Streaming Slumps as Summer Ends: Sports and News Shine in August

As we are intently watching ratings of all mediums during the fall here at Farfetched Studios, the entire digital media realm has been ready for defining data as well! With a new school year in session and an impending presidential election in the mix, all the elements that play can have a mixed effect across TV platform viewership. Viewing among kids aged 2 to 17 dropped during August, with 85% of the gains across cable television being driven by the “golden age” demographic of viewers 65 and up. 

Streaming’s Seasonal Shift: What’s Behind the Decline?

Streaming remained strong in August, but the return to school was a huge factor for the drop in viewership within the youngest demographic. Even though usage had dropped among kids, Disney + still claimed the 3rd and 4th most-watched titles, as Bluey and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 attracted mass viewership. Netflix’s Suits and The Lincoln Lawyer remained strong performers in the fall streaming game, but not quite strong enough to prevent a 4.8% drop in Netflix viewing. Peacock’s Suits yielded the network a substantial gain, along with the showing of the playful and ever-popular Super Mario Brothers Movie. 

The MLP playoffs have now narrowed a bit, and standard broadcast along with cable platforms will benefit from broader coverage of NFL and NCAA football. As strikes and other worldwide problems have made their way down the pipeline, brand-new scripted content has been in short supply. It will develop as a very interesting season, while audiences’ habits will influence what advertisers and content providers change their strategies for winter. Areas such as the South where schools have an earlier fall start date contributed the most to this viewership decline.

“No Man’s Land” & Its Raw Breed of Opportunity:

Cable companies were already rightfully fearful when Netflix began to reign supreme, and viewers enjoyed the ability to enjoy a smorgasbord of unique entertainment at their own discretion. News and sporting events have helped the cord’s programming selection aggressively limp along a bit, with newcomers such as Pluto not granted rights to live events just yet. The recent dispute between cable giant Charter Communications and Disney now highlights the fever pitch that companies are clinging to the age-old model. 

Picket signs have lined the gates of Hollywood studios for almost half a year, as the industry’s writers and actors are fighting for AI protection, higher wages, and a sizable cut in streaming profits. When Netflix began creating original content in 2013, it began a very defined pull in market share that surprised many and set a precedent for broadcast futurism over the next five years. There is a unique type of opportunity that exists in any repeated billing platform, and many studios began building up their content libraries and original shows to aggressively compete.

A Decades-Long Wake-Up Call in the Making:

The content “arms race” that began when Netflix’s popularity rose saw spending levels rise incrementally, and companies were throwing millions at the task of luring new subscribers. Even though many dollars were being allocated, the fundamental roots of the streaming era’s new problems weren’t quite properly tackled. Disney has sought to capitalize largely on the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by stepping up their superhero game, with these episodes costing around $25 million apiece. 

Cost increases don’t quite make sense after a detailed look at the revenue models, with many experts claiming that “something has been broken” in the business. There has been a lack of transparency when the industry’s largest studios must provide vital streaming data, and this has made contract negotiations particularly long-lasting and difficult. With streaming services tending to not pay residuals based on show popularity, there are many issues with actors not receiving additional compensation for exceeding expectations. 

Ads and Chill: The Allure of Free Streaming with Substance

Prices are going up, and advertising is coming in at fever pitch. There are more channels to watch than the average viewer would need, and things are starting to look like Cable TV was just over a decade ago. There are at least some obvious improvements, as it is fairly simple to cancel easily, and watch programs on-demand. The user interfaces are better, but we have recently seen that some streaming services have difficulty in the all-important profit realm and hoped Wall Street would cut them a bit of slack on profitability. 

Disney, Google, and Apple are currently more profitable than Netflix, and exactly one year ago, Paramount+ was a temporary winner of sorts when it added 2.7 million customers per quarter. When football makes its return to the air, some streaming services see large drops in viewership, although Hulu offers attractive bundles for avid sports lovers. Pluto is a free streaming service owned by Paramount, and industry pros stood up and took notice when they reached 64 million monthly active users in July of 2022. In 2016, Pluto made the very savvy decision of signing an agreement with Sony to make the Pluto TV app available on the PlayStation Store. 

Ambitiously Entertaining the Planet: 

It is no secret that audiences truly crave and will recommend shortcuts to content they love. Libraries that include hundreds of channels from trusted brands that possess a strong sense of familiarity. Taking what’s always been great about traditional TV and making changes to drastically modernize it. Having a channel for every audience has created an incredibly brand-safe environment and reaches audiences that can’t always be attained with traditional TV.

All these streaming platforms are ideal destinations for marketers that need incremental reach, while bearing a time-sensitive form of transparency. Audiences have appreciated brand messaging on platforms such as Pluto because it is an incremental component of the medium that gives them access to quality content at no cost. It’s an idea with roots as old as the television industry itself- delivered in a reworked and revamped modern way. Pluto has even gone to the extremes of hiring TV experts to dive in deep and figure out what content would be most fitting on various channels. 

Traditional media, creative branding, and SEO structure are crucial for success in today’s environment. At Farfetched Studios, we are experts in reaching your target audience effectively and making your brand stand out. Even though the change in seasons can render the landscape challenging, there are plenty of options to channel true appeal within a pre-holiday strategy! 

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