Viewing Time, Other CTV Behaviors Now Resemble Linear's

As connected TV matures, consumers’ CTV viewing habits increasingly resemble their linear TV ones, indicating that audiences are using CTV as more than an occasional supplement to linear TV.  

That’s the main conclusion of a new analysis from FreeWheel, Comcast’s ad-server business. 

The analysis is based on a sample of U.S. FreeWheel clients representing more than 95% of CTV-driven digital ad views in the platform’s broader research data set, taken from third-quarter 2019. 

“The viewing patterns we’re seeing on CTV are mirroring what we’ve historically seen in linear TV, suggesting viewers are turning to new ways to watch their favorite shows,” says David Dworin, FreeWheel’s vice president, advisory services. “For advertisers, this represents an opportunity to tell their story to viewers they have not reached on other channels.”  

Case in point:  In Q3 2019, 61% lasted over an hour — up from just 36% in Q1 2017, says the report, which is an update of a 2017 report. At the opposite end of the spectrum, just 13% of visits in Q3 lasted 10 minutes or under in Q3 2019, down from 25% in Q1 2017. 

Also, ad consumption — and by proxy, viewing — across all CTV device groups was found to rise gradually during the day and peak during prime time (8-10 pm), again replicating linear TV patterns. 


This indicates that campaigns limited to linear TV “would miss out on these CTV audiences, who are watching the same content during the same time period, but on a different platform,” concludes Dworin. 

In addition, live-streamed content accounted for 33% of CTV ad-viewing share on attached devices (the most-used type of CTV viewing device), 29% on gaming consoles, and 40% on smart TVs. This is the same content distributed on linear, now moving toward time-shifted — again indicating that CTV and linear viewers are unlikely to overlap. 

Among the other findings: 

  • Attached devices (e.g. Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire TV) accounted for 91% of ad views, gaming consoles for 5%, and smart TVs for 4%. Attached devices are still generally preferred to smart TVs because of their more modern operating systems.
  • 63% of the CTV audience fell within the 18 to 49 demo (including 34% between 18 and 34 and 29% between 35 and 49). Nearly a quarter (23%) were between 50 and 64, and 14% were 65 and older.
  • CTV’s average ad completion rate was 97%, indicating high engagement among viewers across connected devices. Gaming consoles’ rate in Q3 was 98%, with both connected devices and smart TVs at 97%.
  • On average, across devices, 68% of Q3 CTV ad views were generated by viewers who had logged in. Smart TVs’ authentication rate was 90%, versus 48% for attached devices and 23% for gaming consoles. “The large base of authenticated ad views on CTV not only implies that the audiences are genuine, but that they approach the content with high intent to engage and commit to viewing,” argues FreeWheel.
  • Full episodes accounted for 56% of attached devices’ ad-view share, 70% of gaming consoles’, and 53% of smart TVs’. Clips (zero to five minutes) accounted for 12% of attached devices’ ad-view share, 2% of gaming consoles’, and 8% of smart TVs’.
1 comment about "Viewing Time, Other CTV Behaviors Now Resemble Linear's".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 12, 2020 at 3:13 p.m.

    Karlene, surely nobody believes that CTV's high ad"completion" rate--97%---means that 97% of the  average  minute ( ? )"audience" watches an average CTV ad message?The comparable figure for "linear "TV---if you believe that the set being on equals commercial viewing ----is probably about 93%---but nobody believes that people counted as "viewers" actually watch 93% of all TV commercials that make it to a screen and are shown from start to finish.

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