Parks: 300 OTT Video Services in U.S.

Over-the-top video distribution continues to proliferate nationwide. New data from Parks Associates suggests the number of OTT video services has more than doubled in the past six years to 300 platforms through the third quarter (ended Sept. 30).

Steve Nason, research director at Dallas-based Parks, said the coronavirus-related shutdown of movie theaters, and studios delaying the release of major titles to next year, accelerated OTT video adoption among consumers.

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“The decision to delay the latest James Bond film No Time to Die hit the theater industry hard, and Disney’s announcement to move the Pixar film Soul to Disney+ shows studios are putting more emphasis on streaming,” Nason said in a statement.

The analyst contends that with studios also owning digital distribution, increased experimentation with transactional VOD and theatrical windowing is on the agenda. Nason called the recent partnership between NBCUniversal and Roku to distribute new streaming service Peacock as a “win-win” for both parties.

“Through this partnership, NBCUniversal gets its new marquee OTT service on one of the leading streaming video platforms, and Roku gets a significant incremental revenue bump from Peacock’s advertising, no matter the split,” Nason said. “The agreement will yield large gains of users and paying subscribers for Peacock as it takes on the Big 3 [Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video] in OTT and newer entrants from Disney, Apple, WarnerMedia, and ViacomCBS.”

Report: Streaming Video Viewing Reaches All-Time High

Thanks to the coronavirus, online video is more popular than ever with the average global viewer watching nearly eight hours (seven hours, 55 minutes) per week, according to new data from Limelight Networks. With consumers homebound during the pandemic, video viewing increased 16% in the past year, according to the report commissioned to understand consumer perceptions and behaviors around online video.

The report — “State of Online Video 2020” — is based on online responses from 5,000 consumers in France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, ages 18 and older, who watch one hour or more of online video content each week.

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Top trends include:

  • Staying home drove streaming subscriptions. Nearly half (47%) of people worldwide subscribed to a new streaming service in the past six months, with the primary reason being that people are spending more time at home due to COVID-19 (40%). The second-largest driver of new subscription purchases (25%) is availability of new content.
  • Consumers are price cautious. Almost half (47%) of global consumers will cancel a streaming subscription due to high prices. More than a third (37%) admit to sharing login information or using someone else’s account. Password sharing is highest in Indonesia, with 58% of people admitting to sharing credentials.
  • User-generated content viewing surges. Watching user-generated content has doubled over the past year to an average of four hours per week. Google-owned YouTube continues to dominate as the most-preferred platform for watching user-generated content (65%), followed by Facebook (16%).
  • Buffering delays are a deal-breaker. Most people (64%) say they would be more likely to stream a live event if it is not delayed from live broadcast.

“Online video demand has clearly accelerated around the world this year, especially with so many people looking for entertainment, information and communication as they have spent more time at home due to COVID-19,” Nigel Burmeister, VP at Limelight Networks, said in a statement. “Our research shows that with the rise in viewers and subscriptions, it is critical that content providers have the right combination of the content consumers want, the infrastructure to scale to meet demand and technology to give them the best possible online experiences.”

Analyst: Spain to Top 20 Million OTT Video Subs by Next Year — Driven by Netflix

Spain is quietly emerging as a major market for over-the-top video distribution, driven by Netflix, HBO España and Amazon Studios. New data from eMarketer suggests the country will top 20 million OTT subs next year — or about 40.1% of the country’s population.

Indeed, Netflix began producing original content in Spain in 2016 and opened its first European production hub in Madrid in spring of 2019. A trend replicated by ViacomCBS and Spain-based broadcaster Astresmedia and telecom giants Orange and Telefónica — the latter via its streaming video service Movistar.

Though Netflix will boast the largest user base in Spain, its 70% market share of subscription OTT video subs is actually lower than in other major markets. In Germany, Netflix claims 77.1% of the SVOD market, and 80% in Denmark, France, and the U.K. The report suggests a wider variety of SVOD services in Spain undermines Netflix’s domination.

“[Subscriber] growth should slow down in H2 2020, so Netflix must continue to work hard and fend off competition from emerging platforms like Disney+, HBO Max, and even Amazon Prime Video,” Matteo Ceurvels, eMarketer research analyst covering Latin America and Spain at Insider Intelligence, said in a statement. “Though competition abounds, we still view the subscription OTT landscape as a story of ‘Netflix versus the rest.'”

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Nielsen: 25% of U.S. Homes Stream Video on the TV

Jumpstarted by a global pandemic, more Americans are streaming video in the home on their television than ever. New data from Nielsen found that 25% of consumers’ collective time is spent with over-the-top video services — including among people 55 years and older.

According to data from Nielsen’s Streaming Meter, a subset of more than 1,100 streaming capable homes from the National TV panel, as of the second quarter of 2020, streaming comprised 25% of all television minutes viewed, with Netflix being the largest contributor to streaming share at 34%, followed by YouTube (not YouTube TV) at 20%. Disney+, which only launched last November, now accounts for over 4% of total streaming time — underscoring the strength of the Disney brand.

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And despite a full menu of SVOD and AVOD services available to consumers, and available either free (ad-supported) or month-to-month without annual long-term contracts, Nielsen found that consumers aren’t just spending more time streaming video; they’re also willing to spend more to stream video. According to the survey, only 2% of adults said they are reducing the number of paid services they subscribe to, while 25% have added a service in the past three months. Hispanics have adopted new OTT video services even more aggressively at 40%.

“With the number of new streaming entities coming to market and the demand for both original and legacy content growing by the day, how the streaming market evolves in the coming months and years should be not just top of mind for content creators,” Nielsen wrote. “Additionally, these trends should be top of mind for media owners seeking to license programming, as well as marketers and brands, who might have additional opportunities for connecting products and services with engaged consumers via in-content brand placements.”

Analyst: Pay-TV to Lose 50% of U.S. Subs by 2024

Cord-cutting among pay-TV households in the United States is real and growing — even during a pandemic. New data from eMarketers finds that 33% of all domestic pay-TV homes will cut the cord by 2024 — with 31.2 million households dropping either cable, satellite or telecom service this year. And 6.6 million households will cancel their pay-TV subscriptions.

“Consumers are choosing to cut the cord because of high prices, especially compared with streaming video alternatives, analyst Eric Haggstrom said in a statement. “The loss of live sports in [the first half of the year] contributed to further declines. While sports have returned, people will not return to their old cable or satellite plans.”

The ongoing secular shift toward over-the-top video leaves about 77.6 million domestic households with cable, satellite, or telecom TV in 2020, down 7.5% year-over-year and the biggest drop ever, according to eMarketer. The tally is down 22.8% from pay-TV’s peak in 2014. By the end of 2024, fewer than half of U.S. households will subscribe to a pay-TV service.

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The loss of viewers is having a major hit to traditional TV ad spending. Total spend will drop 15% this year to $60 billion, the lowest the industry has seen since 2011.  And while it will rebound some next year, eMarketer contends TV ad spending will remain below pre-pandemic levels through at least 2024.

Roku CFO: ‘Trolls World Tour,’ ‘Scoob!’ Woke Up ‘Sleepy’ TVOD Biz

As co-creator with Netflix of the subscription streaming video market, Roku has a driver’s seat view of not only the over-the-top video market, but facilitating third-party transactional VOD as well.

Speaking Sept. 15 on the KeyBanc Future of Technology Conference, Roku CFO Steve Louden said the company had a “banner quarter” for the fiscal period ending June 30, with strong SVOD, premium VOD and transactional VOD revenue shares — the latter driven by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s Trolls World Tour and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Scoob!.

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“That basically was precipitated by the theaters being closed [due to the coronavirus pandemic] and studios coming out with direct-to-consumer offerings,” Louden said. “It kind of woke up an otherwise sleepy TVOD segment.”

Indeed, consumers spent an estimated $2.99 billion on digital transactional entertainment in the first six months of this year, up 25% from the $2.25 billion spent in the first half of 2019, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. Digital sales of movies, series and other filmed content was up 57% in the second quarter and 33% in the first half, while transactional streaming, in which consumers rent a program for 48 hours, was up 50% in Q2 and 33% in the first six months of the year.

Louden said streaming hours spiked dramatically in the first phases of the lockdown and remain above the pre-pandemic levels.

When asked about the omission of HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming services on the Roku platform, Louden said it comes down to economics. Roku doesn’t charge end-users to access the platform; yet without it many consumers wouldn’t willingly gravitate toward a particular OTT brand, according to Louden.

Analysts contend non-placement on the Roku platform has hurt Max and Peacock in generating subscribers. Comcast just disclosed that Peacock has generated 15 million subscribers since launching in July.

Disney’s rollout of the Disney+ SVOD platform, which saw the media giant “lean heavily” on Roku during its initial launch, underscores the platform’s importance in the OTT video ecosystem, according to Louden.

“We played a good part in getting them a rapid growth in audience and … when they launched Hamilton, we were the number one platform for viewership,” he said. “I think they’ve leveraged pretty much all our audience development capabilities.”

T-Mobile Streaming Original Major League Baseball Content

Wireless carrier T-Mobile Sept. 14 announced it would begin streaming an original Q&A video series featuring Major League Baseball players. Called “Beyond the Bases,” the series is hosted by Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks, who will be joined by New York Mets All-Star first baseman Pete Alonso, on Sept. 15 at 12 p.m. PT on T-MobileBeyondtheBases.com and available on demand afterwards.

The series addresses the players’ personal stories, little-known facts on their outside passions and personal interests. Upcoming guests include Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorious, Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson and New York Yankees first baseman Luke Voit, among others, through Nov. 10.

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“We started this season with free MLB.tv for T-Mobile and legacy Sprint customers, and now with “Beyond the Bases,” we’ll bring even more baseball to the fans,” Mike Sievert, CEO of T-Mobile, said in a statement.

T-Mobile in 2018 became the first telco provider to offer select subscribers free access to Netflix for a year. The promotion proved so popular Disney offered a similar deal for Disney+ to Verizon subs. This year, T-Mobile expanded third-party SVOD access with a promotion for MLB.tv, which affords subs access to all out of market games.

T-Mobile’s MLB promotion includes a trivia contest raising funds to helps cover Little League Baseball and Softball registration fees for kids in need around the country. Little Leaguers will also get the chance to ask their own questions to the MLB players on a weekly basis.

T-Mobile users can sign up to get notified about upcoming episodes and be entered to win a free trip to the MLB All-Star Week in Atlanta in 2021 — including VIP access to the T-Mobile Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, All-Star Sunday, including the All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game.

Parks: Netflix Still Dominates Subscriber Loyalty — Despite Cancel Culture

When it comes to subscriber churn, when a sub chooses to cancel or not to renew their monthly over-the-top video service membership, Netflix remains the market leader in consumer loyalty. New data from Parks Associates underscores the longevity of Netflix subscriptions — in part due to the service’s 26-year first-mover status.

The research firm, which is hosting a panel discussion on the future of video in December, notes that U.S. consumers continue to access OTT content at all-time high levels, but OTT service churn remains high as well.

Netflix, which stopped reporting quarterly churn levels in 2013, saw April 2020 churn decline to 2.4%, according to Bank of America Securities. That’s a marked improvement from the near 4% monthly churn Netflix endured before it stopped reporting the statistic.

“Viewer loyalties are shifting as subscriptions to traditional pay-TV services decline,” research director Steven Nason said in a statement. “The average Netflix subscriber has had the service for over 50 months, and while Amazon Prime Video and Hulu also have foundational status as must-have services, all other services have much shorter subscription histories.”

Indeed, newer services such as Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, and Peacock, plus an expanding CBS All Access, are all making a strong push to be part of the core OTT service stack for U.S. households — and drive up industry churn levels elsewhere.

Separately, a #CancelNetflix campaign on social media continues in response to French film Cuties, which some observers contend glorifies the sexualization of children. The tumult saw Netflix last month change images from an ad campaign for the movie. In a statement, Netflix said the movie from French-Senegalese filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré, about a young girl who moves to a housing project in Paris and is raised by a conservative mother, is actually a social statement against the sexualization of young children.

Netflix French film ‘Cuties’

“Cuties is an award-winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up — and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie,” Netflix said.

The Parents Television Council, a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment, said it stands by its earlier criticism that the TV-MA-rated film sexualizes children.

“By removing the offensive poster and replacing it with a more innocuous one, Netflix might actually have made the situation worse by suggesting that Cuties is nothing more than a cute, coming-of-age movie,” Melissa Henson, program director for the Parents Television Council, said in a statement.

Henson said that while the film tackles an important topic, it’s the way the film goes about showcasing underage sexualization that’s problematic.

“This film could have been a powerful rebuke of popular culture that sexualizes children and robs them of their innocence,” Henson said. “But these young actresses were sexualized in the making of this movie.”

Fox Nation to Stream Final Episode Honoring Geraldo Rivera’s 50th Anniversary in Television

Fox Nation, the Fox News Channel’s $5.99 monthly subscription video-on-demand service, will stream the final installment of “I Am Geraldo: 50 Years” on Sunday, Sept. 6. Hosted by FNC correspondent-at-large Geraldo Rivera, the four-part series concludes with a deep dive into Rivera’s mission in 2011 to reinvent his career as a war correspondent at Fox following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Following his years as a talk show host, Rivera set out to cover the challenges, the sacrifices and heroism of the war on terror. In honor of his 50 year anniversary on TV, Fox News will also air a one-hour special at 10 p.m. ET on Sept. 6 highlighting key moments from Rivera’s career, including the famous exposé into the Willowbrook institution, his firing from ABC following a story on Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy, and the opening of Al Capone’s secret (and empty) vault, among other highlights.

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Launched in 2018, Fox Nation is designed to complement the Fox News Channel for its most passionate and loyal fans. Featuring thousands of hours of content, the service includes daily short-form conservative opinion programming and lifestyle shows, as well as documentaries and investigative series from a multitude of Fox News personalities.

Fox Nation is available on iOS and Android devices as well as Apple TV, Web, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, Xbox One, Comcast Xfinity platforms and Cox Contour platforms.

Brightcove: Global Video Consumption Up 40% in Q2

The coronavirus pandemic has proven a juggernaut for video consumption in the home. New data from Brightcove finds a 160% increase in views on connected televisions in the second quarter (ended June 30), and a 67% increase in video consumption. April produced a 75% increase in year-over-year video starts; 47% increase in smartphone video views and 64% increase in video views in North America.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a roller coaster ride for all of us,” read the report.

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Brightcove found that in prior years without a pandemic, the second and third fiscal quarters typically saw slow (or no) growth in video consumption as consumers gravitate outdoors for vacations, outdoor sports, travel and increased leisure time. Indeed, this year saw month-over-month video declines with May down 15% from April and June off 10% from May.

“But, even without significant live sports to watch, video consumption grew year-over-year in every period measured,” read the report. “Study after study has shown consumers turning away from traditional TV to embrace streaming content.”

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The number of videos consumed in Q2 globally, as well as the amount of time spent watching videos, increased substantially, even as rules keeping people at home were relaxed, according to Brightcove.

“That’s not a trend we’re likely to see falter in Q3, as more people have turned to viewing subscription and ad-supported streaming video,” read the report.

Indeed, video views every month in Q2 were solid, with April seeing content views more than double as COVID-19’s threat kept consumers indoors. Even as cities opened up, May and June video consumption numbers increased year-over-year, although they were unable to compete with April’s surge during the early days of the pandemic.

Connected TVs, meanwhile, saw huge growth, but remained a sliver of the market. That’s likely to change moving forward, according to Brightcove, especially for longer content. With numbers up on every device, the report contends content owners will need to consider all devices as primary screens — at least for now.

“But that’s no surprise,” read the report. “Video consumption almost always slips as we enter warmer months.”