By Mary Kay Evans, Chief Marketing Officer
Back in the day, broadcasters and advertisers were not yet sure how to take on streaming platforms and OTT (over-the-top television). Was it a fad, too futuristic for present-day, or a present fortune? This January at CES, it became clear OTT was much more than a futuristic concept – it’s about the future of content. TV networks were actively showing off their new streaming apps and concepts in hopes of competing with streaming giants like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. Read on for our CES 2018 recap.
The entertainment industry is changing every day. As consumers change the way they watch content, movie ticket sales have been declining. In fact, 2017 turned out to be the worst year for movie ticket sales in two decades. Subscription service MoviePass aimed to become the "Netflix for Movie Theaters," quickly adding a million subscribers and transforming the way we see new films. In the future, it will be no surprise to see OTT companies becoming their own theater chains. Imagine Netflix holding a movie premiere at their own branded theater, inviting subscribers to come watch. What about the ability to binge-watch original series at a private theater with your friends? What we learned at CES 2018 was profound: OTT has an enormous opportunity to advance the movie-theater experience that consumers are not currently being offered.
Growing OTT ambitions means stronger partnerships and distribution. Several broadcasters, such as CBS, currently have a variety of different streaming apps, from CBS All Access to CBS Sports. Turner Broadcasting also currently has multiple ad-free subscription services; however, it's looking for stronger distribution with platforms like Roku, Amazon and Apple. In the future, it is likely broadcasters will consolidate all of the brands they carry into one main experience. Good distribution is key, and broadcasters are taking note.
The growth of OTT also means more data and buying opportunities for advertisers. The ability to personalize streaming experiences (e.g., providing recommendations for users on what to watch) means a more curated experience and the ability to capture a targeted audience easier than traditional television. Ultimately, OTT will have intelligent standards and the ability to buy uniformly across channels. With the ability to target consumers in a specific age group who may watch content across Netflix, Hulu, Enews, etc., this standard would prevent advertisers from continuing to buy the same viewers multiple times. More data partners will be able to take charge and solve discoverability issues, and, in turn, allow content creators to strategize what to create.
Additionally, in the consumer tech industry, branded experiences are about to become much more valuable. In a world of skipping ads, now more than ever it's important that advertisers relay their message to their audience. One way this can be achieved is through sponsorships – placing products and messages in the content of the program. Content is expensive, and teaming up can lead to a valuable advertiser and consumer experience.
Our CES 2018 recap reveals a lot about the future of tech and advertising, and one thing is clear: OTT is not as far off into the future as we thought. It's important now more than ever to fully embrace consumer trends and create strategies that will sustain relevancy in an ever-changing industry.