Curated hubs increasingly key for content discovery

The era of streaming continues on a track of fragmentation, and recent Horowitz Research found consumers are increasingly looking to curated content hubs to sift through the extensive programming options. 

Within streaming services, content hubs are collections of shows and films specifically curated into categories that may be based on genre, popularity, release date, or watch history; but they may also be organized by cultural relevance, such as sections highlighting Black voices and stories, or language — like Roku’s Spanish language hub

Horowitz’s latest research, The Full State of Media, Entertainment, and Tech Volume II: Viewing Behaviors 2023, found 8 in 10 streamers use these hubs “at least occasionally.”

Culturally relevant content collections also continue to resonate strongly, according to the report. Horowitz found 80% of Black streamers reported using Black content collections or hubs at least occasionally, 65% of Asian streamers used Asian collections, and 59% of Latinx streamers reported using Latinx hubs. And the use of these hubs is even higher in Asian and Latinx communities that are less acculturated, rising to 77% and 78% respectively — further indicating languages' influence on using this method of finding content.

“There's always going to be a healthy market for [content],” Adriana Waterston, CRO and Insights & Strategy Lead at Horowitz Research told StreamTV Insider. But making it discoverable is “what these hubs and collections are solving.”

Horowitz has been invested in media entertainment research and insight since the mid-'80s, and Waterston explained that they found one pattern early on that has continued to be true: multicultural audiences lead the way.

“Multicultural audiences, especially Black and Latinx audiences, were what we coined to be the ‘content omnivores’,” she said. “They were the most hungry for content, the most willing to pay, the ones who most valued entertainment content.” She added that these factors mixed with the diversity of content in which they were interested led Horowitz to “an understanding that multicultural audiences were the best audiences for this emerging world of cable, broadband and now streaming.”

The firm started its multicultural division in the 1990s, and over three decades later, Waterston said the industry is still struggling to embrace that long-known truth. “We're so tired of driving the same message home.”

While she sees that streaming companies are beginning to “recognize the power” of these curated hubs in engaging multicultural audiences, Waterston said services need to keep them up year-round and highlight them more during single spotlight months — acknowledging the drive that multicultural audiences have historically played and continue to play in the streaming industry.

“[These] collections and hubs, which are professionally curated content targeted to these different audiences, are becoming increasingly relevant as it becomes more and more difficult for consumers to sort of organically find that content,” she noted.

Still, the larger industry move needed to make sure niche content isn’t “being squeezed out,” according to Waterston, will be consolidating multiple streaming services’ content into one provider.

Horowitz’s report found that “a majority of TV content viewers (61%) would be likely to switch to one provider to bundle all their streaming services if this were available to them,” a finding affirmed by other consumer research conducted by Aluma Insight. Waterston explained that this inclination will only continue as the already crowded streaming-app marketplace becomes even more jam-packed.

“That's what consumers want. I think that's where the industry is headed. And to me, it's up in the air who's going to be the winner in that game,” she said. 

Even with pervasive tech giants like Amazon, Waterston “wouldn’t discount the MVPDs — the Comcasts and the Charters in the world.” The report found that the dominant preference for a bundled provider was in fact with an internet provider or MVPD (42%) — with Amazon charting in second but far behind with only 8%. “People are used to paying them for these kinds of packages of services.”