OTT's Bet On Influencer Marketing To Boost Viewership

Archana Mishra
Content Manager
November 10, 2022
min read
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Streaming service Amazon Prime Studios, in 2020, when promoting a romantic drama film – Chemical Hearts — partnered with TikTok stars Chris Olsen and Ian Paget. Without mentioning the film's name in the video, the two creators showed a moment of despair and grief between them. They created a lip-synced video to depict a scene from the film.

They did all of this to build a trend so that non-influencers are a part of it using hashtags. The biggest streaming giant, Netflix, also partnered with TikTok star Sienna Mae Gomez for their show – Selena: The series, which chronicled the life of the late pop star Selena Quintanilla.

Streaming platforms are now widely using influencer marketing. So much so that they run shows with influencers in them — a recent example is Dubai Blings featuring Safa Siddiqui, a social media influencer and a fashion designer in UAE. The list of shows promoted through influencer marketing can be pretty long. 

In the last two years, OTT platforms have shifted their budget to content creators to create small videos promoting their shows. They are seen as filmmakers who can create short yet engaging videos resonating with the target audience. Eventually, which leads to conversions as people will know more about the new shows they have heard about. 

We give you more insight into how these streaming platforms have run influencer campaigns in the past. 

Why are OTT platforms using influencers to promote their shows? 

The number of people watching streaming content has dramatically increased during the past two years. This year has been the turning point in the rise of streaming's supremacy, while the number of minutes watched on linear TV reached a new low. Nearly 34.8% of consumer attention was given to streaming, compared to 34.4% for traditional cable TV, according to Nielsen research published in 2022. This change in higher viewership can be ascribed to traditional TV's lack of new programs and decreased sports coverage.

According to data, Netflix had an 8% share of the streaming audience, followed by YouTube with 7.3%, Hulu with 3.6%, Prime Video with 3%, Disney + with 1.8%, and HBO Max with 1%. Other streaming providers contribute to the remaining 10.2%. Stranger Things on Netflix appears to have contributed to the high numbers by attracting 18 billion monthly viewing minutes.

Following the shift in viewership, OTTs are considering increasing their streaming usage. And for that, these platforms are employing influencer marketing to advertise their most anticipated shows. Influencer marketing gives the audience a genuine feeling unless it's overly promotional, like other forms of advertising and product promotion. 

Let's look at the influencer strategies that various OTT platforms have used to promote their programs, start a new trend, and boost viewership.

How different OTT channels are using Influencer Marketing

1. Netflix

Netflix, in a true sense, leveraged influencer marketing to increase viewing. It does multiple things with influencers, such as conducting review videos, reaction videos, music videos, tutorials, and guest shows. You might have come across such campaigns during the release of Stranger Things. In India, the show collaborated with influencers Ayush Mehra and Yashaaswani R Dayama, Dhruv Rather, Ashish Chanchlani and Rohan Joshi, and Tanmay Bhatt to create hype about the show by doing review videos and recommending their followers to watch it. 

Last year, Blood and Water on Netflix became a number-one series in 30 countries. The South African show had no Hollywood A-listers to market or advertise it. So, they hired an agency to have an influencer-led approach to boost authentic engagement and build anticipation. Similarly, Cobra Kai, a popular Netflix series, ran an influencer marketing campaign with ten influencers. The campaign achieved 2.8 million views. Their hashtag #CobraKaiChop became quite popular among Gen Zs.

TikTok star Damien Doyle Jr. promoted the #CobraKaiChop trend.
TikTok star Damien Doyle Jr. promoted the #CobraKaiChop trend. (Image Source: TikTok)

In Southeast Asia, too, Netflix has been partnering with influencers to promote the global virtual fan event - "Netflix Tudum: Go behind the streams" event. Netflix invited influencers to experience the office, receive welcome gifts, and experience a Netflix-show-themed party. Aimee Cheng-Bradshaw, a British-Singapore fashion model and television personality, posted a quick video with a music background on her Instagram profile showcasing the different Netflix themes such as Squid Game, Stranger Things, Emily in Paris, and Alice in Borderland.

Check out the video Netflix posted on Facebook: Aimee Cheng-Bradshaw promoting Alice in Borderland

2. Hulu

By introducing its Hulu Sellouts campaign, Hulu offered a novel perspective on influencer marketing. To advertise Hulu's live sports streaming, it used prominent players like NBA standout Joel Embiid. The influencers were outspoken about the campaign's primary fundraising goal. Hulu utilized hashtags including #ad, #paid, #alot, #sponsored, #hulupaidme, #neversellout, and #hulusellouts to highlight the campaign's central theme of transparency.

The platform ran the  “Hulu Sellouts” campaign with the theme highlighting that the influencers endorsing its platform are receiving a hefty sum for their efforts. Hulu has executed other campaigns with influencer Andi Dorfman to promote its show Casual. In its Better Ruins Everything campaign, it has also worked with other celebrity influencers, Joe Manganiello, Sofia Vergara, Sarah Silverman, and Samira Wiley.

3. Disney+ 

Disney+ launched an influencer campaign in the UK to launch Frozen II. They worked with parenting influencers to create content for Instagram a few days before the launch. The campaign's objective was to promote the OTTs app, increase the sign-ups to the online streaming service and raise awareness about the blockbusters. Disney+ partnered with parenting influencers and shared the unboxing of the Frozen-themed boxes sent to them and their children. These influencers shared the swipe-up links to the Disney+ sign-up page. Influencers also took part in a Frozen II watch-a-long. 

To promote their 2020 film SOUL, Disney + engaged influencers from music, dance, arts, and sports. Each of these influencers had to participate in a video and explain their journey to discover life's passion and what that passion represents. And they asked the same question with their audience, too. Data shows the campaigns earned ten times the number of views compared to other brand videos.

4. HBO Max

HBO Max ran HBO’s premium unboxing experience for its fantasy- and sci-fi-themed show “The Nevers.” Following the protagonist role, the show gifted a kit called “Penance’s Curiosities + Cocktail Compendium,” targeted at the influencers and superfans most likely to curate social posts while interacting with the kit’s content. The kit contained a Victorian-inspired china set with tea accouterments, an electromagnetic “Hoverbulb,” and a puzzle to engage its target audience.

Penance’s Curiosities + Cocktail Compendium.
Penance’s Curiosities + Cocktail Compendium. (Image Source:  AdAge) 

The platform also used influencer marketing efforts for The Undoing series, which was released in 2020. There were five different events to raise awareness and entice viewers to tune in, including an ambassador program, early screenings, a premiere party, and a collaboration with a podcaster.

Entertainment influencers were chosen and given a unique sneak-peek screener to watch before the debut to heighten anticipation. Influencers from the premier party industry, including a mixologist, chef, DIY expert, photographer, and fashionista, demonstrated how to create a red-carpet atmosphere at home. There were 26 content creators whose posts generated 4.2M impressions on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Danni Rose for The Undoing.  (Image Source: Instagram) 

5. Amazon Prime Studios 

To drive conversation and awareness around the series - Hunters - featuring Al Pacino, the OTT platform ran an influencer campaign at three levels - trailer promotion, a consumer screening, and an after-party in Los Angeles. Mega influencers like Mari Takahashi (Smosh) and Phil DeFranco, who promoted the trailer to their followers of gaming and tech enthusiasts through original Twitter content and IGTV reaction videos, served as the campaign's launchers for the trailer. 

A few micro-influencers attended a Hunters screening and after-party in Los Angeles. They posted entertaining content from the themed event, which featured '70s actors and props and unique photo ops at the historic Highland Park Bowling Alley, to their audience of 18- to 34-year-olds who love entertainment. These creators published more material after the event to increase viewing throughout the launch weekend. At least 153 pieces of content received 5.61 million impressions with the assistance of 24 influencers.

Twitch Streamer Elspeth Eastman used Twitch to talk about  Hunters. (Image Source: Twitter)
Twitch Streamer Elspeth Eastman used Twitch to talk about  Hunters. (Image Source: Twitter)

Similarly, the channel gifted a box to chosen influencers to advertise the film - Borat. Each box contained a mask, a monokini, a bodysuit that said "naked," the customary grey, oversized Borat outfit, and a costume and wig for Borat's daughter. Ten influencers posted the unboxing to Instagram to promote the show in their unique ways. Others used their dress-up experience to entice people to watch the movie, while some just enacted a clothes transition sequence.

Amazon organized a lavish weekend in Mexico to engage influencers in June 2022. They were participants in Amazon's influencer program, where they promote the retailer's goods on social media.

Influencers work as unofficial marketers for Amazon's online store, generating most of the company's income. You are a content producer who uses social media to share suggestions with your audience as a part of the Amazon Influencer Program. Apply to the Amazon Associates Program if you are a media company or brand and wish to direct visitors to Amazon.

 6. CBS All Access

CBS started influencer marketing in 2014 to promote its all-access subscription service. CBS looked at offering perks or rewards to influencers who manage to get their friends or followers to join the service. ViacomCBS collaborated with Kraft Mac & Cheese and PAW Patrol, Nickelodeon's wildly popular preschool series, to leverage its cross-portfolio influence. It was a branded content series hosted on Nick Jr.'s YouTube channel and featured influencer talent.

In addition to driving brand loyalty and buy intent for Kraft Mac & Cheese, this multi-episode content series, including PAW Patrol-themed activities, encouraged parents to turn mealtime into a time for learning and play. Additionally, it assisted them in developing television shows that would appeal to the vast audience of subscribers to the Nick Jr. The campaign was effective because the team leveraged several social media platforms, produced compelling content, and emphasized building long-term relationships with clients more than achieving a single objective.

Summing It Up

In the last two years, streaming services spent more than $890 million across TV, digital, and print advertising in 2020, ad-analytics platform MediaRadar estimated. That included a 147% year-over-year rise in digital and TV ad spending. 

The rise of OTT allows brands to promote their products and services through these shows streaming on these platforms. Small OTT platforms can also include entertainment and lifestyle influencers to promote their shows, and even brands can do the same. Use to find entertainment influencers who can drive brand awareness and conversations around your brand. 

Check our lists of top ranking entertainment influencers

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