How COVID Accelerated Media's Inclusion Revolution
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Learn more about OTT and FAST at Streaming Media West 2021.
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Thai Randolph: You opened up the panel talking about what COVID accelerated. I think we were already kind of down this path. The streamers that weren't launched had put their stakes in the ground with planned rollouts over the course of this year. And it was interesting to have this very focused attention and this appetite that we hadn't seen from consumers for content. We were sitting in front of screens, trying to figure out what to watch next, having exhausted everything on our bingeable list. And consumers are quickly becoming really savvy. The education of consumers in terms of how to find exactly what they were looking for really accelerated.
A lot of times when we talk about consumers, we're thinking about folks who are positioned like us on either coast and who are in the industry like we are. But I was in these individual focus groups of one or two really compelled by how folks in middle America--my parents are from the south--and how savvy everyone was in terms of being able to navigate their connected device, understanding apps and services that I wasn't even aware of. And it isn't just super affluent audiences on either coast, this is across demographics across socioeconomic spreads.
With our FAST [Free, Ad-Supported Television] channel, we're distributed on a lot of AVOD platforms--Pluto, Tubi, Peacock--and we talk a lot about SVOD consumption, and that hockey stick, but consumers do understand the value proposition and the trade-off. And so while there is, "Oh, I can watch this ad-free and I can get the super premium tier of content by shelling out $9.99, $14.99, $17.99"--there there's this other opportunity here to get a lean-back, linear experience with some on-demand options and not think about it. And so I was surprised to see, as we've talked about AVOD as being this SVOD killer, how strong these AVOD services have been in the market right now.
The other thing that I think was accelerated by this, in terms of the content that's showing up on all of these platforms, is this sort of racial reckoning, which sparked, in content, what I've been calling the "inclusion revolution." We're actually starting to movement in the amount of representation on screen, and to see tangible shifts where we weren't seeing anything quantifiable for years and years, and actually to be able to move the marker on that.
It just shows what an accelerator this time has been, the unprecedented attention demand. And I think consumers, the general public, had a real voice here that everyone had to listen to. So those are some of the big leaps that we observed.
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