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Future of TV Briefing: The ad-supported streaming war officially kicks off in 2021

Digiday 13 Jan 2021 05:01
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TV upfront
January 13, 2021 by Tim Peterson

Over the past year or so, Netflix has faced its greatest competition yet among subscription-based streamers in the forms of Disney+ and HBO Max.

Now it is Hulu’s turn.

As Netflix has done in the ad-free streaming space, Hulu has dominated the ad-supported streaming landscape for years. It continues to do so. But in 2021 it will get more competition from other streamers that will offer advertisers TV-quality programming and audiences unlikely to tune into traditional TV. In other words, the streaming war is finally starting on the ad-supported side of the market. “This is the year,” said one agency executive.

NBCUniversal’s Peacock is operating at close to full strength, having rolled out nationally last summer and closed a distribution deal with Roku in the fall, though it is not yet available on Amazon’s connected TV platform. Meanwhile, Discovery debuted its direct-to-consumer streaming service Discovery+ on Jan. 4, and ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia are slated to follow suit later this year with Paramount+ and HBO Max’s ad-supported tier, respectively.

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