Live sports drives one-quarter of U.S. online ad views

Freewheel’s Q4 2017 Video Monetization Report says a lot about how the premium video ecosystem is changing. For example, live is starting to drive ad view growth, the TV is the place to be for engagement, and the smartphone is the swiss-army-knife of streaming.

Freewheel says that total U.S. video views grew 26% in 2017 and total ad views by 22%. However, where the viewing is taking place continues to shift as consumers embrace the connected television and entrench around the smartphone.

Live comes to online

We have seen a steady change in the way premium sports providers approach online delivery. The Internet has proven a remarkably effective mechanism for deepening the engagement with tent-pole events such as the Olympics and the World Cup. Sports such as football and soccer are increasingly available live online through authenticated apps, vMVPDs like Sling TV, and for free through platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

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All this activity appears to be paying off. Freewheel says U.S. ad views in live video increased from 19% in Q4 2016 to 31% in Q4 2017. What’s more, sport dominates the category with over three-quarters of all live ad-views. In other words, sports are driving one-quarter of total ad-views. Entertainment continues to lead in ad views but only grew its share slightly, from 49% to 53%. The big loser in 2017 was short clips. Its share of ad views halved, to 16%.

The television extends dominance

ad view share by content type Q4 2017Overall, half of all U.S. ads tracked by Freewheel were delivered to the TV in Q4 2017, up from 41% one year earlier. Pay TV set-top boxes accounted for 1-in-5 of those views. Operators started deploying ad insertion technology for the VOD systems in 2014, and this effort ramped up in 2016 and 2017.

Nearly one-third of all ad views came from connected television devices in Q4 2017, an increase of 27% one year earlier. The increasing use of authenticated TV content provider apps and ad-supported services like Crackle and The Roku Channel is one factor in the continued growth of this category. However, the rise of vMVPDs could be the biggest factor.

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vMVPDs like Sling TV and YouTube TV enjoyed rapid growth in 2017. TiVo Q4 2017 numbers suggest the size of the vMVPD market could be much larger than the 4.5 million estimated. Dish Network reports that Sling TV has 2.2 million subscribers. YouTube TV could already have more than 4 million subscribers, and it could also mean the total number of vMVPD subscribers is almost double the previous estimates.

The smartphone is the swiss army knife of video

In the free 2016 white paper The Secret Life of Streamers, nScreenMedia found that the smartphone was being used about evenly between live, long-form, and short-form video. According to Freewheel, this is still the case. The company says about one-third of ad views on the smartphone come from each of the live, long-form, and clip categories of content.

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OTT: Video Starts Up 26%, Ad Views Up 17% in Q2 2017

The second quarter was a strong time for streaming video (and streaming video ads). According to the Q2 2017 Video Monetization Report put out video monetization company FreeWheel, online video starts were up 26 percent year-over-year and video ad views were up 17 percent. FreeWheel sees a mix of forces creating this rise, including viewers increasingly choosing to drop cable and satellite subscriptions, broadcast TV ratings falling, and companies from both the broadcast and online worlds aggressively launching new online properties to increase their supply of premium inventory.

Advertisers like what they see, as their investments in online video are up. eMarketer predicted a 24 percent year-over-year rise in digital video ad spending for 2017, the report notes. In Q2, most of that inventory was direct sold, while programmatic channels were used to fill in the gaps and monetize unsold programming.

Much of the rise came from the increased adoption of over-the-top (OTT) video, which made up 29 percent of all online video ad views in the second quarter. Desktop views declined to 27 percent, which FreeWheel says is the lowest rate since it started tracking the area 5 years ago.

In Q2 2017, 61 percent of online video ad views came from full episodes (with views up 17 percent YOY) and 21 percent came from live video (with views up 40 percent YOY). Short clips saw a decline to 18 percent, with views down 2 percent YOY.

For more, download the full report for free (registration required).