In an effort to slow COVID-19’s spread across the United States, people are practicing social distancing and self-quarantining. As more individuals are staying home, the media industry is witnessing unprecedented changes across platforms, including changes in viewership and streaming, programming, and rates.

Viewing Trends 

Earlier this week, Nielsen reported that staying in our homes could lead to an estimated 60% increase in the amount of content we watch. An example of a past increase can be seen in the spike around the time of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

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Taking careful note of the anticipated TV trends, we found that national television rates and CPPs are shifting as tourism advertisers are cancelling spots or moving spots to air later in the year. Before these changes, the market was healthy for 2Q. Because of this, CPMs are remaining stable for the moment, though 2Q scatter will not see the premiums that were initially expected. Networks also note that 3Q and 4Q should be placed when the COVID-19 panic dies down, as they are seeing advertisers move to later in the year. Many sporting events are moving to fall months as well, meaning PUTs may remain above-average through September and October. With the Kentucky Derby being postponed to September as one of the many examples.

 COVID-19 is not only affecting usage, but also programming and rates across media platforms.

In television, cable and streaming programs are facing production stoppages. Recently, Warner Bros. announced that it is “halting production on 70+ series and pilots currently filming or about to begin.” Netflix put a hold on production for its scripted shows and films for the next two weeks. Shows filmed in front of live studio audiences, included those hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Kelly Clarkson, and more, are also taking a break from filming.

But Jimmy Fallon is keeping it real by enlisting a little help from his family and doing segments of the show from home.  He is even including fundraisers to help feed families as seen in the recent YouTube video, The Tonight Show: At Home Edition (Jennifer Garner)!

The stoppage in production could affect television lineups for months to come depending on how long the breaks last. Prime-time viewers may not notice a drastic difference until after May because many series have completed filming for the season. Fall network lineups risk the most change, as filming for those seasons and pilots has also stopped.  We may see a surge in reality programming much like we did during and after the writers strike in 2007/2008.

Radio may be one of the most affected industry right now, with cancellations throughout the country and steep declines in CPPs.  But iHeart is also reacted to the need for content and good news by creating a segment across their programming called ‘Spotlight On Businesses Doing Good.’  This initiative will amplify and share powerful stories about the ways brands are stepping up to help local communities during this time of need.

 Search Trends

Captify, a search intelligence company that captures searches directly from publishers, e-commerce sites and product review sites, reports search for streaming services is up 49%, Food and Home delivery up 58.7% and a whopping 183% for subscription entertainment searches.

When looking at overall Google trends, our analysts reported the following:

Categories up YoY and over the last 30 days:

    • Health
    • Food & Drink
    • Home & Garden
    • Pets & Animals

Categories trending down last 30 days and same time last year (March 2019):

    • Sports
    • Auto
    • Computers & Electronics
    • Internet & Telecom
    • Real Estate

The travel category appears to have maintained if not increased in volume since the impact of COVID-19. However, the interest is in “cancelations” and news related interest on travel bans. There are some spikes in “deals”, but it is unlikely that these searches will result in positive growth for revenue. Sources have shown a huge decline in revenue since the announcement of social distancing and continue to decrease with each announcement of restrictions to day-to-day life.

 Overall, we continue to see increases in usage during the last few weeks with only a slight decline in digital inventory CPMs.

If you can, continue to talk to Americans – they are listening, and it could impact your business in the long term.

When marketers cut back on their ad spending, the brand loses its “share of mind” with consumers, and the potential of losing current – and possibly future – sales. An increase in “share of voice” during a recession period typically leads to in an increase in “share of market” with long term impact.   See some examples below from Forbes.

  • 1920s – “Great Depression”
    • Kellogg’s doubled its ad budgets and unseated Post as the cereal market leader
  • 1970s – Recession
    • Toyota sustained ad spending heading into the recession and gained share, some say leading to their eclipsing domestic in coming decades
  • 1990s – Recession
    • Pizza Hut and Taco Bell increased ad spend in response to McDonald’s and saw sales growth
  • 2000s “Great Recession”
    • When other advertisers cut advertising budgets, Amazon grew sales via new product launches and increased ad spend

Source: Forbes ‘When a recession comes don’t stop advertising’ September 5, 2019

Have any additional questions? Give us a call today and we’ll work together to navigate through the unknown.

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