Live, long-form content ad views jump 129% in Q4 2015, FreeWheel says

Live-streamed, long-form content appears to be catching on in a big way as ad views on this type of streamed content leaped 129 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to a new FreeWheel report. And how viewers are watching those ads is changing, too, with smartphones and streaming devices like Roku and Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Chromecast outpacing desktop browsers as the primary viewing device.

The ad serving platform, which is owned by Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and serves ads to a number of digital video clients including, ESPN, Turner, Vevo and even Amazon, noted that ad views and video views were up across the board, averaging a 30 percent growth rate for the quarter and the full year 2015.

For online video, 2015 was a big year. Monetization of OTT on the "big screen" (those TV sets in parents' living rooms) increased 76 percent, while smartphones saw a 92 percent increase in monetization of video streams, the study found.

"Looking at the big picture, the total U.S. market saw over 50 billion ultra-premium, Programmer-quality, digital video views across all of 2015, inclusive of the volume coming through FreeWheel," the report said. "This baseline will only continue to grow, as we predict that the 'New Living Room' (defined as anywhere, anytime viewing) will expand with the popularity of both on-demand and live streaming digital viewership pushing all content to all screens."

FreeWheel also found that original content still rules when it comes to making money. "Digital pure-play" (DPP) providers--those which only deliver content via digital or over-the-top streams--saw less than 10 percent of ads delivered on their streams of "ultrapremium" linear programming, FreeWheel said. Meanwhile, other types of programmers' live and long-form content, delivered via authenticated TV Everywhere apps or through another streaming medium, recorded 74 percent of ad views--meaning these providers are still seeing much higher monetization of their content than DPP providers. "Since DPPs are often aggregators of Programmer clips, until they develop original robust long-form offerings, or acquire consistent rights to stream live sports and news, these trends are unlikely to shift," the report said.

FreeWheel Q4 2015 ad view report

For DPP providers, short-form video still gets the most ad views, while programmers' long-form content takes a large share as well. (Source: Vindicia)

Within digital delivery, there's a lot of variation when it comes to which content genre is getting the most ad views -- and therefore more dollars.

For long-form content, entertainment and kids' programming get a massive share of ad views compared to other genres: 78 percent and 58 percent, respectively, compared to 5 percent in the news genre and 3 percent in sports.

However, sports and news topped ad views in the live-streamed category, at 69 percent and 17 percent, respectively. In fact, live-streamed games drove sports ad views up at an 83 percent rate year over year, FreeWheel said. Music and news are the most popular genres for ad views on short-form content – in fact, music outstrips all other genres in this area with 87 percent of ad views, while news topped out at 72 percent.

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