Direct-to-consumer role reversal: WWE and HBO Max

Presented by 43Twenty

Peacock reaches 33 million signups, and WWE exits the DTC business. Peacock activations are up from the 26 million that Comcast announced in December. Meanwhile, the WWE and NBCUniversal announced that WWE Network would be integrated into Peacock starting March 18. NBCU bought long-term (5 years) streaming rights to the WWE Network and its wrestling shows. As part of the deal, the US version of the app will be shut down, representing a vast majority of its subscribers (1.2 million out of 1.6 million). For years, the WWE’s been evaluating various distribution strategies to significantly increase its subscriber revenues and determined that exiting the direct-to-consumer biz, at least in the U.S., is the best path there. The deal’s terms weren’t announced publicly, although The WSJ places the cost in the neighborhood for $1 billion for a five-year deal. Link

HBO Max reaches 6.8 million direct-to-consumer subscribers, reaching 41.5 million subscribers in total (which includes retail, wholesale, HBO, commercial, etc.). The company’s increased focus on DTC is paying off as HBO subs dropped to 197K ( down from 5.6 million) as those signed-up through Roku and Fire TV were transitioned to HBO Max. And @WarnerMedia, kudos on the launch of the “Last Chance” feature and the recent UX overhaul, but my goodness, ADD “MY LIST” TO THE GLOBAL NAVIGATION! On Wednesday, John Stankey announced that HBO Max would likely add a cheaper, ad-supported subscription tier next quarter. However, no details of pricing, the subscription plan’s amount of ads, and specific release date were included. Link

AT&T loses 644,000 TV Subs in 4Q. Since it purchased DirecTV in 2015, AT&T has lost approximately nine million video subscribers. Link

The co-opetition is real. Amazon launches its free ad-supported service IMDb TV on Roku. The announcement comes roughly three months after Roku announced that its free ad-supported service, the Roku Channel, would launch on Amazon Fire TV devices. This quid pro quo comes as both companies try to expand their audience’s reach and deliver more ad impressions through free content. While IMDb TV is a win for consumers (yay, more free content), the experience is pretty dismal. Each of the seven content rows (or “swimlanes”) is relegated to only 25 titles per row. And while I’d say, “Yo Amazon, add a search feature to this app,” there’s just not much content there, to begin with. But hey, did I say it’s free? Link

Tivo says people want ads. Ten minutes scrolling Reddit suggests otherwise. In TiVos latest Trends Report, in which they surveyed 4,526 adults (81% of which may work in advertising), found that 81% of respondents wish that paid streaming services such as Netflix or Prime Video offered a free, ad-supported tier. Let’s get real, Tivo. Nobody wants ads, perhaps they’ll put up with them, but that’s it. And that’s totally okay. Link

Now even ad-supported services are putting a + on their name? A new ad-supported documentary service launched called (wait for it) Documentary+. Created by studio XTR and the late Tony Hsieh, Doc+ includes a mix of feature-length titles and short-form programs from renowned directors and up-and-coming filmmakers. Link

Verizon said over two-thirds of its Disney+ promo subs kept the service. While the video service partnership plan seems to be working out for Verizon’s wireless business, the company on the wireline side is still operating its Fios Video service, which recorded another 72,000 net customer losses in the fourth quarter. Link

Apple TV+ still has 62% of subscribers on free promotions. MoffettNathanson and HarrisX found that 62% of subscribers on free promotions in the Q4 thanks to Apple giving away a free year of the service to all customers who bought devices from the company. Link


We help (DTC) streaming services and (B2B) solutions providers accelerate their OTT businesses. 43Twenty is an OTT growth consultancy and digital marketing agency. We help media, entertainment, and technology companies unlock customer growth and revenue.

  • Strategic Advisory - We provide boards and executives with forward-thinking strategies that drive sustainable competitive advantage and profitability.

  • Digital Marketing - We create custom digital marketing plans that boost online traffic and revenue for streaming services and OTT solutions providers.

  • CX Strategy - We help product and marketing optimize customer experiences that delight, increase customer acquisition, loyalty, and engagement.

  • Retention Marketing - We help streaming services strengthen their relationship with customers throughout the product lifecycle – helping reduce churn, and increasing lifetime value.

  • Workshops - We conduct workshops on customer-centric KPIs, which help prioritize investments and unlocks visibility into the downstream effects and impact of product development and marketing efforts.

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Discover more here or send us email to schedule a meeting.


Is Apple TV+ a Loss Leader? Link (Hint: the answer is yes, which I wrote about here in “Apple’s $6 billion carrot”)

How kids television became the most heated front in the streaming wars. Link

How Netflix is trying to fix lofty personalization problems like over-inflating a show's popularity and how to measure goals like 'joy'. Link

Why the streaming wars are more of a rising tide lifting all boats and not about winners and losers. Link

How the WWE/Peacock deal could bring long-term stability for WWE (link) and why it highlights the challenges for niche services. Link

But why niche services may play a vital role in how the streaming business looks in the future, or at least media conglomerates believe that enough to spend hundreds of millions to billions to acquire them. Link

Why streaming TV is cable déjà vu all over again. Link

Why NBC Sports Network’s demise wasn’t due to too much sports on TV. Link

Why Smart TVs are becoming the viewers’ favorite place to watch online video. Link

A new study by JD Power found that 50% of households subscribe to 4+ OTT services. Link

Why advertisers are more comfortable buying inventory from platforms over networks. Link

How to steer your adtech ship through the coming storm. Link


Ebook: Optimizing the OTT Customer Journey: Keys to maintaining Direct-to-Consumer Video Growth

We dropped an ebook called "Optimizing the OTT Customer Journey." It explains how streaming video services can increase awareness, inbound traffic, conversions, CLV, and more.

What you can expect to learn includes:

1. Why media companies need to start thinking like software companies

2. Why engagement and retention should be your biggest priorities

3. Nine engagement & #retention KPIs you should be tracking regardless if you're an ad-supported or subscription-based service.

4. How the OTT marketing funnel works

Deck: How to keep your subscribers from hurling their remote at the TV

We recently presented a workshop titled "How to keep your subscribers from hurling their remote at the TV". To attract, grow, and retain subscribers on platforms you own, scaling empathy across each touchpoint, including marketing campaigns, not only keeps consumers from launching the remote, but it is also the key to surviving the streaming wars.

Come grab a copy of the deck we presented, which delves into:

  1. Why OTT brands must focus on product experiences vs. relying on distribution or become faced-with both revenue leakage and data loss

  2. Why MAU is a vanity metric & how to grow subscribers/viewers with customer-centric KPIs

  3. Specific examples citing who is doing it right, and which brands have ample room for improvement

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