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Tubular Labs: TV Doubles Down On Social Video Heading Into 2021

Tubular Labs CRO Denis Crushell recently penned a piece for AdExchanger around the various ways TV can utilize social video to win over subscribers. We spoke to him about that topic and viewership trends for 2021 in the Q&A below.

TV[R]EV: What media and/or viewer trends were happening before the emergence of COVID-19 that were further accelerated by the global pandemic? 

Crushell: On the viewer-trend side, the success of niche content has been proliferating the past several years, and we’ve seen audiences swell around interest-based content — whether it be fitness, gaming, kids, you name it. Take kids content, for example. It’s becoming an increasingly important category of content for Netflix and others to combat subscription churn. 

On the macro media trend side, as social media platforms have matured, media companies have really gone “all in” on social video. Media conglomerates, TV networks and the like began better embracing social video the past few years. A few years ago, it was a struggle to get major TV networks to upload videos to YouTube and Facebook. Now, we’re seeing networks like CNN and FOX garner hundreds of millions of unique views per month. 

TV[R]EV: Why do you think that is? 

Crushell: There’s a massive trend of media companies moving toward subscription models. So now, they’re not just seeing social video’s value from a direct monetization standpoint, but as a marketing vehicle for subscriptions. 

TV[R]EV: Can you give a good example? 

Crushell: Netflix has always been the leader. “The Crown” is a good example. Netflix uploads an incredible amount of supporting content to market “The Crown” on YouTube — like Diana’s background, and all sorts of supporting material. 

Along these lines, we’re also seeing a developing trend where talent oftentimes is selected for projects based on their social media following, and their presumed ability to engage audiences directly from their Instagram account, for example, and activate that attention to tune in to new content. 

TV[R]EV: HBO and Netflix and Disney+ are just a few examples of media juggernauts with very different programming release strategies. Their subsequent show promotions vary from supporting the entire series to individual shows, for example. How can social video measurement help bring uniformity to evaluating the performance of these different subscription model distribution strategies? 

Crushell: Social video measurement has the potential to bring uniformity to the evaluation of these different media giants. However, social media is made up of fragmented audiences consuming across devices and platforms. Thus, we’ve been really focused at Tubular Labs on improving our audience measurement capabilities beginning with what are effectively the two biggest AVOD platforms in the world: YouTube and Facebook. We want to empower the marketplace to understand how large audiences are on each platform, and then commingled and deduplicated across platforms. That’s how you can begin to compare media companies apples-to-apples. 

TV[R]EV: You’re alluding to Tubular Labs’ new TV-like metrics for social video. How can Tubular Audience Ratings help media companies invest more confidently in social video as a marketing channel? 

Crushell: When you talk to media companies and brands it’s all about audience reach and frequency. We’re providing the true size of audiences, deduplicated across platforms — by country, by gender, by age. That’s helping media companies — mostly from a sales standpoint — really talk to the market about how big their brand is, who they’re reaching, etc. 

TV[R]EV: Do you have any customer examples you can share of media companies who are utilizing Tubular Audience Ratings right now? 

Crushell: We recently completed a webinar with BBC Children’s where they explained minutes watched and unique viewers are key metrics for them — especially minutes watched for actually growing audiences. We’re helping them truly understand how large are the audiences in online video for existing and new business opportunities. 

TV[R]EV: What other trends are you seeing and predictions might you make as we head into 2021? 

Crushell: Consumers will increasingly expect the titles they love to be on their de facto TV streaming platform of choice. This will put increased pressure on someone like Netflix to agree to sometimes non-exclusive rights agreements to ensure they carry the most popular titles people want. 

Take Cocomelon, for example, a massively popular YouTube Kids powerhouse that was acquired by kids media giant Moonbug acquired in 2020. Cocomelon had more than 100 million online viewers in October; 4 billion minutes watched and somewhere around 40 minutes watched per unique viewer. With that sort of audience, consumers expect Cocomelon to be on their de facto TV streaming service. They expect it to be on Netflix. But others will expect it elsewhere. 

While conventional wisdom is that streaming platforms possess both the leverage and incentive to have exclusive content, the leverage of a kids media giant like Moonbug can’t be understated either. And similar to how CNN and FOX cut deals across cable providers, I wouldn’t be surprised if you see more burgeoning media conglomerates take a similar platform-agnostic approach to content licensing. 

Sticking to the kids content sector, much of the leading YouTube-born kids content has been historically produced on smaller budgets to make the online ad sales economics work. With a kid media conglomerate like Moonbug maturing and executing more licensing deals, I suspect the production budgets and overall content quality will improve greatly as we head into 2021 and beyond.