Netflix, Where’s Your Audio Strategy?

By Media Unplugged Archives
Cover image for  article: Netflix, Where’s Your Audio Strategy?

If you’re a big media brand but not a big audio brand – NBC/Universal, AT&T/Warner Media, Netflix, Hulu, etc. – what’s your audio strategy?  Because you’d better develop one.

We’ve all watched as the world of podcasting explodes, but have the big media brands yet awakened to its power?  According to recent benchmark stats from Edison Media, 44% of Americans 12-plus have listened to a podcast at least once, and 17% have listened to at least one in the past week.  Listening is booming because of the ubiquity of mobile devices and consumers’ desire to listen to something they choose wherever they go and whenever they want.

Indeed, the same trends driving the new golden age of TV are driving a new golden age of audio with more talent, more choice, more great shows and more listener satisfaction than ever before.

From my perspective as a company working with media brands to create content, I’m seeing more and more interest in the audio space from these brands, yet most have a long way to go.

To date, there have been a number of big media brand experiments.  Besides audio versions of traditional over-the-air programs (such as the broad and primarily repurposed menu of offerings from the news channels) and a plethora of fan-created shows (where the latest episodes of their TV favorites are discussed and dissected) we’re now seeing original audio programs built to complement existing big media brand assets.

Perhaps the most notable example of this is a limited series called Wolverine: The Long Night, produced in association with Marvel.  One could easily imagine a universe of audio content that complements the burgeoning Marvel universe.  One could likewise imagine such a universe complementing the valuable TV or film brands of any big media company. Star Wars?  The Walking Dead?  The Conjuring?  It’s all coming.  All that and much more.

These “universe extensions” make great sense:

  • They create new IP that leverages existing IP.
  • They satisfy the insatiable appetite for content from audiences that have to wait between TV seasons and cinematic tentpoles.
  • They’re relatively inexpensive compared to the enormous cost of advertising.
  • They are the “content” in “content marketing.”
  • Perhaps best of all from the brand’s perspective, they open up new revenue opportunities for existing brand assets.

In our conversations with these big media brands, we’re finding a few things in common. These brands:

  • Are all-in on digital and video but generally lack an audio strategy
  • Don’t know how to create effective podcasts, monetize them or popularize them
  • Don’t appreciate the wide variety of forms podcasts can take -- similar to the variety of forms in video
  • Don’t know what makes a podcast good or what constitutes a successful podcast
  • Smell opportunity but require a path to success

In the very near future, the universe surrounding valuable big media IP will include not only video and digital and graphic novels and merchandise and events and theme parks and music and games, etc.  It will also include audio.

And now is the time to develop that strategy and set it in motion.

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