Not that long ago, regional sports networks (RSNs) were the beachfront property of the pay-TV industry. RSNs had exclusive rights to air local sports teams’ games in their markets and rabid fans willing to pay virtually any price to watch (especially if the local team was having a winning season). But the icing on the cake was that even non-fans were often paying for pricey RSNs, because their fees cleverly became inseparable from the most popular TV packages. In short, RSNs practically had a license to print money.
But few things last forever, and RSNs have become the latest example of the Internet’s disruption. Yesterday, the NY Post reported that AT&T’s auction of four of its RSNs, in Denver, Houston, Pittsburgh and Seattle, has drawn meager interest. AT&T was looking to sell the group for around $1 billion, but the bids have come in “around or below $500 million.” A big red flag was the four RSNs’ financial performance - an expected drop in earnings from $115 million in 2019 to just $55 million in 2020.
I’m pleased to present the 501st edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week we discuss Roku’s Q4 and full year 2019 results, which were reported late Thursday. Roku now has nearly 37 million active accounts, up almost 10 million in 2019. More important, Roku continues to demonstrate strong capability in monetizing its viewers, with ARPU up $5.19 to $23.14. Looking back over the past few years, Roku’s ability to pivot its business from being player-based to advertising and licensing-based is very impressive, all the more so because it has pulled it off under the long shadow of CTV competition from Amazon, Google and Apple.
Putting Roku’s growth in perspective though, Colin and I also spend a few minutes reviewing Nielsen’s latest Total Audience report, which showed that overall, streaming still accounts for just 19% of total TV usage. As Colin notes, it’s far higher for younger age groups and cord-cutters. Nonetheless, it’s hard not to conclude that it is still relatively early days for both ad-supported and subscription OTT.
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(Note: I own a small number of Roku shares)
Pixability has announced BrandTrack, a new competitive intelligence tool that helps advertisers optimize their presence on YouTube. BrandTrack provides detailed information on competitors within 25 different industries, showing metrics on channel growth, estimated ad spending, brand sentiment, top/trending videos, best practices at the video-specific level and more. Pixability is pulling the data directly from YouTube’s API and then applying its proprietary technology and UI/visualization to give advertisers easily digestible insights.
BrandTrack grew out of a professional service Pixability has been offering clients for a while. But, recognizing that advertisers need to be able to flexibly adjust their YouTube content/spending to maintain a competitive edge, the service has been productized into a SaaS offering available standalone ($2K-$10K per month, based on seats) or as part of the PixabilityONE platform.
If you’re following media coverage of the “streaming wars” these days, you might think that the viewers have all but abandoned traditional TV. But Nielsen’s February 2020 Total Audience Report illustrates that this is far from the current situation. In fact, it’s still very early innings for OTT, which in turn suggests that if you think streaming is big already, well then - you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Nielsen reports that in Q4 ’19 streaming accounted for just 19% of total TV usage time. Within that 19% streaming slice, Nielsen found that, no surprise, Netflix has the biggest piece (31%), followed by YouTube (21%), Hulu (12%) and Amazon (8%). Nielsen didn’t break out any other individual service that collectively amount for 28%.
Then translating each streaming service’s into its % of TV usage (remember, ALL streaming accounts for 19%), means Netflix accounts for 5.9% of TV usage, YouTube (4%), Hulu (2.3%), Amazon (1.5%) and others (5.3%).