Difficult brand differentiation among streamers

While the battle between streamers is raging in the US, with their marketing spending running into the tens of millions of dollars, Hub Entertainment’s research shows consumers are unsure what separates a streamer brand from “the other.” Instead, viewers turn to popular content or creative programming brands to help them make their viewing decisions.

These findings are from the Hub’s 2023 Evolution of Video Branding report based on a survey of 2,400 U.S. broadband consumers aged 16 to 74 who watch at least an hour a week of TV, surveyed in February 2023.

Hub Entertainment explains that there is a well-known difference between knowing a streaming brand (its infamous in some ways) and being familiar with a brand (i.e. what it offers in terms of programming). In this way, the study explains that the significant amounts spent by streamers have had an effect: all major platforms have awareness above 90%.

But understanding a brand is a different matter: far fewer people can explain to someone what each platform does best or how it differs from others. This is true even for companies that have mastered the art of branding, such as Apple: almost all respondents know about Apple’s SVOD service, Apple TV+, but less than half of them believe they understand the value proposition. Consumers end up choosing between a set of well-known brands without a clear understanding of what makes them different.

Finally, it is software brands that fill this gap because, faced with their inability to distinguish between platforms, consumers choose other points of reference, in particular software brands. What’s more, 41% of viewers say they signed up on the platform just to watch a particular program (compared to 35% two years ago). This phenomenon is even more pronounced among young people, with 57% of people aged 16 to 34 registering to watch a program.

The study confirms this phenomenon: Lost in an ocean of content, viewers seek out what is familiar to them, so new shows based on familiar characters or stories have a head start in the discovery process.

As evidence, 40% of respondents said they would be more inclined to watch a new show based on the Marvel Universe (highest among the 10 brands tested). But the next three programs are television series that already have successful spin-offs.

Another example mentioned by Hub Entertainment is the Yellowstone series with Kevin Costner. Nearly three-quarters (70%) of those surveyed who watched Yellowstone also watched at least one of Taylor Sheridan’s other series (1883, 1923, King of Tulsa or Mayor of Kingstown). And the research firm adds that perhaps most notably, viewers have had to work hard to watch these shows: Yellowstone only airs on the Paramount cable network and on Peacock in the US, while other shows are only available on Paramount+. .

Intellectual property (IP) is a haven for streamers, who therefore rely on brands known to the general public, whether they be books, films, or sequels to series and even video games.

In conclusion, according to David Tice, Senior Consultant at Hub Entertainment, “Over the past few years, viewers have had no shortage of service and content choices. Viewers find it difficult to remember how each service is different. But at the end of the day, it’s the content that matters, and unique content will attract viewers, even if the service itself isn’t unique to consumers.”

Hub Entertainment’s research confirms that audiences are now more motivated by software brands than by the platforms themselves. With increased competition between streamers, churn rates have increased, which is accompanied by the launch of new seasons of the most famous series. With each launch of a new well-known IP or a new season, subscribers move from one platform to another.

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