Hastings: Netflix Sub Numbers Not as Important as Time Spent Streaming

It’s no secret Netflix subscriber growth is slowing as the SVOD pioneer reaches market saturation. The service is projected to reach 165 million subs worldwide at the end of the current fiscal quarter, ending Dec. 31.

That reality at a time when high-profile competitors such as Apple, Disney, WarnerMedia and NBC Universal enter the streaming video wars underscores why Netflix co-founder/CEO Reed Hastings is hoping Wall Street and others will shift their focus from sub growth to viewing hours.

Speaking Dec. 6 at The New York Times DealBook confab in New York, Hastings said time spent streaming content should become the new metric underscoring a service’s success.

“You’ll hear some subscriber numbers but you can just bundle things so that’s not going to be that relevant,” Hastings said. “So the real measurement will be time — how do consumers vote with their evenings? What mix of all the services do they end up watching?”

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Earlier this year Streaming Observer concluded Netflix subs worldwide spent 164.8 million combined hours a day watching content — and in the process used nearly 500 million GB of data on a daily basis.

Indeed, Hastings’ comment may ring true as nascent competitors such as Apple TV+, Disney+ and HBO Max offer free service to in-house and third-party platforms such as Verizon and AT&T. Apple is offering its service free for one year with any Apple hardware purchase.

Netflix itself has a promotional free year of service with select T-Mobile service plans.

Hastings contends most consumers will subscribe to multiple services, reiterating that he will personally subscribe to Disney+ (“They have great shows!” he said) upon its Nov. 12 launch.

At the end of the day, Hastings is betting consumers will lean toward established brands with proven track records in the SVOD space.

“When you think, ‘Do I turn on cable, do I turn on YouTube, do I turn on Netflix?’ we want you to choose Netflix,” he said.

Verizon Loses 220,000 Fios TV Subs in Third Quarter

The pay-TV subscriber drain is getting bigger and bigger.

A day after Comcast Cable said it lost 238,000 video subscribers in the fiscal quarter, Verizon Oct. 25 disclosed it jettisoned 220,000 Fios TV subs in the third quarter, ended Sept. 30.

The losses underscore ongoing secular changes in how consumers are watching television in the home — notably the rise of over-the-top video options such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, in addition to online  TV platforms such as Sling TV, YouTube TV and AT&T TV Now, among others.

Verizon, which doesn’t have an OTT video play after losing $1 billion in the short-lived go90 mobile app venture, ended the quarter with 4.2 million Fios TV subs. That compared to more than 4.4 million in the previous-year period.

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The telecom is countering a lack of internal OTT features by embracing next-generation 5G and inking a partnership with Disney for the latter”s pending SVOD platform Disney+.

Subscribers to Verizon’s unlimited data plan will get one-year free access to the $6.99 monthly Disney streaming service.

Verizon did add 30,000 Fios broadband subscribers, which was down from 48,000 net additions in the previous-year period. The telecom ended the quarter with more than 5.8 million broadband subs, up from more than 5.7 million last year.

The company added 440,000 mobile phone subs, which was up from 295,000 phone net additions in third-quarter 2018.

In a statement, CEO Hans Vestberg ignored Fios, highlighting instead Verizon’s legacy wireless business and 5G initiatives.

“Verizon continued its momentum in the third quarter by driving strong wireless volumes in both our consumer and business segments, while delivering solid financial results, highlighted by continued wireless service revenue growth, increased cash flow, and EPS growth,” Vestberg said in a statement. “We are focused on our 5G rollout strategy, looking to deploy next-generation networks while enhancing our 4G LTE network. Going into the fourth quarter, we are energized by the strong performance of the business and we are confident in our strategy to drive value for our customers and growth for our shareholders.”

Verizon Giving Away Free Year of Disney+ Streaming Service

In another competitive blow to Netflix, Verizon Oct. 22 announced it would give subscribers with unlimited data plans a free year membership to Disney’s pending subscription streaming service, Disney+.

The agreement includes new Fios Home Internet and 5G Home Internet customers.

Set to launch on Nov. 12, Disney+ will be the dedicated streaming home for movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and more.

Disney+ claims it will release more than 25 original series and 10 original films and documentaries, including “The Mandalorian,” from executive producer and writer Jon Favreau, and Lady and the Tramp, a live-action remake of the 1955 animated classic.

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“Giving Verizon customers an unprecedented offer and access to Disney+ on the platform of their choice is yet another example of our commitment to provide the best premium content available through key partnerships on behalf of our customers,” Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said in a statement.

The carrier is also working with Disney to incorporate 5G technology to the entertainment industry through Disney Innovation Studios and in the parks.

“The launch of Disney+ kicks off a new era of streaming for The Walt Disney Company, bringing nearly a century’s worth of content from our iconic studios to consumers directly,” Kevin Mayer, chairman, direct-to-consumer & international, The Walt Disney Company, said. “We’re excited to share this moment with Verizon and bring Disney+ to the millions of customers across its award-winning wireless network.”

In tandem with the launch, Verizon becomes the exclusive wireless carrier to offer 12 months of Disney+ to all new and existing 4G LTE and 5G unlimited wireless customers.

Verizon will also offer 12 months of Disney+ to its new Fios Home Internet and 5G Home Internet customers.

At launch, Verizon customers can activate their Disney+ subscription and start streaming on a wide selection of mobile and connected TV devices, including gaming consoles, streaming media players, and smart TVs.

 

Movies Anywhere Launches on Verizon Fios

Movies Anywhere — the digital movie collection app — is now available to Verizon Fios TV customers.

Media Play News first reported the impending deal Sept. 25.

Fios TV customers with purchased movie titles from participating studios — Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Walt Disney Studios (encompassing Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm), Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Entertainment — can collect their library on Movies Anywhere.

Movies purchased from other participating digital retailers, iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu/Walmart, Google Play/YouTube, Microsoft Movies & TV, and Fandango Now, will also be available for playback through Verizon Fios.

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To join Movies Anywhere, Fios customers can:

  • visit com/moviesanywhere or MoviesAnywhere.com to sign up for a free Movies Anywhere account;
  • connect Fios and other participating digital retailer accounts;
  • see eligible purchased and redeemed movies appear on Movies Anywhere and on all synced accounts;
  • go to “My Stuff” to watch on Fios TV On Demand; and
  • continue to grow their library by purchasing eligible movies on Fios On Demand through their set-top-box, online, the Fios TV app or by selecting Verizon through the Movies Anywhere website or app for mobile and connected TV devices.

 

Movies Anywhere is a free app that lets consumer bring their purchased digital movies from various digital retailers into one place.

Movies Anywhere Adding Eighth Retail Partner, Rolling Out Ad Campaign as Users Hit 8 Million

As Movies Anywhere approaches its second anniversary in October, the movie library collection service boasts 8 million registered users; 7,800 titles; and 200 million movies stored — and it is poised to add an eighth retail partner, Verizon.

Movies Anywhere GM Karin Gilford noted these milestones during a presentation at the Entertainment Merchants Association’s OTT_X@Pipeline 2019 conference in Los Angeles Sept. 25.

Retail partnerships, such as the new deal with Verizon, are important to improving the overall experience, she said.

“On a day to day basis, we are working with them so that how we connect to the overall ecosystem is smooth,” she said.

Details on the Verizon pact are to come.

A key mission of the Movies Anywhere is to “drive purchasing habits,” she said.

“We want to drive transactions, obviously, but we want to make it a habit,” Gilford said. “We want to make it fun to build a collection. We want to have a great place to house that collection. We want make it really accessible everywhere you are.”

Service research shows that “once people use Movies Anywhere … they buy more movies,” she said.

The service has recently stepped up marketing.

“We launched a new advertising campaign that just kicked off a couple of weeks ago,” she said.

The campaign has rolled out on TV/OTT (cable channels via Simulmedia, Roku, FireTV); in theaters (via National CineMedia); in airports (LAX, JFK digital signage plus the Boingo wifi service); and online channels including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. An advertorial campaign is rolling out through October on channels such as Vox, Fandom and Twitch.

The blitz is designed to plant a flag in an increasingly crowded digital entertainment universe.

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“We want to establish [Movies Anywhere] as differentiated from the SVOD services that are coming,” Gilford said, alluding to the impending launches of Disney+ and Apple TV+, among others.

 

Movies Anywhere welcome page

Gilford showed the new 30-second spot for the service, as well as aspects of the welcome page.

The service designed the welcome page to greet consumers with “a really conversational approach,” she said and to make clear what Movies Anywhere provides.

“A lot of consumers don’t understand the economics and the business models that power the entertainment industry,” she said. “Why do you have to have ads in these episodes? Wait, all of these movies aren’t free? Those things do still come up even in 2019, and so it is really important, especially for something like Movies Anywhere, to be very clear about what we’re doing, what type of content is in here and what the mission is.”

The service has added new features, including 4K with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos,  and a “Deals” section that calls out special offers from partner studios and retailers. The “Deals” feature came out of an analysis of data from the service showing a usage spike when there were special offers in the marketplace.

Movies Anywhere is also using data to inform studios about usage patterns in a way previously unavailable and is beginning to use data to customize the user experience.

“Studios having visibility into that data is going to make for a more powerful home entertainment business and a more powerful EST business,” she said.

While Movies Anywhere is backed by several major studios (Disney, Fox, Sony, Universal and Warner)  prominently featured on the welcome page, Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate are not part of the service, which also does not feature television programming.

Retail partners include iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Walmart’s Vudu, Xfinity, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV and FandangoNow.

Verizon Widens Q2 Fios TV Sub Loss 37%

Verizon Aug. 1 disclosed it lost 52,000 Fios TV subscribers in the second quarter, ended June 30. That compared with a loss of 38,000 pay-TV subs in the previous-year period.

Through the first six months of the fiscal year, Verizon has shed 107,000 video subs, which is up 75% from a sub loss of 61,000 subs during the previous-year period.

The wireless carrier ended the period with 4.27 million Fios TV subs — down 217,000 subs since last year as consumers migrate to alternative distribution channels, including over-the-top video.

At the same time, Verizon saw high-speed Internet subscription growth declined 22% to 28,000 from growth of 36,000 last year. Through June 30, the carrier has 76,000 broadband subs – down 22% from the addition of 98,000 subs last year.

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Verizon ended the period with 5.83 million Fios Internet connections, which was up 3.1% from 5.66 million connections last year.

Separately, Verizon continues to promote 5G wireless network mobility.

The carrier July 31 rolled out 5G networks in Atlanta, Detroit, Indianapolis and Washington, D.C. The cities followed similar 5G functionality launches in Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Providence, R.I., and St. Paul, Minn.

“Verizon made history this quarter by becoming the first carrier in the world to launch 5G mobility,” CEO Hans Vestberg said in a statement. “We are focused on optimizing our next-generation networks and enhancing the customer experience while we head into the second half of the year with great momentum.”

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)

 

 

Verizon and Google Partner for YouTube TV Access

Faced with no proprietary over-the-top video offerings, Verizon April 23 announced a partnership with Google to bring YouTube TV to Verizon subscribers across all platforms, including Fios TV and pending 5G.

YouTube TV is a standalone online TV service that just raised its monthly subscription price to $49.99 from $39.99.

“As we pave the path forward on 5G, we’ll continue to bring our customers options and access to premium content by teaming up with the best providers in the industry and leveraging our network as-a service strategy,” Erin McPherson, head of content strategy and acquisition at Verizon.

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The partnership affords both wireless mobility and Fios broadband subs to stream YouTube TV. Verizon will also offer YouTube TV promotions to customers across platforms.

“With this partnership, we’re making it simple and seamless for Verizon’s customers to sign up to enjoy YouTube TV on-the-go on their mobile phones or tablets or at home on their big screen devices,” said Heather Rivera, global head of product partnerships at YouTube.

YouTube TV offers cable-free live TV that can be watched on any screen (phone, tablet, TV, computer). It includes more than 70 networks such as ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, in addition to cable networks HGTV, Food Network, TNT, TBS, CNN, ESPN, FX and on-demand programming.

A YouTube TV membership includes six accounts per household, each with its own unique recommendations and personal DVR with no storage space limits.

Verizon More Than Doubles Q1 Video Subscriber Losses

Verizon dreams of a 5G future while stuck in pay-TV reality.

The nation’s largest wireless carrier April 23 reported it lost 53,000 Fios TV subscribers in the first quarter, ended March 31. That compared to a loss of 22,000 video subs in the previous-year period.

Verizon ended the period with 4.39 million Fios TV subs compared to 4.59 million subs last year — down 199,000 net subs, or 4.3% from 2018.

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The company attributed the decline to ongoing consumer migration away from linear pay-TV to over-the-top video platforms.

While Verizon Internet connections increased 3.4% to 6.1 million from 5.9 million, broadband connections fell nearly 19% to 854,000.

The company ended the period with 6.97 million broadband connections, up 0.1% from 6.96 million subs last year.

Separately, Verizon Media, which includes Yahoo!, HuffPost, TechCrunch, Engadget, Makers and other brands, saw revenue drop more than 7% to $1.8 billion – largely due to declines in desktop advertising revenue offsetting gains in mobile ads.

Regardless, CEO Hans Vestberg touted Verizon’s “leadership” position in 4G and ongoing “innovation” in 5G wireless technology.

Rollout of branded OTT video products remains notably absent following last year’s $1 billion write-down of Go90, Verizon’s short-lived mobile video app.

“We are leading the world in the development of new technologies with the launch of our 5G network,” Vestberg said in a statement. “Our ambition remains unchanged to provide the most advanced next-generation networks in the world.”

 

Sprint Calls Out AT&T Over ‘False’ 5G Claims

Next-generation 5G wireless technology continues to get a lot of attention (and hype) — notably as an enhanced distribution channel for mobile video entertainment.

AT&T and Verizon have been among the first wireless carriers offering 5G networks in the country. AT&T last December said it become the first telecom in the United States offering 5G wireless service over a commercial, standards-based mobile 5G network.

Indeed, consumer awareness of the fifth-generation wireless technology successor has reached mainstream, according to new data from The NPD Group.

Yet, 5G is still more marketing than reality. Availability of 5G-compatible phones to consumers might occur by the end of the year — with mainstream usage on par with 4G LTE years away, according to analysts.

That’s why Sprint is calling foul on AT&T regarding what it claims are false advertising and deceptive acts by the corporate parent to WarnerMedia to confuse consumers.

Sprint, which claims to have 54.5 million subscribers and is attempting merge with T-Mobile, took out a full-page ad in the March 10 edition of The New York Times accusing AT&T of allegedly deceiving consumers into believing that their existing 4G LTE network operates on a much-coveted and highly anticipated 5G network.

A recent survey commissioned by Sprint found 54% of consumers mistakenly believed, based on AT&T’s claims, that the company’s 5G E network is the same as or better than a true 5G network. Another 43% of consumers wrongly believed that if they were to purchase an AT&T phone today, it would be capable of running on a 5G network.

“AT&T is not offering its customers 5G but is delighted by the confusion they’ve caused with their deceptive ‘5G E’ marketing and attempt to convince consumers that they’ve already won the 5G race,” David Tovar, SVP, corporate communications, at Sprint said in a statement. “We’re not standing for this kind of deception, and neither should consumers.”

Indeed, Sprint filed a federal lawsuit asking that AT&T’s ads be stopped.

“Every carrier – every company – should tell consumers the truth and be held accountable for the promises they make,” Tovar said.

An AT&T representative wasn’t immediately available for comment.