Stats on OTT Viewing

A recent study by comScore examined OTT usage in detail across the country. They studied the OTT viewing habits in 12,500 homes over time across all devices. They looked at 52 OTT services, which collectively account for virtually all of the OTT content available. Their study is the most comprehensive study of OTT that I’ve seen to date.

Not surprisingly Netflix is the largest OTT provider and accounted for 40% of all viewing hours of OTT content. I must admit with all of the hype about Netflix that I thought they would be larger. They were followed by YouTube at 18%, Hulu at 14%, Amazon at 7% and all of the other OTT sources sharing 21%.

When it came to consumer engagement, measured by the amount of time that people watch a given service, the leader is Hulu with the average Hulu household watching over 2.9 hours of their content per day. This was followed by Netflix at 2.2 hours, YouTube at 2.1 hours and Amazon at 2.0 hours per day.

Here are some other interesting statistics generated by the survey:

  • 51 million homes in the US watched OTT content this past April. That is 41% of all homes.
  • The growth of OTT watching is exploding and only 44 million homes watched OTT in October 2016.
  • As you would expect, there is a substantial number of cord-cutters that watch OTT. The types of OTT viewers include 44% that also have a landline cable subscription, 22% that also have a satellite TV subscription, 18% that are pure cord-cutters, and 16% that mix OTT content with free content received through rabbit ears.
  • The average home watched OTT content 49 hours in a month. That viewing was spread on average across 15 viewing days – meaning that most homes don’t watch OTT content every day.
  • As you would expect, cord-cutters households watch OTT for more hours monthly than other households. For example, cord cutters watched Hulu 37 hours per month while other households watched 29. Cord cutters watched Netflix for 36 hours per month compared to 27 hours for other households.
  • OTT viewing largely matches regular TV viewing in that there is a big spike of viewing in the evening prime time hours.
  • However, OTT viewing differs from traditional cable with big spikes on weekends, largely due to binge-watching.
  • The survey shows that 10.1 million households use network TV apps (apps from a programmer such as HBO or ESPN).
  • There is an interesting correlation between the size of a household, the amount of OTT viewing, and whether a family has cut the cord. For cord cutting families, the smaller the size of the household the greater the amount of OTT viewing. But for families that still have a paid-cable subscription it’s reverse.
  • Single-member households are almost 50% more likely than average to be a cord cutter and 24% more likely than average to be a cord-never.
  • Cost of cable subscriptions have always been shown in other surveys as a factor in cord cutting. This survey shows a strong correlation between income and cord-cutting. The survey shows that hourseholds making less than $40,000 per year are cutting the cord at 19% more than average while households making between $75,000 and $100,000 are at 87% of average.
  • Their survey also was able to detail the devices used to watch OTT content on television screens. Of the 51 million homes that watched OTT in April, 38 million homes used a streaming stick / box like Roku, and 28 million homes used a smart TV.
  • The study also detailed penetration rates of streaming boxes / sticks for homes using WiFI: 16% own a Roku, 14% have Amazon Fire; 8% own Google hrome and 6% have AppleTV.
  • Samsung and Vizio are the big players in the smart TV market with shares in WiFi-connected homes of 33% and 30%. LG and Sony were next with 10% and 7% penetration with all other manufactures sharing the remaining 20% of the market.

The survey also analyzed Skinny bundles. They show that 3.1 million homes now have a skinny bundle. 2 million of those homes have SlingTV, with DirecTV Now and PlayStation Vue having most of the other customers. The survey shows that homes with one of these services watch the skinny bundle an average of 5.3 hours per day.

The main takeaway from this survey is a demonstration that OTT viewing has become mainstream behavior.  OTT viewing is now part of the viewing habits of a little over half the of homes in the nation that have an in-home WiFi connection.


Primer on Internet Cookies

Am I a brownie? Am I a cookie? I'm so conflicted!

Am I a brownie? Am I a cookie? I’m so conflicted! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spent some time recently educating myself on how Internet cookies work and thought I would share what I learned. I think that most people assume that cookies are largely malicious and that is not necessarily the case. But there are certainly types of malware on the Internet that can do every bad thing to you that you can imagine.

Plain cookies by themselves are pretty simple. People think of cookies as programs that are put on to your computer to spy on you. But cookies are nothing like that. A good definition of a cookie is a piece of text that a server puts onto a computer. For example, a cookie allows a web site to store something on your computer that it can retrieve later if you come back to the same web site.

Basic cookies perform a number of simple tasks that make your web browsing experience more enjoyable. For example, a cookie might record your preferences for a given website so that it doesn’t have to ask you about yourself every time you visit. A good example is when you visit a weather site and it gives you the weather for your zip code. Having a cookie from that site stops you from having to type in your zip code every time you want to check the weather. And if you want to track the weather in a dozen locations it will remember all of them.

The basic tool used by cookies is referred to as a name value pairs. Most cookies from website assign you a user ID and that is the first half of the name value pair. This lets them know who you are (actually, only which computer you are on) no matter how many times you come back to the site. The second half of the name value pair is then whatever data they want to store on your machine to prepare for your next visit, such as the zip code for the weather website.

If you have ever deleted all of the cookies from your computer you know the hassle you have after that. All of a sudden the web pages for your bank, credit cards, music site, games, and whatever else you routinely use don’t know who you are any more. Those sites were probably using cookies in the basic value pair mode, using them only to store your preferences.

You have the ability to control these kinds of cookies if you want. There is a setting in most web browsers that will allow you to get notified and make a choice every time a web site asks for a pair value from you. Try this and you will quickly abandon it because it will slow your web browsing to a crawl.

Of course, basic cookies can create annoyance at the user level. For example, my wife and I share a computer sometimes and I don’t really want to log automatically onto her Facebook or Amazon page. In fact, one day I bought a Kindle book without noticing it was her account and the book downloaded to her Kindle instead of mine. And I use multiple computers and thus I often get a different experience from a given web site based upon which computer I am using.

So why the big controversy over cookies? Unfortunately there are now companies that take cookies to the next level, and these are the ones that bother people. For example, DoubleClick is used by a lot of web shopping sites and it allows your user ID and data to be used across multiple web sites. If you buy something on the web you obviously have to tell whoever you are buying from all about you – your name, address, credit card number etc. But with cookies that can create an identify across multiple we sites the companies you buy from can start putting together profiles about you and they can see all of the different sites you are visiting that are within the DoubleClick universe. And this is all done without you knowing it.

And of course, there are all sorts of malware on the Internet that do all of the bad things that people associate with cookies. There are all sorts of adware, sneakware, keyloggers, browser hijackers, trojan horses and worms that gather all sorts of information about you. But basic cookies are not a threat to you. A cookie is a data file and it cannot gather other information on your computer. That requires one of the forms of malware. However, cookies that share information across multiple web sites can gather a lot more information about you than you might want to share. It’s a tricky world on the Internet and it’s really easy for people to forget that somebody else is at the other end of every keystroke you make.