Study: Culturally-relevant content big draw

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As traditional cable and satellite providers struggle to retain customers in the highly competitive and increasingly fragmented streaming media ecosystem, Black audiences—loyal cable and satellite customers—are increasingly opting to cut the cord, a new Horowitz study finds.

Though Black households were shedding cable at a slower rate as compared to the overall market, the Horowitz data show that over the past four years, MVPD penetration among Black households has declined from 88 per cent in 2017 to 61 per cent in 2021—a 25 per cent decrease. Among Black consumers who are cord-cutters, half have cut the cord within the past 3 years.

In 2018, 69 per cent of Black households were ‘content omnivores’, a term Horowitz coined in 2017 to describe those households who are the hungriest for content and therefore pay for traditional MVPD services as well using a variety of streaming services in order to access all the content they want. In this year’s study, only one in three (33 per cent) Black households are content omnivores; almost four in 10 rely on combinations of streaming services, digital antennas, and/or vMVPD services to access their TV content (one in four rely only on traditional MVPD services and do not stream at all).

Not surprisingly, income and age play an important role in platform choices. Black households with lower incomes are less likely to subscribe to traditional MVPDs, and 80 per cent of Black cord-cutters believe that they are saving at least a decent amount after having done so. Older Black TV content viewers are more likely to subscribe to MVPD services (65 per cent among those 50+) and to use antennas (28 per cent among those 50+) than younger Black TV content viewers (57 per cent and 12 per cent each, respectively).

Despite shedding the MVPD cord, there is still interest in many of the features of the multichannel experience. For example, 64 per cent of Black TV content viewers say that they enjoy flipping through channels, and the study finds that Black TV content viewers still highly value live television, local broadcast news, national news, and sports content—the mainstays of traditional providers.

Culturally-relevant content is also in high demand among Black audiences, with 60 per cent of Black consumers watching content geared to Black audiences at least weekly. These data suggest that providers that can deliver the best variety of ultra-current local, national, and international content that reflects contemporary Black perspectives and culture, combined with robust on-demand offerings, will be the best positioned to attract this valuable audience.

“Horowitz has long asserted that Black consumers are some of the best customers for entertainment content and services; these are audiences who should not be taken for granted,” notes Adriana Waterston, Horowitz’s Chief Revenue Officer and Insights & Strategy Lead. “Many companies are late to the game, only now focusing on the Black audience in the context of BLM and new diversity mandates. To not be viewed as simply pandering, companies who hope to serve the Black audience must make meaningful and sustained investments, not just in programming and marketing, but in community outreach and support, in order to earn this valuable audience’s trust.”


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