What You’re Not Hearing About In The Media About The Streaming Media Wars . . .


Apple TV+ Launches With Big-Name Content And Modest Revenue Impact

Apple launched its $4.99-per-month, original content service, Apple TV+, on November 1. The company did this because, in 11 days, Disney+ will launch its subscription service with much more content, media, and consumer attention. Better to get coverage while you still can. Not that we’re playing this down: Apple TV+ will be a success, if you measure success in devices sold and brand love. If you measure success in direct revenue, you’ll have to wait for 2021 to find out. Until then, Apple’s slate of content is right enough — full of big names like Aniston, Oprah, and even Snoopy — to create buzz. But Apple TV+ will succeed not due to content but because Apple is giving it away. We predict over 50M people will watch something on Apple TV+ before year’s end, and that number will top 100M by year-end 2020 (expect a more formal forecast on Apple, Disney, and more later this quarter). By giving away a free year of Apple TV+ to anyone who buys a new iPad, Apple TV, iPhone, Mac, and even iPod touch (yes, they still exist), it automatically puts tens of millions of households in Apple’s potential reach — the iPhone alone will sell 200M units between now and year-end 2020, meaning that only half of those people have to watch even one episode for our viewer estimate to pan out. With its “free” TV content, Apple is essentially tossing in a $60 rebate on the purchase of a new device. Sure, the company hopes those viewers will roll over into paying subscribers, but an additional reason to invest in content is to have a monthly thing to shout about instead of an annual iPhone upgrade. Increasing the frequency with which you can remind people how much they like being your customer is important, and TV content does that, as it has done for Amazon for years now.

The Great Streampocalypse: A Lesson In Driving Trial Vs. Loyalty

The streaming media landscape is about to experience an unprecedented competitive cataclysm as Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock, ViacomCBS, and others storm the market between November and April. By mid-2020, pioneers Netflix and Amazon will face off with media companies that built TV, paired off with their powerful companion movie studio and franchises. The parent company that made “Game of Thrones” will now be living it. So begins the streampocalypse. News outlets have focused on competitor content and pricing. For sure, those elements will drive initial consumer trialing. But the financial markets want long-term subscribers, and marketers want sustainable partners. That’s where customer experience (CX) comes in. To win the long game, streaming services will have to pair powerful content with a compelling user experience in order to keep consumers and build long-term success. The best content in the world has no value if consumers can’t find it — or can’t find it fast enough to satisfy today’s short attention span. As of right now, the app and site experiences across current players vary dramatically. The inaugural “The Forrester Streaming Media Wave™: US Apps, Q4 2019,” compared nine top streaming services on functionality and user experience criteria. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon set the bar. Other services missed the mark due to poor abilities to connect consumers to content that matches their interests and prior viewing habits and weak customization capabilities. Disney’s CEO Bob Iger, ViacomCBS’s CEO Bob Bakish, and AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson have all called out their streaming video services as key to their company’s future. As industry watchers look to pick winners and losers, they shouldn’t overlook consumers’ experiences with these services. Here at Forrester, we sure won’t.

Marketers Take On Facebook Q3 Earnings: Waiting For More

In Samuel Beckett’s famous play, “Waiting for Godot,” characters wait for the arrival of another who never shows. Facebook’s earnings calls feel similar. From a financial analyst’s perspective, plenty of billions in earnings happened. But for marketers looking for new news on audiences, advertising opportunities, and marketing innovation, we’re waiting. Still, marketers are fine handing over their dollars as they wait. Facebook showed amazing ad revenue growth of 28% year-over-year. Over 140M businesses (mostly small) once again were unperturbed by scandals, fines, or investigations, giving over almost $4B in revenue more than they did the same quarter last year. The number of daily active users grew, mostly outside the US, Canada, and Europe. International growth is good for global brands seeking to use social to further expansion goals. But Facebook shares nothing about other facets of user quality. How many of them are 13–18 years old vs. retired vs. high-income earners? (Are they your target?) What are their activities in other channels? (How can you build a holistic, cross-channel campaign?) What is their openness to engaging with brands on social? (Do they even want to engage with your brand here?) Our research indicates serious cracks in the facade of social network engagement. Beyond users, news on advertising tools was tepid. Facebook lightly covered a smorgasbord, from dating and news to virtual reality, payments, and commerce. More offerings mean more impressions and targetable behaviors — good for marketers. But Facebook’s innovation pipeline feels like a diversified risk portfolio, with Facebook hoping something in its vast treasure chest of burgeoning efforts will take off like Facebook or Instagram. We did not hear much about block-and-tackle core advertising formats and tools. Granted, Facebook has been busy addressing necessary privacy and security issues. There’s the rub: Ad innovation won’t help anyone until Facebook cleans house to make its sites safe for consumers. While we predict a strong Q4 for Facebook as it enters the holiday season, we agree with Mark Zuckerberg when he admitted that this will be a very tough year for the company. Sure, $17B in Q3 ad dollars makes it a bit better, but how long will that last?