Over the Top Viewing: OTT Is Goring Whose Ox? – Bill Harvey and Alex Petrilli

Cover image for  article: Over the Top Viewing: OTT Is Goring Whose Ox? – Bill Harvey and Alex Petrilli

Second of a Three-Part Series with Alex Petrilli of TiVo

In the first installment of this series we defined OTT as TV viewing on the main TV set, via Internet Protocol (IP) but not via IPTV delivered by the MVPD i.e. the MSOs, satcos/telcos. We have to have some definition to distinguish the various disruptive video developments from one another. They are coming on all at once, now in multiple innovations at a time, as compared to the one-at-a-time rhythm of the media revolution in the 20th century.

The real question is short-term impact. So far, whose ox is gored, if anyone’s? Longer term we will consider later.

Viewing Comparisons

The viewing preferences of our OTT homes fall along interesting lines. According to our data, OTT homes strongly prefer three primetime genres over any other: animated, sitcom and science fiction (based on January-June 2013 viewing). Armed with that knowledge it comes as no surprise to see Netflix investing in a revival of Arrested Development as well as Amazon Prime’s political sitcom Alpha House and the Hulu Plus original animated series The Awesomes. Can a sci-fi series be far behind?

Continuing along party lines, a look at the top networks and programs for OTT homes versus non-OTT homes, again based on viewership for the first six months of 2013, finds Comedy Central and The Walking Dead at the top of each list respectively. Cartoon Network and its channel partner Adult Swim find themselves in second and third place on the network list and HBO’s Game of Thrones and NBC’s Parks and Recreation occupy the same two spots in the program ranker. The sometimes ratings-challenged Parks and Recreation appearance on the list is totally plausible considering the recent admission in a KISSmetrics analysis that “Parks and Recreation is popular for Netflix and has good metrics (people watch the entire show, re-watch some episodes, and frequently rewind certain parts).” No surprise either that Aziz Ansari (Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation) will debut his standup special Buried Alive on Netflix.

Top Ten Networks -- Based on Index of OTT Rating Versus Non-OTT Rating January-June 2013 (Minimum 0.3 Rating)

Top Ten Primetime Programs -- Based on Index of OTT Rating Versus Non-OTT Rating January-June 2013 (Minimum 0.3 Rating)

Television Viewing Trend

It is clear from the previous data that OTT homes are a distinctive group, with specific program tastes and preferences. But possibly the most unique characteristic of the OTT viewer is that despite their streaming habits, traditional television viewing does not suffer.

The fact that OTT viewers show no decline in viewing of regular TV fare suggests they cannot get enough of the types of shows they like. They continue to add incremental TV viewing to the extent that there are newer options, apparently especially for hard-edged realistic scripted series with interesting characters and relationships (from the top ten chart, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Dexter, and True Blood fit the bill). This implies a gaping opportunity for producers to continue to be creative and innovative in pitching new series of this type.

Good news short-term is that none of our oxen are missing or gored yet. In our next installment we’ll look at the impact on cord cutting and other current issues and on to prognostications about the long haul.

In the video below, Bill Harvey sums up highlights from the ARF's ReThink Conference in New York in an interview with Bob Lederer of RBDR.


Bill Harvey is a well-known media researcher and inventor who co-founded TRA, Inc. and is its Strategic Advisor. His nonprofit Human Effectiveness Institute runs his weekly blog on consciousness optimization. Bill can be contacted at bill@billharveyconsulting.com

Read all Bill’s MediaBizBloggers commentaries at In Terms of ROI.

Alex Petrilli serves as senior manager of media insights at TiVo. In this role, Alex is responsible for utilizing the vast data resources available at TiVo to convey valuable information about the television industry and viewing trends. Alex has presented TiVo Stop||Watch data at past conferences including TMRE, ARF Research 5.0 and BBM Canada.

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