Amazon Says TNF Averaged 16.6M Viewers Across “All Media Platforms”, but Doesn’t Provide Any Transparency

Amazon says that according to Nielsen’s custom Integrated Live Streaming Report, Prime Video averaged 16.6 million viewers (AMA) for the Thursday Night Football kickoff game of the Vikings and Eagles across Prime Video, local broadcast outlets, Twitch, and NFL digital properties. That’s not a dedicated streaming-only number. Also, Amazon does not define what a “viewer” is so if the game is auto-playing on the home page and you visit the home page but don’t click on the video, are you a viewer? We don’t know. There is zero transparency in the numbers.

These numbers are NOT comparable to previous games or streaming of other live sporting events since Nielsen has revised their formula and is using Amazon’s first-party data in determining the official viewership of TNF games. Last year, Amazon’s internal data showed viewership 18% higher than the Nielsen numbers for the 15 regular-season games broadcast on Prime Video.

It’s pretty amazing to see Nielsen sacrifice its most valuable selling proposition, impartiality, just for one client and one sports league. Any partner of Nielsen’s and other large clients and sports leagues looks like they don’t matter to Nielsen when they change their rules for one customer.

It has been reported that Nielsen has made a similar effort to utilize data from streaming platforms from other networks who have reported to the media that Nielsen has given them no actual information on how it would work and kept them in the dark. If there is one thing Nielsen isn’t known for it’s transparency. Nielsen calls out that the current way they do measurement, by integrating first-party viewing signal, is “presently not accredited” and is “undergoing review by the Media Rating Council.” In other words, the data is not to be trusted.

Amazon is calling this the “most-streamed NFL game in history”, with a * calling out that is, “based on device AMA, inclusive of Prime Video, Twitch, and NFL+.” I don’t even know what that means. I would expect it to be the largest streamed NFL game but Amazon doesn’t say what the streaming-only viewership numbers were. And, this is very important, they don’t say how many had a good quality experience. When you compare your viewership numbers to cable TV, where the experience is the same for everyone, versus streaming where a larger portion of your users could have had a poor experience, that is not apples-to-apples.

Also, I’ll put this out there. In more than 3 years of inquiries to Nielsen, they have never once replied to any of my questions. I hear this from other media outlets all the time as well. There is a reason why they don’t like talking to the media, they don’t want to be asked hard questions.

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Episode 68: The Implosion of The Pay TV Market as Blackouts, Increasing Carriage Fees and Cord Cutting Destroy Legacy Business Models

Podcast Episode 68 is live! This week we detail how the current model of licensing broadcast networks to pay TV distributors is completely broken. With a recent blackout on Spectrum due to a licensing dispute with Disney and a current blackout on DISH due to their dispute with Hearst, the methodology of how content is valued needs to change. We discuss what consumers want from streaming services, how they want to aggregate them, the business models that work best, and the ridiculous fragmentation fans have when watching sports-related content.

We also highlight the recently announced layoffs from Roku, Nielsen and the new financial numbers that Warner Bros. Discovery, Netflix and others have put out tied to revenue and free cash flow, due to the impact of the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes.

Companies and services mentioned: Charter Communications, Spectrum, The Walt Disney Company, Roku, Tubi, Fox Corporation, YouTube, Nielsen, DISH Network, Hearst, National Football League, DIRECTV, Peacock, Comcast, Warner Bros. Discovery.

Executive Interview: Roku Discusses the Latest Advertising Metrics, Formats and Trends Across FAST and AVOD

For my latest “Executive Interview” podcast, I sat down with Dan Robbins, VP of Ad Marketing and Partner Solutions at Roku who joined me for a discussion about the latest challenges and opportunities with advertising across  SVOD and FAST services. We discuss the measurement side of advertising, the powerful role of big data and integrated platforms in delivering accurate and consistent results and what brands are demanding for targeting. Dan also details Roku’s vision for TV advertising, new creative ad formats and why Roku decided to build Roku branded TV’s with a third-party manufacturer. Learn the complexities of the rapidly evolving advertising market and the multitude of opportunities waiting to be seized. You can listen to the podcast here.

YouTube Scores a Touchdown With Week One of NFL Sunday Ticket Streaming

YouTube had a great first week streaming their NFL Sunday Ticket package and executed the games with a few technical errors that, from what I can tell, didn’t impact the majority of users. [See my live blogging from the day here: Live Blogging NFL Sunday Ticket on YouTube: Streams Live, Multiview Looking Good] Nearly all of the user complaints were tied to things out of YouTube’s control, like blackout rules, or were as a result of users not understanding that multiview wasn’t supported on desktop and mobile.

YouTube has been very clear with its support pages and promoting what the service would and would not provide. There were some issues on YouTube’s side with location services not working right, pixelated streams [1], [2] and playback errors [1], [2], [3], but that is to be expected across a large group. How large exactly the audience was we don’t know and it is unknown if YouTube and the NFL will put out any viewership numbers post-week one.

The largest complaint by far was users not understanding the blackout rules and blaming YouTube for games they could not see, which the NFL is responsible for, based on the deals they cut with the broadcast networks. There were tons of users asking why they could not select the games they wanted to see in the multiview windows and suggesting YouTube should be able to do it since DIRECTV had this feature for many years.

What consumers don’t understand is the underlying tech and how different it is between what DIRECTV previously offered and what YouTube TV is doing today. From what I recall, DIRECTV had one channel with 8 games and one with 4 but you couldn’t choose the games. Using DIRECTV through their app or using a web browser you could select games but it should be noted that DIRECTV had the NFL Sunday Ticket contract for 28 years. This is YouTube’s first year.

YouTube TV employees have already been quoted online saying, “Over time, we’ll refine and add more functionality to multiview, including the option to customize your own multiview streams.” So that functionality will come and the user experience will improve. Overall the experience was a good one for most users and there were no outages I saw from any of the games. This contrasts with outages by Xfinity [link], NFL+ [link] and Shaw [link] that lasted hours.

I’m rooting for the Google and YouTube TV teams to have great execution every week throughout the year. If they can keep any technical issues to a minimum, and short-lived, plus provide accurate and timely support, it helps the entire streaming industry. If YouTube TV has any widespread problems with streaming the NFL Sunday Ticket, the backlash from many will be that streaming is not ready for prime time and can’t be used as a replacement to broadcast TV distribution and that would hurt the entire industry.

Live Blogging NFL Sunday Ticket on YouTube: Streams Live, Multiview Looking Good


NFL Sunday Ticket has kicked off on YouTube and I will be live blogging what I see all day at this post.

I am testing across many devices, with multiple accounts, and have users in other states also providing me with direct feedback. I’m also watching the Reddit message boards, Twitter, and the live chat within games on the iPad. I haven’t seen any reports of streams being down but am seeing LOTS of comments around issues tied to games being blacked out which is expected, but is confusing many.

Mobile and web do not support multiview and YouTube is offering a pre-defined listing of multiview streams. Even with YouTube making that very clear, you see many viewers complaining they can’t pick the games in multiview individually. NFL Sunday Ticket games have distinct source feeds broadcast in 1080i (a mix of native and upscaled) compared to 720p local broadcasts. There is no 4K streaming of NFL Sunday Ticket.

Updates Below:

9:30pm ET: YouTube had a great first week streaming NFL Sunday Ticket. The majority of user complaints were tied to things out of YouTube’s control, like blackout rules, or were as a result of users not understanding that multiview wasn’t supported on desktop or mobile. YouTube has been very clear with their support pages and promoting what the service would and would not provide. There were some issues on YouTube’s side with location services not working right, pixelated streams [1], [2] and playback errors [1], [2], [3], but nothing I saw to indicate it impacted the majority of users. It is unknown if YouTube and the NFL will put out any viewership numbers after week one but if they do, I will add those numbers to this post.

6:27pm ET: I don’t know how YouTube was handling support calls for today but there were more than a few complaints online of consumers being “disconnected” after being put on hold and “hung up on,” once they got through to someone. Also, long hold times of over 2 hours. Hopefully YouTube support will get fewer calls in week two with users having learned the limitations of the service but don’t count on it.

5:50pm ET: Some fans are using the multiview feature to their full advantage. Many have shared photos of their multiview setups on Twitter. So far, I haven’t seen any major technical issues around multiview aside from some games freezing or buffering, which is always going to happen. But I have not seen those complaints in any large quantity.

4:50pm ET: It’s interesting to note just how many ad breaks don’t have ads in the stream and show random images instead. I don’t know if that’s because they are unsold or YouTube TV doesn’t have the rights to show them but many ad spots are “house ads” for YouTube TV.

4:30pm ET: On a side note, regarding YouTube TV the company has acknowledged that on the Apple TV 4K device the ESPN 4K channel is currently limited to 1080p60 quality. YouTube TV support says this problem was expected to be addressed with a prior large Apple update in April but apparently it has not been fixed.

4:15pm ET: Individual game streams on YouTube desktop and mobile don’t show how many users are watching the stream, but the Week 1 Preview Show did show the number watching, which I saw peaking at just over 11,000 at 12:42pm ET.

4:00pm ET: YouTube is aware of an issue on the YouTube app (but not YouTube TV) with regards to multiview and RedZone. If you don’t have NFL RedZone, you may still see it listed in your multiview options on Home, but then will see an error message and won’t be able to watch the RedZone stream. YouTube says, “we’re sorry this is a confusing experience and we’re working to fix it. For now, don’t select the multiview options that include RedZone if you haven’t signed up for RedZone.”

3:45pm ET: By far the biggest issue I am seeing reported by users is how they select the home area or current location in YouTube TV. Many are reporting they are following the instructions YouTube has provided but it’s still not working for them.

3:25pm ET: I am seeing latency of between 20-30 seconds depending on the device being used. Here’s some stats from the desktop on the Mac. And for those that will say this is a problem for YouTube and they need to use “ultra low latency”, they don’t. They are not losing out on sign ups due to the latency.

3:03pm ET: Two hours into the kickoff and from what I am seeing and from what is being reported by users, YouTube’s streams are looking good. Multiview is working well and I’ve not had any of the streams stop or buffer across the 3 TVs I’m testing on.

2:30pm ET: There are multiple reports of users having problems with regards to concurrent stream limitations. I don’t know how widespread this is but I have seen a limited number of complaints since the games started.

2:15pm ET: While it appears that YouTube’s live streams are looking good for the majority of users, the same can’t be said for users trying to watch via Comcast’s Xfinity stream app. It is suffering a major outage which took place right as the NFL games kicked off. At 2:02pm ET Xfinity acknowledged the outage on Twitter, but only in replies to users, they have not posted anything on their main feed. They said, “We are aware of the issue and our fix teams are engaged and doing everything they can to restore the Xfinity Stream functionality as quickly as they can.”

2:07pm ET: On the desktop, when you login to your account on you don’t even see any NFL games listed which makes no sense. YouTube’s own instructions for desktop say you have to search “NFL Sunday Ticket” or find the NFL Channel to be able to see the games.

2:00pm: Some users are saying when trying to stream it’s telling them to verify their location on their phone. But when they go to their phone and verify location and it still asks them to verify location on TV. Seems to be stuck in a loop. Seeing this reported [2] [3] across Apple TV and Roku.

1:50pm ET: Multiple users are reporting scrambled video of the Vikings game in particular. [2]

1:30pm ET: I see users saying they don’t know how to set their location when watching on a TV as YouTube needs your location to know what games are blacked out in your area. I was able to set it via my phone but others are saying it is not working for them. I am seeing many complaints of this.

DISH and Sling Technologies File Patent Suit Against fuboTV Over Multi-Bitrate Streaming tech

On Wednesday, September 6, Sling TV and DISH Technologies filed a suit against fuboTV alleging infringement on eight patents related to streaming video. All of the patents relate to “multi-bitrate content streaming,” and “adaptive-rate shifting” with the oldest patent, (8,868,772) dating back to Move Networks technology in 2014.

Some of these patents come from Move Networks which was acquired by EchoStar Advanced Technologies L.L.C., then a wholly-owned subsidiary of EchoStar Corporation which spent $45 million to acquire Move Networks and its ABR patent portfolio. DISH Digital Holding L.L.C. then acquired EchoStar Advanced Technologies L.L.C. in connection with a joint venture with EchoStar Corporation in 2012.

In the filing, DISH lays out how they tried to discuss licensing terms with fuboTV for four years, before finally getting an answer back from fuboTV on September 5 of this year stating that fuboTV did not believe it needed a license. DISH says that “after over four years of negotiation attempts to no avail, fuboTV continues to use DISH-owned technology in its streaming services without a license.” DISH is requesting a trial by jury. Case number: 1:2023cv00986 in the US District Court for the District of Delaware.

In 2021, DISH filed a similar patent suit against Peloton Interactive Inc., NordicTrack maker Icon Health & Fitness Inc. and Mirror owner Lululemon Athletica Inc. In May of this year, Peloton paid Dish Network a “one-time settlement payment” of $75 million and settled the suit. The case with NordicTrack exercise equipment maker iFit is still on going.

Disclaimer: Over the past 20 years I have worked as a patent expert on various cases involving audio and video patents tied to Move Networks, Burst Technologies, Viatech, Microsoft, Nokia, AOL, Samsung and Spotify. I’ve never worked on any cases involving DISH or fuboTV.

Disney’s Projected Numbers for Disney+ Subscribers and DTC Profitability are in Jeopardy

I think the estimates on the number of subs for Disney+ and the date of profitability for Disney’s DTC business that The Walt Disney Company has given to Wall Street are now in jeopardy. Based on the current challenges to their business, I don’t see how they reach their current forecasted numbers by fiscal 2024, which is September 28, 2024. Updated: Five days after I published this post Bloomberg is reporting that internally, Disney has cut their forecasted numbers for Disney+ subscribers and will miss their most recent public projections by tens of millions of subscribers.

In August of 2022, Disney lowered its longer-term forecast for Disney+ subscribers to 215 million to 245 million, down 15 million on both the low end and high end of their previous guidance, which they previously set in December 2020 at 230 million to 260 million by the end of fiscal 2024. At the end of July, Disney reported 146.1 million total subscribers to Disney+ globally (including Disney+ Hotstar) and lost 11.7 million subscribers worldwide in the quarter, mostly in India due to the loss of IPL content.

Based on their new projections they need to add nearly 70 million Disney+ subscribers in the next 14 months, averaging 5 million net new subs per month. That’s a staggering number to reach so it’s not surprising that Disney just announced a special promotional price of $1.99 per month for Disney+ for 3 months. But even if these promotions help Disney gain net new subs for Disney+, they have to keep them long-term and prevent them from churning off.

This could be even harder to do if the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strike continues and shrinks the number of new titles that come to Disney+ over the coming months. Also, Disney is taking a $1.9 billion impairment charge for the content they are removing from their platform, which started in May of this year, and said they “intend to produce lower volumes of content.” Having less content and less choice isn’t ideal when you are trying to add so many net new subs to your platform.

On the profitability estimate, Disney lowered their DTC losses to $512 million last quarter, down from the previous quarter of $659 million and down even further from the $1.1 billion they lost in fiscal Q1. So it’s no surprise that Disney is raising pricing on October 12th on some of their packages. ESPN+ will go from $9.99 to $10.99. Hulu + Live TV packages will each go up by $7 with the ad plan increasing to $76.99 and the tier with no ads on VOD rising to $89.99. Disney+ Premium with no ads will go from $10.99 to $13.99 for U.S. customers and Hulu without ads will increase from $14.99 to $17.99.

In November, Disney+ ad-supported plans will launch in Canada, the U.K. and eight other European countries and Disney has said that in December, it will increase subscription prices of Disney+ without ads in those markets. Disney also plans to crack down on illicit password-sharing, but how they plan to do this and when is unknown since the company has only said they plan to “roll out tactics sometime in 2024.” Raising prices and cracking down on password sharing is not going to be enough to get Disney’s DTC business to profitability if they can’t add net new subs.

Also working against the company were challenges they called out last quarter in their DTC business saying there was a negative impact due to “lower advertising revenue” and “higher programming and production costs” for their streaming business. In November of last year, former CEO Bob Chapek said “Disney+ will still achieve profitability in fiscal 2024, assuming we do not see a meaningful shift in the economic climate.”

While current CEO Bob Iger has not called out any meaningful shift in the economic climate, we all know it exists. Competition from other streaming services, fewer net new ads across the industry, content being removed from platforms, higher prices, the actors’ and writers’ strike, blackouts on pay TV services, and some of the damage to the Disney brand over the past 12 months are all real. Unless we see some drastic changes with Disney’s streaming business, which would not show up overnight on their balance sheet, I don’t see how they make their current projections and would expect them to have to revise the subscriber numbers and/or push back the expected date of profitability.