Turner has recently released the results of its new VOD study which proves, through Nielsen VOD Content Ratings, that VOD programming attracts a more desirable and highly engaged audience over time. This should not come as a surprise -- when people can choose the optimal time to view their content they pay more attention. Turner has been aggressively experimenting with content strategies and ad formats that focus on mutual benefits for viewers and advertising partners, and increasingly on measurement to evaluate these strategies.
Turner’s work with Nielsen resulted in a case study on the TNT drama series Good Behavior, which examined how Cable VOD compared to other TV set + set-top box viewing methods (live TV and DVR). In Good Behavior, VOD was the preferred viewing platform, driving viewing beyond the three-day window. The percentage of total viewers from VOD grew from 5% at three days to almost 50% after 90 days.
This research study comes at a pivotal time. Cross-screen inventory (including VOD) will be offered as part of Turner’s OpenAP inventory by the end of this year.
I spoke with Sandy Padula (pictured below), Senior Vice President, TBS/TNT Research and Consumer Insight, to get the details.
Charlene Weisler: How did the idea to do this study come about?
Sandy Padula: A few years ago, I started noticing that we had a significant amount of viewing for our original series happening in the VOD space beyond the seven day window. I also heard this from other networks in the industry. When we started looking specifically at this issue with the addition of [Turner Entertainment Chief Creative Officer] Kevin Reilly’s high volume of premium original content -- and our historical content as we deepened our library -- we were seeing that upwards of half of the viewing for original series was occurring in VOD eight days-plus. It was not only a substantial audience, but also very desirable. They were younger, more affluent and they looked like the DVR audience. They were also more engaged and were watching more of the episodes. We learned that as the C7 ratings continued to decline, our current measurement offered less and less of a good picture of the total viewership that was happening.
Weisler: I see rating was used as one of the metrics. What other metrics did you use to measure?
Padula: Engagement is also an important metric. We see that the completion rate and time spent viewing in VOD is really high -- higher than in C3 and C7. We are looking for more opportunities to test and learn with advertisers on engagement. [In] study after study, recall of advertisers in the pod and the affinity of the advertisers in the pod increase when viewed in VOD.
Weisler: How did the results look for other programming genres?
Padula: What we found for Good Behavior was also true for other programming genres across the board. Show to show to show, our VOD audiences are more desirable and more affluent, and the consumption across all of our VOD is growing substantially. Both TBS and TNT VOD had record performances last year because the depth of our library is important and growing, and the consumption of VOD is increasing.
Weisler: What are your next steps in examining VOD?
Padula: I am hoping that we will get to a point where our advertisers and partners understand that we can forecast VOD the same way we can forecast and post ratings in linear. We are getting impressions from ad servers like Canoe and Freewheel and demographics from Nielsen. Two years ago we had a less complete picture of linear viewing and two years from now it will be even less complete. We see our consumers watch our shows later and later from the original air date. Our extensive library is becoming more important, so much so that we see our VOD more like a TBS/TNT SVOD service. It is giving viewers more accessibility choice that extends our network brands.
Weisler: What has the reaction been from agencies and advertisers?
Padula: With investment in premium acquired properties like Star Wars and Marvel to complement our originals, feedback from advertisers in the VOD space is positive because they know that the audience is younger and more engaged. It is a better viewing experience for fans. And the advertiser/advertising experience is better too, as it captures more viewing to our original and library content than ever before. VOD sell-out is strong with our available inventory and DAI is now in 60 million homes.
Weisler: What do you see as the impact of VOD in the future?
Padula: We will have more impressions to sell. The whole concept of VOD is fascinating and it is low hanging fruit for the industry. It is where viewers are making a choice to view content on their own time. The amount of original content we are creating on TBS and TNT and putting into our library is driving substantial viewing to our shows that we just weren’t capturing before. We have the ability to stack our shows and give people the ability to watch more and more episodes and bringing them into the VOD space which can introduce them to more of our content. VOD is highly valuable to the advertiser and the network brands and is what the consumer is looking for.
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