More Streaming, More OTT Are In Your Future, As Viewer or Distributor

Without question, audiences are increasingly turning to streaming options when it comes to video-based entertainment. More than a few studies have been reported, recently, which deliver supporting data:

Study: Connected TV Owners Streaming More Video Than A Year Ago — From a study reported at StreamDaily.com:

  • 19% of adults over 18 are watching less traditional TV, year-over-year
  • 33% of Americans over 18 own a smart TV or device which streams content to their TV
  • 19% of Americans spend half their viewing time streaming TV
  • 76% say that their viewing experience is as good (51%) or better (25%) than traditional TV
  • 33% say that streaming because it gives them better control
  • 29% think that it gives them greater content selection than standard TVOver-the-top-video

55% of Broadband Homes Subscribe to OTT Video — This data point comes from TWICE.com and describes the overall American audience. However, the article also notes that OTT subscription definitely skewed younger. “A total of 72 percent of household heads ages 18-24 and 71 percent ages 25-34 subscribe to an OTT service.” All other things being equal, that indicates that older audiences, 35+, are underindexing for OTT subscription.

And finally, Do Connected TV Users Get Fave TV Shows via On-screen Apps? — eMarketer noted that …one-third accessed TV shows via on-screen apps at least once per week, with more than four in 10 of those respondents doing so daily. Nearly one-quarter of owners viewed television content this way at least once or several times each month. Among millennials, usage was higher. Nearly four in 10 (39%) with a smart or connected TV watched shows by accessing apps on the screen at least weekly.

What can we glean from these three studies, each independently conducted, but all focusing on the changing face of American entertainment-seeking behavior?

For those of us IN this industry, some of the insights available here aren’t new and were hot topics at the most recent NAB: OTT and streaming usage skews younger, streaming use is growing as an overall percentage of the population, and traditional, linear TV is, overall, on the decline (though it is still about ten times the size of online video).

But what else can we determine?

Streaming is the future, while physical media is fading: Streaming devices now outnumber Blu-ray players (22M vs. 20M in 4Q’14), providing real numbers to support the assertion that the high definition disc, while still a factor in the home entertainment sector, will not equal the high water mark of DVD and, unless studios and content holders are careful to nurture it, may fade to obscurity. (h/t: @TheDissolve for some stellar suggestions about how stem that tide.)

Our own Ask A Millennial blog series has highlighted and these studies have delivered hard data which demonstrates the interest millennials and younger audience members have for OTT. They like OTT’s flexibility, convenience and immediacy; these number support our bloggers anecdotal experience. Indeed, in the first study (above) a third of respondents liked that they had ‘better control’ over what they viewed with streaming services; nearly as many said that they had a greater content selection (like, for example, Hulu’s recent deal for Seinfeldall in one place, accessible anywhere, anytime.)

Viewers are voting with their…er…remote controls and opting out of the ‘top down’ programming experience in favor of a more self-directed, personalized experience. Viewers want to do it their own way, and finally technology has developed to the oint where they can.

As a teen with long summer days stretching in front of me, I can remember planning my day around the television schedule as I squandered my youth. I was distinctly at the mercy of the network programming staffs; the most important magazine to arrive at our house was TV Guide. I can remember my Dad teaching me how to read the listings as a wee lad. No more. Binge watching our favorite shows is no longer possible, it’s mainstream.

What does that mean for content owners, networks and distributors seeking to get on board with surge of interest in OTT service development?

  • Know your audience is. If it’s younger, OTT may need to be higher on your digital strategy To Do list.
  • Leverage choice to engage viewers — Viewers like to be able to curate their own experience. Don’t ignore services like the MPAA site or GoWatchIt.com which point users toward services which have legal streaming options for any title.
  • Flexibility is key. Make sure your mobile web experience has been fine tuned; get your native app strategy in gear.

A number of the respondents of these surveys noted that viewing experience is as good (51%) or better (25%) than traditional TV, a sentiment that I share. And it seems like the experience is only going to improve.