Upfront negotiations are in full swing, streaming continues to gain audience share, and content investments have hit a new all-time high. $21.3 billion across Netflix, Amazon, ABC, NBC, and HBO major Broadcasts to be exact.

As the global leaders of brand integration, we at BEN keep our eyes open to new shifts in entertainment. Midway through the year, we would like to share our insight on the new content trends that are attracting audiences around the world. This is what we’ve found.

The Content is Global.

The United States has been a global exporter of major entertainment since the early 1900s. Amazon and Netflix has continued to accelerate the trend with global streaming platforms now reaching into over 200 markets. However, one thing differs – where stories are sourced has greatly expanded.

Networks are creating content with a global, diverse audience in mind. Shows like Marseille, Narcos, or Las Chicas del Cable are essentially foreign shows being made by US domestic studios. More granular, specific data with global audience reach has created new demand for foreign series.

While these shows may have smaller audiences in the United States, those who watch them do so at a high rate. In January 2017, shows like Marseille had the second highest percentage of binge watching on Netflix

What does this mean for brands? As entertainment continues to connect global communities, a single integration can reach a massive audience at scale. Since that content is immediately accessible, by aligning your brand with popular characters and storylines, one can effectively communicate a brand’s attributes in over 100 markets….content investments have hit a new all-time high. $21.3 billion across Netflix, Amazon, ABC, NBC, and HBO major Broadcasts to be exact.

The Content is More Diverse.

Hollywood has always felt a responsibility to speak on behalf of those who do not have a voice. Whether you are a cynic or not, there is no denying the growth in content reflecting the lives and perspectives of increasingly diverse audiences.

The burgeoning outlets and budget of major content carriers has created space for new and different stories. New socio-demographic, psychographic, and politically diverse stories are powerful. The breakout hit, This Is US, had an average audience of nearly 15 million in 20163. The dramedy features a diverse ensemble cast and explores the similarities and differences of people whose lives intertwined in unexpected ways.

Streaming’s most popular show continues to be Orange is the New Black with an estimated audience of 20 million. The show features a complex story of interlinked characters set inside a women’s correctional facility. It uses comedy and drama to discuss racial, LGBT, and feminine issues by having the disparate groups literally confined together in a single setting.Streaming’s most popular show continues to be Orange is the New Black with an estimated audience of 20 million.

We expect this trend to accelerate, as the work of crossover talent such as Issae Rae, Aziz Anasari, and Ava DuVernay continue to bring to market untold and under served stories that reflects an evolving demographic make-up. For brands, messages that reflect the intended, specific audience resonate better than blanket mass communications. Consider having a specific voice and POV for each of your consumer segments.

The Content is Aspirational.

The American Dream is back and fresher than ever. We’ve seen an uptick in aspirational stories demonstrating that individuals can rise above their current economic and social status.

Silicon Valley and Ballers – which feature protagonists from very different backgrounds – were among the top 5 most watched shows on HBO in 2016. Now both computer nerds and football jocks can satisfy their need for financial rewards and peer recognition. We at BEN are excited for the marketer’s version.

FOX’s breakout hit Empire is another great example that stories with modern and creative takes on the American dream can still draw audiences. The show continues to put up impressive numbers season after season.

These shows represent appealing opportunities for brands trying to reach aspirational consumers. Luxury products and services can align their brand with new representations of wealth and success that are greedily consumed by large audiences on a regular basis.

Driven by new platforms and demographic demands, these content trends provide a fresh perspective for contemporary entertainment and the preferences of consumers. Brands would do well to take note and deliver.