For the Love of Comedy…

Based on the growing number of comedy streams across 7Park Data’s multi-million global user panel, we expect the appeal for comedy to grow

Centuries ago, the birth of comedy took place in an open air theater on a raised stage, with a set of actors wearing outrageous costumes. In Ancient Greece these performances generated laughter, often at the expense of the government figures of their day. Does this picture sound at all familiar? Today our political institutions are routinely married to our institutions of laughter– across TV, film, even the “news.”

Right now it’s not just about content, it’s about funny content. Considering today’s social and political climate, the demand for an entertainment escape is certainly elevated. Whether political laughs or otherwise, we’re seeing a reinvigorated zest for comedy TV on both Hulu and Netflix. Based on 7Park Data’s multi-million global streaming panel, we expect the growing appeal for comedy to continue. The result — an opportunity for over-the-top (OTT) stakeholders to capitalize on the trend both in the United States and globally.

In the United States and Canada, comedy accounts for one in five TV streams. Based on 7Park Data’s TV Intelligence reporting of actual streams, the numbers are only rising. During August-October 2016, U.S. comedy streams grew double digits over the past year, +46% and +55% on Hulu and Netflix, respectively.

Overseas the story is still evolving. Across much of the globe drama is actually the most-streamed TV genre, with comedy in second place. Argentina and Venezuela stand out as countries with relatively lower rates of comedy streams. In the United Kingdom, a country with its own brand of humor, comedy is nearly on par with drama — the impact of Brexit notwithstanding — the demand for comedy is growing, up 54% in the United Kingdom (August-October 2016), compared to a year ago.

Even in countries where viewers stream drama most often, comedy streams are on the rise. Year-over-year comedy streams in Germany grew 231% during August-October 2016, +201% in Venezuela, +151% in Colombia, +169% in France, just to name a few. Making up a significant share of titles available to stream, American TV comedy programs lead the charts globally. That said, when it comes to humor, or overall TV preferences for that matter, cultural differences play a decisive role in viewer behavior. Global expansion is a key dynamic right now, and original series have an opportunity to cultivate loyalty in different markets by weaving in local culture references, casting local actors, and otherwise connecting to local viewers.

Stateside, one of the reasons why comedy is gaining dominance in online streaming is a recent shortage of comedy at the box office: only one of the 10 top grossing theatrical films (4th quarter 2016 to date) was a comedy (according to Box Office Mojo). Some potential theatre goers are getting their fix from Hulu, Amazon, or Netflix.

Hulu, in many ways, is at the center of this comedy dynamic, as each week the service brings new episodes of broadcast TV to streaming viewers. In 7Park Data’s latest OTT Viewership report we focused on the Hulu service and analyzed in-season streaming of current broadcast TV. With shorter duration, comedy shows like South Park, Family Guy, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, enjoy significant ‘run along’ viewing.

We often speak about streaming’s impact on TV, but sometimes the story is reversed. Shows that pull in a large broadcast audience, often capturing an ‘event feel’, gobble up viewers and lower the demand for streams (case in point: Saturday Night Live). Around the presidential elections, SNL saw notable TV ratings coupled with elevated video clip views and significant buzz. The result was lower-than-expected streaming that week on Hulu.

In the past, the use of online streaming data over TV ratings may have been the tail-wagging-the-dog, but today understanding what actually happens on the streaming services means revenue growth for licensors, content creators, streaming services and beyond. And current demand for comedies translates to opportunities across the video ecosystem.

Check out 7Park Data’s TV Intelligence, if you’d like to gain a comprehensive view of how viewers across the world consume content in a new era of viewing technology and identify strengths of different players in any given addressable market — individual shows, platforms and devices, or studios – with highly granular data.

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