VAB report: TV still strong, especially in cluttered streaming world

VAB report: TV still strong, especially in cluttered streaming world

Preconceived notions about video streaming and live TV may be flipped on their collective heads by the latest report from the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB). The VAB report, “Requiem for a Stream,” is a three-part series on streaming and shows a highly competitive streaming ecosystem featuring everything from transactional and subscription services to social streaming and ad supported streams. And it sings the praises of live television viewing.

Streaming is actually a relatively small audience

Despite the streaming hype machine being on overdrive, the report found that streaming is the habit of a small number of TV devotees – 6 per cent of people do 87 per cent of streaming, and the streamers are among the biggest TV watchers. They're maxing out on viewing, not moving away, often using multiple streaming platforms for different purposes (Netflix for past seasons, Hulu for current, Amazon for movies). In addition to their streaming habits, these power streamers are watching more than four hours of TV/day.

“One of the things we try to do is put fact and figures around exactly what consumption is,” said Danielle DeLauro, senior vice president of strategic sales insight for the VAB. “A lot of people are talking about streaming. One of the reasons is because it does seem that every day a new streaming service is popping up. Every major content provider now seems to be putting out their own service so there's a lot of talk about what's going on in the world of streaming — as well as there should be. I think really the big takeaway is the fact that streaming is a complement to television. Just like the DVR is a complement to television. They are not taking away television. They're taking people who love TV content and allowing them to access it in different platforms or different forms or on their own time,” said DeLauro.

TV content is a core element of streaming, even for Millennials

“Linear television is still how the majority of people consume video content — and that's all video content across all platform, across every device, any kind of content. It comes through linear television. And I think that that stat alone, when we go and present the actual numbers, people are still taken aback because that's not what is being talked about in the marketplace,” said DeLauro, who if often called by research and planning chiefs of major global agencies within minutes of releasing reports, to help them understand their importance.

It’s no secret that Millennials like to stream their content. But what might be surprising to some is that they still watch plenty of TV.

“The amount of time spent with TV among Millennials is higher than it is for streaming. Half of all streamers are Millennials so they definitely do like to stream. But what they like to stream and prefer to stream is cheap content. So when you think about it that way, it actually makes sense that they would continue to watch linear TV. Even though people make it out to be that TV content isn't relevant to Millennials and they're not interested in it, it's exactly the opposite. If anything I'm always amazed about how they go back and try to watch archive programs from twenty years ago. We have analysts here that are binge watching 'Friends' and 'Seinfeld' and historic programs. And I think that is really just about their love of TV content and they just want to get it any way that they can,” said DeLauro.

Live TV is still a (big) thing

The VAB is seeing a shift away from the DVR because of the ease of finding programs on the streaming services like Hulu and Netflix.

“I think the DVR is becoming less important. And I think that it's important to realize that DVRs are still only in half of all households,” said DeLauro.

“A big thing that we're seeing is that in DVR homes, these are avid TV viewers. They tend to consume 20 per cent more television than in non-DVR homes,” added Evelyn Skurkovich, VP of strategic research and insights for the VAB.

DeLauro went on to say that all the hype around people not watching ads anymore because of DVRs never really came true, especially since 77 per cent of people still watch live television.

The report shines a light on streaming that hadn’t been there before, chock full of data that should please advertisers, because a lot of this information hadn’t been widely distributed before.

Ad spending is going up

“We're actually right now doing an analysis that's looking at a bunch of advertisers that had shifted some money into digital. And now what we're seeing is they're shifting back. If you look at the upfront returns you can see that most networks are coming out and saying that they did even better than they thought they would have because demand is so high for linear television and really multi-platform television,” said DeLauro.

“I would say there was a dip probably about three years or so ago. And I think we've seen a decent increase of a few percentage points over the last year, year and a half, maybe even two years,” added Jason Wiese, VP, strategic insights for the VAB.

The team pointed out that there is considerable chaos in the streaming world, mostly because it’s so new and was saturated at such a rapid pace. DeLauro said that the way to break through the chaos would be to have an aggregator.

“That's ultimately where I think we're going to see some sort of aggregator or some sort of company or device or system come in and make some sense out of the chaos that's happening in this environment now. The fact that what we're seeing that people feel at this point that there's so many different options. That they may hear of a TV show that they want to watch and it takes them time to figure out exactly where to watch that TV show because there's so many different options. So I think that there is this idea of, wanting to watch a show but where does one go to get that show? I don't think that's beneficial to the marketplace at this point,” said DeLauro.

The choices people have is making a big impact, but the clutter makes it harder to find the content people want.

“We can see that media consumption continues to grow year after year. So overall people are just viewing content in different places but its not in place of television,” said Skurkovich.

Overall, the study uncovers the facts about live television and streaming that many people just hadn’t heard before.

“(We) debunk all the myths and take out all the noise that's going on in the marketplace now and just simplify it and go back to where it's viewing today. We don't know where it's going to be five years from now but let’s focus on today because that's the environment that someone wants to sell a product in. And that's really what everything is about. It's about a marketer putting an ad in one of our brands and having that move product off the shelf,” concluded DeLauro.

Additional reporting by Doug Zanger.

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Kyle O'Brien

I am a reporter for The Drum covering a wide array of topics but always trying to tell the best stories possible. I am a former west coaster from California and Portland, Oregon, now living in Pennsylvania — with time spent in NYC each week.

I also play saxophone professionally.

All by Kyle