The Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon, has claimed the Iron Throne. Accruing HBO’s largest single-day viewership for a series debut, the show’s success is, in part, the result of a streamer-first approach that spans tech integration, custom content and advertising in and outside of the living room.
It’s clear that fans remain hungry to revisit Westeros three years after Game of Thrones wrapped. The TV streaming landscape, however, is starkly (no pun intended) different than it was in 2019. HBO Max didn’t exist, traditional TV was still a valuable distribution strategy — though already in sharp decline — and the consumer rush to streaming was more nascent.
Today, marketing strategies and eyeballs have migrated en masse to TV streaming, which continues to widen its gap over linear. With more than 800,000 titles available on streaming services, streamers have more choice than ever before. For streamers, this “hunt” for their next great watch is exciting but equally overwhelming. As a result, they’re craving help – more personalization, more interactivity, and more discovery touchpoints.
Gone are the days of linear TV’s spots-and-dots approach with the occasional “sponsored by” content integration. Even with TV streaming’s stronger audience targeting and measurement capabilities, it’s not enough to rely on banner or video ads. To embrace TV’s biggest moments, streamers need to experience content in ways that help them feel part of the story and become fans. Streaming platforms like Roku make these multi-pronged approaches possible.
In this next phase of the streaming decade, marketers must answer the call, taking control of the largest creative canvas to deliver a better TV tentpole experience for everyone – both brands and streamers alike.
Here are three ways entertainment marketers can deliver a better TV tentpole experience:
The marketplace is increasingly fragmented. More services mean more UIs to navigate and more content to sift through. Forty percent of Roku users don’t know what to watch next, and 30% don’t know which service has specific shows or movies. Reduce their pain points and accelerate decision-making by understanding the streamer’s journey.
Surrounding the streamer ensures your content breaks through the clutter and creates buzz. It’s also an opportunity to become the streamer’s trusted partner, offering curated content and advising them on what’s worth watching.
TV streaming tentpoles are released in a few ways – binge, episodic, or a hybrid of the two – but they’re largely marketed the same. To extend a title’s shelf life and maximize value, marketers should lean on strategies that cater to specific audience behaviors.
For example, episodically-released titles see sign-up spikes near premiere and finale weeks, proving viewers engage in binge behavior whether a service offers it or not. In fact, 35% of Roku users say they prefer to wait until a series’ season is over to watch it all at once.
To make these behaviors work in their favor, marketers should connect with streamers across four touchpoints.
Unlike linear, TV streaming allows streamers to seamlessly jump into a show halfway through its run. For marketers, this means it’s never too late to advertise and convert a streamer into a fan.
Go beyond the traditional :30 ad spot and make it easy for streamers to deep dive on content directly through their core streaming platform. To reignite long-standing fans and create new ones, HBO Max tapped Roku to build an exclusive fan experience accessed via a custom House of the Dragon tab in Roku’s home screen menu, hosting trailers, behind-the-scenes extras content, sweepstakes, and a fan special produced by Roku Brand Studio. The fan special, bespoke 20-minute streaming show titled Roku Rundown, recapped Game of Thrones’ eight-season, introduced new characters and plotlines, and provided a boots-on-the-ground look at HBO Max’s Comic-Con activation, along with taped conversations with fans dressed in cosplay and interviews with House of the Dragon cast members.
When purchasing Roku devices in-store, streamers were met with custom signage, branding, and information on how to watch the show and enter the sweepstakes, fueling engagement with the franchise long before device setup.
Providing a one-stop hub means viewers are spending less time searching for content that intrigues them. “Streamers value marketing of what content is new and popular, both on and off-platform,” says Adam Bates, Director of User Experience Research at Roku. “When it feels native to their streaming experience it’s not viewed as intrusive, but rather as an educational resource for what’s relevant or compelling.” Brands have an opportunity to win streamer favorability and loyalty by creating experiences unique to TV streaming.
In sum, to deliver a better TV tentpole experience, marketers must adopt a streamer-first – and streaming-first – mentality. Today’s consumers are served several hundred ads a day, and brands adhering to the status quo won’t stand out. Those that own the streamer’s journey, offering a streaming-first solution with their behaviors and pain points in mind, will.
Attending Advertising Week in person or virtually? Check out Roku’s session, “Inside Fandom: Launching ‘House of the Dragon’” on Thursday, October 20th at 11:15 AM to learn more and be sure to see Roku’s full agenda.