “awesome” catalog of more than 450,000 music videos.

“Specialist music channels drove the first wave, with the broadcaster setting the agenda and the playlist,” Schröeder said. “The second wave is driven by the consumer, who is now firmly in control thanks to the power of the app.”

Report: Streaming Media Devices Top 1.1 Billion

The rise of over-the-top video distribution, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, has pushed the global number of streaming video devices (including connected TVs) in homes past 1.1 billion, according to new data from Strategy Analytics. The finding from 27 countries underscores the role of television manufacturers in OTT video distribution in homes.

Samsung tops the market with 14% of devices in use, followed by Sony (12%), LG (8%), Hisense (5%), TCL (5%) and Amazon Fire TV (5%). It follows then that Samsung’s proprietary operating system (Tizen) accounts for 11% of deployed devices, followed by WebOS (7%), PlayStation (7%), Roku OS (5%, Amazon Fire OS (5%), Android TV (4%) and Xbox (4%).

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The research highlights the fact that streaming video is increasingly viewed on TV screens rather than mobile devices, particularly during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and connected TVs have become a leading platform in video streaming.

“Over-the-top TV and video streaming to the TV is a complex and evolving landscape compared to mobile devices, where only two platforms dominate,” David Watkins, director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement.

David Mercer, VP of media and intelligent home at Strategy Analytics, said that as pay-TV declines, so too will traditional television and video platforms. TV streaming, Mercer says, represents the future of television and video.

“Over the next decade or so we expect Internet streaming to dominate consumption of television and video content across much of the world,” he said. “This research reflects the early stages in the evolution of the platforms which will come to dominate this ecosystem for many years to come.”

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%).

 

Research: More Than 52% of Broadband Households Report Watching Internet Video on a Connected TV

A majority (52%) of U.S. broadband households are watching online video on a TV that is connected to the internet, according to research from Parks Associates.

The study, 360 View: Digital Media and Connected Consumers, also finds that watching TV or movies at home is the most popular leisure activity among U.S. broadband households, with 55% selecting this among their top two favorite leisure activities.

“While the total number of hours consuming videos has declined, consumers are watching more internet video on the largest screen available,” said Billy Nayden, research analyst with Parks Associates, in a statement. “The number of hours consumers report watching video on a TV increased for the first time since 2014, with connected devices enabling internet video services on TV and shifting consumers away from PC and mobile viewing. As OTT competition becomes a battle for the living room, the challenge for device makers and content producers is finding the correct product mix to maximize both profit and utility.”

The study found subscriptions are the dominant business model for OTT services.

As more services emerge, many stakeholders fear an impending subscription overload in U.S. households, according to Parks.

“As consumers’ taste for OTT experimentation wanes, they will start to resist the push to add another monthly subscription to their households,” Nayden said in a statement. “Many providers are starting to lead with freemium and ad-based models, in anticipation of this pushback.”

Other findings were:

  • 19% of consumers subscribe to either Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video and another OTT service, compared to 13% in 2017;
  • Consumers watched 25.7 hours of video per week in 2018, down from 29.5 hours per week in 2016;
  • Local broadcast/channels and programs are the most enjoyed type of programming.

Report: U.S. Continues to Lead Global Online Video Consumption

With the United States the birthplace of subscription video-on-demand, YouTube and other over-the-top video platforms, it should be no surprise that it leads Europe in the consumption of video on smart phones and TVs.

But Europe is catching up, according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

The London-based research firm found that 32% of broadband users in the U.S. streamed video on their smartphone in the third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) compared to 23% in Europe. Consumption of OTT video on the TV was 66% in the U.S. and 60% in Europe.

Indeed, Europeans now consume more online video on the computer, including laptops and tablets (65%) than do Americans (61%).

“As online video viewing in the U.S .continues to grow, consumers are watching TV and film content on a wide range of devices, especially smart TVs and smartphones,” analyst Hannah Walsh said in a statement.“While the online video sector in the US has developed faster than European markets, a similar trend can be seen in both regions.”

Ampere found that 47% of U.S. survey respondents preferred using OTT video platforms (19% very strongly) to watch movies and TV shows compared to 35% (11%) in Europe.

“As [SVOD] continues to progress in European markets, the proportion of consumers who watch video on smartphones will rise, alongside the number of consumers who use online video services as their main way to watch TV,” said Walsh.