During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have flocked to streaming services at an unprecedented rate — speeding up the migration already under way in the entertainment business toward direct-to-consumer models.
To dive into the trends, the Variety Streaming Room hosted a discussion on the state of direct-to-consumer entertainment marketing with a panel of marketing professionals. Moderator Variety New York digital editor Todd Spangler was joined by Josh Kovolenko, senior VP of marketing at Discovery, Eric Ratchman, global head of business for IMDb TV, Ira Rubenstein, chief digital and marketing officer for PBS, Puja Vohra, executive VP of marketing and strategy for Showtime Networks and Gigi Wang, CEO of Invoke.
Spangler kicked off the discussion by asking panelists how their approach to marketing has changed over the past year. Kovolenko said that things have changed quite a bit for Discovery, especially with the launch of its Discovery Plus direct-to-consumer platform on Jan. 4.
“I think the biggest goal has been about providing options to our consumers and [finding] more ways of reaching our consumers,” Kovolenko said.
After Amazon launched IMDb TV in 2019, Ratchman said, consumer demand for free content has only accelerated during the ongoing pandemic. Vohra, who joined Showtime last March, said thinking about the balance between being available on both traditional TV and direct-to-consumer platforms has been really good “brain flossing.”
“My brain is flossed every day and is buzzing and zinging because of all of the exciting stuff one can learn and grow and do so,” Vohra said.
PBS’s Rubenstein said the public broadcaster has stepped up its attention on digital distribution. The digital success is one of their biggest secrets, revealing that the company’s content generates 400 million streams a month on PBS platforms. In addition, PBS video content on social media platforms has about 250 million views a month.
“So you’re seeing the shift from broadcast towards digital,” Rubenstein said. “As a marketer, we have to be able to reach both audiences and take advantage of each platform’s uniqueness to reach [consumers] in a targeted way.”
Watch the full conversation above.