Five Key Themes Driving the 2023-24 TV Marketplace

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Cover image for  article: Five Key Themes Driving the 2023-24 TV Marketplace

Connected TV (CTV) has become a central focus for marketers as they plan their strategies for the fourth quarter and beyond. Key factors such as events like the Upfront and NewFronts and the ongoing strikes by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) are currently shaping the marketplace. In her annual "Linear TV + Streaming Marketplace Update," Juliet Corsinita, head of convergent video investment at Camelot Strategic Marketing & Media, an independent marketing and media agency, sheds light on the five core drivers of the marketplace.

1) Share of Market

The first core driver is share of market and accessibility. CTV has witnessed rapid adoption across various categories, becoming a critical part of almost every media plan. With 87% of households streaming, Corsinita understands the reasons behind this move. "Consumer habits are shifting, that's why advertisers are shifting," she says.

As of 2023, the number of cable TV subscribers decreased to 72.2 million. In Q1 2023 alone, analysts at MoffettNathanson estimated 2.3 million households cut the cord, marking the most significant drop to date.

With a plethora of great content through streaming platforms, it's no wonder eyeballs are on the move. The audiences are there because the content is there. Add on the accessibility of CTV -- content when consumers want it, on the screen they want it on -- and it's evident with both viewership and advertising. The democratization of content and the availability of self-serve advertising platforms have also made TV advertising more accessible to a broader range of industries.

Despite the rise of CTV, Corsinita suggests that it's important not to overlook the advantages of linear TV, such as its scale and immediacy. Linear TV still fosters a sense of community and familiarity in routine programming like morning news and familiar sitcoms that viewers embrace as "chicken soup-type" content. Additionally, live breaking news remains exclusive to linear TV, making it relevant to diverse audiences.

2) Sports Rights

The year 2024 holds great significance for sports enthusiasts, primarily due to major events like NBCU's extensive coverage of the Summer Olympics in Paris. Furthermore, prominent players like YouTube, Amazon and Apple TV+ are increasingly exploring opportunities to stream live sports events.

"There's never been a more interesting time in sports than now," Corsinita notes. "The fragmentation of sports means you may have to go Dave & Buster's to watch live sports, because you may not subscribe to all the platforms you need."

This challenge is particularly disruptive for regional sports networks (RSNs) that cater to local market fans' demand to watch their home teams. The erosion of cable bundles has further diminished the value proposition for traditional sports viewership.

As a fan, the conundrum of how many subscriptions will be required to watch all of their favorite teams is daunting, and potentially cost prohibitive. Layer on the additional subscriptions that might be needed for things in the entertainment space, and it forces consumers to make tough choices on what subscriptions they can afford.

"With the casual fan no longer subsidizing the cost of live sports, true sports fans are going to have to pay for all the content themselves,” Corsinita says. “That'll be very interesting to see play out, and a little scary."

3) Marketplace Conditions

The ongoing WGA and SAG strikes have added another dimension of disruption to the primetime ad market. For many marketers, the strikes continue to bring up questions around whether a Upfront is even necessary.

Due to the strikes, consumers can expect to see a lot more reality shows this fall as well as game shows and overseas content like NCIS Sydney. With an election year coming up, consumers can also anticipate more news to fill the programming gaps.

"Of course, sports will continue to win," Corsinita asserts about the strikes' implications. "It'll be that much more valuable, driving costs up even more."

4) Marketing of Specials

The strikes are also the driving force behind two other core updates. If the strikes resolve, marketers can expect linear TV to make its comeback with significant marketing of Specials -- theatrical-like releases such as Daredevil: Born Again or popular series spin-offs like The Walking Dead: Dead City and season five of Stranger Things. Networks will rely on these big programming events to bring viewers back after a long summer and delayed Fall Season start.

If the strikes resolve, marketers can expect both linear and streaming TV to make a comeback with significant marketing of Specials -- theatrical-like releases such as Daredevil: Born Again or popular series spin-offs like The Walking Dead: Dead City (AMC), Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Disney+) and season five of Stranger Things (Netflix). This promotional effort would focus on boosting subscriber growth as the lack of new fall content could stall already slowing growth.

5) "The" Year for Linear TV to Shift to Streaming

While the strikes may make the prediction that 2024 will be "the" year for linear TV to shift to streaming even more true, there is still a lot of convergence that needs to occur, which is the final core driver. As the marketplace continues to evolve, marketers will need to adapt their creative workflows, define common metrics and refine their strategies and execution. Corsinita emphasizes that approaches taken by programmatic traders and those handling large sports deals are vastly different, requiring harmonization in the industry.

To sum it up: The media landscape is experiencing a transformative shift with the rise of CTV and streaming platforms, while linear TV maintains its unique strengths. Sports content continues to be a significant driving force, but marketers face challenges and opportunities due to ongoing strikes and evolving consumer preferences.

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