Everything Becomes Television; FreeWheel Points To How Online Content Is Going That Way

The new FreeWheel Video Monetization Report for Q4 of 2013 shows a pretty neat demarcation of what kind of video people are watching on what kind of devices.

It’s not quite a Goldilocks-like analysis, but the new report seems to indicate that consumers have pretty well decided the “portable television” of this era is the tablet. This report shows how the content and ad delivery between TV and digital devices is becoming awfully similar in some ways. 

More clear, however, is the overall televisionization of online video. The first line of the FreeWheel report, a broadly admired and much-quoted analysis, reads: “We are living in a golden age of television," and the analysis plays on that theme. For example, FreeWheel notes that in Q4, “Ad views on long-form content grew 86% year-over-year, reinforcing that it’s all just television.” 

It’s all up and up -- ad views up 30%, video views up 31% -- and longer and longer. Ad views in long-form content were up 86% and 22% in short-form year-to-year, and ad views in on-the-fence middle-length content were up 13%, says FreeWheel. Those stats and charts are found under the FreeWheel subhead, “Looking More Like TV Every Day.” That's in case you were missing the point.

As a viewer, you certainly have to grin and bear it.

In Q4, viewers of long-form content saw 3.2 ads per commercial break, up from 2.8 in Q4 in 2012. To keep the televisionization theme going, our friend the 30-second commercial now comprises 68% of all ads in long-form video, up from 57% in the Q4 in 2012.  But there is a sizable decrease in 30s in short-form (55% to 48% YOY) and mid-form (65% to 56%).

It’s not all just ad views in Hulu-like locations, showing previously aired episodes of television series for a typical example. FreeWheel says the fourth quarter was the first time in history that digital pure-play video content longer than five minutes accounted for more than 20% of the ads seen in that category. This means 80% or so of the action is still within short video clips or music videos, but clearly there’s some growing up going on.

There are some startling increases in certain areas. FreeWheel says ad views on long-form authenticated content have increased 268% in the last two years. Live or other long-form content accounted for 90% of the authenticated ad views, with live accounting for most (76%) of that, and much of this from sports.

The FreeWheel analysis shows that when the content being watched is 20 minutes in length or longer -- that’s everything from a sitcom to a movie -- the tablet is on a hot streak. FreeWheel says 20% of all long-form content ads were seen on a tablet, but when it comes to short content, like say a music video, the tablet only takes in 4%.

But the Goldilocks scenario becomes muddier with smartphones. You’d think smaller screen/more mobile user = shorter video views. But the report says 14% of the ad views taken in by mobile users were contained in longer content -- actually a higher percentage than ads seen on mobile devices within short- to-middle-length programming (12%).

That’s not confounding, exactly. It’s established that tablets and mobile are video’s growth spots, and there are just plainly more ads in long videos than in short ones. Still, it’s not a simple rule of thumb that long-form video is migrating more or less exclusively from PC to tablets; it seems much more of a mixed bag than that.

2 comments about "Everything Becomes Television; FreeWheel Points To How Online Content Is Going That Way ".
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  1. J S from Ideal Living Media, February 28, 2014 at 3 p.m.

    "The new report seems to indicate that consumers have pretty well decided the 'portable television' of this era is, indeed the tablet."

    My kids sure agree. They seem to have a repugnance for television sets, and yet, carry their tablets with them at all times.

    IME, the upcoming generation is through with television as we know it. It's either going to be "TV Everywhere," or "TV Nowhere."

    Time to rethink that whole Aereo suit.

  2. Peter Benjamin from MyOffices, February 28, 2014 at 5:17 p.m.

    Take a look at and you will see the impact the Tablet market will have as users seek to get content everywhere. As Local Tv markets start to lose revenue fighting the Big 6 . We believe they will migrate to the online platform as Filmon & Aereo channels.

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