Kantar: HBO Max Took 20% of New SVOD Subs in Q4

Broader app placement and a hit movie certainly have helped WarnerMedia’s HBO Max subscription streaming service, with a new data from Kantar Worldpanel showing the service took 20% of all new SVOD subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2020 ended Dec. 31, 2020.

That’s up from 13.4% in the third quarter. The research firm said last year ended with 233 million SVOD subs in the U.S.

For the full year, Disney+ led all services with 18.3% of new subs, followed by Amazon Prime Video (17%), Hulu (13.2%), Netflix (12.5%), Max (12%) and Apple TV+ (6.2%).

In the crowded SVOD market, HBO Max launched last May and struggled out of the gate due to a variety of issues, including disputes with Roku and Amazon over app placement and a confusing debut while HBO Go and HBO Now were still operational.

Since then, the two other HBO streaming services have been shuttered and Max has become available on Roku and Amazon Fire TV. But perhaps the service’s biggest boost was the same-day streaming access to theatrical release Wonder Woman 1984.

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Dominic Sunnebo, SVP at Kantar, contends that while Netflix subs remain highly engaged, the content slate and current pricing proposition does not appear strong enough to drive continued subscriber growth in the presence of multiple highly competitive service launches.

Of course, Netflix again defied naysayers, besting Q4 subscriber growth estimates and generating a record 37 million in new subs in 2020. The service ended the year with more than 203 million subs worldwide.

Kantar: Technology Continues to Challenge, Drive Media Distribution

Technology will continue to redefine the media landscape in 2020, creating opportunities and challenges for marketers. According to Kantar Worldpanel’s new global 2020 Media Trends & Predictions report, marketers and media owners will be challenged to develop the skills, engagement models and measurement capabilities to meaningfully engage consumers in the crowded media landscape.

Kantar contrends that while new and evolving media channels will create opportunities, the deluge of digital content distribution will make it more difficult to connect with individual consumers.

The report says marketers will need to navigate the ‘data dilemma,’ meeting consumer demand for relevant, personalized content, without breaching trust and privacy. And as third-party cookies start to crumble, advertisers will need to find alternative measurement solutions. A cookie is created when someone first visits a website that wants to store visitor information.

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Kantar says the technology trends transforming the media landscape next year include:

• 5G finally gets real: The marketing industry will be one of the key beneficiaries of the 5G era, enabling far greater capabilities to reach and engage with consumers but taking advantage of the 5G opportunity will require a significant transformation from marketers.

• The battle of the streaming platforms heats up: New players will see the battle of the streaming platforms heat up, but an increasingly cluttered market will drive subscription fatigue among consumers.

• Turning up the volume: Brands will turn up the volume and find their voice as we enter a new age of audio advertising. Newer audio channels are poised to gain mainstream prominence.

• Content meets commerce: Content and commerce will converge as ‘shopvertising’ evolves from shoppable social to shoppable TV and digital out-of-home resulting in a contraction of the closed-loop marketing cycle.

• The spaces that brands can credibly occupy: Brands get back to reality: Brands will balance their digital presence with more real-world experiences, meaning we could see a slowdown in the pace of digital advertising growth.

• Brands take a stand: Taking the lead from consumers, brands will become more radical in 2020. But they need to ensure their media strategy is aligned with their values and purpose.

• Just grow up: influencer marketing must measure what matters: Influencer marketing will mature as brands start to collaborate more deeply and take measurement more seriously in 2020.

• Get ready to play: e-sports goes mainstream: esports will go mainstream over the next 12 months, presenting lucrative opportunities for the media owners and advertisers that learn the rules of the game.

• Turn and face the change: The trend towards media in-housing: The trend towards media in-housing will continue as more brands build their own teams of digital experts, pushing agencies and advertisers out of their traditional comfort zones, into a new collaborative and exciting space.

• Cookies start to crumble: Changing the recipe: The demise of cookies could leave many marketers in the dark. Advertisers need to prepare now for the new “mixed economy”. Direct integrations between publishers and measurement partners will enable true cross-publisher measurement for the first time.

• The data dilemma: Doing the right thing with data: Faced with impending legislation like the California Consumer Privacy Act in January 2020, privacy ethics will come to the fore and marketers will design personalisation initiatives with a people-first, rather than tech-first, mentality.

• Campaign 2020: Political advertising will create crowding and clutter in 2020, especially in the U.S. media landscape. Brand advertisers will need to rethink their strategy during campaign season.

“Increased advertising and content possibilities, along with the data generated, create a plethora of opportunities for marketers and media owners,” Jane Ostler, global head of media effectiveness, said in a statement. “Other channels, like influencer marketing and the newer audio channels, will face a make-or-break moment; their credibility could be at risk unless they evolve and live up to their promise. Marketers will need to improve their understanding of how different touchpoints effectively work for their brands – online and off.”

British Trade Group Lobbies for Packaged-Media Survival

On the heels of British entertainment retailer HMV’s second time into administration (a form of bankruptcy), trade group British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE) has issued an impassioned plea for the survival of packaged media.

When the His Majesty’s Voice retail chain, operating more than 120 stores in the United Kingdom selling DVD, Blu-ray Disc and music CDs, filed for administration on Dec. 28 – the second such filing in six years – executives cited a 30% year-over-year decline in DVD sales for the move.

BASE, in a statement, said the percentage decline was misleading, and in fact, represented a single week on the British charts when comparing the 2017 retail release of Warner Home Video’s highly touted Dunkirk.

The trade group said year-over-year DVD sales actually dropped 17% and still represent nearly 60% of consumer spending on movies — especially on Top 10 theatrical releases.

“HMV is a key player in physical sales across TV, comedy and special interest genres, allowing consumers to browse the remarkable breadth and depth of titles showcased in-store,” said BASE.

“Standout titles consistently achieve great DVD sales results; in December, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again sold over 1 million DVDs in less than a month, the first title to do so in five years since Despicable Me 2 [both Universal Pictures Home Entertainment] in 2013.”

The group said retail still offers the best avenue for impulse purchases of movies and TV shows. Indeed, 20% of home video consumption in 2018 was done on impulse, contributing £70 million ($90 million) to the market. BASE said 30% impulse buys of packaged media occurred at HMV stores.

Analyst Kantar Worldpanel reported that in-store sales accounted for 60% of all spend over the year, and research conducted by Vista found that 81% of UK consumers continue to see the physical store as vital to the shopping experience.

“Impulse purchases add significant value to the physical market, and HMV, accounting for one in three impulse entertainment buys, plays a huge role,” Ian Foster, managing director, NBC Universal, said in a statement. “For this, and many other reasons, HMV’s place on the high street is vital for the category and we are very keen to see a positive outcome.”

BASE said HMV and brick-and-mortar retail have contributed to 4K UHD Blu-ray sales accounting for 13% of BD sales, with Blu-ray now representing 24.3% of the total physical disc market value.

The group said the potential customer base for 4K content continues to grow, with Futuresource Consulting projecting a UHD TV installed base of 8.5 million households and 2.2 million capable 4K Blu-ray players across the U.K. at the end of 2018.

Indeed, 41% of U.K. shoppers went to a store specifically to buy 4K Blu-ray titles, compared to 27% for Blu-ray titles in general.

“The growth of 4K UHD within the market has helped increase the average price paid for a Blu-ray up to £14.21, a year-on-year increase of the average Blu-ray selling price of 5.3%, attesting to the fact that consumers are willing to invest more in a high-quality home entertainment experience,” said BASE.

The group said that despite media reports suggesting younger consumers largely covet digital and streaming video services, the demo still purchases video content on physical formats. Citing Kantar Worldpanel data, 18.4% of 16-24-year-olds bought a disc in 2018, and 16-25-year-olds accounted for 11% of all disc consumption, which was equal to 2017.

BASE said that since news of HMV’s administration broke, there has been a “groundswell” of affection for packaged media on social media and op-ed pieces.

“Personal accounts of outstanding service, recommendations from knowledgeable staff members leading to new favorites in music and film, as well as accidental finds in the store’s extensive catalog highlight the true value of HMV, with experiences that cannot be replicated via online purchasing,” said the group.