In an era of big data, personalization is critical for marketers looking to develop authentic and meaningful relationships with consumers. The same is true for content platforms, and that’s a trend we’re seeing among some of the newer video streaming entrants. Compared with the early days of streaming, when platforms largely aimed to satiate all audiences at one fell content swoop, a handful of platforms are taking a more focused engagement approach.
We know that streaming platforms are steadily evolving their user experiences to help connect audiences with content, but as competition rises, platforms will be more likely to target specific audiences—through marketing, content and ads—rather than hope for the best by trying to appeal to everyone. When we look at the total U.S. TV universe, we see that White audiences account for 66% of the minutes of linear TV programming viewed in the month of June 2021. Across linear TV programming and some of the major subscription on-demand (SVOD) platforms, the percentages were even higher. And although Gracenote Inclusion Analytics shows shifts in representation of many diverse identity groups in content, there is still a notable opportunity for publishers outside of the more traditional channels seeking to engage racially and ethnically diverse viewers with unique content that reflects their unique experiences.
Amid the sea of growing choice, content becomes a key differentiator, especially when publishers identify needs that are not being met. SVOD remains the biggest draw across the streaming space (51% of minutes viewed in June 2021), but ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD), multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) and virtual MVPDs (vMVPDs) have grown to account for a combined 36% of viewing share. And an array of publishers in these categories are attracting more diverse audiences than traditional TV and SVOD options are.
Black audiences, for example, accounted for 24% of all minutes viewed across all AVOD services in June. Among AVOD platforms, Tubi, owned by Fox, attracts the largest share from Black audiences: they watched 39% of the minutes viewed from this platform in June, significantly more than the 17% of the minutes they watched on linear TV. Pluto TV, owned by ViacomCBS, also attracts a sizable Black audience, which accounted for 36% of the platform’s viewed minutes in June.
Hispanics account for 19% of the U.S. population, which is very close to their representation in the U.S. TV universe (18%). This community, however, spends notably less of its time with traditional TV than it does with streaming services, including newcomer AVOD platforms like Pluto TV and Tubi. The real standout, however, is YouTube, which accounted for 21% of viewing minutes among Hispanics in June.
Race and ethnicity, however, aren’t the only demographics that content publishers can hone in on. Unsurprisingly, Disney+ attracts the biggest share of minutes viewed among people 2-17, given its extensive back catalogue of animated classics as well as content from across Disney’s associated brands and franchises, such Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars. Persons 55 and older are at the opposite end of the spectrum and dominate linear TV viewing. But that doesn’t mean they’re not streaming, as this audience accounts for a notable share of time with Amazon Prime Video and several of the newer AVOD and MVPD/vMVPD entrants.
Knowing who’s watching what and for how long has always been critical for brands, but the increasingly fragmented media landscape makes it more challenging to track everything—especially as new options come online. And given the growth of ad-supported streaming services, connected TV (CTV) ad spend is one of the most rapidly growing areas in advertising. In fact, eMarketer forecasts CTV spend to reach just over $13.4 billion this year, including almost a 50% increase in spending during the TV upfronts.
Importantly, TV is no longer just a tool for mass reach. Consumers today would be hard-pressed to find a TV that is not internet-capable, and nearly 80% of U.S. homes now have at least one enabled device, according to Nielsen’s national TV panel. That connectivity and growing options in the streaming video space provide advertisers and media buyers the ability to engage with viewers in live, linear, on-demand and streaming environments. Importantly, audience targeting was the top marketing tactic cited by the marketers surveyed for this year’s Nielsen Annual Marketing Report, yet more than half have yet to consider real-time targeted ads.
Despite the growth of streaming, brands and media buyers should not abandon more traditional media options, especially when they are evolving. For example, linear streaming TV programming has become a media mainstay that kept the attention of TV viewers for three hours per day during the month of June 2021.
No matter the platform, creating content that resonates with unique audiences, especially those that have been historically excluded from representation on TV, is a strategy that continues to win with viewers, advertisers and new entrants to the streaming wars.