Screen-agnostic online TV ecosystem expanding rapidly and profitably

DetailsJoseph O'Halloran | 25 February 2015

Digital video's growth is now being driven by the crown jewels of the TV industry, namely first-run shows and live events, according to the latest FreeWheel video monetisation report.

FreeWheelCovering the fourth quarter of 2014, the report shows that fundamentally there was considerable growth in both the digital monetisation of US broadcast networks' autumn programming and live streaming, and also evidence to indicate that the TV ecosystem is expanding and becoming screen-agnostic.

The online video ad management and monetisation firm says that the quarter's growth is the final chapter in a successful year, in which video ad views grew 30% from 2013. It added that contrary to the gloomy stories the industry has seen about the television marketplace, the TV ecosystem continues to expand.

Moreover, the survey found that viewers have not abandoned their favourite content but rather found new ways to access it. The full year showed 30% and 27% growth in ad and video views respectively, as publishers succeeded in drawing audiences to their most premium content.

Interestingly, the survey showed that several trends emerged over 2014 as viewers and publishers continued to modify how they watch and monetise their shows, sports, clips and more. Live viewing grew 297% year-over-year, driven by strong growth in sports streaming and news simulcasts while first-run broadcast shows attracted far more viewers this quarter than the year prior, with a 67% increase in digital video ad views. Authenticated viewing grew 591% year-over-year, as 56% of all video ad views on long-form and live content now come from behind authentication walls.

Reflecting other retorts that have signalled both platforms changing fortunes over the last year, the FreeWheel report showed that over-the top (OTT) streaming devices, overwhelmingly used for long-form and live viewing, overtook tablets, accounting for 8% of all video ad views. Time-shifted and catch-up services also enjoyed success during the year. The report showed that almost two-thirds (64%) of viewing occurred over a week after that content's original broadcast time.