How Gamification, TikTok, and Niche Content Are Changing OTT

With the rise of TikTok and even premium content companies like Netflix embracing gamification, interactive media and gaming are on the ascent in streaming video. Chris Pfaff of Chris Pfaff Tech Media leads a discussion about this topic at Streaming Media West 2022 with 47 Games Inc. Founder & CEO Ben Hoyt and Eric Smith, US Head of Verticals, Gaming, Auto, Tech & Entertainment, Roku.

Pfaff begins the talk by noting that the industry has entered relatively uncharted territory with the swift rise of gamification in the metaverse space. He asks Hoyt, “How do you see interactive gaming – and gaming in general – playing in this broader streaming OTT space?”

Hoyt notes his long career in interactive content development, the ways he has seen interactive trends develop, and the insights he has gleaned from his professional experiences. “The thing that I really started to believe about 12 years ago, during the stint that I spent at Paramount Pictures, was that all of these different formats become irrelevant to the audience,” he says. “They're excited and passionate about an IP, and what we've seen over the course of the last decade is that IPs…have begun to sort of have extensions in every format that users interact with."

From Hoyt’s point of view, what general audiences mostly care about is where they can go to find exciting content. “Obviously, it's natural then to find companies like Netflix, which have their own IPs that have big, passionate followings, beginning to branch out from the traditional formats they may be known for,” he says. For Netflix, which has always been known primarily for streaming video, he says that it is only natural that they would begin to have extensions and games that must be coordinated across their company.

“I think you nailed it,” Pfaff says. “One of the things that I see happening in this ‘Silicon Beach Hollywood scene’ is a much greater…’one-to-one,’ or at least finding a strong vertical. It could be a niche. I think Kevin Hart, who literally has cloned himself, he is everywhere! He is our de facto pitchman, and we bow to him. But Hartbeat, and as an extension of that, Laugh Out Loud Network, is Kevin's world. It's his thing, and people will follow that. And I think Netflix…they've really captured a bit of that zeitgeist too…recognizing what people want to watch.”

Pfaff observes that, in general, younger audiences are leading the way toward new trends in streaming consumption, especially with the proliferation of short-form content on platforms such as TikTok, which he says has “become something like a verb now.” He asks Roku’s Eric Smith, “Do you have meetings where people are presenting ideas to Roku and advertising for TikTok-like extensions?”

Smith first agrees with Hoyt’s insight that IPs are now “cross-media,” and users are primarily concerned about where they can find the content they want more than anything else. He then says to Pfaff, “I think advertisers, to your question, are trying to figure out how to find those consumers wherever they may be, and so trying to understand the ways in which Roku can be a part of that in conjunction with these other platforms [that] are social or mobile extensions, for sure. We definitely have conversations with people about that. I think in terms of the one-to-one connection, that's where being at Roku, with logged-in identity and sort of a one-to-one connection with consumers via the television screen…the biggest screen in the home is really an advantage for us in those conversations and really a way in which we can differentiate. We can be a true partner in terms of helping people find the audiences they're looking for.”

Learn more about gamification and interactivity in OTT at Streaming Media East 2023.

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