How to Be Relevant in a Multicultural TV World

In the swirl of industry change from linear to multiplatform there is a certain consistency in the need to reach a dedicated, engaged audience. These audiences are increasingly multicultural. The value of attracting highly diverse viewers has been underscored by the recent mega hit Empire which is one of the few freshman series that has grown from its premiere and has become both a performance and a cultural phenomenon. 

But current currency measurement is unable to parse ethnic audiences deeper than just the basic age gender breaks. It took the granularity of set top box data to go a little further matching homes so that upscale, educated Hispanics, African Americans and Asians, for example, could be discerned. But there is one research company at has been mapping content cultural impact and value of audience identity for years and that is Horowitz Research which recently held its 15th annual cultural insights forum in NYC.

The theme, according to CEO Howard Horowitz, is that “identity matters” in this ever morphing media landscape. He explains, “OTT takes center stage today creating uncertainty. Where some see chaos, we see opportunity. There is the tendency of the internet to flatten world but for us, identity matters and is more important than ever.” Horowitz has recently launched a segmentation study of the “New TV Viewers” that takes into account age and ethnicity to parse out different video consumption behaviors. 

The big takeaway was the research presented by Horowitz’s SVP Marketing and Business Development, Adriana Waterston which pointed to the emergence of OTT as having an outsized influence on the television industry. She said, “New platforms and services are impacting how consumers use TV. Half of TV content viewers are OTT (over the top) viewers on some level. 37% spend at least 20% of their time viewing OTT which is up from 31% last year. Four in 10 have paid TV and SVOD (subscription video on demand) service. The trend is away from live TV - from 58% to 54% of total viewing time. OTT impacts live, VOD and DVR viewing.”

Since Millennials are using OTT more than previous generations, she offered five things you need to know about Millennials to prepare for the television generational change.

  1. Penetration of OTT is almost complete among Millennials. Virtually all are OTT capable. 99% have Internet access. 90% have capability to stream to the TV set.

  2. They stream nearly half of all the video content they consume. Eighty-four percent are OTT users while Live TV accounts for only 3 out of any ten hours.

  3. They prefer curated TV content and use OTT to access and curate. They look for shows they can deeply engage in to get a more intense, more satisfying and more authentic viewing experience. Millennials are three times more likely to view original series made for the web.

 4. Not all are cutting the cord. Three of ten are considering cutting the cord compared to 11% of older households. But life stage matters - Pay TV is family driven where nine of ten older Millennials with kids subscribe to pay TV. 

 5. Millennials equal multicultural. One in 6 live in a multiracial home. Black and Hispanic Millennials spend the most time watching TV and video content compared to white Millennials. They are more likely to have pay TV and less likely to plan to cut the cord. And diversity in content matters in what they decide to watch.

I sat down with Waterston and asked her about a range of research conducted at Horowitz including their TV viewing segmentations, reaching Millennials and the impact of OTT.  

View the full video here

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