Parks: More Than 50% of Connected Homes Find Voice-Activated Software Appealing

Voice-activated speakers and movie, TV show searches on connected televisions isn’t just a fad.

New research from Parks Associates finds that more than half of domestic broadband households consider voice control of connected entertainment devices to be appealing.

Voice functionality has also become an important buying consideration, with 12% of U.S. broadband households stating it is a top feature when buying a new smart TV.

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“Voice has made a sizeable impact in the smart home and connected CE space, with four out of ten U.S. broadband households currently using some form of smart speaker,” senior analyst Dina Abdelrazik said in a statement. “Since their introduction in 2014, smart speakers have quickly risen in popularity among consumers as an important interface to control and connect the many different devices in the home.”

Voice is extending beyond the smart speaker into smart home adjacencies such as smart appliances, smart doorbells, and smart TVs.

Parks Associates: Method of Controlling TV Via Voice

In 2017, only 3% of CE device users reported using voice commands when watching a movie or TV program; Parks Associates’ latest research finds that almost a fifth of consumers now use voice commands to control their connected entertainment devices several times a week.

“Voice interfacing with the entertainment ecosystem is improving the overall user experience through ease of content discovery and recommendations,” Abdelrazik said. “Custom installers can benefit with the use of voice to connect entertainment and smart home systems in the home via a natural and easy-to-use interface.”

Parks is presenting the findings during a Sept. 14 presentation at CEDIA Expo in Denver.

Parks Associates: Average Standalone Pay-TV Service Revenue Per User Declined 10% from 2016 to 2018

Research from Parks Associates finds the average standalone pay-TV service average revenue per user declined 10% from 2016 to 2018, when consumer-reported monthly spending on pay TV declined from $84 to $76.

According to 360 View: Entertainment Services in the US, pricing pressure for consumer services is forcing increasing conflict in carriage negotiations, which in turn fuels the interest among providers in continued vertical and horizontal consolidation.

Self-reported expenditures on non-pay-TV home video entertainment also declined 30% per month over the past seven years, peaking at nearly $40 in 2014 to slightly over $20 at the end of 2018, according to the study. Spending on DVD and Blu-ray packaged media has steadily declined since 2012, while spending on movie theaters declined by 50% from 2014 to 2018. Spending on internet video is the only category to hold steady throughout the time frame, staying at $8-9 per month since 2014, showing the power of streaming and downloaded content from the internet.

“Traditional pay-TV providers (MVPDs) have faced continued subscriber losses due to increasing consumer choice from OTT services, so they are deploying skinny bundles and vMVPD services to create more choice among viewers,” said Elizabeth Parks, president, Parks Associates, in a statement. “For pay-TV service providers, traditional and online, they are exploring new areas in content ownership and development, and to be successful in these efforts, understanding consumer activity and motivation related to adoption and use of their services is critical.”

“Subscription online video is the only growth category for consumer-paid video entertainment beyond pay TV. Operators, struggling with declining ARPU for standalone pay-TV services, are anxious to leverage this trend,” said Brett Sappington, senior research director and principal analyst, Parks Associates, in a statement. “Operators are taking differing approaches. Some, including Comcast and DISH, are offering subscriptions to third-party OTT video services and are integrating them into their discovery interfaces. Partnering gives operators a chance to serve as content aggregator, a familiar position. Others, including AT&T and DISH, are expanding their competitive reach online and have introduced vMVPD services.”

Other highlights of the study include:

  • 20% of U.S. broadband households do not have a pay-TV services;
  • NPS for traditional pay-TV services is weaker than for other content service types;
  • in 2018, the average number of connected devices per broadband household, excluding smart home devices, reached 8.4;
  • and 12% of US broadband households eliminated pay-TV service (cut the cord) in 2018.

Parks: Streaming Media Player Ownership Flattening With Roku and Amazon Leading Space

More than a third (39%) of U.S. broadband households own a streaming media player, but that’s a mere 1% increase from 2018, according to new research from Parks Associates.

Ownership has flattened, the firm noted, although purchase intentions are higher for 2019 compared to previous years.

The report, 360 Deep Dive: Adoption and Use of Connected Video Devices, found connected video device manufacturers may need to shift focus from hardware sales to service and advertising revenue, as ownership reaches saturation, according to Parks.

“Streaming media has reshaped how U.S. consumers interact with entertainment content and services, so as the market matures, sales increasingly come at another vendor’s expense,” said Parks senior analyst Kristen Hanich in a statement. “Video-quality features are the most important factors when consumers buy a connected video device, although Roku and Amazon have certainly benefited among streaming media players by having broad product portfolios that include lower price points.”

Among streaming media players, Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV are the clear market leaders with almost 70% of the installed base of streaming media players in the United States, according to the firm. Consumer-reported data reveals that between Q1 2017 and Q1 2019, Roku’s share of the U.S. streaming media player installed base grew from 37% to 39%, while Amazon’s share of the installed base increased from 24% to 30%.

The report looks at the state of the connected video device space, including smart TV platforms, streaming media devices, smart set-top boxes and gaming consoles, examining the changing roles of these devices and how consumers are engaging with new functionality, such as voice control and live TV integration.

“As the addressable market shrinks, rivalry increases,” said Parks senior analyst Craig Leslie in a statement. “The combined installed base for Roku and Amazon is three times larger than the nearest competitor. The adoption of Roku and Fire TV streaming media players continues to grow at the expense of Chromecast and Apple TV.”

Parks: Broadband Cord-Cutters Switching to Mobile Video

Broadband households in the United States likely to cut the pay-TV cord in the next 12 months are switching to mobile video, according to new data from Parks Associates.

The Dallas-based research firm said broadband households cutting the cord in the next 12 months watch more than six hours of video content on their mobile phone a week, compared to 2.5 hours among all domestic broadband households.

Parks said the market trends have spurred Comcast and Charter to introduce mobile services as a way to extend their service-based product portfolios.

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“Roughly 10% of broadband subscribers are likely broadband cord-cutters, with half of them highly likely to make the change in the next 12 months,” principal analyst Brett Sappington said in a statement. “Many are satisfied with their current provider overall, but these subscribers are aware of the other options available to them and could become actual cord-cutters if their current service does not continually meet their needs.”

The research notes that 66% of broadband households currently subscribe to a cable Internet service, 33% subscribe to DSL or fiber optic or use mobile data services. Verizon, AT&T, and Frontier are the largest providers of DSL and fiber-based fixed-line services.

“Potential broadband cord-cutters rely on their mobile devices for entertainment,” Sappington said. “They are significantly more likely to watch live video content via mobile, including live TV broadcasts and livestreaming, averaging an hour more per week each compared to average broadband households. As 5G mobile and 10G fixed broadband services start to deploy, the substantial performance improvements will be attractive to this segment of subscribers, which will drive many providers to match these offerings in order to achieve parity in competition and messaging.”

U.S. Broadband Households Who Watch Mobile Video More Likely to Cut Cord

U.S. broadband households highly likely to cut the cord in the next 12 months watch more than six hours of video content on their mobile phone a week, compared to 2.5 hours among all U.S. broadband households, according to research from Parks Associates.

The report Examining Broadband Cord Cutters notes that fixed broadband providers that do not offer mobile services are particularly susceptible to cord-cutting among their current subscribers. These market trends drove U.S. cable operators Comcast and Charter to introduce mobile services as a way to extend their service-based product portfolios, according to the report.

“Roughly 10% of broadband subscribers are likely broadband cord-cutters, with half of them highly likely to make the change in the next 12 months,” said Brett Sappington, senior research director and principal analyst, Parks Associates, in a statement. “Many are satisfied with their current provider overall, but these subscribers are aware of the other options available to them and could become actual cord-cutters if their current service does not continually meet their needs.”

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The research notes that two-thirds of broadband households currently subscribe to a cable internet service, three in ten subscribe to DSL or fiber optic, and one-third use mobile data services. Verizon, AT&T, and Frontier are the largest providers of DSL and fiber-based fixed-line services.

“Potential broadband cord-cutters rely on their mobile devices for entertainment,” Sappington said in a statement. “They are significantly more likely to watch live video content via mobile, including live TV broadcasts and livestreaming, averaging an hour more per week each compared to average broadband households. As 5G mobile and 10G fixed broadband services start to deploy, the substantial performance improvements will be attractive to this segment of subscribers, which will drive many providers to match these offerings in order to achieve parity in competition and messaging.”

Parks: Virtual Reality (VR) Headsets Remain Niche Video Game Product

Virtual reality (VR) has often been suggested as home entertainment’s future technology. New research from Parks Associates, however, finds that the video game industry remains the primary use case for VR headsets.

Parks found that while 25% of domestic broadband households are familiar with VR technology, just 8% of households use it. Among consumers who own or are familiar with VR, 54% use their headset or would use it for gaming.

“Sixty-two percent of U.S. broadband households play video games, and while gamers are a passionate market segment, they can be limited in scope, which has stalled adoption of VR to a wider audience,” analyst Billy Nayden said in a statement. “There has been some notable video content developed for VR, such as Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s short video experience Carne y Arena, which won an Oscar, but overall lack of quality, non-gaming content is inhibiting broader adoption.”

Parks Associates: Expected Virtual Reality Use Cases

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parks said 15% of domestic broadband households have tried VR, while 52% of headset owners report owning a smartphone-based system. PC-based systems and game console-based systems are the next most popular systems, with effectively the same adoption rate.

Another 28% of game console owners are familiar with VR headsets, and familiarity is even higher among owners of newer consoles.

Content quality remains a challenge for VR headset owners, with 55% of VR headset owners feeling that content for their device has remained the same since they bought their headset and 3% believe it has gotten worse. The report notes the main barriers for VR content development are costs, the demand for interactivity, and limits on content length.

Mobile headsets are capable of playing most non-gaming content in VR but often cannot play premium games and have much lower NPS scores than other headset types. For gamers, PC-based and game console-based systems are the primary VR headset option, though standalone VR headsets are promoted as a cost saver.

“The aim of standalone VR headsets is to offer much of the same premium content as game console or PC-based headsets, without the need for additional hardware like a gaming console or high-powered PC,” Nayden said. “This technology drastically reduces the cost for consumers, while providing a more premium experience than smartphone-based systems.”

 

Research: U.S. SVOD Household Spending Steady Since 2016 at Just Under $8 Per Month

U.S. broadband household spending on subscription OTT video services has held steady for three years, averaging just under $8 per month since 2016, according to research from Parks Associates.

The figures suggest adoption of multiple services or expensive services by some consumers is offset by a larger base of consumers who either subscribe to one or two relatively inexpensive services or who do not spend any money on OTT video services (30% of consumers), according to Parks Associates.

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“The stability in average household spend belies the activity going on under the surface,” said Brett Sappinton, Parks Associates senior director of research, in a statement. “2019 may be poised to break that trend. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon continue to pack on new subscribers. At the same time, services like ESPN+ are also experiencing phenomenal growth, and new offerings from Disney and WarnerMedia are set for release later this summer. One of three things will happen — more households will become OTT streaming households, rival services will begin to pull subscribers away from Netflix, or that spending number will go up.”

Parks Associates will discuss strategies to launch successful services in the complimentary webcast “Avoiding OTT’s Top 5 Mistakes,” co-hosted with Swrve March 26 at 11 a.m. CST.

“The deluge of OTT platforms has created greater competition for video based on choice and quality of content,” said Barry Nolan, chief strategy officer at Swrve, in a statement. “Yet as people spend more and more time consuming digital media, OTT platforms are seeing a lag in customers insights, loyalty, and revenue. We believe that by delivering the perfect message at the perfect time, OTT platforms will have a richer and more enduring experience with their customers.”

Research: More Than 52% of Broadband Households Report Watching Internet Video on a Connected TV

A majority (52%) of U.S. broadband households are watching online video on a TV that is connected to the internet, according to research from Parks Associates.

The study, 360 View: Digital Media and Connected Consumers, also finds that watching TV or movies at home is the most popular leisure activity among U.S. broadband households, with 55% selecting this among their top two favorite leisure activities.

“While the total number of hours consuming videos has declined, consumers are watching more internet video on the largest screen available,” said Billy Nayden, research analyst with Parks Associates, in a statement. “The number of hours consumers report watching video on a TV increased for the first time since 2014, with connected devices enabling internet video services on TV and shifting consumers away from PC and mobile viewing. As OTT competition becomes a battle for the living room, the challenge for device makers and content producers is finding the correct product mix to maximize both profit and utility.”

The study found subscriptions are the dominant business model for OTT services.

As more services emerge, many stakeholders fear an impending subscription overload in U.S. households, according to Parks.

“As consumers’ taste for OTT experimentation wanes, they will start to resist the push to add another monthly subscription to their households,” Nayden said in a statement. “Many providers are starting to lead with freemium and ad-based models, in anticipation of this pushback.”

Other findings were:

  • 19% of consumers subscribe to either Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video and another OTT service, compared to 13% in 2017;
  • Consumers watched 25.7 hours of video per week in 2018, down from 29.5 hours per week in 2016;
  • Local broadcast/channels and programs are the most enjoyed type of programming.

Research: 71% of U.S. Broadband Households Own a Connected Entertainment Device

Nearly three-fourths of U.S. households (71%) own a connected entertainment device, according to new research from Parks Associates.

The research firm’s white paper, Changing Dynamics of the Smart Home: Opportunities for Service Providers, sponsored by Calix, also found that among consumers who own either a connected entertainment or smart home device, more than 60% have more than one.

“The average U.S. broadband household owns more than ten IoT devices, crossing entertainment, smart home and health use cases,” said Parks VP Denise Ernst in a statement. “These trends, combined with innovations in cloud technologies and service provision, create real opportunities for service providers to enter the smart home space with offerings that provide flexible support options and protections for a household’s data and privacy.”

The whitepaper details consumers’ concerns with data privacy and security, as well as their needs and demands for support services. Additional findings in the report were that 26% of U.S. broadband households own at least one device from a list of common smart home devices and that approximately one-third of connected entertainment device owners and one-half of smart home device owners who set up their devices themselves experience problems.

“In today’s connected lifestyle, consumers value flexibility in their choices,” Ernst said. “A service provider’s ability to address consumers’ problems in the method they prefer is a distinct advantage, particularly in today’s IoT environment.”