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Your Guide to Winning at CTV Poker

January 20, 2021

CTV is the hottest table in town and you want to raise your stakes. But before you ante up, make sure you know the players and how they play. Read below for a guide to what’s hot among CTV viewers right now.

Content Is the Royal Flush

It’s an obvious strategy but a winning one: the streaming provider with the best “stuff” wins, and these days Netflix is the undisputed World Series of CTV Poker champion. The streaming platform began the year winning all the housebound, early pandemic eyeballs with Tiger King, continued its hot streak through the fall with Queen’s Gambit and ended with the knockout success of Bridgerton. Meanwhile, HBOMax is emerging late as competitor in the Water Cooler Conversation Finals with The Undoing and The Flight Attendant. Disney+ wins the hand with The Mandalorian but needs more new content to keep the victory wave going in future rounds (which they have recently announced).

“Am I the only one that got on The Queen’s Gambit train this late? I’ve heard a lot of buzz about it but I stick to my usual suspects… the dramedies and tear jerker shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, This is Us, A Million Little Things etc. But what a gem this show is, so intriguing! I’m hooked.” – CTV Only Viewer

Experience Is an Ace in the Hole

As COVID-19 continues its ravaging, viewers are continually reevaluating risk vs. reward when it comes to movie theaters and live events. There is increasing interest in at-home first run movies, even from the movie theater devotee (Bring Your Own Popcorn). We’re also seeing the pandemic open up more in-home experience-based content opportunities – for Broadway and live theatre, music concerts and festivals, museums, and travel. CTV viewers are saying, “Hey, I realized I like movies at home and Hamilton was awesome – what else might I also like to do in the comfort of my home I’d never thought of before? What if a content platform could bring me into the places I cannot (or am unwilling to) go?” To seal the “experience” deal, CTV viewers urge content platforms to make the “events” even more immersive, so consumers don’t feel they are losing aspects of what makes out-of-home adventures so special – add VR and AI elements, emphasize surround sound, partner in swag giveaways with Sonos, Sony, Secretlab or other brands changing the in-home experience game.

“It would be great to see theatrical productions.  Disney did Hamilton.  Live theater has been done for years on Public Broadcasting, and I have always found the live performances to be extremely entertaining.  And as we are still unable to gather, it would be great to see concert events, even the weekend festivals as a package.  And as we are all basically under house arrest, resurrect the travel shows.  Take us on a tour of famous locations and maybe educate us a bit in the process.” – CTV and Linear TV Viewer

Go All in on Social for CTV

The virtual water cooler exists; it’s just not being effectively and deliberately filled by content producers or streaming services directly. CTV viewers will take you and your content viral, but they need an assist from you: give them the ability to build and share playlists, create memes from personalized, interactive show content for viral sharing, facilitate online watch parties, and create “pods” of subscribers on a shared account or collection of connected accounts. Meanwhile, viewers currently don’t see a reason to follow the social media accounts of their favorite shows or platforms. You can give them a reason to by introducing new content there (see: Sex and the City reboot, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Instagram), insider information, clips/teasers, bloopers, behind-the-scenes content, and engaging celebs to help facilitate a community of fans on your pages (guest hosts, Instagram Lives, Cameo videos, etc).

“I think I would definitely be more inclined to view a TV show’s social media page if it had things such as bloopers or first takes that never made it to screen and just general outtakes that were never seen before.” – CTV and Linear TV Viewer

Bait and Switch Is a Cooler

For many CTV viewers, Amazon Prime stumbles as consumers think they’re getting amazing content included with their Prime subscription…only to find…wait, I still have to pay for that movie or TV show? Same happens on platforms with subscription tiers like Peacock – viewers sign up with great hope and excitement only to find they haven’t paid enough to get the latest season or all seasons of the particular show that brought them there. Ultimately this lack of clarity over what’s free, what’s included and what’s premium has viewers leaving providers quickly, with a bad taste in their mouths.

“Dear Peacock, I was really excited to have you enter the market because it would give me a chance to revisit the original Law & Order. I was disappointed to find out it was on the paid tier, but that was OK until I found out it wasn’t the full run of the series but the later seasons. So, Peacock is still on the Roku as a free service, but it’ll be a while until I pay for it.” – CTV Viewer

Nostalgia and Game Shows Are a Pocket Pair

In a time of upheaval with lots of fear and uncertainty – and with families huddled together, many multi-generationally – there is a significant rise in desire for the shows of a simpler time and easier mood. Old school TV shows and classic movies can be hard to find on streaming services, but viewers enjoy revisiting content they remember from growing up and many want to introduce their kids to it while the family is together. Similarly, for many viewers, TV drama content can be grueling on already taxed brains, reality TV is fake, and comedies are hit or miss, so simple game shows with transparent wins and losses and people having fun are drawing more eyes. Longstanding game shows like Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right still sing, and revivals of vintage game shows are very popular because there’s no trickery, no pain and suffering, and a simple conclusion with victory for the average Joe – all themes that resonate right now. Of the new players in the game show game, The Chase seems to be doing the best job of combining all of these elements into a winning hand.

“I have the best memories of watching Jeopardy with my grandma. My favorite game show is The Price is Right! Totally a transparent win for the contestants where some of the other shows seem a bit ‘shady.’” – CTV and Linear TV Viewer

For more insights like these, and to sit on the virtual couch next to our Voices on Demand CTV viewers and ask them your questions, contact us below!

Voices on Demand is Big Village’s always-on online community offering CTV viewer insight on advertising, products, and services—complete with surveys, image annotations, heatmaps, and screen recordings—as well as rich audience understanding through video and photo diaries, guided storytelling and digital collaging. Through behavioral data tracking of this diverse audience, our clients also receive robust glimpses into their audience’s browser history, content consumption and purchase data.


Written by Jennifer Adams, SVP, Digital Hives and Laura Zweig, Manager, Digital Hives at Big Village Insights.