Nielsen: Americans Grew Average Weekly Time Streaming Video by 18% From 2021

Americans increased their average weekly time streaming video by 18%, with a year-over-year increase from 143.2 billion of streamed minutes to 169.4 billion between February 2021 and February 2022, according to Nielsen’s inaugural “State of Play” report.

Streaming service consumption is expected to grow, according to the report, with 93% of Americans reporting they will increase their paid streaming services or make no changes to their existing plans over the next year.

Over the last three years there was an 18% increase in all available video content, according to the report.

However, due to a nearly 20% increase in unique program titles over the past three years, nearly half of audiences (46%) feel overwhelmed by the growing number of services and platforms and that makes it more difficult to find the content they’re looking for, the report found.

The “State of Play” report leverages Nielsen TV measurement and streaming data, insights from Gracenote (a Nielsen company) and findings from an online custom survey of U.S. video streamers.

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Subscription-video-on-demand (SVOD) now accounts for 53% of minutes streamed. Of the 4 hours and 49 minutes per day that the average American spends watching content, a little less than a fourth of that time (1 hours and 22 minutes) is through connected TVs. 

Ad-supported VOD, multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) and virtual MVPDs (vMVPDs) have grown to account for 35% of streaming. The percentage of homes with YouTube TV — the vMVPD with the highest household penetration — has grown by more than 160% since 2020.

Consumers now have more than 817,000 unique program titles as of February 2022 versus more than 646,000 as recently as December 2019, according to the report. The increase in content also comes with an increase in consumption, as 18% of Americans are now paying for four streaming services versus the 7% who did so in 2019. In February of this year, content from streaming platforms accounted for just under 29% of consumers’ total time with TV, ahead of broadcast programming (26.4%) for the fourth straight month, according to Nielsen’s “The Gauge,” its monthly total TV and streaming snapshot.

In total, Americans watched nearly 15 million years’ worth of streaming video content last year. 

When asked about whether bundled streaming services might make it easier for consumers to find the content they are seeking, 64% of respondents indicated they wished there was a bundled video streaming service that would allow them to choose as few or as many video streaming services that they wanted.

“The inaugural ‘State of Play’ really underscores the fact that we’ve entered the next phase of streaming, based on the trends we have been detailing about streaming over the past few years,” Brian Fuhrer, SVP of product strategy at Nielsen, said in a statement. “We’ve moved from infancy into adolescence, and all the complexities that one would expect at that point. It’s not just that streaming is increasing year over year. Now consumers want access simplified and the explosion of services has renewed discussions around bundling and aggregation. Ultimately, these challenges signal an opportunity as the industry harnesses streaming for long-term business growth.”

TiVo Integrates 4K Streaming Software With YouTube TV

TiVo April 5 announced that its branded “Stream 4K” and “TiVo Stream OS” are now integrated with online platform YouTube TV — the first such support of its kind among streaming products, according to TiVo.

TiVo Stream 4K affords users with a customizable program guide designed to bring together multiple streaming services and favorite channels into the functionality of a TV guide. The service offers national broadcast affiliates, including ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, along with premier sports and news channels such as ESPN, NFL Network and PBS.

“As TiVo’s business has evolved from pioneering digital video recording to streaming products and services, our success has been grounded in understanding consumer preferences and delivering exactly what consumers want,” Ben Maughan, GM of stream platform, said in a statement. “The YouTube TV addition represents the largest content-related integration update since the launch of TiVo Stream 4K. Providing consumers with an integrated experience that includes premier live TV with a partner like YouTube TV is a significant step to becoming a leading streaming platform in the market.”

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The integration makes controlling the viewing experience easier and more efficient, and will include several enhancements to elevate the TiVo Stream 4K user experience with live and upcoming content in the following areas:

  • Users can access TiVo Stream 4K’s guide using the remote control to find sports, entertainment, comedy and news channels from YouTube TV.
  • Content that is on live TV or upcoming on YouTube TV is discoverable throughout the TiVo Stream 4K user experience.
  • Users can utilize TiVo Stream 4K’s voice and text search to find live and upcoming content on YouTube TV for a seamless interaction between the two platforms.

Hulu, Paramount+ Help Up NCAA ‘Final Four’ Basketball Tournament Games to Highest Viewership in Five Years

The increasing distribution of live sports on subscription streaming video platforms is paying off in the ratings game. New data from Nielsen found that the April 3 “Final Four” thrilling victory by the University of North Carolina Tarheels over archrival Duke University in the semifinal of the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament generated 16.3 million viewers on WarnerMedia’s TBS, TNT and TruTV cable networks, in addition to Hulu, Paramount+, Sling TV and YouTube TV streaming platforms.

That was the highest viewership for a Final Four game since 2017. In addition to contesting the first ever matchup in the men’s NCAA tournament between the legendary rivals, the game also featured retiring Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski in his final game.

The tally is expected to grow after including out-of-home viewership.

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The other semifinal game, which saw the University of Kansas beat Villanova University April 2, averaged 10.3 million viewers, which was up 21% from the 2021 Saturday matchup between Baylor University and the University of Houston with 8.1 million viewers.

Last year’s Final Four matchup between UCLA and Gonzaga University attracted almost 15 million viewers on TV and alternative platforms.

Meanwhile, the numbers still pale from the 2015 semifinal matchup between the University of Wisconsin and University of Kentucky that was viewed by more than 22 million people.

Roku, Google End Dispute, Ink New Carriage Agreement

Roku and Google have ended a reportedly contentious negotiation and signed a new multiyear carriage deal for distribution of the latter’s YouTube and YouTube TV properties on the Roku platform. The existing contract was set to expire Dec. 9.

Roku, with 56.4 million active accounts through Sept. 30, remains a vital conduit linking third-party streaming video services with consumers on their television. In exchange, Roku either collects percentage of the subscription fees and/or access to user data.

It is the latter that apparently irked Google, resulting in a yearlong war of words between the search behemoth and SVOD co-pioneer (with Netflix). While YouTube remains the largest social video platform in the world, YouTube TV relies on consumer awareness to grow its reported 3 million to 4 million subscriber base.

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“Roku and Google have agreed to a multiyear extension for both YouTube and YouTube TV. This agreement represents a positive development for our shared customers, making both YouTube and YouTube TV available for all streamers on the Roku platform,” a Roku spokesperson said in a statement.

Roku’s carriage terms have met resistance from other media companies, which resulted in both HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock SVOD service launching without Roku support. The lack of visibility on the platform hurt both services’ subscriber growth out of the gate, leading WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal to quietly iron out their differences and sign distribution deals.

Fox Nation SVOD Joining YouTube TV as Add-On Service

Fox News Media Oct. 26 announced that the subscription streaming service Fox Nation is launching on YouTube TV as an optional $5.99 monthly add-on starting today.

Launched in 2018, the platform includes original series (“Tucker Carlson Today,” “Tucker Carlson Originals,” “COPS,” “Lara Logan Has No Agenda,” “Crime Stories With Nancy Grace” and “What Made America Great with Brian Kilmeade”), curated programming events featuring original and acquired content (“Grateful Nation,” “Keep The Faith,” “Clint Eastwood: American Outlaw,” “Fox Justice,” “All American Christmas”), and coverage of live events, such as the Conservative Political Action Committee conference.

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YouTube TV ended 2020 with a reported two million subscribers paying $64.99 monthly for the online TV platform.

Additionally, YouTube TV subs to Fox Nation will have access to the streamer’s signature opinion programming such as “The Dan Bongino Show,” as well as Fox News Channel’s primetime shows — on-demand the next day — with Fox News Primetime All the Time.

 “We’re thrilled to partner with YouTube TV to bring Fox Nation to their platform and provide our [subscribers] with more ways to [access] the original content,” Jason Klarman, president of Fox Nation, said in a statement.

Fox Nation is also available on Cox Contour, Comcast Xfinity and The Roku Channel, as well as FoxNation.com and the Fox Nation app for all major mobile and connected TV platforms.

Hub Research: Online TV Services Have Passed Traditional Cable as Default TV Viewing Source

More than half of TV viewers in a survey said their TV default was an online streaming service — i.e., a subscription-based streaming service such as Netflix, a free streaming service with ads such as Pluto TV, or a live-TV streaming service such as YouTube TV.

That’s according to Hub’s annual “Decoding the Default” study, which since 2015 has tracked the TV source that consumers turn on first when they’re ready to watch.

Online services were 16 points more likely than a traditional cable, satellite or telco service to be consumers’ TV default — an advantage that’s twice as large as it was just a year ago.

In the survey, 55% said an online service is the first source they turn on, up five points from 2020, while 39% said they turn first to a traditional pay-TV service set-top (including live viewing, DVR, or VOD), down three points from last year. The remaining percentages each year default to viewing over-the-air, from an antenna.

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Meanwhile, Netflix has lost momentum as viewers’ default source over the past year. Until 2018, Netflix was on track to surpass traditional pay-TV single handedly as viewers’ first stop for TV viewing. But since then, the proportion defaulting to Netflix has leveled off, and it has actually lost three points since 2020. Although no single other streaming TV service comes close to Netflix as a default for TV, the four other most popular streamers (Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and HBO Max) collectively gained four points in just the past year.

TV default differs dramatically by age. Young consumers were by far the least likely to turn first to live TV channels when they were ready to watch — and the proportions have continued to drop over time. In the survey, barely more than 1 in 10 18- to 34-year-olds defaulted to live channels. But notably, the proportion defaulting to live TV was lower than it was in 2019 in every age group.

Netflix’s overall drop as a default source since last year is especially pronounced among younger viewers. Instead, that group embraced the other streaming services as their top TV destination, with 31% of 18- to 34-year-olds making Netflix their TV home base, down eight points since last year.

Instead, 24% of young viewers turned first to one of the other top five streamers, up an equal eight points since 2020.

“Like most other phenomena in the new TV landscape, the TV sources that viewers’ treat as their TV home base seem to be in a state of constant flux,” Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “Just when it looked like Netflix was set to become the center of consumers’ TV universe, other streamers have stepped up their game to change the narrative.

“What has remained constant, however, is the critical importance of being consumers’ home base for TV in the first place. If and when we reach the point where a critical mass of consumers decides they’ve hit their TV service maximum, the last service to go when viewers begin to scale back is the one service they turn on first.”

Hub’s “Decoding the Default” study was conducted in August 2021 among 1,616 U.S. consumers with broadband, age 16-74, who watched at least one hour of TV per week.

Comscore to Provide Connected TV Measurement for YouTube and YouTube TV

Comscore Aug. 9 announced it will be including YouTube and YouTube TV measurement into its cross-platform service, Comscore Campaign Ratings. The pact with the Google-owned platforms will help Comscore provide marketers with a better understanding of how audiences are consuming content on YouTube and YouTube TV across desktop, mobile, and connected TVs.

Comscore data metrics provides advertisers and agencies with a deduplicated view of reach and frequency across linear TV, OTT/CTV, PC and mobile inventory. This includes measurement for co-viewers on OTT/CTV. The new capability will pave the way for advertisers and agencies to understand combined co-viewing for YouTube and YouTube TV across OTT/CTV as well as incremental reach to their linear TV buys, providing total cross-platform ad measurement.

“People are watching more YouTube than ever — on mobile, on laptops, and especially on our fastest growing screen, the TV, and we want to ensure advertisers can measure their reach across all devices with third-party partners like Comscore,” Debbie Weinstein, VP of global solutions for YouTube, said in a statement. “We also know people are choosing to watch their favorite YouTube content on connected TVs with others, and the inclusion of co-viewing in this new integration will allow advertisers to understand the full scale of the audience they’re able to reach through YouTube CTV campaigns.”

The rise of streaming on CTV devices continues to create new opportunities for advertisers to reach viewers. Amid such growth and with the proliferation of streaming video services, the addition of YouTube and YouTube TV to Comscore will enable one of the largest advertising sources for modern cross-platform measurement.  As previously published by Comscore, more than 80% of CTV reach in the U.S. falls on only five streaming services — and only two are ad-supported.

“This is a critical milestone for Comscore and for the industry,” said Comscore CEO Bill Livek. “Our clients are placing a large portion of their advertising spend with YouTube, and they need a holistic view of how that spend is performing relative to the entire media mix.”

Livek previously headed home entertainment distributor Rentrak, which was acquired by Comscore in 2016.

Google Services (i.e. YouTube) Ups Q2 Revenue 63% to $57 Billion

Google reported second-quarter (ended June 30) services revenue of $57 billion, an 63% increase from revenue of $35 billion in the previous-year period. Operating income skyrocketed 135% to $22.3 billion from $9.5 billion.

Google Services generates revenue primarily from advertising; sales of apps, in-app purchases, digital content products, and hardware; and fees received for subscription-based products such as YouTube Premium and online subscription-based YouTube TV — the No. 2 online TV platform behind Disney’s Hulu + Live TV.

Indeed, YouTube ad revenue alone topped $7 billion in the quarter.

Overall, Alphabet net income shot up 164% to $18.5 billion from $8.9 billion in the previous-year period. Revenue increased 62% to $61.9 billion, from $38.2 billion in the year-ago period.

“In Q2, there was a rising tide of online activity in many parts of the world, and we’re proud that our services helped so many consumers and businesses,” Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and corporate parent Alphabet, said in a statement.

Cinedigm Offers Legacy Channels as YouTube TV Add-Ons

Cinedigm July 8 announced that its three legacy streaming channels — Dove Channel, CONtv and Docurama — are now available on YouTube TV as optional add-ons, priced at $4.99 each monthly. Google-owned YouTube TV has more than than 3 million subscribers.

“Digital broadcasting has revolutionized television, because it has found a way to work with customers on their terms,” Jennifer Soltesz, VP of business development and strategy at Cinedigm, said in a statement.

Docurama features documentary films, including biographies, true-crime stories, investigations and feel-good stories. Popular titles include: Gangster Empire: Rise of the Mob, Beatles: How the Beatles Changed the World and Rick Steves’ Europe.

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Dove Channel streams family-friendly content, feature films and television titles suitable for all audiences. Content includes comedy classics like Abbot and Costello, young adult series H20: Just Add Water and The Saddle Club and faith favorites like I’m in Love With a Church Girl, among others.

CONtv carries a diverse range of film and television essentials focusing on action/thriller, horror, anime and sci-fi/fantasy genres. With films featuring superstars like Dolph Lundgren and Sean Patrick Flannery (Acceleration), Danny Trejo (4GOT10), and Mark Strong and Taissa Farmiga (Anna), the channel is packed with content for pop culture fans to enjoy.

Through a mix of premium SVOD services and dedicated AVOD and FAST channels, Cinedigm’s streaming portfolio reaches indie film (Fandor), horror (Screambox & Bloody Disgusting) and family entertainment (Dove Channel),  as well as dedicated channels for specialized entertainers, led by Bob Ross (The Bob Ross Channel).

“We look forward to launching additional channels to YouTube TV’s line-up of add-on channels over the next couple months,” Soltesz said.

Is Shine Off Online Pay-Television?

Lost in the hoopla of Disney+ surpassing 103 million subscribers in the second quarter (ended April 3) was the reality that the online TV market leader, Hulu + Live TV, lost 200,000 subscribers during the same quarter. The 5% decline from 4 million subs likely attributed in part to a $10 price hike Disney imposed upon the platform last December.

But Hulu isn’t alone. Sling TV, which Dish Network launched in 2015, lost 100,000 subs in the quarter to 2.37 million. AT&T TV, formerly DirecTV Now and AT&T TV Now, reportedly declined to around 650,000 subscribers in early 2020 — about two-thirds fewer subs when the service launched in 2018.

And Google-owned YouTube TV saw its 3 million-sub base unchanged over the past four months, while T-Mobile this year threw in the towel on its upstart TVision platform with about 100,000 subs. Sony’s PlayStation Vue service shuttered in January 2020 after almost five years of sluggish sub growth.

That’s a trend in the wrong direction considering TDG Research in December 2020 predicted strong growth for the 6-year-old market.

“The number of virtual pay-TV households will increase five-fold by the end of the next decade, topping 24 million by 2030,” senior analyst Joel Espelien wrote in a December 2020 note. “Importantly, this growth will come almost exclusively at the cost of legacy subscriptions.”

Indeed, fuboTV and Philo have added subscribers, the former tacking on 42,550 subs to top 590,000 subs in the quarter. Philo says that as of August 2020, it had 750,000 subs.

Overall, the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered pay-TV services combined for about 6.7 million subs — less than 10% of the top pay-TV providers with about 78.7 million combined subs.

“A whole generation of customers likely viewed [online TV] quizzically, as a solution to a problem they didn’t have,” MoffettNathanson wrote in a note last year. “The real issue was the grid. Not the user interface grid, by the way, but instead the very idea of a [program] schedule. Why would anyone want to view entertainment content on a schedule, much less someone else’s schedule?”