Parks: Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Dominate OTT Video Subscription Lengths

Sometimes it helps to be an industry disruptor, other times brand awareness carries the day.

Both apply to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, which rank as the top three subscription streaming video services when it comes to length of the typical subscription. New data from Parks Research found SVOD pioneer Netflix rates No. 1 with the average subscriber duration lasting about 48 months. That compared with 40 months for Prime Video and 30 months for Hulu.

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The Dallas-based research firm found that 61% of OTT subscribers never join a service on impulse, and 50% never subscribe with plans to cancel shortly thereafter. With services like Netflix and Disney+ dropping free trials, subscribers look for SVOD plans for a long-term investment, according to Parks. For SVODs, this means content must be appealing enough to generate and sustain that interest. Indeed, about 30% of subs often join a service to watch a specific program. As a result, the search for desirable content holds the greatest importance, according to Parks.

Not only does desirable content and personalities prompt retention, but viewers are unlikely to churn from a service that they have a strong brand affinity for.

So when WarnerMedia launched HBO Max last year, the initial goal was to broaden the lineup of traditional edgy HBO shows with other marquee IP, including DC Entertainment and Max originals. The strategy mindset being that targeting a wide variety of interest groups would unify niche audiences under one streaming service.

Paramount+ has emulated this strategy, featuring its key properties and personalities heavily within the marketing that promises a “mountain of entertainment.” Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and National Geographic feature prominently on Disney+ as their streaming home, allowing the upstart SVOD to rapidly gain subscribers globally and become a contender to Netflix & Co.

Parks researcher Liam Gaughan found that upstart SVOD services being bundled together with competing and non-competing services have been successful at generating subscribers. In addition to the “Disney Bundle,” offering new subs access to Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu for $13.99 monthly with ads ($19.99 without), Gaughan cited a previous bundling deal offering Apple TV+, CBS All-Access, and Showtime for $9.99. He said that content from Showtime and All Access enabled Apple users to try alternative programming and helped extend subscriptions.

“This was also a strategic move from ViacomCBS, who was able to introduce All-Access content to Apple users prior to the launch of the rebranded Paramount+,” Gaughan wrote in a blog post.

Parks: 82% of U.S. Broadband Homes Have at Least One SVOD Service

Parks Associates’ latest research of 10,000 U.S. broadband households found 82% of homes have at least one over-the-top video service subscription, up from 76% in the first quarter of 2020.

“With OTT adoption so high, providers are exploring new strategies, including expanded IP and AI-powered enhancements, to stay competitive,” Steve Nason, research director of Parks Associates, said in a statement.

Parks is holding two virtual sessions as part of its fourth annual Future of Video: OTT, Pay TV, and Digital Media series June 9 to explore customer adoption and churn, strategies for maintaining and retaining subscribers, and best practices in data-driven decision-making for OTT services.

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“Service stacking is trending up, with 46% of U.S. broadband households subscribing to four or more OTT services,” Matt Smith, VP of business development at Symphony MediaAI, said in a statement. “Forward-looking OTT providers are wondering when, not if, the tipping point will come — and they’re turning to predictive AI and other technology to prepare. We look forward to discussing the most effective strategies to mitigate the subscriber churn challenges that the OTT market will inevitably continue to face as consumer behaviors evolve.”

To Scott Handcock, VP of marketing at Plex, preventing churn remains one of the industry’s core challenges.

“Making it easy for consumers to find exactly what they want that speaks to their unique interests [is key],” Handcock said. “Whether it’s a series from a subscription service, live TV, a movie or show for rent or purchase, or ad-supported content, if we can make it an intuitive, personalized, and enjoyable experience, why wouldn’t they stick around?”

Parks: OTT Video Service Additions Cooling as Movie Theaters Reopen

Re-opening movie theaters could be over-the-top video’s loss. Parks Associates May 4 released new data from its Q1 2021 consumer survey of 10,000 domestic broadband households, finding that 41% of homes are now comfortable going back to movie theaters, including 50% or more of consumers aged 18-34.

The research shows that as movie theaters have jumped back to the top preference to watch new-release films, the majority of surveyed consumers are neutral or unlikely to subscribe to another OTT video service just to watch a new release.

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“In Q1 2021, U.S. households are starting to see the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with that, they are starting to return to their original preferences to watch new movies in a theater, with other people,” senior analyst Steve Nason said in a statement. “The pandemic roiled traditional content windowing, and with some consumers ready to return to the theater, the studios will have to continue to experiment with hybrid release strategies.”

Nickelodeon Live-Streaming ‘Paw Patrol’ Stage Show to Preschoolers, Families

Nickelodeon March 31 announced it would live-stream “Paw Patrol Live! At Home,” an interactive streaming event targeting preschoolers April 24-25.  The virtual extravaganza includes: a 45-minute interactive stage show that puts kids at the center of the action; an opportunity to watch the show in a shared viewing room with friends and family; and an immersive pre-show area with games, videos, printable activities and more.

“As we look forward to a return to normalcy and welcoming families back to our live events, we continue to invest in innovative ways to grow our Nickelodeon Experiences business during these unprecedented times,” Amy Hyland, EVP of Nickelodeon strategy, business development and operations, said in a statement.

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The “Paw Patrol Live! At Home” show, which will be available in English and Spanish, was originally conceived for the stage by VStar Entertainment as “Paw Patrol Live! Race to the Rescue.” This reimagined production recreates a communal theater-like experience enhanced by the interactive livestream production.

Accessible immediately following ticket purchase, parents can log onto the “Race Ready Room,” a fully immersive area that features digital games, printable activity sheets, an e-shop, a Pup Pup Boogie dance-along video; a series of ‘how to’ videos to help families navigate the pre-show area and interactive show elements and more.

A fully customizable AR avatar responds to viewers’ participation via motion and sound capture, while a virtual, customizable screen overlay version of Ryder’s communication device allows guests to click on the badge of one of the members of the Paw Patrol and have their virtual pad display in the core colors of that pup. Their selected character will also speak directly to them during select moments in the show.

Purchase options include a single ticket, which allows access on one device; as well as a group ticket which includes a single ticket and three additional access codes that can be shared with friends and family, allowing guests to experience the show in a shared viewing room and communicate through a “watch together” video chat. Guests can also choose from three show times — 7 a.m. PT/10 a.m. ET, 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET, and 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET. Additionally, beginning April 26, families who purchased a single or group access ticket will be able to log on and re-watch the show through May 2.

Lionsgate Play Forms Partnership With Indonesia’s Telkomsel

Lionsgate Play, a South Asia-based streaming video unit of Starz, has formed a pact with digital telecommunications company Telkomsel. Under the agreement, Telkomsel subscribers will be able to access movie franchises such as “The Hunger Games,” “The Twilight Saga,” and “Now You See Me,” as well as Lionsgate/Starz TV series “Mad Men,” “Power” and “The Spanish Princess.”

Subs also have access to movies from other studios, including The Aviator and Babel, and original TV series payable through multiple data/billing options.

“We believe in giving Indonesian customers the best viewing experience with varied accessibility options,” Guntur Siboro, GM of Lionsgate Play Indonesia, said in a statement.

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Telkomsel can preview Lionsgate Play movies via MAXstream, the telecom’s video streaming software. Subs can up their movies by purchasing larger data pack purchase, beginning with MAXstream Add-on and MAXstream Gala options.

“Movies from Lionsgate Play would further accommodate the needs and demands of our customers and increase our customers’ experience in enjoying ‘#sinemaspektakuler’ content through the MAXstream platform,” said Nirwan Lesmana, VP of digital lifestyle Telkomsel.

Rohit Jain, managing director of South Asia and Networks — Emerging Markets Asia, said the agreement underscores the role telecoms are playing shaping the digital age of content.

“We are delighted to … expand Lionsgate Play’s offering of compelling, exceptionally curated premium content and a great user experience to all of our shared customers,” Jain said.

Roku Dominates ‘March Madness’ Streaming

With the 2021 NCAA College Basketball National Championship Tournament, a.k.a. March Madness, readying for the Sweet 16 elimination rounds, sports fans are increasingly streaming games via standalone media devices and connected televisions. The opening round set new records with more than a billion minutes streamed across 32 games in just two days, according to new data from Conviva.

The tournament thus far reveals an ongoing trend streaming games on the big TV screen. Historically the first day of round one sees the most viewership. This held true this year as day one netted 15% more time spent streaming than day two, according to the report.

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Streaming on television increased significantly in the first two rounds to 68% share of time spent in round one, from 48% in 2019 and just 41% in the opening days of 2018. While streaming games on the PC lost market share, the increase in TV consumption comes primarily at the expense of mobile viewing, which decreased to less than half the share held during the previous March Madness. The report attributed this to the pandemic-trend of in-home viewing and the overall, multiyear trend of increased streaming via televisions.

More than 40% of the tournament thus far has been streamed on TVs through Roku devices, followed by Amazon Fire TV (26%), Samsung TV (10%), and Apple TV with 8% share. LG TV and Xbox each tallied 4% share, with Chromecast picking up 3%. Irvine, Calif.-based Vizio, Android TV, and PlayStation lagged behind the field with under 2% share of viewing time.

Conviva reported that social media engagements per post rose an average of 164% for teams in round one as compared to the regular season. Teams tallied 3 million total cross-platform engagements over just two days in the first round of the tournament, with Wisconsin, Syracuse, and Illinois taking the top three spots for total cross-platform engagements.

March Madness often vaults unexpected teams into national view. This year it’s Oral Roberts with 15 times the number of social media engagements per post versus the regular season, and leading in cross-platform, Twitter, and Instagram engagement rates.

Report: Pandemic Consumers Sticking With Streaming, Not Returning to Pay-TV

The pandemic has been good for subscription streaming video, and bad for linear pay-TV. That trend is not changing in 2021, according to new data from Hub Research.

As expected, subscriptions to the five most-popular streaming video services has continued to climb since pre-COVID, with HBO Max up dramatically since November. The report said Max has benefited from WarnerMedia’s decision to stream all 2021 Warner Bros. Pictures’ movies on the day of theatrical release — starting with the release of Wonder Woman 1984 last December.

Citing data from a February survey of 3,008 U.S. consumers, ages 14 to 74, who watch at least one hour of TV per week, Hub found that the proportion of consumers who have purchased a first-run movie on streaming has been increasing steadily since last summer, kick-started with the Premier Access premium VOD release of Mulan in September to Disney+ subscribers.

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Younger consumers are the most likely to have streamed a first-run movie, with 18-24 the age sweet spot. Once one hits 55 years old, interest in buying first-run films to stream in the home is almost nonexistent.

 

Among survey respondents who added a streaming video service during the pandemic, post-COVID loyalty appears to be strongest for Disney+ (77% of those who signed on say they’ll keep it; only 7% say they’ll drop) and Netflix (73% vs. 4%).

The likelihood of respondents planning to keep Max is lower, with 63% who added the service during the pandemic saying they’ll keep it and 17% saying they’ll cancel — underscoring the idea that focusing on first-run movie releases could be both a blessing (surges in sign-ups when movies are released) and a curse (cancellations once they’ve finished watching).

 

Finally, 89% of February respondents who canceled their traditional pay-TV service during the pandemic, said they would have canceled even if COVID-19 hadn’t happened — the highest proportion Hub Research has seen during the pandemic.

“What’s been most interesting to us in our pandemic-related research has been trying to determine which pandemic-induced changes in TV behavior will persist once life begins to return to normal,” Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “This wave of the study strongly suggests that Americans have grown more than just accustomed to the TV viewing adjustments they’ve made during the pandemic, and are ready to embrace a new, streaming-centric normal.”

AT&T to Start Capping Unlimited HBO Max Data Use

AT&T quietly announced it would begin capping data use for its wireless subscribers — a move that would affect some HBO Max subs from unlimited streaming. The telecom cited recent legislative action California supporting statewide net neutrality for the decision.

“California has enacted a ‘net neutrality’ law banning ‘sponsored data’ services that allowed companies to pay for, or ‘sponsor,’ the data usage of their customers who are also AT&T wireless customers,” the company wrote in a blog post. “Unfortunately, under the California law we are now prohibited from providing certain data features to consumers free of charge.”

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After President Trump’s FCC rescinded a federal net neutrality law that treated the Internet as a utility prohibiting ISPs from charging for higher bandwidth and streaming speeds, California, among other states, enacted its own net neutrality law. A federal judge last month upheld the move.

Prior to California’s law, AT&T said sponsored data subscribers were able to browse stream apps (i.e. HBO Max) from devices without using their monthly data allowance. The telecom said video providers utilized sponsored data enabling subscribers to stream movies and TV shows over their wireless service without it counting against their wireless data plan.

“Since it began, our sponsored data service, and competing offers from other wireless providers, have delivered significant benefits and saved consumers money,” AT&T wrote. “Consumers also have enjoyed an explosion of video streaming services.”

AT&T said the Internet does not recognize state borders, and thus the new law not only ends its ability to offer California customers free data services, but also similarly impacts customers nationwide.

AT&T is calling Congress to adopt federal legislation that would provide “clear, consistent and permanent” net neutrality rules for everyone to follow.

“A state-by-state approach to ‘net neutrality’ is unworkable,” wrote the telecom. “A patchwork of state regulations, many of them overly restrictive, creates roadblocks to creative and pro-consumer solutions. We have long been committed to the principles of an open internet. We deliver the content and services our customers want because it’s what they demand, not because it’s mandated by regulation.”

Parks: Online Video Topped Broadband Home Services During Pandemic

New data from Parks Associates found that online video service use jumped to 60% of U.S. broadband homes in September 2020, compared with 50% in July. The trend reverberated across other online activities, including video conferencing, ecommerce, remote working, schooling, and fitness.

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The Dallas-based research firm found that 51% of domestic broadband households bought at least one consumer electronics product between February and September 2020, including computing, networking, entertainment, and mobile devices.

The report found that as of September 2020, 41% of U.S. broadband households, representing 45 million households, were engaged in remote work or remote schooling; 62% of remote workers are using their home broadband more than usual, nearly double the rate of non-remote workers.

This research series leverages Parks’ ongoing consumer surveys of 10,000 broadband households per quarter, as well as targeted surveys of 5,000, to identify trends and deliver ongoing insights into how consumers are responding COVID-19, including the impact to market fundamentals and product purchases, service subscriptions and usage, and home services.

“With record-high unemployment, household spending is primarily on essential goods, as uncertainty about the future remains high,” Elizabeth Parks, president, Parks Associates, said in a statement. “Some technology products are viewed as essential tools. Companies have changed how they interact with their customers — leveraging e-commerce channels, offering new curbside pick-up and delivery options, and providing remote rather than in-home technical support services.”

Key findings include that overall churn rate for OTT services dropped to 38%, down from 46% a year ago. COVID-19 prompted roughly 33% of security system owners and intenders to avoid professional installers; 24% of households with fixed broadband service reported being likely to upgrade in the next six months.

About 60% of pay-TV subscribers are interested in content from an online video service as part of their pay-TV subscription. Use of telehealth services jumped from 15% in 2Q 2019 to 41% in 2Q 2020.

As previously reported, more than 15 million households have only a mobile broadband service, including more than 12 million that cut the cord on their home broadband and approximately three million that have never had home broadband services.

China’s TCL Televisions Add Cinedigm Streaming Services

Cinedigm announced that 11 of its free, ad-supported streaming services are now live on TCL Channel, the streaming entertainment service from Chinese consumer electronics brand TCL, on select smart TVs in North America. Introduced in North America in 2014, TCL is now the second-largest TV brand in the United States, in addition to being the manufacturer of Roku-branded TVs.

TCL Channel is a family entertainment hub featuring a hand-picked collection of ad-supported free movies, TV shows and streaming channels. The platform features drama, reality, comedy and variety from around the world, free with no subscription required.

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“TCL has quickly risen to be one of America’s most popular consumer electronics brands, and we are excited to be one of the top suppliers on the TCL Channel” Erick Opeka, chief strategy officer and president of digital networks at Cinedigm, said in a statement. “Smart TVs are at the epicenter of the streaming revolution, and TCL’s expansive install base will bring our networks to tens of millions of new users.”

Cinedigm is majority-owned by Bison Capital, a Hong Kong-based investment firm. Cinedigm channels now on TCL include:

  • BAMBU — The best in Chinese cinema and TV.
  • Bloody Disgusting — The #1 horror destination featuring an assortment of celebrated cult favorites, original series, and exclusive content.
  • The Bob Ross Channel — Official channel dedicated to the work of iconic painter Bob Ross.
  • Comedy Dynamics — The tastemaker for comedy featuring standup performances by Jim Gaffigan, Tiffany Haddish, Ali Wong, Marc Maron and many more.
  • CONtv — The destination for cult and retro film and TV series.
  • CONtv Anime — 24×7 anime.
  • Docurama — Award-winning true-life documentaries, films and TV series. An eclectic mix of thought-provoking entertainment.
  • Dove Channel — Family movies and iconic TV series including Heartland, Andy Griffith Show, and The Lucy Show.
  • MyTime Movie Network — Dedicated to the movies we love- heart-stopping thrillers, date night romcoms, heartwarming holiday favorites, and original programming.
  • So … Real — British and Australian lifestyle and reality TV series, including ‘Gordon Behind Bars’ and ‘Only Way is Essex,’ from All3 Media.
  • Whistle TV — Sports and lifestyle entertainment for today’s fan.