Nielsen: 20% of Consumers Streaming Video

In U.S. households with over-the-top video, about 20% of residents are streaming content on a daily basis, according to new data from Nielsen.

The report, citing an online survey, found that 60% of Americans subscribe to more than one paid video streaming service. That’s important considering the influx of new OTT video services entering the market. Nielsen also found that 93% of U.S. consumers said they would either increase or keep their existing streaming services.

According to survey respondents, price is the most vital attribute for a streaming service. This puts the impetus on platforms to satisfy customers’ return on investment, while being affordable enough for the rest of their media habits.

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In fact, when asked about what made them cancel a paid video subscription service, 42% of respondents said they didn’t use it enough to justify the cost.

“The proliferation of on-demand streaming services is the most profound media disruption of the last half-century,” Peter Katsingris, SVP of Audience Insights, said in a statement. “And this disruption is driving profound, real, actionable opportunity across all facets of the industry.”

Netflix accounted for 31% of household streaming, followed by 21% for YouTube, 12% for Hulu and 8% for Amazon. Another 28% was spent viewing other streaming services.

While there are myriad attributes that make a streaming service attractive to users, content, including original and proprietary, is what ultimately gets them to sign-up, according to Nielsen.

Among the top four reasons why survey participants decided to subscribe to additional streaming services were all content-based, with the top reason being to expand the content that they had available.

About 20% of respondents said they canceled a service after watching all the content that they were interested in.

“We’ve only just entered the first chapter of the ‘streaming wars,’ but rest assured that the fight will continue,” Nielsen said. “The platforms that can adapt to the marketplace may rise to the top; should they not continue to evolve nor expand their content libraries, then consumers just might replace them.”

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High-Profile SVOD Newcomers Spearhead Crowding Market

As widely reported, Apple and Disney are launching separate high-profile branded SVOD services next month, with NBC Universal slated to do the same next year.

The moves prompted AT&T to announce a public unveiling on Oct. 29 of WarnerMedia’s subscription streaming video platform HBO Max — months before its early 2020 launch.

Each new service has a lot riding as parent media/tech companies forge full-steam ahead into crowding over-the-top video waters heretofore controlled by Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney-owned Hulu domestically.

On the retail end, consumers now face myriad inexpensive SVOD services delivering original and non-exclusive content. When combined, the choices can be overwhelming and expensive.

“Options are great for consumers when it comes to deciding what to watch,” said Peter Katsingris, SVP of audience insight at Nielsen. “But they’re also decidedly complicated for an industry that continues to fragment and search for unique ways to influence their behavior and perhaps steer eyeballs toward their network, program, service or brand.”

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Indeed, Disney CEO Bob Iger calls the pending $6.99 Disney+ service “the most important product the company has launched” in his 14 years as chief executive.

Disney expects to attract 60 million-to-90 million subscribers for Disney+ through 2024, which would be more than half of Netflix’s current 158 million global subs. It is giving away the service to Verizon’s unlimited data subs as part of a promotion.

Apple is targeting more than 900 million iPhone users worldwide through various incentives for the $4.99 Apple TV+.

Short-form video competitor Quibi ($4.99) from DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, inked a partnership with T-Mobile, securing access to the telecom’s 83 million subscribers.

The crush of pending streaming video services prompted Netflix CEO Reed Hastings last month to tell a British audience to expect “a whole new world starting in November” following the SVOD invasion, which includes Hulu’s U.K. market expansion.

“Scale will be key in the [direct-to-consumer] space, but clearly the coming year is just the first phase in this era,” David Sidebottom, analyst with Futuresource Consulting, told the IBC365 platform. “D2C services will likely evolve, with their parent companies continuing to evaluate the benefits of D2C vs. third party [content license] agreements.”

“This will be particularly the case as services expand on an international basis, where legacy agreements, existing scale distribution partners and differing levels of SVOD uptake will be factors in their evolving D2C strategy,” he said.

Michael Pachter, media analyst at Wed bush Securities in Los Angeles, believes that with the surge of original content and catalog exclusives such as “Friends” and “The Office” migrating online, consumers have more reasons to choose OTT.

“If all that was happening was incremental services being offered, consumers might feel bamboozled,” Pachter said. “Instead, so much content is shifting to OTT services that many consumers will opt to subscribe to more than one service.”

Pachter says exorbitant pay-TV contracts paved the way for OTT video, with online TV offering a less expensive premium channel option.

“I expect cord cutters to look at rabbit ears and multiple SVOD services as a substitute. That’s why DirecTV lost 2 million subs since AT&T bought them,” he said.

More importantly, Pachter says that with Netflix losing Disney/Fox, NBC Universal and Warner Bros. content, consumers will feel compelled to try new services offering recognizable programming and/or favorite shows.

Indeed, the analyst believes Netflix will lose around two-thirds of its content (measured in viewing hours) and will have a tough time replacing that with content of similarly perceived quality.

Disney+ has an enormous library of content not available anywhere (Snow White, Fantasia, etc.) that will find its way to their service; the studio is also going to put its recent movies there and take those away from Netflix.

“That tells me that Disney+ gets to 30 million subscribers relatively quickly,” Pachter said.

He believes that Apple TV+, with just 12 original shows, will struggle with non-iPhone users unwilling to pay for limited content.

“Until Apple TV+ gets critical mass, there is no way they will be competitive,” Pachter said.

The analyst is “pretty confident” the HBO Max model will work, if it transfers existing HBO Now subscribers for a free probationary period lured by original content.

“If it’s $3 to $4 per month, they’ll get 10 million subs immediately and probably get to 80% conversion [from HBO Now] in a few years,” Pachter said.

Nielsen Says It Can Track Amazon Prime Video Viewership Trends

Nielsen reportedly can now track viewership trends for Amazon Prime Video original content with the same software launched two years ago — with much fanfare — to track Netflix’s domestic TV viewing trends.

Nielsen markets the “Subscription Video on Demand Content Ratings” software to content clients tracking their programming on third-party SVOD platforms.

“This is a significant milestone for Nielsen, especially considering the upcoming high-profile streaming service launches,” Brian Fuhrer, SVP product leadership at Nielsen, said in a statement. “We think the addition of Amazon Prime Video will allow rights owners an added ability to understand both the size, as well as the composition, of their streaming audiences relative to other platforms or programs.”

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While Amazon hasn’t commented on the data disclosure, SVOD rival Netflix contends Nielsen’s data is incomplete because it does not account for portable devices and desktop viewing, in addition to global audiences.

But for Sony Pictures Television, Nielsen’s data for “The Boys,” which it co-produces with Amazon Studios, is invaluable. The series attracted 4.1 million Prime households per episode over the first 10 days of release — in addition to 6 million for the premiere episode.

“Nielsen has the ability to help us understand what these audiences are doing outside of those platforms as well — how and what they are watching on other on-demand and linear services,” James Petretti, SVP, U.S. research and analytics at Sony Pictures Television, said in a media statement.

Regardless, Nielsen’s viewership tracking of Prime Video and Netflix content does not necessarily fit into the marketing plans for the SVOD giants, according to Jeffrey Lodgson, media analyst at JBL Advisors.

“[Public ratings] would not serve Netflix’s plan or perspective on the entertainment universe,” Logsdon told TechCrunch. “Talent may try to use viewership numbers to extract higher compensation than a more simplistic renewal process.”

Nielsen: Time-Shifted Viewing Increases Program Popularity

With so many options available to consume video in the home, it is no possible to determine a hit TV show by only counting the audience that watches on the day it airs, according to new data from Nielsen.

Nielsen contends different types of programming hold sway over different types of viewing behavior, from the live, must-see action of a sporting event to the carefully curated dramas sitting on that DVR “shelf” as a viewer waits for the perfect moment in the week to watch it.

When the media industry — be it the critics weaving in viewing metrics to complement their POV to programming decision-makers weighing the ratings—considers defining a hit in measurement terms, it’s crucial that the full viewing audience is considered.

“Anything less would be a short-sighted slight to the content creators operating in a $72 billion advertising gauntlet as well as to the fans who simply might not be able to make the live airing and opt for this delayed viewing,” Nielsen wrote.

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In the first quarter of the year, adults (18+) spent nearly four hours each week watching delayed, or time-shifted, viewing (via VOD or DVR).

Among all genres of programming at the beginning of the last television season (Oct. 1 to Dec. 30, 2018), video consumption up to 35 days after live or same day broadcast, generated a 10% lift in viewing — or an average of 2.7 million more viewers for a particular show.

Among viewers 18-49, time-shifting upped ratings 14%, or 1.1 million viewers, respectively.

This trend becomes more pronounced, however, depending on specific genres of programming and the viewer demo using time-shifted options.

In Q4 2018, delayed viewing helped drive ratings 40% higher for primetime dramas and 65% higher among consumers 18-49. The trends continued for less popular shows, which saw viewership increase 20% through time-shifted access.

“Content owners or those looking to leverage data from research teams to media outlets, have an impetus to take into account the added value that delayed viewing often brings and not discount the full viewing picture,” Nielsen wrote in a post.

Nielsen’s Gracenote Launches ID System for Movies, TV Programs

Gracenote, a Nielsen company, is bowing a new “video ID distribution system” enabling creators and owners of media programming to more easily distribute their movies, TV shows, short-form videos and other related content to global over-the-top video services, smart device manufacturers and cable and satellite TV providers.

Using the system, studios and networks will be able to register their content with Gracenote‘s Video Database and obtain connected identification markers to enable better search and discovery in program guides, interfaces and OTT catalogs.

Content creators and owners can submit movies, TV programs or short form video content for inclusion in Gracenote’s Video Database, which brings together metadata, linear schedules and VOD/OTT catalogs for more than 85 countries.

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In addition, content holders can submit their own descriptive metadata, tags and imagery, which Gracenote will editorially review and prepare for broad distribution.

“The new system will help creators and owners secure the broadest possible distribution of their programming while providing leading VOD and OTT services a means to easily identify and access relevant metadata for next-generation search and discovery experiences,” Simon Adams, chief product officer at Gracenote, said in a statement.

With the entertainment industry is in the midst of a massive change as new services, platforms and devices compete for audiences and mindshare, the volume of video content grows exponentially.

Gracenote says OTT video services require improved descriptive metadata and universal identifiers to ensure their catalogs are well-organized so that viewers can easily search for and find what they want to watch.

With major video streaming services home to around 40,000 TV episodes and movies, long-tail programming can face “discoverability” challenges, according to Gracenote.

The company says its new software also enables short-form videos to have the power to captivate existing fans and attract new users to services.

Using connected metadata and content IDs from Gracenote, displaying episodes of the short-form video content alongside episodes of related long-form content is simplified. This enables video services to drive deeper engagement with viewers and provide a one-stop shop for all related content, according to Gracenote.

Gracenote IDs and metadata provide common links between TV series, seasons and episodes, as well as related TV and movie genres, celebrities, and other descriptive information.

This promises to improve how Hollywood movies, independent films and short-form videos alike are distributed to and surfaced in pay TV and OTT catalogs, as well as accessed by consumers.

Gracenote is showcasing the new software at IBC in Amsterdam (Hall 14, G29) from Sept. 13 – 17.

Nielsen: 56% of U.S. TV Consumers Stream Video

It’s official: The majority of American TV consumers also stream video.

New data from Nielsen found that 56% of domestic consumers stream video compared to 48% in 2018 and 40% in 2017.

The average consumer watches more than two hours of streamed content daily, which is up from slightly less than two hours last year.

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At the same time, linear TV consumption remains most popular among 82% of streamers — with almost 90% still watching pay-TV networks.

Nielsen found that 65% of U.S. households can now stream video compared to 59% in 2018 and 51% in 2017.

Among U.S. cities, Austin, Texas has the highest percentage (70%) of streaming users, while Pittsburgh, Pa., has the lowest at 45%. Cleveland residents spent the most time streaming video at two hours and 29 minutes per day.

Nielsen: Media Choice Abounds, But Many Americans Stay With What They Know

NEWS ANALYSIS: One of the biggest challenges facing media consumers today is finding something to watch or listen to. Can that be right? After all, we live in a time where thousands of content choices are merely a click or swipe away.

As hard as it is to fathom, it’s not uncommon for scenarios of indecision to play out, but that’s because we spend quite a bit of time checking out previews, trailers, teasers, schedules and listings, yet struggle to land on something that actually engages us.

But this isn’t just tragic for consumers. It has just as much of a negative effect on content creators, programmers, platforms and marketers. After all, if their efforts fail, consumers spend more time searching and less time consuming.

So with so much choice available, how are modern consumers navigating the “paradox of choice” and deciding what to watch? Are they embracing subscription and on-demand services, or relying on traditional means like live scheduled programs and DVR?

Surprisingly, findings from the first-quarter Nielsen Total Audience Report suggest that it might be the latter, as streaming users tend to gravitate back toward their traditional TV preferences when they’re not sure what to watch. Still, seven in 10 homes have a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service and 72% use streaming-capable TV devices, putting the onus on streaming services to keep users engaged with the content on their increasingly accessible platforms.

When we look at video streamers, Americans are pretty focused. Notably, our MediaTech Trender survey found that on all of the occasions they stream TV or video, almost two-thirds of adults who stream video content are likely to watch when know exactly what they want. One-third will watch when they have a rough idea, and only 22% watch when they don’t know what they want before diving into the options.

For those who are still on the fence about what to watch, it gets a bit tricky when looking at how they make their choices.

 

The interesting thing about video streamers is that they’re frequent “go-backers.” Said differently, they like what they know and are comfortable with. In fact, 58% say they go back to their favorite traditional channels, 44% like to scan through traditional channel options, 39% scan the program listings and 31% browse their DVR recordings.

Comparatively, far fewer SVOD users scan their subscription content menus. That means SVOD content creators, programmers, platforms and marketers have some work to do in terms of giving viewers what they’re looking for. The data shows it. Only one-third of adult respondents say they browse their SVOD content menus for more content, while 21% say they would simply not watch anymore content altogether.

The Curious Case of the Core Demo

So which group is most susceptible to indecision? The group that marketers cover the most: the 18-49-year-olds.

Comparatively, younger adults are more likely to explore. They’ll flip through menus, check out programs that have been recommended for them and step outside their traditional content comfort zones. But they also tend to rely on another “extreme” route, as they reported to tune out all together at higher levels compared to other demos.

So how long do people dwell on their content options? On average, a notable 9.4 minutes was reported for adults 18-34 and 8.4 minutes for adults 35-49 who stream. Think about how much more engagement content providers and platforms could achieve if they took out the guesswork. And if they did that, they’d have better retention rates. That’s because nearly 30% of streaming adults 18-49 said they sometimes stop watching content if they can’t find something appealing.

Being inundated by choice is not particularly new to the world of content. Traditional television has faced similar issues for decades. But for the new players in the game, refining recommendations and creating menus and user experiences to better suit user tastes might be their best way to combat it.

Nielsen: Out-of-Home Viewership Boosting Linear TV News Consumption

Despite living in an over-the-top video ecosystem, linear TV remains a primary source of news for young U.S. adults — even outside the home (OOH), according to Nielsen.

News viewing OOH attracts both men and women adults equally across the general population. Notably, Nielsen found that more women (56%) 18-24 watch news remotely than men (43%).

Survey respondents said restaurants and bars are among the most popular places to view news. And this pattern continues among general population respondents aged 25-34 and 35-plus as 59% and 52%, respectively, reported viewing in a restaurant or bar.

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Meanwhile, 61% of younger adults aged 18-24 reported viewing in someone else’s home, while 43% reported watching in a restaurant or bar followed by 40% who reported watching at work and 39% at the gym.

The viewing habits among young adults support the common perception that they like to view content in social environments and in a variety of places.

“While most of us would consider watching the news at a bar, someone else’s home or even at the gym as doing so during our own time, our survey results found that viewers seek out the news at other times too. In fact, they’re going out of their way to catch the latest headline—even during work hours,” read the report.

According to the survey, 40% of the general population respondents age 18-24 reported watching the news while at work. Although the Internet has given consumers the opportunity to get their news on the go, that’s not their only source. Viewers are turning to linear TV out of their homes to catch a glimpse of the news ticker or get the latest weather report before they leave the office.

As more consumers, particularly young adults, take control of how, where and when to watch content, Nielsen contends OOH live news viewing presents advertisers with a great opportunity to be effective with their message and connect with a consumer segment that’s younger and educated.

Return of Rabbit Ears? Over-the-Air Antennae Makes Comeback

When the federal government in 2009 mandated broadcast television switch from analog transmission to digital, conventional wisdom assumed the end of over-the-air TV signals.

New data from Nielsen would argue otherwise.

Nearly a decade after the switch, there are 16 million households employing a digital antennae. That’s up 50% from 5 million homes in 2010.

“And as an increasing number of consumers consider a more à-la-carte approach to their TV sources, there is opportunity for [OTA] to continue growing,” Nielsen wrote in a Feb. 13 blog post.

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While 41% of OTA homes do not use an over-the-top video service such as Netflix, the majority do. Indeed, 8% (1.3 million) of OTA households subscribe to online TV services such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV.

Nielsen found TV consumption highest among households without streaming video — a whopping 4.5 hours daily!

This market segment also spent 16 minutes daily watching DVD/Blu-ray Disc content; 15 minutes on “other” TV; 13 minutes on an Internet-connected device; and six minutes playing video games or consuming cable TV.

Notably, consumption of packaged media (DVD/Blu-ray Disc) content fell to seven minutes daily among OTA homes with SVOD and three minutes among homes with both SVOD and online TV.

Nielsen attributed higher fragmentation for TV consumption driven by Internet-connected device usage – despite the fact SVOD homes with and without a online TV still consume more than 60 minutes of broadcast TV daily. Cable TV consumption increased with online TV access, but still lagged behind broadcast viewing.

“Regardless of OTA home type, broadcast TV [remains] a daily go-to source for content on the TV screen,” wrote Nielsen.

 

Analyst: ‘Bird Box’ Viewership Suggests Strong Q4 Netflix Sub Growth

Netflix’s fiscal fortunes on Wall Street largely revolve around meeting or exceeding subscriber growth projections. The more subs added, the less attention investors put on the streaming video pioneer’s ballooning content spend.

Netflix is estimating it added 9.4 million new subscribers worldwide in the fourth quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2018), including 1.5 million in the United States.

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter contends Netflix will meet or exceed those numbers (perhaps gaining 1.7 million domestic sub additions) due to the global streaming success of original movie Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock.

The post-apocalyptic thriller was streamed by 45 million households during its first week of release last month, according to Netflix. Nielsen said 26 million households streamed the movie in the United States.

Pachter, in a Jan. 14 note, said the sub data meant that about 40% of domestic subscribers and 20% of international subs streamed the movie, suggesting that a larger than normal number of subscribers were active at quarter end.

“We think that the unusually high activity depressed churn [subs not renewing membership], leading to upside to both domestic and international subscriber additions, and we think that our above consensus Q4 subscriber estimates may prove to be conservative,” Pachter wrote. “We expect Netflix to highlight the success of Bird Box as a subscriber driver on its [fiscal] call.”

At the same time, Pachter believes Bird Box was an anomaly. He said comparing the 45 million viewers to the opening weekend of a major theatrical release is misleading. He said that the nature of Netflix’s business model puts no additional cost on subscribers consuming content – making it far more analogous to the consumption of television programming, which also is subsumed by a subscription.

“While Bird Box definitely demonstrates the power of the Netflix platform to drive viewership of its originals, it will not necessarily lead to the long-term retention of subscribers,” wrote Pachter.

Netflix reports Q4 results at the market close on Jan. 17.