New SVOD Players Targeting Specific Audiences

With several new high-profile streaming video services about to launch, appealing to select audiences appears to be the initial strategy competing against Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

The London-based research firm Sept. 17 in a profile of six new services — Disney+, Viacom’s BET+, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, NBC Universal’s Peacock streaming service, Apple TV+ and short-form start-up Quibi — found that content strategies going forward is largely based on their media parents.

Some services will rely on original fare (notably Apple), while others will offer catalog content and third-party licensed programming.

Ampere says Disney+ will focus on family fare with 61 original series and titles, in addition to select catalog. The service is focusing on TV and movies, with TV spin-off The Phineas & Ferb Movie, and a live-action remake of The Lady and the Tramp. Over one-third of its original content is unscripted.

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With most of its mobile-centric content about 10 minutes or less in length, Quibi can compete with Disney+ in terms of number of titles, according to Ampere. The platform is entirely reliant on the success of its original titles as its short-form nature means there’s no back catalog and no acquisition targets.

The start-up has the highest proportion of unscripted content of the six players at 40% and is targeting it at a youth-skewing audience.

Apple TV+ is focusing on big-budget, big name flagship scripted series, such as “The Morning Show” featuring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. Indeed, about 87% of content is scripted.

Buoyed by strong catalog, Ampere expects WarnerMedia’s HBO Max to be led by premium scripted content, although it recently announced its first two unscripted original commissions.

With under five originals, Ampere expects NBC Universal’s service to be mainly catalog-focused. It has commissioned a third season of high school comedy “A.P Bio,” previously cancelled at linear network NBC. To date all announced content is scripted.

Viacom’s BET+ has less than five originals to its name to date, and so will also rely on its existing catalog rather than original content. Another similarity with NBC is that all announced content is scripted.

“Disney+ is focused particularly on family content, with nothing higher than a 13-years age rating, with more-mature content left to the bundle-able platforms Hulu and ESPN+,” analyst Fred Black said in a statement.

“Mobile-only short-form strategy is designed to target teenagers and young adults in the 16-40 years age bracket, while BET+ will be hoping to target the same African American audience as the successful linear equivalent. WarnerMedia, having decided to use the HBO brand name, will similarly be aiming to convert some of that linear audience to streaming subscribers.”

The research firm says three of the six new services have announced unscripted content. Disney+ and Apple TV+ have a strong focus on documentaries. Disney+ has named National Geographic a core brand and has also announced science history series, “The World According to Jeff Goldblum.”

Apple TV+ documentaries include dinosaur-themed “Prehistoric Planet.” In contrast, Quibi’s unscripted slate includes 10 reality titles, including motoring challenge show, “Elba vs. Block.” The player is the only new service to offer daily news and current affairs via partnerships with NBC and BBC.

Ampere’s analysis of upcoming originals found that 66% of content originates from its existing source material, such as movie brands and literary adaptions, which is more than any of the other three studio-backed services.

About 47% of Apple TV+ and 43% of HBO Max’s commissions are original concepts. Both players have turned to literary adaptions to build prestige, scripted content.

For instance, at Apple TV+ there’s Stephen King’s “Lisey’s Story,” and at HBO Max, there’s Alissa Nutting’s sci-fi drama “Made for Love.” In complete contrast, only 2c4% of Quibi’s commissioning is originals based on source material. They include four literary adaptations and three movie remakes, among them “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” NBC has yet to commission any original concepts.

More than 27% of scripted commissions across the six new services are sci-fi and fantasy, followed by crime & thrillers at 21%.

These genres have proved particularly successful for Netflix and Amazon, so it’s not surprising these new competitors have prioritized the genres, says Ampere.

HBO Max has Gremlins spin-off “Secrets of the Mogwai,” while Apple is combining sci-fi and crime with drama. For Disney+, children and family content will dominate alongside sci-fi and fantasy.

Disney+ originals are being used to drive early subscriber growth, leveraging well-known brands such as Marvel superhero titles “Loki” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and “Toy Story” spin-off “Lamp Life.”

Meanwhile, 43% of HBO Max titles feature a female lead. HBO Max is the only platform where female-led content is the most prominent category.

Disney+’s focus on spin-offs and reboots from older titles has left it with a more male-centric set of commissions, with 39% of titles with lead characters featuring a male lead.

Mixed gender group casts are however common at Disney+ (23%), as well among Apple TV+ (29%) and HBO Max (33%) commissions.

This compares to Quibi, where titles with protagonist groups account for only 4% of commissions. With episodes roughly 10 minutes long, titles by necessity tend to focus more on a specific male or female protagonist.

“Across the six platforms the two most popular genres for commissioners have been sci-fi and fantasy and crime and thrillers, showing a willingness from the new players to take on Amazon and Netflix’s original content head-to-head,” Black said.

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