NBCU: CTV Viewership Up 95% Last Year; Half To Three-Quarters Of All TV Viewing Now Time-Shifted

NBCUniversal’s first “One Audience Trends Report” offers stats and examples from its own portfolio that underscore how much cross-platform consumption is, or should be, transforming media buying strategies. 

One attention-getter: CTV saw the largest percentage growth in digital viewership last year: up 95%, versus 37% growth for desktop and mobile/tablet. (No actual shares for CTV vs personal devices are provided.) 

“As CTV grows increasingly popular, advertisers will see new opportunities for versatility, flexibility and targeting,” the report notes.

Overall, each year during the past five, digital content consumption has grown by a minimum of 30% year-over-year across NBCU’s portfolio, extending reach well beyond linear.

NBC leads in digital share and volume across demographics, but NBCU’s cable networks are “close behind,” and all types of content have seen digital viewership growth. Last year, it was up up 143% in news, 37% in sports, 30% in entertainment, and 47% in Hispanic programming.

Another stat of note: Even among those 50 and older, fully 50% of entertainment viewing is now time-shifted via streaming, on-demand or digital. Today, older viewers are literally splitting their viewing time between live linear TV and streaming/on-demand. 

Not surprisingly, the time-shifted percentages are even higher among younger demographics: 69% among those 35 to 49, and 76% among the 18-to-34 segment. 

In fact, among those 18 to 49, digital's share of total viewership across nine NBCU networks averages 21% (chart above). 

The data also confirm that the large screen is still by far the dominant viewing device. In fact, 74% of NBCU digital content is watched on a TV screen, and fully 97% of consumption in a typical NBCU ad campaign occurs on a TV screen, either via linear, CTV or set-top-box video-on-demand

Dispelling Myths, Outdated Practices

“Dated ideas about the importance of daily ratings have held the industry back, preventing us from transforming and adopting a modern, cross-platform approach to planning,” says the report, using cross-platform consumption trends or “viewing rhythms” for some NBC shows to illustrate the importance of looking at linear, on-demand and digital holistically. (And to highlight the shows’ popularity in the process…)

For instance, after airing live on Monday, “The Voice” sees its on-demand peak on Tuesday and Wednesday, due to its FOMO or “watercooler” dynamic. Similarly, “Saturday Night Live” sees digital and on-demand peak on Sunday and Monday.

“This Is Us” is the #1 show by linear ratings, but is also #1 on-demand three days a week, and within the top three on-demand every day of the week, according to NBCU.

“Chicago,” on the other hand, generally sees its on-demand ratings peak within 24 hours of its original airtime.

Takeaway: An accurate picture of viewership requires inclusion of digital and VOD consumption, not just traditional daily/overnight ratings.

NBCU aggregated results from several ad campaigns to come up with these statistics on how results improved when the same budget is used for true cross-platform buys versus binary, linear-vs.-digital ad buys:

2 comments about "NBCU: CTV Viewership Up 95% Last Year; Half To Three-Quarters Of All TV Viewing Now Time-Shifted".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 25, 2020 at 9:23 a.m.

    Karlene, when they report that half of all "entertainment" viewing is time shifted, they are referring to primetime sitcoms, dramas and reality fare, not all TV viewing. The broadcast networks' primetime entertainment shows, collectively, represent less than 10% of all TV viewing and most of the rest is not heavily seen on a delayed basis. In fact, a typical Nielsen report finds that only 10-15 % of all  "linear TV" viewing is delayed. I think it's important to make this distinction as too many people will assume that the figures cited apply to the entire TV medium---when they don't.

  2. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics, October 2, 2020 at 6:55 p.m.

    Always good for a reporter to know the source of viewership data. Did I miss it?

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