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Report: Streaming ads overtake TV Everywhere

August 26, 2021

Accelerated by changing viewership habits in a pandemic, streaming services comprised 45 per cent of ad views, surpassing TV Everywhere in the first six months of 2021, according to the latest instalment of advertising technology specialist FreeWheel’s U.S. Video Marketplace Report (VMR), an industry benchmark publication that examines industry viewership trends.

The latest report, which takes a closer look at ‘The Viewer Evolution and How The Premium Video Marketplace Has Responded in H1 2021’, also notes that fuelled by buyers seeking flexibility, programmatic also emerged as a dominant theme during this year’s upfronts, with an 84 per cent YOY growth, and is expected to remain a key trend moving forward.

Throughout the first half of this year, new technologies and political tensions – amid an evolving pandemic – transformed and accelerated how people accessed, engaged with and responded to media and advertising. As a result, several key consumer viewership trends and behaviors emerged, which the report’s authors predict will continue to play an influential role in shaping the industry moving forward.

The report’s key findings include:

  • Viewers showed that they are still streaming in the first half of 2021. In particular, there has been a shift in how people watch video with the growth of CTV viewership and the launch of new streaming platforms offering more TV quality programming. During this time frame, ad views continued to increase 50 per cent year over year, driven by the increase in streaming. In fact, streaming services accounted for 45 per cent of ad views, overtaking TV Everywhere (TVE).
  • Connected TV (CTV) accounts for 60 per cent of total ad views, with Roku and Fire TV devices continuing to lead with 43 per cent and 26 per cent of CTV views, respectively.
  • As the world emerged from an unpredictable year, buyers went into the upfronts seeking flexibility, with an increased focus on programmatic transactions. According to a recent study, more than half of CTV buyers planned to allocate more money to programmatic in 2021 than they did in 2020. This trend was seen in the first half of 2021, with programmatic transactions comprising 24 per cent of premium video ad views, resulting in an 84 per cent year-over-year growth.
  • Entertainment programming to lead the premium TV video ecosystem, with 92 per cent of ad views. As streaming services continue to double down on content, two main approaches emerged: those who diversify and those who specialize. Paramount+ and Peacock, for instance, offer consumers diverse content ranging from sports to comedies, dramas and movies, while others focus on specific verticals. (Examples include Warner Media’s HBO Max, which is entertainment driven and CNN’s upcoming, news-focused CNN+.)
  • Behavioural targeting increased share due to advances in audience targeting capabilities with 60 per cent representing behavioural segments and 40 per cent demo.

“The first half of 2021 was an interesting and pivotal time in terms of viewership trends and how the industry responded,” notes Comcast Advertising VP of Marketing James Rothwell. “One example was the rise in programmatic transactions, as buyers sought greater flexibility, in this year’s upfronts. As these new consumer behaviours and advertising tactics become habitual, we’re expecting many of these trends to continue fuelling the pace and development of new technologies, innovations and ways of reaching and engaging viewers.”

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