How cord cutters are changing the fall TV landscape

Jason_Friedlander_HeadshotBy Jason Friedlander, Sr. Director of Product Marketing

Autumn is here, and with it comes what is traditionally the most popular TV season of the year. As viewers come home from vacations, and it gets darker sooner, higher ratings are expected to return thanks to a slew of star-studded new TV shows.

But while sales of pumpkin spice lattes and cozy sweaters are going up, traditional viewership patterns are going down.

A 2018 report from the Video Advertising Bureau shows that the number of over-the-top (OTT) only households have tripled since 2013. The transition to OTT is having an impact on TV ad dollars, even during traditionally high viewership seasons.

Advertisers needn’t panic yet, people are still excited about fall TV, but more of them will be watching it on their terms and devices other than the living room TV. Here’s why investing TV ad dollars in OTT programming is becoming an increasingly smart buy.

Goodbye primetime

Primetime TV has been defined as the period between 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Shows that were lucky enough to earn a spot within this block could enjoy higher ratings simply by airing at a time that was convenient for the largest number of viewers.

The fall TV primetime season is just as highly-anticipated as ever, but viewership habits have changed. As more households cut the cord, the notion of primetime is fading as viewers prefer to binge-watch their favorite shows at times that are convenient to them instead of when the show airs each week.

According to Nielsen, fall TV ratings for traditional cable channels dropped 16 percent in 2017 compared to one year prior. ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox combined drew 2 million ad-watching adults, a decline from 2.47 million in 2017. While ratings were down across the board, these numbers were especially concerning since fall is traditionally a strong viewership time.

Of course, TV viewers are not disappearing. When Nielsen looks at the numbers for all types of video viewership, including OTT and streaming video on demand (SVOD), Americans are more tuned in than ever – in 2017, they spent nearly 11 hours a day consuming digital content. It may be time for broadcasters and advertisers to shift more of their attention to a digital viewing platform if they want consumers to drop their dollars like leaves on their brands.

Hello, niche TV

For OTT services, it’s time to think beyond a simple time frame. Instead of buying ads in primetime slots, advertisers should be looking at OTT shows that are generating buzz, getting binged, and developing cult followings.

Advertisers shouldn’t just be looking at big hits like The Big Bang Theory, either. Viewers have a lot of varying interests. OTT allows niche TV to shine. For example, DC Comics is launching its gritty DC Universe streaming service specifically for comic fans. Just a few years ago, a superhero-only channel on cable would be unheard of, but in an OTT streaming environment, early reports expect this niche service to thrive.

And let’s not forget the power of perhaps one of the largest niche segments around, the family. With Disney scheduled to enter the direct-to-consumer streaming universe in 2019, there’s little doubt traditional cable watchers will be transitioning to the wonderful world of streaming Disney. There’s little doubt that smart brands are getting in line now to advertise with the mouse.

One segment that’s particularly prepared to succeed beyond primetime is live sports. Between NFL football, college football, the MLB playoffs, and basketball, fall is a huge time for sports viewing. OTT platforms make sports niche, too: because they don’t have to serve linear TV, they can simultaneously deliver major games as well as local or international ones.

As the temperature begins to drop, OTT TV’s fortunes are on the rise. Inexpensive and easy access to SVOD has created a different type of television consumer, one who doesn’t obey the laws of primetime and who don’t always choose what’s most popular overall. Viewers are changing how this fall TV season will look. It’s time for advertisers to take notice and put their money where their viewers are – wherever they may be.

Now that you’re more prepared for fall TV season, discover how our 1 to 1 session management technology and server-side ad insertion can help you deliver personalized video experiences for every one of your viewers.