The notion of ‘prime time’ has shaped the programming schedule of television networks for decades.
Investing in high-quality content to be shown between 6pm and 9pm was seen as the best way to win audiences in the highly-competitive slot.
But new research from YouTube suggests the traditional definition of prime time has changed, as viewing habits adapt to modern technologies.
The Google-owned video platform found that 75 per cent of all YouTube viewership takes place outside the traditional primetime hours.
“Today, viewers have far more options than just the shows market-tested to appeal to the broadest possible demographics,” said Google Australia managing director Mel Silva at the YouTube Festival in Sydney on Wednesday.
“They’re no longer beholden to set programming schedules.”
Google’s research revealed that YouTube reached 83 per cent of Australians aged 18 and above in May 2019 – higher than any TV station or video subscription platform.
It also showed viewership of YouTube on TV screens was on the rise.
On TV screens alone, watchtime of YouTube was double that of all BVOD players across all devices.
Silva also discussed the idea that prime time is now a ‘personal’ concept for viewers, a shift that has been enabled by YouTube’s diverse range of content.
According to the research, 70 per cent of Australians agree with the sentiment that YouTube has the most diverse content in the world.
YouTube culture and trends manager Ashley Chang highlighted the importance of diversity on the platform.
“In culture right now: niche is the new mainstream, authenticity rules, traditional genre constructs are outdated and the value proposition of content is rapidly evolving,” Chang said.
“YouTube creates the conditions under which diversity can flourish. And that’s a good thing because that means that the niche can now become mainstream.
Marketers take note
The shift in video consumption also means the need for a change in mindset for marketers.
The rise of YouTube on TV has led to Google introducing its “most premium and prominent ad unit”, the Masthead, to its connected TV app.
Alongside updating advertising inventory, YouTube is also telling advertisers to rethink what an ad is.
“YouTube has the ability to help businesses grow and to really change the way advertisers connect with their end users and their consumers,” Silva told B&T.
“It’s not necessarily through ads all the time, it’s through stories and through content.”
Long-form content has emerged as a powerful way for marketers to share their message through authentic storytelling while remaining interesting to viewers.
Brands like Samsung, Tourism New Zealand and Mars Wrigley have utilised YouTube to tap into audiences they wouldn’t normally be able to reach through such content, according to Google.
Silva also said Australia is “punching above its weight” when it comes producing content creators, giving brands a diverse range of talent to partner with.
Australia now has 100 YouTube channels with more than 1 million subscribers, which is one of the highest per capita in the world.