Audio streaming service Spotify has inked an exclusive, multi-year podcast deal with Riot Games, making it the official audio hub for League of Legends. The audio platform’s nearly 300 million monthly active users will now be able to listen to music from Riot’s esports-leading game and a series of podcasts about LoL competition and culture.
Spotify, as we’ve covered before on Interpret Insights, has separated itself from the competition with a clear focus on podcasts. On top of exclusive deals with Joe Rogan, Kim Kardashian, and DC Comics, the streaming service recently signed TikTok dancer Addison Rae and singer Lele Pons. It’s part of a wider strategy to ramp up exclusive deals with social media influencers, Spotify acknowledged to the Los Angeles Times.
This exclusive deal helps diversify Spotify’s podcast offerings. One LoL podcast show, Untold Stories: Top Moments from Worlds, is expected to be ready this year. The nine-episode series will lead up to the 10th LoL championship this fall, providing fans with background stories about the players in addition to game highlights, interviews, and game sound effects.
Spotify’s entry into the world of esports is unique, and it makes a lot of sense given its customer base and the huge popularity of LoL. Interpret’s NMM: Global Profiles® shows that almost a third of esports viewers currently subscribe to Spotify, with even more specifically signing up from the LoL player base. While these already-subscribing consumers won’t produce incremental subscription revenues for Spotify, they will serve as a ready-made platform for grassroots marketing to non-subscribing League of Legends players. This new content addition by Spotify will also encourage retention at a time when consumers may be feeling fatigue from all of their streaming subscriptions.
Spotify’s goal to offer more than music has worked well so far for the platform – esports could be the next big opportunity for the company.
While HBO Max, Disney+, and Peacock have been grabbing headlines recently, Apple gave us all notice that it, too, plans to be a relevant player in the streaming world in both original content and service bundling.
In recent months, there’s been a ramp up of exclusive content commitments by Apple with new signings intended to lure more viewers to the platform. Beyond Greyhound, starring Tom Hanks, and Emancipation, starring Will Smith, Apple TV+ has signed a first-look movie deal with legendary director Martin Scorsese. The news came shortly after Apple had already signed a first-look deal with Leonardo DiCaprio.
“Original content has been a cornerstone of Apple’s strategy for Apple TV+ from the beginning,” said Brett Sappington, VP at Interpret. “While expensive and risky, originals provide differentiation from others in the market. It also provides Apple with control. Many of its content deals seem to be designed with the Apple brand in mind – high profile, A-list talent that any company would love to have promote its products to consumers.”
Beyond partnerships with some of the best talent in Hollywood, Apple has bolstered its push by teaming with other networks to offer more content at a lower total price to viewers. In the first bundle being offered on Apple’s service, Apple TV+ subscribers can now opt for CBS All Access and Showtime for just $9.99 per month. Both CBS All Access and Showtime were already available in the Apple TV channels lineup, but considering that Showtime costs subscribers $10.99 monthly and CBS All Access subscriptions go for $5.99, Apple is banking on the bundle approach as too irresistible for content-hungry fans – not unlike Disney+ offering a bundle with ESPN+ and Hulu.
Interpret’s New Media Measure shows that Apple TV+ clearly has room for growth with the bundle method. Among current Apple TV+ subscribers, only 7% subscribe to Showtime streaming, and 13% subscribe to CBS All Access.
With more than 180 million subscribers, and 13.5 million added internationally as of last quarter, Netflix is the go to entertainment service in many global markets. While Netflix chief Reed Hastings has acknowledged that the company expects some viewership declines as COVID-19 abates, there are still growth opportunities for Netflix to pursue in markets where its footprint isn’t as large.
India, for example, with a population of nearly 1.4 billion people, presents a major opportunity to add to Netflix’s subscriber base. Currently, India’s streaming video entertainment is led by Amazon Prime Video, with 35% using the service, according to Interpret’s NMM: Global Profiles®, but Netflix isn’t far behind at 32%. Moreover, Netflix just added a complete Hindi interface option, which should do well to accelerate adoption for those who don’t want to be forced to use English. Netflix also intends to invest further in Indian films and series across all genres and for all generations, including hits like Sacred Games, Bulbbul, Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai and Mighty Little Bheem.
“Delivering a great Netflix experience is as important to us as creating great content. We believe the new user interface will make Netflix even more accessible and better suit members who prefer Hindi,” said Monika Shergill, VP-Content, Netflix India.
“Consumers uniquely value content that reflects local language, culture and context,” said Brett Sappington, Vice President, Interpret. “When it first went global, Netflix struggled in many markets where it had limited or no local language content. Today, Netflix’s investments in international content production are helping the company connect with consumers and significantly grow its subscriber base.”
Better late than never, but the new Hindi option comes two years after Amazon Prime Video launched its own Hindi version, as pointed out by Business Insider, which also notes that Netflix pricing in India remains higher than competitors. Still, with a new Hindi option and greater investment in Indian programming, Netflix has significant room for growth in the country. In the US and UK, Interpret data shows that Netflix commands a 56% and 54% share, respectively, of video streaming services. Whether Netflix can reach that level of penetration in India remains to be seen.
NBCUniversal parent company Comcast is proudly displaying its plumage, as new streaming service Peacock has reached 10 million signups. Comcast’s feathers were ruffled at the same time, however, as the broadcast giant lost 427,000 video subscribers in its second quarter, fueling a nearly 12% dip in revenues.
For Comcast and other Pay TV providers, it’s a sign of the times – people are increasingly relying on content streaming over the internet rather than via cable or satellite. Comcast sees this as the silver lining in its long-term prospects given that the company controls around 40% of the broadband internet market in the U.S.
“I’m pretty excited that as the world’s transitioning, broadband is at the center of making a lot of that possible and now we can bolt on a lot of content and interfaces and hopefully we can do that in a way that customers can really enjoy,” said Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast.
NBCUniversal launched Peacock back in April, initially only with Comcast Xfinity customers. With the nationwide launch, it’s likely that the majority of Peacock’s 10 million signups are for the free, ad-supported version. The Hollywood Reporter suggested earlier this year that Peacock’s launch could signal a “gold rush” for ad-supported streaming content. Reviews have been fairly positive, but Peacock has been held back by a lack of support for Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices, no 4K HDR option, and a dearth of original programming.
Even so, consumers can’t argue with free. Interpret’s New Media Measure® shows that 29% of cord cutters (individuals who’ve cancelled live TV service in the past two years) and 27% of Comcast Xfinity subscribers watch ad-supported TV content. Interpret believes that ad-supported streaming is an area that’s primed for further growth.
After months of impatiently waiting for sports to return, fans are once again enjoying televised baseball and basketball, and Fox Sports is looking to capitalize on the rabid fanbase hungry for live competition. Fox has often been an innovator when it comes to leveraging technology for sports experiences – teaming with Google Cloud to maximize production capabilities and filling empty baseball stadiums with virtual fans created in Unreal Engine – and now the network is revamping its app with an enhanced feature set for diehard fans.
Fox announced that all its live broadcasts can now be watched via its Fox Sports app, which will integrate real-time stats, social feeds, projections, and special “Bonus Cams” for viewers who would rather use their phones as a second screen experience than as the primary display. Fox introduced its “Watch Party” concept with different camera angles as part of a quadruple header of MLB games on July 25th.
Moreover, the company said that Fox Bet, its sports wagering platform that launched last year, is going to be integrated into the Fox Sports app to display real-time betting odds during games – a feature that gamblers or even fans who casually bet among friends will appreciate.
For many people, the smartphone sits at the center of their lives, whether they’re watching video, working, scrolling social feeds, or just relaxing in front of the TV. Fox is wisely picking up on a trend that should lead to greater engagement for the company and its sports ecosystem. Interpret’s New Media Measure® shows that nearly 60% of passionate sports fans use their phones while watching TV, and an equal percentage of Fox Sports viewers share this habit, which puts the network just slightly ahead of ESPN.
If watching Netflix across your TV, phone, laptop, or gaming console isn’t enough, viewers now have two other options: Nest Hub and Hub Max. Google announced full Netflix support on its blog for its smart displays, enabling the “ultimate cooking companion” for the kitchen. Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max also boast support for Peacock, CBS All Access, Sling, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Hulu, and Showtime.
For Netflix, users simply need to link their accounts in the Google Home or Assistant app, and then they can use the “Hey Google, open Netflix” voice command to start streaming. Owners of Nest Hub Max can even use hand gestures if they prefer.
The ubiquity of Netflix cannot be overstated. The additions of Nest Hub and Hub Max come at a time of incredible growth for the streaming platform. The company just posted record results for its second quarter and grew its new paid subscribers by 10.1 million. For the first half of 2020, Netflix has added 26 million subscribers, which compares to 28 million for all of 2019. Although the figures are impressive, Netflix did caution investors that “growth is slowing as consumers get through the initial shock of COVID and social restrictions.”
With the addition of Netflix, and built-in YouTube integration, Nest Hub and Hub Max have an advantage over competing smart displays like Amazon Echo and Facebook Portal. Smart speaker owners are also predisposed to using Netflix. According to Interpret’s NMM: Global Profiles®, 64% of smart speaker owners worldwide subscribe to the streaming service vs. only 41% Netflix penetration among those who do not own a smart speaker.