Report: Netflix a Global Influencer on Twitter

Move over, President Trump. You’ve got company as a significant influencer on social media platform Twitter. That’s according to new intel from analytics company GlobalData, which found SVOD pioneer Netflix has dominated online chatter during the past 90 days of the coronavirus pandemic.

Twitter-related discussions to Netflix spiked more than 60% from March through May compared with the previous-year period due in large part to people being forced to stay at home due to COVID-19. The subscription streaming video behemoth has more than 8.2 million followers on Twitter.

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In April, Twitter chatter about Netflix skyrocketed when the company announced it had added an eye-popping 15.8 million new subscribers in the first quarter (ended March 31) due to home restrictions, and reported quarterly revenue of $5.77 billion against an estimated $5.76 billion. In fact, unlike many companies, the COVID-19 crisis has had a positive impact on the company’s stock price as it is up by almost 14% since the beginning of the year.

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“Due to COVID-19, people are streaming more content online as they spend more time at home, bringing companies like Netflix to a bright spot in the entertainment sector, with significant growth in new subscribers and higher viewing time,” Prashant Saxena, influencer expert at GlobalData, said in a statement.

In March, there was another spike in chatter when the streamer agreed with the European Union to slow down the speed of its streaming service for 30 days to reduce traffic across Europe by 25% and ensure that broadband networks perform adequately with millions of people confined to their homes.

“As the world starts easing lockdown restrictions and slowly reopening restaurants and other recreational destinations, it is expected that the viewership and membership numbers for Netflix will likely be impacted, including [driving up social media banter], Saxena said.

U.K. Daily Internet Usage Tops 4 Hours

Internet use in the United Kingdom is surging. Adults in the U.K. now spend more than a quarter of their waking day online with myriad services such as TikTok and Zoom, according to new data from Ofcom, the region’s regulator for the communications services.

In April, during the height of the coronavirus lockdown, U.K. adults spent a daily average of four hours and two minutes online. This was up from just under three and a half hours in September 2019. With people looking for new ways to keep connected, informed, entertained and fit during the pandemic, video-sharing and video-calling services surged in popularity.

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TikTok, which allows users to create and share short dance and lip-sync videos, reached 12.9 million U.K. adult visitors in April, up from just 5.4 million in January. Twitch, the live-streaming platform for video gamers, saw an increase from 2.3 million adults to 4.2 million.

The number of people making video calls doubled during lockdown, with more than 70% doing so at least weekly. Houseparty, the app which combines group video-calls with games and quizzes, grew from 175,000 adult visitors in January to 4 million in April. But the biggest growth was seen by Zoom, the virtual meeting platform, which grew from 659,000 users to reach 13 million users over the same period — a rise of almost 2,000%.

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Ofcom found that 90% of adults, and almost all older children aged 8-15, with access to the Internet used at least one of these platforms (YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok) in the past year, with many doing so several times a day. About 32% of online adults now spend more time viewing video-sharing services than broadcast television.

“Lockdown may leave a lasting digital legacy,” Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s director of strategy and research, said in a statement. “The coronavirus has radically changed the way we live, work and communicate online, with millions of people using online video services for the first time.”

The study shows that, before the pandemic, many people were moving away from more established forms of communication — particularly landline calls and SMS text messages — and adopting newer methods.

In the 12 months to February, more people were sending daily text messages using online messaging platforms (52%), such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, than using SMS (41%) or email (26%). Daily use of online voice calls (31%) was only slightly lower than mobile calls (38%).

The pandemic appears to have sped up the adoption of online services to keep in touch. More than 70% people in the U.K. are now making video calls at least weekly, up from 35% pre-lockdown. This trend is particularly noticeable among older Web users; the proportion of online adults aged 65+ who make a least one video-call each week increased from 22% in February to 61% by May.

Reuters: COVID-19 Ups Consumer Consumption, Trust of News Reporting

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has increased consumer confidence in and consumption of news reporting on television and the Internet, including social media platforms, according to new data from Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Before the COVID-19 crisis hit, more than half of survey respondents in six countries (U.K., U.S., Germany, Spain, South Korea, and Argentina) said they were concerned about what was true or false on the Internet when it came to news.

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Domestic politicians were singled out as the single most frequently named source of misinformation, though in some countries — including the U.S. – people who self-identify as right-wing are more likely to blame the media, with Facebook seen as the main channel for spreading “fake news.”

Over the past nine years, Reuters has found online news overtaking television and print as the most frequently used source of news. The virus crisis has significantly changed that picture. Data from surveys conducted in early April found respondents gravitated toward traditional TV for coverage of COVID-19 more so than other topics, including politics and global warming.

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TV news saw an uplift in all six countries polled separately in January and April. Germany saw a 12-point decline in reach for TV news reversed as people turned to the medium for virus-related news, including public service announcements.

“Journalism matters and is in demand again,” Nic Newman senior research associate, wrote in the report.

The use of online and social media for news has significantly increased in most countries, according to Reuters. WhatsApp saw the biggest growth in general with increases of around 10% in some countries, while more than 51% of respondents used some kind of open or closed online group to connect, share information, or take part in a local support network.

Reuters also found that trust in media doubled for social networks, video platforms and messaging services when it came to the virus and economic shutdowns. Across all countries surveyed, 28% turned to a website or app for their news. Respondents 18 to 24 years old preferred accessing social media. Indeed, use of Instagram for news has doubled since 2018 and looks likely to overtake Twitter through 2021, according to the report.

“Facebook [which owns Instagram] and other social media groups are now used on average by 31% of respondents for local news and information,” Newman wrote.

Roku Not Kicking OANN Off Platform Despite Controversy

Roku says it will not remove conservative TV platform One America News Network (OANN) from its platform despite allegations that the San Diego-based pro-Trump network is peddling dangerous unproven conspiratorial allegations.

“We operate a platform with a wide selection of entertainment and content with diverse points of view. While we do not block or censor content based on viewpoint, we reserve the right to remove a channel that has the potential to cause harm to our platform,” Roku said in a media statement. “We are not removing the channel at this time.”

Roku previously removed third-party content (Alex Jones’ InfoWars, among others) from its platform, citing violation of the company’s content standards. The streaming media pioneer has 40 million subscribers on its platform, which includes ad-supported The Roku Channel.

Specifically, criticism revolves around an OANN story Trump cited on Twitter that claimed 75-year-old protester Martin Gugino shown last week on social media being shoved by Buffalo police at a Black Lives Matter rally is an Antifa agitator. Gugino fell backwards, hitting his head and knocked unconscious with blood seeping out of his ear.

The OANN story claims Gugino approached police looking to engage law enforcement for political gain. Trump has declared Antifa — which often engages in militant opposition to political doctrines it disagrees with — a domestic terrorist organization. Gugino, who remains hospitalized, has no known ties to Antifa or any violent group.

Regardless, Trump June 9 on Twitter alleged Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out their equipment.

“@OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?,” Trump tweeted.

The president’s post drew immediate pushback from media observers and politicians across the aisle. “It’s a serious accusation, which should only be made with facts and evidence, and I haven’t seen any yet,” John Thune (R-SD), the second-leading Republican (after Mitch McConnell) in the U.S. Senate, told reporters.

Conviva: Q1 Streaming Video, Social Media Consumption Boom

As expected, streaming video consumption skyrocketed in the first quarter (ended March 31) with global use up 57% compared with the previous-year period, according to new data from Conviva.

The streaming media tracker found that as stay-at-home orders became widespread and live sports were suspended, over-the-top video consumption filled the void. Growth was led by Europe, up 70%, and the Americas, up 57%, while Asia and Africa saw 30% and 25% viewing growth respectively. As viewing habits changed globally, on-demand content increased 79% over the year, representing a 72% share of total viewing time worldwide.

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While the volume of sports-related social content was down in the quarter, sports organizations still managed to drive increases in engagement. Premier League soccer in the United Kingdom scored the greatest increase in engagements per post and engagements per video up 146% and 142% respectively, followed by the NBA with 119% and 126% increases respectively.

Conviva also identified which teams outperformed the field in engagements per social video. For example, unlikely suspects from smaller media markets, including the Milwaukee Bucks, Cincinnati Reds, Winnipeg Jets, and Orlando City Soccer Club, joined ratings juggernaut Dallas Cowboys as league-leaders in engagement on TikTok. In the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers clinched the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter titles. The Pittsburgh Penguins conquered those same platforms for the NHL. Other leagues saw more disparity across the different platforms, with the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Yankees each earning a top spot on two social networks—a feat the LA Galaxy also netted in MLS.

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Streaming media device pioneer Roku held a 44% share of global connected TV viewing time, and was the only device to net quality improvements, including 49% decline in video start failures; 37% higher picture quality, 33% less buffering, and 15% faster video start times. As a result, Roku boosted viewing hours by 55% year over year.

Across all devices, global streaming quality continued to improve with buffering down 27%, picture quality up 25%, and 14% fewer video start failures year over year, according to Conviva. Mobile reported the most progress with 38% less buffering, 27% higher picture quality and 13% fewer start failures. Mobile also netted the largest viewing growth year over year in Q1, up 60%, compared to 51% growth for connected TV and just 22% growth for PCs.

Data for the report was primarily collected from Conviva’s proprietary sensor technology currently embedded in three billion streaming video applications, measuring in excess of 500 million unique viewers watching 150 billion streams per year with 1.5 trillion real-time transactions per day across more than 180 countries.

Year-over-year comparisons were normalized at the customer level for accurate representations of industry growth. The social media data included in this report is based on an analysis of over 15 million posts, 1.7 million videos, and over 2.9 billion engagements across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

Analyst: TikTok to Surpass 50 Million Users in U.S. by 2021

After nearly doubling its U.S. user base last year, growth for TikTok, a Chinese video-sharing social networking service, will slow in the coming years as competition heats up and concerns grow among marketers, according to new data from eMarketer.

TikTok’s domestic U.S. user base will grow 21.9% in 2020 to 45.4 million people. By 2021, it will surpass 50 million (52.2 million). This follows 97.5% growth in 2019, as the short-form video platform drew in a huge number of users, especially children and teens. Growth will slow to single digits in 2022 as the app becomes heavily saturated among core younger users.

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“TikTok had a breakout year in 2019, and it is incredibly popular among teens at this point,” analyst Debra Aho Williamson said in a statement. “Some are spending multiple hours per day on the app, which is a testament to the incredible stickiness of its scrolling video format. But it has yet to develop a strong following among older generations.”

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This year, 21.6% of U.S. social network users, or more than one in five, will use TikTok at least once a month. Despite having lower penetration than more established competitors, it’s one of the few social apps whose penetration is growing.

 

Sony Links With Nextdoor on ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ Promotion

To celebrate the home entertainment release of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks in his Academy Award-nominated role as Fred Rogers, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has joined with Nextdoor, the neighborhood hub, to launch a sweepstakes promotion “aimed at elevating simple acts of kindness in neighborhoods across the country,” according to the studio.

Members on Nextdoor can share the story of a neighbor who has gone above and beyond to cultivate kindness in his or her neighborhood at us.nextdoor.com/beautifulday. Those who submit a story will be entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win a free local screening of the film. Ten additional Nextdoor members will be selected at random to win the film on Blu-ray and a copy of Penguin Books’ A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Neighborly Words of Wisdom from Mister Rogers.

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Neighbors will be able to enter the sweepstakes from Jan. 29 through Feb. 14. The promotion will culminate on National Random Acts of Kindness Day Feb. 17, when Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Nextdoor will be sharing select entries via the film’s and Nextdoor’s social channels (@Nextdoor).

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“Neighbors everywhere continue to show us that the simple acts of gathering together, sharing a smile, and showing each other kindness can have profound effects on our lives,” said Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar in a statement. “We are thrilled to work with Sony and help promote A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood as we continue to cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighborhood they can rely on.”

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, available on digital Feb. 4 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 18, is based on the real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer (Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Rogers (Hanks), he overcomes his skepticism, learning about kindness, love and forgiveness from the star of the children’s series “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

Consumers can create a free Nextdoor account at nextdoor.com to connect with your neighbors and enter for a chance to win at us.nextdoor.com/beautifulday. Sweepstakes terms and conditions are at the Nextdoor Help Center.

WWE Partners with TikTok

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has partnered with TikTok, marketing select wrestlers to the social networking service owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based company founded in 2012.

WWE is making 30 of its wrestlers available on TikTok, including Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Ultimate Warrior, Becky Lynch, John Cena and Sasha Banks. The branded wrestlers’ onstage themes and music are embedded within TikTok’s library of music artists.

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“We are thrilled to be launching this partnership which offers a new level of engagement with WWE content by enabling the TikTok community to create their own shareable stories tied to WWE‘s world renowned Superstars,” Jayar Donlan, EVP of advanced media, said in a statement.

TikTok’s Mayan Scharf hopes the partnership captures the “passion and thrill” of wrestling on social media.

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“We’re looking forward to bringing the excitement of the WWE experience to TikTok’s global community,” Scharf said.

Social Media Ups Original Video Content Orders

Social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are increasing forays into original video content to better compete against Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney+.

Since the middle of 2018, YouTube, Facebook and Snapchat have commissioned more than 200 digital originals, according to new data from Ampere Analysis. Short-form video platform Quibi is launching in 2020 with 80 scripted and unscripted titles in development.

With 58 shows in production, Ampere says Facebook Watch is the second largest commissioner of unscripted content globally after the BBC. Snapchat rivals HBO and National Geographic with 22 commissioned unscripted shows currently in production.

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Despite the number of commissions, there still aren’t enough to offset the challenging economics of digital-first production, according to Ampere. Timing and the unpredictability of commissioning activity is a major concern for smaller digital studios, impacting cash flow and investment opportunity.

As a result, the London-based research firm says social media platforms have adopted hybrid business strategies, which include branded video, secondary rights sales influencer marketing, and direct control of ad sales against content distributed by via their own social media channels.

“Fast-paced technological developments and shifting consumer trends mean that diversification of business models and revenue streams is key to ensuring stability in a volatile marketplace,” analyst Henry Beckwith said in a statement.

Ampere’s analysis indicates that of current shows commissioned in the first half of 2019 for Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Quibi, less than 10% were being made in Europe. But the tide may be turning. Facebook has more recently begun to diversify. Its latest commissions are Western European-focused, with the U.K. and Germany emerging hubs for the social media group.

“Digital studios that have greater control over their IP can maximize income and margins, which can then be used to drive growth in other areas of the business,” Beckwith said.

Netflix Back Online Following Tech Issues

Netflix has apologized on social media for unexplained technical issues on Nov. 21 that caused outage issues for several hours to select subscribers around the world.

“We’re sorry some of our members were unable to use Netflix for a couple of hours today. The issue is now fixed. Apologies for the inconvenience,” Netflix tweeted.

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The glitches reportedly involved streaming on portable devices, a distribution channel Netflix is targeting, notably in emerging markets in India and Asia. The website DownDetector.com reported the outages were affecting subs around the world.

Netflix responded to individual users complaining on the social media platform.

“At the moment we are experiencing technical problems, we are busy rectifying this as quickly as possible,” Netflix tweeted to a Dutch sub. “[We] recommend trying Netflix again at a later date. Sorry for the inconvenience.”