At its ONE21 developer conference this morning, NBCUniversal announced plans to launch its NBCU Audience insights Hub, which will contain all of its first-party audience data. The “proprietary data clean room” will give authorized partners permission to run restricted queries across their and NBCU’s audience data without exposing users’ personally identifiable information.
Using the NBCU data, partners will be able to discover overlaps in their audiences to drive better targeting and cross-platform campaign planning. Partners will gain access to NBCU’s linear TV APIs and certified reach measurement models to improve efficiency and effectiveness. NBCU plans to add to its measurement capabilities so that partners can do their own self-service multi-platform attribution. The clean room framework is being powered by Snowflake and VideoAmp is the first measurement partner to be integrated.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the fees CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN each pay to broadcast NFL games will double or more in new long-term agreements currently being finalized. Once again we are presented with the incongruity that sports rights are escalating even as the pay-TV subscriber audience able to watch these networks is shrinking.
As the Q4 earnings season wrapped up, the contraction of pay-TV was again in the news this week as analysts tallied the final losses for 2020. MoffettNathanson pegged the subscriber loss in 2020 among traditional cable, satellite and telco operators at approximately 6 million, with virtual operators (e.g. YouTube TV, Hulu, etc.) offsetting it by adding approximately 2 million subscribers.
Tubi is adding 80 live local 24 hour news feeds from station groups Cox Media Group, Hearst Television, Scripps and TEGNA to its “News on Tubi” collection in the U.S. When combined with the 17 FOX TV station feeds and Altice USA’s News 12 New York, Tubi will have nearly 100 local news feeds across 58 Designated Market Areas and 24 of the top 25 DMAs when fully rolled out during 2021. Tubi believes this is the most comprehensive local news reach for any AVOD service.
Topics: Tubi TV
The number of scripted original TV shows released on broadcast, cable and streaming dropped slightly from 532 in 2019 to 493 in 2020 according to FX Networks, which has been tracking the number for the past 10 years. FX chairman John Landgraf previously dubbed the spiraling number of scripted originals “Peak TV.” Back in 2009 there were 210 scripted originals, according to FX.
The reduction in 2020 is likely a temporary pause due to the effects of Covid shutting down productions and shifting network strategies. That’s because the streaming industry, where the majority of Peak TV originals has come from, is continuing to expand aggressively, in both subscription and ad-supported.
Paramount+, the new streaming service from ViacomCBS, will launch in the U.S. on March 4th, the company announced today. Paramount+ will also launch in Latin America on March 4th, and in Canada, CBS All Access will be rebranded on that date, though a broader content rollout won’t happen until later in 2021. Paramount+ will also launch in the Nordics on March 25th and in Australia in mid-2021 according to the release.
ViacomCBS will share more details of its streaming strategy at an investor event on February 24th.
It’s no surprise to anyone that the TV industry is being roiled by huge viewership changes accelerated by the pandemic. Samba TV’s new State of Viewership Quarterly Report for Q3 provides useful insights about the key trends that unfolded in the quarter, following an unprecedented first 6 months of the 2020.
Among Samba TV’s key findings:
Topics: Samba TV
Peacock launched broadly yesterday, though as a Comcast Xfinity broadband subscriber, I’ve had access to it for several months using my Flex device. I’ve spent a bunch of time with it and have been quite impressed. That the Peacock team put it together during the pandemic is quite a feat.
Some of the highlights to me are the very strong UI, the comfort food of popular programs like ’30 Rock,” “Parks and Rec,” “SNL,” and others, plus plenty of movies, the modest ad load of 5 minutes max per hour and the “Channels” which are about 30 virtual linear networks sorted into a traditional program grid.
As I’ve spent time with Peacock and followed the pre-launch coverage it’s become apparent how many different roles Peacock is poised to play for NBCU and its parent Comcast. Here’s a quick rundown:
In a new survey by Leichtman Research Group, 53% of American adults agreed (selecting 8, 9 or 10 on a 1-10 scale) that they spend more time watching TV during the pandemic. Just 16% selected 1, 2 or 3 that they disagreed that they were spending more time watching TV.
LRG didn’t find significant age, income or gender differences among those agreeing. 56% of pay-TV subscribers agreed while 45% of non-subscribers agreed. The results are from an online survey fielded in April and May. Q1 also saw the worst decline in pay-TV ever, with over 2 million subscribers lost, while SVOD services like Netflix added record subscribers. Lack of live sports, budget tightening and the availability of inexpensive or free OTT services were surely primary drivers.
I’m pleased to present the 514th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. As always, we hope our listeners are staying well.
This week we share thoughts on the nearly 2.1 million video subscribers that large pay-TV operators lost in Q1. It was a record loss, and approximately half of it was attributable just to AT&T. Virtual pay-TV operators also had a tough first quarter. As a result linear TV networks must look to direct-to-consumer models, which is what ViacomCBS is doing with CBS All Access and Pluto. Subscriber gains have been impressive and we examine the company’s successful strategy.
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NBCUniversal used its One Industry Update livestream to emphasize that improving the viewer and advertiser experience remains a top priority. Laura Molen, President, Advertising Sales and Partnerships, said “this moment has only accelerated our efforts to make the ad experience more engaging for consumers and more effective for advertisers.” She continued, “I know we talk a lot about commercial time - and we’re still committed to bring that number way down.”
I’m pleased to present the 504th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
On this week’s podcast, Colin and I dig into the question of whether linear TV is dying, dead or just changing? The narrative around conventional linear entertainment TV networks contracting is hard to argue with, especially for younger viewers moving to OTT. However, sports and news continue to do pretty well. And then there are newer types of linear TV experiences, like those from Jukin Media, that are finding new ways to serve linear audiences.
Colin views Jukin, Xumo, Pluto and other OTT services that offer linear TV options as capitalizing on the “more things change, the more they stay the same” motto In other words, even as people embrace new on-demand options they still value linear TV at certain moments. Colin then discusses how these trends merge with pay-TV operators who are eager to reduce programming expenses. He highlights free, ad-supported Zone.tv, whose 13 “linear-like” channels became available to Cox’s Contour subscribers this week.
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I’m pleased to present the 502nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
First up this week, on the heels of ViacomCBS reporting 11 million subscribers between CBS All Access and Showtime, Colin and I agree that the company is looking well-positioned in OTT. While more needs to be learned about its “House of Brands” strategy and how Pluto TV will be fully leveraged, we both believe ViacomCBS is looking more and more like a serious OTT contender. A big unknown remains what pricing and bundling will be for “CBS All Access Max” as Colin dubs it. And then there’s the impact of pricing pressure from Disney+, Apple TV+, Peacock, etc.
Regardless, ViacomCBS’s OTT success is coming not a moment too soon, because, as we discuss, new UBS data based on Nielsen ratings, shows TV viewership continuing to plunge in Q1 ’20. Net, net, we both believe connected TV advertising is continuing to shape up as TV advertising’s long-term savior…though who falls through the cracks in the meantime remains to be seen.
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I’m pleased to present the 497th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week Colin and I share our initial impressions of Peacock, NBCU’s new streaming service. Our impressions are based on watching the investor day presentations yesterday. We break down our discussion into covering Peacock’s economics, release plan and user experience. Again these are all our first impressions and not meant to be an exhaustive analysis.
Perhaps the most interesting thing to me is that Peacock’s Premium tier viewer monetization is below its two nearest ad-supported comparables, Hulu and CBS All Access. Both charge $6 per month while Peacock is $5 per month. Peacock is also ensuring maximum ad load of just 5 minutes per hour, which it forecast would amount to $6-7 per viewer, compared to the $7-10 per viewer Hulu is currently generating.
Peacock’s pricing and financial projections remind me why I still believe Comcast should have bought the remaining 70% of Hulu it didn’t own, as I wrote in May, 2018. It feels like an even bigger missed opportunity now. It probably would have cost Comcast around $12-$14 billion to do so, a fraction of the $39 billion it paid to acquire Sky - and it would have been more strategic.
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This afternoon at 4pm ET, Comcast will host an Investor Meeting to share details about NBCUniversal’s upcoming Peacock streaming service. It is a session comparable to what Disney and Apple did last year for Disney+ and Apple TV+ respectively (and what AT&T/WarnerMedia will do for HBO Max). So we all get to learn all the official information about Peacock: pricing, availability, content, overall strategy/fit with existing businesses, marketing, etc.
Following the format of other investor days, we will hear from senior NBCU and Peacock executives, and likely someone from Comcast. Matt Strauss, an old friend of mine, who was moved over from Comcast to become Chairman of Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises late last year, will no doubt be the maestro of this afternoon’s session. All the dribs and drabs of information that have been shared by the company previously will be reconciled with all of the rumors and speculation that have gurgled up from around the web.
NBCUniversal’s SVOD service will be known as “Peacock” and will launch in April with over 15,000 hours of content. As expected, classic shows like “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” will be exclusively on Peacock, along with “30 Rock,” “Cheers,” “Frasier,” “Will and Grace” and numerous others.
Peacock will be available both ad-supported and ad-free, though NBCUniversal didn’t announce any pricing just yet (Peacock will be included at no charge for Xfinity subscribers). SVOD pricing has been under pressure since Disney announced initial Disney+ pricing at $6.99/month, with Apple TV+ following at $4.99/month. HBOMax is likely to be at the high end around $14.99/month.
I’m pleased to present the 471st edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
On this week’s podcast we first discuss local broadcasting’s video opportunity. Colin provides updates on an interview he did about Google News Initiative’s role. Then he shares a few takeaways from a panel he did, highlighting the new Sinclair OTT service Stirr. More broadly we explore how the combination of connected TV, longer engagement time and better monetization is laying the foundation for ad-supported original programming.
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I’m pleased to present the 456th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
On this week’s podcast we cover 3 different topics. First, AT&T had a busy week - its deal for Time Warner was finally cleared after the DOJ’s appeal was rejected, both HBO CEO Richard Plepler and Turner president David Levy resigned, and a Variety report has Disney interested in buying AT&T’s 10% stake in Hulu. Colin and I discuss all of these and their implications.
Next, Colin weighs in on the new collaboration between the BBC and ITV to launch a version of BritBox in the U.K. and why it matters. Finally, another week, another YouTube content malefactor(s), leading to an advertiser pullback. We discuss how YouTube is playing whack-a-mole but that at the end of the day advertisers need YouTube and are unlikely to leave altogether.
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It’s no secret that everyone in the TV advertising business is trying to make ads more data-driven, automated and effective as platforms like Google, Facebook and Amazon double down on their efforts to siphon away TV ad dollars. Videa is one company that is having a real impact, tightly focusing on helping TV broadcast stations become more competitive in the fast-changing ad business. I caught up with Videa’s president Shereta Williams recently for an update.
Videa had a strong 2018 and is closing in on relationships with 600 different stations from all major station owners spanning nearly 160 markets around the U.S., with Shereta adding that the goal is to have 90% coverage by the end of 2019. Through these partnerships Videa gains access to the stations’ full schedule of local inventory across all dayparts in the stations’ primary linear feed, regardless of whether the viewer is accessing over the air, via pay-TV or a virtual pay-TV operator (e.g. YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, etc.). Some virtual pay-TV operators enable dynamic ad replacement or non-linear ads and Videa is not selling those ads. Videa is 100% linear at this time but they aspire to sell across the other streams in the future.
I’m pleased to present the 431st edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
It’s been Q2 earnings season, which provides a valuable opportunity to check in on how different companies’ OTT strategies are flowing through to their financial performance. On today’s podcast Colin and I talk about two companies whose OTT fortunes are moving in opposite directions.
Moving the wrong way is Dish and its Sling TV skinny bundle. Sling TV was the first to market in the category several years ago. Though it quickly gained over 2 million subscribers, growth slowed to just 41K additions last quarter as others boomed. As Colin and I discuss, a key weakness in its service is the lack of broadcast channels. The other big skinny bundles, YouTube TV, Hulu Live and DirecTV Now have all decided to pay top dollar to include them, which is helping fuel their growth. Sling TV is at a competitive disadvantage requiring subscribers to install antennas which many people can’t or won’t do.
All broadcasters are benefiting from the shift to skinny bundles, but CBS’s Q2 results show that its OTT success extends further, to direct-to-consumer, targeted advertising and SVOD production, as well. CBS is benefiting from decisions it made years ago to retain digital rights (most famously by not joining Hulu), even though it wasn’t clear back then how the monetization of them would fully unfold.
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