The Television vs. Livestream Battle Will Continue in 2017

Author: Elizabeth Tower
Posted: Dec 22, 2016

eMarketer has recently released its 10 Key Digital Trends for 2017. One of these predictions is that some time in 2017 a live digital video stream will achieve a primetime TV-size audience. To preface this, when we discuss livestreaming we are not talking about current viewing on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. These are programs (usually also on TV) being broadcast through an online source. When looking at why they think this year will have this increase let’s take a look at what we saw in 2016 and what is planned for 2017.


First, let’s look at 2016:

  • Super Bowl 50 broke records with 3.96 million unique viewers across laptops, desktop, tablets, mobile and connected TV devices.
  • The Olympics are another strong example of livestreaming growth. While the television ratings saw a decline, the livestreaming saw huge growth. Online viewers streamed over 2.71 billion minutes of coverage. This is almost double what the last two Olympics combined have received.
  • The election… Unless you’ve been living Walden style in the woods you are aware of the heavy election coverage we’ve seen in 2016. Each debate had multiple livestreaming options that expanded viewership in the U.S. and worldwide. Election night coverage topped livestreaming records for multiple news outlets including NBC, CBS and CNN.
  • In 2016 Twitter made its first broadcast deal, partnering with the NFL to stream 10 Thursday Night Football games. Twitter reportedly paid $10 million dollars for this package. This was an opportunity for both Twitter to grow its users and NFL to grow its Thursday night audience. It was not as strong as they had hoped for but is continually growing.

Now moving into 2017:

  • Hulu will launch a live TV streaming service. They have partnered with Disney, Time Warner and 21st Century Fox. This will join other platforms like SlingTV and PlayStation Vue in driving cord cutters and increasing live streaming audiences.
  • Facebook Live continues to see growth since their beta launch in the beginning of 2016. A worldwide campaign promoting Facebook Live began in October and they are currently working on new features to further grow this platform in 2017.
  • YouTube is another company that is said to be planning a launch of an online TV service in 2017. This Google owned company has already completed a deal with CBS and is working with others to grow a base of channels for their Pay-TV service. It is currently being called “unplugged”.

So what does this all mean? There are changes that are happening but the live viewership for all major events and shows still remains on television. Many of the new formats have yet to master their advertising and most still lack any local options. These new channels are amazing options to work with to enhance current campaigns but they are not replacements. Each works as a piece of the puzzle to reach part of your target but to ignore one for the other leaves you without the full picture.

I encourage you to continue to research your target market to best understand their media consumption habits. The better you can do this the better you can reach them in each touch point throughout their day and create a campaign that adapts fluidly as technology continues to change.

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