Viewers often have a hard time differentiating the brands of streaming services, and turn to known content or creative brands to help make viewing decisions, according to Hub’s annual “Evolution of Video Branding” survey.
The report notes that brand awareness and brand familiarity are two very different things. The vast sums expended on marketing during the streaming wars have been effective, as all the major platforms have brand awareness above 90% percent. However, brand understanding is another matter: far fewer feel confident that they could explain to someone else what each platform does best, or how it is different from the others.
This is the case even for companies that are masters at branding, like Apple. Almost all respondents are aware of Apple TV+, but fewer than half feel they understand the value proposition. In the end, consumers are choosing between a well-known set of brands, without a clear understanding of what differentiates them.
Program brands step into the gap, the report assures. Without a clear understanding of the difference between platforms, consumers turn to other guideposts, such as program brands. In fact, 41% of viewers say they have signed up for a platform just to watch one specific show (up from 35% to years ago). This is even more pronounced among desirable audiences like young people: 57% of those age 16 to 34 have signed up to watch one particular show.
According to Hub, when lost in a sea of content, viewers look for what is familiar. New shows based on familiar characters or histories have a leg up in the discovery process. For instance, 40% of all respondents said they would be more likely to watch a new show based on the Marvel universe (the highest of the 10 brands we tested). But the next three highest were broadcast TV procedurals that have already had successful spinoffs.
Another example is the “Yellowstone” franchise (shows set in the world of “Yellowstone” or marketed as coming from the same creator). Among the respondents who had ever watched “Yellowstone,” almost 70% also watched at least one of Sheridan’s other shows (“1883,” “1923,” “Tulsa King,” or “Mayor of Kingstown”). Perhaps most notably, viewers had to put in some effort to watch these: “Yellowstone” is only on Paramount cable network and on Peacock, while the other shows are only available on Paramount+.
“Viewers have not lacked in choice of services and content over the past few years. But this can be a two-edged sword for content providers, as the immense volume just makes it hard for viewers to remember what is different about each service. At the end of the day, content is king, and unique content will drive viewers even if the service itself is not unique to consumers,” said David Tice, Senior Consultant to Hub and co-author of the study.
These findings are from Hub’s 2023 “Evolution of Video Branding” report, based on a survey conducted among 2.400 US consumers with broadband, age 16-74, who watch at least one hour of TV per week.