The State of Viewership

Jeffrey Silverman, PhD
Director, Data Science & Analytics
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From Singing Trolls to ESPN's Game of HORSE: New Data From This Weekend’s Two Big TV Events

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Author
Jeffrey Silverman, PhD
Director, Data Science & Analytics
Apr 14, 2020
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Whether you are one of the millions of basketball fans forced into cold-turkey withdrawal from live-action sports because of the COVID-19 lockdown or one of the tens of millions of households entering the second month of quarantine with young children at home, this past weekend introduced two new trends designed to address today’s dramatically altered sports and entertainment landscape.,

On Friday, Universal Pictures released directly to digital the celebrity-packed sequel to Trolls which had previously been slotted for a theatrical release in April. The 2016 original film grossed more than $340 million at the box office. Universal was originally hoping the family-themed musical would open to similar numbers but shifted gears to an all-digital release this week.  According to Samba TV’s analysis of on-demand viewing over the weekend, the sequel premiered in more than one million homes from Friday to Sunday, more than doubling the entire first week’s viewership of the digital release of Sonic the Hedgehog which had its digital debut on March 31, following just six weeks in theatres. 

According to Variety, Universal claims Trolls World Tour is the No. 1 title across major on-demand video platforms. Variety also reports that Universal claimed that the “movie had the biggest opening day and weekend for a digital title, generating approximately 10 times more than the next-largest traditional premium home video release.”  

While it is still early to fully understand the financial impact of a digital-only release – even one with these numbers – it would certainly appear there is pent up demand for first-run features with millions of US households more than willing to shell out twice the average ticket price for on-demand fees.

Shifting from the big screen to the big court, ESPN took a shot at a new approach to “live” sports this weekend to regain audiences lost due to the global lockdown.  On Sunday ESPN featured a new basketball HORSE competition hyped as a shootout between a “slew of sharp-shooting NBA and WNBA stars, both current and retired, including Chris Paul, Trae Young, Tameka Catchings, Zach LaVine, Allie Quigley, Mike Conley Jr., Chauncey Billups, and Paul Pierce.”  While there were some who lamented the quality of the production, no one is doubting the massive unsatiated appetite that exists for live sports content of any kind. ESPN’s Sunday night round one HORSE competition was a major ratings winner capturing nearly 1 million households and driving up total viewership by more than 600% from the same time slot one week ago. 

As COVID-19 continues to impact our lives it is clear that every aspect of entertainment and marketing, from a singing troll to a game of HORSE, is seeking to reinvent itself to meet the moment.

Why Samba TV?

Our mission is to create data at the heart of TV, powering a more scientific approach to advertising and a better viewing experience for everyone.

Real-Time Disruption in Real-World Viewership

Audiences are enjoying more television content today. As viewership rapidly shifts across a growing set of innovative platforms, formats and devices, we provide real-time insights to help drive business decisions.

For the Love of Television

Samba TV enables marketers to build engaged audiences, and empowers viewers to spend more time with programming and brands they love. We believe data should be independent, not monopolised by walled gardens that measure their own media.

We Turn Noise into Knowledge

We utilize our AI/ML driven tech stack and comprehensive, accurate first-party data that is gathered from 24 leading CTV brands globally, to power real-time decision making and optimise audiences' consumer journey across an expanding slate of platforms.

Why Samba TV?

Our mission is to create data at the heart of TV, powering a more scientific approach to advertising and a better viewing experience for everyone.

Real-Time Disruption in Real-World Viewership

Audiences are enjoying more television content today. As viewership rapidly shifts across a growing set of innovative platforms, formats and devices, we provide real-time insights to help drive business decisions.

For the Love of Television

Samba TV enables marketers to build engaged audiences, and empowers viewers to spend more time with programming and brands they love. We believe data should be independent, not monopolized by walled gardens that measure their own media.

We Turn Noise into Knowledge

We utilize our AI/ML driven tech stack and comprehensive, accurate first-party data that is gathered from 24 leading CTV brands globally, to power real-time decision making and optimize audiences' consumer journey across an expanding slate of platforms.

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