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Discovery Plus Is the Most-Seen Brand on TV So Far This Year

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(Image credit: Discovery)

This week at the IAB NewFronts, streaming services and connected TV platforms came together to woo advertising dollars with talk of audience reach and original programming. Though these services compete with traditional TV, they also need traditional TV — to attract new subscribers — even as they also lean heavily on social video promotion to get the word out about their offerings.

Approaches vary by service: For the TV-network-owned “pluses,” it’s a no-brainer to hit traditional TV advertising hard, since they can advertise essentially for free on their own networks. Case in point: Discovery Plus is the No. 1 brand by TV ad impressions and airings so far in 2021, according to iSpot.tv. It’s racked up 44.1 billion TV ad impressions from over 294K ad airings this year — primarily on the Discovery family of networks. Spots highlight the variety of well-known shows that can be found on the service, as well as new originals such as Magnolia Table, featuring Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper fame. It’s worth noting that Discovery Plus isn’t limiting ads to its owned cable networks: It has spent millions advertising Discovery Plus across broadcast networks this year as well. 

On social video, Discovery Plus emphasizes its original content that can’t be found elsewhere, such as Chopped 420, a cannabis-themed spinoff of the Food Network Chopped franchise. A video promoting the series is the most-watched Facebook video from Discovery Plus so far this year, with 377K views, 323K of which occurred within the first three days of being posted, according to Tubular Labs. In March, the platform had 1.4 million unique viewers for its social videos, with 4.2 million minutes watched, according to Tubular Audience Ratings (a cross-platform measurement of YouTube and Facebook). 

Peacock, on the other hand, has a more modest footprint when it comes to TV ad impressions. Its ads have generated 3 billion TV ad impressions this year, on par with Amazon Prime Video. While top TV ad impressions for Peacock come from NBCUniversal-owned networks, it’s also spent on broadcast networks (Fox, ABC) and cable networks (Paramount Network, TBS, Comedy Central). 

The Office, a flagship show Peacock has counted on to attract subscribers, is the focus of its most-seen TV ads, such as this one promoting all nine seasons available for free during a week in March (696.5 million TV ad impressions). The Office is a big part of Peacock’s social video strategy as well, although it’s worth mentioning that, according to Tubular, Peacock’s No. 1 Facebook video by views in 2021 (2.3 million) is a Harry Potter clip featuring Tom Felton. The rest of Peacock’s top 10 Facebook videos by views are either related to The Office or Peacock original The Amber Ruffin Show. Tubular Audience Ratings for March reveal 3.1 million unique viewers for Peacock’s social videos, with 20.7 million minutes watched. 

Amazon Prime Video, meanwhile, takes a similar approach with both traditional TV ads and social video, prioritizing the promotion of original content. While a TV ad for Coming 2 America is the top Amazon Prime Video spot by impressions (648.5 million, per iSpot), on YouTube, the Without Remorse trailer has the platform’s top view count so far this year, 21.9 million, with nearly all views (20.5 million) occurring within the first week of being posted, according to Tubular. Amazon Prime Video racked up 12.5 million unique viewers for its social videos in March, with 27.9 million minutes watched, per Tubular. 

Finally, let’s take a look at two ad-supported platforms that also presented at the NewFronts this week, Tubi and fuboTV

Tubi’s had about 3,500 ad airings on TV so far in 2021 that have generated over 704 million impressions, with the most coming from Fox News and Fox. The top spot by impressions (188.6 million) is a general promo for the service, while the No. 2 ad (111.8 million impressions) is for Lazarus, a Tubi original action/thriller film that debuted in February. 

Tubular’s analytics reveal a slightly different approach on social video: While the top Twitter video from Tubi by views (123K) is a promo for the “Free Like Tubi” giveaway week, many of the other most-viewed videos focus on celebrity talent, such as this one featuring Karlous Miller and this one with Ken Jeong

FuboTV has hit traditional TV hard this year to promote itself, but in a different way than other streamers. It’s racked up over 21,000 ad airings, which have generated nearly 700 million TV ad impressions, mostly from niche sports networks: NHL Network, Big Ten Network and Tennis Network are three of the top five networks by impressions, and NHL hockey games have delivered top impression counts for the brand (19.5 million). 

The messaging from its TV ads is mostly along the lines of why pay for cable TV when you can get what you want at half the price on fuboTV? The service hits the sports aspect harder on social video, and nearly all of the most-watched videos across platforms feature sports, such as fuboTV’s Twitter video promoting the Qatar World Cup Qualifiers, which has generated 11.4K views, per Tubular.