Research: U.S. OTT Access Revenue Grew 37% to $39.4B in 2021

Convergence Research estimates U.S. OTT access revenue grew 37% to $39.4 billion in 2021 and forecasts $51 billion for 2022 and $69 billion for 2024.

That’s based on more than 75 OTT services (more than 50 providers) — led by Netflix, Disney/Hulu, Amazon and Warner Bros. Discovery — analyzed in its 2022 Couch Potato Reports.

The firm forecasts 2022-24 annual U.S. OTT household penetration, subscriptions per household, and net OTT subscriptions added will each progressively see more moderate growth. Convergence forecasts 80 million additional U.S. subscriptions in 2022 and 50 million in 2024.

Convergence estimates 2021 U.S. cable, satellite, telco TV access revenue declined 4% to $91 billion and forecasts a decline of 6% to $85.5 billion in 2022 (hence ARPU should grow 3.5%), with higher revenue declines in 2023 and 2024. The firm estimates 2021 saw a decline of 6.5 million U.S. TV subscribers, 2020 a decline of 6.5 million, and forecasts a decline of 7 million TV subs in 2022 and 7.2 million in 2024. In its U.S. Cord Cutter/Never Household Model, as of year-end 2021, Convergence estimates 47% of U.S. households did not have a TV subscription with a cable, satellite, or telco TV access provider, up from 42% at the end of 2020. The firm projects that figure will rise to 53% by the end of 2022 and 64% by the end of 2024. 

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Convergence estimates 3.715 million U.S. residential broadband subscribers were added in 2021 (down from 5.1 million in 2020) and revenue grew 10% to $79.6 billion, and forecasts 4.3 million residential broadband subscriber additions in 2022 and 7% revenue growth to $85.5 billion. While cable dominates residential broadband and continues to add the largest share of residential broadband subs, telco and fixed-wireless sub additions continue to improve, according to the firm.

Study: Phase 4 of Marvel Cinematic Universe Least Favorite

Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the least-favorite MCU phase so far, according to critical scores identified in a new study.

The findings come from the Critic Ratings Study, which analyzed the film ratings across three popular review platforms — Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and IMDb. 

The study found that films and TV shows featured in Phase 4 — starting with “WandaVision” and running through to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness — are proving the least popular with fans so far, when compared with Phase 3, Phase 2 and Phase 1.

In fact, when compared to Phase 3 of the MCU (starting with Captain America: Civil War and ending with Spider-Man: Far From Home), Phase 4 has reported a 22% drop in ratings. 

Still, Phase 4 includes the highest-rated MCU film so far, Spider-Man: No Way Home (8.8/10), but it’s Eternals that pulls the average score down considerably as the lowest-rated film in the MCU to date (5.7/10). 

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Of the TV shows included in Phase 4, the highest-rated was “WandaVision,” while fans weren’t so keen on “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” or “Hawkeye.”

MCU Phases, best to worst:

  1. Phase 3 (Captain America: Civil War to Spider-Man: Far From Home)
  2. Phase 2 (Iron Man 3 to Ant-Man)
  3. Phase 1 (Iron Man to Marvel’s The Avengers)
  4. Phase 4 (“WandaVision” to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness)

 

Phase 3 was the highest-rated period of Marvel films, with each film featured reporting an impressive average critic score of 7.9/10. 

Highest-rated MCU films, by cumulative IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores:

  1. Spider-Man: No Way Home (8.8/10)
  2. Avengers: Endgame (8.6/10)
  3. Iron Man (8.6/10)
  4. Avengers: Infinity War (8.5/10)
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy (8.5/10)

Survey: Only a Quarter of U.S. Adults to Subscribe to Cable TV Within Next Few Years

While 59% of U.S. adults subscribe to cable TV right now, a new survey found that percentage will drop to 25% within the next few years.

The study, “How We Watch Now: U.S. Consumer Streaming Habits on YouTube and Other Connected TV Platforms,” comes from Pixability (www.pixability.com), a provider of software and insights for video advertising on YouTube and other leading connected TV (CTV) platforms. The study is based on a survey of more than 700 U.S. adults over 18.

Among those who will be cutting the cord, more than half (63%) will do so within the year. Among the 25% of adults who say they will still have cable in a few years, the highest concentration is adults over the age of 65.

According to the survey, YouTube viewers are now almost as likely to be watching YouTube on their TV as they are on their mobile device, and 83% of U.S. adults who watch YouTube do so on their TV, making it the second-most-popular device behind mobile (93%).

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“While we’re all aware of the shift from traditional TV to connected TV, this study revealed that the shift is accelerating faster than many people suspected,” David George, CEO of Pixability, said in a statement. “As this shift continues, YouTube’s viewership on TV screens is growing exponentially and it has become the top ad-supported platform for CTV reach — and a new mainstream option for TV advertisers.”

Other major findings of the study:

  • In addition to YouTube, four other AVOD services (Hulu, Roku, Peacock, Amazon Fire) comprise almost all ad-supported CTV viewing;
  • YouTube has a greater reach than any other streaming platform, reaching 87% of U.S. adults and 97% of those 25-34;
  • Consumers spend roughly an hour a day on YouTube and consume multiple categories of content — over 15 on average; and
  • 90% of Gen Z and Millennials in the U.S. now watch YouTube on TV screens.

Deloitte Digital Media Survey: Paid Streaming Service Churn Rate High, Especially Among Younger Generations

Paid streaming services are facing challenges. Churn is high, especially among younger people, and younger generations, especially Gen Z, actually prefer playing video games to watching video and spend a lot of time watching user-generated content rather than TV shows and movies.

That’s according to Deloitte’s 16th annual digital media trends survey. The U.S. survey was fielded by an independent research firm in December 2021 and employed an online methodology among 2,000 U.S. consumers. All data was weighted back to the most recent census data to give a representative view of consumer sentiment and behaviors. The survey was also fielded in the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil and Japan in December 2021 and January 2022. All data from the global markets was weighted to be nationally representative.

The U.S. paid streaming service churn rate averaged 37%, with 33% of respondents both adding and canceling a service and 4% canceling a service in the past six months. The churn rate was even higher among Gen Z and Millennials, with more than half of those respondents either canceling or canceling and adding paid services in the past six months. The trend also held true globally, with average churn in the international territories surveyed at 30% and younger generations more likely to move in and out of services.

While access to original content (39%) and a broad range of content (38%) were the top two reasons U.S. consumers said they were subscribing to paid SVOD services, U.S. subscribers said they’re canceling paid SVOD services due to cost (41%), price increases (30%) and lack of new content (30%).

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While older generations said they prefer watching TV and movies at home, Gen Z respondents preferred video games as their favorite form of digital entertainment. About four in 10 (41%) U.S. consumers said they spend more time watching user-generated video content than they do TV shows and movies on video streaming services — a sentiment that increased to around 60% for Gen Zs and Millennials.

In the United States, 81% of social media users said they use social media services at least daily and 59% said they use these services several times a day, with younger generations (including Gen Z, Millennial, and Gen X) leading the pack on social media usage.

In the United States, 80% of both men and women said they play video games, and half of smartphone owners said they play on a smartphone daily. Gen Z and Millennials said they play video games an average of 11 and 13 hours per week, respectively. Gen X gamers followed closely behind with around 10 hours of game play every week.

“While streaming video on-demand business models look much the same as they did when they were created 15 years ago, social media and gaming companies have quickly evolved their offerings, leveraging technology, and capitalizing on behaviors,” Jana Arbanas, vice chair, Deloitte LLP and U.S. telecom, media and entertainment sector leader, said in a statement. “Social media is free and available anywhere, anytime, offering both passive and interactive experiences with endless streams of personalized content, without the cost of a subscription. And more people are interacting and socializing in game worlds that host millions of users, brands and franchises, and major non-gaming events. SVOD companies aren’t just competing with each other for audiences, they are also competing with different, more social and immersive forms of entertainment.” 

TV Time App Study: Half of Viewers Binge Most or All of Their Shows

Binge viewing is popular among global content viewers, with half saying they binge watch most or all of their shows, according to a new study from Whip Media’s TV Time app and Kauser Kanji.

Viewers don’t like to wait for episodes to roll out. More than three quarters of respondents (78%) said they prefer a simultaneous — rather than weekly — release of all episodes.

Serialized drama was the top binge genre with 87% of respondents saying they like to binge those type of shows; 40% said they like to binge sitcoms. Meanwhile, lifestyle/food/travel/home and garden shows, at 7%, and game shows, at 6%, were the-least liked genres to binge.

A large majority (81%) of respondents said that bingeable content was an important factor when thinking about subscribing to OTT services, with about one-third (31%) saying they had churned from a service because of lack of bingeable content.

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The definition of binging watching in a single viewing session varied from only 2% saying it was two episodes at once, to 24% saying it was three to 43% saying it was four, and 31% saying it was five or more.

The survey tallied 32,000 responses among active users of Whip Media’s TV Time app from seven countries — the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden — Sept. 17-20, 2021. The TV Time app is used by 19 million global TV fans to track shows and movies. Download the study here

Black Audiences Increasingly Cutting the Cord

Black audiences are increasingly opting to cut the cord, a new Horowitz study finds.

Though black households were shedding cable at a slower rate as compared to the overall market, Horowitz data shows that over the past four years, MVPD penetration among black households has declined from 88% in 2017 to 61% in 2021 — a 25% decrease. Among black consumers who are cord-cutters, half have cut the cord within the past three years.

In 2018, 69% of black households were “content omnivores,” a term Horowitz coined in 2017 to describe households who are the hungriest for content and therefore pay for traditional MVPD services as well as a variety of streaming services to access all the content they want.

In this year’s study, only one in three (33%) black households are content omnivores; almost four in 10 rely on combinations of streaming services, digital antennas, and/or vMVPD services to access TV content (one in four rely only on traditional MVPD services and do not stream at all).

Income and age play important roles in platform choices, according to Horowitz. Black households with lower incomes are less likely to subscribe to traditional MVPDs, and 80% of black cord-cutters believe that they are saving at least a decent amount after having done so. Older black TV content viewers are more likely to subscribe to MVPD services (65% among those 50-plus) and to use antennas (28% among those 50-plus) than younger black TV content viewers (57% and 12% each, respectively).

Despite shedding the MVPD cord, there is still interest in many of the features of the multichannel experience. For example, 64% of black TV content viewers say that they enjoy flipping through channels, and the study finds that black TV content viewers still highly value live television, local broadcast news, national news and sports content — the mainstays of traditional providers.

Culturally relevant content is also in high demand among black audiences, with 60% of black consumers watching content geared to black audiences at least weekly.

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“Horowitz has long asserted that black consumers are some of the best customers for entertainment content and services,” Adriana Waterston, Horowitz’s chief revenue officer and insights and strategy lead, said in a statement. “These audiences should not be taken for granted. Many companies are late to the game, only now focusing on the black audience in the context of BLM and new diversity mandates. To not be viewed as simply pandering, companies who hope to serve the black audience must make meaningful and sustained investments, not just in programming and marketing, but in community outreach and support, in order to earn this valuable audience’s trust.”

Deloitte Report: 84% of U.S. Consumers Spending More Time With Online, Rather Than In-Person Entertainment

The vast majority of U.S. consumers (84%) are spending more time with online, rather than in-person entertainment, according to Deloitte’s just released Digital Media Trends Fall Pulse Survey.

Meanwhile, more than 80% of U.S. respondents in the survey conducted in August 2021 said they remain concerned about COVID-19 variants, and about half (48%) said they spend more time on online entertainment versus six months ago.

Among other findings in the survey:

  • Both Boomers and Gen X still rank “watching TV shows or movies at home” as their favorite entertainment activity; “playing video games” is still ranked as Gen Z’s preferred form of entertainment.
  • “Churn and return” behavior is most common with younger generations, with almost half of millennials (47%) and 34% of Gen Z canceling and then re-subscribing to the same service later.
  • High cost and completing a TV show they signed up to watch are the top two reasons consumers canceled an SVOD service.
  • 65% of consumers are engaging with at least one social media service several times a day.
  • 65% of respondents are frequent gamers, playing at least once a week; on average, these frequent gamers play for around 12 hours a week.

 

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The survey revealed that consumers are getting better at developing strategies to access online content while keeping their costs low. Among the findings:

  • 84% of respondents now pay for an SVOD service; the average household has four subscriptions — largely unchanged during the past year.
  • The churn rate — the number of people who have cancelled, or both added and cancelled, a paid SVOD service — has remained stable at about 38%, although it varies from service to service.
  • Many streaming video subscribers say they actively manage costs in some way, either by looking for deals or promotions, bundles, using friends’ or family members’ accounts, and other strategies.
  • Led by cost-sensitive and savvy millennials and Gen Zs, 65% of respondents reported using free ad-supported video services.

Study: Demand for Diverse Scripted TV Content Surpasses Non-Diverse

Since 2017, diverse debuts — scripted TV titles in which at least 40% of the cast is categorized as diverse — have grown to surpass non-diverse titles, according to a new joint study from Creative Artists Agency and Parrot Analytics.

Meanwhile, between 2017 and 2019, the demand for diverse debuts among Parrot Analytics Top 100 most in-demand scripted debuts in the United States doubled, surpassing non-diverse titles for the first time, according to the study.

“This study solidifies what we’ve known for some time — diversity wins onscreen,” Kevin Huvane, co-chairman of CAA, said in a statement. “CAA will continue leading the industry in prioritizing diversity in our client work, while also encouraging storytellers and business partners to tell stories onscreen that authentically represent the audiences who are watching.”

“We are proud to partner with CAA to help move the industry toward a more equitable future for all talent,” Wared Seger, CEO and co-founder of Parrot Analytics, said in a statement. “We remain committed to our long-term objective to showcase the value of diversity and inclusion as we continue to unlock the magic of content for our partners around the globe.”

The study further demonstrated that diverse tentpoles, defined as the top 25 most in-demand U.S. scripted debuts in any given year, have taken the lead in demand over non-diverse tentpoles.

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Still, not all racial and ethnic groups are equally well represented in scripted debuts, according to the study. Despite being one of the fastest growing demographics in the United States, Hispanics and Latinos were significantly underrepresented. While 18% of the U.S. population is Hispanic or Latino (U.S. Census 2019), the demo represented only 5% of actors in scripted debuts for the 2017-2019 period. Conversely, the study found that whites were overrepresented with 60% of the population per the census and 65% of talent.

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“Successful shows today are at least as diverse as the U.S. population,” said Parrot Analytics insights analyst Dr. Nicole Zamanzadeh.

Additional findings include:

  • U.S. demand for “Euphoria” was 27 times greater than the average U.S. title as of October 2020, according to the study.
  • Audience demand for shows with diverse casts (+112.5%) has grown faster than the industry’s supply of shows with diverse casts (+42%).
  • Since 2017, the demand for highly diverse debuts (above 60% cast diversity) has more than tripled (+211%), outperforming both non-diverse debuts (below 40% cast diversity) and moderately diverse debuts (greater than 40% but less than 60% cast diversity).
  • In the study, only diverse broadcast debuts consistently outperformed and were more in-demand than non-diverse debuts between 2017 and 2019.
  • The portion of broadcast debuts’ diverse series regular talent has steadily remained above 40%, the highest of any platform.
  • Since 2017, cable’s diverse debuts have more than doubled in demand.
  • While demand for diverse debuts has doubled, cable’s talent diversity in its debut’s series regular casts has slightly declined.
  • In 2019, for the first time, streamers’ diverse debuts were more in-demand than their non-diverse debuts.
  • Streamers have steadily increased their percentage of talent diversity in debut series regular casts.
  • Streamers’ increasing number of highly diverse debuts (more than 60% diverse cast) corresponds with a greater share of streaming titles in the top 100 debuts. Streamers released 2.5 times more highly diverse debuts in 2019 than 2017.

Study: Movie Viewers Want to See Themselves Reflected Onscreen

Movie viewers want to see themselves reflected on the screen, according to a new study from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and data analytics firm Movio.

Moviegoers being able to identify with the characters in a movie drives their attendance behavior, the study found. When there are characters of a certain cohort (group), this is likely to drive more moviegoers of the same cohort. The analysis shows across all films that the leading characters and audience are generally 50-50 female/male. In 2007, only 23% of leads were female, and in 2017 30% were female. The more female characters, the more female the audience, and the more male characters, the more male the audience. The effect of genre on the percentage of leading characters male versus female was clear, according to the study authors, as well as the corresponding gender split in the attending audience. Action movies, most notably, regularly have well over 50% male characters and well over 50% (and frequently over 60%) male audience.

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The opportunity for Black, Asian and Latinx moviegoers to see themselves represented on screen is significantly lower than for white moviegoers. Several movies tally 100% of their characters as White with the majority having over 50% white characters. For the remaining four race/ethnicity groups, the majority of films are clustered at below 25% (if not 0%) representation on screen. This is significant considering people of color (Black, Asian and Latinx) comprise 37.8% of the U.S. population, the study noted. Across the board in terms of ethnicity, gender, and age, the negative portrayal of characters from a certain group has little bearing on whether or not that group attends a movie. However, particularly with regard to race and ethnicity, the analysis again shows how minority audiences are given substantially fewer opportunities to even see characters from their racial or ethnic group on the screen, no less characters from their racial or ethnic group who are also not depicted negatively.

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The research was also able to determine what demographic cohorts are being represented in films geared primarily towards children. Both male and female leads are roughly evenly split in terms of on-screen representation for films with more child visits, suggesting that young moviegoers are getting a fairly balanced representation of genders in their on-screen media consumption. However, when looking at race/ethnicity there is less of a balanced representation. White characters are very well represented in children’s films, with the majority of films having 50% or more White characters represented on screen. There is not the same level of representation for Asian or Latinx characters in children’s media as the vast majority of films moviegoers are bringing their children to see have no representation of these cohorts. For example, of all the titles analyzed, only six titles had over 18% Latinx characters, despite Latinx comprising 18.4% of the U.S. population.

Data scientists at both organizations examined the following questions for the “I Want to See Me: Why Diverse On-Screen Representation Drives Cinema Audiences” white paper:

  • Does the presence of certain groups (Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Age) on-screen draw larger numbers of the corresponding audience?
  • What negative or positive portrayals of certain groups are different viewers seeing in the most popular films?
  • What portrayals of certain groups are child viewers seeing in the most popular films?

 

On-screen data (the Institute) and audience demographic data (Movio) for the top 100 films (by box office) in the United States were examined for 2018 and 2019.

“As we’ve said before, our goal is very simple: that the characters on screen reflect the population, which is half Female and incredibly diverse,” Geena Davis, founder and chair of the institute, said in a statement. “We know that increasing the presence of underrepresented groups in media can have a very powerful impact on shifting cultural perceptions. Our industry has a tremendous opportunity to foster inclusion in society by taking action to diversify who shows up on screen. As this new research shows, we have made progress, but we need to do better.”

“As the movie industry begins to recover from the effects of the pandemic, this research carries even more weight,” William Palmer, chief executive and co-founder of Movio, said in a statement. “Diverse audiences can go elsewhere to find entertainment options that speak to them and their lives, so if cinema is to remain relevant and continue having a cultural impact, it must attract these audiences by delivering more representative content.”

“When we consider the impact that the media children are exposed to can have, including in the cinema, it is vital for them to see from the beginning that fictitious worlds reflect the real world, and that they see themselves reflected on screen,” Davis added. “When you see someone like yourself reflected, you take in the message: ‘There’s someone like me, I must belong.’ It’s encouraging to see the progress we’ve made with gender representation, but we must show more diversity on screen, if we don’t show more diversity, we are contributing to the serious problem of racial inequity in our society today.”