Ooyala Report: Viewers Diverge, Platforms Converge

This is the month when everybody tells you that this will be the Year of...whatever.

Today, Ooyala steps up with its State of the Broadcast Industry 2016, in which it assuredly predicts that this year will be a lot like last year but more of it.

Over-the-top video content moved to center stage in 2015, and “broadcasters and operators have accepted OTT as a fait accompli, and the repercussions are affecting all areas of the business,” Ooyala asserts.

The report says: “Content viewing has become a whatever, wherever, whenever experience. Traditional scheduled TV watching is no longer the norm (at just over 45% of adult viewers). Instead, over-the-top (OTT) video accessible anytime and anywhere is now the mainstream. Ironically, TV Everywhere (TVE) is often now just TV Next To The TV - watched on mobile and connected TV (CTV) devices within the home. Viewers are diverging while platforms are converging. That poses daunting challenges for the industry as it looks for new ways to meet consumer desires.”

When we get to the “daunting challenges” part, I get ready for lots of ridiculous obstacles.

But really, the OTT and streaming landscape have pretty straightforward paths that includes creating content that can and will be viewed on mobile devices. Oolyala notes “30% of North American smartphone owners now watch full-length TV shows on their smartphones, and 20% watch full-length movies.”

That’s because a whole lot more people, especially millennials, don’t even have broadband in their home, let alone cable subscriptions. They do all of their watching on mobile devices.

“Add more advanced smartphones to the mix, and mobile video ad spend will continue to grow, slowly catching up to reflect the real percentage of mobile viewers,” the report says. “Content providers like Verizon and AT&T are also in hot pursuit, focusing more and more on mobile-first video options (both subscription and ad-supported) that are geared towards younger adults.”  

Indeed, when I read this Ooyala report, and other about the streaming vs TV divide, it begins to hit home what a radical transformation is taking place.

Not only are millions snipping the cable/satellite cord, many of us are now adopting a new technology/old technology blend. We’re watching over the air! Ooyala points to data from Digitalsmiths that says 45.1% of the cord-cutters now watch TV the old-fashioned way, presumably to get live sports, special telecasts and local news. (That same report also notes a lot of cable-cutters eventually come back, or think they might.)

While all the devices out there make staying current easy to do, a growing number of viewers have figured out that blocking their ears to avoid hearing the spoilers is OK, too.

“Fox has decreed that overnight ratings are obsolete, particularly for their millennial audience, because OTT viewers are happy to watch shows two days or even two years after their original air date,” the report says. “Look for ad dollars to keep moving to OTT, TVE and connected tv devices in response. Also, look for cross-screen attribution to become the next mile-marker on the journey towards full audience tracking.”

I tend to think what older consumers are doing with digital is an excellent way to determine when a trend is becoming settled fact. An army of older streamers means that even the creaky masses are leaving the television world as they’ve known if for so long, Ooyala says.

The revolution will not be televised, those oldsters might be saying. But streamed on Periscope? Anything's possible.

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