Pluto TV, Tubi and others may see COVID-related viewing spikes persist in July

Pluto TV, Tubi, Netflix and other streaming video services saw big spikes in viewership during earlier coronavirus-related lockdowns and those levels could somewhat persist in July.

According to data presented at the StreamTV Summer Research Summit by NPD Group analyst John Buffone, many consumers expect to continue increased viewing on ad-supported and subscription streaming services as well as cable, satellite and transactional video on-demand.

NPD’s research suggests that 55% of respondents said they watched more AVOD content in April and 48% expected to continue watching more in July. For SVOD services, the same responses came in a 53% and 40%; for cable/satellite, the same responses came in at 50% and 38%; and for TVOD, the same responses came in at 27% and 23%.

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Buffone said the minimal drop off for July usage of free streaming services like Pluto TV, Tubi, Xumo and the Roku Channel is reflective an underlying trend he called “value-priced home entertainment.”

“The hardware sales side of the business is seeing success with $25 and $30 DVD players. The streaming media side of the business is seeing success with $30 to $35 streaming media players. And in home entertainment, it’s that lower-priced, value proposition such as free on-demand or lower-priced DVDs that were really driving consumers into that increased engagement,” Buffone said.

NPD said that ad-supported services still don’t account for the lion’s share of viewer engagement and that consumers see them as supplemental to subscription services.

“These services tend to not have exclusive programming, which is seen as critical to subscribers; and for this reason, weekly engagement levels are much lower than those of subscription services. Despite that, churn risk is lower than the norm and most viewers do not cite programming as the key driver for free streaming service usage. Instead, features such as the ability to streaming on a TV-connected device and easy-to-use search and discovery features drive continued use of the services,” wrote Buffone in a blog post.