Philo Now Streaming via Google Chromecast

Online TV service Philo July 31 announced that its Android app is now Chromecast-enabled. Users can stream the $20 monthly service on TV by casting from the app. The distribution is part of “Philo Connect,” a new campaign enabling video casting from any Android mobile device to any Chromecast or Chromecast-supported TV.

San Francisco-based Philo plans to add Philo Connect to more devices including iOS, Web, FireTV, and Roku.

“We took the time to build Philo Connect to expand our experience to support synchronized viewing on all media devices, not just Chromecast,” Devon Ray Williams, head of product, Philo TV, said in a statement.

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The announcement comes on the heels of a busy year for Philo, which includes the addition of three new channels (TV One, get TV, INSP); the launch of add-on channels (Epix and Starz); a partnership with the National Urban League; and the donation of $1 million in video ad inventory for Black-owned businesses and social justice initiatives to run spots on Philo free of charge.

Analyst: Amazon Fire TV Users Prefer Streaming Netflix

Amazon Fire TV and Roku continue to spearhead the streaming media device market in the United States and select foreign markets. New data from Ampere Analysis contends Roku has a key leadership position in both the U.S. and in Canada — although Amazon is “hot on Roku’s heels” in both countries.

While Fire TV is the leading device in many of Amazon’s retail markets and has a market share of over 40% in both Germany and Japan, it still trails Roku in the U.S. Indeed, among domestic Fire TV users, the slight majority prefer to stream Netflix than Prime Video.

Ownership of Google Chromecast is high in the Nordics and Netherlands, which lack any serious Amazon retail presence. Google has over 50% market share in Netherlands and Denmark.

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Device owners show subtle differences in the streaming services they rely on, reflecting device owner strategies, interfaces and the products they promote.

Although Netflix is still the key service for Fire TV owners in the U.S., Amazon device homes are more likely to subscribe to Prime Video and HBO Now compared to Roku device owners.

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By contrast, Roku device owners show a slight skew towards Hulu and Netflix compared to Fire TV households.

Finally, Sweden tops all countries for household streaming media device penetration at 55%. That compares to Denmark, the U.K. and U.S. at 51% household penetration.

“More than any other sector, the streaming adapter market is a competitive battleground for companies with wildly different strategic imperatives — ranging from Amazon and the support which Fire TV provides for its retail operations, Apple and its high-end device ecosystem, Google and its advertising businesses, and Roku and its mix of monetization mechanisms,” Minal Modha, consumer research lead at Ampere Analysis, said in a statement.

 

Hulu Expands 4K Content Access Beyond Apple, Google Chromecast Devices

Hulu, which dropped 4K content in 2018 after launching access in 2016, reintroduced 4K content this summer exclusively to subscribers using Apple TV and Google Chromecast. Hulu 4K content in 2016 was limited to Sony PlayStation 4 Pro.

The Disney-owned SVOD with 28 million domestic subs Oct. 14 announced it is expanding 4K access to Xbox One consoles — reportedly with plans to include Amazon Fire TV and LG smart TVs pending.

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Hulu 4K content, which requires a 4k UHD TV but doesn’t support high-dynamic range (HDR), is limited to original programming such as “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The First,” “Castle Rock,” “Ramy,” “Atlanta,” and “Catch-22,” among others.

The expansion comes as Disney plans to bundle Hulu with ESPN+ and pending SVOD service, Disney+ for $12.99 monthly.

 

Parks: Streaming Media Player Ownership Flattening With Roku and Amazon Leading Space

More than a third (39%) of U.S. broadband households own a streaming media player, but that’s a mere 1% increase from 2018, according to new research from Parks Associates.

Ownership has flattened, the firm noted, although purchase intentions are higher for 2019 compared to previous years.

The report, 360 Deep Dive: Adoption and Use of Connected Video Devices, found connected video device manufacturers may need to shift focus from hardware sales to service and advertising revenue, as ownership reaches saturation, according to Parks.

“Streaming media has reshaped how U.S. consumers interact with entertainment content and services, so as the market matures, sales increasingly come at another vendor’s expense,” said Parks senior analyst Kristen Hanich in a statement. “Video-quality features are the most important factors when consumers buy a connected video device, although Roku and Amazon have certainly benefited among streaming media players by having broad product portfolios that include lower price points.”

Among streaming media players, Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV are the clear market leaders with almost 70% of the installed base of streaming media players in the United States, according to the firm. Consumer-reported data reveals that between Q1 2017 and Q1 2019, Roku’s share of the U.S. streaming media player installed base grew from 37% to 39%, while Amazon’s share of the installed base increased from 24% to 30%.

The report looks at the state of the connected video device space, including smart TV platforms, streaming media devices, smart set-top boxes and gaming consoles, examining the changing roles of these devices and how consumers are engaging with new functionality, such as voice control and live TV integration.

“As the addressable market shrinks, rivalry increases,” said Parks senior analyst Craig Leslie in a statement. “The combined installed base for Roku and Amazon is three times larger than the nearest competitor. The adoption of Roku and Fire TV streaming media players continues to grow at the expense of Chromecast and Apple TV.”

Amazon, Google Bowing Apps on Competing Streaming Media Devices

In a first, Amazon and Google April 18 announced the two companies will launch the YouTube app on Amazon Fire TV devices and Fire TV-enabled smart TVs, as well as the Prime Video app to Chromecast and separately-enabled devices.

Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Apple TV and Roku dominate the streaming media device market.

Google Chromecast

Prime Video will also be available across Android TV device partners, and the YouTube TV and YouTube Kids apps will also come to Fire TV later this year. Google owns Android TV.

The YouTube app will be the easiest way for users to watch YouTube content on Fire TV. Users will be able to sign in to their existing YouTube account, access their full library of content, and play videos in 4K HDR on supported devices. In addition, standalone YouTube TV and YouTube Kids apps will also launch later this year on Fire TV devices and Fire TV Edition smart TVs where available.

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Amazon Fire TV Stick

“Bringing our flagship YouTube experience to Amazon Fire TV gives our users even more ways to watch the videos and creators they love,” Heather Rivera, global head of product partnerships at YouTube, said in a statement.

Chromecast, along with Android TV users, will have access to the Prime Video catalog, including the latest seasons of Amazon Originals “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Hanna,” “Homecoming,” “Bosch,” “Catastrophe” and “The Grand Tour,” along with Amazon Original movies such as Donald Glover’s Guava Island, and Academy Award-nominated films The Big Sick and Cold War. 

With Prime Video users can also rent or purchase titles or choose from more than 150 Prime Video Channels, including Showtime, HBO, CBS All-Access, Cinemax and Lionsgate-owned Starz.

“Whether watching the latest season of ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,’ catching teams go head-to-head on Thursday Night Football or renting a new-release movie, customers will have even more ways to stream what they want, whenever they want, no matter where they are,” said Andrew Bennett, head of worldwide business development for Prime Video.

Report: Third-Quarter Streaming Video Consumption Up 63%

Consumption of streaming video – via over-the-top platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu — continues to mushroom.

New data from digital measurement firm Conviva found a 63% increase in third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) video viewing hours from the previous-year period. Video program plays increased 53%.

“Streaming TV consumption shows no signs of slowing down, and publishers have stepped up to the plate, delivering better quality and reliability that viewers have come to expect,” Conviva CEO Bill Demas said in a statement. “The demand for quality is pushing connected TVs to the top in terms of device share, commanding more than 50% of total viewing hours at the expense of PCs that have lost 7%, while mobile remains relatively flat.”

Indeed, the report — based on Conviva’s claims of tracking 1 trillion data events daily around the world – found that live sports (i.e. NFL football) streaming increased 3% in September, driven by Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football webcasts. Amazon said more than 8 million people collectively streamed the first four games of the season.

Connected TV video plays increased 145%, while viewing hours increased 103%. Online TV platforms such as Sling TV, YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, Spectrum TV Plus, PlayStation Vue, Pluto TV and Fubo TV helped mushroom video plays 292%, including 212% increase in viewing hours from the previous-year period.

And consumers are streaming longer-form (TV shows and movies) entertainment, with 111% increase in video plays and 93% increase in video hours streamed.

Finally, Roku remains the No. 1 streaming media device, commanding 40% market share in viewing hours.

IHS: Consumer Interest in 4K UHD Video Gaining Traction

With sales of 4K Ultra HD televisions becoming the norm — 50% of all shipments in China, North America and Western Europe — consumer interest in UHD entertainment is slowly increasing.

New data from IHS Markit found that 36% of consumers in five countries surveyed said 4K UHD content was important to them when choosing video services. That interest rose to 50% in homes with pay-TV and over-the-top video.

The data – based on an April sample of 12,005 online survey respondents in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Brazil – found that respondents between the ages of 17 and 44 exhibited the most interest in UHD content; men age 25 to 34 were more interested than women in the same demo, while respondents aged 45 and over reported the least interest.

Among respondents who indicated UHD was important to them, 75% subscribed to Netflix compared to 16% among non-UHD enthusiasts.

The preference for high-resolution video is in line with the growing, albeit small, number of UHD titles available and the rising penetration of 4K-capable TV sets. IHS Markit research reveals that more than 40% of TVs shipped globally in the second quarter of 2018 were 4K capable.

Respondents interested in UHD content were more likely than others to own connectable video devices such as video games consoles and streaming media devices such as Apple TV and Google Chromecast.

Owners of Apple TV, PS4 Pro, Xbox One X and other 4K-capable devices had the highest connection rates to the primary TV screen, indicating a desire to consume the latest technologies and watch high-definition video content.

This finding is particularly important during a time when most connected devices allow access to similar video content apps. Lower-cost devices, like Amazon Fire TV and Roku, saw little or no change in household penetration compared to those who indicated UHD is important to all other video subscribers.

When subscribing to both pay TV and OTT video services, respondents who thought UHD was important were also more likely to be driven by device availability, including the ability to watch video content on more than one device, or to watch on a specific device. The likelihood of renting or purchasing digital video content also increases across all content types, including new movie releases and TV box sets.

While OTT content availability has largely been driven by OTT video services, a small but growing number of pay TV operators now make UHD content available to their subscribers, primarily via “on demand” services. These findings underscore the importance of UHD among a well-connected and content-hungry consumer base, because they also tend to be big spenders on the latest technologies and content services, with a demonstrated preference for premium products.

Vudu Adds Sony TVs to 4K UHD Compatible Devices List

Walmart-owned online movie service Vudu.com has upgraded its Android TV app to include Sony televisions, enabling users to watch Vudu UHD titles in 4K with Dolby Vision HDR and HDR-10 functionality.

4K claims four time the pixels of 1080p with added life-like color of high dynamic range technology.

Vudu currently offers 4K UHD on most TV brands (Samsung, LG, Vizio, inadddtion to streaming media devices Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, TiVo, Xbox One S and Nvidia Shield video game consoles.

“4K and HDR represent the best possible cinematic experience in the home – and we want to be able to deliver that experience to as many people as possible, accorss as many devices as possible,” Kristine Lopes, senior manager, product marketing at Vudu, said in a statement.

IHS: Amazon Device Owners Consume More Prime Video

The adage, “When in Rome …,” appears to apply to owners of Amazon media devices such as Kindle, Echo and Fire TV more than among other streaming device ecosystems.

New data from IHS Markit found that more than two-thirds of Fire TV owners subscribed to Prime Video in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2018 — a higher penetration than for any other connected streaming device, including Roku, Apple TV and Google Chromecast.

This noteworthy as brand loyalty is especially important in video, because entry prices for streaming devices are relatively low, and all of them offer somewhat uniform content offerings, so consumers have a wide range of choices.

While Apple changed the music landscape by tying its transactional music service to hardware more than a decade ago, it is now hard to lock consumers into one content ecosystem.

Consumers expect flexibility and the ability to access their content across devices, so building a fluid ecosystem ensures higher brand loyalty and trust, resulting in increased usage of devices and services and the likelihood of future purchases.

Indeed, Fire TV owners are also more likely to select Prime Video as the “best video service for content on the go” and “flexibility of viewing.” More than 25% of Prime Video subscribers believe Amazon provides the largest content catalog.

They are also twice as likely to turn to Prime Video first when looking for video content to watch.

The findings are part of IHS’ “Connected Devices and Media Consumption” survey conducted in April.

The data would appear to highlight the importance of a proprietary device and user interface that allows consumers to gain access to a wide range of content services, while enabling the device manufacturer to control the user experience.

The value-added benefits of offering streaming devices and video services, in terms of perception and usage along with the ability to maintain their direct-to-consumer relationships and interfaces, has driven other operators and device manufacturers to follow Amazon’s lead, according to IHS.

Fire TV was one of the top sellers in Amazon’s Prime Day in July, and there are rumors of an upcoming user experience update, which is likely to result in improved consumer engagement with Prime Video.

World Cup Soccer Helps Double Q2 Global Streaming Video Consumption

Spurred by the FIFA Russia World Cup 2018 quadrennial soccer competition, global streaming video consumption in the second quarter (ended June 30) topped 5.5 billion hours, up 115% from 2.5 billion hours in the previous-year period, according to new data from Conviva.

The media-measurement firm said a record-breaking 7.9 million people streamed the France vs. Argentina World Cup match on June 30. The quarter saw 17.2 billion total streaming video plays across 973 million apps with as many as 7.9 million concurrent streams.

North America continues to lead in OTT video consumption with 69.2% market share, followed by Europe (15%), Asia (14.2%) and the rest of the world (ROW) at 1.2%.

Streaming hours increased 139% in North America; 90% in ROW; 32% in Europe and 22% in Asia.

Conviva also measured which devices are used to stream and found that in Q2 there continued to be a shift away from PCs (24% of plays) towards mobile devices (49% of plays), especially for short-form content. On the other hand, long-form content consumption shifted toward larger screens via connected TV platforms such as Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast, which accounted for 51% of total viewing hours.

Among connected TV platforms, Roku continued to lead with 22% of all viewing hours and 8% of all plays. Meanwhile, Xbox, Google’s Chromecast, and Amazon’s Fire TV all showed tremendous gains, experiencing more than two times video consumption compared to the same period a year ago.

“The demand for streaming TV globally is growing at a stunning rate,” Bill Demas, CEO of Conviva, said in a statement. “Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV are leading the connected TV charge with growth and share of engagement.”