Over the past several years, streaming services have emerged as commonplace. While they were once most predominant as video on demand (VOD) and subscription-driven services, streaming services today have transformed to support live linear programming with varied viewership models—subscription, ad-supported, and hybrid. In the last 18 months, Free Ad Supported TV (FAST) has seen a lot of action—more platforms, more linear channels, and more viewers. Today, when buying a new smart TV, such as Samsung or VIZIO, consumers have access to hundreds of free channels via FAST. Rather than relying on cable TV for entertainment, more and more viewers are switching to streaming services like Hulu, Xumo, Pluto TV, STIRR, Redbox, Sling, and Peacock to name a few.
Last year, many of us took to our television sets for entertainment as we stayed at home during the global pandemic. As a result, streaming TV viewers significantly increased. According to a Nielsen report1, the average weekly streaming minutes across all age groups for Q2 2020 was 142.5 billion, up from 81.7 billion in Q2 2019. As streaming continues to surge, marketers across industry verticals can no longer ignore streaming as a channel to reach their audiences.
The Streaming Surge
As different companies enter the streaming space, consumers can expect to see their options grow exponentially. According to Deloitte2, consumers have over 300 streaming video services to choose from and 68% of people have at least one streaming video subscription. As viewership numbers increase, advertisers and marketers have an opportunity to capitalize on the momentum in the streaming industry with Connected TV (CTV) and OTT ad spending expected to reach nearly $11 billion3 in 2021—up from nearly $7 billion in 2019.
While the streaming surge continues, many marketers and advertisers are working to uncover the ways they can continue to gain insights from their target audiences and get their message across through streaming platforms. In some cases, this has proven a bit challenging as several streaming services allow customers to pay a premium to remove advertisements. However, this doesn’t mean the opportunities aren’t there for companies to get through to their specific audiences.
Streaming’s Impact on Life Sciences
For life sciences marketers, leveraging streaming services to promote your brands may seem like a daunting task. However, those in the life sciences can leverage streaming services in many ways to their benefit. For example, life sciences companies can launch their own O&O (Owned and Operated) apps which can stream 24×7 linear channels. In doing so, a doctor’s office can potentially stream such channels that carry medical information in their waiting rooms or the companies can deliver their channels to FAST platforms as well in order to reach consumers in their homes. This can make it easy for stakeholders in the ecosystem to access the programming without having to pay subscription fees.
As previously mentioned, streaming’s growth is happening rapidly. This also means the tactics around marketing and advertising are quickly changing to meet consumers where they are. For marketers taking a look at their DTC approach, they must focus on testing and targeting creative across platforms to see what works and doesn’t work. For example, companies can develop a number of video ads and test them on different streaming platforms in a targeted manner to see which perform the best. From there, they can leverage those ads across streaming TV, targeting users in their preferred demographic.
Just as consumers are cord cutting, advertisers can follow suit by adjusting their budgets to also incorporate streaming services into their strategies. This means thinking beyond cord-cutters and taking a look at cord-nevers or consumers that have never used commercial cable for television services, relying on internet sources from the start. Both marketers and advertisers should look into the demographic profiles of cord-nevers to gain an understanding if this fits their target audience.
According to research done by MRI-Simmons,4 nearly 31 million U.S. consumers or 12% of the adult population are cord-nevers. The study uncovered cord-nevers median age is 33 and their median income has increased from $41,500 to $52,800. If the demographic profile does fit your target audience, be sure to include streaming services, especially FAST, into your strategy as a viable medium to reach them.
The Future of Streaming
Looking ahead, we can expect to see many developments in 2021 and beyond in the streaming industry. First, a tremendous amount of growth in FAST is almost a given. New players will emerge in the industry, as Telcos, cable operators, and specialized niche app players get into the game. Some of the large TV networks that have sat out on FAST will now come into the space, creating an extremely competitive industry. Outside of cable networks, we will also see local news take this opportunity to reach a younger audience.
In the last several years, CTV has continued to grow. While this was especially true during the global health crisis, as we begin to bounce back, mobile should take the spotlight in 2021 and 2022 with companies offering mobile applications for linear streaming content. We’ve already seen this from Samsung, Roku, and several others. I believe we are headed in the direction of a default TV application installed on phones offering FAST.
Lastly, viewership analytics for streaming services do not provide the same level of insights as broadcast viewership at this time. In the coming years, I expect this to change as more marketers and advertisers move to streaming services to reach audiences around the world.
There’s no doubt streaming is here to stay. As more companies come forward to offer streaming options, marketers and advertisers must make the necessary strategy adjustments to ensure they’re targeting their audience through the right channel at the right time with the right message. Companies that choose not to do so will fall behind. Instead, take the time to test out what works on streaming services to set yourself up for success.