nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

nScreenNoise –Why you can’t compare MAUs for FAST services

Pluto TV

Today, Viacom said that Pluto TV had added 6M monthly active users (MAUs) in just seven months. Tubi says it has 20M, so does that mean is it biggest? Unfortunately, it is impossible to say, and here’s why.

Chapter 1: Pluto TV bulks up on Viacom content

On Thursday, August 8th, Viacom reported its quarterly earnings.  As part of the presentation, it discussed the performance of its free ad-supported TV (FAST) service, Pluto TV. The service is growing strongly partly because of the injection of Viacom TV content. When the company purchased Pluto TV earlier this year, it promised to launch 13 new channels on the FAST service.

In July, it began to deliver on that promise with three channels and a bunch more will launch in August.

These new channels are helping boost Pluto TV’s growth.

Chapter 2: MAUs for three top FAST services

Viacom says that Pluto TV has 18M monthly active users (MAUs,) 50% growth from January 2019. Other FAST services like Tubi and Xumo have been claiming strong growth as well. Recently, Tubi said it had 20 million MAUs. But if you think that makes the service the leader, think again.

Chapter 3: No standard way of measuring monthly active users.

There is no standard way of measuring MAUs. I asked Pluto’s EVP Chief Business Officer Jeff Shultz, and he told me that the company reports MAUs on a one-to-one basis. They do not apply a co-viewing multiple, even though the majority of viewing takes place on connected TVs where numerous people could be watching. Pluto TV

I have asked both Xumo and Tubi how they measure MAUs, and they have yet to get back to me with an answer.

Knowing how services calculate MAU is critical in gauging exactly how one FAST service is doing against another. For example, if Tubi were applying a 1.5 co-viewing multiple, the reported 20M MAUs would be 13M on a one-to-one basis.

So, who is leading in FAST wars? We just can’t tell. What we can say is that all the FAST services are growing strongly!

A challenge for Tubi, and Xumo – let me know how you are calculating MAU, and if you are using a co-viewing multiple, and  I promise I’ll publish what you tell me on the nScreenMedia blog.

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