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.

The Future Shape of the Media Landscape: Predictions for Today and Beyond (Panel)

In this session, Edwin Wong of Vox Media moderated an expert panel who made predictions on what the media experience will be like in 2023 and beyond for the consumer. When asked whether SVOD was going away, Brian Further of Nielsen reminded of what people said about cable, that people would not pay for it and at its height some were paying over $200 per month. Jon Giegengack of Hub Entertainment Research said spending continues to go up on SVOD. But bundling may be a way to have people keep subscriptions longer, since the payment is simplified, and they are less likely to cancel than when they pay for SVODs individually.

Unlocking Monetization via Data Standardization

Sean Wilkinson of Conviva outlined findings from their latest State of Streaming report (released Q2 2022). A lot of non-CTV activity is occurring, like TV casting from connected devices, which equates to missed opportunities.  Still, the use of connected devices is going down and the trend is people buying and relying on smart TVs. Monetization in DTC relies on good data. With it, streaming providers can determine things like customer lifetime value, ARPU and subscriber retention rate. As such, he stressed the importance of standardizing measurement and audience resolution.

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.

CTV: The Big Shift

Tony Marlow at LG Ad Solutions unveiled findings from The Big Shift Study, an online survey conducted in September 2022 of 733 adults from the general U.S. population. CTV in the living room is near saturation, with 93% having access to a CTV there. One-third of streaming content discovery also takes place there. But not all streaming remains ubiquitous. In the last twelve months, one-third of respondents removed a subscription from their CTV service and a quarter have added an AVOD or FAST service. The study found a similar trend taking place over the next twelve months. Fears of economic inflation and a looming recession are pushing people to opt for free, ad-supported streaming services.

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.

SVOD, AVOD, FAST: How “Old” TV Behaviors are Getting New Life in the World of Streaming TV

Jon Giegengack of Hub Entertainment and Wayne Goldstein of Sony Pictures uncovered facets of streaming that display a potential pendulum shift toward more familiar aspects of linear TV. For instance, consumers now want content aggregation and a bundling option to help find content across different platforms. This need for simplicity of use extends to the rise of smart TVs, lessening the number of remotes to manage or buttons to push. TV advertising has entered streaming in a big way. In an age of bingeability, appointment TV has also cropped up. Another adoption from linear, FAST is featuring more programs that help us enjoy our downtime, where we can retreat from the day, lean back and unwind, as opposed to the immersive programming that’s been a stalwart of streaming.

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.

Latest Trends in Viewing Behaviors

Brian Fuhrer of Nielsen outlined trends in “the streamosphere.” Not only has streaming grown tremendously, but there has also been great fragmentation driven by a proliferation of new platforms. Viewing on different platforms changes from month-to-month, depending on what highly anticipated show is coming out. While streaming service providers seem to be able to grab viewers, they wrestle with keeping them. FAST platforms are growing rapidly as older demographics and more diverse audiences flock to them. Certainly, for any streaming platform, adding more diverse content can drive usage and broaden the base. He also talked about the “summer of streaming.” Platforms drop lots of popular content during the summer months—when the networks see a lull, causing a spike in viewership.