FreeWheel: Ad-Supported Video Content Continues to Impact Half-Year U.S. Streaming Trends

In an era of media companies rejiggering the direct-to-consumer video streaming market, the proliferation of ad-supported content and television screen size size (81% of TV viewing is done on a large-size screen) underscore video trends among consumers in the U.S., according to new data from FreeWheel.

Ad view growth has increased 6% the U.S. (6%) in the first six months of 2023 due to the increased presence of ad-supported VOD and free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) platforms, and marketing, based on audience characteristics (behavioral, demographic), up 80% year-over-year.

Consumer use of connected TVs is up 11% in the first half of 2023 from the first half of 2022. Mobile device use is up 19% from 2022.

Indeed, more than 76% of ad-supported content is consumed via an internet-connected television (CTV), followed by 13% via mobile devices, 6% desktop computers and 5% legacy set-top boxes. Among CTV devices, Roku dominates the market at 44% household penetration, followed by 16% Amazon Fire TV, 12% Smart TVs, 6% Google Chromecast, 3% video game consoles and 19% other devices.

In the U.S., 41% of ad-supported video content is distributed through TV Everywhere (authenticated streaming services accompanying a cable/satellite subscription), followed by FAST (23%), direct-to-consumer (18%), online TV (6%), digital content aggregator (6%), and set-top boxes (6%).

The majority ad-supported video content consumed in the U.S. is live (54%), with 46% derived from video-on-demand, including 70% long-form content, i.e., movies, and 30% short-form, content six minutes in length or less.

Meanwhile, audiences do not drastically adjust their choice of screen size whether they are watching VOD or live content, according to the report. VOD in the is primarily watched on large screens (76%) across CTV and STB combined, while live-streaming is even more likely to be viewed on CTV (87%). Overall, U.S. viewers gravitate toward large screen devices.

At the same time, video marketers are increasingly targeting CTV audience segments by behavioral indicators, rather than demographics.

“The overarching trend toward refining the viewer experience can be seen with this push toward relevancy in the ads served to individual viewers,” read the report.

Redbox Partners With Comcast’s FreeWheel Digital Ad Platform

Redbox Oct. 4 announced it is partnering with FreeWheel, the Comcast-owned facilitator for digital advertising. Through this technology, Redbox claims advertisers will be able to more easily access and buy its content inventory — both nationally and locally — and target specific audiences.

Redbox offers two free streaming options — AVOD, which contains thousands of free movies, and free ad-supported television (FAST), which features more than 100 free channels. The company has been rapidly expanding both areas through content deals with studios and networks.

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As Redbox focuses on continuing to expand to local markets nationwide, FreeWheel’s partnership across the ecosystem will enable advertisers, demand side platforms (DSPs), and buyside systems to easily access Redbox inventory with scale and simplicity.

“As we continue to ramp efforts in the free streaming space, we knew FreeWheel would accelerate our advertising capabilities and allow advertisers to easily micro-target viewers across all our streaming platforms,” Jason Kwong, chief strategy and digital officer at Redbox, said in a statement. We’re excited to partner with them and to further grow our business.”

“Redbox has put a lot of focus on their growing advertising business, and with that comes the need to monetize their vast amount of inventory,” said Dave Clark, General Manager of FreeWheel. “We are thrilled to be working with the team at Redbox to scale their national advertising footprint across local markets, as well as facilitating unique local demand in ways that work best for their business. As FreeWheel continues to expand our focus and enable better connection across the ecosystem, Redbox is an ideal partner.”

Report: Ad-Supported Streaming Market Share Surged, SVOD Declined in the First Half of 2021

The rise in AVOD and free ad-supported streaming TV use among consumers continued to attract viewers, marketers and generate commercials in the first half of 2021.

New data from FreeWheel found that streaming services accounted for 45% of all ad views through June 30, overtaking TV Everywhere — pay-TV’s longstanding attempt to combat over-the-top video with ad-supported on-demand viewing for subscribers.

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Connected TV accounted for 60% of total ad views with Roku and Fire TV devices continuing to lead market share with 43% and 26% of CTV views, respectively. Entertainment programming led the premium video ecosystem, with 92% of ad views, according to the report.

FreeWheel found that similarly to linear TV, digital platforms offer diverse content appealing to a broader consumer base, with 51% of ad views driven by live TV, with on-demand content at 37%.

Live content feeds are the cornerstone of the FAST business model and have become popular with consumers since they are free, have myriad channels selections, and limited commercials. According to a recent consumer survey, 20% of respondents said they would be interested in using free streaming platforms to replace their SVOD services.

Indeed, SVOD pioneers Netflix and Hulu each saw their domestic market share decline in the second quarter, ended June 30. Market leader Netflix’s share fell from 37% to 29%, while Hulu dropped to 19% from 22%. Disney+, HBO Max, and Paramount+ saw market share increases to 17% (from 16%), 11% (from 8%), and 8% (from 6%), respectively.

“New technology, political tensions and a global pandemic in 2020 transformed and accelerated how people access, consume and respond to media and advertising and we’ve seen this evolution continue into the first half of 2021,” read the report. “Advertisers, marketers and their content, distribution and technology partners can expect the change that was spurred in 2020 and is persisting into 2021 to continue, if not accelerate.”

FreeWheel said changing consumer viewing and buying behavior will push the continued evolution of data capability, accuracy and availability.

“The industry is at the beginning of a long-term, data-driven evolution of how advertising and marketing are done,” read the report. “Keeping up in the industry will require a focus on the data that provides insight into viewer behavior and what impacts it, and enables the reach, targeting and reporting that marketers crave.”

Comcast: Lines Between Linear TV, Digital Video Blurring for Marketers

As over-the-top video expands, the differences between traditional pay-TV and streaming video are eroding, according to new data from FreeWheel, a subsidiary of Comcast.

The Video Marketplace Report outlines the increasing convergence between linear TV and premium digital video – and how that can benefit marketers.

In 2018, 40% of all ad views were delivered on a connected TV, while live viewing grew 86% as consumers watched video content in real-time – spurred by PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics and the FIFA World Cup in Russia, according to David Dworin, one of the report’s authors.

“Watching TV can now mean tuning into a program on linear TV, streaming a favorite series on a connected TV, or following a live event on a smartphone. It’s the content, not the pipes, that viewers see,” Dworin said in a statement.

Premium video also saw strong overall growth (27%), continuing a multi-year trend, according to the report.

Indeed, FreeWheel found 52% of advertisers and agencies surveyed are combining digital video and linear TV spots and 91% say they will by 2021.

Another 74% of advertisers say it is important or very important to have integrated digital video and linear TV data/technology distribution channel.

The report cited that just 23% of viewing occurs in the key 8 to 11 p.m. timeslot, while more than 75% of viewing occurs outside of the traditional TV “primetime.”

Another 18% of desktop ad views come between 12 and 3 p.m., underscoring the ease of click-through marketing. Finally, connected TV ad views grew 53% in 2018, which represented 40% of all ad views.