If you're looking for something to watch, chances are you have a better chance of finding something today than ever before.
"From a consumer perspective, I don't think there's ever been a moment in time with so much amazing content out there in the space," said Domenic DiMeglio, chief marketing officer for Paramount+.
With many media companies pivoting to streaming, it's been a gold rush for original content. There was a record 599 original scripted series across broadcast, cable, and streaming in 2022, an increase of 7 percent from the previous year according to FX Research.
A few years ago, CBS All Access was producing 10 to 12 bespoke shows a year. Now, the rebranded Paramount+ houses north of 70 movies, TV shows, and documentaries. That's on top of legacy content from CBS, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and more, plus over 100 years of movies from Paramount Pictures.
"It's been immensely valuable," DiMeglio said.
To show audiences what to expect, Paramount+ brought an exhibit called The Lodge to South by Southwest 2023 in Austin, Texas. The experience featured interactive photo and video opportunities, where visitors could not only make their own social posts about the shows, but also learn about them from representatives. You could create your own government ID badges in honor of spy thriller Rabbit Hole, as well as walk through a high school hallway in slow motion as a nod to teen horror mystery School Spirits. Themed cocktails were also served to pay homage to different series, including beverages for Star Trek: Picard and 1923.
The interactive displays spread throughout Austin. People sent on a scavenger hunt to find a group of cryptic nuns throughout the city in order to win prizes. The stunt was for Peacock's upcoming series Mrs. Davis, which features a nun battling an artificial intelligence interface.
"Part of being human is sort of trying to find this sort of authentic understanding of what our purpose is in the world," said Damon Lindelof, co-creator of Mrs. Davis. "And the idea that we're starting to ask machines that we ourselves programmed to answer those questions for us is definitely going to threaten the world's religious institutions."
But more than new shows, people want content they can afford — and what's a better price tag than zero.
"There's a lot of great content in streaming, but a lot of it you have to pay for," said Julian Mintz, co-head of U.S. brand sales for Roku. "And what we've heard from our users, many of them cord cutters, is that they are ready for free content."
Although its devices are streaming platform agnostic, Roku has also been investing in its own original slate. Starting with acquiring the Quibi library in 2021, the company has been expanding its programming and reportedly spent more than $1 billion last year on content, according to CNBC.
The company brought Roku City — the cityscape featured in its screensaver — to life at South by Southwest. The multi-level exhibit served as an interactive play, with actors portraying different characters from popular franchises like Alice in Wonderland and Doctor Who. It also featured a full home viewing experience, in partnership with Best Buy which is exclusively selling its new line of smart televisions.
"It gives us this canvas to continue to experiment to bring all the best new features to our users, which then we can bring back to our entire Roku TV ecosystem to enhance all of our partners' TVs as well," Mintz explained.
In addition to creating a Parisian-inspired bridge for its reality romantic comedy, Meet Me In Paris, and serving cupcakes from the reality show The Cupcake Guys, Roku made a pop-up diner with OpenTable, serving TV and film-themed dishes like Just a Big Salad from Seinfeld and Is this Grape or Aubergine? from Steel Magnolias.
"It's the golden age of streaming because that's where all the people are," Mintz said. "You see companies like ourselves and our channel partners trying to meet the customer where they are."