Connected TV

We Knew Linear TV’s (Prime) Time Was Up—But What About TikTok Taking a Chance on Connected TV?

Could this be the end of prime time (and linear TV) as we know it? NBC’s latest announcement is a testament to the future of television.

We Knew Linear TV’s (Prime) Time Was Up—But What About TikTok Taking a Chance on Connected TV?

3 Min Read

The words ‘prime time’ and ‘television’ have always gone hand in hand, until now. Earlier this week, NBC made an announcement that (if implemented) could forever change the way viewers and advertisers see television. The network is considering cutting down their prime time period and giving one hour (10pm to 11pm) to its NBC affiliate stations to program. This could be in effect by as early as September 2023. “We are always looking at strategies to ensure that our broadcast business remains as strong as possible,” said an NBC statement. “As a company, our advantage lies in our ability to provide audiences with the content they love across broadcast, cable and streaming.”

This means that local affiliate stations have the freedom to air their own programming during this much coveted time slot. This news comes right when we found out that streaming viewership has overtaken broadcast and cable TV for the first time. To stoke the fire even more, NBC added to their announcement that new prime-time episodic programming for the upcoming season on the NBC Television Network and its Bravo cable TV network would be made available on their Connected TV network Peacock the next day after its linear TV airing. Speedy? Well, considering that Peacock gained more than $1 billion in advertising commitments during the 2022-2023 TV season, we’re not surprised the Connected TV networks are scrambling to get their affairs in order—and fast.

What Happens When TikTok Tries to Fit Their 9:16 to CTV’s 16:9…

While it makes sense that TV networks are shifting to streaming, moving their dollars to match where viewers are going, it’s not so much the case for other non-CTV formats, like TikTok. Shortly after the NBC announcement, social media platform TikTok announced that they too,  wanted in on Connected TV, and are attempting to expand their presence beyond their native mobile screen. While they haven’t announced this explicitly, according to an eMarketer news article this week, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance posted a job posting on their website, where they are looking to hire a product manager of user growth who will be responsible for advancing the company’s CTV strategy and growth.

TikTok joins YouTube in the race to bring short-form video to Connected TV as they attempt to get a slice of the Connected TV ad revenue pie. The latter recently showcased a CTV- integrated interface for its YouTube Shorts content, a frequency-capping solution, and even a way to make it easier for advertisers to purchase Connected TV inventory.

But this move looks to be more like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole (or fitting a 9:16 aspect ratio into CTV’s 16:9 format)? Connected TV has always been known as a high-performing marketing channel for a reason—partly due to its widescreen format, paired with non-skippable ads served across networks and programs to in-market viewers. Perhaps YouTube stands a better chance of succeeding in this area, since viewers are used to watching its content on their television screens. However, we envision that social media platforms attempting to fit their model onto Connected TV will have a long road ahead of them trying to replicate the success that’s only beholden to CTV.