These Are the New Pandemic TV Personalities

Emergence of consumer preferences

Did you know brand recall increases when viewers see an ad on TV AND streaming? Download "A Practical Playbook for Multiscreen TV" to learn more.

The pandemic altered the way we think, act and feel about virtually everything, including a pretty seismic shift in how we like to be entertained. The types of screens fans watched started to shift in ways that might not boomerang to the “Before Times” in quite the way we first anticipated.

Now, the media and entertainment industry is in a shuffle. Everyone from studios to content creators to entertainment providers wants to understand how consumer preferences are changing, and how the industry can innovate to meet viewers’ evolving mindsets.

Who are the new “pandemic personas” of entertainment viewing? Let’s explore what these characters might look like, and why the streaming TV industry needs to not only be aware of them, but also cater to them, as it prepares for what’s next.

Background Bob

He’s always on multiple screens and never likes to be without the stimulation of sound and motion, even if it’s just sort of audio and video wallpaper. He’ll have cable news, sports or music videos playing during his workday or at mealtime. He might not be able to sleep without having a vintage film flickering in the bedroom. 

Lean Back Larry

Lean Back Larry is … not exactly lazy. He’s just nonchalant, noncommittal. He’s content to lean back and watch whatever is on the screen at the moment. He doesn’t want to search too hard. He expects his streaming TV service to understand his preferences without putting in the work himself. He seeks engaging content that appeals specifically to his interests and passions.

Lean In Lucy

Lean in Lucy is on her game. She knows what she wants and actively searches for channels, shows and TV programming that will fit her specific interests. She’s the one likely to plan ahead to actively tune in and host a coordinated watch party of the soon-to-debut seasons of Selling Sunset with her friend group. She may even rewatch the earlier seasons to get herself pumped and excited ahead of the premiere date.

Surfer Suzy

Surfer Suzy knows that she has options out there. She wants to explore, to understand the full gamut of channel choices available. But she also expects it to not take half an hour of mindless scrolling before she lands on something that piques her interest. She’s a busy woman, after all—and if she’s taking the time to invest in a streaming TV service, the service should be investing in her and her interests.

Passive Pete

Passive Pete is an explorer, but unlike Surfer Suzy, he spends more time getting lost in the exploration rather than watching the content. He might park in front of the TV and sit there passively flipping through seemingly endless content options for hours at a time. He’s a bit noncommittal, and he’s in this for the long haul, but with no real end game in sight.

So, what does this all mean?

Streaming TV options have become almost overwhelming and somewhat confusing. The pandemic accelerated a streaming boom that was already in motion, but lockdown forced viewers unexpectedly indoors for a long stretch.

Now, more than one year later, as we start to begin to slowly emerge from our homes and resume some sense of normalcy, many of us are reconsidering multiple choices we’ve made over the past year. That includes our streaming TV subscriptions. With so much choice and sharpened viewing habits, it’s time for the entertainment industry to dial in to these specific viewer personas and their needs, and cater to them through new and engaging ways.

Perhaps this looks like streaming TV providers upping the stakes to create content in which audiences can interact with the shows they’re watching directly. We saw a nascent form of this with Netflix’s Black Mirror, in which viewers were encouraged to “choose their own path” to a finale. Perhaps we will see free, ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) services continue to surge. According to a recent TiVo report, the average American viewer currently uses about seven different streaming services, and 79% of those respondents said that they would rather use free, ad-supported streaming TV than subscribe to another paid service. Perhaps even we will see more nontraditional brands take advantage of streaming TV as a way to reach new audiences; imagine if there were truly a channel for every interest.

Gone are the days of mindless, endless clicking wear and tear. The viewer is officially back in the driver’s seat.