FreeWheel Report Shows Growth In Politics, Sports Video

The Q3 FreeWheel Video Monetization Report is out. As with most research dealing with video content and advertising, the only question usually is, “How high?”

It was the same this time. But in this report, there are a couple wrinkles that get down to the thrill of victory. And, I’d like to say, the agony of deceit.

Usually growth in video consumption rises in tandem with rises in the consumption of advertising. In this quarter, viewing of videos rose 37% but ad views rose only 28% year over year.

Why? FreeWheel says growth in short videos (up 31%) caused the misalignment. So many views of short Olympic clips added up, but so did short-clip viewing of political campaigns. Short-form video is supported by fewer ads, so that explains the aberration.

Viewership in both categories was way up. Sports spiked up 76%, and news 45%. But live news ad views were up 145%, again an indication of heavy views of election-related viewing. FreeWheel intimates, wait until the Q4 numbers. They ought to be, yuge.

As we’re discovering,  a lot of short-length political content watched by lots of people isn’t ultimately so healthy.

Nonetheless, that live content category is humming along. Ad views within live content--sports mainly--were up a fat 60% year over year.

FreeWheel bases its stats on analysis of 47 billion video views in Q3 and 160 billion video views in 2015. The data set in the report is culled from one of the largest available pools of professional, rights-managed video content.

It’s also turning out that 2016 is something like the flowering of the golden age of living room adoption of once mystifying TV Everywhere “authenticated” devices--up an impressive 72%--and the still kind of mystifying OTT devices. FreeWheel says in Q3, set-top box enable video on demand ad views for programmers that use dynamic ad insertion, went up 103%, and OTT volume was up 63%.

In contrast, desktop ad views continue to plateau, leveling out at around 35% over the last two quarters--up “just” 11%--but still the place where more than one out of three ads are seen. (To a lot of folks in the ad biz, it’s as if it’s dead.)

Growth in STB VOD ad views, for programmers that have enabled dynamic ad insertion (DAI), is still incredibly strong (103%) and OTT device volume is 63% higher than a year ago. Why? More stuff to watch, more familiarity about how to use it. (There's always a process. Jay Leno used to joke he'd turn his mother's VCR on at Christmas and turn it off when he came home for Easter.)  

Smartphone ad views went up 39% and according to FreeWheel, comprise 17% of all ads, a percentage point share higher than VOD. OTT devices take 22%.

FreeWheel says automatic transactions continue to grow--up 64% YOY--but make up just 11.4% of all premium video ad sales. Digital pure-plays content services--those deal mostly in short form videos--are more comfortable with automation. That’s how 28% of their ads get delivered.

But in Q3, only 7.3% of programmers ad views--those are mainly linear TV content creators like broadcast or cable networks-- came through automated models. That was up 92% but compared to a measly 5.5% last year.
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