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10 essential media stats from November 2018

The smart speaker opportunity, growth in mobile video and connected TV consumption, Netflix and Pandora’s latest experiments

This is the fourth in our monthly series offering the most important data and research about the media and communications industries.

Here’s 10 key numbers from the past month which caught our eye:

1 – 19% of live streaming to NPR is via smart speakers. Up from 4% last year.

In a deep-dive into the growth (and hype) around smart speakers, Rani Molla at recode highlighted successes (e.g. music streaming), challenges (such as eCommerce) and the big bets being placed on voice by brands and platforms alike.

One key takeaway in a feature packed with insights: “Old-school radio is feeling the smart speaker love as well.” “Importantly for public radio, which is funded by listeners, this listening is accretive, as NPR hasn’t seen declines on other platforms,” Molla writes.

There’s a potential financial benefit to this, Tamar Charney, managing director for personalization and curation at NPR says: “The more time people listen, the more engaged they are with the content and the more likely they are to donate.”

2 – 84% of UK smart speaker owners use it to stream music. 46% news.

CNN, NPR and ABC News are the most most popular news briefing brands in the United States, according to a new study from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University.

Elsewhere the research reinforced earlier analysis, which typically finds that playing music, answering general questions and weather queries, tend to be among the most popular uses of smart speakers.

News updates tend to rank much lower, perhaps suggesting that the killer format for this nascent technology has still to be identified.

3 – 62% of all video starts in Q2 2018 on smartphones and tablets

Data from Ooyala’s Q2 2018 Global Video Index Report revealed that, globally, mobile’s share of video starts hit a record 62%.

That figure jumps to 74% in Asia-Pacific and 65% in Latin America. Mobile video’s share of all plays in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region is up 64% in just two years.

The implications for publishers are clear: mobile video need to be a priority, given its continued growth among consumers.

But they shouldn’t just be looking for short-form opportunities.

Interestingly, Jim O’Neill, Ooyala principal analyst notes:

“More content creators, seeing the trend toward greater long-form video consumption (over 20 mins) on mobile devices — a trend we’ve been noting since last year — are now developing content concurrently for multiple platforms and are transitioning beyond snackable mobile-only content.”

4: Americans spend nearly 8 billion hours per month consuming content on connected TV devices

“More than two-thirds of U.S. homes now have devices that are capable of streaming video content,” Nielsen reported.

Consumers who watch content on connected devices spend more time on this device (over an hour a day) than on mobile devices (24 minutes) and PC’s (36 minutes) combined.

Connected devices also offer opportunities for brands, advertisers and content creators to reach desirable demographics too.

Nielsen notes that “out of total day viewers watching content aired across five networks on live TV, 7% are between the ages of 25 and 34, while 19% of connected device viewers are in the same age bracket.”

5 – $2.5 million sought to launch The Correspondent in the U.S.

In November, The Correspondent launched a campaign to raise $2.5 million as part of a plan to launch in the States next year. If they successfully reach their goal, they promise to be “a news site completely free of ads and sponsored content,” driven by 10 founding principles.

Rob Wijnberg, co-founder and Editor in Chief of the Dutch originating site, spoke to the Media Voices podcast (and featured here on WNiP) about their Stateside ambitions in September.

The site originally launched in Amsterdam in 2013, raising $1.7 million from 19,000 backers. They now have 60,000 members around the world. At the time of writing (4th December), with 11 days to go, the site has attracted over 16,500 founding members for it’s U.S. launch, who have collectively committed over $1 million.

On Medium, Wijnberg explained that US members can choose their own membership fee.

“That’s right,” he wrote. “After careful deliberation, we decided the best pricing model, closest to our values, is Choose What You Pay. Because we believe in a pricing model based on trust, inclusivity, and solidarity.

  • We trust you to choose a fair price that’s appropriate to your financial situation.
  • We feel journalism should be inclusive — it should be affordable for everybody.
  • We believe in the power of solidarity: those who can afford a little more can help keep our journalism accessible to those on a tighter budget.”
Messages from launch Ambassadors on The Correspondent website.

6 – Netflix testing RM17 ($4) mobile-only plan in Malaysia

According to Bloomberg: “Netflix, the world’s largest streaming service with more than 130 million subscribers, is looking to Asia as fertile territory for new customers after entering the region three years ago.”

To help them achieve this expansion, the company announced 17 new shows from five Asian countries last month, and the service is also developing more than 100 film and TV projects across India, Korea, Japan, Thailand and Taiwan.

The Star, Malaysia’s top English-language daily and website, commented that:

“Under this plan, subscribers get unlimited access to movies and TV shows available on the platform but can only use it on one handheld device, either a phone or tablet.

However, the biggest restriction is that the content will only be available in standard definition (SD) and not high definition (HD).”

Netflix’s mobile only package is half the cost of their basic package in the country.

7 – LinkedIn to generate $2 billion this year from its media business

“LinkedIn has been hesitant to reveal specific revenue numbers around its media efforts since it was acquired by Microsoft in 2016,” Axios’ Sarah Fischer noted.

“But is doing so now to highlight the growth of its ad business, which can be in part attributed to user engagement,” she added. The sum equates to just under a quarter of the $8.16 billion in ad revenue that Microsoft is projected to earn this year.

As we observed last month, Microsoft has been pushed back into fourth place for digital ad dollars in the U.S. due to the rise of Amazon as a digital advertising platform.

“LinkedIn says it generates more than 2 million posts, videos and articles in the feed per day,” FIscher reports, “and close to 30 million brands, institutions and organizations, from small businesses to large enterprises, have Pages on LinkedIn.” (You can find the What’s New in Publishing group page here.)

8 – Mic sold for $5 million

The millennial orientated website, Mic, has been the latest casualty of a bursting digital media bubble. Only three years ago, Business Insider was reporting that the site was worth $100 million at that it had just raised $32 million in funding round.

Bustle Digital Group bought the company in a deal valued at about $5 million, the Wall Street Journal reported. The company was apparently paying more than $2 million a year for it’s New York office space on the 82nd floor of One World Trade Center.

Mic isn’t the only digital darling in the firing line.

Vice Media will shrink its staff by 10-15% through attrition and a hiring freeze, The Wall Street Journal said (paywall). The company missed its venue target by more than $100 million last year.

Promotional image for Mic’s redesign in 2017

9 – Pandora’s podcast recommendations based on 1,500 characteristics

Pandora has launched a powerful new podcast recommendation tool, which blends human curation with “machine learning algorithms, natural language processing and collaborative filtering methods to help determine listener preferences,” observes Sarah Perez at TechCrunch.

“…The Podcast Genome Project can currently evaluate content across over 1,500 attributes, like MPAA ratings, production style, content type, host profile and more, as well as listener signals, like thumbs, skips, replays and more.”

Although podcasting – and audio – is widely seen to be in the middle of a golden age (and the source of a gold rush among many publishers) fewer than half (44%) of Americans aged 12+ have ever listened to a podcast.

Nonetheless, as the Pew Research Center has commented: “26% have listened to a podcast in the past month, up from just 9% in 2008. Furthermore, 17% of those 12 and older said they have listened to a podcast in the past week, up from 7% when this was first measured in 2013.”

Discovery of content outside of the iTunes Top 100 has often been a challenge for publishers and consumers alike. Pandora’s new recommendation engine may help to address that.

10 – Weibo to hit 25% take-up in China by year-end

The Chinese social network Weibo is expected to reach 24.6% of China’s population by the end of 2018, eMarketer predicts.

That’s akin to 340.1 million people, up 17% from last year. eMarketer forecasts the network will generate $1.54 billion in net digital ad revenue this year, up 65.0% from 2017.

eMarketer forecasting analyst Shelleen Shum said:

“Weibo has remained competitive by innovating away from text-based content to more visually rich formats such as videos, live streams and photos… Its partnerships with local TV networks, foreign sports leagues, celebrities and online influencers have allowed it to create a rich library of engaging content that caters to a variety of interests.”

For brands and publishers interested in expanding – or deepening their relationship – with Chinese audiences, Weibo is clearly a platform to watch.

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