In its first write-up of the video streaming industry, Nielsen proclaims a “tipping point” has been reached where companies have “no blueprint” to achieve consumer loyalty or business growth amidst an “explosion of new platforms, services and channels”.
Nielsen’s survey tracks trends in changing audience behaviors and expectations. We look at what this means for media companies and content providers, and where you can look to ensure engagement and growth in an increasingly competitive landscape.
1: Content overwhelm
Nielsen, like the rest of us, has noticed the sheer proliferation of content and consumption options. They reveal 24% of consumers aged 35-49 pay for 5 or more streaming services . It’s not hard to see where this all might be heading: Netflix posted its first subscriber decrease in a decade last month. Services now need to differentiate – options that are tailored for audience accessibility will be key to attracting and retaining engaged viewers.
2. Increased viewing options
How audiences engage with content is also changing. Nielsen reveals Americans 2 and older spent 32% of their total TV time with TV-connected devices rather than traditional TV. Among kids 2-17, the percentage was 64%. Ease of use and convenience has grown in importance, with mobile viewership in particular increasing in popularity.
A move towards mobile consumption comes with extra challenges service providers will want to consider. Users on the go have several competing demands on their attention, and mobile screens are smaller, making subtitles hard to read. Adding dubbing options as well as subtitling for non-native languages gives consumers optionality and increases the likelihood of engagement.
3. Content itself is a key differentiator
Audiences want to feel spoken to and accounted for. Nielsen reveals that “consumers are increasingly seeking content they identify with – content that reflects who they are”. Luxury of choice means consumers are now signing up to platforms based on the particular content that’s on offer, for example whether it has a favourite show or an accessible series.
This opens opportunities for reaching less saturated demographics that might feel overlooked by the content options on offer, even without pouring money into creating flashy new shows. For example, Nielsen reveals white characters take up 75.1% of streaming representation and 79.6% of cable screen time. In contrast, Hispanic/Latinx representation trails at 8.5% and 3.5% respectively. This suggests a paucity of content for Latin American demographics, which companies could target by adding more representative content or by making existing content accessible and personalised using localization.
4. Tailoring and localization are being underutilized
Nielsen’s report notes opportunities are being missed to increase audience satisfaction, stating, “streaming services can do much more to personalize the content discovery experience and drive deeper viewer engagement”. They point to the need to optimize user interfaces using small details like tailoring thumbnails for different audience segments and making descriptions of content more accessible.
As part of this, companies can use localization strategies to address different market segments. For example, consider whether user interfaces and click through menus are localized, or if audio and subtitling options are available for local languages. This can add up to huge returns in engagement with little upfront investment.
5. All providers need to consider their strategy for engaging different audience segments
It’s no longer enough to have good content and a good service; strategies need to be put in place for maximising engagement across different audience segments. Successful providers and channels are getting savvy about how to engage specific markets.
Platforms with advertising are attracting more diverse audiences than TV or subscription-based streaming, likely because they can avoid charging prohibitive subscriptions. Content owners and distributors who are taking the time to consider personalizing the experience for these diverse audience segments are seeing growth and returns even amid market saturation.
For example, Cinedigm used Papercup’s AI translation technology to localize the entire Bob Ross catalog for Spanish-speaking viewers to “reach a previously untapped global audience” (Tony Huidor, Cinedigm CTO). This will to distribuyte on the likes of Pluto, Tubi and other rising stars in the FAST race.
From Nielsen’s report, we can see PlutoTV has 20% more proportional engagement from Hispanic viewers than linear TV.
Nielsen’s report points to something we’re all aware of – the number of content options vying for consumer attention is overwhelming. Currently, consumers are happy to pay for multiple services to access content that speaks to them. However, as we see from Netflix and Deloitte’s industry predictions, this is rapidly becoming unsustainable. Media companies that have built a distinct angle and catered in the most attractive way to their varied audiences will be in the best position to keep growing their market share in spite of the state of play.