The Lines Between Linear and Digital TV Disappear: Takeaways from the FreeWheel Video Marketplace Report

David Dworin VP, Advisory Services

Moving into 2019, the VMR has evolved from the Video Monetization Report to the Video Marketplace Report and now looks at trends across both linear TV and premium digital video, incorporating insights from both the buy-side and the sell-side. In this issue, we look back at 2018, which marked a big year in the convergence of the two.

Viewership trends looked more similar than ever before, and there were significant industry moves to unify advertising across both. According to a joint FreeWheel and Advertiser Perceptions study, media buyers are combining budgets and organizations, with 52% saying that the buying of linear TV and digital video is now combined, and 91% saying it will be by 2021.

Q4 2018 VMR

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Concurrently, publishers and operators are enabling more converged sales options. As part of the 2018 U.S. Upfronts, NBCUniversal rolled out CFlight, a new ‘unified advertising metric’ that measures viewership regardless of when or where consumption occurred. These steps are helping to ensure advertisers can reach engaged audiences at scale, no matter where they are watching.

Throughout the year, audiences and advertisers in the U.S. and Europe confirmed that premium video is increasing in popularity and importance. Full-year 2018 ad views grew by 27% and 15% in the U.S. and in Europe respectively, continuing multi-year trends.

Premium video has matured as a medium and now mirrors many of the attributes of linear TV, allowing advertisers to connect with audiences in their most engaged moments. Insights from the Video Marketplace Report highlighted the following U.S. trends throughout 2018.

Here’s a snapshot of three of our key takeaways from the report:

1. Advertisers shared live moments with audiences

Live content on premium video comprised more than one-third of total ad views in 2018, growing 86% over 2017. Record numbers of consumers watched tentpole sporting events like the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, the FIFA World Cup, and Super Bowl LII, on digital platforms. For example, NBC Sports digital coverage of the Winter Games set a new record, with 2.17B total streaming minutes and an 11% lift over its linear-only audience. This demonstrates that as publishers and operators have made strides in their abilities to deliver live content through premium video, consumer and advertiser confidence in the medium has increased.

2. Both primetime and anytime

For the first time, the Video Marketplace Report looked at premium video daypart viewing. The pattern across devices is similar to linear TV, with primetime viewing between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. representing 23% of all ad views. In addition, desktop ad views reveal a midday peak almost as high as primetime, and smartphones have a ‘commutertime’ with ad views increasing during the morning hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.

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3. Lean-back viewing on Connected TV

Consumers are increasingly accessing content on the television screen, which is valued by audiences and advertisers for its immersive viewing environment. Connected TV ad views for full-year 2018 grew by 53% and accounted for 40% of total ad views. As targeting and measurement capabilities expand in 2019, these environments will become even more valuable.

Want more data and our market-leading analyses? Download the report to access all the valuable insights for Q4 and 2018—including both U.S. and European perspectives.