Survey: More Than 40% of U.S. Consumers Report Buying or Renting Digital Titles Since Pandemic Hit

Consumers increasingly turned to digital video services in the second half of 2020, including transactional VOD, according to a December 2020 Futuresource survey.

The jump in digital uptake in the periodic “Living With Digital” consumer survey taken at the end of the year came after “an already impressive and partly pandemic-fueled first half,” according to Futuresource.

Transactional digital video in the second half continued to tally strong gains in user uptake. In the United States, more than 40% of consumers said they had bought or rented a title since COVID-19 hit, while in key European markets, more than 30% of consumers said the same thing. While the new wave of AVOD services is less established in Europe, more than 40% of respondents said they accessed one of the key AVOD services such as Pluto TV in the previous month.

SVOD uptake also continued to increase, driven by multiple service uptake, but also due to the continued strength of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Overall, Amazon Prime uptake was one of the big winners, with the pandemic boosting the appetite for “free” shipping and video streaming, whilst strong gains in the United Kingdom were boosted by the increased availability of Premier League Football.

“Disney+ has been a key driver of multiple SVOD uptake in 2020,” said David Sidebottom, principal analyst at Futuresource Consulting, in a statement. “Other services will also continue to help drive this phenomenon into 2021, with the likes of more recently launched services such as HBO Max, Paramount+ and Discovery+ key to this, especially in the USA.”

The December survey indicated a continued future appetite for new SVOD services, with 30% of SVOD subscribers saying they will take more services in 2021 than currently and only 10% saying they will take less.

“However, consumers are becoming increasingly savvy about managing their subscriptions,” Sidebottom said in a statement. “Over one quarter say they will dip-in-and-out of services, more so in 2021 than currently, highlighting once more the importance of churn management for services in an increasingly cluttered landscape. This increasingly fragmented SVOD landscape is also mirrored across overall video viewing trends.”

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Interestingly, viewers said they are also branching out to other forms of video viewing than SVOD and AVOD, including disc. The survey saw respondents in many countries report an increasing proportion of their viewing share on typically less dominant viewing categories at the end of 2020 compared to June 2020. Viewing digital transactional video, social media video, broadcast VOD and even watching DVDs and Blu-rays, marginally increased their share within the period, although they remain comparatively small against traditional TV and SVOD viewing share in all countries, according to Futuresource.

Streaming Filmed Content May Be Up, But Music Isn’t Sharing in the Spoils, Study Finds

Streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu may be chalking up significant upticks in viewership due to the coronvirus pandemic stay-at-home orders, but music services aren’t enjoying a similar bonanza, according to Futuresource Consulting.

Indeed, the research firm in a study released April 27 said that since the lockdown began, some music streaming services have been seeing a drop in consumption.

“With key music consumption moments such as daily commutes, in-car, office and gym times being removed,” the study said, “consumers’ routines have been disrupted and so are their music consumption habits.”

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Futuresource also says the type of audio content being consumed has changed, “to more home-friendly lean-back and mood playlists as well as indoor activity podcasts (e.g. news, fitness, cooking, kids).”

Futuresource said it expects the growth of music streaming subscriptions to be relatively unaffected across 2020 as a result of COVID-19, with a total subscriber count forecasted to reach 371 million globally at the end of 2020, up 19% compared to 2019, according to its recently published Streaming Music Outlook & Services Overview report.

Futuresource: Global 4K UHD TV Shipments to Surpass 100 Million Units in 2018

Pushed by average retail prices reaching parity with HDTV sets, annual global shipments of 4K UHD TVs are expected to surpass 100 million units in 2018, according to the latest market tracking report from Futuresource Consulting.

“The market will continue to grow with double-digit CAGR throughout our forecasting period to 2022,” said Tristan Veale, market analyst at Futuresource, in a statement. “What’s more, high dynamic range — HDR — is beginning to make its presence felt and will be included in over half of all 4K UHD TVs sold worldwide in 2018, though consumer understanding remains limited.”

The Asia Pacific region leads the way in volume, helped along by China, the largest single market for 4K UHD. North America has also seen strong uptake of 4K UHD, with rapidly declining prices and a general preference for larger screens, according to Futuresource. In Europe, the firm projects shipments will grow by 30% this year.

Global shipments of UHD Blu-ray players are expected to almost double the installed base of standalone players this year, according to Futuresource, while UHD compatible media streamer shipments will rise more than 85% year-over-year, accounting for nearly half of all media streamer shipments. Game consoles are significantly increasing the installed base of UHD Blu-ray capable homes, bolstered by consumers updating consoles and taking advantage of upgrades available for both the PlayStation and Xbox, according to Futuresource.

“When it comes to the content, SVoD remains the primary gateway for consumers to get their UHD fix,” said Veale in a statement. “Netflix is the key service driving UHD SVoD spend. Depending on the country, around 20 percent to 30 percent of subscribers have opted for the UHD premium tier.”

Physical media is growing as well, according to the firm.

“UHD Blu-ray content continues to progress ahead of the expectations of many, with global consumer spend on track to reach $360 million this year,” said Veale in a statement. “UHD Blu-ray has held onto its price premium and, as a result, consumer spend continues to outperform digital sellthrough of UHD, despite the volumes being almost identical.”

Broadcast of the format is also making strides.

“Broadcast UHD has also received a welcome boost in 2018, with February’s Winter Olympics and the FIFA World Cup accelerating many broadcasters’ plans to introduce 4K UHD coverage, making high quality streams available,” Veale said in a statement. “However, for wider uptake, a reduction in the cost to deliver UHD and HD broadcasts simultaneously is needed. IP delivery is expected to be key to this, at least in the short to medium term.”

Futuresource: 4K to Move Mainstream in 2018

2018 will be the year 4K UHD moves mainstream, accounting for nearly 50% of all TVs shipped worldwide by year end, according to a market tracking report from Futuresource Consulting.

The report, which includes TVs, broadcast coverage, STB installed base, Blu-ray players, Blu-ray software, digital transactional video and digital subscriptions, focuses on the latest key developments and future consumer trends in 4K UHD.

“As with HD before it, 4K UHD is being driven by TV display purchases,” said Tristan Veale, market analyst at Futuresource. “It’s a thriving segment, and by 2022 the installed base of 4K UHD TVs will be three times larger than today, achieving 37% global household penetration.”

Although there is a content gap, that gap is being filled, according to Futuresource. The amount of 4K UHD content available to consumers has grown significantly over the first half of 2018, with broadcast content helped along by a range of international sporting events with worldwide appeal, according to the consulting firm.

“February’s Winter Olympics in South Korea was broadcast in 4K UHD, thanks to the efforts of the Olympic Broadcasting Services and Japanese broadcaster NHK,” Veale said. “Over in Russia, all FIFA World Cup games were also shot in 4K UHD, delivered via satellite, cable, IP and OTT. These two sporting events proved to be ideal test beds for broadcasting the format and demonstrating its benefits.”

Beyond broadcast, 4K UHD presents a window of opportunity for Blu-ray, with up to 30 4K UHD Blu-ray discs released every month and player prices dropping into the sweet spot, according to the consulting firm. “Despite this, consumer uptake of 4K UHD Blu-ray players is slow, perhaps due to a lack of vendor initiatives and retailer support beyond the USA and Canada,” the firm stated.

The availability of 4K UHD content on SVoD services reinforces consumer perceptions that this delivery mechanism is at the cutting edge of entertainment technology, according to Futuresource.

“However, there is a very small, if any, additional cost for UHD via SVoD services which is contrary to positioning this as a premium product,” the firm stated.

Digital transactional models for 4K UHD are also experiencing “a period of turbulent pricing,” according to Futuresource.

“Service providers and rights holders alike are experimenting extensively with price points, content bundles and delivery mechanisms, creating a customer journey that could become disjointed and fragmented,” according to the firm.

Although UHD Blu-ray prices remains largely consistent, with a premium price, digital services are significantly undercutting this in an attempt to invigorate the format and drive a digital ownership mentality.

“With digital UHD it’s all about capturing a big slice of the audience as quickly as possible, attracting eyeballs and locking people in for the long-term,” Veale said. “As a result, we’re seeing some aggressive promotions out there, with 4K UHD content available to buy at prices in line with the purchase price of HD movies. However, companies need to keep an eye firmly fixed on consistency, ensuring confusion remains at a minimum.”

View Futuresource reports here.