Future of TV Briefing: Sneak peek at ‘The Future of TV’ video series

This Future of TV Briefing covers the latest in streaming and TV for Digiday+ members and is distributed over email every Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET. More from the series →

This week’s Future of TV Briefing looks at the upcoming “The Future of TV” video series, which will debut next week and explore the state of the streaming ad industry.

  • Stay tuned
  • Netflix’s new numbers, Apple’s FIFA talks, Hollywood’s post-strike hangover and more

Stay tuned

Ask advertising executives about the state of the streaming ad industry, and you’ll hear the F word. A lot.

At least I did while interviewing 16 agency executives for a video series about the streaming ad market that will debut next week. The F word being “fragmented,” naturally.

“Media is incredibly fragmented, especially the video media ecosystem is so fragmented. So no matter where you are, there’s not one place where you can reach just a mass amount of people,” said Shelby Saville, chief investment officer at Publicis Media Exchange U.S.

Saville was referring specifically to the fragmentation of audiences across streaming services, but the descriptor also applies to streaming’s identity technology, measurement ecosystem and even the connected TV platform landscape, as agency executives discussed throughout the three-part series. 

While the series won’t debut until next Monday, April 29, here is a Digiday+ member-exclusive preview of what it’ll cover. And in the meantime, you can check out last year’s edition of “The Future of TV” here.

The marketplace

As mentioned above, one of the biggest challenges facing streaming advertisers today is how fragmented streaming audiences are. Which may be surprising. 

With Amazon’s Prime Video adding an ad-supported tier earlier this year and automatically opting in existing subscribers, there would seem to be an abundance of large-scale ad-supported streaming services. And there are. But even at scale, there’s fragmentation, or “scaled fragmentation,” as Carat North America CEO Michael Law put it. 

In the first episode of the series, agency executives outline this fragmentation issue – scaled and otherwise – including the challenges it introduces, how they’re dealing with those challenges and how the increasing availability of live sports in streaming may be among the biggest salves of all.

The infrastructure

Streaming audiences aren’t only fragmented on the front end. The back end of the streaming ad ecosystem – from identity technology to measurement systems – is also a bit splintered.

With the streaming ad industry’s primary identity option – the IP address – likely to go the way of the third-party cookie, advertisers are turning to alternative IDs, such as The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0, LiveRamp’s Ramp ID and Epsilon’s Core ID, to determine who’s seeing their ads across the various streaming services. If only those alt IDs had universal support among the streamers.

“The interoperability conversation is important,” said Leah Askew, svp and head of precision media at Digitas North America. “Interoperability without scalability becomes the issue when you go to activate.”

The series’ second episode will examine streaming’s identity picture as well as how the fragmentation is not limited only to reaching audiences with ads but also to measuring the reach of those ads.

The product

As the ultimate endpoint between advertisers and audiences, connected TV platforms would appear to be in an advantageous position to help advertisers, well, connect the otherwise fragmented streaming ecosystem. And they are – especially the CTV platforms built into smart TVs – though only to an extent.

“You have to really look at the CTV partners to fill in the gaps within these premium publisher partners,” said Carolina Portela, vp, director, strategic investment at Magna.

While smart TV’s automatic content recognition technology provides some of the most valuable data in the fragmented streaming ad market today, that ACR data can also come with fragmentation issues. Of course.

To conclude the series, the third episode will explore the role that CTV platforms play in today’s streaming ad market as well as how the future of the streaming ad market may hinge on the emergence of non-traditional ad formats, such as ads appearing on CTV platforms’ home screens and shoppable spots running across streaming services.

What we’ve heard

“This is kind of a once-in-a-generation thing that we’ve got a chance to really define what the future of watching TV looks like from an ad content perspective.”

Carat North America’s Michael Law in an episode from the upcoming “The Future of TV” video series

Numbers to know

269.6 million: Number of subscribers that Netflix had at the end of the first quarter of 2024.

7 million: Number of estimated subscribers that Netflix has on its ad-supported tier in North America.

-20%: Percentage below the five-year average for number of location shoot days for TV shows and films in Los Angeles in Q1 2024.

+6: Increase in the number of hours that internet-enabled U.S. households spend watching video today compared to 2020.

20%: Percentage share of Amazon Prime Video subscribers that are estimated to use the service’s ad-free tier.

What we’ve covered

A guide to ad-supported streaming services, from the top platforms to marketing spend:

  • The Digiday+ Research has produced a report detailing streamers’ ad offerings.
  • The report also analyzes how advertisers are allocating their streaming ad budgets.

Read more about ad-supported streamers here.

How Amazon Prime’s ‘Fallout’ series highlights the power of post-apocalyptic video game IP:

  • Amazon’s “Fallout” has garnered attention on social platforms.
  • The show follows the success of HBO’s “The Last of Us” last year.

Read more about gaming-based shows here.

As draft puts WNBA in spotlight, the NBA is speeding up ballplayers’ transition to creators:

  • The league has taken an equity stake in a company that provides software for collating and distributing sports photography and video.
  • Short-form video is a major focus for the league’s and its players’ social efforts.

Read more about NBA creators here.

Publishers test new TikTok feature that adds links to organic videos:

  • Being able to attach links to TikTok videos could help publishers offset referral traffic declines from other platforms.
  • It’s unclear how much traffic TikTok has been able to drive for publishers during the testing phase.

Read more about TikTok here.

What we’re reading

Netflix’s new numbers:

Starting next year, Netflix will no longer publicly report its subscriber count and instead wants to turn everyone’s attention to its revenue and profit numbers as gauges for the health of its business, likely because its subscriber growth will start to slow as its password crackdown continues, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Apple nears FIFA deal:

Apple is negotiating with FIFA to secure rights to air a new soccer tournament that will be hosted in the U.S. next year, according to The New York Times.

NBA preps for new rights deals:

The league is looking to make streaming the primary distribution method in its next round of rights deals, with Amazon considered a frontrunner and Peacock owner NBCUniversal looking to get in the mix, according to The Athletic.

Hollywood’s post-strike hangover:

Roughly six months after the writers’ and actors’ strikes ended, the film-and-TV industry is still suffering from a slowdown as TV networks, streaming services and movie studios are keeping their pockets pretty pinched, according to Bloomberg.

Streaming subscribers keep churning:

Around a quarter of U.S. streaming subscribers have canceled at least three subscriptions in the past two years, and the churn volume is not abating but accelerating, according to The New York Times.

Advertisers’ measurement currency uncertainty:

Advertisers still needing convincing that newer measurement options as ready to be adopted as primary currencies in their upfront deals with TV network and streaming service owners, according to AdExchanger.

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