Welcome to the 554th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. This week we dig into the NFL’s new distribution deals with Amazon, CBS, ESPN, Fox and NBC, in the context of major changes that are happening in the TV and video industries.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the deals bring “an unprecedented era of stability” to the NFL. But as Colin explains there are at least three key challenges that are going to buffet the NFL and the TV networks in the years ahead: diminished pay-TV subscriptions, which are the dominant way to watch games; shift in ad budgets to CTV and digital, especially as linear audiences drop; ad loads in NFL games that are far heavier than what viewers are being conditioned to expect, suggesting the games themselves need to be shortened.
With a rumored $100 billion in distribution fees at stake, what do all of these challenges mean to the NFL and the networks?
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Click here to listen to the podcast (25 minutes, 19 seconds)
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.
Welcome to the 548th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Disney turned in yet another strong quarter of direct-to-consumer streaming growth, with 146.4 million subscribers at the end of its fiscal Q1. Disney+ added 21.2 million to reach 94.9 million subscribers. The only hiccup was that Hulu with Live TV dropped by 100K to 4 million subscribers. Colin and I dig into the numbers to better understand the trends revealed in the quarter.
Then we shift to discussing this past Sunday’s Super Bowl TV ratings which were down and streaming viewers which were up. We discuss what drove each - and add a little commentary about our favorite ads.
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Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 29 seconds)
The average minute audience for Super Bowl LV was a record 5.7 million viewers across all digital platforms according to data released by CBS Sports. This year’s streaming viewership was up approximately 67% from last year’s 3.4 million when the game was broadcast on Fox. It’s also over double the 2.6 million streaming viewers for the game two years ago, the last time it was broadcast by CBS.
CBS Sports also said that viewers consumed over one billion streaming minutes, a first for Super Bowl viewing. CBS All Access also enjoyed a record day for new subscribers, unique devices, streams and time spent viewing. The game featured lots of clever ads for Paramount+, which launches on March 4th and will fold in CBS All Access.
I’m pleased to present the 537th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
On this week’s podcast, Colin and I return to sports, one of our favorite topics over the years. This week we focus on Sinclair Broadcast Group’s $4.2 billion write-down of the value of its regional sports networks (RSN) group, which was acquired in May, 2019. Sinclair has specifically been adversely affected by virtual pay-TV operators dropping its RSNs, Covid, cord-cutting and other industry trends that are being felt throughout sports TV.
One of the beneficiaries of the industry’s restructuring is Roku, which reported a very strong Q3 ’20 yesterday. We wrap up the podcast touching on the highlights.
Click here to listen to the podcast (24 minutes, 42 seconds)
Sinclair Broadcast Group reported its Q3 ’20 results this morning, including a $4.2 billion write-down on goodwill associated with its regional sports networks (RSNs), which a Sinclair subsidiary acquired just 18 months ago, at a valuation of $10.6 billion. $8.2 billion, or 85% of the $9.6 billion RSNs’ purchase, was financed with debt.
The move means a stunning 40% of the deal’s value has been erased in very short order. The 21 RSNs were originally owned by Fox, but were assumed by Disney as part of the larger Disney-Fox takeover deal. Sinclair’s RSN devaluation is further proof of the shifting of the pay-TV industry and audience preferences.
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
The postponement and cancelation of every major sports league has created an entirely new reality for marketers and broadcasters alike. Sports have emerged as the absent center of the media landscape, one that has come to symbolize the disruption from COVID-19 in our industry.
It makes it easy to forget that, before the sudden pause, the value of live sports was coming under serious scrutiny. The NBA’s TV ratings were down dramatically. The Olympics, March Madness, MLB, and other marquee sports properties are demonstrating similar trends. Super Bowl ratings this year had inched upward - but it was the first time that had happened in five years, and the multi-year downward trend for the landmark game is unlikely to change course.
Across the board, traditionally reported sports TV ratings were down, and it all begs the still-pressing question: should networks and advertisers freak out?
Topics: 4C Insights
I’m pleased to present the 505th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
First up this week we discuss the PGA Tour’s $6.3 billion, nine-year rights deal announced this week with CBS, NBC/Golf Channel and ESPN+. The deal will reportedly generate $700 million in fees, up 75% from the current deal’s $400 million. Anyone looking to me to explain how the PGA managed to get this increase, despite so many factors that should have given the TV networks leverage, is going to be disappointed. I just don’t get it, but as a golf fan, it’s still lots of fun to talk about.
One thing is for certain - with the bulk of the new money going to the Tour’s players, the 2020s are going to be a very good period for them. As is to give a sneak preview, when this weekend’s PLAYERS Championship was cancelled after round 1 yesterday, half the purse of $15 million was divided evenly among the field of 144 players. So each player got $52,083, irrespective of how they played in round one. So if average round lasts 4 hours then they earned $13,020 per hour. Or if they shot par 72 they received $723 per shot (including gimme putts). Life is good.
ESPN+ popped up as the streaming partner in the new PGA deal, which provided a good opportunity for Colin to explain the remarkable turnaround Disney has effected with the network. ESPN is now in 98.1 million U.S. homes vs. 98.5 million in 2013. After dipping to 89.7 million in 2017, ESPN successfully negotiated its way onto all major virtual pay-TV operators’ lineups (8.9 million). And it cleverly bundled ESPN+ with Disney+ and Hulu (another 7.5 million) creating significant DTC optionality down the road.
Reviewing the new PGA deal and ESPN’s bounce back, we believe executives for both entities deserve to be on the Mount Olympus of media negotiators.
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Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 58 seconds)
There are so many dramas playing out in the TV/video business these days it’s hard to keep up. Cord-cutting, M&A, reorganizations, high-profile executive departures, product launches, discounted pricing, eye-popping A-lister salaries….the list goes on and on.
But one particularly intriguing drama that’s been catching my eye lately revolves around YouTube TV and the YES Network. As with everything in the TV/video business, the background is complicated, so here’s the high level cheat sheet:
I’m pleased to present the 503rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
First up on this week’s podcast, Colin shares details of Verizon Media’s new research on live sports streaming, which found that 53% of fans are paying for some type of extra subscription service. Also noteworthy is that two-thirds of respondents said DVR is a critical feature and that 39% use the DVR feature to skip ads.
These underscore how different the user experience is becoming between ad-free SVOD viewing and ad-heavy live sports viewing. Lots of fans seem to be willing to watch time-delayed just to avoid the ads. But we agree that connected TV is going to drive lots of innovation in both sports streaming and advertising/monetization going forward. On that topic, we also review Extreme Reach’s latest Video Benchmarks Report. Though CTV ad share settled around 50% in 2019, Colin and I see plenty of growth ahead - and accompanying innovation.
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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 485th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
On this week’s podcast we discuss highlights of a recently released sports and news consumer survey conducted by consulting firm Altman Vilandrie & Company. Catching our attention was how well virtual pay-TV operators are doing with regular sports viewers. This reflects how much emphasis vMVPDs have put on adding sports networks to their packages (and also indicates why their prices are rising).
There was a lot of other interesting data related to sports and news consumption by age, type of sports, different services and more in the survey.
If you’d like to learn more about the full survey results, contact Matt Del Percio at Altman Vilandrie & Company.
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I’m pleased to present the 453rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This past Sunday’s Super Bowl set the record for the lowest total score in the Big Game’s history, but it also set the highest record for number of people watching the action via the Internet. According to Colin’s excellent analysis, upward of 7 million people streamed some portion of the game. About 2.6 million did so via CBS and NFL digital properties. But per Colin’s calculations nearly twice as many watched via virtual pay-TV operators, which stream their services over the Internet. We both believe YouTube TV played a leading role.
So while the total TV audience watching shrunk to 98.2 million, its lowest level in over 10 years, the number of people who trusted the Internet to stream the action rose to a new high. We discuss the implications of this and the growing role virtual operators are playing now. We also observe how the Big Game’s advertising roster included SVOD providers and other digital-first companies, a sign of its ongoing superiority in reaching a mass audience.
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Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 36 seconds)
YouTube TV is back as this year’s World Series presenting sponsor and as with last year, Google’s skinny bundle is once again dominating. Watching the game last night (go Sox!) it was impossible to not be exposed to the brand and also some very creative elements of the “Watch like a fan” campaign.
YouTube TV renewed its World Series sponsorship for 2018 and 2019 with MLB back in March of this year. As with 2017, before the first pitch was thrown, there was a highly produced 90 second ad. At first it looked like a promo for various Fox networks, though when the Google Home demo popped in it became clear it was for YouTube TV.
I’m pleased to present the 435th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Escalating programming costs for pay-TV operators are a chronic issue. In the age of cord-cutting and proliferation of SVOD, offsetting these costs with rate increases is no longer an option. One new solution being proposed by AT&T Communications’ CEO John Donovan is “engagement pricing,” whereby TV networks would be paid based on viewers’ actual consumption.
As Colin explains, it’s a break from industry norms, and even with AT&T leveraging Warner Media’s networks, it will be very difficult to persuade other networks to follow suit. Why get paid on viewership when you’re already getting paid regardless of how many people watched?
We then shift to CBS Sports’ decision this week to stream Super Bowl LIII to mobile devices without requiring a pay-TV subscription. It’s another nudge toward opening up sports to non-subscribers, though Colin and I agree the vast majority of marquee sports will remain locked behind pay-TV subscriptions.
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CBS Sports announced yesterday that it will extend unauthenticated streaming of Super Bowl LIII to mobile devices. The move means that viewers do not need to have a pay-TV subscription in order to watch the game on mobile, nor do they need to have wireless service with Verizon, as has been required in past years.
It also means that mobile streaming will be on the same footing as desktop and connected TV viewing, both of which had unauthenticated access the last time CBS had the Super Bowl rights, in 2016. The game will also be available to CBS All Access subscribers.
I’m pleased to present the 425th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
On this week’s podcast we cover a number of topics, starting with AT&T’s newest skinny bundle offering, WatchTV, which is bonus feature for subscribers to 2 of its new unlimited wireless plans. Colin and discuss the implications for the industry as AT&T reshapes consumers’ perceptions of pay-TV as a standalone premium service to a supporting feature in their wireless plan.
We then turn to the World Cup, which is setting streaming records, even in the early matches. Colin shares the data and his personal experiences on quality, which have been very positive.
Next, we touch on Apple’s latest high-profile content deals, with Oprah Winfrey and Sesame Workshop. Apple’s continuing to spend through the $1 billion it allocated, but we still wonder, how is this A-list content going to be distributed and monetized? Finally we review Instagram’s new long-form video service, IGTV, which was announced this week. We’re both excited about its prospects, particularly relative to Facebook’s other video initiatives, which have been all over the board.
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Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 25 seconds)
Discovery has signed a 12-year, $2 billion deal with the PGA Tour for global multi-platform live rights in 220 markets outside the U.S. for all PGA Tour properties. The deal provides access to 150 tournaments per year (2,000 live hours) including high-profile events such as The PLAYERS Championship, the FedExCup Playoffs and the Presidents Cup (though I believe it excludes other marquee events such as the U.S. Open, the Open Championship, the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup which are outside the PGA Tour’s purview).
While Discovery will broadcast the tournaments on its various international cable and broadcast TV networks, the big potential upside in the deal is the new dedicated PGA Tour-branded OTT streaming service Discovery plans to build. The unnamed service, which will launch next year, will be another high-profile test of OTT’s ability to deliver direct-to-consumer benefits to super-fans as well as create incremental revenues.
It’s NBA All-Star weekend and for the first time, the league is offering free access to live-streamed interviews of players to TV networks, social media and other publishers in over 180 countries around the world. Half the interviews will occur today at 11:05am PT with the other half at 11:50am PT. The NBA views these interviews as a way of generating visibility for players in their home countries and bringing fans closer to the action.