Awards shows such as the Oscars, Emmys and Golden Globes have always been big occasions for the TV and film industries, not to mention the networks that air the ceremonies. The 87th Academy Awards, in 2015, attracted more than 37 million viewers, roughly the equivalent of the population of the state of California, as “Birdman” swooped up the big awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.

Another way to look at awards shows is as the annual retrospectives of the best in traditional TV and film. In recent years, though, content that debuted on Video on Demand platforms, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, has been making inroads. The 73rd Golden Globe Awards in 2016 are a good example here:

  • Amazon picked up two Golden Globes – Best Comedy/Musical Series and Best Actor – for its original show “Mozart in the Jungle.”
  • Netflix walked away with nothing, but it had received eight nominations for its programs, including “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black” and “Narcos.”
  • Together, the two streaming giants – both of them supported by enormous cloud computing infrastructures – landed 13 Golden Globe nominations in the most recent season.
  • Netflix’s haul by itself was higher than any individual broadcast or cable channel or over-the-top (OTT) provider. In 2015, it was still trailing behind HBO, Showtime and FX.

The success of these two OTT services in creating widely watched, award-winning shows has been building for years. If nothing else, their growing number of nominations and awards speaks to the enormous audiences they are building, the convenience of both their VOD delivery systems and user-facing applications, as well as the general competition they are giving linear TV.

VOD, linear TV and changing habits: Awards shows reveal deeper consumer trends

Amazon and Netflix had big hauls at the 73rd Golden Globes.

Amazon and Netflix had big hauls at the 73rd Golden Globes.

The big difference between the 2015 and 2016 Golden Globes for Netflix and Amazon can be explained in part by the ongoing shift away from traditional cable and broadcast TV toward VOD solutions, especially ones offered by OTT providers. The “TV & Media 2015” report from Ericsson ConsumerLab painted a picture of a world in which linear TV – still a huge player at any TV awards ceremony – was still important, but only as one part of an expanding galaxy of VOD content options.

“[A]s many consumers say they watch streamed on-demand video and TV at least once a week, as who watch scheduled linear TV,” stated the report’s authors. “When looking at daily viewing, linear TV is still dominating, while slightly over 50 percent watch streamed on-demand video and TV. These changing habits are linked to the proliferation of connected TV screens, where consumers can easily and conveniently access their on-demand content.”

These findings are more nuanced than the widespread narrative of “cord-cutting,” which holds that people are ditching pay-TV packages en masse in favor of Internet-only viewing. It is true that cable and satellite operators have been shedding subscribers in recent years – for example, DirecTV lost 4 times as many customers in Q2 2015 as it did in the previous year, according to Variety – but the issue as a whole may be overblown.

“There is an expanding galaxy of on-demand options.”

“Cord-shaving,” which refers to ditching huge multi-channel packages for slimmer bundles, may be the trend to watch going forward. These smaller bundles can be supplemented by in-house VOD options from the cable company, which provide access to the latest TV shows and movies. The combined service offering spans both linear TV and VOD, with delivery handled by a hybrid set-top box (STB) with both a QAM tuner and an IP port.

The future of VOD for cable operators

This setup is exactly in line with what the Ericsson data and the recent awards season results suggest are becoming the default viewing habits – some linear TV mixed with some VOD. Moreover, IP-based VOD platforms such as eVUE-TV™ from Evolution Digital are the perfect solutions for cable operators looking to adapt to the changing viewership landscape.

Paired with an IP hybrid, STB eVUE-TV provides the VOD experience that consumers have come to expect. In the future, these strategic, cable-managed VOD platforms that complement linear TV and OTT services should become more popular. A 2015 Fortune article interviewing several cable industry executives sketched out what this trend could look like, with broadband Internet (for Web, OTT, etc.) bundled with specific VOD content. This combination:

  • Offers a broad range of programming.
  • Allows convenient access and use from any device (TV, PC, phone or tablet).
  • Is cost-effective since it does not include a ton of traditional channels.
  • Provides the potential infrastructure for exclusive shows.

Both Netflix and Amazon have plans to dramatically ramp up their original programming on the heels of their successes so far. Cable operators should move to take advantage of the growing consumer appetite for, and critical consensus around, VOD programming through solutions such as eVUE-TV.

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