HBO NOW Streaming Data In Wake of COVID-19

This post is by Cheryl Idell, Chief Research Officer, WarnerMedia Entertainment & Direct-to-Consumer.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve received an influx of press inquiries about how social distancing in the wake of COVID-19 is affecting usage of HBO’s digital platforms. In response, the WarnerMedia Entertainment & Direct-to-Consumer Research Team has taken a look at HBO NOW usage, as well as linear viewing trends across TNT, TBS & TruTV.

Overall U.S. TV viewing (traditional + connected devices + smart TV) grew by nearly 20% across the industry last week compared to the prior four weeks, with increases becoming more significant throughout the week. The largest increases are coming from connected devices, and non-traditional consumption has accelerated among younger demos as streaming behavior increases.

And we’re seeing those trends play out across our own networks as well, with HBO experiencing gains across all of its platforms. In particular, usage levels for HBO NOW since Saturday, March 14, are the highest we’ve seen on the platform since summer. Time spent with the platform was up over 40% from its four-week average.

A few HBO streaming highlights:

  • While we’ve seen expected gains for WESTWORLD as it launched its new season (currently our #1 series on the platform) and other recent HBO Original Series, EUPHORIA’s audience has also doubled over its 4-week average, with BIG LITTLE LIES, CHERNOBYL, GAME OF THRONES, and HIS DARK MATERIALS all delivering gains in excess of 50%.
  • Among documentary titles, EBOLA: THE DOCTOR’S STORY ranked among our most watched titles this week, with viewing more than 7 times greater than recent weeks.
  • Viewers are also enjoying HBO’s deep library of classic series, with THE WIRE nearly tripling its recent audience, and both SEX AND THE CITY and THE SOPRANOS nearly doubling their audiences.
  • We’ve also seen tremendous growth in movie viewing, with engagement this past week growing 70% from the four-week average. Along with our slate of recent blockbusters, including the recent debuts of FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW and X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX, other notable titles delivering significant bumps include ARMAGEDDON, BLACK SWAN, and APOCALYPSE NOW.
  • During the most recent week, daily binge viewing of 3+ episodes of HBO’s series content increased 65% from the prior four weeks.

In addition to these HBO streaming stats, we’ve also seen linear viewing increases for TNT, TBS and TruTV. TNT & TBS currently rank as #1 and #2 respectively in net audience gains in total day and sales prime (7p-12a) versus the prior four weeks among P18–49 for the non-news ad-supported cable nets. Both TBS and truTV are benefiting from increases in Kids and Teens PUT levels, attracting co-viewing to titles like FRIENDS and IMPRACTICAL JOKERS.

We’ve also seen an increased interest in the movie CONTAGION in the press and social media. It is currently available on Cinemax’s on-demand and digital platforms, where it has ranked as our top title throughout the last two weeks.

We expect to continue seeing elevated traffic to HBO NOW and our linear networks over the next several weeks as people continue to work remotely and to distance themselves from others during the COVID-19 crisis. In times like this, television can be a powerful tool to bring people together emotionally when they are not able to be together physically. We’re encouraged that these elevated numbers indicate that people are taking isolation efforts seriously, and we hope that continues to be the case.

We’ll keep an eye on how our viewership patterns evolve over the coming days and weeks and will provide further updates here if we see anything notable.

This post has been modified to clarify that overall U.S. TV viewing grew by nearly 20% across the industry last week, not across WarnerMedia platforms.



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