Future of TV Briefing: How the pandemic reshaped the future of TV, two years later
By Tim Peterson
This week’s Future of TV Briefing looks at the changes that the TV, streaming and digital video industry has undergone since the start of the pandemic.
- The present future of TV
- Media Rating Council to release business outcome standard
- WTF are TV carriage fees?
- Nielsen’s pending sale, two-currency criticism, latest lawsuit and more
The present future of TV
The key hits:
- Streaming became more TV-like, and short-form video went the other way.
- The TV ad industry finally checked its math.
- Other changes came and went or did not come to pass after all.
Two years since the pandemic flipped all reality on its head, the TV, streaming and digital video industry has been reshaped, to say the absolute least.
Some of the pandemic-induced changes were already in process and simply accelerated, like the shift to streaming. But others — like the TV ad industry updating its decades-old measurement system — seemingly necessitated a world-changing event to induce a potentially not-otherwise-inevitable evolution.
Twenty-four months after everyone sheltered at home, here’s a look back at the pandemic’s legacy with respect to the broader TV industry.
Streaming became more TV-like
Industry trends are often cyclical, and during the two-year cycle of the pandemic, streaming’s surge has given way to a streaming market bearing increasing resemblance to traditional TV.
Disney’s plan to add an ad-supported tier to Disney+ has underscored advertising plus subscriptions as the streaming analogue to traditional TV’s dual-revenue stream of advertising plus carriage fees. The prevalence of lower-priced, ad-supported streaming tiers coincides with the slowdown in subscriber growth that many major streamers have experienced in the past year. But it also dovetails with the migration of advertiser money to streaming where the market for that money has widened to press TV network owners to step up their sales pitches.
With live sports on hiatus and the production of traditional TV shows paused, advertisers had to seek out alternative means of reaching TV viewers. That meant recognizing many viewers are not watching traditional TV but are instead streaming digital videos on their TVs, either in the form of YouTube’s connected TV app or the 24/7 channels on free, ad-supported streaming TV services that can carry old movies and TV shows but also can consist purely of digital videos stitched together into TV-like programming blocks.
Meanwhile, the slowdown in streaming subscriber growth has correlated with an uptick in streaming services bundling together a la traditional pay-TV packages. In addition to Disney’s Disney+-Hulu-ESPN+ bundle, Paramount has bundled Paramount+ and Showtime, smaller streams like CuriosityStream and Tastemade have bundled up and Discovery and WarnerMedia plan to bundle their respective streamers once the companies’ merger goes through.
Short-form video became less TV-like
Remember Quibi? Before its debut, Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile video app heralded the potential of a premium short-form video market, in which 10-minute-long videos could be considered akin to TV-quality programming rather than relegated to the realm of user-generated content. Then Quibi immediately flopped, and such hopes were largely dashed.
Amid Quibi’s demise, though, TikTok ascended to spur a new category of short-form video: shorter-form video. The ByteDance-owned app did …read more