VOD viewing of broadcast prime up 22%, Rentrak says

According to new data from Rentrak, free on-demand viewing of broadcast primetime has increased 22 percent over the last year. The number helps to confirm claims by pay-TV operators, most notably Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), about growing VOD consumption.

Gathering census-level usage data on U.S. cable VOD platforms, media research company Rentrak reported that, compared to two years ago, 32.8 million hours more of broadcast primetime were viewed in the first quarter on pay-TV VOD platforms. 

VOD viewing of broadcast prime has doubled since Rentrak started measuring VOD usage five years ago, the company added.

Rentrak also said that VOD transactions for cable series were up 8.2 percent in the first quarter. 

Most of the primetime viewing on cable VOD is done after the first three days following initial broadcast, meaning programmers can't monetize the much of the VOD audience against traditional Nielsen C3 ratings metric. Of the viewing that does come after that three-day period, Rentrak said 50 percent of it occurs seven days or more after initial airing.

Pay-TV operators have said this delayed viewing is "additive" for programmers, helping viewers discover new shows and catch up to series so that they will eventually watch current episodes in the C3 window. Cable companies, through their joint advance advertising initiative, Canoe, also say that direct ad insertion (DAI) is fast becoming a robust revenue stream, capable of offsetting migration from traditional "live-plus-three" metrics.

Canoe won't reveal how much programmers and pay-TV operators are making from DAI at this point. But the consortium did report a quadrupling of cable VOD DAI transactions in the first quarter of this year, to 2.56 billion.

For their part, programmers including Turner have said their viewpoint on cable VOD has changed--they no longer see VOD as cannibalizing linear television. Indeed, the have been more enthusiastic about granting "stacking" rights to MSOs, allowing them to post full seasons of current shows on their VOD program menus. 

"Much has been written about the movement from TV to digital viewing, however, Rentrak shows that while live TV viewing is slightly down, television viewership is largely unchanged as more viewership is occurring on DVR and VOD over 28 days," said Rentrak's Corporate President Cathy Hetzel. "With 100 percent of all primetime series shows now available on VOD, consumers know that favorite shows will be available when they want to watch. The water cooler effect is also driving higher usage as consumers now have the opportunity to watch shows they hear about, from the first episode on."

For more:
- read this Rentrak press release

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