Posts for 'Hulu'

  • CTV Advertising Likely Played a Big Part in Disney+ Being Bundled With Hulu + Live TV

    Late last week Disney told its Hulu + Live TV subscribers that Disney+ and ESPN+ would be bundled starting Dec. 21st, and that their rate would be increasing by $5 per month. Coming off an anemic fiscal Q4 ’21 in which Disney+ added just 2.1 million subscribers, the lowest by far since launching in late 2019, the intra-company move meant the automatic addition of 4 million Hulu + Live TV subscribers to Disney+’s total in one magical wave of CEO Bob Chapek’s wand.

    I received a number of emails from VideoNuze readers to the effect of “that kind of corporate trickery doesn’t feel like a positive sign for Disney+.” I don’t dispute that there’s merit to that line of thinking, but I’d discount it. The step up in Disney+ subscribers in fiscal Q1 ’22 will be so delineated that it means Wall Street won’t give Disney+ any credit for it because investors are tunnel-visioned on Disney+’s organic growth heading in 2022 (that’s kind of what happens when an SVOD service goes from a standing start to 118 million subscribers in less than two years…expectations become quite high).

    I’d assert that the tunnel vision on Disney+’s growth is causing under appreciation of what may be a far more important driver of Disney’s decision to bundle Disney+: Hulu’s burgeoning opportunity in connected TV advertising.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: For Comcast and Peacock, It’s Time to Go Big or Go Home

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    On Comcast’s Q3 ’21 earnings call, management was vague about how Peacock is performing. In Corporate America, not highlighting numbers is typically a sign that things are not going as well as hoped and/or the numbers are not as impressive, comparably speaking, as those of competitors. A round of speculation about Peacock’s performance and what might happen next has ensued.

    On this week’s podcast, Colin and I try to explain what we think is happening. The hard truth for Peacock is that it came to market very late and that it is competing against well-funded and highly aggressive competitors which are spending heavily on originals and on promotions - a commitment that Comcast/NBCUniversal have not publicly committed to match. Another issue - at least relative to Paramount+/Showtime, which gained 4.3 million subscribers in Q3 - is that Peacock doesn’t include NBC’s linear feed, and also doesn’t specialize in mature content, which has a strong draw. These two benefits (and “Star Trek”) have no doubt helped Paramount+/Showtime. Yet another issue is that popular NBC programming continues to be available in Hulu.

    All of these factors, and others, are limiting Peacock’s appeal. As if that wasn’t enough, Comcast has mixed incentives related to Hulu, because it still has a 30% stake that is getting more valuable by the day, as Netflix stock hits new highs. Comcast is financially disincented from harming Hulu by pulling programming to help Peacock (all of this would have been moot if only Comcast had acquired Hulu when it had the chance back in 2018). Comcast has missed out on billions in additional revenue and value creation.

    In short, Comcast/NBCU are now facing a dilemma with Peacock that can be boiled down to: Go Big or Go Home. Either commit to spending what's required to compete effectively (either at the AVOD or SVOD level), or recognize Peacock is going to keep treading water and will likely never break out. It’s a tough decision, but it reflects the penalty late entrants face, especially when squaring off against competitors like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, HBO Max, etc.

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  • Inside the Stream Podcast: Google Fiber TV is Retired, Linear TV Ratings Fall, SVOD Churn is Stable and Much More

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    Rather than focus on just one story this week as we usually do, today we do segments on 5 different stories that caught our attention. First we pick up on last week’s podcast about the dustup between YouTube TV and NBCUniversal. The companies avoided going over the cliff together and managed to extend their relationship. But it is a harbinger of more fights between networks and virtual (and traditional) pay-TV operators as the size of the pie continues to shrink due to cord-cutting.

    Then Colin and I have a spirited debate about Google’s Fiber TV, which is being retired, and the broader question of whether Google Fiber’s 1 gigabit per second broadband service is a worthwhile product offering (Colin thinks it is and I think it isn’t, and I haven’t since it launched way back in February, 2010, see “Google’s Fiber-to-the-Home Experiment Could Cost $750 Million or More.” Also see "Google Fiber is Out of Synch With Realities of Typical Consumer Technology Adoption" from July, 2012 and "No Surprise, Google Fiber is Falling Short of Expectations" from August, 2016.)

    From there we discuss the steep drop in L7 TV ratings that has continued in the first week of this Fall season. But even at these depressed levels, I assert that the most popular broadcast TV shows like “NCIS” still draw audiences that may likely be bigger than the first 7 days following the drop of a popular show on a big SVOD service like Netflix. Related, we discuss new Kantar data on SVOD churn in Q2. For more insight, have a look at my post from November, 2019, “Will Spinning Video Subscriptions Become a Thing?”

    Finally, there’s a game of musical chairs happening in our industry and this week’s move by Kelly Campbell from president of Hulu to president of Peacock is just the latest example. We discuss why these executives’ shuffling matters to all of us as consumers.

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  • Report: SVOD Market Fragments Following New Service Launches

    The U.S. SVOD market has undergone significant fragmentation over the past two years as new services have launched, according to the Q1 2021 Growth Report from Antenna, an SVOD insights provider. In Q1 ’19, Netflix and Hulu together accounted for over three-quarters (78%) of all SVOD subscriptions. But two years later, in Q1 ’21, their combined share fell to just over half (51%), with Disney taking 17%, HBO Max 11%, Paramount+ 7%, Starz 6%, Showtime 4% and discovery+, Peacock and Apple TV+ all at 2%.

    Antenna didn’t report Amazon Prime Video numbers. Amazon said in its Q1 ’21 earnings report that 175 million Prime members have streamed TV shows and movies in the past year, though it didn’t provide any breakdown of U.S. share vs. rest of world.

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  • New Deals Highlight Distribution’s Ongoing Role

    While lots of attention in 2020 focused on direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming services, deals announced this first business day of 2021  are a reminder how important third-party distribution remains for premium content. The names and roles of some of these new distributors are different than in the past, but they all underscore how even in a DTC world, third-party partnerships are critical to success.

    For example, Discovery highlighted the growing importance of device makers as distribution partners for its DTC discovery+ service which is now live, announcing deals today with Amazon (Fire TV), Apple (iOS devices and Apple TV), Google (Android, Chromecast, Android TV), Microsoft (Xbox), Roku and Samsung (smart TVs).

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  • Cord-Cutting Slows in Q3 as Virtual TV Providers Jump

    Cord-cutting slowed down in Q3 ’20, with top pay-TV providers in the U.S. losing around 120K subscribers, according to Leichtman Research Group. These pay-TV providers account for about 95% of total pay-TV subscribers in the U.S. In Q3 ’19, on a pro forma basis, this group of providers lost approximately 945K subscribers.

    While top traditional pay-TV providers all improved their performance in this year’s third quarter, a key driver of overall industry performance was virtual pay-TV providers, which recorded their best quarter ever. According to LRG, four of the virtuals (Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, AT&T TV Now and fuboTV) collectively added 1.035 million subscribers in Q3 '20. Hulu + Live TV was by far the biggest contributor, with 700K additions, making it now the fifth largest pay-TV provider with 4.1 million subscribers.

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  • Report: Disney Curtailed Hulu’s International Expansion on Valuation Concerns

    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.

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  • Hulu is Likely to Remain Domestic Brand as Disney Plans Star International Launch

    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.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #522: Linear TV Adapts with New Distribution Models

    I’m pleased to present the 522nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. For all our listeners especially in states seeing a spike in Covid, we hope you’re staying safe.

    There were several examples this week of how linear TV is continuing to adapt in the OTT/CTV era which Colin and I discuss. Top on the list is Comcast’s decision to offer the Sling TV app for its Xfinity Flex broadband-only users. Comcast has been adding broadband subscribers and losing video subscribers for a while and the move seems to signal Comcast wants to enhance the competitiveness of Flex, giving cord-cutters an inexpensive option to rejoin the pay-TV world.

    The bar for Flex is getting higher partly due to Fire TV which this week unveiled content discovery integrations with YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV and Sling TV. The integrations make accessing linear TV seamless within one UI, and will drive virtual pay-TV subscriptions within the Fire TV base.

    Listen in to learn more about how linear and “virtual linear” TV are adapting to find viewers!
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  • Quick Math Shows Comcast Missed Out On Almost $6 Billion in Revenue By Not Buying the Rest of Hulu

    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.

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  • “Peak TV” and Why Many Entertainment-Oriented Cable TV Networks Will Morph Into Studios in the Long-Term

    There was nothing surprising when I read last week’s coverage of FX CEO John Landgraf’s tally of original productions in 2019. According to Landgraf, the number of original dramas, comedies and limited series across all SVOD and TV networks in the U.S. reached a new high of 532 (approximately what he previously predicted). That was up from 495 in 2018, 487 in 2017 and just 182 in the pre-SVOD days of 2002.

    This dynamic, which Landgraf has dubbed “Peak TV,” is leading many, if not most, ad-supported entertainment-oriented cable TV networks onto a road to nowhere if their goal is to remain ad-supported entertainment-oriented cable TV networks in the long-term. What is far more likely is that being this type of network will become unviable and so they’ll morph into studios that provide premium original and library content, mostly for bigger platforms (e.g. Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Hulu, etc.) and sometimes for their parent companies’ direct-to-consumer OTT services.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #495: The Top 10 Video Stories of 2019

    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!

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #492: Will Hulu Start a SVOD Spinning Trend?

    I’m pleased to present the 492nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week Colin and I discuss my post from earlier this week, “Will Spinning Video Subscriptions Become a Thing?” which highlighted Hulu’s explicit offer to subscribers to switch (or spin) between its Live TV and ad-supported SVOD service. Hulu made the offer to mitigate a $10 per month rate increase it announced on its Live TV service.

    Colin and I examine the pros and cons of SVOD services explicitly pitching spinning as a value proposition and whether it will take hold. Related, Colin also raises the interesting point that with the SVOD landscape getting more crowded, it might be beneficial for SVOD providers to offer smaller bite-sized on-ramps to start customer relationships (e.g. weekend passes, pre-paid credits, etc.) as we’ve seen in other industries.

    SVOD is entering a significant period of transition, and from our perspectives, all ideas are going to be on the table to attract and retain subscribers.
    Listen in to learn more!

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  • Will Spinning Video Subscriptions Become a Thing?

    We all know about the proliferation of subscription streaming services (Disney+, Apple TV+, soon Peacock, HBO Max, all in addition to Netflix, etc.). Each service is investing heavily and wants to become a core part of our video behavior, entrenching itself as an unquestioned line item on our credit card statements.

    Achieving that status is nirvana because inertia is a powerful force; once achieved, a subscriber needs to not only have an ah-ah recognition moment, but then follow it up with action to drop the service (figuring out how to do alone could be too much for many - find a cancellation link, an 800 number to call, etc.). For example, ever wonder how many people don’t check their statements closely and still pay for unused AOL dial-up service years since they’ve used it? I’m guessing it would be shocking.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #486: Hulu Enables Downloads; Disney-Amazon Clash

    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!

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  • Hulu Offers Downloading to iOS Devices

    Hulu announced yesterday that video downloading is now available for its Hulu (No Ads) subscribers. For now the feature will only work with iOS devices, though Hulu said it will be coming soon to Android users. The download feature was first teased at Hulu’s NewFront presentation in May, 2018.

    Hulu said at the time that downloading would be available for subscribers to its $5.99/month plan that includes ads. Hulu’s head of ad sales Peter Naylor confirmed in his keynote interview at the VideoNuze Ad Summit this past May that about 70% of its subscribers are on the ad-supported plan. So that means only the 30% taking the Hulu (No Ads) service, which is $11.99/month will be able to use the download feature, at least for now. There was no word on whether downloading will come to Hulu with Live TV, the company’s virtual pay-TV service.

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  • Interview with Hulu’s SVP and Head of Advertising Sales Peter Naylor [VIDEO]

    Hulu is on the forefront of virtually every major streaming video trend, so the company’s success is a model for others to watch closely. At the 9th annual VideoNuze Video Advertising Summit on May 29th, we were privileged to have Hulu’s SVP and Head of Advertising Sales Peter Naylor as our keynote guest, who I interviewed.

    Peter said that having a “viewer first” approach has been critical for Hulu. That means being respectful of the viewer experience, providing choice and control and capping ad pods at 90 seconds, among other things. Of Hulu’s 82 million monthly viewers, 58 million of them subscribe to a tier that includes ads.

    Peter talks at length about his experience with advertisers and agencies and where they are on the learning curve of moving traditional TV budgets into streaming. He also cites direct-to-consumer, digital-native brands as leaders in being data and attribution focused, aligning them well with Hulu. We cover lots of other topics as well.

    For anyone interested in learning how Hulu is driving change across the video landscape and what’s ahead, the interview is must-see.

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  • Comcast to Transition Out of Hulu Under New Deal With Disney

    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.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #465: Hulu Is In the Video Industry’s Sweet Spot

    I’m pleased to present the 465th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Hulu is in the video industry’s sweet spot. A hybrid ad-supported brand-safe streaming service, now with 28 million subscribers. The best opportunity TV advertisers have to recapture young TV-watching audiences who are the biggest cord-cutters. Disney as its primary owner which itself is all in on streaming, willing to support Hulu’s land grab investments in original programming and marketing. And perhaps the biggest growth driver yet to come: bundling with Disney+ starting later this year.

    On this week’s podcast Colin and I talk about all of the above (and a few challenges Hulu still faces).

    If you want to learn more about Hulu’s success, come to the 9th annual Video Advertising Summit for my keynote interview with Hulu’s SVP and Head of Ad Sales Peter Naylor!

    Listen in to learn more!

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  • Hulu Tops 28 Million Subscribers as Viewership Surges

    Hulu announced this morning that it has topped 28 million subscribers, with 26.8 million paid and 1.3 million promotional (Hulu operates both ad-supported/ad-free SVOD services and Hulu Live TV but didn’t provide a breakdown). Hulu added 7.5 million paid subscribers in 2018. Viewership also intensified with average time spent per subscriber up over 20% in 2018 and total hours watched per subscriber up 75%. Importantly, 80% of Hulu’s viewing occurs in the living room.

    While Netflix has become the market leader in ad-free OTT viewing,  Hulu has become the clear market leader in hybrid ad-supported premium OTT viewing. This is an extremely valuable place to be as cord-cutting accelerates and advertisers seek out viewer-friendly and targetable environments for their TV ad budgets. Hulu made a very smart move earlier this year, actually cutting the price of their ad-supported SVOD service by $2, to $6 per month, which no doubt is continuing to add to subscriber growth. A deal with Spotify announced in March to give Spotify Premium subscribers access to Hulu's ad-supported service is also likely having an early impact.

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