Our industry’s holy grail has always been to simultaneously livestream an event to hundreds of millions of online video viewers. That hasn’t
quite panned out in the last 2 decades of streaming, even though some of the tools to do just that
have been around the whole time.
For instance, the most recent global event,
the 2018 Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang in
South Korea, saw an uptick in online viewership.
An announcement from Discovery, which owns
the Eurosport network, noted that “a record
breaking 76 million users enjoyed the Games
online” across Eurosport’s pan-European footprint, and 15 million of those used the company’s integrated Eurosport app.
But even though that meant “daily video
views up 166% compared to January 2018” for
the over-the-top (OTT) Eurosport app, it still
paled in comparison to the 386 million overall viewers of Eurosport’s Olympic coverage,
which in some countries like Norway reached
a 90% household penetration for TV viewing.
That’s not to say that OTT delivery is waning. In fact, quite the opposite is true. But having the 76 million online viewers is a key to
understanding why the industry—in its shift
toward online viewing, fragmented across various platforms—is also shifting toward multiple types of delivery models for online content.
As we look at new approaches
to media delivery online, it’s first
helpful to remember just how different media
consumption is today compared to even 5 years
ago. A recent survey helps illustrate that point.
In late 2017, Qualtrics conducted a survey
around U.S.-based television viewing habits, with
on-demand services such as Netflix and Hulu as
options alongside traditional over-the-air (OTA)
and cable television. The findings of the survey
are fairly in line with our own, Unisphere-based
surveys of Streaming Media readers when re-
spondents are asked to compare media con-
sumption choices offered through OTA live-
linear television or OTT’s double offering of
live and on-demand content viewing.
While the Qualtrics methodology used a fairly small survey size of 500 people, its results
emphasized just how radically our collective
viewing habits have changed over the past 5
years. Netflix viewing was the preference for almost one-third of Qualtrics’ survey responses,
while live television was the preference of one-quarter of the respondents, followed by pre-recorded or time-shifted digital video recorder
(DVR) content (16%), and then by other services
such as Amazon Prime and Hulu (15% and 11%,
Qualtrics notes that two-thirds of respondents said they prefer binge-watching, so it’s
surprising that Amazon Prime and Hulu video
offerings fell lower on the preference spectrum
than did live- and time-shifted television. Qualtrics provided no insight into why Hulu and
Amazon Prime placed so low.
As an example of just how far we’ve come in
the binge-watching trend, and how live-linear
television faces a challenge in attracting large-scale audiences, consider the fact that Qualtrics showed a whopping 75% binge-watching
rate for those survey respondents who admitted to viewing the entire first season of
Stranger Things: Almost half (43%) watched the entire
season in 1–3 days, with an additional one-third
(32%) finishing off the season in 4–7 days. In other words, the episodic spaced out over weeks
and months is dead.
BY TIM SIGLIN