nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Video start requests double in 2017, dominated by apps

Share of plays and viewing hours by platform 2017

In many ways, 2017 was a landmark year for the business of premium online video services. Live linear services, like Sling TV and DirecTV Now, delivering premium sports were embraced by millions and consumers. Moreover, services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video continued to grow strongly, both domestically and internationally.

New data from Conviva illustrates the speed with which consumers are embracing these new services.[i]

Viewing time and video plays grow strongly

Conviva says it saw viewing time increase more than a 100% over the last year, to reach 12.6 billion hours. These viewing hours were spread across many devices, but TV viewing devices saw particularly strong growth in usage, increasing 9% over the year. Nearly three-fifths of the viewing hours were delivered in the United States, with Europe and Asia accounting for a fifth each.

The number of video plays also increased dramatically, up 73% year-over-year to reach 39 billion. In 2016, browser access was the most common way people used to access a video. In 2017, apps became the preferred platform. 64% of video requests came from apps and 36% from browsers. This data illustrates an enormous change in consumer behavior in just one year. It also shows that consumers have promoted their streaming habit from the small screen to the big screen.

TV connected devices drive the highest engagement

Though mobile devices dominate the number of plays, TV devices drive the most viewing time. Android devices saw the highest share of video plays during 2017, with 27%. iOS devices were close behind with 21%. The next three devices – PC, Roku, and Game Console – were far behind mobile devices, with 17%, 11%, and 10% shares respectively. The rest commanded only a small share.

Regarding viewer, hours delivered Roku dominates all other platforms. The company’s devices drove almost a quarter share of all viewing hours and had the longest viewing times overall. Conviva says that the other TV streaming platforms – Fire TV, Apple TV, game consoles, and Chromecast – also drive much higher viewing times than mobile devices and PCs.

Conviva data reinforces why it is so important for providers like YouTube and Facebook to make the transition to the big screen. Simply put, the longer someone watches, the more ads they will see. Moreover, with consumers preferring TV platforms, it is doubly important for Facebook and Google to be there.

Quality remains a work in progress

Of the 40 billion video starts Conviva saw throughout 2017, 17.7% failed. 3.6% of video view attempts simply failed to start. The other 14.1% of failures were due to the viewer abandoning the attempt before the video started. Why did so many people give up before the video started playing?

The average video start time was 4.84 seconds, which Conviva says is an improvement of 23% over last year. The average monthly range was between 6.8 seconds and 4 seconds. However, this may not be fast enough. As so many people stream on televisions, the benchmark for video start times is likely TV channel change time. And channel changes times are typically shorter than the average video start time.

Conviva says buffering problems – when the video freezes due to streaming delays – continue to plague video services, and showed very little improvement over the year. The company says the penalty for even a small increase in buffering can be steep. A 0.2% increase in buffering ratio leads to an 8-minute reduction in average viewing time.

Why it matters

Conviva saw the number of video hours delivered double over the last year. It also saw a 73% increase in the number of video plays.

Connected TV devices are key in driving the increase in streaming time, led by Roku-powered devices.

Quality challenges remain, particularly with video start times and buffering.


[i] Conviva provides measurement and analytics services to 7 out of the top 10 US SVOD publishers, gathers data from over 180 countries over 1,200 internet service providers (ISP). Data comes from a continuous video measurement census of 57% of the U.S. internet population.

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