Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ may be in a whole league of their own when it comes to streaming, but the reality is there are hundreds of streaming platforms delivering content to viewers.
MediaRadar data shows that streaming companies spent $935 million advertising their services in the first half of 2021. The bulk of that comes from the expected big players, but there are hundreds of other platforms building dedicated, niche audiences.
Who are these small players coming up against the Netflixes and Disneys of streaming? And how much do they pay to reach new audiences?
Audiences are dedicated to quality content, not branded platforms
Years ago streaming was all about making blockbuster films and linear network TV more accessible for consumers. Now the name of the game isn’t convenience: it’s content.
Companies who want to come out of the streaming wars alive are those who can create amazing, binge-worthy content themselves.
We can see this in this year’s Emmy Awards nominations. Streaming services made up four out of five nomination spots, clearly commanding the space. These nominations primarily came from Netflix, Disney+, and AppleTV+.
Companies are investing heavily into original content to win over viewers. Afterall, it’s not more advertising that convinces you to sign up for a paid subscription. It’s those quality stories that draw you in and keep hitting ‘Play Next.’
Netflix may be investing $17 billion on original content this year, but smaller players are also shelling out the cash. Roku is expected to spend over $1 billion on original content this year, likely outpacing its AVOD competitors.
Viewers don’t pay for a streaming platform, they pay for stories. This is why smaller streaming platforms can find a place in the competitive streaming market. If they can build the right content library for the right audience, they can have a thriving business.
Platforms like Mubi and Shudder have become successful for drawing in their ideal viewers.
Mubi is a platform designed for dedicated cinephiles. Fans find more artistic films or cult classics using this service. Shudder, on the other hand, is for horror film lovers.
So even if Netflix and Hulu have wider libraries, smaller streaming services might have something more specific that certain audiences are looking for.
Streaming has been good for independent filmmakers
Many would think that streaming services would harm the independent film industry, but instead it has enabled smaller to mid-sized filmmakers more opportunity to release films.
“We have a whole slate of movies, smaller action thrillers, horror titles, that we’ve been able to make in the last 18 months because they don’t need to go theatrically, they can be released online only and still have value,” explained Millennium Films president Jeffrey Greenstein to The Hollywood Reporter.
It’s more financially attainable for small scale productions to release their product online. And they can reach their target audiences at a broader scale using platforms with an enthusiastic audience.
Once audiences discover platforms that deliver these films, they tend to become dedicated fans. But how much do these small platforms advertise to reach new audiences?
During the first six months of 2021, there were 400 streaming services companies who spent $935mm on advertising. The top 15 spending streaming services advertisers accounted for 85% of all programmatic spend in 2021 so far.
These brands include companies you’d expect: Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, ESPN+, HBOMax, Amazon Prime Video, etc.
But what about the small and mid-sized services?
The remaining 385 brands spent $140mm to advertise their subscription services.
Top spending brands in this group include: Shudder, Mubi, People TV, CW Seed, Acorn TV, BritBox, BET+, Pluto.TV, and PBS Living.
Together, their spending has made up $15mm so far this year.
Large streaming companies dominate content creation and advertising. However, smaller streaming services fulfill the demand of niche audiences. Programmatic provides a strong advertising solution for these unique platforms because it enables them to get in front of more specific demographics online.
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