The pandemic has changed the way we consume streaming television, possibly forever. That’s the key takeaway from Nielsen’s Streaming Meter data which found, among other things, that ad-supported streaming is on the rise.
COVID-19 and its associated lockdowns and social distancing rules initiated an unprecedented period of streaming TV consumption and the change appears to be permanent.
Writes Nielsen in their Beyond SVOD report, “Americans age 2 and older spent more than 123 billion minutes streaming video content the week of July 20, 2020 (well after much of the U.S. had reopened).”
This represents an increase of 33% in minutes streamed compared with the same period in 2019.
Content created in partnership with Nielsen.
Nielsen notes the on-demand video landscape is very broad, yet many are quick to think of just the big SVOD (subscription video on demand) services when they think of “streaming.”
But competition, cord cutting and consumer demand, and access to content have opened the door to a vast array of players.
Video streaming in “streaming-capable” homes was up 16% overall compared with last July. The time spent watching “other” platforms (e.g., everything other than Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon, and Disney+) increased by 16.3 billion minutes.
Nielsen notes that viewership has grown not just with subscription-based platforms like Netflix, but with ad-supported and hybrid ad-supported/subscription platforms.
There are two categories Nielsen defines within the umbrella of over-the-top (OTT) streaming services:
AVOD services are contributing to an increase in digital ad spend in a big way. In February 2020, Nielsen predicted that digital media spend would rise to $500 billion globally by 2023, with digital video ads likely comprising a big chunk of that.
There are two factors converging to propel the growth of streaming media advertising spend—the massive increase in streaming video consumption and the willingness of consumers to watch ads (rather than pay for a subscription).
MVPD (e.g., traditional cable networks with streaming apps) and vMVPD networks (e.g., Sling TV) are being watched the most within the “Other” category of streaming services, comprising 36% of the total viewership share.
This is followed by AVOD content at 21% and SVOD at 14%.
Writes Nielsen, “When it comes to cost, ad-supported models don’t always take the place of service fees. The combination of vMVPDs and MVPDs (traditional cable companies that augment traditional delivery with an app), which have the greatest share, are only available to paying subscribers.”
Despite the pandemic-induced recession, 25% of U.S. consumers who were surveyed about their streaming habits in June 2020, indicated they’ve increased their streaming video subscriptions this year.
Among those surveyed, 37% indicated this was because they had more time on their hands and 34% said they wanted access to more content.
Even though consumers are viewing (and subscribing to) more streaming content, they remain cautious about their spending.
Nielsen grouped these spend-conscious consumers into two categories—constrained spenders (people who are spending less because they have to) and insulated spenders (people who are less affected financially, but remain cautious with how they spend money).
Watching AVOD content helps consumers control the cost of streaming content. Nielsen cites research from Deloitte that found that nearly 50% of Americans are watching ad-supported content, up from just 19% pre-COVID.
It’s clear that streaming video viewers (and that’s all of us, isn’t it?) have many choices to watch great content, with AVOD options becoming more sought after and commonplace within the larger video environment.
Digital media spending will likely increase as a natural result of this shift in consumer behavior, an exciting trend to watch.
You can download Nielsen’s free report, Beyond SVOD: Ad-supported streaming is starting to stand out as video options multiply, from here.
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