Cynopsis Year in Review & 2022 Forecast



Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read


Wednesday December 15, 2021

Media Matters: The Trends That Defined 2021 – And What’s Ahead For 2022

We head into 2022 with economic recovery beginning, but Covid concerns remaining. From e-commerce to streaming to the metaverse to the collapse of the cookie, what trends defined the past year – and what’s ahead? How should companies adapt to changing viewer and consumer behavior? Industry leaders weigh in how to best take advantage of the latest opportunities.


“This past year has shown us that even in the face of a global pandemic, the Golden Age of television is as strong as ever and shows no signs of slowing down. Next year will be all about the fans. With audiences having so much power of choice – not only about what to watch, but also where and how to watch – brands will be focused on what that fan experiences feels like and how to optimize it whether that be by measurement, engagement or innovation.” – Frances Berwick, Chairman, Entertainment Networks, NBCUniversal Television & Streaming

“Going back to 2020, when the pandemic first occurred, consumers were spending more time at home and shifted more of their viewing to streaming services. That trend continued in 2021 as streaming services invested more in content and marketing and new services launched, like our own discovery+. At the same time, demand for linear television remained strong as advertisers believed in its power to deliver high impact and reach. The combination of the firm demand for linear and the fact that many streaming services do not offer ads, resulted in an upfront market that had unexpectedly high price increases. We have positioned our ad supported streaming and linear platforms as being complementary, and I think this year’s unprecedented upfront proved that to be true.” – Jon Steinlauf, Chief U.S. Advertising Sales Officer, Discovery Inc.

“The introduction of a global lockdown gave entertainment, cable and streaming brands a prime opportunity to push new, exciting and valuable content in front of media-hungry consumers. However, as more consumers get vaccinated and pick up out-of-home activities again, we may see them begin to divert their attention away from the screen, pushing us into what some are calling the ‘attention recession.’ To further compete for both attention and market share, brands need to re-imagine the content, the technology and the distribution channels, making sure to meet consumers where they are. And at a time when gaming has captured more of Gen Z’s attention than TV, it’s clear what once may have worked really well, simply won’t do the trick anymore.” – Chris Beer, Trends Manager, GWI

“2021 Year in Review represents what Gen Z has been obsessing over – especially traditional entertainment and online streaming as a form of escapism. Minecraft streamers were huge, with the Dream SMP and its members making a whopping 1/3 of the top 21 topics this year. Marvel TV shows were also trending – MCU actors took 50% of the Top 10 on the Celebs list! We also saw nostalgia for older films/shows – ‘Dead Poets Society’ jumped 27 spots to land in the Top 10 Movies. In 2022 we’ll see new trends, but we’ll also be tracking if these themes stick or if engagement reverts back to what rose in popularity during 2020, given recent Covid news.” – Cates Holderness, Trend Expert, Tumblr

“One of the biggest trends impacting every business is the growth of the Latino market. Today one in four Americans under 35 is Latino. Brands that don’t engage with Hispanic audiences are not future proofing their business. The other defining trend is the growth of streaming among Latinos. They are super streamers, and 8 out of 10 have an SVOD subscription. We launched Telemundo Streaming Studios with 35 projects in development and kicked off a new Hispanic Streaming unit to supercharge the growth of Latinos on Peacock. In 2022 again, we’ll continue to drive growth across digital offerings.” – Ronald Day, President, Entertainment and Content Strategy, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises


“2022 is all about freedom, mobility and convenience. Our consumers simply want premium content for free anywhere and everywhere – and this paradigm will not change anytime soon. Allen Media Group is one thousand percent dedicated to free streaming platforms, because the global marketplace has an insatiable appetite for free quality content.” – Byron Allen, Founder/Chairman/CEO of Allen Media Group/ Entertainment Studios

“We will continue to witness the globalization, and diversification, of content. With that, we will see niche communities of like-minded audiences flourish. With so many different genres and types of content becoming available on streaming TV platforms, there is becoming truly a channel for everyone. We will also likely see more original content premiering on FAST platforms – whether that be a show, a documentary, or even a movie.” – Navdeep Saini, Co-founder and CEO, DistroScale, parent company of DistroTV

“In 2022 video streaming providers will leave behind the COVID scramble of launching services quickly and building market share; they will shift to a new phase of optimizing infrastructures to sharpen efficiency and retain viewership gains through better and differentiated services. As CNBC has noted: ‘The honeymoon is over.’ We see two big trends in the coming year, all of which will play key roles in maintaining subscriber satisfaction: better automated workflow, and simplification of the search, discovery and navigation processes.” – Dr. Abdul Rehman, CEO and Co-Founder, SSIMWAVE

“Like all media companies, we continued to face COVID-related challenges, but thanks to the hard work and resilience of our employees, we’ll recognize 2021 as a year of transformation for The E.W. Scripps Company. We resolved to take control of our own destiny and chart a new path for this 143-year-old mission-driven company. We leaned into the disruption in the media ecosystem and closed on the largest acquisition in the company’s history, acquiring ION Media Networks to accelerate our leadership in the growing over-the-air and connected TV marketplaces. During these difficult times, we’re exceptionally proud of our stakeholder agility.” – Adam Symson, President and CEO, The E.W. Scripps Company

“Bolstered by a booming CTV advertising demand, we are laser focused in 2022 on our ultimate goal of providing the best AVOD experience possible, relaunching all our apps for improved performance and introducing revolutionary user experiences never seen in our industry before. We are doubling down on original content and I predict that 2022 will be the year when AVOD-funded original programming entices many consumers to pare down their SVOD subscriptions.” – Philippe Guelton, President, Crackle Plus


“Two major trends coming out of 2021 were the seismic change to audience consumption patterns and the authentic embrace of diversity, equity and inclusion across the industry. The challenge of audience and viewability measurement remains paramount, and in the next year I think we’ll see media companies and agencies continuing to craft their own mix of meaningful metrics. At A+E Networks, we believe strongly in the power of linear for building brands and selling products and services. We also are proud that our content is prolific across all platforms; and so we continue to ensure that consumers can engage with content – and ads – in all viewing environments, and we’ll continue in our role as trendsetters to push the industry to adopt a much broader demographic. No matter age, ethnicity, race, creed, gender – every person counts.” – Peter Olsen, President, Ad Sales, A+E Networks

“OTT and CTV have certainly emerged strongly this year, which has created an even greater need for the industry to have more effective converged TV measurement. Since currencies will change in the next year or so, we’re also seeing the need for more granular measurement using TV data, standardized digital data, along with solutions for persons assignment and identity resolution – which will undoubtedly increase as we head into 2022.” – Jane Clarke, CEO and MD, CIMM

“As we look to next year, the concept of back to basics, and back to the future comes to mind. There is no doubt that we have gotten a good taste of the future with accelerated trends in AR and VR, social commerce, gaming, live streaming, the transformative metaverse and beyond. The media and marketing industry tends to be a fast follower to consumer trends and these are squarely in our sights for next year. At the same time, 2022 will be a year of rethinking the fundamentals. Measurement and currency will continue to be questioned and explored. We will make meaningful progress by pushing ourselves outside of legacy thinking and incremental change. I am optimistic about 2022 as a year of meaningful forward progress.” – David Cohen, CEO, IAB


“Data – and its interpretation – will become even more crucial as we expand demos and begin to de-emphasize the usual P18-49 or P25-54 audience delivery metrics. But the consumer across demos has more power than ever and will demand quality. Right now, we have an explosion of content and huge dollars going into content creation, which is terrific. But there still is that problem at times of ‘I have all this and there’s nothing to watch!’. The cream is going to rise to the top, as always, and we’ll see quick winners and losers. Content that makes it will be well crafted, original, distinct, and something people want to talk about. The trend will shift from quantity to quality. Same goes for streaming services as some die off and others settle in as here-to-stay brands/platforms.” – Jane Latman, President, HGTV & Streaming Home Content

“In 2021, a perfect storm of All Too Well, the D’Amelios, Roblox, NFTs, TikTok, Paid Podcast Subs, Bored Apes, Twitch and Patreon have proven that Creators are now the CEOs of their own s**t. For very few superstars, this will mean riches and stardom. But 2021 showed us the Creator Economy is also increasingly minting Middle-Class-Creator careers. In 2021, Substack hit 1 million paying subs, Roblox paid indie game makers $500 million, and the 200th most popular Patreon made $275K. We are at the start of an Artisan Industrial Revolution. Moving forward, Gatekeepers will still hold immense control, but forevermore, the Creators will be on equal, if not greater, footing.” – Evan Shapiro, Producer/Pundit/Professor/Owner, ESHAP

“Moving into 2022, consumers will only grow more impatient with brands that remain silent on social issues. Brands should be prioritizing conscious advertising – truly hearing what matters to their audiences and making a conscious, and genuine effort, to have that reflected in their ads. This means more than simply telling consumers what they want to hear. It means taking actionable steps – ensuring that ads and media are representative and feature diverse voices, supporting diverse creators online.” – Lauren Douglass, SVP Global Marketing, Channel Factory

“In 2021, tech companies made a huge shift to become media companies. Media companies made a huge shift to become tech companies. All are concentrating on becoming the new gatekeeper in the living room. In 2022, we want creators to truly understand their strength in direct to consumer.” – Ronny Lutzi, CEO, Foxxum and rlaxx TV


“Contextual targeting will finally be a focus for agencies and advertisers. We’ve been talking about contextual for a while but the delay of Google’s removal of third-party cookies has pushed out the importance of focusing on contextual in 2021. In 2022, I believe more advertisers will look at integrating contextual strategies and test more innovative uses of contextual, such as contextual DCO and custom taxonomies.” – Hersh Patel, Founder and CEO, Hindsight

“Even when third-party cookies finally disappear, third-party data won’t. It will stick around because the alternatives that will be offered in its absence won’t be feasible for small publishers. Contextual data only works inside one’s own domain, which for small publishers is too small so first-party data or contextual targeting clearly can’t be the solution for them. The industry seems to have forgotten that not every solution is a one-size-fits-all solution. They’re pushing for ideas that won’t work for small publishers. I believe that small and independent publishers will finally be heard in 2022.” – Mike Woosley, COO, Lotame

“All signs point to a significant increase in innovation and spending on connected TV. This growth is being driven by increasing users, the cookie being phased out, and the fact that it’s a more accountable channel than mobile with Apple’s removal of IDFA. Since CTV is a cookie-less environment, contextual is going to become an increasingly important signal for this channel.” – Doug Stevenson, CEO and co-founder, Quintesse

“As Apple has made app tracking a choice for consumers, and Google is set to remove third-party data tracking from Chrome starting in 2023, the digital advertising world is shifting. Marketers will not be able to blindly trust the ease of retargeting advertising and will no longer be able to bid on the ‘right time’ and ‘right person.’ The right message is going to return as the prominent hook for digital advertising.” – Stewart Barrett, Head of Growth, Upflowy

“In 2022, I believe Connected TV will continue its growth in the market, with video continuing to be the most engaging format. The most sophisticated Connected TV advertising will leverage data to enable real-time changes to creative based on key data triggers including audience segments, location, time and weather, as well as to control the relevance and sensitivity of messaging.” – Ofer Druker, CEO, Tremor International


“2021 was filled with exploration and test runs – trying to figure out how the CTV landscape could deliver more than just awareness for brands. In 2022, brands will start requiring more from CTV and the ads that run there and media owners are going to be under increasing pressure to deliver better experiences to their audiences. Thankfully, we had 2021 to work out a lot of the kinks – to learn what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t.” – Fred Godfrey, Co-founder and CEO, Origin

“In 2021, we saw CMOs and senior marketers gain more power, and digital transformation become more essential to the future of most businesses. When you look at timeless brand leaders like Apple, Nike, Google and Tesla …or when you follow fast moving brands who have enjoyed accelerated growth, like Peloton, Roblox, Shopify or Warby Parker…they all put brand storytelling at the center of their strategy. They are not any better than their competition at buying ads. They are all world class storytellers. What are the top brand storytellers focused on at this moment? Creativity, representation, and incorporating more actionable insights into their storytelling strategy. These are clear competitive advantages for all brands to consider in 2022.” – Megan Cunningham, CEO and founder, Magnet Media

“We have seen many shifts across the industry that will affect marketing methodologies in 2022 and beyond. From Apple and Google’s privacy shifts, kicking off the demise of the third-party cookie and the rise in cost of media buys and customer acquisitions to the birth of the metaverse, one conclusion can be drawn: the modern consumer wants control of their digital life and those who are choosing to work to meet the demand are apt to see the most success in 2022.” – Jay Kulkarni, CEO, Theorem

“We can expect the metaverse to redefine the advertising landscape. Brands that advertised within metaverse sites like Animal Crossing were considered pioneers in 2021, but in 2022 advertising within these virtual lifestyle platforms will become the norm and advertisers must identify strategic ways to be part of the next evolution.” – Christine Maguire, GGM/VP, Global Media Business, TripAdvisor


“Sports viewing in 2021 saw the ever-growing presence of second and third screens from the likes of Amazon and Facebook, as these alternatives are becoming increasingly more likely to engage in rights for sports streaming content and bringing sports to alternative platforms. As the shift in viewing behavior continues to move out of home viewing, the digital powerhouses are going to become increasingly more likely to buy rights especially as traditional TV companies struggle with viewership.” – Adam Holt, SVP of Sales, FanAI

“New streaming giants such as discovery+ swept into sports in a big way with a multi-year deal for Olympics rights in Europe; in the US, the link between major sports broadcasters and gambling intensified with deals like Bally’s deep integration into the Sinclair RSNs. These breakthroughs defined 2021 and will continue to influence the years to come. In 2022, we’ll continue to see sportsbooks partner with teams and leagues to increase fan engagement and create new revenue. Personalized sports gambling will be a must for driving deeper fan engagement.” – Rick Allen, CEO, ViewLift

“EDO is seeing live sports, undeniably the most valuable programming on TV, move to Convergent TV with advertisers rushing to figure out what to do next. We are seeing watershed deals such as Thursday Night Football soon to be exclusively on Amazon Prime and NBC renewing the English Premier League at $2.7B with most of the games on Peacock. Here’s what it means for advertisers: First, making increasingly complex investment decisions with confidence requires measuring across platforms consistently. Second, since similar types of programming will be on myriad platforms, ‘linear vs. streaming’ will be a concept of the past. Investment choices will be between the immediate reach and impact of live event advertising versus the longer tail and finer targeting of ‘watch when you want’ programming.” – Kevin Krim, CEO, EDO


“As we close out an unprecedented year, I am hopeful that this ‘trend’ in 2021 becomes the ‘expected’ and standard practice in 2022 and that is the industry’s recognition and most importantly, its support of platforms serving multicultural audiences and Black audiences in particular. In 2021, aspireTV added 24 new advertisers and successfully grew its advertising revenue by 30% over last year, and it is my hope that in 2022, such advertiser support continues to grow not only for aspireTV, but for all of the brands committed to the valuable audiences historically unseen and unheard.” – Melissa Ingram, GM of AspireTV and SVP of Multicultural Networks & Strategy, UP Entertainment

“While the speed of change and technological advancements accelerated greatly in 2021, this was also the year of the ‘great resignation.’ Employers, marketers and leaders must take note of this phenomenon; work from home is here to stay in some form or another, and that poses both challenges and opportunities. Success cannot be obtained without a strong and dedicated workforce, and leaders must acknowledge that emotional intelligence is a key attribute heading into 2022 and beyond.” – Liz Janneman, EVP of Network Strategy, Ovation TV

“Blockchain and NFTs fundamentally change how video game currencies work, shifting the paradigm from one of unlimited digital goods, to one of unique records that are not replicable on the same chain. The same energy and dollars we saw pouring into ‘stonks’ in Q1 of 2021 is now being directed into blockchain gaming and NFTs. We expect significantly more of the public to follow the gaming community’s lead embracing this digital goods revolution in 2022 and beyond.” – Kieran Fitzpatrick, Co-founder & CEO, Spiketrap

“With an economic recovery underway, increasing wages and consumers holding robust personal savings, brands will have to be the best they can be in 2022. Those brands that are laser-focused on delivering secure, personalized and truly omnichannel customer experiences for pandemic-weary consumers will win, while those that don’t will be swapped out of consideration in the increasingly competitive path to purchase.” – Matt Kleinschmit, Founder & CEO, Reach3 Insights

“Out-of-home will be a must buy for brands in 2022. Why? OOH is the only traditional medium that continues to grow, and that trend will accelerate next year due to advancements in measurement, accessibility, and ease of execution. As other channels continue to be plagued by issues like data privacy, fraud, and signal deprecation, OOH will thrive.” – Craig Benner, CEO and Founder, Accretive Media

“Advertisers will require a PHD, meaning they will require identity resolution that resolves against people, devices and households. The depreciation of legacy identifiers and increased fragmentation of media consumption will necessitate advertisers to leverage identity resolution. Those who select the right partners will be able to deliver personalized ad experiences to consumers.” – Andre Swanston, SVP, Media and Entertainment, TransUnion

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