How do you tell your AVOD service is growing and offers a healthy investment platform? To date, we’ve had the muddy waters of MUAs as our only benchmark- a benchmark that does fall short. This week we see Fox CEO Lachlan Murdock denounce them as near useless, yet without offering a meaningful alternative stat for his own streaming channel. BLAKE & WANG P.A entertainment law firms Los Angeles investigates further.
A lack of meaningful data
To date, we’ve determined AVOD streamer viewing and the growth of channels by MUA, or Monthly Average Users. Just this week, however, we’ve heard Murdock denounce these as useless next to TVT, or Total Viewing Time. A stat that was subsequently notable only in its absence when he turned to address Tubi, Fox’s screaming baby.
In fact, Tubi has never given us meaningful TVT numbers- the closest we’ve come is a stated 220 million hours for Q3 last year. They themselves still use MUA in all of their reporting, which is somewhat ironic, to say the least. He may have a point, however. MUAs are easily abused, as we’ve seen recently from Peacock, among others. They can become a nice way to obfuscate real, actively engaging viewing numbers/activity behind a curtain of lifetime signups. Roku has never given us even a hint of that meaningful stat. Although pressure from investors in the Quibi content they recently took over may push for more transparency in the area of active accounts vs MUA. Amazon has never given us an idea of TVT, either. Without it, establishing a realistic look at what’s happening on channels is a lot harder.
An MUA suggests that more people watching tiny fragments of programming- like new signup who never comes back- is somehow ‘better’ than fewer people actively engaging in watching hours of content. Obviously, that’s far from the truth. While it’s a flawed system, however, MUAs have at least provided a benchmark for comparison to date.
While MUAs do have their deficiencies, it’s highly unlikely that Fox was altruistically thinking of the community in suggesting the switch. We know that Tubi’s MUAs have slowed from a Q3 33 million peak. It’s highly likely that seeking to avoid any possible appearance of ‘losing face’ against competitors Xumo and Pluto, they’ve opted to now get coy about stats and muddy the waters further.
To be honest, it’s hard not to see the fudging of data and failure to reveal any meaningful information about Tubi’s Q4 performance as a way to put off investors from asking too many questions. While, in fairness, Murdoch is right that the industry ‘benchmark’ for measuring performance is nonsense- slowed viewer numbers do not spell doom for a channel. In fact, cultivating active engagement from existing subscribers and seeing them consume even more content than previously can be argued to be a far better goal for profitability than merely increasing MUAs.
All the same, the next time he wants to decry the ‘Wild West’ nature of streaming growth reporting, perhaps it would help to bring some factual alternatives to the table as a replacement. More legitimate AVOD stats would be well received by investors and the public alike.
Until then, we’re left without much to go on at all when it comes to streaming growth. Will the MUA ever give way to a more meaningful benchmark? We can’t know, but BLAKE & WANG P.A will be there to keep you in the loop!
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