While the use of virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPDs) is still small, it is growing at a significant rate, according to a new comScore report. The data here is based on collected user habits during April 2018 which suggest vMVPDs are really starting to leave their mark on the industry.
vMVPDs differ to traditional MVPDs in the sense there is no physical element to the service provided by the vMVPD. In other words, the content is almost exclusively provided via online streaming. In this latest report, comScore does make a point of distinguishing between the average vMVPD and what the analytics company refers to as "pure-play" vMVPDs. The latter being defined as vMVPDs who do not also offer content that is only available in digital form with YouTube TV and Hulu provided as examples – due to both offering additional digital-only content on top of the access to linear-based content. The distinction is important as comScore uses it to highlight that in April 4.9 million Wi-Fi-enabled households in the US used a pure-play MVPD, equating to around 5-percent of those households in general, and a 58-percent increase year-over-year. A similar year-over-year increase (53-percent) was noted for the use of a pure-play vMVPD as an OTT streaming option in general. In other words, comScore states that in April pure-play vMVPD streaming represented 10-percent of all the time spent streaming by those households.
Another change noted in this latest report is how pure-play vMVPDs are becoming more mainstream in general. For example, previously the use of vMVPDs was considered more of a young or tech-savvy thing. However, comScore notes the year-over-year changes suggest the use of pure-play MVPDs is now better spread across all age-ranges. While the 35-44 age range was still considered the dominant 'head of household' range (33-percent), the 18-34, 45-54, and 55+ ranges are far more equal now compared to the year before, with 21-percent, 23-percent, and 23-percent, respectively. Age-range aside, the data found that those who use a vMVPD were consuming more OTT streaming hours than those who only accessed other OTT services, and by a significant margin. The takeaway of this last point – although more users are starting to switch to an vMVPD, this is not to say network access or viewership is declining. Instead, the method of network access is simply changing.