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OTT Is Growing, but Live TV Still Rules

In yet another testament to the exploding popularity of over-the-top streaming, viewers are now spending almost as much time with OTT as they are with linear TV, according to TiVo’s most recent Video Trends Report. The survey, which TiVo conducts quarterly with a third-party service to identify viewing trends across the video industry, offers insights into how advertisers can continue to reach consumers in a content everywhere world. Here are a few takeaways from the Q2 2019 report findings.

Multi-Service Use Begs for Multi-Platform Campaigns
More than half (52.4%) of respondents to the survey reported regularly watching one hour or more of OTT-delivered content, compared to 65.8% reporting the same for live TV. Nearly half (46.8%) also reported watching an hour or more of DVR-ed content, and 41.5% said they watch an hour or more of sports across live TV, OTT and DVR. The enthusiastic uptake of OTT underscores how today’s viewers are spoiled for choice and, as more video content options enter the market, how clearly they are relishing the opportunity to combine services and devices in ways that meet their individual needs.

More specifically, the study shows that North American households now use an average of 7.2 entertainment services from a broad line-up of linear pay TV, OTT, subscription-supported and advertising-supported (SVOD and AVOD) streaming, and free social media streaming channels (e.g., Facebook, YouTube) options. That figure is a 14% increase from the 6.3 in 2018, and shows steady growth from the average of 4 services in 2016 and 5 services in 2017. As viewers become more omnivorous in their video diets, advertisers will need to follow suit by stepping up cross-platform campaign efforts.

Avid for AVOD
What’s interesting about the a la carte approach consumers are taking in creating their ideal content menus is the changing status of ad-supported video on demand. The study shows that each of the most popular video bundles includes some form of free, ad-supported video offering such as YouTube, free TV network apps and/or social media.

While SVOD giants like Netflix and Amazon continue to report subscriber increases, and survey respondents indicated they spend the most time with SVOD, free video from social media platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat are now earning the most individual views per week. And, as consumers grow tired of paying for more subscription services, they’re turning to linear AVOD services. Year over year, Pluto TV gained 4.5% in viewership, Tubi TV 23.9% and Philo TV 14.3%. For advertisers, the upshot is that while AVOD is still in its infancy, as more free video platforms with high-quality content enter the market, consumers seem increasingly eager to incorporate them into their viewing mix, spelling a growing opportunity for brands to engage with consumers.

The Lasting Power of Linear
Looking at linear TV, the survey found that 83% of respondents still have a cable/satellite service, and a higher percentage of those customers (9.4% more than last year) reported being satisfied with pay TV services. TiVo attributes some of that gain to “content fatigue,” speculating that consumers bombarded by service options are starting to hold on to their tried-and-true pay TV—which also explains the drop in cord-cutting seen in the Q2 results.

Speculating on how the market will play out in the months and years ahead is almost impossible in such a dynamic media environment. But a commenter to the MediaPost article on the TiVo findings suggested that as the OTT/SVOD/AVOD/TV terrain continues to morph at Mach speed, advertisers may want to focus less on how the content is delivered and more on ensuring their ad creative finds the desired audience on every screen and platform.