When Hulu launched in 2008, the promise of getting TV anywhere, anytime, on any device, was considered radical. Cut to today, and streaming is now considered the primary way the world watches, as 90% of Americans 13-to-54 stream video content. Hulu understands the continuous behavioral shifts in content consumption, which is why they launched “Generation Stream.” More than just a study on an influential cohort of viewers, Generation Stream is Hulu’s commitment to deeply understanding the power and impact of the streaming movement, and the next generation of TV viewers.
We caught up with Hulu’s Head of Research & Insights, Julie DeTraglia, on Hulu’s Generation Stream initiative and what it means for the Streaming TV industry:
Tell us about the Generation Stream initiative – what was the driving force behind it?
Hulu has been a leader in the Streaming TV space since the inception of the company over a dozen years ago, and virtually all the work we’ve done has been to understand streaming behaviors, motivations and attitudes. But, the landscape is changing so rapidly that we wanted to more deeply explore the streaming audience behind these changes. What we quickly realized is that streaming isn’t relegated to just younger people, although they do watch television differently. Streaming has changed TV consumption for everyone, and it will continue to do so as television evolves.
Can you take us through the methodology? How did this study ultimately come to life?
Hulu partnered with Culture Co-Op, a research provider with expertise in generational, societal and trend research. We started by sharing information and studies, to identify commonalities and themes. Culture Co-Op then conducted in-depth interviews of culture setters, people they identified that are experts in creating and consuming streaming content. They also spoke to top industry experts at companies such as Salesforce and Spotify. All of that information was then developed into a survey of 2,500 respondents aged 13-54 on their own personal streaming behaviors.
How does Hulu plan to share these findings with the industry?
Hulu has been sharing the findings over the last few months, releasing a chapter just about once a month on our Generation Stream hub. Thus far, we have covered The Streaming Experiences, The TV Multiverse and Streams of Consciousness. We have a few more chapters to go, but our plans are to further explore this audience with additional work.
How does Hulu plan to use these findings to impact their decision making?
At Hulu we put the viewer first, so the more we understand about our customers and prospects, the better. All the learnings from Generation Stream will deepen our knowledge on streaming and inform how to better connect with this audience through content and advertising.
In your Advertising Week New York session, you spoke about one of your upcoming Generation Stream reports called MoodTube, can you explain a bit about this section and how it relates to viewing behavior?
Deciding what to watch isn’t just about hitting play. There are deliberate cues that go into those decisions. For streaming, the mood is one prevalent guidepost for viewing decisions. We identified that there are 8 moods (ex. gratuitous, relaxed, social, etc.) that can inform viewing decisions.
You also spoke about looking into attention in advertisements among viewers. What is the correlation between attention and the Generation Stream audience?
As mentioned, there are a lot of cues and components that ultimately impact viewing decisions. When a viewer sits down to watch in a Streaming TV environment, they are viewing purposefully and making active choices. They are not passively flipping through a scheduled set of programs and channels. When viewers leverage choice and control, they ultimately pay more attention to the content and more importantly, to the advertisements. This is regardless of the time of day or length of the viewing session. In fact, longer viewing sessions, including binge sessions, yield higher attention throughout.
As the streaming landscape continues to evolve, what do you think publishers/streaming services should think about in order to stand out with this audience? Are there any misconceptions with Generation Stream viewers?
We learned from other research Hulu has conducted that there are four key buckets that make up the consideration set that arises when viewers think about getting a streaming service: content, experience, value and connection. Streaming services need to ensure they meet these needs in order to be considered for viewers to convert into subscribers. Content needs to be timely and new, but also timeless, the viewing experience needs to be reliable and convenient, viewers want to feel the value in the product and they want a true connection with each other, the content and the brand.
The biggest misconception with Generation Stream is that all streamers are young and that older viewers stream less. It is actually the older generations who are currently consuming/adopting streaming services the fastest.
What’s next for Hulu’s research team? Is there an area of the streaming audience you hope to learn more about?
Hulu is going to continue to explore Generation Stream and how their behaviors impact our platform. One focus will be to continue innovating our advertising experience, as we are constantly using our data and research to create advertising and ad products that resonate with this audience. It also needs to be commensurate with the viewing experience that Streaming TV provides – one of choice and control. There is a much higher expectation with Generation Stream when it comes to ads, as they need to be relevant and personalized.
Research like this guides Hulu in partnering with advertisers to understand how to best connect with this coveted audience. It’s the most important thing we can do right now. There are plenty of options available to consumers to avoid advertisements, but we believe in preserving this ecosystem and are keenly aware of the need to innovate and evolve to keep the audience engaged.