Netflix in top 4 ‘must-keep’ viewing options

Scandal’s Olivia Pope had better watch her back, because House of Cards’ Frank Underwood is coming for her, warns consultancy firm Solutions Research Group, noting that ‘must-see’ TV is giving way to ‘much-stream’ TV, with Americans increasingly likely to name streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video among their most valued entertainment options.

These services reshaped Solutions Research Group’s 10th annual Must Keep TV Report, which interviews American consumers about which TV channels and services they regard as a must-have in their households.

Netflix ranks fourth overall in its first appearance in the study. It finished behind ABC, CBS and NBC but ahead of FOX. This is the first time in the study’s 10-year history that the Big Four networks failed to occupy the top four spots, with Netflix’s emergence pushing FOX into fifth place. Rounding out the top 10 are ESPN, HBO, Discovery, PBS and CW.

History came in at #11 this year, followed by AMC at #12, unchanged from last year. HGTV is the momentum brand of the year, coming in at #13, up six spots from #19 in 2016.

The three largest streaming brands – Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu – were included in the tracking for the first time in 2017. They performed extremely well as a group, all landing in the top 25 for the full 12+ population, coming in at #4 (Netflix), #14 (Amazon Prime Video) and #22 (Hulu).

The top two news cable channels appear stronger than ever in terms of viewer engagement. CNN came in at #15 overall, neck-and-neck with FOX News at #16. The two rivals have been this close together only once in the study’s 10-year history, in 2008 – when CNN was ranked #14 overall and FOX News came in at #18.

CNN is the clear choice among Americans under 50, coming in as the #15 ‘must keep’ TV brand among 18-49, far ahead of FOX News at #28. Among affluent households – those with income of over $100,000 – FOX News is seen as slightly more important, ranking #8, compared to CNN at #12.

Sports cable channels continue to perform well among men 18-49: ESPN is #5 overall, and the #1 cable channel in this demographic for the 10th straight year. Fox Sports 1 and ESPN 2 are ranked #20 and #25 respectively, similar to their previous positions. Fox Sports 2 dipped slightly in the past year, while NBC Sports is up slightly.

More US households now have a streaming service than a DVR, which means that digital-era services will continue to grow in importance, particularly among younger Americans.

The three streaming brands included in the study all ranked highly among 18-34s, with Netflix and Hulu in the Top 10: Netflix claimed the top spot while Hulu came in at #9. Amazon Prime Video was a hair outside the Top 10, coming in at #11.

Network and general cable brands with momentum in the younger demographic this year include: NBC, CW, FX, HGTV, History and Travel.

With ABC, CBS, and NBC ranking #1, #2, and #3 respectively, Netflix elbows its way in at #4, with FOX rounding out the top 5 ranking for Women 25-54.

Amazon Prime Video debuts at #8 for this demographic, putting two streaming services in the top 10 and speaking to the importance of being able to access entertainment on their own schedule.

Movers gaining top 10 status this year include CW at #7 (its first time in the top 10), HGTV (#9, its second time in the top 10 in the past 10 years) and ESPN. Hallmark Channel broke into the top 20 for the first time since tracking began in 2007, and is now ranked #19 among Women 25-54, its best showing since 2007.

In 2017, 72 per cent of those interviewed included at least one of the big four networks (one or more of ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX) on their ‘must keep’ channel list. While that is still a strong majority, it represents an 11-point drop from the historic high of 83 per cent in 2007.

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NBC News launches social video hub

NBC News has officially launched Left Field, a social media hub for digital video news.

Left Field will be “testing the creative limits of video journalism and cinematic storytelling,” the company said, with the development of specific content for social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

“NBC Left Field is a new internationally-minded video troupe that makes short, creative documentaries and features specially designed for social media and set-top boxes (STBs). Our small team of cinematographers, journalists, animators and social media gurus aims to unearth stories and breathe creative life into current headlines. While pushing boundaries at home and abroad, NBC Left Field will also be serving as an experimental hub for NBC News style, treatment and audience engagement,” Left Field explained on its website.

Variety reported that the hub’s first videos include a story about refugee squatters in Amsterdam and a profile of the Museum of Failure in Sweden. In addition to documentary content, it will offer audio extras and live-streaming.

NBC creates pop-up websites to try out content

NBC News wanted to mix up its news coverage to include more “near news”: content someone reads after they get their fix of breaking news and politics – or as a relief from it.

Two pop-up sites, future-oriented “Mach” and self-improvement site “Better,”officially launched May 31 with a fresh web design to test the content and ad experience with NBC News’ audiences.

NBC News’ strategy to create content aligned with passion has been popular among publishers lately. HuffPost created content for introverts, for example, and distributed to its social followers. Mic launched nine new content channels in March tailored to micro-interests.

“Publishers have an opportunity to tap into passion points with content that small sections of a broader audience can attach themselves to from an identity and interest perspective,” said NBC News executive editor Ashley Parrish. “Writing about tech and innovation as a siloed vertical allows us the resources build out a separate team and for editors to hone in on topics.”

NBC News chose to create content around technology and wellness because those areas historically performed well with its audience. Readers trusted NBC News to report on those topics, Parrish said. Mach started out as a subsection on the NBC News website in November, and Better joined in March, before getting a completely new look last week.

Since the beginning of the year, traffic on Mach grew 100%, making it the fastest-growing section across all of NBC News. Better, which started creating content in March, has grown 60% since launch.

After making the sites look as clean as possible within the existing design, NBC News product head Moritz Gimbel created a new design for the sites. To speed up the process,the internal team collaborated with outside agency Code & Theory.

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