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.”
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
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:
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.
Sep 01, 2020
From September 8th - 15th, join us on location in Amsterdam where we are talking to customers, partners, and colleagues about how businesses and technologies have developed since IBC last year. We also share insights on how to keep connected during the pandemic and tips on how to have fun when you do get to Amsterdam next!
Jan 13, 2020
By: Matthijs Langendijk, Lead Smart TV Developer, 24i.
The beginning of each year is always a joy, as we get to see the latest developments in the world of television. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), many companies showcase their latest and greatest. It is also an opportune moment to look at the year ahead — which televisions we can expect, what technologies are pushing the boundaries and if anything is clearly standing high above the others. In the blog we take a look at the TV announcements and demonstrations we’ve seen during CES 2020.
This time last year, we saw the first 8K televisions getting announced by LG, Samsung and others. Well, they are back with more. But before we dive into them, maybe it’s good to evaluate what 8K televisions actually can offer.
The amount of 8K content is still virtually non-existent. So that’s not what you should be getting it for. SmartTV apps are generally also still running in Full HD, so what is the benefit there? In terms of pricing it also definitely isn’t mainstream yet. With 4K televisions starting around the €1000 mark, don’t expect 8K televisions to be cheap, yet.
Maybe it is still a bit too soon for 8K. But that doesn’t mean the progress on 8K television isn’t good. 4K started out the very same way, with there being virtually no content for it. The 8K association did announce a certification program at the end of last year, which will hopefully accelerate the adoption of the technology. Manufacturers are also definitely on board, so let’s take a look at their TVs.
You could say that LG and Samsung have been in a bit of a battle when it comes to 8K. With LG claiming to offer a ‘Real 8K’ experience, they are definitely betting big on 8K televisions. They announced a whopping 8 models featuring an 8K screen. Two of them are OLED screens, coming at 77 and 88 inch. Next to this, there are 6 LCD models sporting LG’s NanoCell technology. That’s a lot of 8K. But are they more than just a screen with a high resolution?
Well, yes and no. The televisions are supporting most of the codecs you would expect; AVC1, HEVC and VP9, and you can also expect the relevant HDR technologies you’ve seen before. But that doesn’t make it interesting. What does however make it interesting, is their insanely thin television. As demonstrated in the image above, it is basically just a frame (ring any bells?) you put on a wall. If they manage to put all this technology into such a small television, I would be very much impressed.
Samsung obviously can not stay behind in this warfare. And they definitely don’t, with their demonstration of the 8K QLED Q950-series. It is to most extent a pretty ‘normal’ 8K television. Supporting the AVC1 codec for 8K video, a custom SOC called ‘AI Quantum 8K’, so it basically hits the marks you would expect.
There is however a really interesting feature that makes it stand out: there are almost no bezels. The screen to bezel ratio is a whopping 99%, where you typically see a ratio of 94%. So you get more screen for the TV that you have, which is definitely standing out among the 8K televisions announced.
LG and Samsung are obviously not the only manufacturers showing their 8K goods at CES. We’ve seen 8K televisions many of the manufacturers you know and love. Sony has joined the party with a single 8K model, that sadly still features the same processor as last years’, which is a bit disappointing. TCL demonstrated their 8K models sporting their new so-called Vidrian Mini-Led technology, which seem promising.
The odd one in the bunch, is a to me previously unknown manufacturer: Skyworth. This Chinese company, last evaluated at 19 billion dollars, has made a big effort to make their debut on the US market known. They had previously been selling budget televisions in the US already, but their name hasn’t been big. Until now, perhaps. With their announcement of various 8K and OLED televisions, it is yet another party trying to take a chunk of the television market. Which means yet another brand to get your apps on.
Nice resolutions are great and everything, but what about the technology behind them? I’ve already mentioned some of the video codecs supported to get 8K content going, like AVC1. But besides this, what more can we expect that content owners should be wary of?
I have to admit, I am a bit pleased by this fact: there is no new operating system announced! As a Smart TV developer, we already have to deal with a lot of operating systems and their variants. The operating systems we all know and love will continue as expected: Samsung still puts all bets on their own Tizen, and LG following the same with their WebOS platform.
On the other hand, we have Roku and Android TV which both are doing very well in gathering more support. Roku boasts many partners using Roku on their TV, with TCL, Hisense and others announcing multiple TVs this year. Oddly enough, the same brands also have announced televisions with AndroidTV. Philips is another manufacturer betting on two horses, having both televisions with Saphi, their own operating system, and others with AndroidTV.
At CES last year, we have seen the same thing as we have this year. A version-up with minimal changes here, another TV with AndroidTV or Roku there. Given these limited changes and additions, I don’t expect any issues for current-gen applications. Most will continue to work with minimal effort on the new televisions announced.
The new kid on the block has to be ATSC 3.0. In short: ATSC 3.0 is the latest version of a standard, describing how television signals should be broadcasted and interpreted. Dubbed as ‘NextGen TV’, the standard is a big step towards getting a clear interface for bringing 4K TV, HDR and other new technologies into your home. Many TVs announced at CES, support the standard, opening up the way for a broad adoption of the standard.
Given that many manufacturers have opted to support the standard in their new product lines, this can potentially make app-development for SmartTVs a lot easier. If the standard is properly implemented on all brands, the possibility opens to develop an application once, and deploy everywhere. Now, we’ve seen this before with HbbTV, where the application standard was ‘loosely implemented’, so time will have to tell if the application standard is going to work well. But it is definitely worth investing into, as many brands have started supporting the standard in their new line-up.
Like last years, most manufacturers showcased their new line-up sporting 4K, OLED, QLED, HDR and other technologies. Panasonic is one of them. And their new 4K OLED flagship is definitely very beautiful, which will definitely be favoured by many. Philips also announced a bunch of televisions in sizes ranging from 43 to 75 inch, catering to basically everybody, including gamers. Vizio, third highest selling manufacturer in the US, is finally adding OLED models to their line-up, making OLED yet a bit more accessible.
Last year we also saw LG showcase their upwards-rolling television. It was expected that they would launch last year already, but they sadly haven’t yet. At CES this year, they showcased more rollable televisions. And now they can also roll downwards from the ceiling. LG expects to have some of these models up for sale somewhere this year, starting around €60.000. Given their price, they are sadly not for the masses yet, but hopefully the technology will develop further over the next few years.
So LG has the rolling televisions. Well, now Samsung has rotating ones. Yes, rotating. It still boggles my mind that this is now a thing. I am not sure if there is even a use case for it, but it is definitely interesting. Samsung showcased their rotating ‘Sero’ series. More details regarding the price and release date are still uncertain, but the feature is definitely an eye-catcher.
OLED is also finally getting smaller. Previously, the smallest OLED screen was 55 inch, which for many homes was too big and too expensive. However, both LG and Sony announced 48 inch 4K OLED televisions. With the smaller size, the entry price for OLED televisions will hopefully decrease as well. This could decrease the barrier a lot for people to finally move over to OLED televisions, and might have some interesting effects on sales, as Samsung still bets on QLED.
Appwise, there is also some news from CES. Apple has announced that their streaming service AppleTV+ is coming to LG, Sony and Vizio SmartTVs in the near future. Demonstrating Apple’s growing intent to reach more users with their service, regardless of which device is used.
Yet another year where many manufacturers are betting big on 8K. I doubt we’ll see the prices drop much though, so 8K will definitely be one bridge too far for the big public. 4K however will become a lot more mainstream with the addition of cheaper 48 inch models.
ATSC 3.0 could cause a shift in application development, as many brands have opted to already support the standard in their new line-up. However, Roku and AndroidTV are still big and used by a lot of manufacturers. LG, Samsung and Philips also still put a lot of focus on their own operating systems (WebOS, Tizen, Saphi). So don’t expect to be able to develop only one app for the foreseeable future.
In short, many developments could have an impact on the world of television. We will just have to wait and see what the upcoming year has to offer, when the TVs announced make their way to market. If you would like to know more about SmartTV, ATSC 3.0, HbbTV or anything else television, feel free to reach out through email or LinkedIn. Thank you for reading!
Also published on MEDIUM
May 15, 2020
It is no surprise that video streaming services are experiencing exceptional growth while lockdowns around the world keep people at home where they want to be entertained. Netflix added 16 million new accounts in the first three months of the year and niche video services such as BroadwayHD, Topic and Pure Flix, have also seen a significant increase in streams and subscriptions.
In the first of our own video series In
Conversation… , Martijn van Horssen, CEO and co-founder of 24i shares insights on
why some media companies are doing better than others during the Corona crisis,
- The 'Watch Party' effect and other smart marketing tactics
- The AVOD challenge and SVOD opportunity
- Scaling services for peak demand and growth and
- How 24i is supporting customers and employees during this testing time.
Hosted by Craig Kierce and produced from home, we hope you enjoy watching this honest and open interview and we look forward to bringing you the next episode of In Conversation soon.