The world is watching: As the lockdown impacts viewing behaviour

Published April 23rd, 2020

It’s probably not a great surprise that most stats published recently show that video viewing is up overall in countries enduring a COVID-19 induced lockdown. But if you look more closely at the stats three distinct patterns emerge:
● Daytime viewing is performing really well – primarily powered by large upticks in news and kid’s programming
● Live video growth is outperforming the growth in VoD and streaming – primarily driven by news
● Operators and content owners are trying new business models, such as ‘straight to streaming’ for new movies.

Daytime video viewing

While overall viewing has increased, one of the biggest trends has been a resurgence in daytime viewing. Because the effects of the global pandemic are having far-reaching impacts across the economic and political spectrums, news channels are seeing a major increase in viewership figures. Meanwhile, with social restrictions forcing schools to close down, kids have been turning to their favourite channels to pass the time. Streaming platforms are seeing increased viewership.

AT&T highlighted that CNN daytime viewership increased 150% in the week commencing 16 March compared to last year, meanwhile, on Monday, March 16 (the first full weekday following actions taken by many local and state governments to begin enforcing social distancing measures across the US) Fox News, MSNBC and Fox Business all experienced significant double-digit increases. A Nielsen analysis report also showed that consumers are increasingly gravitating to local news outlets to stay informed about the impact of the pandemic on their communities.

As governments are continuing to give daily updates on their efforts to address the virus and advise their citizens on the next course of action, it is likely that we will continue to see a rise in news consumption as people tune into their trusted channels for ongoing information about the world around them. And it’s not just news that’s enjoying a surge in popularity, with family-oriented programming channels also enjoying strong audience growth, with reports of TeenNick almost tripling and total time spent watching the network increasing 171%, DisneyXD and Nicktoons daytime viewing up over 60% with Nick Jr. and the Disney Channel up around 30%.

Live video viewing is rising fast

The Havas Media Group COVID-19 Media Behaviours Report found that in the UK 48% of people are watching more live TV than they did before lockdown, with around 40% watching more video on demand and streaming services. The report also showed that Live TV has a 40%+ upswing in all age groups, whereas streaming and VOD growth was concentrated in the younger age groups. Havas also reported strong TV growth for TV viewing in the other regions monitored, including France, Germany Italy and China.  

In the USA, reports are showing total viewing hours up for live TV, driven upwards through an increase in total news viewing by over 70%.

New business models

Operators and content distributors are once again finding the truth of necessity being the mother of invention, with changes to schedules and business models.

Discussing the challenge of lockdown viewing, Ryan Chanatry, general manager of Topic, a popular  OTT streaming service powered by 24i, told us that he is producing a limited series comedy special, to lighten people’s spirits and has been able to rearrange its programming schedule to launch a few high-profile and most binge-worthy dramas and comedies earlier than initially planned. 

Another interesting trend is looking afresh at movie windows, with some studios trying ‘straight to streaming’ release windows. Reporting on this trend, Colin Dixon of nScreen Media discussing NBCU pressing ahead with PVOD, wrote: It (NBCU) released Trolls World Tour direct to digital on April 10, and the move seems to have paid off. The $20 rental generated $2-$3 million on the first day of release in the U.S. and could be headed to outstrip Avengers: Endgame first week of digital availability.”

In summary

Our customers are enjoying viewing uplifts, in some cases much higher than the figures reported above. At Amino and 24i we continue to work hard to support our broadcast clients to work as effectively and efficiently as possible and that our OTT and streaming customers can readily scale in line with demand. 

I’m looking forward to watching how these trends will play-out and if they will permanently affect business models as well as enabling us all to view what we want, when we want,  at home, at work or on the move; long after the COVID-19 lockdown is over.

Contact us today to find out 24i can help you scale and extend your OTT streaming services

Putting the customer first with Customer Centric product development

By Ramon Duivenvoorden, Chief Commercial Officer at 24i

The key to producing consumer products cost-effectively is mass-customization. We’ve certainly come a long way since you could have a Ford in any colour as long as it’s black, but a modern car manufacturer will not give you a huge number of product variables – yes, you can choose a colour other than black, and you’ll be able to buy a sports pack, or upgrade the in-car entertainment system, but the car OEM will probably decide whether the model you want has a spoiler!

In many ways, software development has followed a similar path – the developer has decided what the solution set should be for a given problem, built a product around that solution set and allowed some level of customization around that.

Over time, additional features are required that go beyond the level of customization allowed in the original product specification. Pretty quickly under this development paradigm, the client has a system that’s no longer based on a solid code-base, so it cannot benefit from roadmap upgrades, shared innovation and maintenance. At the same time, they also have a system that lacks the benefits of custom development such as full control over code and feature set.

This is how media entertainment apps have traditionally been developed, and we think it’s broken. Fortunately, there’s another way. 

Over the last 2 or 3 years, we’ve striven to base 24i product development on what we call Customer Centric principles. 

As you might guess the overarching philosophy is to put the customer first, but in reality, what does this actually mean?

We’ve boiled this down to a number of principles that we adhere to in how we think about s/w development and build products, as follows:

  • Don’t get too obsessed by one particular technology or toolset, it may be the best solution right now, but there will be another technology out there one day that will deliver a significant increase in functionality, power, flexibility and speed of development.
  • Customization is good – but it requires a fully productized process and architecture to work at scale. Imagine how flexible a trainer factory has to be able to create personalized shoes. And what the cost of that flexibility might be.
  • Deliver this customization through building apps as a collection of customizable micro-services.
  • Code branching creates an exponential increase in complexity. Remove this by minimizing the inter-component complexity and dependencies between the micro-services.

So, how does this work in practice? As an example, one of our clients wanted to move from a profit to a non-profit model. The consumers using their app could move from a subscription model to a ‘single charitable donation for life’ model. There are complex rules that have to be adhered to when you’re accepting charitable donations – if this customer had been with a traditional developer, the switch would have needed a lot of new code, too much time and money, and potentially compromise the architectural integrity of the application. This is assuming they did not select an out-of-the-box vendor that would simply decline the request for the new flows. 

Because our app was built on micro-services, with a minimum of dependency between the services, we were able to replace the components that needed to change and make the switch in weeks. More importantly, we enabled this change without a branch in the client’s code, so that moving forward they continue to gain from future 24i product roadmap developments.  

I believe that sooner or later virtually every client has specific needs that are critical for their business. Yet, at the same time, most requirements are common between all streaming media businesses. Our Customer Centric approach based upon micro-services means that we can deliver scale, innovation and stability on these common needs, while offering the freedom to break free for that custom 5% that enables our customers to set themselves apart from the competition or fulfill unique business needs.

We know that customer-centric development based upon micro-services is the way to go – but it’s not necessarily obvious to potential customers how great an advantage this is, until they need to make a key pivot in business model, or another customized change is the one that breaks this particular camel’s back. Which is why I’m writing this blog!

If you would like to know more about our approach to Customer Centric development, please get in touch - and look out for upcoming blogs from 24i CTO Pavel Jacko who will discuss the technical principles in more depth.

Contact us today to find out 24i can help you scale and extend your OTT streaming services