Industry Voices— KS&R: Appetite for social grows as video becomes main course

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What is social video and why should you care? It’s the video clips your friends and family share on Facebook, the funny prank reel you watched on repeat on YouTube and the newest dance challenge you tried to master on TikTok. These videos have become an increasingly important part of the fabric of entertainment. For some, this content represents an opportunity to reinvent what entertainment means for consumers with companies like Facebook spending over a billion dollars a year on content. The very DNA of social networks have become intertwined with video. Of the three or more hours a day consumers spend on social media, more than half of that time is spent watching videos on these platforms from news and talk shows to music videos and makeup tutorials.

With the recent pandemic and shelter in place, we’ve seen usage on social media spike and the migration toward social video consumption accelerate. Platforms like TikTok have exploded during this time. TikTok downloads in April grew 330% compared to last year according to SensorTower. With 95%* of U.S. Internet users between the ages of 13 to 50 watching videos on social networks, the competition for consumers’ share of time has never been fiercer. With media companies already pre-occupied with cord-cutting, reduced theatrical attendance and increased competition from streaming services, they now also must contend with social video.

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As with many new entertainment trends, younger viewers between the ages of 13-24 are leading the charge in the adoption of social video, favoring platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. They’re consuming more of this content than older Millennials and Gen X, but even 90%* of Gen X are watching social video. Social viewing is a trend that is unlikely to fade away as Gen Z and younger Millennials age up. Unlike a love of boybands, this passion for social content is likely to endure. The rise of social video is fueled by the uniqueness of the content, the variety of stories, and a level of authenticity and intimateness that traditional media has been unable to replicate. On social, viewers can find storytellers who they can relate to and can connect with through comments, livestreams and personal messages. For Gen Z, social represents an avenue to see faces whose experiences reflect their own unique and diverse backgrounds.

The rise of social video has been accompanied by a shift from passive viewing to co-creation. From the early days of YouTube, the ability of consumers to create content has evolved dramatically. Now armed with just a smartphone, anyone can become a content creator and possibly even a social influencer. About a quarter of social media users are already uploading/posting their own videos regularly. With social platforms offering tools that enable users to create rich, engaging stories, we will see the idea of what we consider entertainment be completely redefined. Entertainment will become more interactive and resemble more of a dialogue between content creators and consumers. Amateur creators will rise to the level of celebrities as their fans come to value the relationships they have with them. 57% of social video watchers already follow or subscribe to at least one influencer. Viewers will come to turn to social stars for advice on everything from shopping to travel as their credibility is built on years of friendship and connection. In the next few years, media companies will need to adapt to harness the potential of social as not only a marketing and content distribution platform, but as a way to deepen the long-term relationship they have with consumers.

Interested in more data on this subject, as well as more research and consumer insights on the broader streaming television industry? Please register for our virtual StreamTV Summer Research Summit on 6/29-6/30 here, where a collection of top industry analysts will be releasing a treasure trove of exclusive data and forecasts across a wide variety of leading trends in OTT. It's a one of a kind event you won't want to miss. We hope to see you there.

Mike’s curiosity led him into research, where he has worked in the telecom market research industry for nearly 20 years and as telecom blurred into entertainment over the last decade, so has the focus of much of the research Mike and his team has focused on with their clients. As this transition came about, KS&R formed an ‘Entercom’ team, under Mike’s leadership, to better support our industry leading partners. Mike has designed and led research across a number of quantitative and qualitative methodologies from tracking consumer behaviors, service packaging and pricing, concept testing, segmentation, and customer journey mapping; and research topics ranging from old school POTs (plain old telephone) to the latest in streaming and social video.

Jennifer Longo is a project manager at KS&R and has been with the firm for 15 years. Jennifer’s primary focus is supporting clients in the telecommunications industry, designing and managing studies in the consumer and B2B space. Her research experience includes concept testing, market sizing, segmentation, service packaging and pricing, as well as extensive experience managing quantitative tracking studies around consumer behaviors.

George is a director of digital platforms and strategy at Warner Bros. where he focuses on launching direct-to-consumer video services, studies changing viewer behaviors and researches emerging technologies.

Industry Voices are opinion columns written by outside contributors—often industry experts or analysts—who are invited to the conversation by FierceVideo staff. They do not represent the opinions of FierceVideo.

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