Research: U.S. OTT Access Revenue Grew 37% to $39.4B in 2021

Convergence Research estimates U.S. OTT access revenue grew 37% to $39.4 billion in 2021 and forecasts $51 billion for 2022 and $69 billion for 2024.

That’s based on more than 75 OTT services (more than 50 providers) — led by Netflix, Disney/Hulu, Amazon and Warner Bros. Discovery — analyzed in its 2022 Couch Potato Reports.

The firm forecasts 2022-24 annual U.S. OTT household penetration, subscriptions per household, and net OTT subscriptions added will each progressively see more moderate growth. Convergence forecasts 80 million additional U.S. subscriptions in 2022 and 50 million in 2024.

Convergence estimates 2021 U.S. cable, satellite, telco TV access revenue declined 4% to $91 billion and forecasts a decline of 6% to $85.5 billion in 2022 (hence ARPU should grow 3.5%), with higher revenue declines in 2023 and 2024. The firm estimates 2021 saw a decline of 6.5 million U.S. TV subscribers, 2020 a decline of 6.5 million, and forecasts a decline of 7 million TV subs in 2022 and 7.2 million in 2024. In its U.S. Cord Cutter/Never Household Model, as of year-end 2021, Convergence estimates 47% of U.S. households did not have a TV subscription with a cable, satellite, or telco TV access provider, up from 42% at the end of 2020. The firm projects that figure will rise to 53% by the end of 2022 and 64% by the end of 2024. 

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Convergence estimates 3.715 million U.S. residential broadband subscribers were added in 2021 (down from 5.1 million in 2020) and revenue grew 10% to $79.6 billion, and forecasts 4.3 million residential broadband subscriber additions in 2022 and 7% revenue growth to $85.5 billion. While cable dominates residential broadband and continues to add the largest share of residential broadband subs, telco and fixed-wireless sub additions continue to improve, according to the firm.

OTT.X Launching X-Fronts Confab May 24-25

OTT.X  has announced its inaugural X-Fronts event will be held May 24-25 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.  

The confab will provide “new opportunities for the next frontier of audience engagement,” according to the industry organization.

The X-Fronts will be an exchange consisting of pitches and presentations by prominent and up-and-coming AVOD and FAST platforms, networks, and channels to an audience of brands, advertisers and ad agencies, according to OTT.X. Presentations will include details about lineups, content promotion and other plans for the coming year. 

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The X-Fronts event “will serve as a launch pad for the rapidly growing AVOD and FAST markets by educating about and advocating for the growth and promotion of AVOD and FAST platforms,” according to the organization. Attendees will be directly exposed to a wide variety of options for their media budget spends from across the broad spectrum of established and rising stars in OTT streaming, according to organizers.

Each day will include a keynote speaker or panel, and meeting spaces, both private and semi-private, will be available for planned or ad-hoc meetings. 

“It is no secret that AVOD and FAST platforms are quickly becoming prominent players in the OTT and streaming landscape,” Mark Fisher, president and CEO of OTT.X, said in a statement. “By 2024, North American AVOD revenues are expected to reach $20.3 billion and close to 50% of the U.S population will be streaming AVOD content. The X-Fronts provides a first mover opportunity into the next generation of content viewing and audience engagement.”

Watching Together

Once again, families and friends gathered around the TV this month for the annual Super Bowl, one of the last big communal viewing events — which are getting rarer all the time.

With streaming services offering so many choices to satisfy individual tastes — programs that are available anytime — we are all watching different things, viewing our own individual, curated slate of programming. Indeed, the phenomenon has grown since movie theaters, the biggest venues for watching together, have been under siege during the pandemic. Even when we are watching the same program on streaming, it’s tempting to jump ahead and binge, cutting off the ability to commune because we don’t want to spoil the experience for others. 

I miss watching movies and series together. It’s just not the same when I’m laughing or crying by myself. Often, when I finish viewing something, I find myself yearning to talk, make a joke about it, critique it or praise it, but I’m in my own bubble. My family and friends are also all in their silos watching their own thing.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Digital services have tried to replicate the communal viewing experience with various watch- together features, but it’s still hard to clear everyone’s schedule and get them to decide on a program. It’s been a long time since we’ve had to agree on what to rent at the video store because there’s nothing on television. Seemingly everything is on television. The choices are endless.

Cinedigm and Exeest Form Sales Platform for Indie Content Creators

Cinedigm and Exeest, a global film and television marketplace company, have announced the launch of Matchpoint Debut, a new distribution and sales platform for independent filmmakers and content creators.

Debut provides filmmakers with a path to easily distribute their films across the entire streaming ecosystem while providing an opportunity to monetize their work, according to a press release.

“All filmmakers, from small independents to established distributors, will have the ability to directly participate in the booming OTT business by gaining distribution across more than 80 U.S. and international-based streaming platforms that are increasingly becoming relegated to Hollywood’s major studios and media conglomerates,” the press release stated. 

Cinedigm’s content submission and evaluation process will be powered by Exeest’s patent-pending content distribution technology while the entire asset ingestion, content preparation, content packaging and digital distribution will be automated by Cinedigm’s Matchpoint Dispatch.

“The platform will provide a complete end-to-end solution that encompasses the entire 360-degree distribution process from content submission to content publishing to content reporting,” according to the press release.

Filmmakers around the world can submit their films for consideration to be distributed across Cinedigm’s portfolio of AVOD and SVOD channels in addition to other third-party platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple iTunes, Google Play and Xbox. Once approved, filmmakers will also automatically receive access to Exeest’s cloud-native sales asset management system and will be evaluated for entry into their business-to-business streaming marketplace which facilitates worldwide distribution, according to the release.

The Matchpoint Debut portal can be accessed here.

“Instead of using multiple services with little insight into engagement, Exeest has built a platform that enables content sellers to upload and manage their content in one place in the cloud accompanied by robust analytics,” according to the press release. “The interface mirrors the streaming experience and showcases the content with rich media, recommendations, watchlists and enhanced discovery algorithms.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“As the entertainment industry undergoes a transformation brought on by the adoption of streaming video as the primary format for home entertainment, we are passionate about ensuring that the voice of independent filmmakers remains strong,” Tony Huidor, Cinedigm’s chief technology and product officer, said in a statement. “As it becomes increasingly difficult for independent filmmakers to reach large audiences in this rapidly changing media landscape, it is exciting to partner with an innovative partner like Exeest who shares our vision of the future where we can create a destination for independent filmmakers and establish a viable path for discovery by enabling them to bring their work into living rooms around the world.”

“We are bringing the entertainment marketplace into the digital age with the latest technology that simplifies and streamlines the buying and selling of content in an environment that showcases the content as an interactive experience, from the viewing to the sales connections,” John Pollak, chief commercial officer of Exeest, said in a statement.

OTT.X Announces 2022 Events

OTT.X has announced its 2022 roster of events, which are all expected to be held in-person, according to the trade organization for streamers.

The Annual OTT.X Breakfast at CES will be held Jan. 5 at the Stirling Club in Las Vegas.

The Annual OTT.X Summit will be held Aug. 31 to Sept. 1 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and will consist of two days of conference programming and workshops as well as facilitated business meetings, a marketplace, and networking opportunities, as well as — new this year — a “pitch” track.

The 2022 Leadership Development Foundation Summit, in its third year but in-person for the first time, will be held on March 3, also at the Skirball Cultural Center.  The in-person event will enable inclusion of more interactive and one-on-one segments between junior professionals and senior leaders, in addition to conference-type programming and general networking.

The OTT.X Roundtable Sessions will be held Feb. 17 in the Los Angeles area and on Oct. 6 in New York City. Salons will take place on the evenings of May 10 and Dec. 6 in Los Angeles and on July 13 in NYC.

The third annual OTT.X Impact Awards are scheduled to be held in the Los Angeles area on Dec. 6.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Two new events have been added to the OTT.X annual calendar — The OTT.X-Fronts on April 12 and 13 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and the OTT.X Diversity Summit on June 9 in the Los Angeles area. The OTT.X-Fronts will facilitate efficient presentations and meetings between OTT platforms and channels with advertisers, agencies and brands. The Diversity Summit will provide a platform for content creators, distributors and service providers to engage in bilateral discussions and negotiations, share learnings, learn about best practices, and collaborate to support the advancement of minority professionals and organizations.

“We are excited to offer such a vibrant schedule of activities — in-person — to keep our community engaged and active throughout the year, and we are especially excited about the new additions to our roster of events — the OTT.X-Fronts and the Diversity Summit,” Mark Fisher, OTT.X President and CEO, said in a statement.

For more information, email Jose Rodriguez at jrodriguez@ottx.org.

 

OTT.X Presenters: Online Viewing Growing and Services Proliferating in COVID Era

COVID accelerated online viewing, viewing habits are undergoing a big transformation, and the proliferation of OTT services has prompted the need to aggregate and partner, research presenters said at the OTT.X Fall Summit in Los Angeles Sept. 1.

“In December 2019, before the viewing uptake [with stay-at-home orders] we saw about 68 million OTT households watching about 6.4 billion hours of OTT content in a month,” noted Ray Yinger, director of marketing solutions at Comscore. “By June of 2021, this had risen to about 82 million active OTT homes watching about 8.3 billion hours of content through OTT. Though we see a bit of a dropoff after January of 2021 as some of the states began opening up and we began leaving our homes a little bit, the number of households who engage in various OTT services stays very strong. As the data show, the overall appetite for OTT content accelerated through the pandemic. More households than ever before now engage in OTT services.”

With the increased viewership also came an explosion of OTT services.

“As of the first half of 2021, there are globally 5,000 active SVOD services, more than 2,000 active AVOD and free TV services and over 1,200 transactional services available to the global consumer,” noted Marija Masalskis, advertising research lead at Omdia.

Consumers are finding services on smart TVs and other aggregation players.

“When we asked consumers how they found something to watch, flicking through channels and services came up on top, particularly among the U.S. consumers,” Masalskis said. “So what this really means is that you need to be available on these platforms that enable this new channel flicking, enable seamless discovery of content, enable consumers to just lean back and scroll through and find your service.”

Other partnerships are key, as they offer free-with-sub bundles and prime placement.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Partnerships with global telcos and digital aggregators are essential, not just for SVOD companies to subsidize their offering but also to AVOD companies, particularly as you see the emergence of connected TV advertising,” she said. “In fact, we expect TV to account for 25% of all online video spend by 2025. And we do expect that partnerships and alliances will be absolutely necessary to reach the scale that will enable AVOD services to compete.”

Another key is consumers’ perception of value. Consumers are willing to pay less and wait through ads, and the higher-priced premium model isn’t necessarily most profitable for services such as Hulu.

“The user that pays a smaller subscription price but is exposed to advertising brings in more revenue than the user that is on their most premium tier opting to pay more to not see ads,” Masalskis said, adding “they perceive that they are getting a premium service for a discount.”

Also, binge viewing may be on the wane as a way to attract subscribers.

“What we started to see recently is that acquisition shows are starting to have a weekly release and retention shows are being dropped as a binge,” said Renee Engelhardt, global director of partner insights at Parrot Analytics.

Streaming services aren’t the only beneficiaries of the new order.

Nelson Granados, professor of information systems and technology management, Pepperdine University, noted that in addition to video streaming, digital video rental is holding its ground and digital sellthrough is continuing to grow (8% from 2016 to 2021).

“There is a market for electronic sellthrough and it’s growing, so there is a market for downloading content and it’s steadily growing unaffected by SVOD,” he said.

OTT.X Panelists Discuss Growth and Challenges of OTT Market

While the OTT market is growing exponentially, OTT players are facing several “pain points,” including the need to improve content discovery, better manage data and compete in an ever-more-crowded marketplace, said panelists Sept. 1 during the OTT.X Fall Summit in Los Angeles.

Clunky content discovery is still a problem for consumers and the OTT services that serve them.

“How do we shorten the distance between discovery and either purchase or consumption, either in terms of clicks or in terms of satisfaction to the customer?” said Chris Yates, GM of Redbox on Demand, adding it’s challenging “helping a customer find what they want to watch quickly and in the business model that matters to them.”

And the problem of discovery is only getting more complicated, especially in the ad-supported space, where the number of players is exploding, noted Colin Petrie-Norris, CEO of Xumo.

“Today across the ecosystem there are maybe 1,500 linear free ad-supported TV (FAST) channels across all the platforms,” he said. “That’s going to be 10,000 in three years’ time.”

Unlike during the rise of broadcast and cable, the barriers to entry in the digital ad-supported marketplace are lower.

“Linear TV or cable TV used to be one of those places you had to have a lot of money to get access to,” Petrie-Norris said. “It is now being democratized. To get a linear national, even global TV channel is now possible for a much more humble budget.”

And that makes for a competitive landscape.

“The biggest challenge is that the FAST space is a gladiator pit where only the strong will survive,” said Erick Opeka, chief strategy officer at Cinedigm.

“Building our audience is the biggest pain point in the sense that there’s an increasingly fragmented distribution environment,” said Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle.

Getting the viewership data for digital content and evaluating what to do with it is a challenge as well.

Some platforms are “walled gardens” and do not share data, Opeka noted.

“In this ostensibly purely digital environment, you would think aggregating data and getting insights from the ecosystem would be much easier,” he said.

Data can also be overwhelming.

“We’re drowning in data and getting really good at making smart decisions out of it is tough,” he said.

Despite the challenges, the market for digital ads is hot.

“We see much more advertising demand than we have supply, which in my 30 years in working in ad-supported media I’ve never seen before,” Guelton said.

“I think advertisers today, frankly they just love the space,” Petrie-Norris added. “It’s all digital. You can track results. … It’s almost magic.”

Still, panelists said that delivering those ads could use some improvement.

Yates pointed to the “coming back soon” screens that pop up sometimes for minutes at a time when an ad doesn’t load.

“That’s an experience that the industry needs to solve,” he said.

Ad placement could also become more attuned to the viewer, perhaps with a smaller load while a consumer is casting around for something to watch and with more ads once the consumer is hooked.

Panelists also addressed the growth of PVOD — a higher-priced digital rental early in or concurrent with the theatrical window — during the pandemic as theaters shuttered.

“The real question is how long is this model sustainable,” Opeka said. “We’ve seen some pretty fantastic revenues out of the few [titles] that we’ve experimented with, way beyond what we would have thought possible … three or four times what we would have thought would be the potential pre-pandemic.”

“The one thing I can predict is if the revenues for PVOD continue to be as astronomical even for independent releases I can almost guarantee the market will be flooded with them,” he added.

Electric Entertainment Officially Launches OTT Service ElectricNow With Availability on Vizio Smart TVs

Electric Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based production, distribution and post-production company, has announced the hard launch of its OTT app and channel ElectricNow, concurrently with the app’s availability on all Vizio SmartCast televisions.

SmartCast  users have around-the-clock access to Electric Entertainment’s produced content such as TV series “Leverage,” “The Librarians” and “The Outpost,” as well as acquired programming such as the feature films Blood on the Crown, starring Harvey Keitel and Malcolm McDowell, and Heavy, starring Sophie Turner and Daniel Zovatto.

“We soft-launched ElectricNow in spring of 2020,” said Dean Devlin, CEO of Electric Entertainment, in a statement. “The consumer feedback and corresponding viewership has been well beyond our expectations.  We originally set out to create a hub where we could aggregate all of our various fan bases from ‘Leverage,’ ‘The Librarians,’ ‘The Outpost,’ ‘Almost Paradise’ and all of our podcast subscribers into a single space. Now with the app being available to this incredibly large consumer base via Vizio SmartCast, we are reaching a much broader more mainstream audience, picking up new fans along the way.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“With the addition of ElectricNow to SmartCast, we are continuing Vizio’s mission to provide our audiences with endless entertainment,” Chris Tanquary, director of business development and partnerships for Vizio, said in a statement. “ElectricNow’s hard launch is a great step in that effort, and gives SmartCast users access to their exciting original and acquired content.”

Electric Entertainment recently announced marathons on ElectricNow for its original programs “Leverage” and “The Outpost,” timed to coincide with the streaming and/or broadcasting of these program’s new episodes and seasons.

Devlin has seen ElectricNow as not only a one-stop-shop destination for fans of Electric’s programming, but also as a marketing tool to lead viewers to their streaming and broadcast partners, according to a company press release.

“Our fans and broadcast/streaming partners have been equally important to us,” he said in a statement. “Bringing them together has been a major initiative for us.”

YouTube and Google TV Using Parrot Analytics Data and Consulting

YouTube and Google TV are utilizing Parrot Analytics’ global audience demand data and entertainment consulting services, Parrot announced.

Parrot Analytics’ data products provide near real-time updates on the most in-demand TV series and streaming platforms in any market in the world, according to the company. The insights help inform YouTube and Google TV’s content programming decisions, Parrot announced.

“We are thrilled to be working with the world’s leading video entertainment and TV platform,” Parrot Analytics CEO Wared Seger said in a statement. “By sharing our expertise, data and consulting services in global audience demand, YouTube and Google TV will continue to evolve their content strategy based on the latest trends. We are excited to further our mission of helping more content owners and brands succeed on any screen, anywhere in the world.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Parrot Analytics is a global audience demand analytics company. The company helps clients with decisions in the areas of IP and content development, programming, distribution, audience and brand activation as well as global OTT strategy and operations.

Gannett Relaunches ‘USA Today’ Streaming Video Platforms

Gannett is relaunching of its over-the-top video properties, which include USA Today News and USA Today SportsWire.

Since launching OTT channels in 2018, Gannett has expanded to more than a dozen free ad-Supported streaming TV (FAST) platforms, including Xumo, The Roku Channel, Amazon Prime Video, Tubi, and Samsung TV Plus, among others. The expansion has provided substantial growth in audience and engagement reaching more than 25 million monthly views, and 200% increase in average view duration across all platforms in the last year.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“We’re taking USA Today to all audiences in the U.S. and around the world,” Caroline Harris, VP of digital distribution at Gannett, said in a statement.

To help facilitate the expanded digital presence, Gannett is working with media technology company Amagi.

“Amagi thrives on making high quality content accessible to multi-screen audiences around the world,” said co-founder Srinivasan Ka. “Our partnership with Gannett is enabling them to tap into a wide network of connected TV households, providing linear TV viewers access to USA Today’s premium sports and news content while enhancing monetization opportunities.”

The channel programming features award-winning editorial documentaries from the USA Today Network, franchise series produced by USA Today Studios, Gannett’s premiere video production and development group, and news from insiders and the most trusted journalists in the world including the following series:

  • Humankind — In every episode, Humankind reveals the stories of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances: people acting with grace and heroism and summoning incredible determination and dedication to a cause.
  • Problem Solved — In this series, experts at Reviewed and USA Today are learning and testing new products along with the latest viral hacks, that help make consumers’ lives a little easier.​
  • Entertain This! — The latest news in entertainment from USA Today, including pop culture, celebrities, movies, music, books and TV reviews.
  • Just the FAQs and What We Know Now — Two highly visual and complementary explainer series covering top stories and trends in news, politics, and science.
  • Sports Seriously — A weekly series that brings together the unmatched reporting and insight of USA Today Sports and Sports Media Group, and access to the top athletes and names in sports. With a fresh format, style, and substance, Sports Seriously takes a conversational approach to the biggest stories, events, and cultural touchpoints in sports, and celebrates the moments that make us all sports fans.

 

Separately, USA Today will stream the national USA Today High School Sports Awards on Aug. 5 at 8 p.m. ET. The show, co-hosted by Michael Strahan and Rob Gronkowski, is the culmination of 105 regional and statewide awards programs celebrating elite high school athletes, coaches, and teams.