Nielsen: Streaming Video Use Up Nearly 100% in Some Markets

With most states across the U.S. implementing stay-at-home orders as concerns about the novel coronavirus pandemic swept across the country, new data from Nielsen found streaming video consumption skyrocketing.

Specifically, the consumption of non-linear content via internet-connected devices, such as smart TVs and other multimedia devices, rose week after week in March, hitting its peak the week of March 23.

Previous research found that staying put in homes can lead to almost a 60% increase in the amount of video content consumed. But a pandemic changes everything. States and cities that moved quickly to enact stay-at-home orders in mid-March, such as New York, Illinois, Washington and California, saw some of the most dramatic increases in streaming consumption between March 2-23.

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Across Nielsen’s 56 largest metered markets, streaming increases have been persistent across all hours of the day. However, the most significant gains have been in the early afternoon hours. Historically, few adults would be home during these hours, but with the lifestyle changes created by stay-at-home orders, the ratings company saw more than 50% increases in streaming from 1-4 p.m. These hours are up over 100% from the same week a year ago.

Nielsen also saw streaming of non-linear content increase across all age groups in Nielsen’s 56 largest metered markets during March. With most schools closed across the country, younger demographics experienced the largest growth, with more than 60% increases.

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Even before COVID-19, organic streaming had been growing over the past few months as new subscription video on demand services such as Disney+ hit the marketplace, along with several ad-supported services.

“The current outbreak has further accelerated streaming’s growth among the key advertising demographic as consumers find themselves with more time in front of the TV glass,” Nielsen wrote, citing consumer searches for new video entertainment content categories such as fitness and wellness, gaming live streams and cooking.

“By understanding where, when and who is watching content across streaming platforms, the media industry as a whole will be better positioned to connect with viewers,” Nielsen wrote.

Netflix’s ‘Tiger King’ Nabbed 34 Million Households in First 10 Days

Netflix may or may not have shrewdly launched (on March 20) the original documentary limited series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” during a pandemic.

In any event, the program is generating a lot of buzz — and eyeballs.

The seven-episode series, which explores the world of big cat breeding and bizarre underworld where the animals appear at times to be the least frightening characters, reportedly generated 34 million Netflix households in its first 10 days.

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The show has now become water cooler talk on radio, averaging 19 million per minute in the U.S. between March 20-29, according to Nielsen. The streaming interest topped season two of Netflix’s perennial juggernaut “Stranger Things” (17.5 million per minute), while falling just shy of season three (20.5 million).

Nielsen’s “SVOD content ratings” tracking does not factor in mobile, PC viewing and is limited to the United States — all factors Netflix executives in the past have cited as incomplete data on a show’s true viewership.

Regardless, Netflix has not officially released data on the show’s performance, and media reports say the SVOD pioneer is producing additional content around the show.

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Nielsen: Radio Consumption Rises Amid Pandemic

Radio has been a comfort medium throughout modern history, especially during war and crisis. As more Americans stay home amid growing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, media consumption, as repeatedly reported, is peaking.

New data from Nielsen found that among home entertainment options, 83% of consumers say they’re listening to as much or more radio as they were before the pandemic.

Similar to TV coverage during crisis, radio and on-air personalities present a connection to the real world that listeners gravitate toward and trust. Thus, Nielsen found 60% of Americans (18 and older) hold radio in high regard and trust it to deliver timely information about the current COVID-19 outbreak, according to a survey of 1,000 adults 18+ in the U.S. between March 20-22.

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“In a time of heightened uncertainty and disrupted routines, consumers are turning to radio as a trusted source of information and community connection, mirroring patterns observed during past regional and national disasters and weather events,” Brad Kelly, managing director, Nielsen Audio, said in a statement.

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Assessing the time consumers spend with media is critical for both radio stations and advertisers, regardless of whether the country is in a crisis. Americans are already spending almost 12 hours each day with media, and that time could grow by 60% among those who stay indoors, according to Nielsen.

Indeed, the research firm found that 92% of respondents said they were moderately or extremely concerned about COVID-19, with 42% saying radio helped them deal with the outbreak.

And while radio, podcasts and on-air personalities can provide listeners with information that is accurate and relevant to their markets, Nielsen contends advertisers can help listeners get what they need, as 46% say radio helps them know what stores are open and where to shop locally.

“Radio is a local lifeblood for millions of consumers and specializes in keeping audiences up-to-date and plugged into what matters most to them in their community,” Kelly said. “In this environment, it’s no surprise that people say they use radio as a major source of information and connection.”

Nielsen: Asia Offers Post COVID-19 Media Snapshot

In the timeline of the coronavirus pandemic, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea were among the first to feel the effects of social distancing and quarantining.

The regions are now the first to see a possible light at the end of the tunnel. Nielsen, which released new data showing that, similarly to the United States, in-home media consumption increased about 60% during the crisis, and from an advertising perspective, brands and agencies will need to both adjust which products are being marketed, as well as the tone in which they’re delivering their messages to consumers.

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During the first three weeks of the pandemic, Taiwan’s TV audience grew by 1 million viewers, for a total viewing population of approximately 21 million. News channels and programs were the primary beneficiaries of the increased penetration, followed by children’s programming.

In Hong Kong, as more consumers stayed home, Nielsen found that TV ratings for all day and all time periods increased by 43% in February compared with the same time period in 2019, while primetime ratings during the same period increased by 44%.

“The impact of COVID-19 is absolutely substantial,” said David Yeung, VP of marketing communications, consumer group, at HKT Limited, said in a statement. “Almost all industries have been badly hit, with lots of closure for retail outlets, restaurants, etc. The key to survival is to adapt to the changing business environment very quickly and to ensure threats are turned into opportunities by tapping into technology and data.”

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While China’s traditional communist-driven social safety nets have been challenged by a rising middle class and increased dependence on commerce with the West, As Zod Fang, head of GroupM Knowledge, GroupM China, said the government is increasing new policies to stimulate the economy and consumer consumption as the region emerges from the pandemic.

“This will lead to greater demand,” Fang said. “Therefore, brands need to get prepared. Work with agencies to have an overall plan including sourcing, logistics, marketing and sales to fully seize the opportunity.”

China did try to jumpstart the domestic theatrical market on March 24 in Shanghai — a move it quickly reversed, shuttering 600 theaters with no explanation given.

The China Film Group, the state-backed distributor that controls all movie release dates in the country, had reportedly planned to re-release box office hits Wolf Warrior 2 and The Wandering Earth, in addition Disney/Marvel The Avengers franchise movies.

All that’s back on hold for now.

Nielsen: Consumers Forced Indoors During Pandemic Spend More Time on Media

Regardless of whether you call it social distancing, quarantining or retreating to a safe place, heading home amid concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting media consumption habits, according to Nielsen.

The venerable ratings tracking company says staying sequestered in the home can lead to a 60% increase in the amount of content watched on television and portable devices. With consumers around the globe are already leaning into the growing array of content options and channels, a 60% increase is significant.

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Media consumption in the U.S. is already at historical highs. As reported in the most recent “Nielsen Total Audience” report, Americans are spending just shy of 12 hours each day with media platforms — with more than 75% of U.S. consumers utilizing streaming subscriptions and TV-connected devices.

During crisis events, such as a global pandemic, media users ramp up their media consumption to stay informed, kill time, find solace and stay in touch with others, according to Nielsen.

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Nielsen analyzed total TV usage data during two major crises in recent history: Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and a major snowstorm in January 2016. Not surprisingly, TV usage increased significantly during both occasions.

In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Texas. During the impacted period, a Nielsen found a 56% increase of TV use compared with the preceding period and 40% higher than the period following the storm.

While technology has fragmented the media landscape, it also has driven many companies to encourage remote telecommuting when possible. In doing so, these companies have been at the forefront of social distancing, as urged by the CDC, while at the same time, given them an ability to keep operating without much disruption in production continuity.

Nielsen data suggest that employees that work remotely during a typical Monday through Friday work schedule connect over three hours more each week with traditional TV than non-remote workers, 25 hours and 2 minutes to 21 hours and 56 minutes respectively.

In terms of devices, remote workers also spend a higher amount of time each week on their tablets — over four-and-a-half hours compared to the four hours for non-remote workers. Beyond viewing, remote workers also lean into listening. The reach of radio for remote workers compared to non-remote associates is nearly identical — both at just over 95%.

As COVID-19 continues to spread in the U.S. and more companies allow and enact policies for work to be done virtually, the viewing behavior for employees working in the confines of their own homes could drive even greater media usage.

According to Nielsen’s “Social Content Ratings” data, a snapshot from January through February 2020 showed that at its peak the social conversation mentioning either “coronavirus” or “COVID-19,” there were 110,000 TV-related Tweets mentioning these two keywords.


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.