Amazon announced this morning that it has over 40 million active Fire TV users globally, up from over 37 million that it reported in early September, 2019. The 3 million or so gain would represent monthly growth of around 750K Fire TV users. Amazon said there will be 150+ Fire TV edition models in 10+ countries by the end of 2020. Fire TVs include sticks, boxes, smart TVs, sound bars, auto screens and devices for pay-TV operators.
By Amazon’s count, Fire TV was already the top connected TV (CTV) provider globally in Q3 ’19, and its lead over Roku will likely expand just a bit for year-end 2019. Roku will report Q4 ’19 results on February 19th. At the end of Q3 '19 Roku reported 32.3 million active user accounts. In Q4 ’18 Roku added 3.3 million active user accounts, which would mean even if Roku doubled its quarterly growth in Q4 ’19 (which is unlikely), it would still be shy of Fire TV’s total.
Happy New Year!
Recently, eMarketer forecasted Connected TV (CTV) advertising will increase from approximately $7 billion in 2019 to over $14 billion in 2023. The forecast gained a lot of attention in the closing weeks of 2019 as CTV came into focus as one of the industry’s most important themes in 2020. To learn more and get behind the numbers, I recently interviewed eMarketer video analyst Ross Benes who was responsible for the forecast. A lightly edited transcript follows.
(Reminder, for a deeper dive, check out VideoNuze’s Connected TV Advertising Summit on June 11th in NYC)
VideoNuze: eMarketer recently released a forecast showing CTV ad revenues increasing from approximately $7 billion in 2019 to over $14 billion in 2023. What are the key contributors to this rapid growth?
I’m pleased to present the 494th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week Colin and I discuss “TV In Your Pocket: Mobile Video Downloading Report,” which we just released. We analyzed 80 top video services, and found that 28 of them offer mobile video downloading. We did 9 different tests probing further for specific features and implementations. In the podcast we share some of our key takeaways and surprises from our research. We also look ahead and make a few predictions about where downloading is going to go. Many thanks to Penthera for sponsoring the report.
We then briefly discuss Roku’s upcoming Stream-a-thon, which we both believe is a very smart move for Roku and its various partners, including HBO, Showtime, Starz and others. Stream-a-thon will expose millions of Roku users to premier programming (“Game of Thrones,” “Billions,” etc.), no doubt driving lots of new subscriptions. It’s a real win-win and once again illustrates how the video landscape is being rearranged.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 13 seconds)
Hershey’s, the iconic chocolate and candy maker, is going all in on Connected TV (CTV) and OTT (Over the Top), planning to increase its ad spending by 9x in 2020 vs its 2019. To do so it is partnering with SpotX as one of its media buying and demand facilitation partners. To learn more about Hershey’s 2020 CTV/OTT strategy I interviewed Vinny Rinaldi, Head of Addressable Media and Technology for Hershey’s and Cassidy Diamond, VP, Brand Partnerships for SpotX. Following is a slightly edited transcript.
VideoNuze: Hershey’s is going “all in” on Over-the-Top (OTT) and Connected TV (CTV) advertising, intending to grow spending in these categories by 9x in 2020, compared to 2019. Why is Hershey’s making this big shift?
I’m excited to announce the Connected TV Advertising Summit on June 11, 2020 in NYC. Please save the date!
Connected TVs (CTVs)* have emerged as a powerful force in the TV and video industries. According to multiple industry research reports, more than three-quarters of U.S. households now have at least one CTV, with many having two or more. CTVs are part of a critical trifecta – along with robust broadband access/WiFi and the proliferation of high-quality Internet-delivered (also called over-the-top or “OTT”) video services – that are re-shaping the living room experience for many viewers.
CTVs are also benefitting from cord-cutting, which reached a new record of nearly 1.8 million U.S. households in Q3 2019. Cord-cutting means millions of pay-TV operators’ set-top boxes are being disconnected annually, with CTVs often taking their place. Younger audiences are especially prone to cord-cutting, or never subscribing to pay-TV at all, which leads to brand advertisers losing access to this coveted segment.
eMarketer recently forecasted that CTV ad spending will jump by 38% to nearly $7 billion in 2019 and double to over $14 billion by 2023, in the U.S. alone. Over 50% of all OTT video ad impressions are now delivered via CTVs.
CTV advertising has enormous potential because it combines the best of traditional TV advertising’s attributes while also offering the targeting, measurement and interactive capabilities of digital advertising.
VideoNuze’s 2020 Connected TV Advertising Summit will bring together senior executives from brands, agencies, content providers, technology companies and other stakeholders for a full day of high-impact learning and networking. The CTV Ad Summit will be the most focused, in-depth conference of the year on CTV advertising.
Thousands of industry executives have attended VideoNuze events, which have been supported by dozens of industry-leading companies over the past 15 years.
If the future of your business is tied to the growth and success of CTVs, the CTV Ad Summit is a must-attend event.
To learn more about sponsorship opportunities please contact me.
*Connected TV (CTV) refers to any TV that is connected to the Internet and can play OTT video content/ads and also display graphical ads. CTVs have the capability to return user data to device manufacturers, content providers and ad buyers. CTVs support secure transactions such as subscriptions and e-commerce.
Examples of CTVs are smart TVs as well as TVs that are connected to the Internet via streaming media players/sticks (e.g. Roku, Fire TV), gaming consoles (e.g. PlayStation, Wii), DVRs, pay-TV operators’ IP set-top boxes (e.g. X1) and other devices.
Just before the Thanksgiving break IAB UK published an excellent guide to connected TVs (CTVs) and advertising in the UK market, called “Changing the Channel.” Though the guide is specifically targeted to the UK, many of its findings and recommendations are generalizable to other global markets.
Highlighting how omnipresent CTVs have become, the guide cites data from OfCom that 47% of UK homes now have a CTV, with the vast majority having access to broadcast VOD or SVOD services. No surprise 16-34 year olds have the highest likelihood of access and usage of these VOD services. The guide also notes research IAB UK conducted with Differentology to better understand CTV usage and attitudes, plus how advertisers can best capitalize on new opportunities.
Over the past few years a powerful virtuous cycle of wired broadband Internet access, connected TV and over-the-top premium content has taken hold, disrupting the traditional TV and pay-TV industries. This virtuous cycle is going to accelerate going forward, causing further instability for established providers and significant opportunity newer entrants.
Robust broadband is the foundation of the virtuous cycle. Today Leichtman Research Group reported that U.S. homes subscribing to broadband cracked the 100 million level for the first time. Big cable TV operators, who have been offering broadband for 25 years, are the winners, now accounting for 67% market share, vs. 33% for big telcos. That’s up from a 64%-46% split 2 years ago in Q3 ’17. Big cable TV operators continue to gain subscribers (830K in Q3 ’19, up 14% vs year ago) while telcos continued to lose them (down 225K in Q3 ’19, the biggest quarterly loss in over 3 years).
Topics: Leichtman Research Group
I’m pleased to present the 490th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
On this week’s podcast, Colin and I review Apple TV+ which launched this past week, and look ahead to what its strategic value may be to Apple in the long-term. One of things we both observed quickly is that there isn’t really even a distinct Apple TV+ experience. Rather it’s just a name Apple has given to a set of original programs that live within Apple’s TV app, which also prominently features programs from other providers like HBO, Amazon, etc. This is in line with what I expected.
With this positioning, it seems clear that Apple’s primary goal is to make the TV app a hub for a viewer’s whole TV experience. The Apple originals (or “Apple TV+”) are really just an extra incentive to use the TV app. All of this leads us to wonder whether Apple will eventually drop the $4.99/mo charge entirely and just consider the originals a marketing expense to keep users within the iPhone ecosystem. That could also mean an iPhone plus video/music/services package (“Apple AllPass?”) for one monthly price could be on the horizon.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (24 minutes, 24 seconds)
You don’t have to wait very long for another “Connected TV vs. Mobile” stat to pop up, as industry watchers consider what connected TV growth may or may not mean for mobile video. For example, a recent well-circulated report from Extreme Reach showed that CTVs’ share of video ad impressions has grown to 49%, while mobile’s share of impressions is decreasing. The report pointed to a 60% YOY jump in CTV ad impressions in Q1, also asserting that this growth in CTV ad impressions is “encroaching on mobile devices, whose share of video ad impressions dipped to 25%, the lowest in two years.” Yet the comparison does not acknowledge evolving viewer behavior and the fact that both CTV and mobile video are each growing in terms of overall time spent.
I’m pleased to present the 486th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Colin and I were both excited to see Hulu launch a mobile video downloading feature this week. Hulu had teased the feature over a year ago. As Colin notes though, because it’s only available with the Hulu (No Ads) service and only on iOS devices, just around 15% of Hulu’s overall subscribers will gain access to downloading (at least for now).
We then discuss reports that Disney doesn’t yet have an agreement with Amazon for its forthcoming Disney+ service to be included in Fire TV devices. The deal is held up due to Amazon’s attempt to wrangle more ad inventory in Disney’s other apps. The situation is typical of the complex and sometimes competitive relationships between big media and technology companies today.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 25 seconds)
Half of video ad impressions were delivered on connected TV devices in Q2 ’19, according to Extreme Reach’s latest Video Benchmark Report, which is based on the company’s AdBridge ad server. That was up just a bit from Q1 ’19, but up significantly from Q2 ’18 when CTV accounted for 38% of ad impressions. Other devices’ video ad impressions shares dropped year over year: Mobile from 31% to 25%, Desktop from 23% to 16% and Tablet from 9% to 6%. Unclassified took a small percentage as well.
Topics: Extreme Reach
I’m pleased to present the 484th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
On this week’s podcast we discuss newly released industry data from FreeWheel’s Q2 ’19 Video Marketplace Report, Roku’s Cord-Cutting 2019 study and Manatt-Vorhaus Advisors Digital Strategy study.
Each contains insights about the video industry and fast-changing viewer behaviors. In particular, we focus on the dominance of connected TVs in video ad views, new trends in cord-cutting and the rising usage of smartphones among younger audiences.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 36 seconds)
Connected TVs continued their impressive growth in premium video, according to FreeWheel’s Q2 ’19 Video Marketplace Report, which found that 55% of total video ad views in the U.S. now happen on CTVs. That’s more than the combined share of video ad views on other devices: mobile (17%), set-top box video (14%) and Desktop (14%).
Connected TVs’ growth rate also vastly exceeded those of other devices. CTV video ad views grew by 48% year-over-year, while mobile and STB video each grew 3% and desktop was down 2%. CTVs have taken a central place in TV consumption, with full episodes accounting for 50% of views and live accounting for 47% of views. Even as CTV share had dramatically increased, ad completion rates have remained strong. FreeWheel found an 88% and 98% completion rate on pre-rolls and mid-rolls in full-episodes, respectively and an 87% and 97% completion rate on pre-rolls and mid-rolls in live.
Yesterday Comcast made a smart move by converting its Xfinity Flex service to free for its broadband-only subscribers, eliminating the $5 per month charge that was in place since its launch this past March.
Colin and I discussed Flex on our podcast back then, and while we both liked its overall value, we found the $5 per month fee to be a head-scratcher. Paying the equivalent of $60 per year for a streaming device with 10K mostly older content titles seemed limiting as other companies were competing aggressively on price and streaming sticks could easily be bought for $30 or less.
I’m pleased to present the 482nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
First up this week Colin and I assess the prospects for Apple TV+, now that we know the full details of pricing, promotion, devices and content. I really like how Apple TV+ is being bundled for free for a year for Apple device buyers as an easy on ramp to give the service a try. Colin agrees, but cautions that absent Android support, Apple TV+ remains mainly an effort to bolster the Apple ecosystem, not close to a full competitor to other SVOD services.
Colin then shares key data from TiVo’s latest Video Trends report, which finds the video market’s competition continuing to intensify. Free, ad-supported services like Pluto TV and Tubi are growing strongly, TV networks’ sites are slipping and surprisingly, virtual MVPDs appear to be losing some viewership.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 37 seconds)
Apple finally revealed details of its Apple TV+ SVOD service and by all accounts it looks poised to get off to a fast start when it launches on November 1st. Positives include 9 original shows from A-list talent, low pricing of $4.99 per month, 1 week trial period, ad-free viewing, binge-watching (albeit limited to 3 episodes per show to start), account sharing for 6 family members and downloading.
But the biggest tailwind Apple TV+ will enjoy is that it will be bundled for a free year for buyers of new or Apple-refurbished iPhones, iPads, iPod touches, Apple TVs and Macs who activate Apple TV+ within 3 months of their purchase. That means millions of viewers will become exposed to Apple TV+ at no cost, especially during the all-important holiday season. There is virtually no upfront friction since the Apple TV app is pre-installed on all these devices, including Macs running the latest macOS.
Topics: Apple TV
I’m pleased to present the 480th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
The stakes keep increasing for Apple’s original programming, as the company has reportedly upped its commitment to the initiative to $6 billion. As Colin and I discuss, the company is likely starting to realize just how much it will take to put its Apple TV+ SVOD service on the map. Colin suggests a studio acquisition may even be essential, and suggests possibly Sony Pictures.
All this is unfolding against a rapidly declining transactional video market, in which Apple has been a key player, with consumer behavior moving to subscriptions.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 5 seconds)
The Financial Times reported that Apple has committed to spend $6 billion on original TV shows and movies for its upcoming Apple TV+ service, which will launch in November. That’s up from the $1 billion it was reportedly budgeting just 2 years ago. The increase no doubt reflects the hard reality that has set in at Apple about what it’s going to cost to compete, rather than just dip its toe in the SVOD water.
Included in the budget is a $300 million commitment for 20 episodes of “The Morning Show” with Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carrell (working out to $15 million per episode). Bloomberg separately reported the monthly price will be $9.99, above the introductory $6.99 per month Disney+ price but below Netflix’s $12.99 per month price. Though Apple teased a number of its upcoming shows at its big March media event, it didn’t reveal anything on pricing.
I’m pleased to present the 478th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
We lead off this week discussing Roku’s strong Q2 ’19 results, including a 36% increase in player unit sales, which the company said was the highest in the growth in the past nine quarters. The results bucked industry research from Parks that Colin and I were just expressing surprise at on last week's podcast, which said streaming media player sales were leveling off. On top of brisk player sales, Roku continues to dramatically expand its platform revenues, which include ad sales and OS licensing.
Data from Conviva and Pixability this week provides additional evidence of connected TV’s rising viewing share. Finally this week, we explore the dynamics behind a recent Comcast Spotlight report showing TV usage increasing.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 44 seconds)
Streaming video hours were up 130% in Q2 ’19 vs. Q2 ’18 according to Conviva’s new State of the Streaming TV Industry report. Connected TVs led with 143% growth, followed by mobile (up 109%) and PC (up 75%). CTVs also led with 28.8 minutes of watch time per play, followed by PC with 15.1 minutes and mobile with 12 minutes.
Overall, CTVs accounted for 54% of all viewing hours in Q2 ’19, followed by mobile (23%), PC (14%) and others (8%). Roku continues to dominate the CTV category, with 43% of time viewing. Fire TV was a distant second at 18%, followed by Apple TV at 10% and Xbox at 9%. Roku also had the highest year-over-year growth rate in viewing hours, at 173%, with Fire TV next at 145%, and then Apple TV at 129%.