Paying for Content with Data Instead of Dollars

If the TV advertising market is around $80 billion in the U.S., and worldwide revenues for all streaming services are around $21 billion, how will the streaming business model evolve to compete? That was the question posed by John Penney, EVP, strategic partnerships, Twentieth Century Fox during the panel “Consumer Preferences for Personalized Content Viewing” at CES 2017 on Monday. The answer, according to the panelists, is today’s viewers are paying with data instead of dollars.

Advertising vs. the Skinny Bundle

According to a Consumer Technology Association (CTA) study in 2017, more than half of U.S. consumers watch streaming content every day. 75% of U.S. adults reported that they pay for TV subscriptions, and 53% pay for streaming services, said Lesley Rohrbaugh, senior manager, market research, for the CTA. “In total, more than 37% of the general population have paid TV and streaming services.”

These viewers are watching on a variety of devices, and the data consumers are providing is giving publishers and brands the ability to provide free content in exchange for finding out much more about their viewers than the TV environment ever did. However, things are still in the early adopter stage in many perspectives, where viewers tend to be younger and more tech savvy. “From the content side, it’s critical that you all remember the world can’t just shift to subscription content,” said Penney. “(They) can’t just shift to streaming because there’s not enough money in that overall.”

“When you disconnect from an established bundle with an MPVD and add broadband costs into the mix, many consumers are finding that the price is actually higher than they want. [We’ve] seen a lot of SVOD services come and go in the last year as a result,” said Eric Berger, CDO, Sony Pictures Television Networks and GM of Crackle. Crackle provides ad-supported content on 25-30 different applications.

“Crackle happens to be a free service, and the logic behind that is that there’s always room for free in your personal bundle,” said Berger. “There’s a lot of free ad-supported services that are growing quite quickly (to address this).” However, as any viewer knows, free so far has meant either a heavy ad load or a request for personal information.

The Cost of Free

Are consumers selling their souls, or at least their personal information, for access to the content they want? Yes. “We have the ability to reach a consumer at a specific point in time, at a specific location, with a specific service, through a specific technology,” said Jonathan Steuer, chief research officer, Omnicom Media Group. The challenge is to be able to do so without creeping out the customer. One audience member asked how much data should they provide and the panel said there’s no formula, but more is generally better.

The benefit of providing personal information to the viewer is being able to save things in a que, pause and resume across different devices, in different locations for Crackle viewers. Crackle introduced the singe-ad ad pod for binge viewers. “A Nielsen labs study found it had six times the brand recall and seven times the purchase intent of a regular linear TV ad,” said Berger.

Different Strategies for Different Generations

The comfort level on the data transaction is proving to be generational. “Boomers didn’t expect there to be a world of targeted advertising at all. So every new step (to provide information) matters a lot to them,” said Steuer. Therefore, easier to lose them by being too confusing or asking for too much.

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Study: Ad Insertion Placement Costing OTT Publishers Big Revenue

Over the Top (OTT) streaming services offered up by subscription and advertising video on demand (SVOD & AVOD) companies risk significant revenue seepage as a result of a poor advertising experience, new research has found.

New research by Stable Research of 1,000 consumers of streamed video content in Australia found almost 46 per cent of viewers would switch off as a result of poor ad serving; with a further 28 per cent saying they would only tolerate poor ad insertion if the show were something they were desperate to watch. Only eight per cent would tolerate poor ad serving.

The research was commissioned by OTT streaming technologies, Australian-based Switch Media, which late last year expanded into the US market off the back of keen interest from global OTT players.

Switch Media co-founder and CEO, Christopher Stenhouse, said while streaming services have taken off throughout the world, the research shows that consumers are unhappy with the way advertising is served across the variety of services on offer.

“Four in 10 respondents had advertising insertion as one of their major complaints of streaming services,” Stenhouse said. “The only issue that was cause for greater complaints was buffering.

“The dissatisfaction is something we believe is a universal problem particularly where client-side ad insertion is used. With this insertion method, the latency often results in an ad being served too late or too early.

“Server-side ad insertion, such as our AdEase technology, delivers a seamless, TV-like experience that defeats ad blockers and provides a more reliable play out of complete ads, therefore eliminating much ad-frustration by consumers.

“The research is clear; if consumers are frustrated by the way advertising is inserted, they will switch off and, as a result, broadcasters will be forgoing significant revenue.”

The results also showed:

Only one-in-five consumers are opposed to advertising being shown on streamed services, with 43 per cent saying while they don’t like advertising, they tolerate it;
And most consumers (61 per cent) preferred advertisers to play longer advertising as opposed to a number of shorter adverts.

Stenhouse said Switch Media’s breakthrough AdEase technology avoids the need for a client’s ad enabled media to be re-ingested into Switch Media’s system before delivery to the viewer’s device, unlike other server-side solutions in the market.

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Global SVOD’s assault on cultural identity

At the Future TV Conference in Copenhagen, delegates wrestled with strategies to compete with global video providers such as Netflix. However, underlying these discussions was a deeper concern: global SVOD’s impact on the cultural identity of the country.

Denmark’s youth leaving TV behind

Just as in the US and UK, Danish kids are spending increasing time with streaming services, and much less time watching regular TV. 15-29-year-olds halved their daily TV viewing between 2011 and 2016, going from just over 3 hours to just under 1.5 hours.

This dramatic decline has been accompanied by strong growth in the use of streaming services, and particularly U.S. based Netflix and YouTube. Between 2014 and 2016, the number of 7-12-years-olds using YouTube daily increased from 38% to 70%. Netflix daily users almost double over the same period, from 13% to 25%.

At the same time, traditional television brands lost their luster. Kids using DR Ultra daily fell from 28% to 22%. Disney channels suffered even more, falling from 36% to 24%.

When asking Danes which video service they would miss the most, the divide between young and old becomes stark. Those in the age range 3-to-39-years strongly favor Netflix and YouTube over traditional television channels. 20% said they would miss Netflix the most, 18% opted for YouTube. Only 6% of 40-59-year-olds said the same.

Conversely, just 16% of the under-39s said that they would miss DR TV channels the most. Whereas for older Danes these channels remain a vital ingredient of their entertainment diet, with 35% saying they would miss them the most.

Children’s habits are set for life

There is a growing realization that the young, and specifically today’s children growing up in the connected-screen era, are unlikely to return to traditional television. These children simply don’t understand the concept of having to wait for anything that they want to watch. DR, the public broadcaster in Denmark, put it this way:

“It is impossible to imagine that the present generation of children – when they become adults – will give away the control, make themselves comfortable in the sofa and wait for their favourite programme to be scheduled on a traditional TV channel.”

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Three ways Netflix continues to set the pace in SVOD

Netflix dominating the competition in usage

New user data from Netflix suggests the service is watched much more than competitor services. The company reports that on an average day it delivers 125 million hours of video to its approximately 100 million members. That works out to an hour and quarter per day per subscriber. It also says that the busiest day ever occurred on January 8th 2017, when the company streamed 250 million hours. That’s two-and-a-half hours of video per subscriber.

Though Netflix has not broken out this data regionally, there’s reason to believe that usage is much higher in established markets like the U.S., Canada, and the UK. For example, one of the most popular devices to stream Netflix on is a Roku set-top box. In December, Roku said that it’s 14.5M active users watched 1 billion hours of video and music. That’s 2 hours and 24 minutes per day. The company says that the average active user streamed an hour-and-three-quarters a day in 2016.

Combining Netflix and Roku data suggests SVOD leader absorbs the lions’ share of streaming on Roku set-top boxes. It also implies usage of all other streaming services, including Amazon Video and Hulu, doesn’t even come close.

Taking anchor tenant status in consumer entertainment mix

Consumers are migrating video consumption to connected platforms. Over the last three years, the average U.S. consumers has increased connected device viewing from 257 minutes per week to 388. The Roku and Netflix usage data suggests that as people shift their viewing, Netflix is the first service they turn to. Sanford and Bernstein media analyst Todd Juenger agrees. He says that Netflix has become the anchor tenant of consumer online video offerings.

Being anchor tenant is a coveted spot in a consumer’s video portfolio. Consumers will pay for anchor tenant services month-in-and-month-out. Chances are they will only have a few of these. Perhaps one for scripted shows, another for movies, and one more for live sports. All other services likely will be subscribed to as needed, and then dropped at other times.

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64% of Adults Use an SVOD Service, up 8%

Subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) viewing is increasing at a fast rate, with 63.8 percent of adults now using a service. That shows an increase of 8.4 percent from the previous year.

That data comes from TiVo’s Q4 2017 pay TV and online video trend report, which used a third-party company to survey 3,079 adults 18 and over in the U.S. and Canada.

The most popular SVOD is Netflix with 52.8 percent of those surveyed, followed by Amazon Prime with 26.3 percent and Hulu with 11.8 percent.

People are overwhelmingly happy with their SVOD’s selection: 92.5 percent watch SVOD content daily, a year-over-year increase of 2.3 percent, and they’re watching more content on a daily basis than they did previous year. Also, 81.2 percent are happy with their ability to find SVOD content they want to watch, showing a slight year-over-year improvement.

The majority of SVOD subscribers (55.6 percent) pay between $6 and $14 per month. But many would like more of a deal: 68.0 percent said if Netflix or Hulu offered a free tier with commercials, they would consider using it. This number shows a slight decrease from the previous quarter. Of the 32.0 percent who wouldn’t consider a free commercial-sponsored tier, 85.1 percent don’t even want commercials targeted to their interests.

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The Grand Tour hits UK SVOD pole position

Having gone all in on taking Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May to its online video channel, Amazon is celebrating success with The Grand Tour among UK subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) viewers.

According to SVOD content tracking and analysis research from GfK, The Grand Tour was the most viewed title in both November and December 2016, attracting the biggest audience reach for an Amazon show in the UK since GfK’s tracking service began in 2015. It also became the most streamed show on Amazon in November 2016, accounting 8% of all the online video streams watched. The following month, that increased to 17% of all streams viewed, nearly double that of the second placed title, The Man in the High Castle.

Attempting to explain the reasons for the spike, GfK noted that one key reason behind Amazon’s investment in The Grand Tour was not just to attract publicity and views, but to encourage sign-up amongst a different target audience from existing subscribers. GfK believes that The Grand Tour has been successful in this aim. It found that in November and December 2016, the top reason for sign-up was ‘to watch original series made by the provider’, claimed by 22% of Amazon users. This was the highest percentage ascribed to this reason since June 2016, when the launch of BrainDead and Mr Robot 2 also sparked interest.

The analyst added that the value of Amazon investing in an exclusive deal with The Grand Tour cast was also proven by the second most popular reason given for sign up in December: ‘to watch exclusive content not available elsewhere’.

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HBO outguns Netflix in SVOD customer satisfaction

It may have just released robust results for 2016, cementing its leadership in subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) but Netflix is not at the vanguard when it comes to customer satisfaction says Strategy Analytics.

In its Digital Media Strategy Analytics Strategies service report, the analyst ranks HBO Now as highest for customer satisfaction in 11 of the 14 categories of SVOD services examined. The report measured customer satisfaction is select categories across three key areas: the number and availability of TV shows/films, how easy it is to find them, and the overall value of the service.

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