The latest quarterly State of Streaming report from global streaming media intelligence specialist Conviva reveals that time spent streaming continues to climb – up 53 per cent year over year – as consumers embrace on demand videos (63 per cent of all streaming viewing is on demand) on their TVs, PCs and mobile devices.
This significant growth in viewing – along with a strong focus on improving video quality – comes as the industry awaits the impending launches of Apple TV+ and Disney+ in November.
“Streaming is quickly becoming the new normal.” observed Bill Demas, CEO, Conviva. “As a result, we will continue to see new upstarts in the category accompanied by traditional media companies and big brand advertisers embracing the potential of the market. This is an industry undergoing massive growth and what happens in the next 18 months will shape what, how and when we watch content in the future.”
With potential industry upheaval on the horizon, connected devices and content creators are working hard to improve video quality. From Q3 2018 to Q3 2019, video start failures are down 10 per cent, video start times are 6 per cent faster, there is 33 per cent less buffering and the picture quality (bitrate) is 3 per cent better. PCs saw the most consistent quality improvements year over year with 17 per cent fewer video start failures, 23 per cent faster video start times and 26 per cent less buffering. Mobile saw big improvements in reducing buffering – down 34 per cent year over year– but video start times were only down 4 per cent and video start failures were down only 2 per cent.
Unfortunately for advertisers, the improvements in overall video quality in Q3 did not extend to streaming ads. According to Conviva data, 39.6 per cent of all streaming ad attempts failed in Q3. In addition, ads were plagued by delays including long start times and buffering including instances where it took up to 16.1 seconds for an ad to start and viewers had to endure up to 45.9 per cent of ad buffering.
Tolerance for streaming ads varied by content type, with roughly 9-20 percent of viewers dropping each time an ad is run. For sports, the largest impact is at the very first ad where 18 per cent of viewers drop, but subsequent ads have less effect. The fourth ad in a stream triggers the biggest drop as 20 per cent of news viewers, 17 per cent of drama/comedy viewers, and 16 per cent of reality TV viewers stop watching. Overall in Q3, 54 per cent of the audience stopped viewing after four ads.
NFL viewers continued their mass migration to streaming in Q3, with a 77 per cent increase in streaming plays and a 50 per cent increase in time spent streaming compared to Q3 2018. Much of the NFL’s streaming growth occurred on mobile devices, which grew 109 per cent in plays year over year, and TV, which grew 66 per cent. Notably, NFL streaming plays on PCs went down 11 per cent in Q3.
While mobile NFL viewing is up, the minutes per play remains small (8 minutes), inferring that fans are streaming NFL on their phones to check in on their favourite teams versus to watch games in their entirety. Those fans streaming the NFL via TV or PC watched for an average of 24 and 22 minutes, respectively.
NFL fans are also embracing streaming videos on social media, but their appetite varies by team and platform. Miami Dolphins fans watch more of their franchise’s videos than any other team on Facebook (168 per cent above average) closely followed by Kansas City Chiefs fans (157 per cent above average). New York Giants fans would rather watch videos posted by their franchise on YouTube (211 per cent above average) and New England Patriots fans are loyal to watching team videos on Instagram (227 per cent above average).
The connected TV category once again led all other devices in growth, up 58 per cent in viewing hours year over year compared to PCs (up 36 per cent) and mobile (up 33 per cent). While Roku maintained the top position by ending Q3 with solid 44 per cent of market share, its Q3 growth rate for viewing time (73 per cent) was slightly lower than Amazon Fire TV (78 per cent). Amazon Fire TV closed Q3 with 20 per cent of market share, followed by Apple TV with 9 per cent.
Roku also improved its quality over the past year and now delivers the lowest rate of video start failures at 0.18 per cent, down 52 per cent from Q3 2018, and nearly three times as much improvement as Amazon Fire TV which dropped 17 per cent to 0.37 per cent. Xbox again has the least buffering at a mere 0.15 per cent, while Apple TV is the most improved with buffering down 40 per cent. Once again Apple TV has the fastest video start time at 2.6 seconds and highest picture quality at 6.8 Mbps on average.