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Live video is seeing faster growth than any other type of premium digital video content, reports FreeWheel in its Q1 2018 Video Monetization Report [download page]. Within the US live viewing comprised more than one-third (35%) of all ad views for the quarter, up from 31% the previous quarter and 24% in the year-earlier period.

Indeed, while all content formats experienced growth, averaging a 34% increase in ad views, live video’s growth was more than double (+77%) that average.

Sports continues to dominate live viewing, accounting for three-quarters (76%) of live video ad views during the quarter. However viewers are also increasingly watching Entertainment (16%) and News (8%) content, which FreeWheel attributes to the growth of TV Everywhere.

Meanwhile, going hand in hand with live video’s ascent is the rising importance of OTT devices, which are making waves across the video world. Within the US, fully one-third (34%) of premium digital video ad views were on OTT devices during the quarter, almost double the share (18%) viewed on smartphones.

Considering that another 16% of ad views were consumed on set-top box / video-on-demand (boxes that accompany a cable/broadcast/satellite setup), the report reveals that half of ad views for premium digital video occurred on the big screen.

Even so, FreeWheel notes that one of the bigger highlights from the quarter was the growth in live viewing on smartphones, up 171% year-over-year. This demonstrates that “viewers are willing to consume live content wherever they are,” a takeaway that is supported by Ooyala’s recent analysis of long-form content viewing.

In other highlights from the report:

  • The CPG industry accounted for the largest share of ad views in the US (18%), followed by Financial & Business Services (14%) and Retail (13%).
  • While ad views primarily were for direct deals (89% share) as opposed to programmatic transactions (11% share), the latter increased by 45% year-over-year.
  • Q1 2018 saw a slightly smaller number of ads per mid-roll break than the year-earlier period (3.8 and 4.0, respectively), but a longer duration of the break (110 seconds and 97 seconds, respectively).
  • Ad completion rates remained very high (98%) for mid-roll ads during full-episode and live content. While 84% of ads in full-episodes featured no repetition, just 64% in live video had no repetition. FreeWheel in the past has attributed this difference to the dominance of sports in live streaming, as “sponsorship deals often lead to the same advertiser appearing multiple times while longer average viewing sessions increased the likelihood an ad will repeat.”

The full report is available for download here.

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