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3 minute read | December 2019

There’s no denying the massive impact that non-traditional video options like streaming services and over-the-top devices are offering consumers. And consumers are going all in, as Disney+ recently boasted subscriber numbers that were off the charts within just one day of launching. As devices, platforms and channels proliferate, the race to capture eyeballs and wallets is on. But how many content options can consumers tune into?

It’s a big question, largely as audience viewing hours are currently expanding. That said, however, there are answers—answers that a single source of measurement can provide. To dig into the future of television, David Kenny, Nielsen CEO & CDO, recently participated in a lively panel discussion at the Paley Center for Media’s IC Summit that explored the future of streaming. Kenny, alongside other industry leaders, commented on how shifting audience preferences and further fragmentation of over-the-top offerings continue to shake up the TV landscape.

Despite the fragmentation, increased viewing hours translate into a bigger opportunity overall. That opportunity, however, is attracting a steady stream of competition. The number of subscription video on demand (SVOD) services, like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon and Hulu, has grown drastically, and the emergence of advertising-based video on demand (AVOD), which already accounts for approximately one-third of television viewing, adds another layer to this complicated space.

The key to success in this complex environment lies in understanding an ever-changing audience, Kenny noted during the panel. In a time of shifting viewing patterns, “there’s never been a more important time to have a single source of truth. Being able to have a trusted measure of the audience and the outcome of the audience is key,” he added.

So what’s the key to attracting audiences? Content. Subscription services have been successful by offering premium, original content, Kenny said; however, as the number of platforms increases, the search for content becomes more and more challenging. “When people spend more than 10 minutes searching for content, they just decide not to watch. Having good, free programming that’s ad-sponsored is only going to grow,” Kenny stated. “The AVOD model is successful because for many viewers, watching an ad to access quality content cost-free is a small price to pay. Live TV still has a place among audiences as well.“Live TV will always matter from an entertainment standpoint,” he added.

As viewer behaviors evolve, the television industry must follow suit, and industry leaders believe that collaboration is key. Collaboration will enable the measurement of more inventory, so that audience needs are met as best as possible. Kenny stated, “Nielsen’s currency is the single truth – our ratings enable all platforms and buyers to work together.”