Three Trends that Shaped How We Watched in 2020
When we look back at how our customers consumed video and entertainment in 2020 the biggest takeaway is that video, no matter how it’s being delivered and where it’s being watched, is more important to our customers than ever.
It was the number one traffic driver for our Internet customers last year, accounting for 71% of all downstream traffic over our network – a growth of 70% from 2019. Across our entire entertainment portfolio, including Xfinity X1, Flex and the Stream app, our customers are engaging more with their chosen platform, watching about 3 hours more per week than they were before the pandemic started.
Streaming saw the biggest viewing gains on Xfinity platforms in 2020, fueled in part by the launch of more than 70 new streaming apps and channels including HBO Max, Hulu, Peacock and CBS All Access/Paramount+. Overall, OTT viewing was up 73% year-over-year on X1 and Flex. Notably, we’re also seeing continued adoption of OTT programming on X1, with 78% of customers accessing OTT apps on the platform monthly, up from 68% last year. And of those customers, nearly 80% are using two or more apps monthly.
Flex’s content forward design puts free programming front and center, making it easily discoverable alongside all the subscription content our customers receive. With the addition of Peacock Premium at no additional cost and enhancements to make all ad-supported programming more discoverable with the experience, free/ad-supported programming accounts for more than 50% of total viewing on Flex, with Peacock, Xumo, Pluto and Tubi routinely being among the most viewed apps on the platform.
Even though most of today’s programming is available on demand to watch whenever and however we want, the value of traditional linear TV should not be understated. Despite a significant decrease in the number of live sports and other events during the pandemic, we still saw an increase in traditional linear programming year-over-year. Additionally, we’re seeing data that shows us how streamers value the lean-back experience of linear TV. The live guide on Flex, which as of this year brings in the linear channels from services like Peacock, Xumo and Pluto into one integrated guide, is the second most-viewed destination on Flex behind the home screen.
As we look forward to the rest of 2021, we’re going to continue evolving these three important pillars of our entertainment platforms to meet our customers where they are with the content and features they desire.