The Streaming Wars: Disney+ is rolling out globally, but not on Amazon devices

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We knew Disney+ was launching on November 12th in United States, but yesterday the company announced that it’s rolling out to Canada and the Netherlands the same day. The service will hit Australia and New Zealand a week after that. 

In the US, the service will cost $6.99 per month and the aforementioned international markets will be comparable. 

Beyond the initial 5 launch countries, Disney+ will be available in all major markets within the first two years.

Disney’s DTC and International team also announced that they reached global agreements with Roku, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Sony to distribute the app on their Connected TV and mobile platforms. 

Disney+ supported platforms

  • Roku
  • Apple TV
  • iOS
  • Android TV & mobile
  • Microsoft Xbox One
  • Sony Playstation 4, Android-based Sony Smart TVs
  • Google Chromecast

Notably, Amazon is absent from this list. Is this a coincidence or does Amazon feel threatened by Disney? Does Disney want to keep its service true DTC and not be offered as an Amazon Prime Channel? Only time will tell, but remember Amazon and Google recently feuded over whether the Youtube app should be allowed on Fire TV. 

With the launch 83 days away, we’ll keep an eye on this one.

The Roku Channel: Now with 30 linear channels and a Kids & Family section

While Roku continues to grow its active accounts, ARPU, and daily viewing hours, they’re also growing the number of linear channels on The Roku Channel, currently at 30. Here they are.

They also offer their 30.5 million users the ability to purchase subscriptions to Starz, HBO, Showtime, Epix and other networks instead of subscribing directly to these companies direct-to-consumer apps. (Will Disney+ be sold via The Roku Channel?)

As of yesterday, Roku’s added a new section to the Roku Channel focused on kids and family content, including a mix of shows that are grouped by different age ranges. Roku says it’s providing “a unique blend of quality shows, movies, live linear and short-form video typically found across multiple free and paid kids channels and brings them together to watch in a single place.” Every piece of content is selected by an in-house editorial team.

Customers who also purchase services like Noggin, Hopster, HBO, or Staz will see kid-friendly content from those networks featured in Roku’s Kids & Family section. Put another way, if you subscribe to Noggin directly, you will not see Noggin content. You would have to cancel your Noggin account and re-sign up via The Roku Channel. 

I have mixed feelings on this. Definitely a smart move by Roku, but networks need to be very careful with this type of stuff if, and only if, they are trying to significantly grow their direct-to-consumer business.

Apple’s planning to spend more that $6B on AppleTV+ shows

Yesterday, The Financial Times reported that Apple’s Worldwide Video division has surpassed its $1 billion original budget in a bid to catch up with Disney, Netflix, and WarnerMedia.  For reference, Netflix is expected to spend $15 billion on new content this year.

Nuthin’ But A vMVPD Thang

According to MoffettNathanson analyst, Craig Moffett, Hulu with Live TV and Youtube TV each added about 300k customers in Q2. For those keeping score, Hulu with Live TV now boasts around 2.4 million subscribers, ranking it alongside Sling TV who finished the second quarter with 2.472 million subscribers (adding 48k in Q2).

vMVPD Subscriptions in the U.S

  1. Sling TV: 2.472 million
  2. Hulu w Live TV: 2.4 million
  3. Youtube TV: 1.5 million
  4. AT&T TV NOW: 1.3 million
  5. Sony Playstation Vue: 745,000 (As of September ‘18)
  6. fuboTV: 250,000 (As of October ‘18)
  7. Philo: 150,000 (Last we heard, and we believe this number could be significantly higher by end of year)

According to an S&P Global Insights Survey, only 8% of internet households pay for a vMVPD service, compared to 20% of surveyed households that said they have a free trial subscription, and 7% share a login with another subscriber. 

Notably, the research also finds that 10-22% of users report to add and drop their subscription seasonally.

A breakdown of ViacomCBS’ DTC offerings

After separating in 2005, CBS and Viacom have announced their reunion. The merged company (called Viacom CBS) will boast a library of 3,600 film titles and 140,000 TV episodes. According to estimates, ViacomCBS is outspending Netflix, Amazon, and Apple on programming this fiscal year. In addition, the company counts a  diverse portfolio of DTC video offerings that will allow the company to build a sales funnel against its various ad-supported and subscription-based products including:

  • CBS All Access: Estimated around 3.8m subs
  • Showtime OTT: Estimated 4.2m subs (Something to think about: How many of these are Amazon Channels customers and not Showtime’s?)
  • Pluto TV: Recently reached 18 million monthly active users
  • Noggin: About 2.5 million subs
  • BET+: Due to launch this fall on Android and iOS as well as “other streaming devices”
  • Others, including NickHits, MTV Hits, and Comedy Central Now. These channels can be primarily accessed via affiliate platforms such as Amazon Prime Channels.

CBS is predicting CBS All Access and Showtime OTT to collectively account for 25 million subscribers by 2022. For comparison, Disney projects as many as 30 million Disney+ subs by 2024.

4K streaming is inflating viewers’ internet bills 

Many people tend to forget that their cable companies put a cap on their monthly usage. With 4K streaming more common, households are consuming data and an unprecedented rates, oftentimes exceeding their provider’s monthly limits.

According to Bloomberg, in the first quarter of 2019, about 4% of internet subscribers consumed at least 1 terabyte of data. That’s up from 2% a year ago, according to OpenVault.

In the OpenVault study, the average broadband subscriber used 271 gigabytes a month of data in Q2, up around 25% year over year.

Data consumption is only going to continue to grow. As more consumers demand unlimited data caps and faster internet speeds, we can expect higher internet fees. Netflix has posted an article on its website on how to control data usage.

Amazon wants you to cut the cord

In attempt to drive people away from pay TV and toward streaming, Amazon dropped a new “Free Your TV” campaign highlighting all of the live and on-demand options on Fire TV devices from Amazon’s own Prime Video and Prime Video Channels services to third-party apps.

Stickler alert: At 1:55 in the video they reference the HGTV app, which requires a pay TV login. Hope nobody canceled cable because of that 🙂

Prime Video surpasses Netflix on content marketing spend.

According to analysis from Mediaradar, Amazon Prime video surpassed Netflix for spending the most on content advertising by an OTT company for the first half of 2019. Netflix came in second and Hulu in third. 

Free trials influence over half of OTT subs 

Research from Parks Associates finds that more than 50% of US broadband households that subscribe to a video service within the past year indicate that free trials played a key role in their purchasing decision. 

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