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StatSocial’s Guide to Cutting the Cord and Going Over the Top

Sep 4, 2018 | Insights

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With this series of entries StatSocial is digging into the whys, whos, whats, and wherefores of those subscribing to the most popular live-streaming video services — the Hulus, DirectTVs, Netflixes, YouTube TVs, and what-have-you.

We’ve broken our findings out — using the average American social media audience as the baseline against which the results are measured, and to which they’re compared — dedicating an entry to each service we reviewed. Click the underlined names below to be taken to the corresponding service’s entry

YouTube TV
Facebook Live
Netflix
Amazon Prime Video
Hulu Live TV
Verizon Fios
DIRECTV NOW
Sling TV
ESPN+

“Cord-cutting,” is the popular term describing the ever-increasingly common practice of abandoning cable television (or equivalent TV services, such as DSL or satellite) for one or many streaming video subscriptions.

OTT (which means “over the top”) is the term used to describe those channels that don’t just provide a pile of content, to be viewed on demand at the subscriber’s discretion, but provide live television. The difference being that the content is delivered via streaming-video, over the internet, instead of through a cable TV provider, or over the airwaves.

We’ve analyzed the audiences of these competing OTT networks to illustrate StatSocial’s capabilities, and we encourage you to head over to the site or reach out to us for even more robust explanations and demonstrations.

The OTT sector is growing fast and is red hot. It has been estimated that by 2018’s end the number of OTT subscribers / pay-TV cancelers will reach 33 million. As with any medium of this nature, it’s also a space with numerous opportunities for marketers to communicate the stories of the brands with which they’re affiliated. These opportunities are still in the process of being innovated and revealing themselves. StatSocial is an invaluable resource in pairing brands with the ideal avenues for reaching the consumers who would be most receptive to their messages.

Most live-streaming services will have built-in revenue streams through advertising dollars. For example, platforms that provide local broadcast channels will sometimes get — as most cable providers do — a couple of minutes an hour during which they can sell ads.

Be it through buying commercial time, or through creative partnerships and / or sponsorships, or even via product placements in one of the streaming channels’ often critically praised and award-winning original series, advertising opportunities are as abundant with live-streaming as through any other commercial means of delivering television programming.

Creativity and content are king in this bright new future. Remember, that hardly shuts any brand out. It just changes the strategy. Most of these services partner with co-producers for their original branded content. AT&T produces original programming. If you’re old enough to remember the days of “Ma Bell” that wouldn’t necessarily have been something you’d have predicted. This is the environment, however, that we’re in. Have fun, innovate, be creative. The opportunities to reach audiences in previously unimaginable and unforeseen ways are enormous.

StatSocial is here to guide advertisers, platforms, services, manufacturers, TV and film producers, and on and on, to the partnerships that will be the most fruitful for all parties involved.

No matter how specific or broad an audience that you want to understand — be they people with very particular interests, those within a certain income bracket, those from a certain place, or perhaps all of the above — we can tell you of everything from their favorite brands of frozen yogurt to their favorite cartoons, and thanks to our partnership with IBM Watson, and our integration of their Personality Insights® tool into our reporting, we can even tell you what kinds of people they are.

Less of an explanation is likely necessary in pointing out that many of these insights will be of enormous interest to those not just marketing via, but on behalf of these OTT services as well. It is, after all, their audiences we’re analyzing here.

There Will Be Sports and Rumor of Sports

One obstacle which has kept certain would-be cord-cutters from fully going over-the-top before now is a love of sports. Even with most of the major sports’ leagues (or governing organizations) providing live-streaming broadcasts of some events for a number of years now, contracts with networks and cable providers — as well as those networks’ contracts with cable providers to which the various leagues’ contracts are subordinate — made abandoning cable an impossibility for many hardcore fans. Those rooting, as a majority do, for their home teams have particularly found cable TV a necessity. Local teams, naturally, found the largest quantity of games they’d already long-ago promised to other entities blacked out over services streaming video to their areas.

Contracts, however, expire, and times change. The latter happened some time ago, and the former is beginning to happen with increasing frequency. Accordingly, the major live-streaming services have been quite eager to partner with all the major sports.

We’ve known for 20-plus years now that there’s a lot of programming a portion of viewers would just as soon, or even prefer to watch at their convenience, rather than be at the mercy of a network’s schedule. The programmable VCR caused concern 30-odd years ago, but the DVR (and on demand content delivery) changed the strategies surrounding ad buys for scripted programs irreversibly.

Sporting events, however, are precisely the kinds of broadcasts a great many fans want to see as they’re happening. I recall as a child, in 1980, walking past my family’s TV room on the way to our kitchen, and saying to my brothers — engrossed, as they were, in one program or another — something along the lines of, “So the U.S. hockey team beat the Soviets, huh? That’s pretty cool, I guess.”

For reasons easily researched, which would take too much space to recount here, the legendary Olympic hockey game to which I was referring — despite being played in Lake Placid, New York — was broadcast on ABC with a three-hour tape-delay. I, as a 9-year old unconcerned with sports, did not know this, nor did I know my brothers were on the edges of their seats, watching the tape-delayed broadcast, having consciously avoided any tell of the outcome during the previous couple of hours. As is said in ‘Goodfellas,’ “Everybody takes a beating sometime.” For me, as it turns out, this was just such an occasion.

Of course, risk of spoilers aside, some people do DVR sporting events to be viewed when schedules allow. When it comes to the postseason, or the later rounds of a tournament, or a championship match-up of one sort or another, more fans than not will want to see it all unfold as it is happening. As such, sports — with its incredibly valuable ad space — is clearly an area of paramount concern to all major players in the live-streaming sector.

Cloud-based DVR-like functionality, however with no storage limits, is a perk some of these services boast. If one chooses to subscribe to an OTT platform without, there are devices you can purchase — including new models of popular streaming boxes, such as those made by Roku — that can carry that load.

Let’s get down to it, shall we?

We’ve honed in on some of the biggest names who have already landed and / or are suspected of seeking, or at least sniffing around for what could be very lucrative sports contracts. Meaning everything from commitments with the leagues themselves, to carrying channels that carry games (such as, say, the various Turner networks who carry the NCAA’s ‘March Madness’ games and the PGA championship), or even providing a package including ESPN.

Methodology:

We’ve identified the people on the internet exhibiting — via posts, tweets, shares, status updates, blog entries, and so forth — the most active enthusiasm and strongest affinity for each streaming service.

Comparing each streaming provider’s audience to the average social media user, we look at the basic demographic breakdowns, and then at favorite brands, TV shows, sports teams, and even YouTube channels.

An Explanation of the Charts You’ll Be Seeing:

In these entries, the affinity insights will be sorted according to our Index score. What that tells you, at a glance, is the degree to which the audience being analyzed either exceeds, is in line with, or falls short of the average American social media audience when it comes to sharing in a given affinity. We’re using the American social media audience here, but our platform allows flexibility in terms of what baseline you may use to give your statistics context.

Raw audience numbers are an important statistic, but can be misleading, or only tell you part of a story. For example, Ellen DeGeneres has 76 million followers on Twitter, 29 million on Facebook, 27 million subscribers on YouTube, and so forth. President Obama has larger numbers than those.

If such figures (or equivalently, enormously popular packaged goods, or auto manufacturers, or whatever the case might be) occupy the top spots on a list — and generally speaking such figures and/or brands, etc., when sorted by raw numbers, will top as many audiences’ lists as not — our Index metric is what tells you how meaningful, in the grand scheme, that raw number result is.

Viewing an audiences’ affinities through the lens of our Index score is one of the key insights into what’s distinctive about that audience. Armed with that knowledge, how to go about reaching that audience — if this increased clarity has led you to conclude they’re an audience you’d like to reach — should be far clearer.

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Watch this space, as this survey of the platforms most eager to get you cutting that cord has more to come.

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