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Week In Review: DisneyPlus Launches, ABC Just Says No To Same Day Ratings

1. DisneyPlus Launches

Disney launched its streaming service, Disney+ this week and they are reporting that around 10 million people have already signed up. That’s an impressive or crappy number depending on who you talk to, which sort of sums up where everything stands.

Why It Matters

Some people are thinking that with all the promotion it’s gotten and a price tag of just $7/month for ad-free TV, Disney should have signed up five times as many subs.

Others have pointed out that it took services like Netflix and Hulu years to get to the 10 million mark.

They’re both wrong.

It’s unrealistic to expect that many people to sign up for something sight unseen. Even if it is from Disney. That’s just not how people are wired.

Also 10 million is a hella big number. Especially for a first week. A first week where you also ran into hella tech issues resulting in hella headlines like this WaPo special: The Glitchy Debut of Disney Plus is the Stuff of Tech Launch Nightmares.

So there’s that.

Mostly though, 10 million means you’ve got to take Disney Plus seriously as a service. And the time those 10 million people spend on Disney Plus? Well it’s probably not coming out of the time they spend sleeping or eating. The question is where it’s coming from: from other premium services like Netflix, from broadcast and cable TV or from the time they spend online? (Our guess is that it’s a combination of all three and varies widely depending on the age and interests of the actual viewer.)

So there’s that too.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re another Flix, you’ll want to do some research to see where Disney+ viewing is coming from. That’s not an easy number to figure out but could be worth the effort. And it would help me out a lot, which is really all that matters.

If you’re Netflix, well, you’ve never really had anything to worry about. People aren’t cancelling Netflix to sign up for Disney+. Well, not a lot of them, anyway. So ignore all those “Netflix Killer” headlines. They’re just trawling for clicks.

If you’re a cable network, especially one where viewers have no f’ing idea what kind of programming you have on offer, this is bad news. Once all these Flixes launch, no one is going to want to pay for “unknown content.” Which means maybe it’s time to pivot your business model to “studio” or “production house.”

If you’re a Verizon Unlimited data customer and you want a free year of Disney+, then just click here. (And don’t say TV[R]EV never did anything for you!) They’re giving a year away for free, they’re just not really doing much about publicizing it.

2. ABC Just Says No To Same Day Ratings

As viewership gets increasingly time-shifted, ABC is joining Fox in their decision not to report live and same day (L+SD) ratings. (Except of course on live sports and live events like Little Mermaid Live! where L+SD works in their favor.)

Instead they will be reporting Live+3, Live+7 and the new(ish) Multiplatform+35 (MP35) rating, which, as the name implies, takes into account time shifted viewing across multiple platforms, 35 days out.

Why It Matters

ABC is finding that while their L+SD ratings are increasingly abysmal, their MP35 ratings are anything but. As Deadline reported, the MP35 ratings “showed that nearly all of ABC’s shows at least tripled their audience versus L+SD. The delayed viewership was up 30% vs. last year and up 56% vs. the year prior.”

ABC’s move seems justified given the amount of time-shifted viewing that is currently happening and seems likely to continue happening.

But the question remains as to how many advertisers will want to run ads on an MP35 promise—that takes any sort of timeliness out of the equation and if you’re running a Thanksgiving Day sale, you want your ads seen before Thanksgiving, not two weeks after. 

Which is why addressable advertising is becoming such a big deal.

You see (and you will see even more clearly once you read our upcoming report on Addressable TV Advertising) one of the key reasons to run addressable is to prevent over- and under-delivery of your ads in a time-shifted world. 

Figuring out when that’s happening will become the provenance of ACR (automatic content recognition) data and the companies who make use of it to monitor what viewers are watching “on the glass”—the actual TV screen—regardless of the source. 

Clicking back a screen, the bigger issue here is that more and more people are watching TV on their own schedules, at least for shows they like. That leads us to believe that there will continue to be a market for what can best be described as “background noise TV”—those shows you watch when you’re cooking dinner or checking email and don’t need to pay much attention to. 

That is increasingly looking like the future of linear TV and we suspect there will be an increase in just this type of disposable linear programming as the Flixcopalypse continues and viewers are tired of spending so much time picking the shows they want to watch, and so they’ll be happy to outsource the task to someone else when they just want to kick back and chill.

So look for a return to linear especially linear that starts up when you’re ready to start watching and gives you the option to restart where you left off or go back to Step One

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re ABC, take a bow. Going second isn’t quite as tough as going first (Fox took that honor) but giving up L+SD is a baller move, even if you’re just doing it to look good.

If you’re a streaming service, know that the days of grading your own homework are quickly coming to an end as ACR data allows brands to see just who is watching and how much, so don’t laugh at ABC for worrying about ratings. You’re going to have to start worrying soon enough.

If you’re Nielsen, just keep innovating. The more we time shift, the more we need different ways to measure TV.

And if you’re another network, it’s probably a good idea to jump on the no same-day/#MP35isLife bandwagon now, rather than waiting to play catch-up down the road and looking like you’re only doing it because your life ratings suck. Which, at this point in time, they probably will.