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Original Content Surges Ahead on OTT—Where’s Traditional TV?

May 9th, 2017   ||    by Callie Wheeler   ||    No Comments

Unless you’re living off the grid, original content isn’t something you’ve just heard about—it’s also something you consume as a viewer. Over-the-top (OTT) content providers like Netflix and Hulu are starting to win viewers over, but this shift isn’t just about convenience, or viewers who are cutting the cord from linear television in droves. Increasingly, it’s the content available on the platforms that’s attracting audiences, rather than the platforms themselves. And traditional TV networks should be paying attention.

What’s Trending Now?

Just look at a recent story from the Los Angeles Times, which reports that Apple is in the early stages of content development, with two television shows coming out this year. TechCrunch also revealed that Spotify is creating original podcasts, suggesting content is king regardless of medium. The popularity of original television shows and movies has been building for years, with forerunners Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon paving the way with their early successes.

Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things, and House of Cards are just a handful of the popular original television shows the media company has created. Just how popular is this original content? Wired points to it as the driving factor behind the company’s 56 percent increase in annual revenue in 2016. Meanwhile, Amazon is finding critical success with its own original shows, including Golden Globe winner Mozart in the Jungle and Emmy winner Transparent. And most recently, Hulu is generating buzz with its new series The Handmaid’s Tale.

TV, Take Note

Why does this matter for television? A recent Business Insider report reveals traditional television viewing is down anywhere from 19 to 29 percent from 2012 among the 18–49 age group. The report also points out that the number of original shows on traditional TV went down for the first time in 2016. Rather than paring down their original offerings, traditional TV providers—both broadcast and cable—need to embrace creative, bold original content to keep up with alternative mediums.

Broadcast and cable can look to OTT providers’ successes, as well as recent movie hits for inspiration. Just as OTT services like Netflix and Hulu have been continuing seasons of canceled series and building on popular remakes, broadcast can find ways to inject new perspectives into television classics. In addition, traditional TV can take inspiration from Hollywood hits like Get Out, which IndieWire reports is now the highest grossing debut from an original screenplay. Clearly, tapping new talent—or finding new ways to apply known talent—is proving successful.

If you’re in the TV business, don’t believe the lie that traditional television is becoming irrelevant—instead, focus on creating quality original content. If you create it, the viewers will come.

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