In this guest post, Daniella Serhan, Foxtel Media Partnerships Director, talks to how audiences have been flocking to older classic content recently, and why she believes this will continue for a while to come…
Over the last few months, one fact is undeniable, we have all experienced a lot more time in our homes due to COVID-19. And let’s be honest, a lot of that time has been spent bingeing shows in front of our tablets, smartphones, laptops and televisions.
The numbers are incredible – over 19 million hours of video-on-demand (VOD) TV content was consumed last week alone across commercial services. This reflects changing habits: VOD is up 26% compared to pre-lockdown figures, a massive acceleration of what has been relatively steady growth to date.
At the same time, TV content production has seen its biggest global disruption since the US writer’s strike of 2007-08, with filming unable to take place as much of the world bunkers down to avoid spiralling infection rates. The pause in production of 2007 caused US$3 billion in economic damage to California alone, and led to falling audiences globally as many key shows were disrupted.
With the time-lag from production to distribution, there are thankfully lots of new shows still hitting Australian screens – check out Nicole Kidman’s recently completed ‘The Undoing’ on Foxtel for example. That said, it is likely that there will be a ripple effect from disrupted filming schedules that will see less new scripted content on TV.
However, audiences will not drop. The demand is clearly here, and the world has changed dramatically since 2007. Back then, Netflix had just launched an online streaming service in the US – and YouTube was just announcing its Australian launch. Today, we have access to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of hours of content across multiple platforms and our behaviours have changed. We appreciate the slower pace, quality time spent with loved ones and I don’t believe that will change. Do we really want to go back to the rate race that once was pre COVID?
So, with less new content coming at a time of significantly higher viewing demand – where are viewers going to flock for entertainment over the next 12-18 months? Well I can tell you that the answer for me is back to the old favourites. Those shows that you know will evoke something in you, a comfort that you know you will spend the next hour or so, if not binging watching a show that like a good comfy pair of jeans, is an easy go to.
We did a deep dive into the viewership across Foxtel’s VOD platforms, comparing the last 10 weeks to the 10 weeks previous. There were massive increases in old TV shows with an 88.5% increase across shows like Sex and The City, The Sopranos, True Blood, Entourage, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, Heroes, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Personally, I have watched every episode of The Soprano’s but was one I has happy to go back to night after night for the last few weeks. Bar that finale that is!
“Older” comedy has also reigned supreme with a period-on-period increase of 122.5%. Seinfeld, for example, saw a huge jump in the last 10 weeks from 42,000 VOD streams for the previous 10 weeks to nearly 700,000 in the last 10 weeks!
And the Office was the most watched ‘old’ show with 1.2M VOD stream starts over the last 10 weeks, up 111.5% on the previous 10 weeks.
Old is gold for Australian audiences, and this trend is only likely to accelerate over the coming months. With VOD resonating so strongly, there is a massive opportunity for advertisers to take advantage of this trend. Research suggests that brands which advertise on both Broadcast TV and Broadcast Video on Demand get more than twice the sales impact compared with brands that combine their broadcast TV ads with ads on social video platforms.
So, as viewers continue to join their friends at Central Perk, or going for brunch with Carrie and the girls, or a sambo at Satriales perhaps now is the time for brands to capitalise and be part of our journey as we rediscover our trusty old favourites from the past.
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