Continued growth and movement of audiences to online streaming video is the trend. While having a significant impact on consumers, it has yet to be fully embraced by advertisers.

The pace of on-demand video continues unabated. We have a new entrant into the marketplace: Apple TV+. If the past is anything to go by, we know that whatever Apple puts its money behind is going to be successful and will drive others to follow.

The big difference between Apple TV+ and the rest is that they are taking the 100% original content approach. However, Netflix and Showmax also play in the original content space.

Netflix received 24 nominations in this year's Academy Awards. This is more than any other Hollywood studio. This shows just how important good quality content is for attracting and keeping audiences. 

But it also carries content produced by the major Hollywood studios. Apple, on the other hand, has partnered with creators like Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams and will only show original content.

Apple TV+ is priced similarly to Netflix at around $7 per month (or R105 depending on how well the Rand is doing). But Apple is keen to incentivise trial, so if you buy any new Apple device you get a year's free subscription to the service.

The back end of 2019 also saw the launch of Disney Plus. This is set to shake up the world of streaming video in a big way. Disney Plus will stream:
  • all of Disney's movies and TV shows
  • every Marvel movie and TV show ever made
  • every Pixar movie ever made
  • every Star Wars movie and TV show ever made, and
  • Disney's own National Geographic and ESPN.
All of the content will be available on the platform too. What this means is that as Disney's contracts with other streaming services like Amazon and Netflix come up for renewal, all Disney content will be taken off those platforms and be kept exclusively for Disney.

We don't know yet when Disney Plus will launch in South Africa. Tech-savvy South Africans will find a workaround to get the service, but don't expect to see it officially in South Africa until 2021.

Despite this, South Africans have access to Showmax, Dstv Now and YouTube — all of which have big audiences and quality content. In order to demonstrate the size of the Dstv audience that is watching content digitally, the 2019 RWC final between South Africa and England had in excess of 500 000 unique viewers on the Dstv Now platform.

What does this mean for advertisers? Well, it simply means that consumers have more choice and it's going to become harder to pin down audiences. While there is no advertising yet available on Netflix, Apple TV or Amazon Prime, it is coming soon to Dstv Now and Showmax and YouTube has been taking ads for years. This means that it is going to cost more to reach these fragmented audiences.

A dose of reality must be given here: In order to access any of these streaming services, people need decent, high-speed Internet. So over and above the monthly subscription fees that the OTTs charge, there is the added cost of data.

Data in South Africa is prohibitively expensive, whether it be 4G from your cellular provider or fibre to your home. Not everyone can afford to watch content online, which means that this trend is going to affect the top-end of the market more than the mass market.

But the Competition Commission is looking to the cellular providers to drastically drop the price of data and once that happens, we will see more and more people going this route.

Additionally, many companies offer free Wi-Fi to consumers in shopping malls, airports and taxi ranks — all of which allows consumers to watch and download content to their devices.

This means that, even in the mass market, there are very big audiences that can be spoken to through the likes of YouTube and Viu (which hosts much of the SABC's local content such as Uzalo, Generations and Skeem Saam).

Should you now rush off and ask your media strategist to stop advertising on TV? Of course not! TV in South Africa is still the single best media platform for reach; no other platform comes close. 

TV advertising is safe, cost-effective and will continue to work in growing your brand. However, TV advertising should be supplemented with spend on digital video platforms. The four main benefits streaming include:

1. Additional reach

With more people turning to digital video as their primary (and sometimes only) form of entertainment, using TV and digital video lets brands speak to everyone.

2. Better, cheaper, targeted reach

While TV is great for speaking to the masses, it is not as targeted as we would like. YouTube and Facebook, however, offer loads of data to overlay onto our bookings, so we can ensure messages are seen by the right people.

3. The expanding of your message

TV is expensive. A 30-second ad in Uzalo on SABC 1 costs well over R200 000. Even brands with huge budgets can only afford to buy so many spots. But because digital video is cheap, brands can flight longer ads unpacking offers, or flight multiple ads allowing for the showcasing of an entire brand range.

4. Opportunity to reach the youth

There are some audiences that are just impossible to speak to through any other media platform except digital. Generation Z and the hard-to-fathom millennials are very light (even non-existent) TV viewers, but they thrive online.

If they form a part of your brand's target audience, digital video is not only a no-brainer but an absolute necessity in media plans.

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