SVOD Viewership Up Since Pandemic Began

New data from Criteo finds that 53% of U.K. survey respondents found content on SVOD services Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube more entertaining than their linear TV counterparts.

Fifty percent of respondents said they watch more streaming content than they did before the advent of COVID-19, with 62% saying they watch more paid streaming services than before the start of the pandemic.

Criteo also found that 59% of U.K. subscribers believe streaming services provide better value for money than cable or satellite TV.

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In addition to content, price factors significantly among streamers. About 33% of U.K. respondents spend more than £50 ($68) monthly on pay-TV, while 12.5% spend about the same on streaming services.

SVOD pioneer Netflix is the most popular (72%) streaming platform among respondents, with the BBC iPlayer at 68%. This compared with YouTube and ITV Hub at 47%, respectively, followed by Prime Video (45%), while 7% favor BritBox.

“While the pandemic has created massive disruption across all sectors, it is the streaming platforms that are winning big here,” Matthew Hogg, VP at Criteo, wrote in a note. “With many consumers planning to use their streaming services even more next year, we’re going to see one of the most competitive industries become even more competitive.”

Streaming remains strong entering 2022, with 29% of respondents saying they plan to spend even more time on SVOD. Generation Z and Millennials are likely (42%) to spend more time watching ad-supported free streaming services than the average consumer (29%, compared with SVOD (40% vs. 29%).

Gen Z and Millennials are more likely (44%) to spend time streaming video games compared to the general public (37%). Video is the preferred ad format, with 47% saying the ads are entertaining and engaging. Another 40% say they prefer ad variety and 37% want to see relevant information.

“As the video streaming landscape attracts even more eyeballs, next year promises to be one of the biggest years digitally for brands and advertisers,” Hogg said.

Parks: Consumer Adoption of Smart-TVs Rose to 56% During Pandemic

The pandemic has been a boon for connected consumer electronics. New data from Parks Associations finds that among the most commonly adopted CE device categories, smart-TVs and smart speakers/displays showed significant growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Smart-TVs reached 56% while smart-speakers/displays reached 53%.

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Citing recent announcements by Amazon and Comcast regarding branded smart TVs, Paul Erickson, senior analyst at Parks, says TVs are now consumers’ most common video centerpiece in the home, and technology powerhouses are vying to own this point of entertainment aggregation — and the data that goes with it — by controlling the platform itself.

“The competition now is not just about providing access to entertainment, it’s also about adding increasing value to the platform through features such as voice assistants, smart home integration, and better user experiences,” Erickson said in a statement. “Smart TVs are now seen as a key anchor device for ecosystem penetration into today’s broadband households.”

Parks contends that purchase intentions were elevated at the beginning of the year for a variety of entertainment and productivity devices due to increased time spent at home.

Indeed, first-quarter purchase intentions are often low due to seasonality. However, the pandemic grew consumers’ perceived value of connected entertainment devices, generating growth in future purchase intentions for all product categories related to connected home entertainment.

“Consumer electronics device manufacturers are best served by product strategies accounting for consumers’ increased use of devices at home for work and streaming entertainment purposes,” Erickson said. “While mobility remains important, consumers now see renewed value in at-home work and lifestyle use cases.”

Data: Theatrical Revenue to Reach 50% of Pre-Pandemic 2019, Negatively Impacting Home Entertainment

Movie theaters may be open and operating at near capacity worldwide, but ticket sales aren’t translating into blockbuster revenue for studios and exhibitors. Total revenue in 2021 is projected to reach 50% of 2019’s pre-COVID level, according to new data from Omdia.

The London-based research firm said global box office revenue remains impacted by alternative studio distribution strategies, which include shortened release windows, PVOD and concurrent SVOD retail options, as well as a change in consumer confidence due to the Delta variant.

Omdia said one of the major challenges faced by studios with the move toward hybrid PVOD and SVOD strategies has been the increased issue of online piracy and accessibility of titles from launch.

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Overall, in 2021 consumer spending on movies across all platforms including SVOD, traditional home entertainment and theatrical will account for $60.4 billion, down $5 billion from pre-pandemic levels. At the height of the pandemic, total movie spending reached $46 billion, with the largest share from an ever-growing SVOD base.

By 2022, Omdia forecasts that total consumer movie spending will rise to a record $80 billion globally. Mid recovery, exhibitors will generate just 33% of consumer spending this year compared with more than 55% pre-pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on studio revenues and shifted the way in which movies have been released,” Charlotte Jones, principal analyst at Omdia, said in a statement. “Theatrical windows are still a key revenue generator for studios and whilst there has been experimentation with alternative platforms and distribution models, over the course of the next few months studios will return to theatrical exclusivity for key blockbuster titles before releasing on other platforms.”

To reach its fiscal projections, Omdia compared the box office and home entertainment revenue of the top 50 movies in 2019 across different pandemic-era release strategies. The projection models took into account a relative cannibalization of traditional windows by each distribution strategy and suggested how much missing revenue needed to be made up for SVOD subscriber gains or incremental PVOD revenue.

The baseline transactional revenue for a typical major blockbuster is around $300 million per title, with cinema revenue at $178 million per title. In the U.S., typically, 60% of aggregate revenue is generated by theaters, with 75% of this tally generated within first 17 days (three weekends) of release.

The biggest impact for exhibitors from shifting windows has been the introduction of day-and-date release windows across both SVOD and PVOD platforms, including some of the largest titles of the year.

Concurrent releases accounted for 54% of box office revenue in U.S. theaters through mid-June 2021. Omdia expects that studios will predominantly migrate back to a theatrical strategy for major titles over the next few months.

Omdia contends day-and-date releases to SVOD impacts a title’s box office upwards of 20%. Whereas minimally cannibalistic strategies such as a 45-day window negatively impact box office revenue by 5%, and alternative distribution models, such as PVOD and concurrent PVOD also negatively impact box office by 5% to 20%.

More importantly, the report contends that traditional home entertainment revenue was put at greater risk by alternative distribution than theatrical.

“Blockbusters will continue to drive the most amount of box office revenue for exhibitors, however it is the Tier 2/Tier 3 titles that will see their window models shift, resulting in a larger decline in the traditional revenue measurement for studios,” said Jones. “Conversely, flexibility in release windows will also admit a wider variety of content into cinemas.”

OTT.X Fall Summit Moving Outside, Requiring COVID-19 Vaccination or Test

The OTT.X. Fall Summit, taking place Sept. 1-2 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, will move all activities outside, and attendees will be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of the start of the event.

Masks will not be required outdoors but will be required indoors at the Skirball Center during the event.

“We are aware of and have been closely monitoring the recent rise in COVID-19 cases,” read an email from OTT.X. “So, in an abundance of caution and for the safety of our attendees, we have decided to take the Fall Summit outdoors.

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“All conference components including the main conference program, workshops, tabletops, meetings, cocktail receptions and more will be held outdoors. We have also instated some protocols to follow to ensure the health and safety of the conference.”

NAB Show to Require Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination

The NAB Show scheduled for Oct. 9-13 in Las Vegas and associated co-located events will require attendees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, Chris Brown, EVP and managing director of global connections and events for the National Association of Broadcasters, wrote in an email to the community.

“While the enthusiasm is building, we are keenly aware of health and safety concerns tied to the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant and want to assure you that we are putting in place a comprehensive, data-driven plan that prioritizes safety and creates a productive environment at these events,” he wrote. “We have worked for the past several weeks to finalize protocols that will maximize the experience and safety of all members of the NAB Show community. This process has involved extensive consultation with health and safety experts, gathering feedback from a range of exhibitors and attendees, and review of the safety measures recommended by national and local health authorities, including Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s important announcement this week regarding large events.”

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The show floor will feature major brands such as Amazon Web Services, AJA, B&H, Canon, Grass Valley, MediaKind, Panasonic, Ross, Sony, Verizon and more, he wrote.

Major industry events, such as the Radio Show, Sales and Management Television Exchange and AES Show, will co-locate in Las Vegas.

Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination Required to Attend CES 2022

The Consumer Technology Association has announced that CES 2022  will require in-person attendees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

CES 2022 will take place in Las Vegas Jan. 5-8, 2022, with media days Jan. 3-4.

CTA will again create a digital event that will run in parallel with the in-person program.

“Based on today’s science, we understand vaccines offer us the best hope for stopping the spread of COVID-19,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, said in a statement. “We all play a part in ending the pandemic through encouraging vaccinations and implementing the right safety protocols. We are taking on our responsibility by requiring proof of vaccination to attend CES 2022 in Las Vegas.”

The CTA is also assessing the acceptance of proof of a positive antibody test as an alternative requirement and will share more details on this later, according to a CTA press release.

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“Safety, security and health are always a priority at CES, and we will follow state and local guidelines and recommendations by the CDC,” read the press release. “CTA will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation and will announce additional protocols closer to the show.”

Some 2,000 companies including major brands and start-ups will be in Las Vegas, according to the CTA. CES 2022 will feature new categories showcasing how the industry is evolving, including space tech, food tech and NFTs. The show will highlight advancements in AI, AR/VR, gaming and computing, digital health, automotive and transportation, home entertainment, smart home, and more, according to the CTA. Audiences will hear from industry leaders during live keynotes, including General Motors chair and CEO Mary Barra and T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert.

Visit CES.tech for CES 2022 updates.

Parks: 36% of U.S. Broadband Homes Subscribe/Trial Video Game Service

Video games continue to resonate among U.S. consumers. New research from Parks Associates finds 75% of domestic broadband households play video games for at least one hour per week, and 36% subscribe to or are trialing at least one free or paid gaming service. The Dallas-based firm forecasts the U.S. cloud-based gaming reaching $3.6 billion in 2024.

“While nearly two-thirds of households are not yet engaged with any gaming services, cloud gaming can become a staple within the subscription entertainment options available to consumers,” senior analyst Paul Erickson said in a statement.

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Erickson said Netflix’s entry into online video games up attention on the budding market and broadens the potential consumer base.

Parks also found that 91% of console gamers play games on at least one other platform, with 37% playing on a PC, mobile device, and a connected TV device (either a smart TV or streaming media player) in addition to their console.

“Console owners who also play on a mobile device and a PC or who play on every platform category make up half of all console gamers. Simply put, console gamers are multiplatform gamers,” Erickson said. “Subscription and cloud gaming services require a multiplatform approach so that providers can appeal to both dedicated gamers and the remaining market of casual or convenience gamers.”

The analyst contends the growing popularity of online gaming, driven in part by the pandemic, will have ripple effects throughout the connected home ecosystem, driving broadband upgrades, improvements in home networking and Wi-Fi management, and more subscription stacking.

Regal Cinemas Owner Posts $209 Million Operating Loss in First Half of Year

Cineworld Group, corporate parent of Regal Cinemas and owner of more than 9,000 theatrical screens worldwide, Aug. 12 disclosed an operating loss of $209 million through the first six months of the fiscal year. That compared with a first-half loss of $1.34 billion in 2020, during the height of the pandemic.

The chain anticipates a strong fourth quarter supported by a robust film slate and pent-up demand for affordable out-of-home entertainment, subject to the COVID-19 situation, according to CEO Mooky Greidinger.

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“Despite the challenges, the actions we have taken have ensured that Cineworld has emerged a more focused business with significant liquidity and a clear vision for the future,” Greidinger said in a statement. “Cineworld is in the position it is today thanks to the great dedication and commitment of the Cineworld team around the world, and I sincerely thank each and every member of the team for their loyalty and contribution.”

With few new studio releases during the pandemic, Regal effectively ceased operations for much of 2020 and into 2021, with Cineworld cutting more than 45,000 jobs worldwide.

“We are like a kind of a grocery shop that [has] no food to sell,” Greidinger said last October.

Comscore: Nearly 90% of Movie Theater Locations Open Globally

The latest box office figures from Comscore show nearly 90% of movie theater locations are now open globally for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“At Comscore, we´ve been privileged to witness firsthand how our partners in the global exhibition community have fought daily against the adversity of the pandemic and recovery has been remarkable,” Arturo Guillén, EVP and global managing director for Comscore Movies, said in a statement. “The latest box office openings and revenue show that throughout the world, consumers are clamoring to be back at the movies in their preferred theaters.”

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Films such as Universal’s F9, which has thus far generated more than $500 million worldwide, along with Paramount’s with A Quiet Place Part II, Disney’s Cruella, Warner Bros.’ The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway and Lionsgate’s The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, have collectively generated more than $1.3 billion in global box office revenue, according to Comscore.

“As the studios continue to ramp up the rollout of their most-anticipated films, audiences are showing up at their local cinemas to enjoy the big screen experience,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst, Comscore, said in a statement. “Blockbuster films shown in a movie theater become ‘must see’ events that no matter where you live, speak the international language of cinema to like-minded movie fans around the world.”

Discovery+ Launches Doc Series ‘Surge at Mount Sinai’ July 1

The non-fiction streaming service Discovery+ will exclusively bow the documentary series The Surge at Mount Sinai globally July 1.

The series, narrated by Jon Bon Jovi, with a track from Billie Eilish, follows three healthcare workers, two intimate patient journeys and experts from across the hospital in one of the world’s largest healthcare systems in the United States during an unprecedented global pandemic. With intimate access to those on the front lines, the film chronicles the race against time as New York City became the global epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak and New York was experiencing more than 350 deaths per day.

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“We are honored to shine a light on the heroes who came to the world’s rescue during an unprecedented global pandemic,” Lisa Holme, group SVP of content and commercial strategy at Discovery, said in a statement. “At Discovery+, we take pride in bringing our subscribers the best real-life stories and there is no more important story from the past year than following the trials of our healthcare workers.”

“This film explores the emotional journey of individuals who responded to the pandemic in unimaginable ways,” stated David A. Feinberg, SVP, chief marketing and communications officer at Mount Sinai Health System, dean of marketing and communications at Icahn School of Medicine, and co-executive producer on the documentary. “The heroism and innovative spirit by the scientific and medical community is awe-inspiring. The unprecedented challenges that we faced, the many lives that we saved, and the scientific breakthroughs that were identified gives the viewer a unique view of how we found our way through one of our darkest periods. We hope audiences will be moved and inspired by the bold actions taken by the heroes in this film and will come away understanding who we are as an organization. We are forever changed by this period, and our relentless pursuit of knowledge, understanding, and answers to the world’s most complex health challenges continues.”

“Our purpose for this film was to give the world a glimpse into what life was like for the heroic frontline workers during the height of the pandemic,” Peter Maiden, founder and CEO of production studio Convicts and executive producer on the documentary, said in a statement. “These individuals went above and beyond and dedicated an extraordinary amount of time and energy to saving the lives of NYC residents. Capturing their perseverance through the pandemic felt like the most important story that could be told during this time. We are grateful for Mount Sinai for the opportunity to engage with their staff and excited to partner with discovery+ to bring these stories to the forefront. We hope the film will inspire audiences to find the goodness in humanity, even in the dark, and to keep purpose at the heart of all they do.”