nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Hidden behind the headlines: 4 alternate views of the news

Acorn TV

If we are to believe the recent headlines live TV is still going strong, DVDs are selling like hot cakes, and niche OTT SVOD is growing by leaps and bounds. However, you don’t need to look very far to see that things aren’t going quite as well as they seem.

Here are 4 stories that might have caught your eye that extoll a specific viewpoint on where the video market is headed. Including other data tells quite a different story.

The Headline – Study: Live TV Still Tops, Despite OTT Push

What it says: Futuresource Consulting takes the contrarian view proclaiming that 65% of consumers in North America, Australia, France and Germany still consider live TV to be their top TV preference.

Cable TV channel audience declinesWhat it doesn’t say: Certainly live TV remains the most popular choice for viewing, but it doesn’t change the fact that live television viewing is falling fast on both sides of the Atlantic. The Wall Street Journal reports that summer cable channel viewing is down dramatically over last year. TNT July primetime viewers are down 22% over last year, USA down 14%, Disney down 19% and A&E down 36%. TV seems to be in the same malaise in the UK. Thinkbox reports that TV viewing was down 4.5% in 2014, with the viewers watching the most cutting back 7.2%.

The Headline – Report: Digital Consumers Still Buying Discs

What it says: Homemediamagazine reported a different angle on Futuresource’s research. According to the report, 50% of survey respondents still buy DVD or Blu-ray Discs and the number buying them actually increased in the U.S. and U.K. since the last survey.

What it doesn’t say: The Digital Entertainment group says disk sales in the US have fallen an average of 15% year-over-year for the last three quarters. Between 2011 and 2014, disk sales revenue fell 22%. It looks like revenue will fall a further 13% this year. The trend is much the same in the UK, where physical disk sales revenue fell 12% between 2013 and 2014.

The Headline – Acorn TV Streaming Service Tops 150,000 Subscribers

What it says: OTT SVOD provider Acorn TV, which provides British mystery series and dramas, hit 150,000 subscribers at the end of June 2015. The $4.99 a month service has increased subscribers 70% year-over-year and 28% in the first half of 2015.

What it doesn’t say: Acorn TV launched in July 2011. It has taken the SVOD service 5 years to gain the reported 150,000 subscribers, over half of which have subscribed in the last year. It looks like Acorn TV is having a tough time reaching the intended audience. For example, the SVOD service likely has a lot of overlap with the Downton Abbey audience. The finale for Downton Abbey in February 2014 reached 8.4 million viewers. As well, PBS says it streamed 4.4M episodes of the show during the season.

The Headline – NBCUniversal And BuzzFeed Announce Strategic Investment

What it says: NBCU agreed to make a $200M equity investment in BuzzFeed, the technology driven social news and entertainment company. BuzzFeed reaches 200M monthly unique visitors and 1.5B monthly video views. The two companies will explore “strategic partnerships” as part of the investment.

What it doesn’t say: Comcast, NBCUs owner, is rumored to be launching a new service called Watchable which will draw content from online providers to enhance the value proposition of the X1 pay TV service. This is likely one of the primary “strategic partnerships” the two companies are exploring.

Why it matters

Sometimes news stories are as interesting for what they leave out as for what is included.

Here are four headlines in OTT video that tell one story, but when juxtaposed against other data leave an entirely different impression.

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