COVID-19: A deeper look at media usage shifts and cost implications

By: Katrina Stroh, Media Director  |  April 10th, 2020

As many of you may have read our first blog post of the series providing a high level overview of how media usage is being impacted at the channel level.  In our next post, we dove a little deeper into the more specific behaviors we are seeing across channels as people look to their devices and screens to fill their extra time at home, meanwhile summarizing the impacts these shifts are having on inventory, demand, pricing and added value.

Streaming viewership is at an all-time high and continues to soar

While Broadcast and Cable TV are seeing large gains across news programming, TV streaming is experiencing growth like no other.  According to Nielsen, TV streaming usage has continued to grow week over week since beginning of March seeing 85% growth in minutes streamed compared to a year ago. With this increase in streaming the share of market has also increased attributing that streaming on TV’s accounts for 23% of overall viewing.  Netflix represents the largest streaming share at nearly 30% followed by YouTube at 20%, Hulu at 10%, Amazon Prime at 9% and other longer tail players making up the remaining 31%.

Much of this shift in viewing is due in part to sports viewers looking for alternatives. According to VIZIO’s Inscape panel of 14MM Opti-in TV’s, Sports fans who use connected devices spent 47% more time streaming when compared with the previous week when sports were on, while 10% of sports fans reported they stopped watching traditional TV altogether.

 (Source: Vizio Inscape Panel)

Streaming services modify offerings to accommodate video demand

  • Amazon: free family friendly programming for kids (must be account holder, but Prime membership not required)
  • Sling TV: launched free streaming, news and entertainment
  • Hulu: added free live TV News to on-demand
  • Movie Releases: Theater Movies now available on demand, NBCU announced its release of “The Hunt,” “The Invisible Man” and “Emma,” to home viewers ($19.99)
  • Disney: Releases its own movies early through its streaming service “Frozen II” and “Onward” are arrived ahead of schedule

YouTube is leading with some of the largest increases in overall video usage

  • YouTube watch time is up 10x in the US in the past 28 days
  • Connected TV viewing is also up accounting for 32% of inventory views in March, increasing to upwards of 45% in the last week of March
  • People are seeking out topics to help them adapt, cope and connect

Leading Topics on YouTube:

(Source: Strike Social)

Social media and social video app usage surge and people crave human connection

Increased usage across all messaging platforms has been biggest in the 18-34 age group. WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram have all experienced a 40%+ increase in usage from under-35-year-olds. (Source: Kantar)

Video conferencing/chat apps have also exploded in popularity such as Zoom, Hangouts, Skype and Houseparty.  This category saw a remarkable 62MM app downloads during a single week (March 14-21). (Source: App Annie)

What does all of this mean for Advertisers? Q2 is an efficient time to buy media!

The media landscape is amid dichotomy as many channels experience record traffic, meanwhile major brand advertisers pull down ad campaigns and shift to later in the year.  However, this influx of supply and decrease in demand creates an opportunistic time to be buying media.

With digital inventory soaring, we predict CPM’s are bound to come down.  When comparing inventory in more heavily hit COVID areas such as Washington State, we are seeing inventory in March at nearly 3 times that of February.  While rates haven’t dropped too dramatically yet, we project rates will come down during the month of April as publishers scramble to sell off the excess inventory.  We have already seen some aggressive direct publisher deals come through that warrant their interest in selling their inventory off outside of the open exchange.  We are also seeing some efficiencies in Youtube inventory with 30%+ decline in cost per view as a result of the increased activity.

However, good deals aren’t just happening in the digital space, traditional channels are coming to the table with some of the most aggressive offerings.  In Seattle specifically, TV has become a hugely opportunistic channel with pricing decreases upwards of 20% across the board in Q2 placed buys.  TV stations have also been quite generous with added value offerings to active advertisers in the form of PSA’s, billboards, sponsorships, and remnant inventory bonus.   The out of home channel is also coming forward with some great discounted pricing for Q2 avails, with traditional billboard vendors offering up rate discounts, and transit offering aggressive bonus packages to encourage spending.

Bottom line is, there are definitely some great opportunities to be had, so certainly don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any interest in taking advantage of some efficient media opportunities or want to test out a channel like TV that may normally be too cost prohibitive. While many things may be uncertain right now, Media+ remains a trusted and nimble resource to help you navigate these unprecedented times.

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