Big Media, Streaming, and Live TV – It’s Complicated

August 1, 2017 Author: Mario X. Carrasco

ThinkNow Media™ Explores Streaming and Live TV Habits of Total Market Consumers

Consumer demand for streaming services has opened the door for new players. Snapchat has signed development deals in the past year with Walt Disney's ESPN, Discovery, the NFL, A+E Networks, Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting, and Vice Media. Twitter recently signed on to stream several sports leagues, which is on par with its strategy to carve out their share of the live streaming category. Facebook will stream 20 MLB games for free this season. And YouTube TV is now streaming live TV for cord-cutters around the globe. But it’s not just social networks looking to capitalize on the popularity of streaming. Comcast now allows its X1 customers to stream Netflix seamlessly from their service.

As you can see, things in media are, for lack of better words, complicated. Unpacking who watches what and where is becoming increasingly difficult. So, ThinkNow Research wanted to get back to basics and just ask people how they consume media. In our recent study, ThinkNow Media™, we look at a nationally representative sample of U.S. Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians and non-Hispanic whites to see if there were any major differences in usage across the major media modes.

The findings of the study are depicted in our 2017 report, now available for download at no cost to you. But here are a few highlights:

African-American Live TV Viewership

Live TV is still popular across the total market, but African-Americans live TV viewership is the highest out of all cohorts and significantly higher than Hispanics and Asians:

Of African-Americans, 73% report watching live TV when the show airs on network TV. This is a stark contrast to the 55% of Asian viewers who report watching live TV, but close to live TV consumption of White viewers at 69%. Download the full report here]

Network TV has finally figured out that African-Americans desire to see more African-American led programming, a conclusion validated by the explosion of the hit TV show Scandal, and furthered by the popularity of shows like Black-ish, Empire, and Atlanta. Pay TV services, like HBO, are also getting the hint, airing shows like Insecure.

The rise of African-American led content has exposed audiences to various views and conversations taking place within the African-American community. This introduction to the African-American experience has not only brought in African-American viewers, as recently reported by Nielsen, but also audiences of all backgrounds.

The Cultural Connection

It’s A Social Thing

Black Twitter is more influential than most give it credit for. Live tweeting during Scandal is an absolute must. “Spilling the tea” on the latest housewives’ episode is common. Social media interactions during live shows started on Black Twitter and are now part and parcel of the live TV experience across genres. For African-Americans, sharing their reactions to live shows on social media is an integral part of the viewing experience. Streaming, asynchronous viewing of shows is not conducive to the live conversation and suspense build up only captured through live TV, hence African-Americans’ preference for live TV over other mediums.

So, what does this mean?

Live TV is still a very viable way to reach the Total Market, especially African-Americans. The death of TV is greatly exaggerated. In fact, with players like Hulu and YouTube TV offering live TV services, reports of TV’s demise sounds more like pure fiction.

African-American’s reason for watching mostly cable programming versus online streaming is simple: comfort. Comfort is a major hurdle streaming providers will need to overcome if they want to get African-Americans – actually, the Total Market in general – to fully commit to streaming.

Over 60% of the Total Market noted that there is “no need to change” when asked the reasons they see themselves watching mostly or only cable/satellite programming versus online streaming. Much to the delight of traditional media providers, it’s hard to change people’s habits.

However, can the holdouts… well, hold out? Some argue that adoption of streaming is only a matter of time.  There are statistics to show why providers like Netflix, one of streaming’s superstars, has become the juggernauts that they are:

Hispanics and Netflix

Throughout our studies, we have seen Hispanics lean towards emerging or new technologies. Streaming it is no different. When we asked the Total Market, “what are all the ways that you watch TV programming,” live TV topped the list for all cohorts, but when looking specifically at Netflix we see Hispanics over-indexing against other cohorts:

While the majority of the Total market watches Netflix, Hispanics top the list at 61%, significantly higher than Asians at 49% and African-Americans at 55%. Whites are close behind Hispanics in terms of Netflix usage at 59%.

Netflix has some of the best data scientists in the world. And they've realized that Latinos are driving a significant number of streaming hours. In response, they have invested heavily in Latino content ranging from the Spanish-language Netflix original Club de Cuervos to the widely popular Narcos.

The Cultural Connection

In The “Now”

So why do Hispanics over-index in Netflix consumption? From past studies we have conducted, we see Hispanics lean towards emerging technologies and media adoption because it is the “new” thing. The Hispanic Millennial Project, a study we did with Sensis, highlights that this drive to be in “the now” from a technological perspective is a key consideration driver among Hispanics.

Family Time

While focusing on the importance of family within Hispanic communities can seem like an overused stereotype in Hispanic marketing, there is some truth in this trope. U.S. Hispanics have a higher fertility rate than non-Hispanics. This makes them more likely to have children in the household vs. other cohorts. Netflix and other streaming services are a cost-effective way for family time and bonding. This demographic trend also drives Latinos’ increase in movie theater attendance.

So, What Does This Mean To Marketers?

While Netflix doesn’t offer advertising options within its programming (yet), other streaming services such as Hulu and YouTube Red do. They offer targeting options that allow brands to target Latinos through their ethnic affinity models. This is a cost-effective way to reach Latinos in the home and increases your chances of getting your message through to the entire family. Download the full report here

Asian YouTube Usage

We’ve seen Asian live TV and Netflix usage lag in comparison to the other Total Market cohorts. However, when we look at YouTube usage, Asian-Americans out pace all other cohorts:

Almost 20% of Asians answered YouTube when asked, “how do you watch TV programming most often?”. Statistically, this is significantly more than all other cohorts and the Total Market combined. Hispanics are the second most likely to mention YouTube as their go to programming medium but still lag significantly at 11%. Whites are at the bottom of the consumption ladder when it comes to YouTube, coming in at only 6%.

The Cultural Connection

The Language Gap

While streaming services such as Netflix have had success highlighting Asian-American narratives with originals such as Master of None and traditional broadcast with hits such as Fresh off the Boat, representing the Asian diaspora is a difficult task for any studio. But, YouTube has content in every Asian language from Mandarin to Tagalog. It provides a constant flow of content that accurately represents Asian-Americans from all country of origins. This may be one of the factors leading to YouTube’s success among Asians in the U.S.

Cost Conscious

One theme we have seen throughout our 2017 research reports and even in our We Are GenZ and Hispanic Millennial Project reports is the financial savviness both older and younger Asian-Americans exhibit. From debt aversion to retirement preparedness, Asian-Americans are super consumers of financial products. Their economic prowess may be influencing their increased usage of YouTube. It represents a low-cost form of entertainment that can be streamed on smart TVs and mobile phones alike. Download the full report here

So, What Does This Mean To Marketers?

The implication here is clear; if you look to target Asian-Americans, YouTube is a safe bet. With a reach of almost 20% among Asians and a low-cost to entry, targeting Asians on YouTube is an excellent way to tap into the fastest growing audience in the U.S.

Final Thoughts

We’re ending as we started, it’s complicated. ThinkNow Media™ effectively illustrates how a Total Market approach to appropriating multicultural advertising dollars across big media, streaming, and live TV may be a misuse of your ad spend. Understand how each audience views and engages with each medium. Be sensitive to the influence cultural nuance has on media consumption. Taking these two steps are vital to customizing your campaigns and maximizing your advertising dollars.

Download this study.