May 23, 2023
Written by Ethan Mort
Netflix and other early streaming platforms forever changed the way we consume media when it introduced streaming and video on demand in 2007. Sixteen years later, the streaming market has rapidly evolved. Within the last few years, Netflix has seen their dominance of the market wane with the introduction of new competitors in Disney Plus, Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max, Peacock, Apple TV, among other platforms. In the pursuit of gaining new subscribers and highlighting its original and exclusive content on other mediums, streaming platforms have increasingly advertised on broadcast and cable. Looking at streaming platform airings, conclusions can be drawn from each major platform's advertising strategy.
In 2021, AdImpact recorded 2.3M streaming platform airings. In 2022, those airings increased to 2.8M. This growth in advertising signifies that the streaming platform market is both growing, and still competitive as competitors try to out-advertise each other to establish themselves as the primary streaming service of today.
In 2022, the top advertiser was Hulu with 492K airings, and in second place was Disney+ with 419K airings. The two top platforms are connected as Disney owns a majority share of Hulu, and currently has a bundle where you can subscribe to Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN. Recently, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that subscribers to both Disney+ and Hulu could soon access both platforms’ content from one unified app, signifying Disney’s continuing attempts to further consolidate their influence over Hulu.
After Disney+, there’s a slight drop in streaming platform airings until you get into close competition for third, fourth and fifth place between Prime Video, Peacock and Paramount+ TV. Apple TV rounds off this list with 193K airings.
Two major platforms that had lower airings compared to their market size was Netflix and HBO Max. Despite being a major player in the streaming platform wars, Netflix only had 8,500 airings in 2022. This could be because Netflix is one of the longest lasting streaming platforms—thus making Netflix a recognizable brand regardless of advertising. Netflix is also one of the most successful streaming platforms as it has the most subscribers out of any platform at 230M and rising. Additionally, Netflix focused some of their advertising on pushing theatrical releases on some of their original movies. One example was Knives Out: Glass Onion, which saw about 400 airings. HBO Max only had 13K airings, despite having major shows premiering in 2022 such as the Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon, and season two of White Lotus.
Each of the top six advertising streaming platforms have different content, both non-original and original, and thus different advertising strategies. For instance, Disney+ focuses on their heavy hitting media franchises of Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar in their advertising strategy. This is understandable considering Star Wars and Marvel are the sixth and eighth most profitable media franchises in history. By dedicating so many airings to these franchises, Disney+ wants to be known as the exclusive one-stop shop streaming platform for Star Wars and Marvel media. Breaking down Disney’s airings by franchise, they released at least 39K airings for Marvel media in 2022. An overwhelming majority of these airings focused on Marvel’s shows released in 2022, there were 21K airings for Moon Knight, 9K for Ms. Marvel, and 7K for She Hulk. Disney+ also released ads for when Marvel movies were made available on the platform. Last year, The Eternals, Thor Love and Thunder and Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, were all released on the platform. For Star Wars, there were 27K airings advertising the new shows in the universe. There were at least 14K for Kenobi, 7K about the Book of Boba Fett, and 6K for Andor.
Other platforms focus their airings on showcasing various shows or movies at once. For instance, Prime Video’s most aired ad in 2022 was this one showcasing the platform's content ranging from NFL games, to the Boys, to Rings of Power. Speaking of Rings of Power, the Lord of the Rings based show was Prime Video’s most advertised show in 2022. Another example of a platform utilizing showcase ads is Paramount+. Paramount+’s most aired ads detail “Paramount Mountain”, a fictional mountain in which characters you can only find on the platform such as SpongeBob, Captain Picard, and others reside.
Hulu, Disney+, and Prime Video combined nearly have the same number of airings as all other streaming platforms. These three largest platforms focus on the largest media markets, except Hulu, which had a larger than usual focus on the Minot/Bismarck market in 2022.
This Year in Advertising
So far, AdImpact has tracked 971K streaming platform airings this year. This is slightly lower than the 1.2M airings tracked at this point in 2022 (1/1/2022-5/23/2022). Like 2022, Hulu is the top advertiser among streaming platforms. One change from 2022 is that Paramount+ and Peacock are the second and third highest advertising streaming platforms, and are outpacing their airings they had in 2022 at this point. This suggests that Paramount+ and Peacock could be doing a larger advertising push this year than last year.
Despite not advertising enough to be in the top six platforms in terms of airings, HBO Max has had a big start to the year. The Last of Us has been an incredible hit for HBO. The apocalyptic show has attracted a cumulative audience of 30.4M, HBO’s second largest audience since Game of Thrones’ final season. The show’s success has been reflected with HBO Max’s advertising strategy, with the Last of Us being their most advertised show so far this year. There has been at least 4K airings for the Last of Us, with at least three different unique ads tracked for the hit show. One HBO Max showcase ad even highlights the Last of Us before House of the Dragon. Two HBO Max shows in their final season have also seen airings behind them. Succession has seen at least 1K airings and Barry has 380 airings.
The platform has also been highlighting the start of the women’s US Soccer Team matches. Turner Media (HBO Max's parent company) entered an 8-year deal with US Soccer for the national teams' matches to be shown on HBO Max. This deal is part of a trend of streaming platforms entering deals with national sport organizations to bring live sporting events to their platforms. In 2021, Amazon Prime secured an 11-year deal with the NFL, whereby paying $1B a year, Amazon Prime Video has exclusive airing rights to Thursday Night Football. Additionally, Apple TV and the MLB signed a seven-year deal allowing Apple TV to exclusively stream Friday night baseball, and Paramount+ signed a $1.5B deal for six years that allows Paramount to continue the UEFA Champions League matches to be streamed on Paramount+
More recently, HBO Max has focused their airings on the rebranding of their platform from HBO Max to Max. The platform has four different unique ads promoting the rebranding. These ads announce the rebranding coming May 23rd, and highlight the content you can find on the platform. These ads have aired a cumulative 9,000 times.
Hulu has dedicated a majority of their airings so far this year to highlighting their original content. For instance, they have put out at least 20K airings for their original documentary “Pretty Baby” and at least 10K airings for “History of the World: Part II”. Additionally, Hulu has released ads highlighting its Hulu Plus Live TV bundle, where you can watch live TV, Disney Plus, and ESPN Plus.
Peacock has so far put a heavy emphasis on their original shows that came out this year. Poker Face has seen at least 30K airings behind it, Holy Grail has 15K airings, and American Auto has at least 7K airings. Peacock has also released airings about movies coming on the platform. One such example of this is a Puss in Boots: The Last Wish ad released in Spanish with at least 5K airings.
Amazon Prime Video
For the first time since 2021, Prime and HBO Max subscribers can now watch their favorite HBO shows on Prime Video app, if users have a subscription to both. Prime Video has focused their advertising strategy in 2023 on this development as the platform’s most aired ad is one highlighting that with both subscriptions a user could watch HBO’s House of the Dragon, and Prime Video’s Rings of Power on the Prime app. Additionally, in celebration of Women’s History Month, Amazon Prime’s third most aired ad highlighted its prominent actresses across its exclusive shows.
Disney+’s most advertised show of 2023 so far has been the Mandolorian, a Star Wars show. There has been over 17K airings tracked for the new season. Additionally, their most advertised movie release on the platform has been Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Disney+’s continues to focus on Marvel and Star Wars, but also their musical documentaries. In 2021, Disney+ released their Beatles documentary, and this year their Bono documentary, which had 7K airings.
Paramount has been focusing on four different strategies in their advertising in 2023 so far. Firstly, their most aired ads have been focusing on their original shows Mayor of Kingstown and Picard. Secondly, this year Paramount+ has been advertising a new deal reached last Summer where Walmart+ subscribers get access to Paramount+ for free. The platform’s third most aired type of ad has been the return of their “Paramount Mountain” style ad showcasing all the original and non-original content Paramount+ has to offer. Then Paramount+ has also focused their advertising on being the home of recently released blockbuster movies. One such of these movies being Top Gun Maverick’s landing on the platform, in which Paramount+ has released at least 10K airings in advertising.
Apple TV’s advertising strategy in 2023 seems to be based off the success of Ted Lasso. While the new season of Ted Lasso has at least 700 airings so far in the year, Shrinking, a show created by the same executive producer of Ted Lasso, has 5K airings. Shrinking is featured most throughout Apple TV’s airings, with nearly every ad mentioning the Ted Lasso connection. While this year’s top shows have mostly been action packed thrillers in the Last of Us and the Mandolorian, Apple TV seems to be bucking that trend by so prominently featuring two of their comedies. Apple TV’s focus on comedies is most clear with their most aired ad of the year so far highlighting “the best comedies of the year” being on Apple TV. Alongside this, Apple TV has also advertised their original films releasing this year. Tetris has at least 3,000 airings so far, and Ghosted also has 3,000 airings.
A version of this article originally appeared on Advanced Television on May 3, 2023
Interested in reading more analysis utilizing our airings data? Check out our fast food ad analysis blog.