Inside Entertainment: Quick Take 2021 Issue 6

Broadcast TV: Coming Soon to a Streaming Platform Near You

Linear Television Embraces Cross-Platform Distribution

ben digital issue

For almost a decade, streaming has been the biggest source of disruption for the entertainment industry as legacy media conglomerates and veteran studios grappled with shifting viewership and the impact this has had on their own distribution models. One of the most marked changes has been rapid rates of cord cutting as the share of Americans who report watching TV via cable or satellite plunged from 76% in 2015 to 56% in 2021 (Pew Research). However, with the acceleration of audiences shifting toward streaming, the parent companies behind the five major broadcast networks have made their own forays into streaming. While statistics highlighting declining broadcast consumption have led to speculation that Broadcast TV has a glum future, BEN’s Research & Insights team has found that audiences for this content are instead spread across different platforms. Demand for these tentpole broadcast dramas and comedies remains high as audiences tune into these shows across platforms, driving total viewership to levels not achievable during the linear-only era.

Major broadcast networks are investing heavily in content in order to compete with the deep pockets and robust content offerings of dominant streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max. With an especially busy pilot season and 109 total shows in production for the 2021-22 season across ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and The CW, the vast number of series in production highlights that this continues to be a major investment focus for these media companies. Further underscoring this point is that networks are following suit with streaming platforms by investing in major star power in front of and behind the camera for these series including Oscar winner Renée Zellweger starring in “The Thing About Pam”, the Paul Feig Comedy “This Country,” and Dan Harmon’s “Krapopolis.”

BEN product placement
partners get the full benefit of the changing landscape of entertainment consumption.
Brands that integrate into broadcast content make an impact with consumers no matter where they enjoy their favorite shows. This impact grows as more eyeballs view
that content on streaming again and again for years to come.

— Katy Wolf
BEN Director, Client Services

According to a May 2021 Nielsen report, streaming now accounts for a slightly higher share of all video viewing than Broadcast TV. The big takeaway for marketers is that linear viewership is not the complete picture of that piece of content’s reach. As broadcast networks redirect resources and attention to developing in-house streaming platforms, they are creating platforms that complement their linear broadcast, reach new audiences, and gain viewership as the content moves across platforms.

In-show integration allows brands to effectively reach different audiences within a single piece of content. Cross-platform exposure results in larger viewership overall and gives content longer life as it remains in the streaming library, available to audiences at any time.

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