By Laura Molen – President / Advertising & Partnerships at NBCUniversal
True partnership requires constant dialogue. So every day, I consult with our marketing partners, listening to their business challenges and sharing our insights, so we can collaborate on new solutions and achieve their business goals. Recently, I’ve noticed a recurring theme – advertisers are working to adapt to new audience behaviors and questioning whether they should place the same premium on digital, social, and streaming video as they do on linear. This question alone is understandable, but to answer it, we need to remember our most important partners—our viewers—who we can learn from and grow with, if we pay close enough attention.
To do that, we must embrace two truths: that audiences want to enjoy great content, and that where there’s great content, they don’t see deep distinctions between linear, digital, or steaming viewing. For audiences, the experience of watching their favorite show—no matter the screen or app—is basically identical. And if you focus too much on the differences on paper, you’ll miss the similar value to consumers, or how the experiences are connected. In other words, for viewers, delivery doesn’t change what’s valuable about premium content. If anything, technology has the power to enhance it.
For decades, people opened up their T.V. guide and selected programs from a handful of channels. Today viewers pick their favorite content from a variety of apps and screens, any time they want. The underlying principle—choose the content you love, from companies you trust, on your favorite screen—is exactly the same. And because of that, linear, digital, and streaming aren’t feasts unto themselves; they’re courses that go together. These experiences of premium content are equally valuable, equally scaled, and meaningfully interconnected.
Advancements in digital and streaming managed to give more people the power to watch more of the content they love. Just look at these metrics: 97 percent of NBCU’s average delivery is on a big screen—CTV accounts for a large portion of that, but so does national linear TV and set-top box VOD. While the delivery or advertising experience may be different on the back end, on that big screen, the picture looks the same. And for consumers, that’s valuable.
This is the future of viewing. This is the future of advertising. In fact, we predict that NBCU’s digital audiences’ viewing time will reach that of our linear audiences within the next couple of years. Just look at Peacock. It’s become just as significant as linear—quickly becoming another premium environment audiences love and frequent at scale—with the added power of data targeting and innovative ad experiences only possible on streaming.
If we act like linear is the only viewing method synonymous with scale, we’ll never enter the valuable world audiences have created. We have to accept the viewer’s reality: it’s one big video world, and we’re all living in it. Let’s not reject that. Let’s reflect it in everything we do.