Well-known industry analyst Alan Wolk is publishing his popular Week In Review columns first on FierceVideo every Friday. This means that FierceVideo readers are the first to get all Wolk's insights as they navigate the fast-moving television business.
As pretty much everyone predicted, linear TV ratings shot up last week, as large swaths of Americans stayed home from work and from school.
So shows like NBC’s “The Voice,” which is best viewed live anyway, saw ratings shoot up 38% over the week prior, while kids networks like Disney XD (up 69%) and Nick Toons (up 66%) saw even more massive gains as parents struggled to find distractions for bored offspring.
People are watching more in general. Inscape, which tracks this using ACR data from VIZIO smart TVs, reports that streaming viewers watched 10% more programming overall, while linear viewers also watched 10% more TV overall.
Why it matters
While live viewing has been on the decline (and then some) the pandemic should see it increasing even more than it already has, as quarantines and similar are imposed on more of the country.
This will result in an across-the-board increase in viewing from all sources—linear and OTT, free and ad-supported, as evidenced by the Inscape stats above.
It will be a boon both for programmers and for companies who have made TV the centerpiece of their ad strategy as they now have a relatively captive audience (in all senses of the word).
On a macro level, this will likely get a good percentage of the audience to remember why they like TV and to remember why most of the country watching the same shows at the same time led to a feeling of community.
It will also lead another sizable percentage of the viewing population to explore and discover new services they had neither the time nor burning desire to look into before. This includes both Flixes and Free Ad-supported Streaming TV Services (FASTS) as well as the hundreds of niche OTT apps that can be found on Roku or the Google Play store.
But wait! There’s more!
Advertisers are benefitting too as more people are actually seeing their ads. According to iSpot, ad reach is up almost across the board with huge gains in news networks, children's programming and places like weekday afternoons.
For advertisers this means there are opportunities to reach more viewers for less money, especially with sports off the boards.
What you need to do about it
If you are a Flix, an MVPD or vMVPD, you should follow Sling and make all of your programming free for one month to everyone—current subscribers included—while cutting traditional ad loads in half. As laid out in this article, that would (a) give the industry an incredibly valuable PR boost, (b) increase trial of all services, which would likely lead to new subscribers and (c) give Americans a much needed morale boost. So let’s do it!
If you’re an advertiser, this is a great time to reacquaint yourself with the value of TV now that you’ve got most of the country watching TV again. Push for more innovations—addressable units, interactive, single brand sponsorships and above all, lower ad loads. Because no one wins when networks show 16 minutes of ads every hour.
If you’re a viewer—now is the time to catch up on all those shows you didn’t have time to watch before and to explore many of the new services—FASTS and smaller niche apps in particular—that you’ve been meaning to check out.
Or you could do what everyone else seems to be doing and binge some tried and true favorites: Inscape reports that the #1 binge watched show last weekend was… “Law & Order. Special Victims Unit” with “Westworld,” “NCIS Los Angeles,” “The Office” and “The Big Bang Theory” rounding out the top five.
2. Fox buys Tubi
In a move that’s been rumored for a while now, Fox (the part that Disney did not buy) announced that it was going to be acquiring Tubi, the last of the independent FASTS, for $440 million.
Why it matters
Fox Broadcasting is still one of the major broadcasters, still has a lot of great shows, and still has no real OTT presence.
The Tubi acquisition will change all that.
They will be able to sell ads on the linear broadcast while offering advertisers extended reach by combining them with buys on Tubi. That provides incremental lift by reaching viewers who did not see the ads when they ran on Fox and/or allowing advertisers to heavy up on more desirable audiences and geographies.
It also gives Fox a base to launch a full-on Flix should the need arise (and it will).
Finally, it means that all of the major independent FASTS have been bought up, leaving just the Roku Channel and Amazon’s IMDBTV. It’s part of an overall shift to digital for all content and gives the purchasers (Viacom, Comcast and now Fox) a well designed tech infrastructure.
What you need to do about it
If you’re an advertiser, Tubi and the other FASTS are a great way to understand the value of addressable and targeting and incremental lift. Meaning you can now reach your target audience more efficiently from a single buy.
If you’re Fox, get to work on a Flix soon—it’s not a question of “if” anymore and having your shows available online is now table stakes.
If you’re a fan of Fox’s programming, especially the animated shows, this is great news as it means you’ll likely be able to watch current seasons online sooner than later, a big plus if you don’t have a pay TV subscription.