4C - leaderboard - 4-25-18

Analysis for 'SVOD'

  • SVOD’s Big Night at the Emmys

    If you’re looking for more evidence of how SVOD is changing the TV landscape, look no further than last night’s Emmy Awards. The 3 big SVOD providers, Amazon, Hulu and Netflix combined to win a record 35 Emmys, up from 32 in 2017. Netflix itself won 23 Emmys, tying HBO for top honors, with Amazon winning 8 and Hulu winning 4.

    Netflix’s big winner was “The Crown” which took home 5 Emmys. All of Amazon’s awards were for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” including outstanding comedy series, lead actress (Rachel Brosnahan), supporting actress (Alex Borstein) and writing and directing for Amy Sherman-Palladino. Maisel tied with Saturday Night Live for second place behind “Game of Thrones” which won 9, including outstanding drama series.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #434: Amazon Pursues TV Ad Dollars; Forecasting Hulu’s Growth

    I’m pleased to present the 434th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    First up this week, Amazon is said to be planning a free ad-supported video service, similar to Roku’s The Roku Channel. The new service, dubbed Free Dive, would be targeted to the nearly 50 million Fire TV users. Colin and I both like the move a lot, as we see multiple promotional and new revenue benefits, especially if Amazon can attract TV ad dollars. However, a key challenge is finding enough compelling content to make Free Dive interesting to audiences.

    We then transition to talking about Hulu. Colin has developed a forecast for subscriber and revenue growth for Hulu through 2020 which he explains. He sees much of Hulu’s revenue growth coming from its Live skinny bundle service, although its profitability will remain challenged due to high programming costs.

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  • Research: SVOD Adoption Rises to 69% of U.S. Households

    Major SVOD services’ popularity continues to expand, with new research from Leichtman Research Group finding that 69% of U.S. households now subscribe to either Netflix, Amazon Prime and/or Hulu. That’s up from 64% last year and 47% in 2014.

    Also noteworthy is the rise of multi SVOD service households. LRG found that among SVOD households, 63% now access more than 1 SVOD service, which is up from 38% in 2015. That means that 43% of U.S. households now access more than one SVOD service, more than double the 20% rate from 2015.

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  • Disney's Multi-App Approach is Forward-Looking and Savvy

    On Disney’s earnings call earlier this week, CEO Bob Iger was asked about the company’s video app strategy - would it be interested in launching one big “aggregated” app housing all of its content, or will it continue to pursue multiple apps with each targeting particular audience segments?

    It’s an interesting question because it goes to the heart of whether consumers prefer a big basket of content at one price (the way the pay-TV industry’s multichannel bundle has been effectively offered) or more discrete content services that consumers individually choose to pay for (as has emerged with streaming video and music services, plus a wide variety of other apps)?

    I believe Iger’s explanation of Disney’s app strategy was right on the mark:

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #430: Setting the Record Straight on Linear Viewing; Comcast Integrates Amazon Prime Video

    I’m pleased to present the 430th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week Nielsen released its Q1 ’18 Total Audience Report, which led to some media coverage that linear TV still dominates consumer viewing. However, Colin dug into the data and showed that while this is true for older consumers, for younger ones, the exact opposite is occurring: linear TV is becoming less and less relevant. Colin shares his analysis.

    On-demand viewing’s importance was underscored yet again this week by Comcast striking a deal to integrate Amazon Prime Video into its X1 experience. The move builds on prior Netflix and YouTube integrations, helping Comcast broaden X1’s value proposition. However, neither of us thinks the move materially addresses aggressive competition from skinny bundles that drove up Comcast’s video subscriber losses in Q2.

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  • Comcast to Integrate Amazon Prime Video Into X1

    Comcast will integrate Amazon Prime Video into its X1 platform later this year. Amazon becomes the third major streaming service to be included in X1, following Netflix in 2016 (see here) and YouTube in 2017 (see here). Comcast said it’s the first pay-TV operator to integrate Amazon.

    As with the other services, Amazon’s content will become available to X1 users as part of the X1 UI. Comcast is continuing to position X1 as a streamlined gateway to both its own content and also to third-party content. It’s a smart move by Comcast to build more value into the X1, helping justify subscribers spending $10 or more per month to rent the X1 set-top box (although Comcast has recently been emphasizing it sees X1 also as an interface, living on smart TVs and devices, as well).

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #428: Young Viewers in US and UK Shift Away From Traditional TV

    I’m pleased to present the 428th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week Colin and I discuss new research highlighting how younger viewers are shifting away from traditional TV and toward OTT sources. Colin recaps research from Hub Entertainment focusing on the US while I share highlights from Ofcom’s new Media Nations report covering viewing behaviors in the UK.

    While the numbers are slightly different, the general trends are similar. For example, in the US, just 26% of 18-34 year-olds consider live TV their default service. In the UK, for 18-34 year-olds, 54% of their video consumption is now from OTT sources.

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  • Comcast Drops Fox Bid, Foregoing A Major Opportunity With Hulu

    Comcast has officially dropped out of the bidding for the 21st Century Fox assets, clearing the path for Disney to move forward. Comcast still plans to pursue Sky in the UK. But by dropping its Fox bid, Comcast has also foregone the opportunity to take control of Hulu (by virtue of combining its 30% stake with Fox’s 30% stake). Presumably now Disney will take control of Hulu.

    I believe this is a major missed opportunity for Comcast, leaving the company under-optimized in the fast-changing premium video industry. As we all know, today’s key industry themes include the rise of cord-cutting and consumers’ move to lower cost skinny bundles, the shift to on-demand viewing, with the accompanying growth of ad-free SVOD services (e.g. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu), the rapid adoption of connected TV and mobile devices for viewing and the nationalization/globalization of video services, among others.

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  • Younger Viewers in UK Now Spend More Time With OTT Content Than Broadcast

    More evidence of the shifting viewership behavior of younger audiences: UK regulator Ofcom’s first annual Media Nations report found that 16-34 year-olds there now watch an average of 2 hours, 37 minutes per day of OTT content vs. 2 hours, 11 minutes of broadcast content across all devices.  

    The younger group’s OTT consumption is almost double the overall population’s of 1 hour, 28 minutes. Across all age groups, 71% of viewing time is still with broadcast content. However, broadcast TV viewership on TVs dropped by 9 minutes, or 4.2% in 2017 to an average of 3 hours, 22 minutes per day. Since 2012, broadcast viewership has decreased by 38 minutes per day or 15.7%.

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  • Netflix is Bedeviled by Domestic Subscriber Forecasting

    Netflix reported a large miss on its subscriber forecast in Q2, with 670K net additions in the U.S. (44% below its forecast of 1.2 million) and 4.47 million net additions internationally (10% below its forecast of 5 million). From my standpoint, the international miss is almost irrelevant because the segment includes so many different countries with so many different adoption patterns that Netflix is still new to understanding. With all of those moving pieces, missing by just 10% isn’t too shabby.

    Conversely, the domestic miss of 44% is a real head-scratcher which I believe raises, yet again, real questions around how well the company understands the dynamics of the domestic SVOD market, how much growth remains and how well its forecasting function is run. For eager investors, who have bid up the stock on lofty expectations, getting a handle on these issues seems critical.

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  • Netflix Evolves from Avowed Downloading Skeptic to Impressive Innovator

    Yesterday Netflix announced a very cool new feature called “Smart Downloads,” which automatically deletes an episode you’ve downloaded and finished watching on your mobile device, triggering the download of the subsequent episode. The process happens as soon as you’ve connected to WiFi and occurs invisibly in the background. Smart Downloads is available for Android devices now and for iOS devices later this year.

    Smart Downloads is a clever way of automating a manual process, so that users always have something downloaded and ready to watch (although having to manually download a TV episode clearly falls in the category of “first world problems”). Smart Downloads is a a savvy move by Netflix to increase subscribers’ engagement time, which in turn leads to higher satisfaction and better retention. But perhaps most fascinating about Smart Downloads is that it illustrates how fully and quickly Netflix has evolved from an avowed downloading skeptic to an impressive innovator.

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  • With Netflix Envy, AT&T Begins Revamp of HBO’s Success Formula

    Just weeks after closing its acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T has begun the process of revamping HBO’s traditional success formula, with Netflix envy apparently the main catalyst. According to a new NY Times article detailing a town hall meeting that Warner Media CEO John Stankey had with HBO employees, the new strategy boils down to wanting HBO to produce vastly more content with a goal of driving up engagement time and growth.

    That sounds a lot like the formula that Netflix has employed for years, spending billions of dollars per year on scores of original programs in a global land grab for subscribers, while de-emphasizing profit maximization. Of course Wall Street has fallen in love with Netflix’s approach. Conversely, HBO has pursued a more limited “boutique” content strategy, with a few key marquee programs, while maximizing profitability.

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  • Nielsen: Hulu's Growth Rate is Highest Among Major SVOD Services

    Pivotal Research has released an analysis of Nielsen data on growth rates of U.S. SVOD services, finding that Hulu had grown access by TV households by 39% at the end of May 2018 compared with a year ago. By Nielsen’s estimate, Pivotal said Hulu had 21 million SVOD subscribers, about in line with the 20 million plus that Hulu itself announced on May 2nd.

    Pivotal attributed the growth to both Hulu’s programming and its vMVPD service which includes SVOD access. At 21 million, Hulu would have grown 4 million subscribers or nearly 24% vs. its year-end 2017 level of 17 million plus.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #422: Exploring Hulu With Live TV’s 800K Subscriber Count

    I’m pleased to present the 422nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week Hulu’s CEO Randy Freer said in a CNBC interview that the company had “surpassed 800,000 subscribers” for its Hulu with Live TV service. It was the first time Hulu has revealed subscribers for its skinny bundle service which was launched just over a year ago.

    Colin and I are both impressed with the number, which represents 4% of its overall 20 million subscribers and probably puts it in fourth place in the category behind YouTube TV, Sling TV and DirecTV Now. Based on rough calculations, the Live TV service is likely generating almost $300 million in run-rate revenue now (whether its profitable is another question). That’s a strong start and more evidence Hulu has found a winning formula.

    Back on the SVOD service, we also discuss James Murdoch’s comment that about half of Hulu’s subscribers are taking the ad-supported option, (which Hulu said is actually more than 60%), but that would still be down from “the vast majority” which Hulu has consistently said in the past. Finally, we discuss the pros and cons of either Comcast or Disney taking control of Hulu due to the battle over 21st Century Fox assets. I wrote last week Comcast would benefit more.

    (Note, Hulu’s VP of Ad Sales Jim Keller will be on Colin’s panel “Connected TVs' Ad-Supported Future” at the VideoNuze Online Video Ad Summit on June 12th)

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #421: Comcast-Fox, SVOD Movies, Reduced Ad Loads

    I’m pleased to present the 421st edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On this week’s podcast we cover 3 different topics. First up is Comcast’s announcement this week this it plans an all-cash offer for the Fox assets Disney has agreed to buy. We don’t have time to fully analyze the move, but both of us see it as a bold doubling-down by Comcast on the traditional multichannel TV model. We speculate about whether Comcast should diversify with a skinny bundle offering, as I described yesterday in taking control of Hulu.

    Next up we discuss new research from ACSI focused on the lagging role of movies in SVOD and Netflix specifically (which is being addressed with 86 releases in 2018). Lastly, we turn to data from Advertiser Perceptions showing ad buyers are only willing to pay a small premium to be in lighter ad load environments. I’ve previously speculated about whether the math would work for TV networks by reducing their ad loads.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #420: AT&T Pursues All Video Price Points; Amazon Dominates SVOD Distribution

    I’m pleased to present the 420th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    AT&T is planning to deliver its DirecTV satellite services over broadband at a reduced cost, further demonstrating the company’s commitment to OTT video delivery. With the DirecTV broadband service and its upcoming skinnier bundle “AT&T Watch” for $15/mo, AT&T is pursuing every price point for its different video services. Colin and I discuss why all this helps AT&T with its wireless bundling strategy.

    We then transition to new TDG research showing Amazon Channels is driving 55% of all direct-to-consumer streaming subscriptions including 70% and 72% for Starz and Showtime respectively. We’ve both been big fans of Channels since it launched as the Streaming Partners Program in late 2015, and it appears to be paying off really well.

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  • Research: Amazon Channels is Driving Over Half of Direct-to-Consumer Video Subscriptions

    New research from The Diffusion Group finds that 55% of all direct-to-consumer video subscriptions are being driven by Amazon Channels. As the chart below shows, for Showtime, Channels accounts for 72% of new subscriptions, for Starz 70% and for HBO 53%. Both HBO and Showtime reported record subscriber levels at the end of 2017 and the new TDG data underscores how pivotal Channels has been in the 2 premium networks’ revitalization.

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  • Apple’s Plan to Offer Video Subscriptions Would Be Smart, But Way Late

    Bloomberg reported yesterday that Apple may enable video subscriptions within its TV app, which is available across iOS devices and Apple TV. It would be a smart, although very late, move by Apple to horn in on the video subscription boom. And Bloomberg correctly characterized it as an apparent copycat effort by Apple to emulate what Amazon has been doing with its Channels program since it originally launched way back in December, 2015 as the Streaming Partners Program.

    If you haven’t used Apple’s TV app, it allows single sign-on access to many cable and broadcast TV Everywhere apps, which would otherwise need to be individually authenticated, cross-app browsing, search and recommendations and multi-platform viewing. For people with an Apple TV in particular, it’s a handy app that aggregates a lot of content (including what you’ve purchased from iTunes) and in typical Apple style, presents it in a nice interface.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #416: Netflix’s Impressive Q1; Amazon and Best Buy Partner for Smart TVs

    I’m pleased to present the 416th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Netflix reported its Q1 ’18 results earlier this week and once again the performance was very strong, with revenue up 43% and average paid streaming subscribers up 25% to 125 million globally. Colin and I discuss what’s driving the company. With 55.1 million paid U.S. subscribers at the end of Q1, it’s possible that Netflix will hit 60 million by the end of 2018, which is the low end of the range of 60-90 million the company has long said it believed it could achieve.

    We then turn to discussing Amazon’s new deal with Best Buy for its “Fire TV Edition” smart TVs, which were announced earlier this week. We agree that the move is yet another aggressive step in Amazon’s goal to dominate both the living room and whole home. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos also announced this week that Prime has hit 100 million subscribers with video continuing to drive acquisition and retention. Colin and I both see Amazon expanding further by launching a skinny bundle pay-TV service sometime in 2018.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #413: Spielberg’s Backward-Looking View On Netflix’s Cannes Film Festival Ban

    I’m pleased to present the 413th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week Colin and I wade into the debate over Netflix’s films being banned from consideration at the Cannes Film Festival. We were both struck by Steven Spielberg’s support of the ban, as it seems to us backward-looking and dependent on an outdated definition of what constitutes a “film.” That said, we both understand the deep cultural and economic motivations behind banning Netflix. This week’s BBC report that younger viewers are now consuming more Netflix than BBC content reinforces the global vs. local battle that’s unfolding.

    We contrast to this backward-looking approach, by highlighting how Hulu has embraced a viewer-first model, which appears to really be paying off for the service. There are lessons local broadcasters around the world could gain from observing Hulu’s model, starting with giving viewers as much choice as possible.

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