TV is near and dear to my heart having crafted advertising strategies for all types of entertainment clients—from Streaming (Netflix) to Broadcast (ABC) to Cable (ESPN and TV Land)—launching hit shows like Stranger Things and The Crown. So get excited for some entertainment knowledge to be dropped. And if you just need a new show reco I can do that too.
How many streaming services do you subscribe to now? Of course, there’s Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and Amazon Prime Video. There’s YouTube Premium to watch your fav video stars and ESPN+ if you’re a huge sports junky. There's even a streaming service for Anime obsessives called Crunchyroll.
The streaming-palooza is at full tilt with more than 100 services available, cementing the new entertainment landscape as streaming first, cable second. In addition to changing nearly all of our viewing habits, it’s also changed the way we experience culture—making the collective, shared experience a thing of the past, and micro-moments the thing of today.
Luckily for us, there are even more options coming down the pipeline! Apple TV+ was unveiled last week, Discovery inked a massive deal with BBC to include all things earth and animals on their streaming service and Disney Plus just revealed their programming slate.
Streaming is the preferred choice for 13-34-year-olds (according to a research study I fielded at my last gig - heyyy Mediahub!) and even though the older groups say they’d prefer to access TV through their set-top box, Netflix is still their #1 favorite content provider (excluding the 66+ age group).
We’ve been reprogrammed by streaming services, which has revolutionized our habits. Now we expect on-demand access to amazing content on any device at any time. Seeing ads is a weird reminder that the traditional TV world still does exist (see Netflix’s savage tweet during the Golden Globes below) and when we can’t watch the whole season at once we’re up in arms (seriously Hulu, get with the game).
For many, the question of "how many streaming services can I afford on top of cable?" has flipped to "can I still afford cable with all of these streaming services?" In fact, the majority of people, even older groups, say they wouldn’t be stressed without cable. No wonder cord cutting keeps growing—eMarketer projects non-pay TV viewers to grow by 60% in five years.
You might have already realized all of those effects streaming services have had on us. What you may not have realized, though, is a deeper effect on culture—shared moments where our country is all on the couch at the same time, watching the same thing, is shrinking before our eyes, literally.
The Final Four is today and this is undoubtedly a moment that brings the country together. Everyone and their mom fill out a bracket regardless if you care about the tournament—it’s estimated that 40MM people bet on the winner. What’s interesting though is way more people fill out a bracket than watch—last year the tournament had 16.5MM viewers (including streams) and that is only half of the viewers than the first March Madness in 1975 (30MM viewers).
What about Game of Thrones? Viewership has grown each season, creating a pop culture phenomenon like no other. 32.8MM people watched last season on average, which is 3.5x bigger than Season 1. Surprisingly, that’s even larger than the number of people watching the Final Four.
Obviously, the Super Bowl comes to mind as the country’s biggest shared cultural moment. And it’s true! 100MM people watched the big game this year (this includes streams). That’s almost a third of the country.
Clearly only on *very* special occasions do we collectively gather around a screen (you'll find me on the couch next Sunday night), but it’s still not even what it used to be.
When you compare the Super Bowl's viewership to a normal broadcast show’s season finale in 1983, it’s LOWER. The M*A*S*H finale brought in more viewers (106MM) than this year’s big game. For context, This Is Us brought in 13MM viewers at its peak.
So where have all the viewers gone? Well, watching other things of course. According to FX’s annual survey, there were 495 scripted original series in 2018 and they are estimating 530 shows for 2019 (this doesn’t even include reality, news or other unscripted shows). This means there are more TV shows to watch than there are days in the year. HELP!
As you can see from the chart, online services have increasingly contributed a large portion of the total, which makes sense when Netflix alone is spending $15B in original content this year.
And this is JUST TV. Remember when we talked about how big gaming is? Twitch and Fortnite alone gobble up a ton of our leisure time (11% to be exact). Reed Hastings, Netflix’s CEO, agrees, saying Fortnite is a bigger competitor to Netflix than HBO. #burn
What does this all mean? Back in the day when you were watching the same show as everyone else in the country, arguably you had a similar worldview, or at least your world was colored by the same content and point of view. Now, with so many choices at our fingertips, we are all watching different things at different times except for a few special occasions. This new era of entertainment has transformed culture from macro-moments to micro-moments, meaning that my definition of an important moment could be drastically different than yours. This is why it's more important now than ever to understand your audience's favorite shows, sports and passions because you can't assume it's the same thing anymore.