Streamers continue to compete for Black content to attract viewers
Carol Ozemhoya| OW Contributor | 7/11/2018, 10:11 a.m.
Our Weekly has recently written about how the major firms streaming content – Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Apple, etc. – are on a mission to lock down the major Black producers of urban content. That includes Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee, Jordan Peele, Ava Devornay, Shonda Rhimes and more. Today, renowned business magazine Forbes issued a report that says Netflix seems to be winning the battle for the coveted 18-34 demo of viewers, and that ascent is being driven by Black content. U.S. consumers are using Netflix to watch video content more than any other platform according to a recent Cowen Insights report. The survey is highlighted by the importance of Netflix in the home, particularly among Millennials. Cowen found 39 percent of survey respondents age 18-34 uses Netflix most often to view video content on their TVs. This number far outpaces YouTube at 17 percent. Basic cable came in at 13 percent and Amazon Prime Video received a little more than 3 percent of the action. With Netflix making a big push into Black content, its lead over competitors is likely to grow. Looking at traditional TV viewership, Nielsen shows that have a predominantly Black cast or the main storyline focused on a Black character are drawing substantial non-Black viewership. “Storylines with a strong Black character or identity are crossing cultural boundaries to grab diverse audiences and start conversations,” said Andrew McCaskill, senior vice president of Communications and Multicultural Marketing at Nielsen. CultureBanx found that streaming services which have a much broader reach than traditional TV have a lot to gain by betting on Black content. Netflix already has 125 million members globally and plans to invest nearly $8 billion in original content this year. Shares for the company are up more than 105 percent year to date. It’s not just YouTube faltering under the weight of Netflix’s massive reach when it comes to viewers. For people who had never used cable and those who had dropped their cable subscriptions, Netflix still came in second place with 24 percent, just under basic cable at 26 percent. Netflix is amping up its push to put out content for younger Black audiences, which is exactly the demographic Cowen sees it having a strong connection to. Netflix is rolling out shows or specials with strong Black leads such as Kevin Hart, Zendaya and Rashida Jones. While Netflix is leading the race, Google has very deep pockets and could easily outpace its top competitor in this space. Netflix may also need to keep an eye on tech giant Apple, since it just inked a deal with media mogul Oprah Winfrey. This is a sure fire way for the tech company to increase its output of Black content. Apple has also stated it's willing to invest up to $1 billion in original content this year. Cowen estimates Netflix released a near-record high of 452 hours of U.S. original programming, which represents a 51 percent year over year increase. Look out to see how the focus on Black content and Millennials impacts its second quarter earnings when Netflix reports on July 16.