2022: A Media Universe Big Bang

Sharing his latest “Media Universe Map,” which describes the rapidly changing media landscape, Evan Shapiro conducted a discussion based on the map to exemplify the swiftly developing and competitive media ecosystem. Noting the “war for attention” in the new media landscape, he indicated that the largest media companies (“The Death Stars”), such as Meta, Alphabet, Microsoft, Apple and Nvidia, will play a direct or indirect role in what happens to smaller or emerging companies. Other drivers of the media ecosystem include the balance of single unit and subscription sales, generational effects, and the emergence of the creator content economy.

Streaming in the New Media Landscape

Since the onset of COVID-19, viewing patterns have changed dramatically. The biggest shift, however, has been an accelerated trend towards streaming. Shelter at home policies and health concerns about gathering in large public places, such as movie theaters, are the driving forces. The ARF’s OTT virtual event was dedicated to exploring recent trends as well as identifying the drivers of viewing behavior and the business of OTT in the “new normal”: How have viewing patterns and preferences evolved? What strategies have streaming companies employed to maintain and increase market share? How have studios evaluated and overcome production challenges? 2020 OTT landscape are vastly different from 2019 – how have advertisers taken advantage of the shifts? Spanning two days, for two hours each day, leading OTT providers, advertisers and research experts shared their perspectives and predictions about changing viewing behavior and where the market is heading.

2022 Media Insights and 2023 Challenges

An ARF event presented by the LA Media Research Council focused on insights from 2022 research and on 2023 priorities to meet business challenges. Issues addressed in research presentations and by an expert panel included the evolution of streaming during an economic downturn, how to manage subscriber churn, understanding Gen Z and the continued need for better measurement across the ecosystem.

Are We There Yet or Close to Getting There? New Developments in Cross-Platform TV Measurement (Panel)

This expert panel of industry leaders, moderated by Jon Watts of CIMM, tried to get under the hood of cross-platform measurement. Are studios, content producers, broadcasters and programmer’s needs being met by today’s cross-platform solutions? Cross-platform measurement isn’t just adding it all up to see the total size of the audience. It’s also important to find how people are moving through platforms,  how they are discovering content, but there has been progress towards this. While it’s hard to get granular, broad insights are possible. Deciding which questions you want answered, what data you use and how you look  at the data are also crucial aspects. Content measurement hasn’t gotten the same type of “action” ad measurement has. This lack of focus on content measurement, the siloing of data and the continued use of legacy terms that are outdated are aspects that are hurting the ecosystem.

What Drives Entertainment Viewership?

Greg Durkin of Enact Insight asked the audience why doesn’t every tracker use posters and videos instead of words on a page? And why can’t we do syndicated trailer testing? And what if testing could predict viewership? In his long career as an entertainment market researcher, he found five main things that drive viewership: creative positioning, product quality, media + publicity, competition and distribution. With so many choices today, content discovery is harder than ever. The vast majority of content is unheard of. The type of platform also affects viewership. The audience for Apple TV+ is different than Netflix’s. What’s more, content coming out is not being optimized. Releasing content at the proper time can drive viewership. Certain themes can do so as well and attract widely diverse audience segments. The most important thing for a platform is quality, both in content and in navigation and recommendations.

Viewing Options for Sports Fans: Where Are They Watching and Why? (Panel)

Heidi Chung of Variety Intelligence Platform interviewed Barry Blyn of Walt Disney and Matthew Gottlieb of NBCUniversal about the biggest trends in sports streaming. Barry said sports are thriving, especially since the pandemic ended. Fans, however, are changing. Who fans are, how they fan and what they fan has changed. More women are watching sports and women’s sports are also appealing to both men and women, including the WNBA final and the NCAA women’s tournament. What people fan has also changed. A decade ago, no one heard of things like Drive to Survive or 30 for 30 Films. Now, there’s an explosion of original sport’s content.

Breaking through the Clutter with Innovative Advertising Strategies and Promotions

The panelists talked about the ad experience from the technology, creative agency and the major streamer perspectives. Rob Askman of Brightline started by saying that people aren’t ad averse, but they dislike bad ad experiences. Advertising on streaming is replete with personalization, shopability and interactivity to increase engagement and allow for unique measurement opportunities, allowing for future optimization. William Roberts-Foster of NBCUniversal showed different streaming ad formats such as layering a beloved IP into an ad, solo ads, binge ads, pod ads and pause ads. Karen Costello of Deutsch LA returned to more foundational elements. Advertising is still about content that people care about, no matter the platform. She encouraged engagement of fired up fans with a great story, as they’ll be sure to pass it around.

Streaming and Traditional TV Working Together to be Successful

In this fireside chat, L.A. Times’ Meg James interviewed CBS’s Radha Subramanyam about the journey of a TV show. The role of a researcher used to be about reporting; however, today, it’s looking at many different signals and making recommendations based on them. This has made researchers integral to the process, a leg of the table rather than a seat at the table. Now, the strongest shows originate with linear but make their way onto different OTT platforms, making audience measurement difficult. There’s also a pattern to OTT. When a popular show comes out, a certain platform will have a strong four weeks and die down, while shows like Criminal Minds, Friends and NCIS have a perennial presence. Rather than focus on different platforms, Radha believes that we gain a better understanding from studying popular content, their lifecycle, journey and sustaining power. In addition, she noted that death of linear is overblown as viewership for popular shows has changed little in the last few years.

Video Now: The Evolution of the Viewing Landscape

Tracey Chen of Warner Bros. Discovery walked the audience through the details of their 10-year Video Now study. On demand usage has become universal from baby boomers to Gen Z, while linear TV continues to decline year-over-year with each age group. This is especially true among younger and multicultural audiences. Time spent on SVOD doubled in 2021 while linear TV declined from 20% to 12% in the same period. Now, consumers’ willingness to pay for subscriptions is cooling, allowing AVOD and FAST services to flourish. Fifty percent of consumers have used a FAST service. Roku is the most popular while Tubi saw the biggest year-on-year growth.

OTT 2022: Welcome

Tania Missad of Warner Bros. Discovery introduced the audience to their Video Now study, a 10-year project investigating the evolution of the viewing landscape, which includes the growth of streaming and further erosion of linear TV. The study found that people are now less willing to spend on streaming apps and other options due to frustration with rising costs. They also feel overwhelmed by the number of services. This is causing low and no cost options such as AVOD and FAST to flourish. Besides cost savings, viewers like that AVOD and FAST have large libraries of content to explore. What consumers want now is bundling discounts, improved content discovery including aggregating desirable content across different apps and more personalized recommendations. There’s also a growing interest in more diverse stories and international content.