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SVoD viewing falls as lockdown eases

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SVoD viewing has declined in the US following the loosening of lockdown measures across the country, according to a new report from industry analysis firm Strategy Analytics.

The report, titled Covid-19’s Impact on SVoD, found that 42% of US adults used Netflix in May, compared to 50% in April and 47% in March.

The proportions of respondents watching Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney+ followed similar patterns. Prime saw its viewership share fall from 42% of US adults to 40% over the last month, while Hulu shifted from 30% to 24% and Disney+ shrunk from 23% to 18%.

The results suggest that significant numbers of users were binging on services in March and April. But as lockdown restrictions were loosened in May, giving people greater freedom to leave their homes, fewer users were watching.

This did not apply to all services, however: the number of users of both Apple TV+ and CBS All Access rose in both April and May.

Michael Goodman, Strategy Analytics’ director of TV and media strategies and the report’s author, said: “Ironically, Netflix may have suffered through being the most popular SVoD service, since it appears to have attracted many new but ultimately temporary users during the pandemic. Its next quarterly results will be watched with interest in case its strong Q1 performance is not sustained into Q2.

“We still believe that Netflix’s numbers will exceed expectations overall during 2020, but now that the pandemic impact is waning, the company will face more traditional challenges associated with customer retention, win-back and targeting the right content to appropriate interests and demographics.”

David Mercer, VP of media and intelligent home at Strategy Analytics, added: “It’s not surprising that there was a spike in demand for video services, as many people were stuck at home for several weeks. SVoD services have benefited to varying degrees, and they must all now focus on retaining customers who have joined recently, as well as ensuring that their content development strategies are on track.

“This will prove challenging for many players, given the continuing crisis in video production as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.”

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