All posts in “Media”

Netflix just had a record-breaking November on mobile

Netflix just broke new records on consumer spending in its mobile apps, according to new data app intelligence firm Sensor Tower has shared with TechCrunch. In November, Netflix pulled in an estimated $86.6 million in worldwide consumer spending across its iOS and Android apps combined – a figure that’s 77 percent higher than the $49 million it generated last November. That’s a new record.

Before, the biggest month Netflix had to date was July 2018, when it grossed an estimated $84.7 million. At the time, that was the most it had made on mobile since it began monetizing on mobile in September 2015.

To date, Netflix has grossed over $1.58 million on mobile.

The firm didn’t speculate as to what, specifically, drove Netflix to break records again in November, but there are probably a few factors at play, including the trend towards cord cutting and shift towards streaming services for traditional “TV” viewing.

But most notably, is the increasing revenue coming to Netflix from its international markets.

Sensor Tower did point out that Netflix’s U.S. app revenue grew 43 percent year-over-year in November, but other countries contributing more than $1 million in gross revenue were higher. For example, Germany grew 48 percent, Brazil was 49 percent, South Korea was 52 percent, and Japan was 64 percent.

However, the U.S. still accounts for the majority of Netflix’s in-app subscription revenue, at 57 percent in November. But with Netflix’s international expansion, its share is declining. When Netflix first began offering subscriptions in fall 2015, the U.S. then accounted for 71 percent of its revenue.

Netflix in recent weeks, has been doubling down on mobile. The company is now testing a mobile-only subscription aimed at making its service more affordable in Asia and other emerging markets.

In Q3, the company gained nearly 7 million new subscribers, with 5.87 million of those coming from international markets.

Image credit: Sensor Tower 

MoviePass announces new pricing plans for 2019

It’s been a rocky year for MoviePass, something that CEO Mitch Lowe acknowledged in an interview this week with Variety.

“We have a lot to prove to all our constituents,” Lowe said. “We don’t just have to prove ourselves to our members, we also have to prove ourselves to the investment community, our employees, and our partners. We believe we’re doing everything that we possibly can to deliver a great service and we’re in the process of fixing all the things that went wrong.”

To that end, the company is launching a new pricing structure that will take effect in January. If you like paying $9.95, don’t worry: You’ll still be able to do that (at least in some geographies). If, on the other hand, you’re willing to pay a little more, you’ll no longer be limited by the ever-changing list of movies that MoviePass is supporting on a given day.

So there are now three tiers, each of them offering three movie tickets each month. There’s Select, which will cost between $9.95 and $14.95 per month (depending on geography), and will only allow viewers to watch certain movies on certain days; All Access, which costs between $14.95 and $19.95 and allows you to go to any standard screening; and Red Carpet, which costs between $19.95 and $24.95 and includes one IMAX, 3D or other large-format screening each month.

The company says that this new structure will allow it to break even on the tickets it’s selling — a key step to making the business model work.

MoviePass fans will likely remember that the company appeared to be running out of money over the summer, leading it to announce a price increase, only to back away from the price hike in favor of adding limitations on how many movies and which movies subscribers could see.

Meanwhile, the New York attorney general’s office said it was investigating MoviePass for possible securities fraud, and parent company Helios and Matheson said it would spin off MoviePass into a separate company. (TechCrunch’s parent company has a stake in MoviePass.) And the competition is growing.

In addition to rethinking its pricing, MoviePass is also making organizational changes. The company told The New York Times that although Lowe will remain CEO, he’ll be handing over responsibility for day-to-day operations to Executive Vice President Khalid Itum.

Pandora’s Podcast Genome Project goes live for all

Last month, Pandora announced it would soon be bringing its “Genome” technology to a new space outside of music: it would leverage a similar classification system to make podcast recommendations, too. Initially, the feature was only available to select users on mobile devices, ahead of a broader public launch. Today, Pandora says its Podcast Genome Project has gone live for all users.

Like Pandora’s Music Genome – its music information database capable of classifying songs across 450 different attributes — Pandora’s Podcast Genome Project is a cataloging system designed to evaluate content. But its focus is on audio programs instead of music.

The Podcast Genome Project can currently evaluate content across over 1,500 attributes, including MPAA ratings, production style, content type, host profile, and more, alongside other listener signals, like thumbs, skips, replays and others. It uses a combination of machine learning algorithms, natural language processing and collaborative filtering methods to help determine listener preferences, the company says.

Pandora then combines this data with human curation to make its podcast recommendations.

These recommendations are live now in the Pandora app’s “Browse” section, under the banner “Recommended Podcasts For You.” Podcasts will also be discoverable throughout the app in the Now Playing screen, search bar, in the podcast backstage passes, and in the episode backstage passes.

At launch, the app is aggregating over 100,000 podcast episodes in genres like News, True Crime, Sports, Comedy, Music, Business, Technology, Entertainment, Kids, Health and Science, the company adds.

Podcasters can also now ask to be included in Pandora’s app by filling out a form here.

Longer-term, a better recommendation system for podcasts could help Pandora as it becomes more integrated with its acquirer SiriusXM. The deal will likely bring SiriusXM’s exclusive programming to Pandora’s subscribers, which would greatly increase the number of audio programs available on its service. Putting the right programs in front of the most interested customers could then drive more people to upgrade to a paid subscription, impacting Pandora’s bottom line.

Revcontent names Omar Nicola as its new CEO

Content recommendation company Revcontent has a new chief executive: Omar Nicola, formerly the CEO of mobile advertising company Kixer.

Revcontent’s founder and outgoing CEO John Lemp will remain involved as chairman of the board of directors.

“Omar is the perfect choice to take over as CEO of Revcontent, because of his wealth of experience and track record of success as a publisher and a leader of several different advertising technology companies,” Lemp said in a statement. “Founding and building Revcontent has been one of the most rewarding times of my life and I am humbled by the many successes … I look forward to following Revcontent’s future success as Chairman while also having the opportunity to spend more time focusing on my family, my other businesses and some passion projects.””

Revcontent President Richard Marques described Nicola as “the perfect fit to elevate us to that next level.” At the same time, Nicola didn’t anticipate making big changes in strategy.

“Part of it is me coming in and looking at things we can improve upon, and looking at things that we can restructure,” he said. “But the business has been built from the ground up pretty successfully. My job is to help grow that business: What can I do in my day-to-day to essentially complement what’s been done to date?”

Nicola noted that he’s spent “the better part of 10 years” in the adtech industry — in fact, he suggested that Kixer had a similar model to Revcontent, except that it was recommending mobile apps instead news articles. (Kixer was acquired by Lakana and its parent company Nexstar Broadcasting Group in 2015, and Nicola served as Nexstar’s senior vice president for revenue and operations until last year.)

It’s a challenging time for the digital media business, but Nicola said the key is to make sure Revcontent is a good partner for its publishers.

“Ultimately, we’ve got to find a balance user experience and revenue and make sure that publishers move forward,” he said. He noted that in the short-term, “the best thing for us might be to include as many ad units and widgets as possible, but one, that’s not best thing for the industry and two, it’s not the best thing for the publisher. What we try to do is strike fair deals and build those relationships as a fair partner.”

He also argued that Revcontent has the freedom to take the high road because it’s been self-funded.

“This is not a company that’s got a ton of venture capital in it,” he said. “I use a term adtech purgatory … because you find yourself in a scenario where you’ve raised too much money that exiting the business can only be done for a crazy amount of money. That will never happen to me, I like having flexibility that we have. Not having taken on that venture money was extremely extremely important to me.”

App Stores to pass $122B in 2019, with gaming and subscriptions driving growth

Mobile intelligence and data firm App Annie is today releasing its 2019 predictions for the worldwide app economy, including its forecast around consumer spending, gaming, the subscription market, and other highlights. Most notably, it expects the worldwide gross consumer spend in apps – meaning before the app stores take their own cut – to surpass $122 billion next year, which is double the size of the global box office market, for comparison’s sake.

According to the new forecast, the worldwide app store consumer spend will grow 5 times as fast as the overall global economy next year.

But the forecast also notes that “consumer spend” – which refers to the money consumers spend on apps and through in-app purchases – is only one metric to track the apps stores’ growth and revenue potential.

Mobile spending is also expected to continue growing for both in-app advertising and commerce – that is, the transactions that take place outside of the app stores in app like Uber, Amazon, and Starbucks, for example.

Specifically, mobile will account for 62 percent of global digital ad spend in 2019, representing $155 billion, up from 50 percent in 2017. In addition, 60 percent more mobile apps will monetize through in-app ads in 2019.

Mobile gaming to reach 60% market share

As in previous years, mobile gaming is contributing to the bulk of the growth in consumer spending, the report says.

Mobile gaming, which continues to be the fastest growing form of gaming, matured further this year with apps like Fortnite and PUBG, says App Annie . These games “drove multiplayer game mechanics that put them on par with real-time strategy and shooter games on PC/Mac and Consoles in a way that hadn’t been done before,” the firm said.

They also helped push forward a trend towards cross-platform gaming, and App Annie expects that to continue in 2019 with more games becoming less siloed.

However, the gaming market won’t just be growing because of experiences like PUBG and Fortnite. “Hyper-casual” games – that is, those with very simple gameplay – will also drive download growth in 2019.

Over the course of the next year, consumer spend in mobile gaming will reach 60 percent market share across all major platforms, including PC, Mac, console, handheld, and mobile.

China will remain a major contributor to overall app store consumer spend, including mobile gaming, but there may be a slight deceleration of their impact next year due to the game licensing freeze. In August, Bloomberg reported China’s regulators froze approval of game licenses amid a government shake-up. The freeze impacted the entire sector, from large players like internet giant Tencent to smaller developers.

If the freeze continues in 2019, App Annie believes Chinese firms will push towards international expansion and M&A activity could result.

App Annie is also predicting one breakout gaming hit for 2019: Niantic’s Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, which it believes will exceed $100 million in consumer spend in its first 30 days. Niantic’s Pokémon Go, by comparison, cleared $100 million in its first two weeks and became the fastest game to reach $1 billion in consumer spend.

But App Annie isn’t going so far as to predict Harry Potter will do better than Pokémon Go, which tapped into consumer nostalgia and was a first-to-market mainstream AR gaming title.

Mobile Video Streaming

Another significant trend ahead for the new year is the growth in video streaming apps, fueled by in-app subscriptions.

Today, the average person consumers over 7.5 hours of media per day, including watching, listening, reading or posting. Next year, 10 minutes of every hour will be spent consuming media across TV and internet will come from streaming video on mobile, the forecast says.

The total time in video streaming apps will increase 110 percent from 2016 to 2019, with consumer spend in entertainment apps up by 520 percent over that same period. Most of those revenues will come from the growth in in-app subscriptions.

Much of the time consumer spend streaming will come from short-form video apps like YouTube, TikTok and social apps like Instagram and Snapchat.

YouTube alone accounts for 4 out of every 5 minutes spent in the top 10 video streaming apps, today. But 2019 will see many changes, including the launch of Disney’s streaming service, Disney+, for example.

App Annie’s full report, which details ad creatives and strategies as well, is available on its blog.