NFL Holding 2020 Draft From Commissioner’s Home Basement

In a switch, there will be live sports tonight (8 p.m. ET) on broadcast television and streaming showcasing the 2020 NFL Draft from the basement of commissioner Roger Goodell’s home in Westchester County, New York.

The annual media event takes on special meaning this year with the world of sports still on hiatus due to the spread of the coronavirus shuttering all sports venues worldwide.

The Draft is typically hosted in a major city with all top college football players in attendance in a party-like setting. Due to the virus, social distancing and travel restrictions, Goodell, with the help of three technicians, will be switching between 200 remote video locations nationwide in players’ homes.

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“It will be a way to socialize and bring people together, and that’s what the NFL does,” Goodell told “Good Morning America.” “I think we’ll be able to bring a great deal of optimism, not just to our fans but to the fact that business is continuing to go forward and operations are going forward. This is a really important event to our clubs and helping finalize our rosters and get ready for a season. So this is really important for us to do it right, and doing it from home and doing it within regulations with no exemptions.”

Goodell said the league has factored in the current quarantine restrictions around offseason activities, allowing for virtual workouts and training among the NFL’s 32 teams.

Teams can hold voluntary classroom instruction, workouts and non-football educational programs using online platforms, according to a league memo reported by The Associated Press. The league’s offseason program concludes June 26.

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“Whatever we do is going to be in compliance with the governing rules of the particular state and it’s going to be consistent with good and recommended medical health practices,” Jeff Pash, lead counsel with the NFL, told Time. “We’re going to do it in a way that preserves competitive equity and doesn’t expose anyone to risks that the medical profession says people shouldn’t be exposed to. We’re going to rely on that kind of guidance.”

Goodell said he’s learned it is impossible to predict the future during a pandemic.

“Our job is to be ready. We obviously will be ready to make alternatives, we’re going to put public safety No. 1.” he said.

The Draft will be live-streamed as a fundraiser for COVID-19 relief efforts featuring Rich Eisen, Deion Sanders and special guest Kevin Hart, among others. Viewers can stream the event through Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, and the YouTube NFL Channel.

Nielsen: Streaming Video Use Up Nearly 100% in Some Markets

With most states across the U.S. implementing stay-at-home orders as concerns about the novel coronavirus pandemic swept across the country, new data from Nielsen found streaming video consumption skyrocketing.

Specifically, the consumption of non-linear content via internet-connected devices, such as smart TVs and other multimedia devices, rose week after week in March, hitting its peak the week of March 23.

Previous research found that staying put in homes can lead to almost a 60% increase in the amount of video content consumed. But a pandemic changes everything. States and cities that moved quickly to enact stay-at-home orders in mid-March, such as New York, Illinois, Washington and California, saw some of the most dramatic increases in streaming consumption between March 2-23.

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Across Nielsen’s 56 largest metered markets, streaming increases have been persistent across all hours of the day. However, the most significant gains have been in the early afternoon hours. Historically, few adults would be home during these hours, but with the lifestyle changes created by stay-at-home orders, the ratings company saw more than 50% increases in streaming from 1-4 p.m. These hours are up over 100% from the same week a year ago.

Nielsen also saw streaming of non-linear content increase across all age groups in Nielsen’s 56 largest metered markets during March. With most schools closed across the country, younger demographics experienced the largest growth, with more than 60% increases.

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Even before COVID-19, organic streaming had been growing over the past few months as new subscription video on demand services such as Disney+ hit the marketplace, along with several ad-supported services.

“The current outbreak has further accelerated streaming’s growth among the key advertising demographic as consumers find themselves with more time in front of the TV glass,” Nielsen wrote, citing consumer searches for new video entertainment content categories such as fitness and wellness, gaming live streams and cooking.

“By understanding where, when and who is watching content across streaming platforms, the media industry as a whole will be better positioned to connect with viewers,” Nielsen wrote.

Netflix Q1 Results: Day of Reckoning or Rich Get Richer?

All eyes on Wall Street next week will be focused on Netflix’s first-quarter financial results, which will be released at market close on April 21. At a time of uncertainty, Netflix’s subscriber growth will either validate the market’s enhanced fawning over the SVOD behemoth’s stock or bring it crashing down to earth, the harsh economic reality of the coronavirus even on the perceived virus-proof over-the-top video ecosystem.

Wall Street analysts project Netflix will add upwards of nine million subscribers worldwide, significantly more than the streaming pioneer’s seven million estimate. Scuttlebutt suggests that with shelter-in-place mandates legally enforceable throughout much of Western Europe, people have turned to video streaming in greater numbers for entertainment than before the pandemic.

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Netflix shrewdly took the opportunity to bow true-crime documentary “Tiger King,” an immediate hit with social media water cooler banter, while boasting catalog can’t misses such as “The Office,” among others. The result: a spike in subscriber growth, according to streaming analytics firm Antenna.

“We believe the unfortunate COVID-19 situation is cementing Netflix’s global dominance, partly driven by the incremental content spend that is enabled by their massive and growing subscriber base,” Jeffrey Wlodarczak, analyst with Pivotal Research, wrote in a separate note.

Netflix ended 2019 with 167 million paid subscribers.

Indeed, the echo chamber reverberated surrounding Netflix’s strong position during the pandemic, to point the service’s stock topped Disney, among other media giants.

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Even longtime Netflix bear Michael Pachter, with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, expects “moderate upside” to subscriber growth and revenue as social distancing guidelines around the world have “clearly driven” streaming usage, dampened churn and drove incremental sign-ups.

That said, Pachter cautioned that the “most meaningful” stay-at-home mandates globally only began in late February through mid March.

“The timing of COVID-19-related usage and sign-ups late in the quarter, combined with an existing high degree of penetration for Netflix’s domestic addressable market, suggests relatively tempered upside in our view,” Pachter wrote in a note.

Parks: Americans Value Technology More Than Ever

Sometimes it take crisis to underscore the value of science and technology.

New data from Parks Associates suggests 53% of U.S. broadband households claim they value technology more now than before, following the outbreak of the coronavirus and the resulting social distancing and shelter-in-place orders across the country.

Parks, in an online survey fielded between March 8 and April 3 to heads of domestic broadband households, found that only 28% of seniors aged 75 and older are self-quarantining, while 70% of consumers overall said they are following social distancing rules, and 30% said they are following shelter-in-place orders or are otherwise self-quarantining.

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The report suggests that increased home confinement has resulted in greater awareness and appreciation for technology. Survey respondents said their intention to purchase consumer electronics in the next 12 months has risen 5% compared with the year prior. More than 20% of respondents said they have subscribed to at least one new OTT video service within the past three months.

“2020 marks an unprecedented time in U.S. and global history. COVID-19 has impacted global supply chains, worldwide businesses, and consumer spending,” senior analyst Kristen Hanich said in a statement. “It has prompted exceptional actions from regulators in terms of both public health and monetary and fiscal policy.”

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Apple TV+ Joins Free Content Bandwagon

Apple TV+, the media giant’s subscription streaming video app launched Nov. 1, 2019, is giving free access to select original programing as the coronavirus quarantines more people in their home for extended periods.

After downloading the Apple TV app on any Apple device, in addition to select Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku, content can be accessed via the following link: apple.co/FreeForEveryone.

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Apple original programs include “The Elephant Queen,” “Little America,”  M. Night Shyamalan’s “Servant,” global space war drama “For All Mankind,” “Dickinson” starring Hailee Steinfeld, “Helpsters” and “Ghostwriter.”

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Ampere Analysis recently reported that Apple TV+ had 33.6 million subscribers at the end of 2019 — a tally largely attributed to the app’s free access with the purchase of an Apple product.

Parks: Headphones, Earphones See Sales Spike With Work-at-Home, Home Schooling and Entertainment

With more states advising shelter-in-place guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic, new data from Parks Associates finds that 44% of U.S. broadband households own speakers, 37% own headphones bought separately from a phone or music player, and 33% own a separate set of earbuds.

While purchase intentions were flat prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, due in large part to the emergence of smart speakers, demand for headphones and earbuds is projected to see a spike with work-at-home and entertainment-in-place now the standard for many households.

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“Everyone in the household now needs their own headphones and earbuds for privacy during this time of shelter-in-place orders and work-at-home mandates,” research director Steve Nason said in a statement.

Nason contends people buying head/earphones are doing so expecting to integrate these standalone products with their smart speakers and other connected devices in the home. This trend was already underway with the gradual dissolution of the “home theater system” concept, according to Nason, with households now featuring a collection of varied audio products.

“Brands and devices that must work together to deliver a seamless user experience,” he said.

Soundbars are now a prominent standalone product category in the audio device landscape, with adoption at nearly 25% of domestic broadband households, according to Dallas-based Parks. It is the most likely audio device to be connected to the TV, so soundbars have not been as impacted by smart speakers and displays as other audio products. However, growth has remained flat. Adoption of more niche audio devices such as internet-connected audio visual receivers and multiroom music systems has remained low.

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“Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the traditional audio device category was at a crossroads,” Nason said. “Adoption and usage of devices such as wired/wireless speakers without voice assistants, audio/visual receivers, home theater systems, and multiroom music systems had waned.”

He said that while consumers are now buying electronics to accommodate work-at-home and home schooling needs, manufacturers need to maintain their emphasis on innovation, particularly the integration with voice assistants, so that their devices can have value beyond the initial stop-gap usage.

Parks notes device manufacturers and voice assistant providers alike have to better market and communicate the value that integrated voice control brings to audio devices.

“Increased integration of audio devices and use of high-resolution and 3D audio with the most-used CE video device, smart TVs, will also raise the profile of the audio category,” Nason said.