The importance of understanding your audience across platforms
How video-on-demand services have changed our viewing habits, and how content providers can address the change
In a fast-changing TV market, it is becoming harder to understand audiences across platforms, yet media companies need to reach, engage and retain these audiences, in their entirety, more than ever before.
Going into 2021, media companies are continuing to diversify and expand their platforms as traditional, linear TV viewing (real-time television channels that broadcast scheduled programmes) moves to other forms. While broadcasters have experienced record viewing levels – with a 19% peak uplift for UK linear TV in the year leading to April 2020 compared to 20191 – they’re also expanding video-on-demand (VOD) services. This ensures audiences can access their premium content whenever, wherever and on whatever screen they want.
These VOD services provided by broadcasters account for a disproportionate part of total reported viewing growth during lockdown compared with linear TV. The total time spent on VOD services by 20-49-year-olds in the UK increased from 4% to 7% during April 20202.
With the pandemic and stay-at-home measures in place, we’ve even seen an increase in households watching TV together, across platforms, with an uplift in all TV and video viewing in general. In Norway, for example, linear co-viewing increased from 50% to 54% and broadcaster player co-viewing from 57% to 68%. Netflix enjoyed a 10% uplift in home co-viewing on a TV set to 56% during lockdown while YouTube co-viewing on a TV set increased from 32% to 36%3.
Increased competition is intensifying the battle for audience share. Some 25% of Norwegians aged 20-49 watched content on both Netflix and YouTube across an average week in May. Although this reduced slightly to 21% in September, it still shows that a significant proportion of people are splitting their viewing time across various streaming services. With continued competition in the subscriber VOD space and significant audience overlap across all VOD services, the challenge is real for media owners trying to engage and retain their audience share.
How can we win back audience share?
Although viewing trends have gradually returned to pre-lockdown levels, co-viewing is still prevalent, and we predict that audience overlaps between streaming platforms will continue to grow.
Media trading currencies must reflect the reality and totality of all of these audience behaviours. Content providers and platforms must work together in response to changing audience behaviour to ensure media planning and buying is based on the totality of the audience. This becomes more pressing as media companies like Disney move their streaming business to the heart of their growth strategy. Measurement across all screens and platforms must be taken seriously to understand viewer migrations. With increased competition for viewers’ limited time and money, all content providers and platform owners will find richer value in a total view of their audience.
19 December 2020
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