The session, “The BIG Opening: COVID RE-SET for '21“ examined the steps media outlets have taken to appeal to its viewers amid the pandemic, and how its viewers have adapted to the “new normal.”


The second day of NATPE Miami 2021 featured the session “The BIG Opening: COVID RE-SET for '21 ”, hosted by Jeff Cole, during which executives from Nielsen, PBS, and Telemundo discuss strategies that executives in the entertainment industry have implemented to continue to appeal to its viewers and the pandemic and how viewers have adapted to “the new normal.” 

Cole discusses several findings related to audience behavior during the pandemic. While streaming increased 54%, broadcast and cable television increased by 46%, and local television was up by 40%. 65% of consumers say they will not return to the theaters until after the vaccine. 37% of consumers say even after the vaccine, they will prefer social media to interact with others and to stay updated on what’s going on in the world. One of the findings indicates that most consumers enjoy that they have more time to watch television and content they love.The expert highlighted some of this year’s innovations in the industry that will be implemented this year, which include the beginning of PVOD, premium video on demand, and digital dated releases for what used to be theatrical motion pictures. 

Similarly, Chief Growth Officer and President, International Media at Nielsen Sean Cohan noted an increased appetite for content and increases in viewing time as its main finding during 2020. Other findings include sports declines and increasing viewership for dramas. The researcher prioritized audience measurement, how people reacted and what action they followed after watching a show, and how outlets are organizing and archiving content, remote management, and proper audience representation. “It's about the importance of information and leadership to help navigate through chaos and change,” Cohan said.

The session also covered the circumstances of specific streaming platforms, some of which launched during the pandemic, such as the failure of service Quibi, which failed primarily due to lack of consumer attraction and because the intention for the app to watch quick-bite content wasn’t appropriate for the average consumer’s routine during the pandemic. In terms of specific streaming platforms, some of Disney+ had difficulties maintaining its catalog to handle the demand for streaming content after releasing The Mandalorian.” Despite the challenge, the app has garnered over 60 million subscriptions in the US since launching.

HBO Max, which also launched during the pandemic, Consumers didn’t feel the need to obtain the service as it offered similar features to other HBO streaming services. The platform took all of its catalog for 2021 and decided to insert it into the catalog to retain the attention of its subscribers. Other large streaming competitors, such as Netflix, which is known for having a fulfilling catalog, and Peacock, were noted.

According to Chief Programming Executive & General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS Sylvia Bugg, PBS hopes to continue pushing out content that delivers to a younger audience, as well as additional educational content and services in 2021, which the network found to be watched heavily by parents alongside their children during the pandemic. It will also incorporate more art, and services that inform the audience about the events that are occurring around them, such as health and wellness content.

In terms of production, safety protocols against the virus in production studios will continue as well as remote work and streamline production as studios determine which productions are worth going through considering the cost of safety measures. According to the President of Telemundo Studios, Marcos Santana predicts that the volume of production will most likely not return to that of pre-covid levels until at least two years from now. ”We will continue our best to quickly adapt and continue our commitment to deliver magic to our faithful audience when they need it the most,” Santana said.

It's about the importance of information and leadership to help navigate through chaos and change.” Sean Cohan Chief Growth Officer and President, International Media, Nielsen