In light of the surge in streaming amid the pandemic, content services and platforms now face the unique challenge of maintaining the same traction and excitement from audiences. John Harrison, Americas sector leader for media and entertainment at EY, said their data implies that streaming is naturally maintaining its own momentum.
“We did some research of U.S. consumers to really understand that question about whether habits that were started during the earlier phases of the pandemic were here to stay, and we think they are,” Harrison said at the Variety Streaming Room presented by EY. “Forty-five percent of U.S. consumers have said that streaming is now the primary way that they view films and television programs at home, and 61% believe that streaming actually offers a better value than the legacy pay-TV bundle.”
On the panel, Harrison was also joined by Michael Bishara, group senior vice president and general manager of direct to customer at Discovery Inc.; Sang Kim, senior vice president of product and marketing at Samsung Electronics; Janelle Rodriguez, senior vice president of NBC News and head of NBC News Now; and Sara Zucker, vice president and head of Next Gen Telecast. Variety’s New York Digital Editor Todd Spangler moderated the event.
On the topic of capitalizing on its established consumer interest, Bishara spoke about Discovery’s experience in establishing its own streaming service and how it attempted to best engage its audience.
“We give the user multiple ways to be able to access the content, let them determine how they want to engage — we have two tiers of service, light ads and one is commercial-free — and make the content available in multiple ways across all platforms. Of course, we have a really terrific slate of originals as well,” Bishara said. “So you bring all that together, and we really feel what we’ve seen is a really strong proposition.”
While maintaining user interest with easy-to-access content is imperative to platforms, Rodriguez explained that the key to captivating audiences is listening to what they want to watch.
“So for us, it’s about keeping up with our audience. Our audience is telling us exactly what they want,” Rodriguez said. “So we’re running the full gamut of the audience, and I’d say that the common denominator is they’re news viewers who want to be able to access the news like they’re accessing everything else.”