Elon Musk Eyeing X Streaming Video App to Take on YouTube

Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) social media platform is readying a streaming video app aimed at offering users access to video entertainment similar to market behemoth YouTube.

In an April 23 social media post, Linda Yaccarino, CEO of X, said the app, which remains under construction, would become the “go-to companion” for televised entertainment.

“Soon, we’ll bring real-time, engaging content to your smart TVs,” Yaccarino wrote.

Since its launch, Google-owned YouTube remains the No. 1 viewed U.S. streaming platform with 9.7% market share in March, which was nearly 20% greater than Netflix.

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Omdia: YouTube, AVOD, FAST Up User Advantage Over SVOD

The once-dominant subscription streaming VOD business model is beginning to show signs of strain. According to new Omdia data from November 2023, the number of SVOD services per home has declined in a number of markets for the first time. At the same time, the use of free ad-supported video platforms remains on the rise.

The London-based research firm found YouTube’s continued growth as the preferred video service provider in key markets has been fundamental to the growth of AVOD/FAST over paid video content.

Top ten video service by monthly usage by market, November 2023

Unveiling new insights at Connected TV World Summit 2024 this week, Maria Rua Aquete, research director in media and entertainment at Omdia, said the growth of ad-supported VOD remains strong.

“The appetite for free content is ever-increasing and the major streamers are clearly leaning into this as a strategy; by end of 2024, all major SVOD services [including Apple TV+] will have advertising tiers,” Rua Aquete said in a statement.

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Indeed, FAST services have continued their upward trajectory in the United States, with key players Tubi, Pluto TV and The Roku Channel entering the Top 10 most used services on a monthly basis.

Average number of video services per video user by country, Nov 2020-2023

In the United Kingdom, Omdia found that the average number of free video services per video user increased from 5.1 to 6.2. It increased from 6 to 7.5 services in the United States.

The allure of social media video platforms such as TikTok and Instagram Reels has reshaped how individuals consume video content, according to Omdia. With engaging formats and vast user bases, social media services offer compelling alternatives to mainstream subscription streaming video services.

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“The landscape of video streaming services continues to undergo a significant transformation,” Aquete said in a statement. “Whether these changes are happenings in response to the cost of living increases, paid subscription fatigue, or other factors, it underscores the evolving preferences of consumers, who increasingly have more places to go to access video content.”

Little Dot Studios to Manage Three Cineverse Streaming Channels on YouTube

Cineverse announced a new agreement with All3Media’s Little Dot Studios to manage and grow a handful of its owned & operated streaming video channels on YouTube.

In this new deal, Fandor (a classic film subscription service), RetroCrush (an anime channel), and Midnight Pulp (retro cult movie channel) will now be exclusively marketed and managed on YouTube by Little Dot Studios. All of the channels are owned and operated by Cineverse and powered by the company’s digital service tech platform, Matchpoint, to streamline delivery. Collectively, the service has seen over 12 million lifetime views.

Marc Rashba, EVP of global partnerships at Cineverse, said the deal allows the company to expand streaming footprint and grow audiences for the channels’ unique content.

“There’s no better place to do that than on YouTube and across social media,” Rashba said in a statement.

Larissa Bellamy, partnerships director at Little Dot Studios, said the company aims to create “meaningful connections” with audiences through all digital content touchpoints.

“We will work with the highly engaged audiences on YouTube and Facebook and deliver them highlights and full episodic content from some of the channels Cineverse has built via its global FAST and AVOD business,” Bellamy said.

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YouTube Launches Primetime Video Channels in the U.K.

YouTube has expanded its Primetime Channels platform to the U.K., after previous rollouts in the U.S. and Germany. Taking a page from Amazon, Primetime Channels affords YouTube users one-click access to myriad third-party streaming platforms, including Paramount+, Lionsgate+, Hayu, History Play and soon, sports streaming platform DAZN, among others.

Citing Nielsen data, YouTube said 65% of YouTube viewers in the U.K. discover TV content through the YouTube recommendation engine, while another 49% who watch content related to streaming services said the platform made them want to continue using a paid service.

Now, YouTube hopes those users interested in third-party streaming services will stay on the platform rather than exiting to access content. At the same time, third-party streaming service expand their potential viewer base exponentially. More than 120 million people reportedly frequent the YouTube platform and app on a daily basis.

“The need to jump from app to app to get to desired content disrupts and adds friction to the user experience,” Richard Lewis, director of partnerships, YouTube UKI, said in a statement. “Primetime Channels gives users access to official TV, movies or streaming service content all in one place. And with Brits increasingly watching YouTube from their TVs, this offering will complete their entertainment journey on the platform.”

FilmRise Gets Digital Rights to BuzzFeed Studios Brand Portforlio

FilmRise, the New York City-based film, television studio and streaming network, has acquired worldwide digital media rights to a library of content from the BuzzFeed Studios portfolio of brands.    

The library spans over 1,200 hours of content, which includes “Hot Ones,” the Emmy Award nominated and Streamy Award-winning series featuring host Sean Evans interviewing ‘A’-list celebrities over a plate of increasingly spicy wings. “Hot Ones” originally launched in 2015 on YouTube and immediately became a viral sensation.

Other titles in the library include “BuzzFeed Unsolved: True Crime” and “BuzzFeed Unsolved: Supernatural,” “Worth It” and more.

The announcement was made jointly today by Jonitha Keymoore, VP of Global Content Acquisitions at FilmRise, and Nick Wang, SVP of Business Development and Partnerships at BuzzFeed Studio     .

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“BuzzFeed and Complex carry a library of content that taps into the zeitgeist of today’s culture by taking an innovative perspective to traditional formats, whether that be the unique way ‘Hot Ones’ approaches the classic talk show format or ‘BuzzFeed Unsolved’ takes on the true crime genre,” Jonitha Keymoore of FilmRise said in a statement. “These titles already have a strong audience following and now, we are thrilled to bring them to everyone, worldwide.”

“This deal with FilmRise marks a milestone for our series and our studio,” Nick Wang from BuzzFeed Studios said in a statement. “We’re excited to expand the footprint of our series to audience across digital platforms around the globe.”

YouTube Halts Ad Sales on Russell Brand’s Channel Following Sexual Assault Allegations

Google-owned YouTube Sept. 19 took the unusual move of suspending content ad sales on British comedian/actor Russell Brand’s channel with 6.6 million subscribers, citing allegations of sexual assault by four women. Brand denies all allegations.

YouTube claims Brand’s alleged misconduct violated the platform’s “creator responsibility policy”. The action prevents the entertainer from generating revenue (and income) from his YouTube channel.

“If a creator’s off-platform behavior harms our users, employees or ecosystem, we take action to protect the community,” YouTube said in a statement.

Brand, who was briefly married to singer Katy Perry years after the alleged assaults took place, has been dropped by his London-based talent agent. The BBC dropped Brand’s content from its iPlayer and BBC Sounds streaming platforms. The remaining dates on Brand’s stand-up comedy tour have been canceled.

Brand continues to deny all allegations, saying any sexual relationships were consensual.

“The relationships that I had were absolutely always consensual,” Brand said on his social media platform shortly after the allegations surfaced in the U.K. “I was always transparent about that then, almost too transparent. And I’m being transparent about it now.”

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Nielsen: Streaming Video Market Share Reached Record High in July

Streaming accounted for a record high 38.7% of total household TV usage in July, while linear TV viewership fell below 50% for the first time, according to new data from Nielsen. Broadcast and cable each represented record low shares at 20% and 29.6% of total TV usage, respectively, to combine for a linear television total of 49.6%.

Time spent streaming (via a television) increased 2.9% in July compared with June, and the category gained a full share point to finish at 38.7% of total TV usage — topping its previous record-high share, which it recorded just last month. On a yearly basis, streaming viewership has grown 25.3%, and the category has gained 7.3 share points. Additionally, streaming’s rate of growth from July ’22 to July ’23 was 12% higher than its growth from July ’21 to July ’22.

Across streaming platforms, three services achieved record high market shares of TV consumptions: YouTube (not including YouTube TV) viewing increased 5.6% vs. June, and its share climbed to 9.2% of total TV usage (the largest of all platforms). Netflix viewing increased 4.2% vs. June, which brought it to 8.5% of total TV usage. Prime Video viewing was up 5% vs. June to represent 3.4% of total TV usage (+0.2 pts.) in July.

In terms of streaming content, the premiere of new seasons of streaming originals across various platforms in July could not match the momentum of acquired library content viewing.

Former USA Network drama “Suits” (on Netflix and Peacock) and “Bluey” (Disney+) were July’s most-watched streaming programs, combining for 23 billion (!) viewing minutes, with “Suits” accounting for nearly 18 billion on its own. By comparison, the Netflix original “Stranger Things” also captured nearly 18 billion viewing minutes in July 2022 following the conclusion of its most recent season.

Notably, AVOD platform Tubi rivaled Max in market share (1.4%), ahead of Peacock and The Roku Channel, which each trailed by an equal 1.1% market share. All four finished ahead of Paramount+ and Pluto, at 1% and 0.9%, respectively.

Meanwhile, broadcast viewership fell 3.6% in July to finish the month at 20% of overall television usage (-0.8 pts.), marking a new low for the broadcast category. While dramas remained the top broadcast genre in July at 25.7% of the category, the top broadcast programs were ABC World News Tonight” and the “MLB All Star Game” on Fox.

Cable viewing was down 2.9% in July and its share also fell to a record low, finishing the month with 29.6% of overall TV usage (-1.0 pts.). ESPN’s “Home Run Derby” and “College World Series” were the top two cable programs in July, followed by “When Calls The Heart” on The Hallmark Channel.

On a year-over-year basis, broadcast viewing was down 5.4% (-1.5 pts.), and cable viewing was down 12.5% (-4.8 pts.).

Cineverse Expands Global Commercial YouTube Channel Agreement With VA Media

Cineverse July 19 announced an extension of an agreement with longtime partner VA Media to continue expanding its content channels’ global footprint and monetization on YouTube and other social media platforms.

VA Media had previously managed a number of Cineverse’s brands and various titles under a global license. That license now includes “Free Movies from Cineverse,” “Screambox TV,” “Lone Star TV,” “Dove TV” and “Con TV.” All channels are owned and operated by Cineverse and powered by the company’s digital managed service technology Matchpoint to streamline delivery.

“We tailor our content and monetization strategy for each channel uniquely with a mix of compilations, full episodes, and feature films that appeal to each of the respective channels’ audiences with a regular cadence of data-driven messaging,” Mark Ashbridge, CEO of VA Media, said in a statement.

Marc Rashba, Cinedigm’s EVP of global partnerships, says the free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) and AVOD channel marketplace has gotten crowded with new offerings, underscoring the need to continue working with a business partner that has figured out how to continue growing incremental audiences on YouTube and across social media.

“We know there are different target audience clusters that may not necessarily be on their couch watching any of our 25-plus channels in a traditional manner and this brings the content to where they are and on the devices they use daily,” Rashba said.

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YouTube’s ‘Law & Crime’ Channel Enhances Content Offerings

The YouTube “Law & Crime Network” channel, which recently reached 4.5 million subscribers, March 24 announced plans to expand its presence through a series of upcoming acquisitions and partnerships with other channels in the true crime genre.

The free channel live-streams court coverage of high-profile court cases, including actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s ski crash trial.

“Law & Crime” recently acquired the true crime YouTube channel “The Disturbing Truth,” which currently has about 210,000 subscribers interested in solved and unsolved mysteries around “serial killers, murderers, and strange happenings.”

“With the ‘Law & Crime Network’ YouTube channel growing by nearly 4 million subscribers last year, we’ve doubled down on expanding our content strategies in 2023,” director Robert Szoke said in a statement.

The channel boasts 2.4 billion total video views and an average of 100 million views monthly. Through March, the channel has now added another 500,000 subscribers following coverage of the high-profile trials of Alex Murdaugh and Johnny Depp, among others.

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SAG Awards Generate 1.1 Million Live Streams on Netflix’s YouTube Channel

More than 1.1 millions viewers live-streamed the 29th Screen Actors Guild Awards Feb. 26 on on Netflix’s free YouTube channel, according to the Google-owned streaming video platform.

The live stream, which awards the best actors in movies and TV shows, ran 2 hours and 14 minutes and featured no advertising. Netflix streamed additional clips of awards acceptance speeches, including Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, the first Asians to win best actor awards, for indie film Everything Everywhere All at Once, which dominated the movie awards.

The awards show can be re-watched here.

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In January, Netflix announced a deal with SAG-AFTRA to live-stream the annual actors’ union awards show, beginning this year on YouTube, followed by the Netflix platform in 2024.

The SVOD behemoth is evolving its content offerings to include live content, including a special Chris Rock stand-up comedy show on March 4.

The SAG Awards show, which is no longer televised, drew 1.8 million TV viewers across TBT and TNT networks in 2022, and 957,000 viewers in 2021.