Bitcentral: Older Streamers, Password Sharers More Likely to Watch Ads Than Subscribe

Older streamers are more interested in watching ads in exchange for less-expensive SVOD access, including free ad-supported streaming television (FAST), according to new data from Bitcentral.

Citing a survey of 1,000 respondents who subscribe to Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ and/or Apple TV+, conducted in August by Sapio Research for Bitcentral, nearly half (46%) of respondents said they do not believe they are getting good value from major streaming services, with nearly 20% saying the platforms could do better.

The research shows that Baby Boomers (aged 59-77) would be more likely to watch three ad breaks an hour (44%) than Millennials (32%). Netflix’s crackdown on password-sharing has not been popular, suggesting the initial boost the streaming giant has seen in new subscriptions may be short-lived. Two-thirds (65%) of subscribers say the crackdown on password sharing has driven them to look elsewhere. Millennials (aged 27-42) say they are most likely to switch, with a third (33%) saying they are very likely to consider other providers.

Audiences are open to free, advertising-based options, with three-quarters (75%) saying they are interested in trying FAST services like Pluto TV, Tubi, The Roku Channel or Amazon Freevee — as long as they keep the ads short. Well over half (58%) say they would only watch a free streaming service if it had fewer and shorter ads than traditional commercial TV. Over half (56%) say they want ads to be under 30 seconds long.

Indeed, more than half of respondents (56%) said they are more willing to watch FAST services if ads are “highly relevant” to them. Advertising-based streaming services that consider local preferences also stand to generate more ad revenues. Almost 20% of New York-based respondents consider six or more ad breaks per hour acceptable, while in California this figure drops to just 13%.

“Despite what may seem a crowded streaming marketplace, there is ample opportunity for companies with high-quality content to succeed in the direct-to-consumer streaming market,” Greg Morrow, GM Streaming Media Group, Bitcentral, said in a statement.

Morrow said that while most of the industry conversation is dominated by big streaming services that cater to a mass market, there are whole swathes of viewers who are more than open to change and embrace advertising if the content and price point are right.

“There is a fantastic opportunity for D2C providers with access to first-party data to grow revenues by catering better to the nuances among their audience, such as age, location, and genre,” he said.

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Actors Reportedly Walked Away From $1 Billion Hike in Pre-Strike Compensation, Benefits Offer

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the negotiating entity representing the Hollywood studios and streamers, including Netflix, reportedly offered SAG-AFTRA, the union representing about 160,000 working actors, more than $1 billion in increased financial compensation and benefits before the strike call last Thursday, July 13.

“The deal that SAG-AFTRA walked away from on July 12 is worth more than $1 billion in wage increases, pension and health contributions and residual increases and includes first-of-their-kind protections over its three-year term, including expressly with respect to AI [artificial intelligence],” read an AMPTP  statement, according to Reuters, which first reported the offer, citing information from AMPTP.

SAG-AFTRA, which reportedly is calling the statement a mischaracterization of the pre-strike negotiations, is seeking  greater compensation for streaming video distribution, among other issues.

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) in June inked a new labor deal with AMPTP that featured a 21% hike in streaming residuals that includes content streaming access to foreign subscribers across Netflix, Disney+ and other major platforms.

SAG-AFTRA is also seeking greater control of actors’ AI images as the technology’s use increases with content production.

Studios already use Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI) when making actors appear younger or older, or creating realistic images, voiceovers and communication.

For example, in the new three-part Showtime documentary Goliath on the late NBA star Wilt Chamberlain, GAI is used to recreate Chamberlain’s voice-overs from media statements he made.

The technology and practice is increasingly being used by content producers for actors in other situations — an emerging business practice SAG-AFTRA wants to stay on top of.

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The DGA labor deal with AMPTP expressly addressed safeguards for directors regarding GAI.

Specifically, the agreement outlines that “duties performed by DGA members must be assigned to a person, and GAI does not constitute a person.”

Content creators/producers are not allowed to use GAI in connection with “creative elements” without consultation with the director or other DGA-covered employees. The labor contract also calls for twice-yearly meetings with the studios to discuss and negotiate the use of GAI.

Writers Guilds Authorize Strike Following Unsuccessful Contract Negotiations With Streamers

The Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of the West and the Council of the Writers Guild of the East late May 1 announced they have voted unanimously to call a strike, effective at 12:01 a.m. May 2. The move marks the first Hollywood labor strike since 2007.

“The decision was made following six weeks of negotiating with Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, NBCUniversal, Paramount+ and Sony under the umbrella of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers,” the WGA West said in a social media post.

The initial impact of a strike would see an immediate hiatus for late-night and daytime talk shows, while network and streaming shows will eventually run out of original episodes.

“The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing,” the Guild said.

The last writers’ strike last 100 days, causing billions of dollars of lost output revenue and myriad primetime episodic programming, not to mention a disruption to film production schedules. Today, the film and television landscape has changed into a market dominated by streaming, which itself is eyeing cost reductions.

Speaking on its most-recent fiscal call, Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix, said he hoped a strike could be averted — but if it did, the streamer was prepared.

“We respect the writers and we respect the WGA, and we couldn’t be here
without them,” Sarandos said, adding that the last work stoppage was “devastating” to creators.

“It was really hard in the industry,” he said. “It was painful for local economies that support production and it was very, very, very bad for fans.”

Sarandos said that should a strike happen, Netflix would have a large base of upcoming shows and films from around the world that it could serve its subscribers.

“Regardless, we would work really hard to make sure we could find a fair and equitable deal so we can avoid [a strike],” he said.

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Streamers Top 2023 Golden Globes Nominations

Streaming video platforms again mark a strong presence as the entertainment industry gears up for the 2023 awards season, beginning with the controversial Golden Globes Awards.

Best drama series nominees include AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” Netflix’s “Ozark” and “The Crown,” HBO’s “House of the Dragon,” and “Severance” on Apple TV+.

Best Musical or Comedy series nominees include ABC’s “Abbot Elementary,” FX on Hulu’s “The Bear,” HBO Max’s “Hacks,” Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building,” and Netflix’s “Wednesday.”

Best limited or anthology series nominees include Apple TV+’s “Black Bird,” Netflix’s “Dahmer — Monster: the Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” Hulu’s “The Dropout” and “Pam & Tommy,” and HBO’s “The White Lotus.”

Abbot Elementary earne the most total nominations with five. “The White Lotus,” “Dahmer,” “The Crown,” “Pam & Tommy” and “Only Murders in the Building” each generated four nominations.

Amazon Prime Video’s expensive series “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” was not nominated.

Netflix earned a best picture — musical/comedy nomination for original movie Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, starring Daniel Craig, who picked up a nomination for best actor in a motion picture — musical/comedy.

Julia Garner picked up a nomination for best actress in a limited series, anthology series or television motion picture for Netflix’s “Inventing Anna.” Ana de Armas earned a best actress in a motion picture — drama nomination for Netflix’s fictionalized Marilyn Monroe biopic Blonde.

With the 80th annual Golden Globes Awards set to return to NBC on Jan. 10, 2023, following a one-year break after the awards’ parent organization, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, was beset with legal and diversity issues, questions remain which Hollywood stars will actually attend the event.

Report: Streamers Targeting Older Viewers

Subscription streaming VOD isn’t just for the younger demo. New data from Ampere Analysis found streaming services are actively targeting viewers aged 35 and over in their content commissioning strategies. These audiences have traditionally been linear TV’s core viewers, but now SVOD pioneers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu have turned their attention — and programming budgets — to older viewers, according to Ampere.

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London-based Ampere noted older viewers covet documentaries, dramas and crime thrillers, which are now among streamers’ top five commissioned genres. Netflix is the largest original content commissioner worldwide, with more than 100 titles ordered between January and March. This amounts to more than 30% of the number of titles ordered by Netflix in 2020. In March, Netflix ordered more doc titles than any other genre, with over half true crime.

“The fastest growth in uptake of VOD viewing is now in the 35–44-year-old age bracket,” Minal Modha, consumer research lead at Ampere Analysis, said in a statement. “Nearly twice as many in this age group are now high VOD viewers compared to two years ago.”

At the same time, Ampere noted consumers who don’t engage with VOD are 55% more likely to be older than 45. The report classified TV viewers based on the time they spend watching TV or online video on a typical day. “Medium” viewers watch for two to four hours a day, and “high” viewers more than four hours a day. About 50% of “medium” linear TV viewers are over 45 years old, with this group often watching locally produced TV series. “High” linear viewers are in the same age range with 57% aged over 45. They are driven by a love of sports and TV shows, with one third (35%) focusing on live sports.

To persuade these viewers to become subscribers, Ampere noted streaming platforms need a three-pronged approach, combining adjustments to genre focus, sport programming and availability of local language content.

  1. They must continue to invest in factual and crime and thriller content. Ampere’s data suggests that this shift is already underway among many of the more established VOD services.
  2. They should expand the array of sports-related content. Sports rights are going to be an important part of any conversion strategy. In the United States, live sports is already beginning to move to some of the newer studio-backed streaming services, but rights in international markets are often difficult to justify for global players. One approach these global streamers might take is to create ancillary sports content. Factual and reality documentary series around players, teams and events are cheaper than live rights, have a better shelf life and offer a draw to die-hard sports fans.
  3. To compete with the local players more effectively, especially in those markets with historically high engagement with linear, and strong local content industries — such as France, Germany and Japan — Ampere recommended more local language programming.

 

“The laser-like focus on matching commissioning strategies with the favorite genres of the older demographics in question is evident, but to more fully compete with linear TV players, local language content is going to be key, as will some sports content, be it live or ancillary,” Modha said in a statement.