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Streaming Video Usage Spikes During Huge Northeast Blizzard

UPDATE: Comcast reports that VOD viewing on the Xfinity platform spiked 23% on Jan. 23 compared to the previous Saturday, driven by big spikes in storm-affected regions. More detail below.

The blizzard that socked much of the northeastern U.S. this weekend created the perfect environment for TV binge-viewing as millions of people were left housebound by record-busting snowfall totals on Friday and Saturday.

And even with short notice, major TV and streaming services missed no opportunity to use Winter Storm Jonas as a marketing platform, particularly to encourage catch-up viewing.

Hard streaming viewing stats for the weekend are hard to come by, of course, but anecdotal evidence indicates plenty of people curled up with their broadband connections — at least those who didn’t lose power.

Streaming video usage in the Washington, D.C. area, which saw a deluge of about 17.8 inches of snow per Weather.com, was up 12% on Saturday from the past month’s average peak bandwidth usage, according to data analyzed by Fremont, Calif.-based Procera Networks.

Stars and producers active on social media also took the opportunity to promote their priorities to captive audiences.

CBS and Fox were already expecting to draw blockbuster audiences Sunday afternoon and evening for their respective coverage of the NFL’s AFC and NFC championship games that will decide this year’s Super Bowl combatants.

The blizzard conditions can only help those numbers as some of those who might have headed out to bars or group-viewing locations may wind up staying home, making them easier for Nielsen to court. That dynamic could also wind up benefiting Fox’s launch of “The X-Files,” which premieres Sunday night at 10 p.m. ET, after the NFC face-off between the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals is in the NFL history books.

UPDATE: Comcast set a record with 1.29 million people watching the Xfinity on Demand service on Saturday. Viewing in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. was up 56% versus the week-ago benchmark. Viewing in the Xfinity footprint in New Jersey gained 50%; Connecticut and the Boston market grew 40%. Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pa.,  were up 38%.

Among the most-watched programs were NBC’s new Jennifer Lopez starrer “Shades of Blue,” HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and in kidvid, Cartoon Network’s “Teen Titans Go.” “Hotel Transylvania” via FX’s free VOD platform was the most popular free movie. Among rental titles, “The Intern” was the top pick, although “The Martian” prevailed in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore region, according to Comcast.

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