During 2020’s first quarter, time spent on streaming globally leaped 57% year-over-year, driven by a 79% jump in video-on-demand, which captured 72% of total viewing time.
Not surprisingly, the real surge in streaming commenced on March 15, as shelter-at-home orders rolled out in countries and regions around the world.
But advertisers’ massive pullback in response to that phenomenon and to economic uncertainty and content concerns, combined with increased ad-quality errors, drove missed ad opportunities — those not filled or not played as intended — up by 26.9% versus Q4 2019, to reach a full 46.3% of available opportunities.
Those are highlights from Conviva’s global State of Streaming report for the transformational quarter.
The most common issue behind missed opportunities was the lack of ad demand, which led to wrapper and VAST errors as publishers tried to fill ad slots but came up empty, Conviva reports.
Ad Quality Mostly Improved
Nevertheless, Q1’s average ad start time, 2.21 seconds, represented an improvement: down 3.5% compared to Q4 2019.
Also, viewers who abandoned content when encountering any ad-start delay declined by 5.6% versus Q4. At the same time, the portion who abandoned content when encountering significant ad-start delays (5 seconds) jumped to 19.2% — up from an average of 13.6% found in previous periods analyzed by Conviva. “This illustrates how viewer impatience for ad delays continues to rise,” notes Conviva.
Ad buffering also improved, down 3.5% in Q1 from the previous quarter. But ad picture quality was down 15% compared to the previous quarter.
Everything Changed In a Month
Between February and March, overall time spent streaming grew a “stunning” 20%, with on-demand viewing up 28%, reports Conviva.
Viewing on connected TVs dominated growth during that period: up 21% overall, with a 26% increase in on-demand.
TVs were also the only device to see an increase in live viewing month-over-month — up 10%. Mobile and PC declined by 7% and 10%, respectively.
However, on a full-quarter basis, mobile broke CTV’s multi-quarter viewing growth leadership trend. Mobile devices saw 60% overall viewing growth in Q1 versus the year-ago quarter, and a huge 84% increase in on-demand viewing.
However, CTV remained the device of choice for streaming, capturing 54% and 62% of all viewing time globally and in the Americas in the quarter.
Regional exceptions were Asia and Africa, where PC viewing captured 51% and 54% of viewing time, respectively; and Europe, where mobile edged out other devices, with a 32% viewing share.
Streaming Content Quality Up
Overall streaming content quality improved in Q1, with 27% less time spent waiting for buffering, 25% higher picture quality, and 14% fewer video start failures year-over-year. Video start times were unchanged.
Mobile devices saw the most progress, with 38% less buffering, 27% higher picture quality, 13% fewer start failures, and a 3% faster start time.
TV experienced more modest improvements: Buffering down 7%, picture quality up 22%, and video start time down 4% -- although video start failures rose 1%.
PCs saw moderate YoY quality declines in all categories except buffering, which improved 18%.
Roku was the only device to net quality improvements across the board, with video start failures plunging 49%, 37% higher picture quality, a buffering improvement of 33%, and 15% faster video start times.
Roku also boosted viewing hours by 55% YoY, and its share of global connected TV viewing time rose slightly, to 44%.
U.S. Publishers Beat Aggregators’ Viewing Growth
The long trend of greater growth for U.S. aggregators than for U.S. publishers reversed in Q1.
U.S. publishers’ viewing hours grew 163% compared to the year-ago quarter, while aggregators’ hours grew just 27%.
Aggregators’ growth was impacted by the closure of PlayStation Vue at the end of January, while the publisher category was bolstered by the recent launches of Disney+ and other services, according to the report.
Aggregators delivered around 60% less buffering and video start failures as well as a moderately shorter start time in Q1, while publishers offered 30% higher picture quality, on average.
Small Sports Orgs Drove Social Lift
Despite sports around the globe going on hiatus spurring a downturn in social content production, "unlikely smaller-market" sports organizations drove large increases in social engagement in Q1, Conviva notes.
For instance, the Milwaukee Bucks, Cincinnati Reds, Winnipeg Jets and Orlando City Soccer Club joined ratings juggernaut Dallas Cowboys as league-leaders in engagement on TikTok.
Data for Conviva’s report is collected primarily from its sensor technology embedded in 3 billion streaming video applications, which measure more than 500 million unique viewers and 150 billion streams per year and 1.5 trillion real-time transactions per day across more than 180 countries. Year-over-year comparisons were normalized at the customer level for accurate representations of industry growth. The advertising data are based on an analysis of 12.5 billion ad attempts in Q1. The social media data are based on an analysis of more than 15 million posts, 1.7 million videos, and 2.9 billion engagements across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.