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.”

OTT Video Consumption Skyrockets

Consumers in the United States continue to migrate toward over-the-top video distribution with streaming viewing hours in the second quarter (ended June 30) more than double (130%) from a year ago, according to new data from Conviva.

While major markets dominate overall domestic streaming consumption, Dallas, Atlanta, and Phoenix are the top 3 cities when streaming video consumption is normalized by population — ahead of tech hubs Boston, New York, and San Francisco.

The percentage of televisions connected to the Internet increased 143%, largely driven by Roku with 173% growth and 43% market share of connected TV viewing. Amazon Fire TV was up 145% in viewing with an 18% share. Apple TV was up 129% to account for 10% share.

“In 2019, streaming is coming into its own,” read the report.

Video-on-demand now accounts for 66% of all viewing hours, up from 59% last year. While mobile devices command near equal share of live versus on-demand viewing at 22.8% and 23.7%, respectively, PCs garner more share of on-demand viewing at 16.5% versus 12.6%, while connected TVs command more share of live at 56.5% versus 53.1%.

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Notably, Roku accounted for the majority of all live viewing via connected TV with 53.8%.

The report found that online TV services such as DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue and Sling TV saw triple-digit growth in viewing year over year.

Market dynamics, including consolidation and the increase of hybrid business models from media companies such as NBC Universal, Apple, Disney and WarnerMedia, suggest there is even more room for growth and innovation as the lines between business models blur.

Conviva said the growth gap between studios content creators and online distributors closed even more in Q2 than previous quarters, but content aggregators continue to best other services in terms of consumption as well as quality, with viewing hours up 168% year over year.

Not to be outdone, publishers in the United States also recorded impressive growth of 137% in viewing hours year over year. The overall growth in consumption is indicative of headroom for existing streaming services alongside future entrants.

“Increased competition will also spur innovation and, as the industry saw with hybrid models with subscription and ads, more convergence in business models,” read the report.

Facebook and YouTube saw 15% more videos posted as news media led social media with the largest growth in average total video views, up 197% year-over-year. Entertainment led in growth of views per video, up 99%.
While ad-supported VOD and online TV continue to gain traction among consumers, Conviva found that ad buffering remains a “silent engagement killer” among users.

The difference between a viewer making it past the 5% mark in the video stream depends greatly on whether or not the ad flows correctly. In addition, the average streaming ad length reached 24.87 seconds despite the fact viewership drops significantly with 20+ second ads.

“The TV industry of yesterday was built on inflexible standards, antiquated measurement, and limited data. Streaming offers the vast potential of a rapidly maturing market, flexibility, targeting, and data to understand the audience like never before.”

Comcast: Lines Between Linear TV, Digital Video Blurring for Marketers

As over-the-top video expands, the differences between traditional pay-TV and streaming video are eroding, according to new data from FreeWheel, a subsidiary of Comcast.

The Video Marketplace Report outlines the increasing convergence between linear TV and premium digital video – and how that can benefit marketers.

In 2018, 40% of all ad views were delivered on a connected TV, while live viewing grew 86% as consumers watched video content in real-time – spurred by PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics and the FIFA World Cup in Russia, according to David Dworin, one of the report’s authors.

“Watching TV can now mean tuning into a program on linear TV, streaming a favorite series on a connected TV, or following a live event on a smartphone. It’s the content, not the pipes, that viewers see,” Dworin said in a statement.

Premium video also saw strong overall growth (27%), continuing a multi-year trend, according to the report.

Indeed, FreeWheel found 52% of advertisers and agencies surveyed are combining digital video and linear TV spots and 91% say they will by 2021.

Another 74% of advertisers say it is important or very important to have integrated digital video and linear TV data/technology distribution channel.

The report cited that just 23% of viewing occurs in the key 8 to 11 p.m. timeslot, while more than 75% of viewing occurs outside of the traditional TV “primetime.”

Another 18% of desktop ad views come between 12 and 3 p.m., underscoring the ease of click-through marketing. Finally, connected TV ad views grew 53% in 2018, which represented 40% of all ad views.