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.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 29 seconds)
Welcome to the 544th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
Kids movies were a big part of the success of Disney+ in 2020, with the service having seven of the top 10 streaming movies, according to Nielsen. But as Colin and I discuss, Disney+ will be challenged this year by Netflix, HBO Max and others. With theaters still running at low capacity due to Covid, 2021 is setting up as a game-changing year for streaming movies.
Separate, this week AT&T pulled the plug on its AT&T TV Now virtual pay-TV service, which at one point a couple years ago led the category with nearly 2 million subscribers (when it was called DirecTV Now). Colin and I examine what went wrong and why AT&T shifted its strategy so dramatically.
Click here to listen to the podcast (25 minutes, 13 seconds)
When I originally gave Disney+ a test run a little over a year ago, following its launch, I wrote that “Disney+ is a Winner.” Then, when Disney announced this past February that Disney+ had already accumulated 28.6 million subscribers, I wrote “Now It’s Really Official: Disney+ is a Winner.”
So what to say after last week’s Disney Investor Day, where it was announced that Disney+ is now up to a staggering 86.8 million subscribers? How many different ways can you say something is a winner? What seems more relevant is that Disney+ is likely to keep on winning, for years to come, totally transforming the Walt Disney Company, the streaming market and the broader media and entertainment industries.
The U.S. pay-TV business performed better than expected in Q3 ’20, with top providers “only” losing around 120K subscribers, according to data compiled by Leichtman Research Group. The results would have been even stronger if a portion of YouTube TV’s one million subscriber additions in 2020 are attributed to Q3 specifically.
Google didn’t break out how many of YouTube TV’s additions came in Q3, but given the return of major sports during the quarter, it’s probably fair to assume at least 500K-600K. Add those to Hulu + Live TV’s 700K additions in Q3 and just these two virtual pay-TV providers may have accounted for 1.2 to 1.3 million additions. That would be enough to more than offset the approximately 1.15 million subscriber losses that the largest cable, satellite and telco pay-TV providers incurred.
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.
Bloomberg reported Friday that Disney has curtailed Hulu’s international expansion because Disney does not want to significantly increase Hulu’s valuation which would trigger a higher eventual payout to minority owner Comcast. Hulu’s valuation in early 2024 will set the payout Disney owes Comcast for its one-third share in Hulu under a deal struck in May, 2019. Comcast’s Hulu stake is worth at least $5.8 billion under the deal.
Bloomberg said that Hulu’s late 2019 proposal to Disney to expand internationally was initially supported, but then in August 2020 Disney switched gears and decided to embrace Star as the international brand for its non-U.S. entertainment service. Disney acquired Star, the India media company, as part of its $71 billion Fox deal. Bloomberg also cited Disney’s concerns about extending Hulu’s losses, Covid’s negative impact on Disney’s various businesses, and its commitment of resources to Disney+’s international expansion as other reasons it decided not to support Hulu’s international expansion.
I’m pleased to present the 529th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
This week Colin and I try to scope out whether Disney’s recent PVOD release of Mulan on Disney+ was successful. Disney was looking to both generate PVOD revenues and new Disney+ subscribers. Though it’s hard to discern from available sources exactly what the results were, it seems reasonable to conclude that Mulan wasn’t a home run. But it still seems like the right strategy for Disney to have pursued.
What does this mean for Disney’s next move in PVOD and PVOD in general as Covid limitations continue? Listen in to learn more.
Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 28 seconds)
I’m pleased to present the 526th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. We hope all our listeners are staying well.
Disney reported its Q3 ’20 results this week, swinging to a $5 billion loss as the pandemic hit multiple parts of the company. The sole bright spot was direct-to-consumer streaming where Disney now has over 100 million subscribers between Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+. Disney emphasized how critical DTC is to its future and plans to launch Star as an international SVOD brand while Hulu will remain a domestic brand.
On today’s podcast Colin and I discuss the remarkable pivot Disney has made toward DTC in just the past couple of years, and what’s ahead. We’re enthusiastic about the premium opportunities Disney has, starting with the “Mulan” PVOD option coming soon, as Disney+ begins to look more like a membership with various exclusive offers.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 28 seconds)
Disney reported Q3 ’20 earnings yesterday, saying it now has over 100 million streaming subscribers globally (Disney+ with 60.5 million, up from 57.5 million at the end of the quarter, Hulu with 35.5 million and ESPN+ with 8.5 million). New Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke enthusiastically on the earnings call about the role that direct-to-consumer streaming services are already having on the company and said it “plans to accelerate the push into the direct-to-consumer marketplace” which will be detailed further in an upcoming investor day.
A key component of the push will be the launch of an international DTC general entertainment service in 2021 using the Star brand that Disney inherited as part of its 21st Century Fox acquisition. The new streaming service will have owned content from ABC Studios, Fox Television, FX, Freeform, 20th Century Studios and Searchlight. It will also be closely promoted with Disney+ and leverage Disney+’s technology platform.
Disney announced that Disney+ now has 50 million paid subscribers, a little less than 5 months since it launched, on November 13. Disney last reported it had 28.6 million subscribers on February 3rd. So since that date, Disney+ has added another 21.4 million. Beyond the staggering growth - from zero to 50 million subscribers in less than 5 months - what’s also remarkable is that the average daily subscriber growth for Disney+ is highly consistent across the two reporting periods (November 13 to February 3 and February 4 - April 7)
In the first reporting period, which included approximately 84 days, an average of 340,476 subscribers were added per day. In the second reporting period, which included approximately 64 days, an average of 334,375 subscribers were added per day. That’s just a 1.8% average daily decline from period one to period two.
I’m pleased to present the 500th(!) edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
On today’s podcast, Colin is still mopping up his tears from the 49ers’ heartbreaker last Sunday night, but is being a good sport about the loss. He quickly recaps the game’s streaming audience and shares his insights.
This week’s main topics are Disney+ and YouTube. Coincidentally, this week we all got a first look at both of their performances, in Disney’s and Alphabet’s earnings reports, respectively. The headline from Disney+ was clearly the 28.6 million subscribers reported after just 84 days after launching - a noteworthy accomplishment by any standard. We discuss how sticky those subs are (i.e. what will the churn rate be?) and what Disney+ will need to do from here to keep up momentum.
Then we shift to YouTube; we’re both a little surprised that YouTube TV only has 2 million subscribers given how much advertising around marquee sports it has done (by comparison, Hulu Live had 3.2 million at the end of 2019). Nevertheless we are both quite bullish about YouTube going forward, particularly if Google decides to hold off price increases for some time and cord-cutting continues to accelerate. I believe the company as a whole could crack $25 billion in revenue in 2020.
(Apologies - Colin’s audio quality isn’t very good this week, we’re working to fix for future podcasts.)
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (27 minutes, 11 seconds)
Back on November 13th, the day that Disney+ launched, I wrote, “Disney+ is a Winner.” I went on to describe my first experiences with the new service - the seamless sign-up process, extensive content, impressive UX (modeled mainly on best practices gleaned from other streaming services like Netflix), ability to download content for mobile use, etc.
My main takeaway then was: “Disney+ is a winner. Period. End of story. It will have millions of subscribers by the end of this holiday season, and a multiple of that a year from now. As international markets roll out, the millions will multiply again, many times.” In other words - although I’ll be the first to say that there are no guarantees with anything in life - Disney+, with its ridiculously low $7/mo price (and free for certain Verizon Wireless subscribers) - looked as close to a sure thing as I’d seen in a long, long time.
With Disney’s fiscal first quarter earnings report yesterday, it became official, Disney+ IS a winner. Period. End of Story. Disney reported having 26.5 million subscribers at the quarter’s end, Dec. 28th in the U.S and Canada. Since then Disney+ has gained another 2.1 million subscribers to be at 28.6 million as of this past Monday, Feb. 3rd.
Now that NBCU has revealed its launch plan, pricing and forecast for the Peacock streaming service, some quick math shows how much Comcast missed out on by not buying out Disney’s stake in Hulu. VideoNuze readers will recall this is what I proposed back in May 2018 (“Why Comcast Should Take Control of Hulu”) when Comcast and Disney battled to take over Fox. With Disney and Comcast each owning around 30% of Hulu at the time, as well as Fox owning around 30% and AT&T 10%, it was clear that whoever ultimately bought Fox would assume majority ownership of Hulu.
At the time I articulated all the reasons why, as part of any deal Comcast might make to step away from Fox, it should negotiate to take control of Hulu. Instead Comcast prioritized Sky (which it ultimately bought for $39 billion) and made a subsequent deal with Disney to sell off its Hulu stake. Disney also acquired AT&T’s approximately 10% stake in Hulu, making it Hulu’s 100% owner. Taken together, the moves make Disney CEO Bob Iger look like a genius, even if Disney was overcoming a late entry into the streaming party.
Comcast could have likely acquired the 70% or so of Hulu it didn’t own for around $13-15 billion, based on the $5.8 billion Disney ended up paying Comcast for its 30% share (Comcast also has an upside based on Hulu’s valuation in 2024) Comcast could have done this in reverse. All of this is assuming Disney would have sold its share to Comcast. My hunch is there was a deal to be had if Comcast had said it wouldn’t bid up Fox’s valuation, in turn saving Disney billions of dollars. All in all, it would have been a very modest deal for a company Comcast’s size.
I think all of my original reasons why Comcast should have acquired Hulu still stand up pretty well a year and a half later. But now some quick math also reveals that acquiring could have generated nearly $6 billion/year for Comcast and NBCU and the springboard it could have become for Peacock, before even factoring in cost savings. I suppose it is worth keeping in mind that had the deal gone the other way, Comcast wouldn’t have received the $5.8 billion for its share in Hulu, but then again Comcast didn’t need the cash, so does that really matter?
In my view there are 5 key things to understand, 3 that relate to subscription revenue and 2 that relate to advertising revenue.
I’m pleased to present the 495th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
In today’s podcast, our final one for 2019, Colin and I share our top 10 video stories of the year. Whether you agree or disagree with our top 10 (or the ordering), no doubt we can all agree it’s been quite an eventful year for the industry. But as busy as 2019 has been, 2020 is setting up to be a year of even more innovation and change.
As always, Colin and I have had a ton of fun discussing all of the industry’s happenings each week, and we hope you enjoyed following along throughout the year.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (33 minutes, 10 seconds)
I’m pleased to present the 493rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
First up this week we return to the topic of “spinning” SVOD services, which I wrote about and Colin and I discussed on last week’s podcast. “Spinning” is the idea that subscribers will dip in and out of SVOD services to manage their monthly expenditures. Colin and I were at TVOT this week and on a panel Colin moderated spinning came up. We discuss our key takeaways.
Another topic that came up was where Disney+ pricing will go in the future, which we discuss (I think the only direction is up).
Last up we talk briefly about Cheddar’s monetization strategy. Colin did a good interview with Melissa Rosenthal, EVP at Cheddar, about the company’s success with native advertising.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (22 minutes, 45 seconds)
Disney+ launched yesterday and I spent some time with it on my iPad and 60-inch Roku TV. My main takeaway: Disney+ is a winner. Period. End of story. It will have millions of subscribers by the end of this holiday season, and a multiple of that a year from now. As international markets roll out, the millions will multiply again, many times. Anyone’s growth estimates are just that, because how big and quickly Disney+ grows are mainly functions of how much marketing firepower Disney puts behind Disney+. Based on everything we’ve seen so far, Disney is pulling out all the stops.
Last week, the WSJ ran two articles that underscore how Disney is navigating new terrain as it prepares to launch Disney+ in November. The articles also showcase how convoluted relationships among major media and technology companies are going to become over fights for shifting leverage.
One article described how Disney has continued to ban advertising from Netflix on its entertainment TV networks (ESPN is still ok) even though it will accept ads from other SVOD providers. The other article described Disney’s negotiations with Amazon over how much ad inventory Amazon should be allocated to sell in Disney’s apps that run on Fire TV. The article noted no deal at all has been reached for Disney+ to be carried on Fire TV, as the SVOD service’s launch date nears.
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.
Comcast and Disney have announced a deal under which Comcast can effectively transition out of its 33% ownership stake in Hulu beginning in January 2024. The exit can occur at either Disney’s or Comcast’s instigation and at an assessed market value of Hulu that won’t be less than $27.5 billion. That means Comcast’s 33% stake could be worth approximately $9.1 billion though that could be reduced to a minimum of $5.8 billion if Comcast doesn’t fund any of Hulu’s capital needs between now and January 2024.