Report: Netflix, Disney+ Lead in Streaming Recognition, Understanding; HBO Max, FASTs Trail Behind
Let’s be honest, even the most seasoned of cord-cutters can have their eyes crossed when trying to sort through all of the different streaming services and remembering which one does what and who has which content. This can be a major problem for services as the landscape gets increasingly crowded with both subscription video on demand (SVOD) and free ad-supported television (FAST) services continuing to pop up on a semi-regular basis.
On Tuesday, Hub Entertainment Research released their annual “Evolution of Video Branding” study, which “tracks awareness, familiarity, and understanding of top brands in the TV marketplace,” and the results indicate that there is a fairly substantial gulf between the streamers that have and have not been able to communicate a coherent story as to who they are and what they do.
One of the main takeaways from the survey is how well Disney+ has done at establishing its brand identity since launching in November 2019. While perhaps part of that specific, family-friendly reputation comes from being under the larger Disney umbrella, the streamer has certainly steered into that identity during its early years.
However, in recent weeks, it appears that CEO Bob Chapek is interested in disrupting his own streaming platform’s well-established image. From bringing on more adult-themed Marvel content complete with additional parental controls to introducing an ad-supported tier, these are steps that seem counterintuitive to the way that Disney+ has presented itself since launch.
Will these relatively dramatic shifts in philosophy upset the brand identity that they have established thus far in their fairly early streaming life? Time will tell.
Interestingly, Disney+’s sports-focused sister service ESPN+ comes in second on the list in terms of being associated with a specific genre. The third arm of the Disney Bundle, Hulu, is lower down on the list.
Amongst the big five streamers — Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, and Prime Video, Hulu comes in with the highest association with a single genre amongst respondents who felt that each brand had a specific genre focus. Roughly 78% of people felt that “Drama” is Hulu’s brand, likely buoyed by their “FX on Hulu” partnership with the cable network that became part of the Disney family during the Fox acquisition.
HBO Max was in second place with 68% of people believing that their brand revolved around being the streaming home for movies that had originally been released in theatres; this was also Prime Video’s leading genre amongst respondents with 63% associating drama with the Amazon streamer.
Netflix at 67% for drama and Disney+ at 66% for kids’ programming rounded out the No. 1 spots across the top five platforms.
While each of the platforms has virtually perfect name recognition, Americans have a more difficult time describing what makes each of the brands unique. It is no surprise that as the longest established major streaming service on the market, Netflix has a sizeable advantage (80%) in terms of confidence that people have in describing what sets it apart, but with Prime Video, Disney+, and Hulu bunched together 11-15 percentage points behind, HBO Max is trailing significantly at just 58%.
While the streamer hasn’t done much to establish a brand identity in the nearly two years since launching, that might actually end up being of benefit for them as they will apparently undergo a dramatic reinvention once the WarnerMedia and Discovery merger becomes official.
HBO Max and discovery+ will initially be bundled and then eventually merged into a single service. Undoubtedly the addition of all of the home renovation, cake decorating, and paranormal hunting shows from the Discovery family of networks will likely change the image of the streamer yet again.
The newer and more niche streaming platforms struggled much more when it comes to consumers being able to describe what they do. While they still enjoy substantial name recognition, Peacock — at just 51% — is the only one from the second tier of SVOD providers that a majority of people felt confident in describing. Paramount+, discovery+, Apple TV+, ESPN+, and amc+ ranged from 49% confidence to just 34%.
While the familiarity and understanding of the vast majority of SVOD services remain relatively high, the same cannot be said for their free, ad-supported brethren. Thanks to the strength of their licensed operating system, the Roku Channel has a very impressive 90% name recognition, but even having the most well-known name in FASTs doesn’t lead to a majority of respondents being able to explain the service.
Only 45% of the people that were surveyed felt confident in describing what the Roku Channel is, and that number decreased significantly when discussing other ad-supported services like [Tubi TV], Pluto TV, IMDb TV, Crackle, and XUMO.
As the landscape for streaming services continues to get more and more crowded, the ability for platforms to clearly communicate to consumers what makes them special and unique will give them a substantial competitive advantage. The ones that are able to break through the congestion and establish why their content is a must-have will be the ones left standing when the streaming wars are eventually won; the others will be the unfortunate casualties of brand and message mismanagement.