Nielsen Begins Ad Tracking on YouTube and YouTube TV

Nielsen Oct. 15 announced it would begin tracking YouTube’s streaming TV inventory will be measured through its “Digital Ad Ratings” and “Total Ad Ratings” software to help media buyers and sellers better understand and verify audiences on Google-owned YouTube and YouTube TV apps on connected TVs. CTV refers to any TV that can be connected to the Internet and access content beyond what is available from a pay-TV provider.

More than 100 million people in the U.S. watch YouTube and subscription-based YouTube TV on connected TVs every month, according to Comscore.

Nielsen will now track YouTube beyond computer and mobile devices and expand “Advanced TV” product suite that includes its legacy TV viewership measurement. Nielsen’s first phase of YouTube TV tracking begin in the first half of 2021, and extending to the YouTube app on connected TVs in the U.S. shortly thereafter, ahead of the 2021-2022 industry upfronts.

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“As streaming through connected devices surges, measuring the audience is critical as the industry demands a currency grade solution that provides marketers and publishers holistic, cross-platform metrics about advanced TV campaigns,” Scott Brown, GM of Audience Measurement at Nielsen, said in a statement.

With more than three quarters of U.S. homes owning one or more connected devices and streaming accounting for 25% of total TV usage, Nielsen contends the value to media marketers and advertisers to account for audiences across all platforms, including connected TV,  has skyrocketed.

The CTV space continues to experience fragmentation as more players launch new services, causing data to be siloed within different platforms, according to Nielsen. The company said YouTube accounts for 20% of all streaming usage in the U.S., and through its tracking software, marketers will have increased confidence in their investments and the ability to better measure the success of their campaigns across platforms.

“Advertisers are asking for third-party measurement partners to provide a complete view of YouTube and YouTube TV audiences, so they can better understand the scale of the audience they’re able to reach through CTV campaigns,” said Debbie Weinstein, VP, Global Solutions, at YouTube.

 

Hub Study: Online TV Sources ‘Home Base’ for Half of U.S. Consumers

Online TV sources — including subscription video-on-demand services such as Netflix, free services such as Pluto TV, and Virtual MVPDs such as YouTube TV — are now the TV “home base” for half of all U.S. TV consumers, according to Hub’s annual “Decoding the Default” study.

The study since 2015 has tracked the TV source that consumers consider their TV “home base” — the source they turn on first when they’re ready to watch.

“We’ve seen a significant boost in streaming TV service subscriptions since the start of the pandemic in March of this year,” Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “But perhaps more significant than the simple increase in online subscriptions is the profound shift in consumers’ viewing behaviors generally. Instead of reaching first for the cable remote when it comes time to watch TV, more and more consumers are defining TV viewing, first and foremost, as viewing on streaming services. Whether that shift persists once the pandemic crisis has passed is, of course, the billion-dollar question.”

According to the study, 50% of respondents say an online service is the first source they turn on, up from 47% last year. Meanwhile, 42% say their first choice is viewing from the traditional TV set-top box (live viewing, DVR or VOD), down from 47%. (The remaining percentages each year default to viewing over-the-air, from an antenna.)

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For those who default to an online source, nearly half (23% of the 50%) say that online source is Netflix. In fact, Netflix, by itself, is now nearly as likely to be consumers’ TV home base as all live TV channels accessed through pay TV combined. In 2016, live TV from a pay TV service was three times as likely as Netflix to be viewers’ TV default. Netflix trails live viewing by only 7 percentage points.

Fewer than one in five young consumers default to live TV, down 7 percentage points from last year. But more ominously, even among live TV’s strongest adherents — those age 55 or older — the proportion defaulting to live has dropped significantly since just last year. Only 14% of 18-34 year olds turn to live TV before any other source, vs. 21% in 2019. The study found an equal 7-point drop among 55-plus year olds; fewer than half now say live TV is their viewing home base.

The choice of default is driven primarily by two factors — content and ease of show discovery — according to the study. The top reason for making a source one’s default is because it offers access to one’s favorite shows. But a more general content consideration is a top driver as well: wide variety of shows and movies to choose from. Interface simplicity is also a top driver of default, in particular because the service makes it easy to find something to watch.

When consumers decide it’s time to cut back on TV services, they’re much more likely to remain loyal to their TV service default, Hub reports. Hub asked consumers which one TV service they’d keep if they had to drop all others. Among users of each, pay TV service and Netflix were the two most likely to make the cut.

Among users of each service who also treat it as their default, the proportions saying they’d hang on to the service to the bitter end are much higher. For subscribers to the big four SVODs (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Disney+), loyalty to the service is two to four times higher among those who default to the service vs. users of each service overall.

Hub’s “Decoding the Default” study was conducted among 1,600 U.S. consumers with broadband, age 16-74, who watch at least one hour of TV per week. The data was collected in August 2020.

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Ending a Relationship

It had been a long time coming.

Cable TV had been a big part of our lives for decades, a constant entertainment companion, but being together so much during the pandemic took a toll on the relationship. Suddenly, those ever-expanding commercial breaks seemed endless after watching ad-free streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime. Even Hulu, which we watched with ads, served up a more palatable break — and conveniently offered a little countdown to tell us when it would be over.

We picked up YouTube TV for live programming, and that was it. The cable relationship was over. We cut the cord.

Apparently, we are not alone. A Roku survey found one in three U.S. households are cord cutters, and many have decided to make the change in recent months, citing the pandemic, the abundance of free AVOD services, and lack of live sports, among other factors.

Aside from the learning curve on how to work the remote to get to the channel or program I want, it’s been a smooth divorce. Kicking cable out also gave us more space. We gained some shelves by ditching the boxes.

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So far, I don’t miss the old companion. I haven’t found a program or channel that I previously had on cable that I can’t find or approximate on our new streaming combo. Sure, I don’t have the convenient clock on the box to see the time. It takes a little more effort to figure out what I want to watch among all the new choices, but, honestly, I don’t miss cable.

It was the growing relationship with our SVOD services, the new-and-improved version of live TV on YouTube TV and the cable bill’s increasing drain on our finances that drew us away.

When we announced the decision to end it, my daughters looked up from their phones and sarcastically said, “Oh, no! We watch so much cable.”

Goodbye old friend.

YouTube TV Hikes Membership Price

YouTube TV has raised its membership price to $64.99.

The new price takes effect June 30 for new members, with existing subscribers seeing the change reflected in their subsequent billing cycle on or after July 30, according to the official YouTube blog.

“We don’t take these decisions lightly, and realize how hard this is for our members,” read the blog. “That said, this new price reflects the rising cost of content and we also believe it reflects the complete value of YouTube TV, from our breadth of content to the features that are changing how we watch live TV. YouTube TV is the only streaming service that includes a DVR with unlimited storage space, plus 6 accounts per household each with its own unique recommendations, and 3 concurrent streams. It’s all included in the base cost of YouTube TV, with no contract and no hidden fees.”

The blog noted the addition of new features to the service and new content from such sources as PBS, Discovery Network, and ViacomCBS, including eight channels, BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, TV Land and VH1, launching June 30.

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“That means you can follow the biggest stories in news, politics and pop culture with ‘The Daily Show with Trevor Noah’; catch up with Catelynn, Cheyenne, Maci, Mackenzie and Amber on ‘Teen Mom OG’; join the search for America’s next drag superstar with ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’; go on an adventure with ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’; and follow the fictional lives of the Dutton family on the new season of ‘Yellowstone,’” the blog noted.

YouTube TV is among the virtual MVPD services aiming to re-create the offerings of traditional pay-TV.

Global Pay-TV to Add 35 Million Subs by 2025 — Driven by Online TV

Pay-TV consumption in the United States is declining, but globally, there’s still life in the distribution channel — thanks to online TV.

New data from London-based Digital TV Research suggests there will be 35 million new pay-TV subs through 2025, with the global base reaching 1.06 billion across more than 138 countries.

Driving growth is online TV, which includes platforms such as Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, AT&T TV Now and YouTube TV in the United States. IPTV will add 84 million subs through 2025, topping 391 million. Online TV will grow its global market share in pay-TV from 30% in 2019 to 37% in 2025.

Satellite TV, which is projected to lose another 4 million subs through 2025, will generate 20% of pay-TV subs, down from 21% in 2019.
Cable will decline 7%, accounting for 40% of all pay-TV subs by 2025 — a near 50% drop from 74% market share in 2010. There will be 430 million cable TV subs (both analog and digital) by 2025, 101 million fewer than in 2010.

“Our forecasts are based on the assumption that professional sports will restart in August following relaxations in the COVID-19 lockdown,” analyst Simon Murray said in a statement. “If this does not happen, then pay-TV will experience considerable churn.”

Rebooted Court TV Now Available on YouTube TV

Court TV, the rebooted network devoted to live, gavel-to-gavel courtroom coverage, is now available on YouTube TV ($49.99).

Since re-launching, Court TV has covered the nation’s highest profile trials, including: Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) cases of national significance and impact; the rape trial of Harvey Weinstein, which included an unprecedented new “instant replay” feature recreating testimony from the camera-less courtroom immediately for broadcast; Texas v. Amber Guyger, in which the brother of the deceased hugged former Dallas police officer Guyger following her conviction (seen live nationwide exclusively on Court TV); trial of high school cheerleader Brooke Skylar Richardson facing life in prison for allegedly killing and burying her newborn daughter in Ohio; and Florida v. Mark Sievers in which a husband was accused of hiring friends to murder his doctor wife.

Court TV’s on-air anchors include Vinnie Politan, Julie Grant, Ted Rowlands and correspondents Chanley Painter and Julia Jenae. Ashleigh Banfield recently joined Court TV as a special contributor.

Court TV is also available on cable, over-the-air and over-the-top video. It can be live streamed on CourtTV.com as well as the Court TV app for Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Android and Apple devices. It is part of Katz Networks, a division of The E.W. Scripps Company.

More ViacomCBS Content Heading to YouTube TV

ViacomCBS and Google May 7 announced a multiyear distribution agreement to deliver more content from ViacomCBS’s portfolio of news, entertainment and sports networks for YouTube TV subscribers.

In addition to featuring continued carriage of CBS broadcast stations, CBS Sports Network, Pop TV, Smithsonian Channel, and The CW, the expanded agreement introduces 14 ViacomCBS channels to the live TV and on-demand subscription service.

BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, TV Land and VH1 will launch this summer for YouTube TV’s more than 2 million subscribers. BET Her, MTV2, Nick Jr., NickToons, TeenNick and MTV Classic will also launch on YouTube TV at a later date.

The deal also includes a continued commitment to distribute ViacomCBS’s premium subscription services, including Showtime, on YouTube TV, as well as an extended partnership on the broader YouTube platforms.

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“We are thrilled to have reached an expanded agreement with YouTube TV that recognizes the full power of our newly combined portfolio as ViacomCBS,” Ray Hopkins, president of U.S. networks distribution at ViacomCBS, said in a statement. “Google has been an excellent partner, and we look forward to bringing even more of our entertainment networks to YouTube TV subscribers for the first time.”

“We’re excited to launch ViacomCBS’s portfolio on YouTube TV this summer,” Lori Conkling, global head of partnerships at YouTube TV, said in a statement. “Our expanded partnership delivers on our promise to offer a premium portfolio of content to our YouTube TV subscribers, as well as across the YouTube platforms.”

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YouTube TV is a subscription streaming service that lets you watch live and on-demand TV from 70-plus networks. It offers live and local sports, news, shows, movies, and more, and can be watched on any screen (phone, tablet, TV, computer). Membership comes with free unlimited cloud DVR storage space to record favorites, personalized watch recommendations, and a family plan with six accounts per household.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

WarnerMedia Inks Distribution Deal With YouTube TV

WarnerMedia Entertainment and YouTube TV Feb. 20 announced a comprehensive distribution relationship that will deliver the media company’s entertainment, sports and news network portfolio to YouTube TV’s more than 2 million online TV subscribers.

The pact expands upon the existing 2018 carriage agreement between the two companies for WarnerMedia networks TBS, TNT, truTV, CNN, HLN, Turner Classic Movies, Adult Swim and Cartoon Network to add access to the HBO and Cinemax services to the YouTube TV for the first time.

As part of a new deal, YouTube TV has also committed to distributing WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, the company’s upcoming direct-to-consumer offering debuting in May with 10,000 hours of curated content. HBO Max will offer programming for everyone in the home, bundling the entire HBO service, a slate of new original series, key third-party licensed programs and movies, and catalog fare from WarnerMedia’s library.

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“As consumers’ media consumption habits continually evolve and the landscape becomes more and more dynamic, our goal remains constant, and that is to make the portfolio of WarnerMedia networks available as widely as possible,” Rich Warren, president of WarnerMedia Distribution, said in a statement.

Both linear and on-demand HBO and Cinemax content will debut on YouTube TV this spring for the first time. Included will be HBO’s extensive array of programming, which features titles such as “Watchmen,” “Big Little Lies” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” current and returning hit dramas “Succession,” “Westworld” and “The Outsider,” comedies “Barry, “Insecure” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and classics like “Game of Thrones,” “The Sopranos,” “The Wire” and “Sex and the City.”

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Upcoming HBO releases this spring include returning favorites “High Maintenance” and “My Brilliant Friend” and upcoming limited series, “The Plot Against America,” “The Undoing” and “I Know This Much Is True.”

Cinemax will offer its slate of original series including “Strike Back,” which recently began its seventh season, along with “Trackers” and “Gangs of London”. Theatrical hits debuting on the network this spring include Boy Erased, First Man and Bad Times at the El Royale. 

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with WarnerMedia to deliver their family of networks that are popular among our members, as well as introduce HBO, Cinemax and HBO Max to our growing line-up of premium content,” said Lori Conkling, global head of partnerships at YouTube TV.

YouTube Readying Third-Party OTT Video Platform

Google-owned YouTube is reportedly looking to borrow a page from the Amazon Channels playbook with a new platform featuring third-party subscription streaming video services.

Amazon launched Channels in 2015 featuring direct access to services such as HBO Now, Dove Channel, Acorn TV, Shudder, UMC, Showtime OTT and Starz. Amazon handles the billing and backend support for a fee or percentage of subscription revenue. Apple is doing the same type of business platform with Apple TV and Apple News.

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The Information, citing sources familiar with the situation, said the YouTube platform would enable a “wide range of subscription-streaming services,” including YouTube TV, which costs $49.99 monthly.

Google in 2015 launched ad-free video streaming subscription service YouTube Red, later bowing YouTube TV for $35 monthly. The platform recently topped two million monthly subscribers — just behind market leaders Sling TV and Hulu with Live TV.

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YouTube TV Tops 2 Million Subscribers

High-profile marketing around the World Series and Super Bowl is apparently paying off for Google’s proprietary online TV service, YouTube TV.

Google announced that the online TV service now has more than 2 million subscribers since launching in 2016. The tally puts the platform just behind Dish Network’s pioneering Sling TV with 2.68 million subs and Hulu with Live TV, reportedly at 2.7 million subs.

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YouTube (excluding $1.2 billion in ad-revenue from YouTube TV) generated more than $15 billion in advertising revenue in 2019 — up from $11 billion in 2018.

The tallies pale in comparison to overall revenue for Google parent Alphabet Inc.

“In 2019 we again delivered strong revenue growth, with revenue of $162 billion, up 18% year over year and up 20% on a constant currency basis,” CFO Ruth Porat said in a statement.

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