TransUnion: Streaming Video Use Tops Linear Television

More consumers are streaming now than watching cable and satellite TV, according to a new survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of TransUnion. Seventy percent of Americans who watched TV between mid-November and mid-December 2021 streamed, including 82% of 18- to 54-year-olds.

The survey of more than 1,800 TV viewers found they watch streaming more actively compared to legacy cable/satellite. Further, they prefer streaming for high-engagement viewing occasions, such as watching their favorite show or when they want to ‘lose themselves’ in a program. The survey also found streaming ads resonate more with consumers — especially the younger audiences advertisers covet — than ads viewed on cable or satellite TV.

“It’s clear that streaming television generates more interest among viewers across content and ads, making free, ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels critical to advertisers. Streaming viewing time will soon eclipse traditional TV, and with tens of millions of streaming-only households already, advertisers need the right tools to identify and reach audiences through streaming channels,” Matt Spiegel, EVP of media and entertainment vertical at TransUnion, said in a statement.

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According to the study, streaming and cable/satellite viewers prefer streaming for entertainment, relaxation and content discovery, while linear TV is more likely to be used to watch news or when the television is on in the background.

Reason to Watch Streaming Cable/Satellite
Watch favorite programs 52% 25%
Relax/Unwind 51% 21%
To escape and lose myself in a program 52% 20%
Really want to pay attention to program 49% 22%
When I am looking for something new to watch (discovery) 58% 17%
Watch the news 33% 50%

Commercials on Streaming TV Garner More Consumer Attention

Overall, ads viewed on streaming platforms engage consumers more than ads viewed on cable and satellite, especially among 18-54 year-olds:

  • Almost twice as many streaming and cable/satellite viewers ages 18-54 claim to pay more attention to commercials on streaming (43%) versus cable/satellite (23%).
  • 59% say streaming TV commercials are more relevant to them than commercials on cable/satellite TV.
  • 47% say streaming has more engaging/interactive commercials compared to only 28% who say the same about cable/satellite.
  • 69% agree that streaming tends to have shorter ad breaks compared to cable/satellite TV, which likely also contributes to increased ad attention.

 

Streaming Remains a Fragmented Advertising Market

“For advertisers, streaming still has its challenges. Consumers stream across multiple devices and applications, many of which own a piece of the streaming ad inventory pool. The different pieces use varying technologies and have unique ways of identifying consumers. That can make it difficult for advertisers to execute audience-targeted campaigns across the streaming ecosystem with the precision and scale they desire,” said David Wiesenfeld, lead strategist of media and entertainment vertical at TransUnion.

The survey found 45% of TV viewers have three or more streaming-capable TVs at home, nearly two in five (38%) have more than one brand of smart TV in their home, and over half of streaming viewers (55%) watched more than five streaming channels in the past month.

“Consumers are telling us how they want to watch TV, and that is increasingly on streaming services. It’s now up to our industry to deliver the seamless, engaging TV ad experiences streaming enables. It starts with being able to recognize consumers across platforms and devices. That will require advertisers, media companies and ad tech platforms to evolve toward an identity infrastructure for TV that serves the needs of all constituents,” Wiesenfeld concluded.

Hub: Consumers Ended 2021 Using Almost Six TV Content Sources

The avalanche of linear and online TV, coupled with subscription streaming VOD, AVOD and FAST channels, resulted in the average consumer accessing almost six different sources for TV content, according to new year-end data from Hub Entertainment Research. That’s double the TV access points used in 2018.

Hub attributes the increase to the launch of new streaming platforms; billions being spent on original content; and an enduring pandemic that continues to keep many viewers at housebound.

The report found that with the surge in streaming services available, 40% of consumers today use three or more of the five biggest SVOD services, which include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu and HBO Max. That’s up from 28% just a year ago.

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While each of these platforms offers thousands of titles to select from — more TV shows and movies than the average person could watch even if they did nothing else — the fact that many people are using so many streaming platforms underscores just how tight the competition for viewers’ attention and time has become.

“As the TV experience evolves, SVOD ‘stacking’ has more impact than perhaps anything else,” Jon Giegengack, founder of Hub, said in a statement. “Viewers are excited about the vast amount of content to choose from. But they need an efficient way to manage all those platforms, which creates an opportunity for aggregators. And for those creating and marketing shows, the competition for each slice of disposable time is tighter than ever.”

Nielsen: As Home Entertainment Options Grow, So Too Does Viewer Diversity

When combining linear television with growing subscription streaming video and free, ad-supported options, the choices in consuming video in the home have exploded. Now, new data from Nielsen contends that as distribution options proliferate, so too does the diversity among video consumers.

In June, Nielsen found that white audiences accounted for 66% of the minutes of linear TV programming viewed, a percentage that increased when including SVOD — driven by Hulu with 69% white viewership.

Among black streamers, 18% gravitate toward Amazon Prime Video, followed by Hulu and linear TV (17%), Netflix (15%) and Disney+ (10%). Latinos prefer Netflix (22%), followed by Disney+ (17%), linear TV (12%), Hulu and Prime Video (11%). Asians account for 4%-6% of streaming/linear TV viewers.

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Black audiences accounted for 24% of all minutes viewed across all AVOD services in June. Among AVOD platforms, Tubi, owned by Fox, attractted the largest share from black audiences: they watched 39% of the minutes viewed from this platform in June, significantly more than the 17% of the minutes they watched on linear TV. Pluto TV, owned by ViacomCBS, also attracts a sizable black audience, which accounted for 36% of the platform’s viewed minutes in June.

Hispanics account for 19% of the U.S. population, which is very close to their representation in the U.S. TV universe (18%). This community, however, spends notably less of its time with traditional TV than it does with streaming services, including AVOD platforms such as Pluto TV and Tubi. The real standout, however, is YouTube, which accounted for 21% of viewing minutes among Hispanics in June.

Nielsen said race and ethnicity aren’t the only demographics content publishers can hone in on. Disney+ attracts the biggest share of minutes viewed among minors, given its extensive catalog of animated classics as well as content from Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars.

Meanwhile, people 55 and older continue to dominate linear TV viewing, while also accounting for notable share of time with Prime Video, AVOD and online TV.

“No matter the platform, creating content that resonates with unique audiences, especially those that have been historically excluded from representation on TV, is a strategy that continues to win with viewers, advertisers and new entrants to the streaming wars,” wrote Nielsen.

Netflix Haunted by Network TV Shows on Nielsen Streaming Chart

Netflix dominating Nielsen’s weekly Top 10 streamed programs on television might not be news, considering the SVOD giant has prevailed against Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney+ since the chart’s inception in September.

What is noteworthy is Netflix’s increased dependence on network TV re-runs, despite the fact the streamer spends billions on original content. Of the 10 top-rated programs from Oct. 12-18, only two are Netflix originals: “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” which finished atop the chart, generating more than 1.8 billion minutes streamed across nine episodes. Adam Sandler’s original Netflix movie Hubie Halloween dropped to the ninth spot with 608 million minutes streamed — down from 969 million minutes during the previous week in its debut.

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The remains seven ranked Netflix programs were broadcast initially on networks CBS/Pop TV (“Schitt’s Creek,” “Criminal Minds,” “NCIS”), The CW (“The 100”), NBC (“The Office,” “The Blacklist”) and ABC (“Grey’s Anatomy”). Newcomer “The Great British Baking Show” from the BBC, finished in the fifth spot.

Brian Fuhrer, SVP of product strategy, said The CW’s post-apocalyptic science fiction drama “The 100” has benefited from the network’s willingness to license episodes quickly after their initial broadcast.

“The CW has been very successful … generating a halo effect” distributing content back-and-forth between linear TV and streaming, Fuhrer said.

Rank Service Show Episodes Minutes Streamed (in millions)
1 Netflix “The Haunting of Bly Manor” 9 episodes 1821
2 Netflix “Schitt’s Creek” 80 1373
3 Netflix “The 100” 100 933
4 Netflix “The Office” 192 900
5 Netflix “The Great British Baking Show” 60 674
6 Netflix “Criminal Minds” 277 647
7 Netflix “Grey’s Anatomy” 361 629
8 Netflix “NCIS” 353 618
9 Netflix Hubie Halloween 1 608
10 Netflix “The Blacklist” 152 591
Source: Nielsen SVOD Content Ratings (Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix), Nielsen National TV Panel, U.S. Viewing through Television.

Netflix Testing Pre-Programmed Linear Channel in France

Netflix created the on-demand VOD experience to disrupt the linear TV ecosystem. Now its going old-school testing a concept called “Netflix Direct” that acts like a linear TV channel streaming pre-programmed content available only to subscribers on the service’s website.

The streaming behemoth began testing the channel in France on Nov. 5, streaming French, U.S. and international content like a a traditional TV channel. Users simply watch what’s available rather than searching for content or browsing recommended programming.

Netflix chose France due to the country’s heavy trend toward television consumption. After a sluggish start, Netflix France now reportedly has about 9 million subscribers.

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“In France, watching traditional TV remains hugely popular with people who just want to a ‘lean back’ experience, where they don’t have to choose shows,” Netflix said in a translated statement.

Netflix ended its most-recent fiscal period with more than 195 million subscribers worldwide. With subscriber growth waning in North America, the streamer’s focus has been on international sub growth. Old-style appointment viewing is geared toward subs who don’t want to search for programming.

“Maybe you’re not in the mood to decide [on a show], or you’re new and finding your way around, or you just want to be surprised by something new and different,” the service stated.

 

Research: SVOD Wakes Up to Reality

Reality was the second-most commissioned genre for linear services and third-most commissioned genre for video on-demand (VOD) services, according to research from Ampere Analysis on commissions, renewals and cancellations in 2019.

Data from Ampere indicates that Netflix has ramped up production of reality content compared with previous years. While in January 2018 Netflix had four original reality TV shows available, by year-end 2019, the number had grown eightfold to 32 original reality titles, with dating show “Love Is Blind” among its top-performing shows in Q1 2020.

Other findings include:

  • The most commissioned genre in the United Kingdom and the United States in 2019 was documentary, with one-off commissions a frequent occurrence. Documentary represented 31% of all first-run series ordered in 2019.
  • The second most commissioned and renewed genre was reality — at 14% of all commissions in 2019.
  • In total, 337 reality shows were commissioned in the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • Comedy closely followed reality and was the third-most commissioned and renewed genre. Almost one quarter (23%) of shows are yet to begin series production, reflecting the longer production period required for scripted series. First-run commissions accounted for 67% of all series announced in 2019 — this means shows being ordered for a first season, including limited series.
  • Most renewals were reality (24%), with comedy (17%) and documentary (17%) following closely behind.

Linear versus VOD findings include:

  • Renewals in 2019 are skewed towards linear commissions, with linear series representing 85% of all U.K. and U.S. renewals in 2019.
  • High-profile unscripted linear renewals included 19th and 20th season order for MTV’s U.K. Reality series “Geordie Shore,” and a 17th season order for NBC’s music competition show “The Voice.”
  • In 2019, linear channels cancelled 515 shows while VOD services cancelled 151. However, this is slightly skewed by the cancellations of series with a predetermined limit on the number of episodes. Once these shows are removed from the analysis, data shows that linear channels cancelled 178 shows, while VOD services cancelled 66.
  • 65% of linear renewals were unscripted series, in comparison with just 25% of all VOD renewals, with streamers preferring to focus on higher-budget, scripted fare.
  • Reality was relatively safe from cancellation on both linear and VOD platforms — only 8% of all cancellations were reality.

“While reality has been a staple for linear TV due to lower per-hour production costs and continued popularity among consumers, VOD services have been increasingly investing in the genre,” said Ampere analyst Olivia Deane in a statement. “With Netflix already commissioning two more seasons of top performing title ‘Love is Blind,’ reality looks like it will be the next battleground for linear and VOD services.”

Roku: Idle TV Sports Viewers Streaming More Movies, TV Shows

With professional (or any) sports on television an early victim of the coronavirus pandemic, new data from Roku suggests linear TV viewers suddenly denied access to sports of any kind have embraced streaming TV shows and movies more aggressively than other Roku subscribers.

March 2020 Week 1 vs. March 2020 Week 3

NBA and NHL linear TV viewers increased their non-sports streaming on Roku among the following genres, respectively:
News: 92.15%, 119.83%
Film & TV: 74.92%, 67.56%
Lifestyle: 66.74%, 51.92%
Live TV: 52.88%, 60.12%
Music: 42.99%, 63.53%
Reality: 41.11%, 30.29%
Kids: 33.48%, 31.29%
International: 23.42%, 34.25%
Comedy: 15.04%, 19.66%
Sports: -49.99%, -71.42%

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“Roku users who watched the NHL or NBA on linear TV in February increased streaming hours on the Roku platform faster than the average Roku user,” Dan Robbins VP, ad marketing & partner solutions, wrote in an April 2 blog.

Robbins said that while overall linear TV usage among sports viewers is flat, they are watching more film, lifestyle, music and news on the Roku platform.

Roku had more than 30 million active accounts in the most-recent fiscal period. It added 1.4 million net accounts in the quarter. Viewers streamed 500 million more hours in Q2 than in the previous-year period, or 9.4 billion hours total.

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Robbins said Roku users who watched the 2019 NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament (“March Madness”) on linear TV also streamed more video this March.

“Over the last three weeks, these fans shifted their prime time viewing to entertainment channels in the film & TV genre,” he wrote.

Linear TV Still Trumps Digital in 2020 Political Ad Spending

As campaigning for the 2020 presidential election heads into its final months, political ad spending will hit an all-time high. The hyper-partisan political environment is driving more money than ever into advertising.

New data from eMarketer on federal, state and local political ad spending, including PAC ads for candidates and lobbying activities, finds the 2019/2020 election cycle will reach $6.89 billion.

This is 63.3% higher than the $4.21 billion in spending in the 2015-16 political season, underscoring the intensity of not only the presidential race, but races for congressional seats as well.

Notably, while over-the-top video continues to cannibalize linear TV, political ad spending still resonates primarily on television.

eMarketer reports traditional TV will account for $4.55 billion in spending, with political TV ads representing 3.2% of all TV advertising and 66% of all political ad spending. TV’s share of political advertising is up a bit from the prior election year, as it takes share from radio and print.

“Political spending floods the TV airwaves during the last weeks before the election, raising prices and crowding out other advertisers,” analyst Eric Haggstrom said in a statement. “Despite cord-cutting and declining viewership, TV still offers strong reach, particularly among older Americans who are likely to vote.”

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Haggstrom said the vast majority of political spending goes to local broadcast or cable/satellite providers, as advertisers focus on states, or postal Zip Codes, that can swing an election.

In the 2019/2020 election season, political digital ad spending will grow to $1.34 billion — representing 19.4% of all political advertising and 0.5% of all digital spending. Digital jumps 203% over the 2015/16 presidential election season, when spending was $440 million.

Primary digital platforms for political ads: Facebook and Google/YouTube.

“One of the key benefits of digital advertising over TV is its targeting capabilities,” Haggstrom said. “Granular demographic, audience and list-based targeting allows political advertisers to efficiently reach the right people with the right message.”

 

Parks: Broadcast TV Still Most-Preferred Home Entertainment Option

Who said linear television is dead?

New data from Parks Associates says most American households still consume the majority (topping 50%) of home entertainment video through broadcast television.

The report suggests that while over-the-top video is popular (especially among younger consumers), survey respondents said they spend nearly 20 hours per week on average watching linear TV, compared to nearly four hours on a mobile phone.

Consumers increased by 33% in 2019 the total amount of time spent watching video compared to 2018. The Addison, Tex.-based research group says adoption of OTT video subscription services peaked at 71% of U.S. broadband households.

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Consumers ages 18-24 watch as much video on a computer as they do on a TV set (approximately 16 hours per week).

One-half of U.S. broadband households subscribe to Netflix. Amazon Prime Video is second with a 38% adoption rate. About 20% of broadband households use the free version of streaming music service Pandora. Consumers 18-34 spend nearly five hours per week listening to podcasts.

Separately, after streaming consumers covet recorded programming from the DVR, followed by VOD and DVD/Blu-ray Disc. Pay-per-view brings up the rear.

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Senior analyst Steve Nason said understanding divergent consumer video (and music) habits is key to driving subscriber acquisitions and minimizing churn among video services.

“Different demographics show markedly different attitudes and preferences,” he said.

Indeed, Parks’ data contends Netflix rates higher among women, while premium OTT services such as Starz, Showtime and HBO Now fare better with men.

Nason said the challenge remains with the coveted 18-34-year-old demo, which is the most fickle yet represents future growth of the industry.

“Younger video consumers’ programming and platform preferences are distinct from older segments, which puts traditional pay-TV providers in a difficult position,” he said. “Changing the traditional pay-TV service model could alienate older, high-ARPU (average-revenue-per-user) customers, but not changing could doom future prospects.”

 

Pay-TV Shocker: AT&T Loses More Than 1.3 Million Q3 Subs, Including 195,000 OTT

HBO Max can’t come soon enough for AT&T.

The telecom giant Oct. 28 said it lost 1.16 million pay-TV subscribers in the third quarter (ended Sept. 30). It lost an additional 195,000 AT&T TV Now (formerly DirecTV Now) subs.

The losses compared with 346,000 pay-TV subs jettisoned and 49,000 DirecTV Now subs added in the previous-year period.

The company attributed the losses to customers rolling off promotional discounts, programmer disputes and competition, as well as lower gross adds due to the continued focus on adding higher-value subscribers.

In the past 12 months AT&T has lost more than 3.2 million pay-TV subs as subscribers migrate toward alternative video services, including over-the-top. It ended the period with 20.4 million combined DirecTV and U-verse subs compared to 23.3 million a year ago.

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AT&T TV Now has lost 713,000 subs since launching Nov. 30, 2016, as a $34.99 monthly standalone online TV service. It ended the period with 1.14 million subs compared to 1.85 million last year.

Unlike other pay-TV distributors, AT&T is not supplanting linear TV subs with high-speed Internet. The company lost 83,000 broadband subs compared to a net addition of 31,000 subs last year. It lost 36,000 DSL subs, an improvement from a loss of 45,000 subs in the previous-year period.

AT&T did add 318,000 high-speed fiber subscribers.

AT&T ended the period with 14.3 million broadband subs, down from 14.4 million a year ago.

“The strategic investments we’ve made over the last several years have given us the essential elements to meet growing demand for content and connectivity,” Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

Stephenson remain upbeat on the company’s future saying the three-year plan delivers both “substantial and consistent” financial improvements over the next three years.

“We grow revenues, [pre-tax earnings] every single year, and free cash flow is stable next year, but then grows in both of the next two years, as well,” he said. “And all of this is inclusive of our investment in HBO Max.”