Hulu Insight: Streaming Isn’t Solitary – Why OTT Audience Measurement is Mission Critical

When the broadcast networks first started streaming full TV episodes it was in the PC-only environment of 2006, and it changed the TV landscape forever.  Shows like ABC’s “Lost” and NBC’s “Heroes” were available to watch for free online.  For viewers, it meant they could watch at their own convenience.  For networks, it helped keep audiences engaged in the current cycle of the linear ecosystem. And for marketers, it provided a one-to-one connection with consumers and the opportunity for interactivity within premium content.

In the years that followed, mobile emerged as a video viewing platform, combining portability with personalization.  Then the iPad was released in 2010 and the tablet was poised to become the first screen for the connected consumer … until something interesting happened.  The pendulum swung and technology emerged to allow viewers to watch untethered video on the screen plugged into the wall in their living rooms:  the oversized, HD-enabled TV set.  Streaming video came to the best available screen in the home, and viewers shifted in droves.

By 2014, just over half of Hulu viewing was on a TV set, and nearly a third was on PCs.  Today, we’re seeing three quarters of Hulu viewing via connected devices in living rooms, while PCs have, for the first time, dropped into the single digits at 9%.  It is not exactly a revelation that people want to watch TV shows on a TV set, but the transformation is significant in terms of the audience and measurement implications it presents.

Television is a medium for shared experiences:  families and friends have gathered together in their living rooms for decades, and that’s proven no different for shows that are streamed and binged on demand.  In fact, it’s easier to gather and watch on your own time.  Research from Hulu indicates that 2 out of 3 of our viewers watch with someone else at least once per week, and 1 in 5 do so daily.  59% watch with a partner or spouse, 31% with children, another 30% with friends or other family members.  We also know that our viewers are more likely to choose Hulu over regular TV when they are relaxing with loved ones (58% vs 29%) or when they gather with family (47% vs 38%).

We know that people watch Hulu together, but until recently, the mechanism has not existed to explicitly measure those audiences. Therefore, an ad impression – the opportunity for a commercial to be seen – has been counted in the same way as traditional digital models (ie: PC and mobile):  by the screen.  But with viewers overwhelmingly gathering in living rooms, it is mission critical to accurately measure those eyeballs.  First, to enable more holistic, consistent measurement across platforms and second, to provide better insight for advertisers on the total reach, frequency and efficacy of their streaming campaigns.

To that end, last year Hulu announced a partnership with Nielsen to create a solution and extend Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) to the living room.  Through this solution, we can now we can now get complete measurement of viewership to streaming campaigns across all connected devices – all verified by a trusted 3rd-party source.  Nielsen’s methodology tags, collects, and calibrates the data, leveraging Hulu’s robust 1st-party subscriber data and other 3rd-party sources as the foundation for measurement. This solution represents a sea change in the way that digital streaming has traditionally been measured and a giant leap forward in the pursuit of holistic cross-platform audience validation.

The proliferation of digital full episode players brought with it implications for audiences and marketers alike.  And with TV viewing via connected devices emerging as the mode of choice, it’s time the industry followed suit:  disrupt the current model and adopt measurement and validation to the evolved TV viewing landscape.

By Julie Detraglia, Vice President and Head of Advertising Sales Research, Hulu

Andy_69_C3100_HEP_9x15_648x1080px
Andy-Goldberg
ANDY GOLDBERG
SVP, Global Brand Planning & Content
American Express
The first ad I remember:
Fruit Loops with Toucan Sam
My favorite TV show of all time:
Impossible to name just one but Friday Night Lights is on the all-time list.
I’m here to:
Connect with others on the potential of streaming … how things are changing so rapidly and how brands can be at the forefront of amazing content.

Q: What does native frame rate mean?

A: Native frame rate refers to the frame rate the source footage was shot. Whenever possible, we require all videos to be delivered in their native frame rate. This means that no frame rate conversion should be performed, which includes adding 3:2 pulldown for broadcast.

Stress mark should be marked with [capitals] to indicate the primary stressed syllable, as in: news・pa・per [NOOZ-pey-per] in・for・ma・tion [in-fer-MEY-shuhn]

On living room, mobile, and tablet devices, the color gradient overlay is dynamic and will change based on the cover story art. It is not something we can control on our end.

If the tagline/date messaging doesn’t fit within the 11 syllables max, it can be included as text.

On living room, mobile, and tablet devices, the color gradient overlay is dynamic and will change based on the cover story art. It is not something we can control on our end.

  • No symbols such as registered marks, copyrights, etc.
  • If symbols are required, they will be presented in standard text such as" Brand (TM)".

Q: When is letterboxing allowed and not allowed?

A: When the native aspect ratio is 1.78:1 or 1.33:1 throughout the entire program, there should not be any letterboxing (black bars on top and bottom), nor should there be any pillarboxing (black bars on either side). We should should see an active picture take up the full frame. If the aspect ratio is wider than 1.78:1, such as 2.35:1, matting on the top and bottom is permissible. Additionally, if there is a creative choice to add matting or if there is a mix of native aspect ratios, this is usually waived, but please reach out to your Hulu representative to confirm.

Q: Should the bitrate be constant if delivering ProRes codec?
A: No, since ProRes codec is built to be variable, this is waived.

Q: Can you accept bitrate higher than 30 Mbps?
A: Yes, we can accept bitrate beyond the recommended range for H.264 and ProRes. In the case of ProRes, bitrate will often exceed 30 Mbps due to its variable setting.

Q: Why do you ask for progressive?

A: The Hulu player, unlike traditional broadcast, does not play back interlace scan, so we require that all videos be delivered with their scan type set to progressive. If your video is natively interlaced, you must de-interlace it to progressive and you must employ a de-interlace filter that does not result in blending or ghosting artifacts. We recommend an auto-adaptive de-interlace if available.

Alex_48_C3100_HEP_9x15_648x1080px
Alex-Lopez
ALEX LOPEZ
Head of Global Brand Communications & Narrative
Nike
The first ad I remember:
Mike & Spike (Air Jordan)
My favorite TV show of all time:
Sports, The Simpsons, The Sopranos, or anything else that starts with “S”.
I’m here to:
Get inspired, build some knowledge, and have some laughs along the way.

Q: Why do you prefer PCM codec?

A: PCM codec is lossless audio quality, so whenever possible, please deliver PCM audio.

Play Video

Q&A With
Gadi Amit

Founder, New Deal Design

Gadi: The development of serendipity in recommendations is very important. An analogy I use is that of a restaurant. If you go to a good restaurant, you don’t always want to see what you’re looking for. You’re looking for surprises. It’s not the expected, it’s the unexpected. You trust in the restaurant’s atmosphere. You don’t know exactly what you’re getting, but you trust their creativity and that you’ll enjoy whatever they serve you.

Do you think it is possible for a streaming service to become that “restaurant” - a trusted source of serendipitous recommendations?

Gadi: I absolutely do. But it is difficult. It’s a long game. It requires them to build trustworthiness with audiences through genuine content recommendations over the years.

Q&A With
Gandi Amit

Found New Deal Design

Gandi: The development of serendipity in recommendations is very important. An analogy I use is that of a restaurant. If you go to a good restaurant, you don’t always want to see what you’re looking for. You’re looking for surprises. It’s not the expected, it’s the unexpected. You trust in the restaurant’s atmosphere. You don’t know exactly what you’re getting, but you trust their creativity and that you’ll enjoy whatever they serve you.

Do you think it is possible for a streaming service to become that “restaurant” -- a trusted source of serendipitous recommendations?

Gandi: I absolutely do. But it is difficult. It’s a long game. It requires them to build trustworthiness with audiences through genuine content recommendations over the years.

Q&A With
Jonathan Miranda

Emerging Strategy Principal, Salesforce

Another expectation among younger generations seems to be personalization. How are you seeing this play out in media?

Jonathan: If you go into the world of advertising and marketing, customized, personalized advertising is more important than ever before. There’s a realization that eight years of funny commercials that we’ve showed everybody probably for the fourth time, doesn’t work anymore. So there’s a lot of companies moving towards specialized advertising.

How does this type of personalization translate to personalizing content beyond advertising? Who’s going to predict what people will want to watch, and do it first?

Jonathan: It’s not about being the first to predict what people want to watch. It's different. It’s about getting viewers to browse. You want to show them the value of all of the money Hulu has spent and the great range of TV and film for them to choose from.

Q&A With
Julie DeTragila

Head of Research & Insights, Hulu

Julie: There are vast differences between the way under 35-year-olds watch TV and over 35-year-olds watch TV. I grew up in a world where there were maybe 10 channels, and my viewing changed as technology and options changed. Younger viewers started from a really different place. Everything has always been on-demand. Anything they ever wanted to see was available to them, and they therefore have different expectations for TV.

How so?

Julie: One of the things we found with Gen Z is that they really want to be immersed in something for a long time. They want to have content that they can live with for a while; it’s like this long, seamless storytelling. They’ll knock off a couple episodes a night and it will last a couple of months. And then they’ll re-watch it a million times over.

What other shifts have you seen happen-with Gen Z but also more broadly-with the rise of streaming?

Julie: For years, television had to deliver a specific rating. Shows had to appeal broadly or else they wouldn’t survive. And those days are long gone because, with streaming services, shows can reach hundreds of thousands of people or tens of thousands of people and still be considered successful. There’s more experimentation with the types of content; we’re not locked into an hour, a half hour, a comedy, etc. The industry can create really niche shows to appeal to niche audiences, but also simultaneously create big, broad experiences that are shared by millions.

Q&A With
Larissa May

Founder, #HalftheStory

Your work focuses a lot on Gen Zs who, for better or worse, are dubbed “digital natives.” How do you think a generation of digitally native audiences view digital content differently than older generations?

Larissa: I think for young people digital content is a way they’re able to explore their own identities through the story... They want to see themselves and their stories in the content that they’re engaging with.

Tell us a little more about this digital content as Gen Z’s form of self-reflection.

Larissa: Digital content is sort of like a currency. I find that young people want to watch things that their friends are watching so that they can have conversations about it. For example, with Euphoria, young people were just kind of in love with the characters. It was very timely and a bit provocative, and then there was a way that they could see themselves in these stories and connect with their friends about the topics and ideas in the show.

And then also they could almost embody these characters in their own life. I really do think that the TV shows that young people are buying into are actually influencing their culture and their trends and even their language that they’re using.

Q&A With
Richard Frankel​

Global Creative Director, Spotify

What does the future of personalization look like?

Richard: I think it’s all down to trust. We're going to see more opportunity on platforms like Hulu and Spotify where the user trusts us.

That’s really interesting. Another area we wanted to explore is podcasts, and their relationship to video. For example, the show Homecoming is an adaptation of a podcast; the podcast Office Ladies is a spin-off from a TV show. Why do you think the two formats work so well together?

Richard: Anything at all that drives conversation in pop culture, and TV does a lot of that, is worthy of consideration in a podcast environment. Any of these conversations can become multiple audio streams that evolve with experts, interviews, and all kinds of narrative threads that can flesh out characters, or narrative development, or whatever's happening in those shows.

The use of Graphik is acceptable in cases where the Client cannot supply their own typeface.