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Week In Review: 90% Of SVOD Programming Is Watched On An Actual TV Set; Twitter Gets Caught Lying About Their User Numbers

1. 90% Of SVOD Programming Is Watched On An Actual TV Set

As part of Nielsen’s new interest in SVOD viewing (they’re now measuring Netflix viewing, whether Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos want them to or not), they released some very interesting numbers about SVOD viewing that undercuts some of the conventional wisdom coming out of Silicon Valley.

For starters, it seems that 90% of all SVOD viewing is done on an actual TV set. Not an iPad or a smartphone. That’s a lot different scenario than the “all kids are watching on their phones” theory that’s frequently bandied about, one that seems to support the alternative “best available screen” theory that says that people will watch TV on the best and largest screen they have access to, and that sometimes teens watch on their mobile devices because they don’t want their parents looking over their shoulders.

Why That Matters

The other interesting factoid was that 80% of SVOD viewing consisted of reruns, aka “back catalog.” This says that the networks are indeed shooting themselves in the foot by selling their old shows to Netflix, since the platform’s main appeal seems to be the broad array of familiar programming it has on offer, commercial-free, along with a smattering of originals.

The flip side to that however, is that a big part of Netflix’s appeal is that it does have everything in one place, which makes it easy for viewers to find what they want without having to go from one app to another. It also makes it easy for Netflix to offer more targeted recommendations as they have a better view of the user’s overall viewing pattern.

Hulu, which has quietly been collecting some of the most notable series from the 90s (Friends and Seinfeld, to be exact) may well be on to something with that strategy and they may be the ones to pull traffic from Netflix. Hulu already has many (if not most) of the recent reruns from parent companies NBC, ABC, Fox and Time Warner, and if back catalog viewing is indeed what viewers want, they are in a very good position.

This trend actually reflects what we’re seeing in the wild, especially with tweens and teens—they’re finding old series, everything from Grey’s Anatomy (which is still going) to Lost and watching the entire series from start to finish. This type of back catalog viewing is only going to grow and TV’s long tail may turn out to be something after all.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re an MVPD, you might want to think about improving the user experience on your VOD offerings. Maybe even switching to a library-based interface that will surface your VOD content to people who’d want to watch it. (Check out the Hulu Live TV interface to see what we’re talking about.)

If you’re a network and you don’t own Hulu, you’re in a tricky position. You can try keeping your back catalog to yourself, but the odds of people finding your OTT app and watching it there are pretty small, plus there’s all those development and marketing costs.

If you’re an advertiser, you might think about sponsoring a back catalog series on Hulu. We haven’t seen actual stats, but anecdotally we’d say you’d reach both the teen/tween audience (depending on the show) along with their parents. All on a series that isn’t going to offer you any unexpected surprises.


2. Twitter Gets Caught Lying About Their User Numbers

President Trump’s favorite social media platform has admitted it’s been lying about its user numbers for years, inflating totals by anywhere from one to two million users a year since 2014. They blamed the error on the fact that they’d accidentally miscounted users coming from third-party applications.

Why It Matters

While Twitter has been struggling with user growth for years, they claim to have added four million new users in the last quarter, including one million in the U.S.

And while most media observers would like to see Twitter succeed, there’s still a massive amount of skepticism about Twitter’s numbers. Just google “buy Twitter followers” and you’ll find multiple sites willing to sell them to you in increments of 1,000 for just pennies a follower. The massive amount of bot traffic, fake accounts and high number of users who maintain multiple accounts (e.g., work and personal) is why many of us look at the user numbers Twitter reports and divide by three.

Which, in TV[R]EV’s opinion, is being quite generous.

What You Need To Do About It

While we would like to be able to tell you that there’s a way to avoid the Zuckerberg Empire on social media, there really isn’t: Instagram and Facebook have the largest communities, almost all their users are real, and they’re still growing. While Twitter has been trying to bring in TV programming, tune-in advertising and brand advertising, their audience is still too small and too niche and too segmented to be of any consequence.

While political and celebrity tweets often have reach far beyond their numbers, Twitter ads don’t get that sort of bounce and so Twitter as a promotional platform has a long way to go.

Better to bite the bullet and go with Instagram or Facebook.