NPAW: Global Daily VOD Use Grew 12% in 2023

More people are watching video-on-demand content on their televisions.

Following two years of decline, the time the average user spends watching content per day increased globally in 2023 by 12% for VOD and 4% for linear TV content, according to new data from NPAW, a video streaming analytics company.

The findings, released in the company’s 2023 Video Streaming Industry Report, revealed a significant year of engagement and quality improvements for the industry.

In the second half of last year, daily user engagement for VOD and linear TV grew 4% and 3%, respectively.

NPAW suggests the data signals an increase in consumption or a shift in the consumers’ attention toward a more selective number of streaming platforms.

Episodic content continued to dominate as the primary type of VOD content, capturing 67% of the total global TV viewership. However, movies saw a slight increase, accounting for 26% of all VOD minutes streamed in 2023.

Additionally, last year saw significant improvements in the quality of video streaming, with a global decrease of 38% in the buffering ratio, and regionally, with regions like Asia experiencing an 18% increase in the average bitrate. These percentage improvements suggest there is still room for optimization of the streaming video experience.

At the device level, big screens extended their dominance in total playtime by 8%, driven by the growth of smart TVs. The data reaffirms that consumers overwhelmingly prefer big-screen TVs when streaming video content, reserving smaller-screen devices such assmartphones for casual streaming, social media video or while on the move.

“​​These findings underscore a significant year of renewal and growth for the streaming sector,” Ferran Vilaró, CEO of NPAW, said in a statement.

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NPAW Streaming Video Projections for 2024: AI-Driven Data, More Live Sports, Reduced Content Production

Expect to see greater use of artificial intelligence (AI), live sports programming and fewer original content productions among major streaming video services in 2024, according to new industry projections from NPAW.

The video streaming analytics company cited the ongoing Hollywood actors’ strike and push by media companies to reign in streaming video costs for the industry embrace of AI technology across data analysis, content personalization, live subtitling and dubbing, among other issues.

Specifically, new AI-powered tools will allow streaming providers and their teams to extract actionable data insights through simple, natural language interactions. Deep data insights about quality of experience and service, user behavior, and content preferences, will be at the fingertips of the data and business-savvy alike.

“No need for complex analyses and a deep knowledge of data analytics,” Till Sudworth, head of video and CMO, at NPAW, said in a statement. “A simple query on a chatbot will give employees the information they need to run a successful video business.”

Sudworth contends that with further development of AI, platforms will offer an even more personalized user experience. Predictive analytics will help to recommend what the viewer would like to watch next based on their viewing habits, interaction and behavioral trends.

“This will advance to the point where users will have their own ‘channel’ of content curated entirely by AI,” he said.

Indeed, AI will play an increasingly bigger role in quickly processing languages and dialects for live subtitling and dubbing. NPAW predicts the technology will be able to accurately subtitle or dub content in real-time, making content accessible to a global audience faster and breaking language barriers.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the Hollywood strike and content production interruptions experienced in 2023, and driven by a renewed focus on economic sustainability rather than shareholder growth, major content producers will look for a balance between the quantity and quality of content. After years of spare-no-expense content production, media companies (not named Netflix) may opt for fewer, high-quality productions and emphasize building deeper libraries of licensed programming.

“This could shift the focus to long-term audience retention rather than rapid audience growth,” Sudworth said.

As the cord-cutting trend continues among pay-TV subscribers, an increasing number of sports enthusiasts are shifting from traditional cable and broadcast mediums to streaming services. NBCUniversal’s Peacock, Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max and Paramount+ have significantly upped their live sports offerings to include Major League Baseball, the National Football League and NBA.

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NPAW reports that the use of multiple content delivery network (CDNs) is enabling streaming service to handle stream data-heavy content distribution such as live sports. In live sports, every second of delay is critical, and a multi-CDN strategy ensures streaming services can take advantage of the CDN that provides the lowest latency.

“The sector is witnessing a resurgence of peer-to-peer capabilities, which allow for seamless content delivery during high-concurrency, peak-demand periods, such as live sports competitions,” Jordi Bartomeu, chief strategy officer and head of product analytics, said in a statement.

NPAW: Daily Streaming During 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Soccer Increased 20%

With the largest field of competing countries and a first time champion in Spain, the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer tournament set live audience, television and streaming records.

New data from Barcelona-based video streaming analytics firm NPAW found that compared to the average of the 90 days prior to the tournament’s July 20 start, total games and playtime streamed increased 20% during the tournament. The average streaming user upped their viewership time on game days 32%. Average unique viewers during the month-long competition increased 5%. Daily streaming for the average user during the WWC reached one hour.

The finals match between England and Spain saw an impressive 202% increase in live streaming viewership compared to the other games — a statistic that dwarfed the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup, which saw a 40% increase compared to the other games.

In terms of the devices used by viewers to stream the WWC, mirroring past sports events, the majority preferred a traditional, big-screen viewing experience. Set-top boxes and TVs combined accounted for 75.2% of total playtime. Smart-phones and PCs accounted for a combined 22.4%. Tablets and consoles captured less than 3% of the total playtime.

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NPAW: Daily Streaming Video Use Increased in First Half of the Year, Reversing Downward Trend

Streaming video services saw a surge in daily engagement per user in the first half of 2023, reversing the downward trend that started in 2021 as competition between services began taking a toll on the amount of time that consumers can spend on each streaming platform.

That is the main finding from new data from NPAW, which suggests that the growing adoption of live-sports streaming is pushing user engagement.

The uptick in user engagement per streaming service, measured in daily playtime per user and platform, might signal some degree of market consolidation, with consumers focusing on a select few online video platforms, according to the report. Another explanation could simply be an overall increase in streaming consumption.

Meanwhile, live streaming of major sports continues to grow, with year-over-year increases in total plays, playtime, and unique users for events such as Wimbledon or the NBA Finals. The data also confirms the growing trend of sports fans shifting to online video and away from traditional broadcast.

For the first time since 2021, the number of VOD minutes that consumers watch per day per streaming service increased globally (up 4%). This suggests that consumers may either be focusing on a few select services or that overall consumption is rising

The global linear TV playtime per user and streaming service also increased by 3%, reversing the downward trend that began in 2021 and confirming a potential industry-wide shift

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VOD consumers showed an overwhelming preference for episodic content, with episodes accounting for 60% of the total global playtime, while movies only captured 25%

Big screens, particularly smart TVs, continued to expand their dominance in VOD and, more notably, in linear content. Small-screen devices lost share, particularly smartphones, consolidating their position as secondary streaming devices.

“The first half of 2023 marked a potential turning point for the global video streaming industry,” said Ferran Vilaró, CEO /co-founder of NPAW, in a statement.

2023 Tour de France Saw Mild Boost in Streaming as Final Paris Stage Records Peak Viewership

The 2023 Tour de France bicycle race saw marginal streaming viewership gains throughout the 23-day event, with the final stage into Paris posting outsized numbers, including 78% uptick in plays, 40% increase in total playtime and 46% increase in unique viewers watching Danish cyclist Jonas Vingegaard win his second Tour, according to new data from NPAW.

In February, NBC Sports, Peacock and the Amaury Sport Organization announced a six-year extension for exclusive U.S. media rights for the Tour de France, including streaming.

Overall, the bike race experienced only slight upticks in streaming viewership, suggesting trends among live streaming’s appeal among sports events does not necessarily apply to cycling.

The Tour caters to a very specific audience segment that fails to move the needle overall. Notably, though, there was a 20% surge in total viewing time during the Tour compared to the 90 previous days, NPAW attributed the uptick more to the long duration of the event and its 21 stages.

Pay-TV set-top boxes and big screen televisions remain the main devices for streaming the Tour, jointly seizing 75% of the total playtime, according to NPAW. PCs and Smartphones combined for 20% of the playtime.

“As we move forward, it will be interesting to see if these percentages remain stable, or if mobile devices for live sports streaming grow in importance as they have done in other aspects of our lives,” read the blog post.

NPAW: Live-Streaming Champions League Soccer Final, French Open Tennis Broke Records

There’s a reason Netflix is considering live-streaming sports. New data from streaming video analytics firm NPAW found an increase in plays, playtime and unique streaming users for the recently concluded Champions League soccer competition and French Open tennis tournament compared to both the previous three months of streaming consumption and the 2022 events.

When compared to the previous 90 days — i.e. regular seasonal consumption —  NPAW reported an 11% increase in plays and unique users during the length of the tournament, while total playtime streaming usage increased 8%.

NPAW image

The surge in streaming consumption was much stronger when compared to last year’s tournament, which points at the growing popularity of streaming platforms among tennis fans. The French Open from the Rolland Garros tennis arena in Paris live-streamed in the U.S. on Peacock.

“Roland Garros 2023 garnered 68% more plays than the previous edition, attracting 57% more unique users and registering a 37% higher playtime,” Miquel Morales, content manager at NPAW, wrote in a blog post. “However, the average playtime and average playtime per user decreased by 27% and 32% respectively, indicating that users might be watching in shorter bursts or being less engaged per streaming session.”

Morales wrote that the men’s semifinals attracted the most playtime, while TVs were the device of choice for most viewers with almost a 47% share. PCs came in second with 19% of the share, with smartphones following with 16%.

The annual UEFA Champions League to determine Europe’s best soccer teams saw Manchester City win their first Champions League title, defeating Inter Milan 1-0 on June 10, and completing a historic triple crown by winning England’s Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League in the same season.

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NPAW found that live-streaming of the 2023 final saw significant spikes in streaming consumption compared to the previous 90 days of competition and the 2022 final. This year saw 39% more plays and 45% more unique users. Even though the total playtime increased by 14% from the 2022 final, the average playtime per user and per streaming service both decreased compared to 2022, suggesting viewers tuned in for shorter sessions.

Connected TVs were the devices that captured the most playtime (34%), followed by smartphones (26%), set-top-boxes (18%), and PCs (15%), according to Morales.

Study: Most SVOD Services to Introduce Ads in the Next Two Years

More than 76% of subscription streaming VOD services plan to add commercialized content by 2025, according to analysis released by data analytics company NPAW, which interviewed 250 online video business owners worldwide about their business models, advertising, and measurement practices and challenges.

As the global video streaming market continues to grow and become increasingly crowded, streaming businesses are looking for ways to maintain their growth and competitive edge.

Implementing a hybrid model (an ad-supported tier plus a premium, subscription-based one) is the preferred path for 59% of respondents — a move respondents said is aimed at lowering the price of subscriptions.

The survey data suggests ad-based video streaming models are on the rise because of their potential to increase platform revenues and reduce subscription prices, a win-win for streaming services and consumers in a time of economic uncertainty and market saturation. The data also underscores that the adoption of third-party video and advertising analytics in the industry is still fairly low, yet quickly increasing as providers recognize the strategic advantage of comprehensive real-time data.

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The report found that about half of streaming companies (47%) are already using a third-party video analytics tool to track platform performance and user behavior, while 39% plan to do so.

The report also found that 100% of ad-based video services plan to implement a third-party advertising analytics tool this year. Despite the still fairly low adoption levels of third-party ad analytics tools, all ad-based streaming companies currently not using one are planning to do so this year, with 34% saying they will implement one within months, while 44% saying they will deploy one by the end of 2023.

“It’s encouraging to see that more and more companies are taking a data-driven approach to running their video business, especially as the industry’s shift to ads brings a unique set of measurement challenges,” Till Sudworth, chief marketing officer of NPAW, said in a statement.

Report: VOD Consumption Fell in 2021

Video streaming providers around the globe faced lower video-on-demand (VOD) consumption per service in 2021 as they strived to keep up with increased competition and content saturation. That’s the conclusion based on new data from research firm NPAW’s Video Streaming Industry Report 2021.

The global streaming market experienced further expansion in 2021 as consumers consolidated some of the new behavior patterns that emerged during the pandemic. Yet competition is becoming fiercer, with established providers and newcomers alike bidding for the viewers’ attention and experimenting with new monetization models.

NPAW found that VOD consumption for each streaming provider went down by an average of 9% across regions. Rather than this reflecting a loss of appetite for VOD content among consumers, the report suggests the downward trend underscores the effects of increasingly fierce industry competition and an abundance of content

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For example, linear TV is a local business. Consumption per service increased globally but varied from one region to another. This mixed picture is a reflection of the local nature of linear TV and how its consumption depends much more on local preferences and trends than VOD does

Providers continued optimizing video quality for VOD, increasing by a global average of 5% to support higher bitrates while lowering the buffer ratio. However, they seem to have gotten the hang of linear TV, as tweaks in the various quality metrics for this type of content stabilize, according to the report.

With live sporting events back at full speed, sports streaming is booming for VOD and linear TV, both from a consumption and video quality standpoint. NPAW expects sports streaming consumption and quality to continue rising in 2022 as providers put a greater focus on this type of content

Big screens still reign supreme, while smartphones show the biggest decrease in consumption of all devices. Streaming is competing with many other forms of entertainment on mobile phones. But also by the fact that consumers are spending more time at home and have less of a need to stream video on the go

“In today’s hyper-competitive market landscape, it is critical for providers to prioritize the [quality of the VOD experience] if they want to stay ahead of the game. Ferran Vilaró, CEO of NPAW, said in a statement.

“It’s not just about the content for strategy,” said industry expert Dan Rayburn in a webinar to present the report’s key findings. “You can have the best content in the world but, if your user experience to consume that content is not good, it doesn’t matter.”