Here’s what winning OTT platforms look like in 2018 and beyond, and why it's critical to feed your subscribers.
Issa Rae, Jerrod Carmichael, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Ava DuVernay, Spike Lee, Shonda Rhimes -- Black Hollywood heavyweights signing major deals to develop original content for over-the-top (OTT) services. It’s a renaissance of Black entertainment we haven't seen since the 1990s. Then and now, Black creators were breaking into new spaces -- proving their audiences were commercially viable and that those audiences wanted to see, and needed to see faces and stories reflecting their realities and aspirations.
It was programming like Living Single, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Cousin Skeeter, Family Matters, Moesha, The Steve Harvey show and a dozen others that broke barriers (and built on the success of Cosby) for Black actors/actresses, writers and producers.
Fast forward to the era of OTTs, insert the current political context, blockbusters like Black Panther, and a narrative about the importance of #ForUsByUs popping up in almost every industry -- You quickly understand why mainstream OTTs are catching on to the power of Black creators.
Moreover, subscribers are all but demanding it. Social media has become home to online campaigns where audiences successfully petitioned OTTs to host fan favorite classics like “Living Single” and “A Different World”.
In a media landscape that is increasingly (and rightfully) consumer driven, what’s next for over-the-top platforms? And how do OTTs win viewers tomorrow?
Some of this will look like old-school network TV.
Yes, some of this may look more like yesterday than tomorrow, as platforms fill their virtual shelves with back catalog content from years past. But add to that, the excitement for content creators that OTTs are developing more original content than ever before. Tasty Shop client Urban Movie Channel, a niche OTT platform from Robert L. Johnson, founder of B.E.T., has already announced two new original series in Q1 - Greg Carter’s 5th Ward which launched last month, and Craig Ross Jr’s “Monogamy” coming May 4th. With other industry players announcing they’ll spend billions on original content in 2018, it’s a whole new renaissance for producers, writers, directors, actors and audiences craving original, diverse, ‘For Us, By Us’ stories.
Listening AND responding is winning.
The power to decide feels good to consumers. OTTs should expect fickle subscribers with the easy ability to cancel...to hold onto that power with more petitions for the favorites they love and feedback on what they do and don’t want to see. To stem the tide of churn, it becomes critical for OTT’s to keep a finger on the pulse of their subscribers desires via frequent surveys, insightful streaming data, and social media commentary. This in turn provides more opportunities than ever before for niche content creators to deliver what consumers want. Our democratized media landscape will continue to fuel not just Hollywood’s Black renaissance, but a wealth of content from a range of diverse content creators.
Black is the new Black.
Black content is commercially viable and in-demand. In the current political and social context there are plenty of stories to tell and a bevy of talented creators to tell them. We know consumers are looking for more authentic engagements with brands and that African-Americans are more likely to rely on OTT platforms for content. Given the success of Black Panther, and the data on African-American personal streaming and TV consumption habits, OTTs would be wise to realize this community's market potential.
What we know for sure.
The benefit of a consumer driven marketplace is a win-win for consumers, content distributors and content creators alike. Niche platforms like Urban Movie Channel, Acorn TV, Drama Fever, Sundance Now, are fueled by consumers willing to pay for exactly the content they want - and allows creators to develop directly for the platform. Distributors and consumers develop a direct relationship with each other; one that can more seamlessly and intimately inform content acquisition & production decisions. Finding, growing, and actively engaging and listening to these niche audiences, as we have for Urban Movie Channel, pays off with a loyal and consistent base that is willing to support and share their experience with the platform and the content.
Subscribers are the decision makers after all, and OTTs should be fast to listen AND respond.
Tasty Shop Media is an entertainment + lifestyle digital marketing agency & content production company. TSM creates impactful and purposeful social marketing, audience outreach & content for the people and brands that shape our ideas, cultures and conversations.