Exciting News on VOD Performance by Network

Video on Demand (VOD) is a rapidly growing form of television. The excitement comes from its double-digit growth, particularly in the “TV Entertainment” category, which consists of free programming put up by the traditional broadcast and cable networks, as well as VOD-only networks. Viewers are finding out that their favorite programs don’t have to be DVR’d, and that when a friend mentions a new show, more often than not, it can be found On Demand.

The VOD industry is also moving in an exciting direction to start sharing data. Rentrak has been producing a “Transparency Report” since January 2012. Forty-eight cable networks first agreed to allow monthly data to be shown. That number has grown to more than 60 cable networks. (As I write this, there are no broadcast networks participating.) I thought my loyal fan base (including the guy with the court order to stay back 500 feet) would be interested in a top line peek.

I first took all the 2012 reporting VOD networks and averaged their results over the first half of 2012. I then graphed them out by what is important to media planners and buyers—reach and frequency. Reach is important because it determines the breadth of the target audience. Frequency is important because it reflects how often ads can be delivered.

In the graph below, the horizontal axis is the average monthly reach, or unique set-top boxes that watched a program on a network. The vertical axis is the average number of times a network was watched per month. The intersection of the two axes is at their respective averages, creating a quadrant map. I’ve labeled the networks that have both high reach and high frequency; they are the ones in the upper right-hand quadrant.

Average Reach & Frequency for VOD by Network

Clearly, Music Choice is a strong outlier, with an average frequency more than four times higher than other networks. The video music format obviously is a big draw for repeat viewing. Also interesting to note is the presence of kid’s networks like Nick Jr., Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon. Children are “early adopters,” and are masters of the push button (and screen swipe). A&E, TruTV, TBS and Comedy Central round out the quadrant.

However, the picture changes a bit if we look at another key metric—time. The quadrant map below looks at the same networks but has the number of minutes a network was watched on the vertical axis. While the three children’s networks stay in the upper right quadrant, Music Choice slips to the edge. Music Choice, because it is a short form genre, obviously could have many viewers and a lot of frequency yet less dominance in time spent. More networks with longer formatted programs join the quadrant: AMC, History Channel, Impact, Lifetime, MTV, TLC, TNT and VH1. Comedy Central stays on the edge of the quadrant.

Average Reach & Time Spent Viewing for VOD by Network

I’d be a bad researcher if I said this is a definitive look at VOD. Not all networks have agreed to be transparent, and I haven’t even shared with you all the networks we do have data on.

Finally, when you think about those millions of VOD viewers, just waiting for someone to put in a super impactful pre-roll ad as they settle into watch the program they have deliberately decided to engage with, doesn’t the ad man (person) in you salivate? I know I do! And these Rentrak transparency reports will help build the marketplace to make it happen.

More information on VOD can be found in Rentrak’s State of VOD: Trend Report and monthly transparency reports. Please contact Gordon Jones, Rentrak’s VP, OnDemand Everywhere, at gordon.jones@rentrak.com if you are interested in either of these reports.

In case you don’t know, I am Bruce Goerlich, Chief Research Officer at Rentrak, the global standard in movie measurement and your TV Everywhere measurement and research company. I have been in the research end of the marketing business for more than 30 years primarily on the ad agency side, with my last stint prior to Rentrak in the role of President, Strategic Resources Zenith Optimedia North America. Somewhere along the way I morphed from young Turk to old fogey. Now that I have grey hair and am horizontally-challenged, I can speak with some authority on advertising and research issues – which I will do from time-to-time on this blog.

Video On Demand – The Power of Pre-Roll

On Wednesday, March 20th, I gave a talk at ARF Re:think 2013 on video on demand. The following is an excerpt from my talk. Contact me at bruce.goerlich@rentrak.com if you would like the full presentation.

Television as medium has moved beyond fragmentation into granularity as programs are being carried on new platforms such as mobile, the Internet, and video on demand. Video on demand viewership has been growing at double-digit rates, with the largest portion of growth coming from “traditional” TV programs being placed by TV networks. However, there has been little understanding of how commercials perform in video on demand.

The value of advertising time in video on demand is immense, given that viewers have to be actively engaged to select the programs. Video on demand advertising is often structured with the first position, “the pre-roll,” starting before the program content. Rentrak, through its analysis, demonstrates that the “pre-roll” has a very high value. Rentrak’s original research shows much higher indices for ad viewership in the pre-roll position. The metric employed was the Ad Retention Index (ARI), which is the average audience during commercial minutes on video on demand divided by the entire program’s average audience (including ad minutes). The ARI is a concept similar to “C3” on linear TV. The pre-roll ARI for regular duration programs was a 122, and the average pre-roll short duration program was a 129. This high value of audience for pre-roll gives advertisers a unique opportunity to connect with engaged viewers. Rentrak is now also producing a monthly video on demand transparency report on ratings networks have on video on demand. (Details upon request!)

BACKGROUND ON VIDEO ON DEMAND

Currently, there are more than 53 million video on demand-enabled households with an average of two set-top boxes per household. More than 43 million set-top boxes access video on demand content each month.

Consumers who use this medium spend around 8.5 hours per month with video on demand content.

Free video on demand content represented 78 percent of all transactions in 2012. Free video on demand (which includes ad-supported content) is the fastest growing part of video on demand. From 2009 to 2012, free video on demand’s growth rate outpaced that of all video on demand by increasingly wider margins.

Growth Rates in Video On Demand Playtime 2009-2012
We are pleased to see free content coming to video on demand soon after live airings. Content owners are increasingly including linear ad loads in the first three days. Additionally, our research shows the majority of video on demand viewership of TV shows occurs 4+ days after air, presenting additional valuable advertising opportunities. Free on demand offers advertisers an opportunity since much of this content is now (or could be) advertising-supported. However, advertising results are not traditionally broken out. A group of networks approached Rentrak in the fall of 2011 asking for a study of advertising levels using set-top boxes where second-by-second ad detail could be identified.

We used a mathematical technique to identify where ads were located — essentially when there was a huge drop and return in audience. This is shown in the chart below.

Index of HH Audience at :30 Second IntervalsAll the video on demand long form programs had a downward-trending slope of viewership. This can be explained in large part by the fact that there is no subsequent program that follows, so there can be no audience flow “in” once the program starts. Also, therefore, the maximum size of the audience is at the start of program. That large “starting point” means that commercials in the pre-roll position will have the advantage of exposure to all of the program’s viewers. So even with trick play, the ARI for the pre-roll is a 103, while for entire program, the ARI was a 55.

For short-form programs (less than six minutes), we looked at the first 60 seconds to estimate ad position.

The bottom line for the analysis is below.

ARI Video On Demand ResultsWhen one considers that normal DVR playback ratings for commercials are in the 60 percent range, not only is the average video on demand ARI of 71 quite strong, but the pre-roll first position playback of more than 120 is fantastic. Video on demand is a medium that can and will work well for advertisers.

In case you don’t know, I am Bruce Goerlich, Chief Research Officer at Rentrak, the global standard in movie measurement and your TV Everywhere measurement and research company. I have been in the research end of the marketing business for more than 30 years primarily on the ad agency side, with my last stint prior to Rentrak in the role of President, Strategic Resources Zenith Optimedia North America. Somewhere along the way I morphed from young Turk to old fogey. Now that I have grey hair and am horizontally-challenged, I can speak with some authority on advertising and research issues – which I will do from time-to-time on this blog.

Sandy & TV Viewing – Another Look

In the last blog post, we saw that in New York, TV viewing rose in the afternoon hours, and then fell as power was lost throughout the region. I’d like to look a bit at other markets; did a similar bump and fall in viewing occur? And did viewing go back to normal after the storm hit? We also saw that affiliates’ share rose during the storm. Did that happen across markets? And did the share go back after the storm?

For those short of attention span (or time), the answer is that across the markets we looked at, including Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, NY, and Boston, there was a consistent pattern of higher viewership during the day Sandy hit that then fell back to normal after the storm. Only New York, which was heavily hit by power outages, had a large drop in Prime viewing during the storm. All the markets had a jump in affiliate share across the day of the storm, which then fell back the week after.

Local news is clearly a place where viewers go to seek information. In addition, viewers quadrupled their ordering of movies On Demand, and all On Demand viewing increased by 60% on average across the markets. People watched what they wanted to. Bottom line, TV is still a connecting, powerful medium – though not as strong as Mother Nature! And only Rentrak, with our “big data” approach, can provide these insights.

Details to follow.

The chart below shows Homes Using Television (HUT) in the New York market by hour for the Monday before the storm, October 22, the day of the storm, Monday, October 29, and for Monday, November 5, the week after the storm hit. These projections are based on the approximately 90,000 homes Rentrak has in the market. (Note that our HUTs are higher than the traditional metric because we do not filter out duplicate viewing (when a home views more than one program.) We will count that home twice in our HUT.) What you can clearly see is an increase in HUT on the 29th in the daytime hours versus the 22nd, when many more people were at home… and then the storm hit, power was lost in many areas, and viewership never grew to what is normally seen in Prime. By the week after the storm, viewership patterns came back to normal. Prime Time viewing was a bit lower on November 5 than on October 22, where the last Presidential debate brought in more viewers.

Image

This pattern, without the sharp loss of viewership in Prime due to power issues, was reflected in Washington, D.C. (with more than 50,000 homes in the Rentrak footprint), Philadelphia (with more than 30,000 Rentrak homes), and Boston (wih more than 20,000 Rentrak homes). Of the three, Philadelphia had the greatest drop in Prime, though slight compared to New York.

Image

Image

Image

What is also interesting is the share of viewing that major affiliates had across all markets. Their viewing picked up during the day, and held fairly steady, even as the storm raged. Numbers came back to normal across all markets the week after the storm. All the markets had a “bump” in Prime share for the affiliates during the Presidential debate on October 22.

Image

Image

Image

Image

In terms of Video On Demand, as the table below shows, comparing the number of transactions during the storm to the Monday before the storm, there was a huge spike in viewing across all markets, with the biggest increase, by a factor of more than 400% in paid transactions for movies. Viewing for pay cable On Demand transactions went up by more than 50%, as did viewing for free TV programs. The numbers may even be understated in NY because Time Warner lost reporting information from one of their data warehouses.

Image

And by the week after the storm, on November 5, VOD viewership fell back, much closer to the levels of the Monday before the storm.

Image

So what we saw from the first with the storm in one market holds true across several markets. TV usage was up, local station viewership was up, and VOD transactions were up. And might I say, only Rentrak, with tens of thousands of homes in these markets, and millions across the country, along with a census view of On Demand transactions, can give its clients this sort of robust learning.

In case you don’t know, I am Bruce Goerlich, Chief Research Officer at Rentrak, the global standard in movie measurement and your TV Everywhere measurement and research company. I have been in the research end of the marketing business for more than 30 years primarily on the ad agency side, with my last stint prior to Rentrak in the role of President, Strategic Resources Zenith Optimedia North America. Somewhere along the way I morphed from young Turk to old fogey. Now that I have grey hair and am horizontally-challenged, I can speak with some authority on advertising and research issues – which I will do from time-to-time on this blog.