Streaming will never be the same: The top-5 global CTV trends of 2022
The streaming market is a fast-moving beast, and 2022 has proved that. It’s been a pivotal year as streaming overtook linear for the first time in the US. Here’s why that matters.
House of The Dragon was a major streaming launch in 2022 / HBO
2022 was a win for advertisers. It was the year streaming embraced advertising to help with exorbitant content costs. Along with Netflix, Disney+ gave the green light for ads on its service, and Peacock and Discovery+ too adapted their original models to include various ad-package options. There’s been a lot of movement in the market. Here are the five biggest trends and events.
5. Netflix got ads
Netflix reversed its 12-year-old anti-advertising stance in a shocking move earlier in the year. After over a decade of brands desperate to get a slice of Netflix’s premium and zeitgeisty inventory, Netflix finally caved after its first subscriber decline.
Netflix knew it couldn’t build up an ad product alone, so it tied with Microsoft as its ad partner and linked with ad measurement firms DoubleVerify and IAS. The streamer also signed up to be measured by TV currencies Barb in the UK and Nielsen in the US.
Basic with Ads began its staggered 12-country roll from November 1 priced at $6.99 (£4.99) – that’s roughly half the price of a standard subscription. The ad load averages four to five minutes per hour, with the spot being either 15 or 30 seconds in length.
Advertisers have shared concerns with The Drum over Netflix’s ad product, with many objecting to its steep $65 CMP and questioning its brand safety protections. By and large, though, this move has enraptured the ad industry – and, as such, Netflix sold out its inventory well ahead of launch.
We’ll be watching closely in 2023 to see how many Basic subscribers it gains... and how many Premium ones it loses. It’s a true monetization balancing act.
4. ITVX launch
UK broadcaster ITV turned its legacy catch-up service ITV Hub into the AVOD streaming service ITVX. ITV is hoping its shiny new platform can double its digital revenue by 2026 to top $890 (£750m). It’s a growing pain that many broadcasters will have to make to ensure their long-term relevance.
Launching on December 8, ITVX is aimed at younger cohorts of light ITV viewers to keep them in the ITV ecosystem for longer. The platform does have an ad-free ‘premium’ subscription for £5.99 a month; however, ITV is pitching ITVX as a free AVOD-led service with less marketing going into converting users to a subscription package.
ITV will lean upon its addressable tech Planet V 2.0, and has carved out retail media partnerships with Tesco and Boots to offer advertisers better targeting and measurement.
At the time of the announcement, we asked media buyers for their thoughts, and while many agreed ITV Hub needed a refresh, most thought ITV had been too late.
3. Discovery and Warner Bros merge
In April AT&T and Discovery completed a $43bn merger creating the mega-media conglomerate Warner Bros Discovery. The deal was significant as it created the biggest pure entertainment brand on the globe.
Warner Bros Discovery later announced it was uniting streamers Discovery+ and HBO Max in early 2023. Details are still sparse about how the single streamer will be branded or how HBO Max’s premium scripted shows will sit side-by-side with Discovery’s unscripted lifestyle programming.
The brands have been getting wrestled into shape. Whatever form it takes will hint at what a sustainable does-all streaming bundle could look like. Are we just recreating cable, some may wonder?
The combined companies have a powerful portfolio of series, films and sports that could shift the balance of power in the top five streamers. Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and the Olympics, for example, are all massive draws for the service.
2. Sports rights shift to streamers
The streaming market set its sights on live sports in 2022, and boy did the market get aggressive in snapping up deals. Apple TV bought up the global video rights to North America’s Major League Soccer (MLS), Amazon had Friday Night Football and the Champions League in the UK, Discovery+ has the Olympics in Europe and Paramount+ has the US rights to Uefa games.
Even Netflix had a pop entering a bid for the US Formula One rights, but was beaten by Disney. The streamers have learned that live sports provide one of the best marketing pulls to get audiences into their platforms. Discovery+, for example, said its Tokyo Olympics coverage helped it net a record number of new subscribers to take its total global subscription base to 17 million.
Next year will be interesting with the launch of BT Sports and Warner Bros Discovery’s joint venture, which may have the rights and resources to rival Sky’s position of dominance.
1. Streaming chips away at cinema
Cinema suffered a monumental blow from Covid-19 lockdowns, not only with the physical loss of ticket revenue but by irreversibly changing the cinema release structure to favor streaming. The pandemic has seen the studios close the release window from 16 weeks to an average of 45 days.
The return of James Bond and Spider-Man No Way Home had the makings of saving cinema as audiences returned in their droves, with 9.7 million and 9.2 million admissions respectively.
But by 2022 all that changed as big hit releases dried up and the cost of living crisis drove cinema viewers back inside. Cineworld declared bankruptcy in September after grappling with $5bn in debt. As the world’s second-largest cinema, its demise sent shockwaves through the cinema industry, leading many to question its future.
While streamers like Disney+ do often recognize the importance of a bigger theatrical release window, as it did with Thor and Dr Strange earlier this year, it isn’t treating every title the same. In fact, in France Disney threatened to bypass the cinema entirely for the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever if the government didn’t relax its Covid cinema rules.
The debacle demonstrates the power of a studio-backed streamer to set its own rules and mess with the traditional theatrical window.