Content Consumption During COVID-19; More On Brian Lesser’s Exit From AT&T

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Mobile Response

People forced into quarantine, isolation or however you want to put it are boosting overall content consumption in the United States. Live television is still down year over year, from three hours and 44 minutes per day to three hours and 27 minutes, according to Nielsen data. Read the blog post. But that drop might have been much steeper, considering the overall decline in linear TV subscriptions. Tablet use has seen a bump from 43 minutes per day to 52 minutes. But the real gains accrue to smartphones. App and web traffic from people’s phones is up from two and a half hours per day to almost four hours. In previous disasters (blizzards and hurricanes) that forced Americans to clam up in their homes, television saw a marked spike. With COVID-19, news about the pandemic seems to be coming in by phone.

The Road Lesser Traveled

Ad observers are concerned about Brian Lesser’s abrupt departure from AT&T’s Xandr, where he was tasked with helping AT&T build a three-legged stool of content/distribution/ads to create what CEO Randall Stephenson has described as the “modern media company.” But Stephenson’s vision may not last. John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia (AT&T’s media and entertainment pillar), was promoted to AT&T president and COO last year, and is tipped to succeed Stephenson later this year. This and rumors of WarnerMedia’s increased involvement with Xandr business has fueled speculation that Xandr will be folded into WarnerMedia. Xandr was pitched as a free-standing marketplace where WarnerMedia or any other video advertising buyer or supplier could supercharge inventory with AT&T data services. “The sudden resignation is making everyone ask what it means for the future of Xandr,” one senior US media agency executive tells Digiday. “There’s a big question mark on whether he was pushed or jumped to avoid being linked to something that no longer has support.” More.

A Fork In The Road

Google has been blocking Amazon from expanding its Fire TV operating system to smart TV and mobile device manufacturers that license Android TV. Google’s terms and conditions warn that manufacturers using “forked versions” of software will lose access to the Google Play Store and Google apps, Protocol reports. The policy, called the Android Compatibility Commitment, was initially created to ensure that all apps and devices are compatible with Android’s OS. But with deals with six out of 10 smart TV operators and 140 MVPDs across the globe, Google holds a massive footprint in streaming TV. Regulators have taken notice of Google’s anticompetitive behavior on mobile (the EU fined Google $4.9 billion for the issue in 2018)  but haven’t yet said anything about how it extends to smart TVs. “They hate forks officially due to the risk of fragmentation, but in reality because it creates competition outside their walled garden,” said EU antitrust expert Damien Geradin. “If they can make the life of companies that intend to produce forks very difficult, they will do so.” More.

But Wait, There’s More

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