In its U.S. Video Marketplace Report detailing the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on video and ad spending, Freewheel, a Comcast-owned video management company, has said audiences still enjoy “linear-like viewing experiences.”
The report found that as consumers grapple with the realities of the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, audiences in the U.S. are watching more video, resulting in a 17% year-over-year increase in premium video views in the first half of 2020. Premium video ad views increased by 32%.
The first half of 2020 also revealed that, when at home, Americans preferred watching content on “the big screen” rather than their mobile device. In the U.S., ad views on set-top box and connected TV (CTV) comprised 73% of total views during the six-month period. In fact, when compared to 2019, ad views on CTV increased by 42%.
“In the first half of 2020, we observed that the lockdown restrictions related to COVID-19 proved to be an accelerant for changes among both audiences and advertisers,” said David Dworin, head of Advisory Services at FreeWheel, in a statement. “Viewers are turning to premium video more than ever, and, when given the choice, they are choosing to watch it in a lean-back, engaged way on their television sets. Despite a challenging year for the media industry, the power and popularity of premium TV is as clear as ever, and we expect this trend to continue even after the pandemic is behind us.”
As for content, audiences have primarily tuned into entertainment and news programming. At the onset of the pandemic news viewership sharply increased and continues to remain popular during these uncertain times. Consequently, live viewing grew by over 38% despite an absence of sports programming.
For an industry grappling with uncertainty, the report confirms the idea that the pandemic has accelerated, rather than incited, trends already foreseen by many within the industry.