Video Streaming Widens Appeal Over Pay-TV Among Telecom Customers

Video streaming expanded its lead over subscription TV service in terms of customer satisfaction, rising to a score of 76 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s 100-point scale.

According to the ACSI Telecommunications Report 2018-2019, subscription TV service stagnated at 62, tied with internet service providers for last place among all industries tracked by the ACSI — subscription TV, ISPs, fixed-line telephone service, video-on-demand service and video streaming service.

Video streaming topped all industries tracked.

“Video streaming once again proves itself to be the best of the telecom industries in customer satisfaction,” said David VanAmburg, managing director at the ACSI. “Traditional telecom providers have tried to step up their game, but they’re not providing original content the way video streaming is, and in part they suffer guilt by association — if customers aren’t satisfied overall with Comcast, they’re probably going to ding Comcast’s on-demand service too.”

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Among video streaming services, Netflix secured first place at 79 after sharing the lead with Sony’s PlayStation Vue and Amazon Twitch the previous year. Netflix ranked at the top for original content among all streaming services, according to the ACSI. Sony’s PlayStation Vue landed in second place at 78, followed by the Microsoft Store at 77. Hulu stepped up to match Amazon Prime Video and Apple iTunes at 76. Five services clustered at 75: CBS All Access, Google Play, Amazon’s gaming platform Twitch, Walmart’s Vudu and Google’s YouTube. Dish Network’s Sling TV was the most improved, meeting HBO at 74. Starz matched the combined score of smaller platforms at 72, while Showtime followed close behind at 71. AT&T’s DirecTV Now fell to 69, ahead of only Sony Crackle, which remained unchanged at 68.

For the past six years, customer satisfaction with subscription TV has languished in the mid-to-low 60s, according to the study. AT&T’s U-verse TV held the lead for subscription TV at 69, followed by Verizon’s Fios at 68 and Dish Network at 67. AT&T’s satellite TV service DirecTV came in at 66, Altice’s Optimum tallied 61, and Charter’s Spectrum came in at 59 to tie with Cox Communications. Frontier Communications and Comcast’s Xfinity came in at 57. Mediacom followed closely at 56. Altice’s Suddenlink tumbles to the bottom of the category at 55.

Customer satisfaction with video-on-demand service slipped to an ACSI score of 67 as viewers continue to turn toward streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, according to the study. AT&T’s U-verse TV service held the lead a year ago, but this year shared the top spot with Verizon’s Fios at a score of 72. Satellite provider Dish Network dropped to 71 but remained just ahead of DirecTV, unchanged at 70. Frontier Communications debuted in the category with a score of 67, in line with the industry average. Three decliners met at 66: Cox Communications, Altice’s Optimum and Comcast’s Xfinity. Charter’s Spectrum remains unchanged at the bottom of the category with a 64.

Unchanged at a score of 62, ISPs remain at the bottom of the ACSI rankings. Most ISPs are still falling short of providing good service at an affordable price, according to the ACSI release. Verizon’s Fios was stable at the top of the category with an ACSI score of 70, but AT&T Internet closed in at 69. Altice’s Optimum fell to 63 but remained the leader among coaxial providers. Meanwhile, Comcast’s Xfinity inched closer to the industry average at 61. Cox Communications tallied 60, tying Altice’s Suddenlink. Charter’s Spectrum and CenturyLink came in at 59.

Lionsgate Inks International Distribution Rights to Hulu Series ‘Ramy’

Lionsgate has picked up international distribution rights to A24’s comedy series “Ramy,” which debuted on Hulu and has been picked up for a second season.

“When I watched ‘Ramy’ for the first time, I knew this is a show that has the potential to break through because I couldn’t stop watching,” said Lionsgate president of worldwide television and digital distribution Jim Packer. “I have the utmost respect for our partners at A24 and am thrilled to expand our longstanding distribution partnership by bringing ‘Ramy’ to audiences around the world.”

Lionsgate will showcase “Ramy” to international buyers as part of its L.A. Screenings presentation May 19. The star and co-creator of the show, Ramy Youssef, will be at Lionsgate’s presentation to talk about his inspiration and vision for the show.

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“Ramy” tells the story of a 20-something, first generation Egyptian-American on a spiritual journey in his politically-divided New Jersey neighborhood. The show explores the challenges of what it’s like being caught between a Muslim community that thinks life is a moral test and a millennial generation that thinks life has no consequences. Youssef stars alongside Amr Waked, Hiam Abbass and May Calamawy.

Roku Selling 1 Million Shares for $80+ Million

Streaming media pioneer Roku May 16 announced it is offering 1 million shares of common stock through Morgan Stanley.

The offering is expected to generate more than $80 million in funds the Los Gatos, Calif.-based company said it would use for working capital and general corporate purposes.

Founder/CEO Anthony Wood May 15 appeared on CNBC’s “Mad Money” with Jim Cramer to explaining how Roku — since launching with Netflix in 2008 — has brought streaming video in the living room through a user-friendly interface and low-cost hardware.

Roku CEO Anthony Wood

“Our goal is to build scale of our active accounts by licensing our technology to third-party TV manufacturers and advertising,” Wood said. “We help a lot of new streaming services build audiences for their platforms.”

Indeed, Roku has almost 30 million registered subscribers accessing proprietary and third-party content, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and pending Disney+ and Apple TV+ services.

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“Streaming video is very popular right now,” Wood said. “We had almost 3 million people cut the [pay-TV ] cord last year, more than 1 million in the quarter alone. So there’s a lot of momentum right now.”

Wood was asked if big media companies such as Comcast (parent of “Mad Money” creator NBC Universal), which are launching their own over-the-top video platforms, have become “frenemies” with Roku.

“Media companies are partnering with us, not destroying us,” Wood said. “Back when we launched Roku, it was just Netflix and most media companies were trying to avoid streaming. Now they realize it’s the future and they’re heavily invested.”

He said Comcast advertises on the platform and the Xfinity TV app is on the platform, in addition to NBC content.

“Content is what drives streaming,” Wood said. “We have built a purposeful operating system for the TV. It’s designed for the business model TV.”

Bob Iger: Disney Prepared to ‘Pivot’ in New Direction with Hulu Ownership

Disney’s acquisition of Comcast’s 33% stake in Hulu for total control of the SVOD platform is part of the Mickey Mouse company’s move toward engaging with consumers directly, CEO Bob Iger told an investor group.

The transaction also enables Disney to roll out Hulu and Disney+ internationally unfettered by possible conflicts with Comcast’s ownership of Sky and streaming service Now TV.

Speaking May 14 at the 6th Annual MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in New York, Iger said full control of Hulu (and Hulu with Live TV) coupled with ESPN+ and Disney+ streaming service (launching Nov. 11) would enable the company to target consumers separately through sports, TV content and movies, or collectively in a digital bundle.

“Managing your customers seamlessly across platforms, I think, has real value,” Iger said. “We have the ability to leverage the content engines in the company [Fox, FX, ABC, Disney, etc.] in a significant way here.”

For example, the executive envisions content creators such as FX and ABC producing programming for streaming on top of their pay-TV and broadcast channels.

“There’s a lot to this [internal synergies],” he said.

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Iger said his focus on direct-to-consumer distribution occurred on a “fateful” day in August 2015 when he claimed to be “rather candid” on an earnings call about the state of the pay-TV ecosystem, and ESPN in particular.

“We were seeing the disruptive effect of technology on traditional businesses,” Iger said, adding that none of the Disney business units (i.e. movies and TV shows) at the time — outside of the Disney Store and theme parks — interacted with the consumer directly.

“We decided we should be in the direct-to-consumer business,” he said, adding that theater operators, pay-TV operators, big box stores and ecommerce platforms have “known and owned” the Disney customer.

“We didn’t and we thought it was a big hole in terms of the company’s value proposition,” Iger said.

That realization prompted Disney to make an initial investment in BAMTech, which later (2017) morphed into complete ownership of the streaming tech company powering HBO Now, MLB.tv and NHL.tv, among other OTT platforms.

“Knowing essentially who [Disney’s consumers] are, we think we can create more value for the company and for them,” Iger said.

Disney Acquiring Full Stake in Hulu

As expected, Disney is acquiring Comcast’s stake in Hulu and Hulu with Live TV, a transaction that becomes effective in five years. As part of the deal, Disney assumes full voting control of Hulu immediately.

Comcast has the option to sell its 33% stake in Hulu for $27.5 billion or what the SVOD platform is appraised at in 2024, which ever is greater in value.

On last week’s fiscal call, Disney CEO Bob Iger indicated the media giant was in discussions with Comcast about acquiring the cabler’s Hulu stake.

Disney previously acquired Fox’s Hulu stake after purchasing 20th Century Fox Film Corp. Hulu separately acquired WarnerMedia’s 10% stake.

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Regardless, Disney agreed Comcast’s ownership interest in Hulu would never be less than 21% over the next five years, and that Comcast is guaranteed to receive at least $5.8 billion under the agreement.

Comcast also agreed to extend the Hulu license of NBC Universal content and the Hulu Live carriage agreement for NBC channels until late 2024 and to distribute Hulu on its Xfinity X1 platform.

NBC Universal can terminate most of its content license agreements with Hulu in three years’ time, and in one year’s time NBC will have the right to exhibit on its own OTT service certain content that it currently licenses exclusively to Hulu in return for reducing the license fee payable by Hulu.

‘Lucifer’ Returns to Take Top Spot on Parrot Analytics Digital Originals Chart

The fourth season of “Lucifer” bowed on Netflix May 8, propelling the supernatural series to No. 1 on Parrot Analytics’ digital originals ranking the week ended May 11, the first time the show has appeared on the chart.

“Lucifer,” adapted from the DC Comics Sandman comic book. was canceled by the Fox network a year ago and subsequently picked up by Netflix, making it eligible for digital originals tracking with the debut of the new season, which registered 49 million average daily Demand Expressions, the proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content. According to Parrot, “Lucifer” grew 57.8% in expressions, from 31 million, compared with the previous week.

YouTube Premium’s “Cobra Kai,” a sequel to 1984’s The Karate Kid, dropped to No. 2 after two weeks in the top spot, registering 41.4 million expressions, down 16% from the previous week.

DC Universe’s “Doom Patrol” held onto the No. 3 spot with 31.2 million expressions, up 2.4% from a week earlier.

Another DC Universe series, “Titans,” remained at No. 4 with 29.9 million expressions, down slightly from the previous week.

Netflix’s “Stranger Things” jumped to No. 5 for the week with 28.2 million expressions, up 7% from the previous week, when it ranked eighth.

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The Demand Expressions metric draws from a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

A “digital original” is a multi-episode series in which the most recent season was first made available on a streaming platform such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu.

By comparison, the biggest TV show of any kind for the week was HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” currently in its final season, which drew 607 million expressions.

“Lucifer” was the No. 6 overall show in expressions for the week, rising from No. 27 a week before.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States, based on the firm’s  proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

Subscription Streaming Overtakes Physical/Digital Transactions in the U.K.

As expected, subscription streaming video and music services have supplanted physical/digital transactions in the United Kingdom, the world’s third-largest home entertainment market.

More than 60% of consumers collectively streamed music, video and video games in 2018, compared to 39% who purchased content in physical or digital formats.

“This is a significant moment,” Kim Bayley, CEO of the Entertainment Retailers Association, said in a recent statement.“New digital services have created a “generation rent” for whom [direct] access models seem natural. It is nothing less than a revolution in the entertainment business.”

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The trend mirrors the United States, where subscription streaming (i.e. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, etc.) accounted for 60% of consumer home entertainment spending in the first quarter, ended March 31.

Similar to U.S., the Internet and streaming are driving overall home entertainment segment growth. U.K. revenue grew for the sixth consecutive year in 2018 to a record £7.5 billion ($9.7 billion), up 9.4% from $8.8 billion in 2017.

Digital now accounts for 76.1% of revenue. As recently as 2011, digital’s market share was less than 20%. Around 85% of total entertainment retail revenue is generated over the Internet.

Meanwhile, sales of DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K UHD Blu-ray continue. Brits spent $523.5 million on DVD movies and TV shows; $145.7 million on Blu-ray and $21.9 million on 4K UHD Blu-ray.

“Video has gone full circle – from a rental-based business at the dawn of VHS, to an ownership model with DVD and now a subscription/rental model,” Bayley said.

Disney CEO Bob Iger Ups Possibility of Acquiring Comcast’s Hulu Stake

Disney CEO Bob Iger May 8 confirmed the existence of discussions with Comcast about the possible acquisition of the cabler’s 33% stake in Hulu and Hulu with Live TV online platform.

Disney owns 66% of Hulu following its $71.3 billion acquisition of select 21st Century Fox assets and WarnerMedia selling its 10% ownership stake.

Speaking on the fiscal call, Iger didn’t disclose additional details except to say Disney remained mindful of its fiduciary duty to keep Comcast in the loop on Hulu activities, including global expansion and content licensing.

Disney CEO Bob Iger

“There has been dialog with Comcast about them possibly divesting their [Hulu] stake, and you can expect that if that were to occur, there would probably be some ongoing relationship as a result of [shared] programming,” Iger said, adding that any expansion of the service abroad would have to be done with Comcast’s cooperation.

“We’re bullish about Hulu for a number of reasons, but mostly because we see it as the best consumer television proposition out there,” he said.

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While Disney invests heavily in the ramp-up of subscription streaming video platform Disney+, it remains proactive about Hulu – despite the service’s ongoing fiscal drain.

Indeed, Disney “Direct-to-Consumer & International” business segment, which includes Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+, saw revenue for the quarter increase 15% to $955 million and segment operating loss increase from $188 million to $393 million.

The increase in operating loss was due to ongoing investment in ESPN+, which was launched in April 2018, costs associated with Disney+, a loss from the consolidation of Hulu and higher losses from streaming technology services (formerly BAMTech), partially offset by an increase at International Channels.

As a result, upon the closing of the Fox transaction, Disney recorded a one-time gain of $4.9 billion as a result of remeasuring its initial 30% interest in Hulu to fair value.

 

 

 

‘BritBox’ Streaming Video Service Eyes Year-end U.K. Launch

BritBox, the British-themed subscription streaming video service operated by ITV and the BBC in the United States, is set to launch in the United Kingdom in the second half of the year.

ITV disclosed the release window in it financial results. The SVOD service aims to compete with Netflix, which has more than 10 million subscribers in the U.S.

BritBox, which is co-owned by AMC Networks, launched in the U.S. in 2017 priced at $6.99 monthly, taking on Acorn TV (which AMC also owns), Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. It ended 2018 with about 250,000 subscribers.

Last July, the service bowed its first original series: “The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco.”

“BritBox will be the home for the best of British creativity – celebrating the best of the past, the best of today and investing in new British originated content in the future,” Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV, said earlier this year.

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‘Cobra Kai’ Still Kicking Atop Parrot Analytics Digital Originals Chart

The second season of “Cobra Kai” held onto the top spot on Parrot Analytics’ digital originals chart for a second consecutive week the week ended May 4.

The show, a sequel to 1984’s The Karate Kid, registering 49.4 million average daily Demand Expressions, the proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content. That was up 20% from the previous week, when it returned to No. 1 following the debut of its second season on YouTube Premium.

Hulu’s true-crime drama “The Act” held the No. 2 spot with 31.6 million expressions, down 19.5% from the previous week.

DC Universe’s “Doom Patrol” rose to No. 3 with 30.4 million expressions, up less than 1% from a week earlier, when it was No. 6.

Another DC Universe series, “Titans,” rose a spot to No. 4 with 30.1 million expressions, down 3% from the previous week.

Netflix’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” slipped to No. 5 for the week with a 24% decline in expressions to 27.5 million.

The biggest jump in the week was Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which rose from No. 15 to No. 7 with 26.9 million expressions, up 53% thanks to the debut of a full trailer for its third season, which arrives June 5.

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The Demand Expressions metric draws from a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

A “digital original” is a multi-episode series in which the most recent season was first made available on a streaming platform such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu.

By comparison, the biggest TV show of any kind for the week was HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” currently in its final season, which drew 603 million expressions.

And the syndicated game show “Jeopardy” continues to enjoy a bounce thanks to 22-day champion James Holzhauer, who has set several of the show’s records en route to nearly $1.7 million in winnings. “Jeopardy” was No. 9 on the overall show list with 47.8 million expressions. Holzhauer will be absent for the next two weeks, returning May 20, as the show presents its annual teachers tournament.

“Cobra Kai” was the No. 6 overall show in expressions for the week.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States, based on the firm’s  proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.