Putting the “Action” in Customer Satisfaction
by Tim Edmundson
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Streamers scrambled to find a way to watch the event
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This past weekend marked one of the biggest nights of the year for the entertainment industry, the Academy Awards. Those looking to stream the event may have been disappointed to find it missing from Disney-owned channels, however. On Monday, MNTN’s water cooler chat wasn’t about who was the best dressed, but rather how we found ways to watch the event. Like most, MNTN team members are streamers, having long ago cut the cord. One team member was surprised when the live stream of the red carpet they were watching on Hulu (one of Disney’s streaming channels) cut off and didn’t continue to the show itself. Another scrambled to sign up for a free trial of a vMVPD service like Fubo, while another still borrowed her parents’ cable login to be able to watch.
A majority of people have cut the cord which begs the question: why has Disney not taken the leap to make the show available via streaming?
Despite not being available on streaming, the Oscars still drove notable viewership. While award shows have seen dwindling performance over the past few years, this year marked a comeback for the event. Compared to the previous year, the show saw a 12% gain in viewership. Advertisers also took advantage of the cultural moment. Inventory for ads on linear sold out, an estimated $106MM value. With that inventory sell out in mind, it would stand to reason that Disney would look to capture both more viewers and more ad dollars by extending the event to streaming. Yet despite this demand, the awards were still noticeably missing from Disney’s streaming services.
As of last year, streaming viewership surpassed linear for the first time. Throughout the shifting tides of TV viewership over the past years, sports and award shows were often cited as the last reasons to hold on to a cable subscription. Sports leagues have begun to develop their streaming offerings. The NFL partnered with Amazon to bring Thursday Night Football exclusively to Prime Video and other leagues are making their seasons available throughout the streaming realm. However, Disney seems slow to follow their audience the way that sports leagues have.
It’s not a lack of infrastructure preventing Disney from achieving such a feat. During the Dancing with the Stars season, weekly episodes are streamed to Disney+ so that subscribers can keep up with the live action. If the concern is whether the content doesn’t fit the family-friendly nature of Disney+ (perhaps due to last year’s drama), Disney could instead use Hulu as a streaming host. With the infrastructure already in place and the audience ready to stream, it’s mystifying why Disney has delayed this move to streaming, not to mention the missed ad opportunities by extending it to this platform.
While the awards were absent from streaming, streaming was certainly not absent from the awards. Last year, CODA became the first film released on a streaming channel (Apple TV+) to win the Best Picture award. And streaming continued to be front and center at the awards this year, with Netflix securing 16 nominations and ultimately winning six categories. Netflix recently debuted an ad-supported tier, meaning advertisers can see their ad run within Academy Award-winning content, despite not being able to advertise during the event itself.
Disney may be slow to adapt to live programming on their streaming channels but streaming natives like Netflix are testing ways to ensure they aren’t left behind. Earlier this month, Netflix premiered their first live comedy show with Chris Rock, testing appointment viewing on a platform that is notoriously on-demand. Could this type of programming help advertisers align around large cultural moments through their CTV ad spend rather than continuing to rely on linear TV?
It’s clear that content has continued to be the essential driver of audience attention and therefore of opportunities for advertisers. Brian Wieser, Strategic Financial Analyst of Global Advertising, recently wrote in his newsletter Madison and Wall, “[F]rom past analysis I believe that there is a direct (if rough) relationship between share of spending on content by packagers of content (i.e. studios/distributors) and share of consumption by viewers.” Ultimately, he projects that all streaming services can succeed if they have the content to support it; it seems that Disney, owner of three of the largest streaming channels, would be remiss not to include the Oscars among their streaming content in the future.
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