There have been lots of seemingly conflicting data in the last week saying C-19 SVOD usage is down and perhaps has fallen to pre-pandemic levels. We look at the data to figure out what’s going on.
Chapter 1: Co-viewing strong among SVOD users (2:00)
In the past, traditional TV viewers watched with others much more frequently than online viewers did. Today, SVOD viewers watch more with someone else than TV viewers.
Before lockdown, 47% watched SVOD with at least one other person in the first week of March. Co-viewing peaked at 55% by the end of the month and remained higher at 52% in the first week of May. Though cable TV viewing followed a similar pattern, it did so from a much lower level. 33% watched cable TV with another person at the beginning of March. Co-viewing peaked at the end of March at 37% and declined to 35% at the beginning of May.
Co-viewing behavior is typical to all age groups. The group that likes to watch with others the most is the 35 to 49-year-olds. In the first week of May, 53% watched SVOD with one or more other people. People in the 18 to 34 and 50 to 64 age groups both co-viewed at the same rate at the beginning of May: 48%. 45% of those 65 or older watched with someone else at the beginning of May.
Chapter 2: SVOD viewing decline not uniformly felt (6:30)
New Nielsen data shows that connected TV viewing has grown in importance during shelter-at-home orders. Moreover, it has sustained an elevated level of usage throughout.
Back at the beginning of March, before stay-at-home orders were widely in place, Nielsen says about 2.7 billion hours of streamed viewing were delivered per week by CTVs. By the end of March, streaming hours had increased by 45% to reach 3.9 billion. Although it has trailed off a bit, usage remains 30% above pre-lockdown levels.
New data from 7Park suggest some services have fallen back to pre-pandemic levels while others remain considerably above it. Will gives three reasons why he thinks SVOD usage is likely to decline further.
Chapter 3: Why the decline in usage has not been uniformly felt (11:40)
I lay out why I think Netflix has remained relatively healthy, while Disney+ and Hulu usage has returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Chapter 4: Why Prime Video has performed so well (14:40)
Prime Video usage has built steadily since the pandemic struck. It also hasn’t declined much in June. Data from Reelgood helps us understand why the service might be defying the broader trends.
Chapter 5: How will the return of live sports change things? (18:30)
New data from Magid suggests sports fans will abandon their newly found SVOD services for live sports on cable as soon as the leagues restart. I thought it more likely the fans would watch less traditional TV in favor of SVOD. Moffettnathansen also believes that shelter-in-place viewing will accelerate traditional pay TV’s decline, even with the return of sports.