Euro News: Pay-TV to Add 17.7M Subs; Italian Piracy Declines

Despite ongoing consumer migration toward over-the-top video distribution, European pay-TV operators are projected to add 17.7 million subscribers through 2023, according to new data from Dataxis.

How’s that? In Europe, pay-TV consumption is combined with online TV and OTT video (i.e. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video).

Thus, Euro pay-TV growth, which represents an 8.4% increase from the previous-year period, should bring the total to 230 million subs. This growth will be driven by IPTV (+13.1 million subscribers) and OTT (+6.6m), while cable TV should lose 4.6 million subscribers.

Separately, a new study by research firm Ipsos for Italy’s Federation for the Protection of Audiovisual and Multimedia Content found that consumption of pirated video content dropped 8% in 2018.

While the Italian home entertainment consumption of pirated movies, series and TV shows “declined” to 38%, the majority of illegal viewing included movies (33%), series (21%) and TV shows (20%).

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Illegal consumption of live sports (i.e. soccer) increased 34% with 4.7 million people consuming pirated content compared to 3.5 million in 2017.

Ipsos says piracy cost the Italian home entertainment market about €600 million ($676 million), with almost 6,000 jobs at risk.

The Italian economy lost €1.08 billion ($1.21 billion) due to piracy, including a €455 million ($512.6 million) hit to GDP, and €203 million ($228.6 million) in lost tax revenue.

 

MobiTV Secures $50 Million in Venture Funding

MobiTV, a platform offering pay-TV operators over-the-top video distribution across myriad platforms, July 1 announced it has closed more than $50 million in funding from three investment funds.

Based in Emeryville, Calif., MobiTV enables third-party pay-TV operators to offer subscribers on-demand programming, live TV, catch-up TV, network DVR and content recommendations without the need of a set-top box.

Investors include Oak Investment Partners, Ally Financial, and Cedar Grove Partners. The funding will be used to accelerate the growth of MobiTV’s international footprint.

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“We believe in MobiTV’s superior consumer experience and know that being the only true commercially deployed solution in North America has differentiated their positioning in the marketplace,” Bandel Carano, managing partner, Oak Investment Partners, said in a statement.

MobiTV’s “multi-tenant solution” can be deployed through either a managed service or in-network offering, enabling it to address operators of all sizes, in a cost-effective manner.

Third-party clients include Citizens Fiber, Windstream and EPB with access to more than 350 networks, including A+E Networks, AMC Networks, Crown Media Family Networks, C-SPAN Networks, Disney and ESPN Media Networks, Showtime and Viacom, among others.

“We’re equally proud to have a nod from the National Cable Television Cooperative, as they selected MobiTV as a premiere partner for app-based pay-TV video solutions,” said MobiTV chairman/CEO Charlie Nooney. “We continue to demonstrate our ground-breaking approach to addressing operator challenges as they upgrade their pay-TV offering in an increasingly competitive marketplace.”

Report: OTT Video Options Reach Saturation Point

With a Netflix subscription in every “pot,” followed closely behind by Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, over-the-top video household penetration in the United States has reached overload status.

New data from Hub Entertainment Research found that the average domestic household now has 4.5 sources of video entertainment, including pay-TV — a statistic that increases to 5.2 sources among younger adults and homes with children.

About 70% of 1,631 survey respondents with broadband use at least one OTT video service such as Netflix, Hulu and Prime Video, while respondents who use more than one service increased 7%.

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Netflix penetration inched up 62% from 61% last year, while Hulu use increased 8% and Amazon upped 5%.

Hub also found that 24% of respondents “have too many TV services” and won’t subscribe to a new service, which is up from 14% last year. Another 36% would cancel an existing service before adding another one.

“The TV landscape is approaching zero-sum status, with more consumers insisting they’d drop an existing service before adding a new one,” Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study, said in a statement, as reported by Advanced-Television. “That puts added pressure on all TV services — including those on the way from Disney, Apple, and WarnerMedia — to offer the type of value that consumers feel they can’t live without.”

“Viewers are watching content from more sources than ever,” said Jon Giegengack, co-author of the study. “That raises the bar for new platforms entering the market — but it’s a growing opportunity for platforms that can aggregate content from multiple sources. For consumers, simplicity is becoming a more important factor to consider.”

Final ‘Game of Thrones’ Episode Smashes HBO Viewer Records

As expected, the season-eight final episode of “Game of Thrones” broke both viewership records for the series as well as HBO.

Initial data suggests the final episode drew 19. 3 million viewers when tabulating initial broadcast, on-demand and some streaming. The tally broke the previous record set May 12 when 18.4 million people watched the penultimate episode broadcast, on-demand and streaming.

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The final season is averaging 44.2 million viewers, which is about 10 million more than season seven, according to HBO.

The previous HBO record occurred in 2002 with the fourth-season premiere of “The Sopranos,” which tracked 11.9 million viewers at a time when streaming video and on-demand distribution did not exist.

Study: Online TV Is Second-Most-Popular TV Viewing Choice in U.K., Sweden and Germany

A new survey of TV viewers in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany found that online TV is now the second most popular viewing source behind pay-TV, with usage ranging from just under 40% in Germany to more than 50% in the U.K. and Sweden.

Nielsen company Gracenote and digital media analyst firm nScreenMedia conducted the survey, “TV Universe — U.K., Sweden, Germany: How People Watch Television Today,” in the first quarter of 2019, focusing on pay TV, free-to-air and online TV viewership in the three European countries that account for 31% of the European Union’s total population, according to Statista.

The online TV viewership growth in the three countries “is a remarkable rise as online TV is a relatively new offering,” according to the research firms. In fact, Netflix launched in the United Kingdom in just 2012. Whereas 12 years ago most homes relied on a single-source for TV, today nearly half of viewers in all three of the countries studied are multi-source television households, the researchers noted.

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“Consumer behavior relating to TV viewing is changing rapidly in Europe as it is around the world,” said Simon Adams, chief product officer, Gracenote, in a statement.

Pay TV is currently the most popular television source in the U.K. and Sweden with nearly two in three consumers in each market using it, the survey found, but in Germany the most popular source is free-to-air TV, which accounts for the vast majority of viewers at nearly eight in 10.

In all three European markets surveyed, consumers pointed to on-screen program guides and user interfaces as being critical tools for finding content to watch. Six in 10 viewers indicated visual imagery and TV artwork displayed in guides exert important influence on their viewing choices. Among the 18-to-24-year-old demographic, the number jumped up to around 90%. In addition, respondents indicated TV show and movie descriptions that shed light on content are also factors in their tune-in decision-making, with 70% of U.K. viewers, 65% of Swedes and 57% of Germans saying the program descriptions were at least somewhat important.

The study also found free-to-air TV is gaining traction on mobile with more free-to-air viewers using broadcaster apps to supplement viewing than pay TV viewers use their operator “TV Everywhere” apps. In fact, more than half of free-to-air users in each country use broadcaster apps.

The smart TV is the preferred device to watch video content on in all three countries, according to the study. A significant 70% of total viewing time is on the TV screen in the United Kingdom and Germany, while in Sweden, it is 60%. Samsung is the most popular TV brand in all three countries.

Other insights include:

  • 17% of the U.K. study group use all three TV sources available to them, higher than in Sweden and Germany;
  • While the on-screen guide is the dominant way Swedes and Brits find content to watch, newspaper TV guides and channel flipping are the main ways for Germans; and
  • 31% of Swedes consider online TV to be their primary TV source, the highest of the three countries studied.

 

“The new TV Universe study shows that online TV has become the second most popular source of TV entertainment in a remarkably short period of time,” said Colin Dixon, founder and chief analyst at nScreenMedia in a statement. “Also telling is the fact that, though most online viewing takes place on the television, consumers don’t have the discovery tools they need to efficiently find something to watch there. Features such as voice and cross-service search are thinly used in each country. There is also plenty of room for improvement with content recommendations as a quarter or less think they accurately reflect their interests.”

The consumer research study conducted from February to March 2019 surveyed 1,500 adult TV viewers in the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden. The data was weighted to represent the general population of each country. The full report is available for free download now at nScreenMedia.com.

Report: Pay-TV Providers Lost 1.3 Million Subs in Q1

It was a bad quarter for the pay-TV business.

New data from Leichtman Research Group found that the largest pay-TV providers in the U.S. — representing about 95% of the market — lost more than 1.3 million video subscribers in the first quarter (ended March 31) — up 426% from a net loss of 305,000 subs in the previous-year period.

Pay-TV providers now account for about 87.8 million subscribers — with the top six cable companies having 46.7 million video subscribers, satellite TV services (28.3 million subs), telephone companies (8.9 million), and the top publicly reporting online TV with 3.9 million subs.

Satellite TV services such as Dish Network and DirecTV drove pay-TV losses with about 810,000 subs dropping service compared to a loss of about 375,000 subs in the previous-year period.

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Cable operators lost about 335,000 video subs — compared to a loss of about 285,000 subs last year. Telephone providers lost 105,000 video subs, up from a loss of 50,000 subs last year.  Online TV services lost 75,000 subs, compared to a gain of 405,000 subs last year.

Notably, AT&T had a loss of about 625,000 subs across its three pay-TV services (DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, and DirecTV Now) compared to a gain of 125,000 subscribers in 2018.

“The leading pay-TV provider in the U.S., AT&T, accounted for 47% of the net losses in the quarter,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “[The quarter] was the third consecutive [period] of record pay-TV net losses.  This accelerated downturn in the pay-TV market coincided with the decisions by AT&T and other providers to increasingly focus on long-term profitability when acquiring and retaining subscribers.”

 

Pay-TV Providers Subscribers at end of 1Q 2019 Net Adds in 1Q 2019
Cable Companies
Comcast 21,866,000 (120,000)
Charter 16,461,000 (145,000)
Cox 3,980,000 (35,000)
Altice 3,297,300 (10,200)
Mediacom 764,000 (12,000)
Cable ONE 320,611 (11,500)
Total Top Cable 46,688,911 (333,700)
Satellite Services (DBS)
DirecTV 18,679,000 (543,000)
Dish Network 9,639,000 (266,000)
Total DBS 28,318,000 (809,000)
Phone Companies
Verizon FiOS 4,398,000 (53,000)
AT&T U-verse 3,704,000 0
Frontier 784,000 (54,000)
Total Top Phone 8,886,000 (107,000)
Online TV
Sling TV 2,424,000 7,000
DirecTV Now 1,508,000 (83,000)
Total Top Online TV 3,932,000 (76,000)
Total Top Providers 87,824,911 (1,325,700)

 

 

Pay-TV Operators Lost Nearly 1.3 Million Subs in Q1

As expected, pay-TV operators lost myriad subscribers in the first quarter (ended March 31) due to ongoing consumer adoption of new home entertainment distribution options, including over-the-top video.

The top-10 pay-TV operators lost nearly a combined 1.3 million subscribers in the period, spearheaded by satellite TV, according to new data from Informitv. That loss is nearly 50% of all subscribers who cancelled service in 2018.

AT&T led all multichannel video program distributors with 544,000 subs lost through its DirecTV (satellite), U-verse and DirecTV Now brands. Dish Network lost 266,000 subs, or 1.2 million in the past 12 months.

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Charter Spectrum lost 152,000 subs, while Comcast lost 107,000. Verizon Fios lost 53,000, while Frontier and Mediacom lost 54,000 and 12,000, respectively. The ongoing industry losses prompted Cox Communications to stop revealing subscriber data.

The top 10 MVPD providers now penetrate about 70% of domestic households with nearly 82 million subscribers.

“They still command a significant number of customers, but the rate of attrition has increased,” Dr. William Cooper, editor of the Informitv, said in a statement.

 

 

Dish Widens Q1 Pay-TV Sub Loss as Sling TV Growth Cools

Dish Network May 3 reported it lost 266,000 pay-TV subscribers in the first quarter, ended March 31. That compared to a loss of 185,000 subs in the previous-year period.

The nation’s fourth-largest pay-TV operator ended the period with 12 million subscribers — down almost 1.1 million subs from 13.1 millions subs last year.

The loss reflects ongoing secular changes in the pay-TV market as increasing numbers of consumers opt away from linear television toward over-the-top video products such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Now and Showtime OTT, among others.

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Separately, Dish’s pioneering online TV service, Sling TV, added just 7,000 subs in the period, compared to a gain of 91,000 subs last year. The standalone live streaming service ended the period with 2.41 million subs compared to 2.3 million subs last year.

Sling TV helped create an online TV market targeting cord-cutters and millennials that now includes PlayStation Vue, Spectrum TV Plus, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, Fubo TV and Hulu with Live TV, among others.

While subscriber growth declined, revenue per Sling customer increased. The increase was mainly driven by three factors: Customers taking higher priced packages, increased add-on revenue from extras, ad sales and cloud DVRs, and the $5 increase on the orange package implemented in the third quarter of 2018.

“Sling’s promotions have done well for us but we are focused on attracting profitable customers,” Warren Schlichting, EVP and group president, Sling TV, said on the fiscal call. “It’s a marathon not a sprint. We like where we are, we like our position in the market with our competitors taking their prices out that’s only improved ROI, and you’ll see more of the same, in the second quarter from us.”

Without Sling, Dish’s legacy satellite TV subscriber base would be about 9.6 million – down almost 4 million subs (30%) in the past five years.

Report: Video Streamers Covet TV Antenna

It may be a digital world driven by over-the-top video distribution. But as millennials opt away from traditional pay-TV, they are also embracing the old-school TV antenna, according to a new report.

Horowitz Research suggests that while TV viewers in the U.S. are experimenting with online TV services such as YouTube TV, Sling TV, DirecTV Now and PlayStation Vue, among others, they are increasingly opting for digital antennas.

The study finds that 34% of TV content viewers are accessing OTT video content via digital antennas, which came about following the federal government’s mandated switch from analog to digital TV transmission.

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Antenna owners are younger (40% of antenna owners are 18-34 vs. 31% of total TV content viewers) and skew male (59% vs. 49% of total TV content viewers).

Among non-pay-TV subscribers, 51% report owning an antenna. Antenna owners are more likely to subscribe to one of the three major SVOD services (78% subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video, vs. 67% of TV content viewers). Antennas are also popular in traditional pay-TV subscriber households: 30% of traditional subs report owning an antenna.

Horowitz’s data suggest antenna owners spend 19% of their time using an antenna, 44% streaming, and 32% through an MVPD, watching live, DVR, VOD and packaged media

“With today’s stronger signals and advances in technology, along with improved design aesthetics, antennas are re-emerging as an inexpensive and practical way of accessing TV content,”  Stephanie Wong, director of insights and strategy, said in a statement.

With new technology allowing for the recording of over-the-air content, including TiVo’s Bolt OTA, Plex, and Amazon’s Fire TV Recast, Horowitz said consumers are replacing cable with SVOD services and over-the-air broadcasts.

With the pending rollout of ATSC 3.0, which would allow for 4K resolution and enhanced sound to broadcast TV, Adriana Waterston, SVP of insights and strategy for Horowitz, contends pay-TV’s perceived advantage in picture quality and reliability is waning.

“As the broadcast industry works to improve its standards and achieve widespread adoption of ATSC 3.0 — about 40 markets by 2020, according to NAB — that advantage gap has the potential to shrink, with adoption of over-the-air viewing increasing,” Waterson said.

Comcast Sheds 107,000 Q1 Video Subs; Sky Adds 112K

Subscriber losses to linear pay-TV in the United States keep adding up.

Comcast April 25 said it lost 107,000 residential video subscribers in the first quarter, ended March 31. That compared to a loss of 93,000 video subs in the previous-year period.

Comcast Cable ended the period with 20.8 million video subs, down 358,000 subs from the previous-year period.

The cable operator also lost 14,000 business video subs to end the period with about 1.01 million compared to 1.05 million last year.

Offsetting in part video sub declines, Comcast added 352,000 high-speed Internet customers, up 1,000 from last year.

The company ended the period with 25.4 million broadband subs compared to 24.2 million last year.

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Comcast also added 23,000 broadband business customers to top 2.1 million customers – up from 2 million in the previous-year period.

“Comcast Cable had the best quarterly [pre-tax] growth in over a decade,” Comcast chairman Brian Roberts said in a statement.

Separately, new business unit Sky upped its total subscriber count by 112,000 compared to a gain of 38,000 subs in the previous-year period.

The London-based satellite operator with business units in Germany and Italy ended the period with 23.7 million subs – up 809,000 subs from 22.9 million customers last year.

Sky generated $3.8 billion in direct-to-consumer revenue, which was down from $4.1 billion last year. DTC revenue also includes transactions such as packaged media, over-the-top video daily, weekly and monthly passes, pay-per-view and “buy-to-keep” content.

The Sky Store includes a DVD with every digital movie/TV show purchase.