Commentary

Millennials And Women's Soccer Fuel Online Video Growth

Now here's a funny thing. Regular readers will know that MAD London was cheering on the England Women's team in this year's FIFA Women's World Cup. Well, although that support didn't bring home the trophy, the tournament did throw up an intriguing result.

New research from FreeWheel suggests the cup competition was the major driver that saw online video viewing increase by nearly a third, year-on-year between the second quarter of 2018 and the second quarter of 2019. The boost was most particularly seen in France and Germany, as well as the US and China. 

This meant there was also a 25% increase in video ad viewing between the two periods.

The researchers make the point that this is an increase in viewing figures compared to 2018 levels, which themselves saw huge growth of 45% compared to the same period in 2017. The growth last year was driven by the Men's World Cup, which pretty much proves the case that big sporting events significantly boost online video viewing. 

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Interestingly, the video advertising that accompanies a leap in viewing figures is shifting channels. Growth is stalling on mobile and desktop, FreeWheel's figures suggest, and moving to set-top boxes, video-on-demand and connected TV -- which, between them, account for 45% of total ad view share. This means that the most common type of video entertainment that ads run alongside of is "full episodes" as opposed to short viral clips, which could explain why.

This is particularly relevant for the UK, the researchers point out, where there has been a drop in traditional tv advertising among 16- to-34-year-olds. They now see a fifth fewer linear television ads and so are now being increasingly targeted through streaming and video-on-demand services. 

So we have proof again that a major sporting event is a big boost for video viewing and figures showing nearly that half the audience is now found not on small screens but instead a tv screen linked to the internet, streaming content to the tv set via a box, device or app.

Media executives talk about the difficulty of reaching Gen Z and millennials on traditional channels and this latest piece of research would appear to suggest they are increasingly consuming video content away from linear television.

What we also know is that sporting events are a huge bonus to online video viewing figures and that we need to get away from presuming the industry is all about short clips when, in reality, most viewing is of full shows, not just surfing kittens. 

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