Covid-19 has impacted every facet of our lives, changing working patterns, shifting business models and catapulting every industry into embracing innovation in the digital age. The entertainment and film landscape too has witnessed a massive surge in streaming numbers and hours of content viewing, confirming the future evolution of digital.
This is great news for data research, in an industry heavily reliant on intimate audience access to gain insights into their lifestyles and consumption patterns which influence and shape content. Digitalisation presents significant opportunities for quick turnaround of audience research and feedback.
Since the onset of Covid-19 almost two years ago, we have seen tremendous growth in streamed digital video content as more people are relying on these platforms to catch-up on their latest programmes. According to a recent market study published by Up Market Research titled, Global Video Streaming Market, the video streaming market is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 21.0% over the next seven years. With 61% of the market, live streaming is reported to account for the largest revenue share.
The Digital 2020 report for South Africa reports that more South Africans have internet access adding a 1.1 million increase in internet users between 2019 and 2020. Internet penetration is over 65% in South Africa (SA) and growing fast, this means that the future of the entertainment industry is exciting especially for us as African content creators. The interest in our content has never been stronger and the increasing penetration of smart phones and growing investment in communication network infrastructure in developing countries, will offer immense growth opportunities.
On the go streaming on multiple screens including laptops, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, and connected televisions has further boosted the growth of digitalisation. Viewers can be watching different channels simultaneously on different devices or watching a live event and following commentary and reactions on social media.
It has thus become even more important for creators and producers to get closer to their digital audiences to better understand their watching patterns and assess which content resonates with them, better. At ViacomCBS Networks Africa (VCNA), this is something that we take very seriously, and continue to find and implement innovative ways that ensure that we stay ahead of the curve, through our research.
In addition to television viewership, streaming has added daily content viewing hours. Television viewers are not leaving the table but rather are pulling up a chair for the streaming providers as multiple platforms will co-exist for many years. There will always be a place for both traditional media and digital media because the demand and consumption of content is through the roof.
Access to content through multiple platforms has presented a huge opportunity to acquire even more data analytics. Having a research division within our business at VCNA, has added significantly to the bottom line. Data insights assist us to segment target audiences and identify which content is performing best amongst which viewer groups .This has been our experience through our own on-line insight communities, where we are able to communicate and engage with our consumers more frequently, even daily, allowing for two way communication and mining of analytics in real time.
Mining data from both linear and streaming platforms is helping content creators understand what their audiences want to watch and enables content producers to use consumer analytic insights to create hyper-personalised content which resonates with viewers and stands out from the clutter. The boom in self-service business intelligence tools across industries also bears testimony to this trend.
For the longest time, the Living Standards Measure (LSM), a South African marketing segmentation method, has a been a multivariate measure based on standard of living. But more than just looking at the demographics which do play a role, what is more important is to look at the market segment by psychographics, analysing audience headspace and attitudes.
It’s more a mindset than a demographic
If we look at BET as an example, we have seen that it is not necessarily a channel for black people but for people who love and appreciate black culture. It’s more a mindset than a demographic so we need to look at different and multiple ways to segment the market.
Client-centric media outlets understand that it is critical to spend an adequate amount of time listening to the different demographics they service to provide bespoke services and products because one size does not fit all at all. Digital platforms play a significant role in listening to the target audiences and observing their behavioural patterns.
Because content has multiplied in the last few years, it is important for anyone in the content space to truly understand audience needs and wants and to personalise the experience as much as possible. Analytics and insights has never been more crucial for the content creation industry but our methods and approaches need to meet the consumer where they are and that is in the digital space through either deliberate research initiatives or analysing social media/ big data. In fact social media has evolved into an important audience tracking tool and a goldmine of free insights.
Social listening follows closely what audiences are posting, liking, commenting on or hating. It has been our experience within VCNA’s research division that being able to keep our ears to the ground on fast paced platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to track just about anything else that is mentioned – whether directly about VCNA or industry related – really matters.
It is critical for content creators to understand their target audiences, listen to them and ensure representation and inclusion throughout the content creation journey to elevate their experiences when it comes to viewing preferences in the age of online streaming and social connectedness.
Giuliana Dias is senior director, research & insight, at ViacomCBS Networks Africa (VCNA). She has a demonstrated history of working in the broadcast media industry and is skilled in analytical skills, research design, qualitative and quantitative approaches, strategic insights and consumer insights to drive business development as well as consumer and immersive trade marketing.