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?”

YouTube TV Bows 4K Content, Will Launch Mobile Phone Video Tool to Compete With TikTok

Online TV platform YouTube TV has 3 million subscribers, 85 channels and access to the MLB World Series and the NFL, among other high-profile events. Now, the Google-owned platform is offering subs access to 4K content (4K HD TV required), offline content, and unlimited concurrent streams at home so the whole family can stream on different screens at once.

YouTube TV now supports a combination of SD, HD, 4K, VR, HDR and live video, as well as DVR on nearly every device with an Internet connection — from desktops to mobile, and gaming consoles to VR headsets.

“While the majority of YouTube videos are watched on mobile, our fastest area of growth is the TV,” Neal Mohan, chief product officer for YouTube, wrote in a blog post. “Later this year, we’ll launch a redesign of the YouTube VR app homepage to improve navigation, accessibility and search functionality.”

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Separately, Google in March will roll out YouTube Shorts, a mobile phone-centric platform that aims to compete with TikTok, enabling creators and artists to shoot snappy videos. Currently, Shorts is available in beta in India. Since the beginning of December, the number of Indian channels using Shorts creation tools has more than tripled, and the YouTube Shorts player is now receiving more than 3.5 billion daily views globally, according to the company.

“In the coming weeks, we’ll begin expanding the beta to the U.S., unlocking our tools to even more creators so they can get started with Shorts,” Mohan wrote.

Nielsen Begins Ad-Tracking on YouTube and YouTube TV

Nielsen Oct. 15 announced it would begin tracking YouTube’s streaming TV inventory. Content 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 2021-22 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 of 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.