Media brands are leveraging content catalogs and driving ad revenue with linear channels

While many media companies and advertisers have narrowed their focus to streaming and video on demand, there is still significant audience demand for linear television’s lean-back experience.

Despite claims that linear channels are dying, audiences still crave more passive media consumption. According to Nielsen, broadcast and cable combined for 50.9% of all U.S. TV usage in February 2024. Streaming, including Pluto TV, Tubi, and the Roku Channel, captured a share of 37.7%. These FAST platforms stream their programming linearly and are gaining traction with audiences and advertisers.

With this in mind, media companies and publishers with extensive content catalogs are turning to linear channels through their own sites and apps to drive audience engagement and create new revenue streams.

“A great portion of audiences really like the experience of someone setting a lineup of content, like a linear channel, so that they can consume show after show,” said Marty Roberts, senior vice president, product strategy and marketing at Brightcove. “It’s a really nice way of driving engagement. And as we drive that engagement, we extend our watching time with our audience members, creating new monetization opportunities for advertising.”

Hidden gems in a publisher’s catalog serve as the foundation for linear channels

For media companies, a video service — particularly a linear channel — makes existing video content more accessible and engaging for customers.

“The ecosystem started with FAST channels, but we’ve found it equally valuable for customers with owned-and-operated websites and apps to offer linear channels as well,” Roberts said. “This ticks three boxes: better utilization of back catalogs, better engagement by audience members and new monetization opportunities.”

Media companies and publishers may not need as much content as they may expect to fuel a linear channel. 

To make the most of their available content, companies can curate and create linear channels with several hours of video, repeating a content playlist on a loop to reach different audiences throughout the day. Another option is to launch a linear channel for primetime viewing rather than running it 24/7. 

Given the fragmented nature of television, companies can choose to distribute their channels through owned-and-operated websites and apps, including those on smart TVs. 

“Understanding where your audience is, when they’re tuning in and what kind of devices they’re leveraging is key,” Roberts said.

Engaged linear audiences are unlocking monetization opportunities for media companies

Media companies that already have video-on-demand (VOD) content in storage only need to pay for the bandwidth per linear stream, per Roberts. However, with the monetization opportunities in play for these channels, it’s a net positive for media companies.

A robust video platform such as Brightcove supports different monetization and distribution models for linear channels, including advertising and subscription-supported channels. Some organizations may opt for both, requiring users to sign in if they don’t want to see advertisements. 

According to Roberts, this is a boon to media companies playing with linear. CPM rates are generally higher for video content, mainly when publishers use server-side ad insertion.

“We’re injecting ads dynamically throughout the program at the right cue points, which advertisers appreciate because this avoids ad blockers and reaches a more engaged audience watching linear channels,” Roberts said. “That’s valued more by advertisers, so these channels tend to monetize nicely for our customers. When you look at the associated costs against a revenue opportunity, it’s a simple ROI for our customers to figure out.”

How Harness Racing Victoria reached younger audiences with TrotsVision

Media companies of all sizes are finding success with linear channels. In one example, Australia’s Harness Racing Victoria partnered with Brightcove to use video to grow its audience and drive revenue.

Globally, harness racing has struggled in part due to the aging demographic of its fans. 

This has created a ripple effect, leading to less demand for racing and hurting the sport’s ability to remain relevant and attract audiences and advertisers. 

Harness Racing Victoria partnered with Brightcove to relaunch its streaming platform, TrotsVision. Available to watch on the organization’s owned-and-operated website, TrotsVision has become an always-on touchpoint for fans. Content includes race replays and videos featuring the harness drivers.

Since partnering with Brightcove, TrotsVision has grown from 54,894 views in August 2021 to 83,292 in January 2022. Additionally, TrotsVision has helped Harness Racing Victoria grow its 18-35-year-old audience by 250%. That demographic is now outpacing all other age segments for growth, while the overall audience grew by 76% over the same period.

The success of Harness Racing Victoria shows how linear remains valuable for companies looking to maximize their catalogs and engage with audiences seeking lean-back experiences.

“When we think about linear channels, we start with how we want to engage audience members more and then how we want to help our customers monetize their content better than anyone else,” Roberts said. “As media companies get more reach and engagement, they need to scale up their monetization. As they get more monetization, they want more reach and engagement. And that becomes a virtuous circle for our customers.”

Sponsored by Brightcove

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