YouTube is the undisputed king of free-ad-supported video online. Now it is extending its dominance to the connected television set, and could be replacing traditional free-to-air broadcasters in the process.
Cord-cutters love YouTube
New data from comScore shows there is still a strong appetite for free ad-support video. And that appetite gets stronger in cord-cutter households. comScore analyzed data from 870 cord-cutters in its panel of 12,500+ households. What it found, unsurprisingly, was that OTT video consumption is much higher in cord-cutter households than average. These households watch 60% more online video, which translates to an hour more per day than the average home.
The comScore data shows that cord-cutters watch 41% more video on Netflix than average, 45% more on Amazon, and 13% more on Hulu. However, the biggest difference is in YouTube viewing. Cord cutters spend 47% more time with YouTube than the average.
YouTube becoming more of a TV thing
Though YouTube says that more than 50% of viewing is from mobile devices, an increasing amount is being viewed on a television. Google claims that 2 out of 3 YouTube viewers watch at least some of the videos on the television. Given that 180 million people in the U.S. use YouTube, that implies 120 million watch YouTube on a television.
Many of those YouTube-on-TV viewers behave very much as regular TV viewers. Daily peak viewing occurs during primetime, and the most popular time in the week to watch is on the weekend.
It should be noted that viewing through all screens, not just the television, follows the established viewing patterns of regular television. Smartphone, tablet, PC, and connected TV viewing all show strong peaks in usage between 8 and 10 PM in the evening. However, it is the television that has by far the biggest peak at that time.
There is one big difference between watching on the TV and watching on a mobile device. YouTube-on-TV viewers are far more likely to be watching with someone else. Google says those watching on the TV screen are twice as likely to be watching with a friend as someone watching on mobile device.
Operators are helping YouTube reach the TV
Pay TV operators have noticed that their customers like to watch YouTube videos on their television. Some have already integrated the YouTube client into their set-top boxes, and with great success. For example, UPC in Hungary put YouTube on its STBs. Soon after the release, the company found that 72% of its video customers were watching YouTube for an astonishing 45 minutes per viewing session.
Acceding to the trend, even operators like Comcast are getting onboard the YouTube train. The cable giant announced that it will also add the YouTube client to its X1 set-top boxes.
Out with the old, in with the new
Free-to-air broadcasters have shied away from the free-to-web TV opportunity. They have, instead, chosen to ally themselves with pay TV online, forcing customers to sign in with their operator credentials to watch online. Others, like CBS, force their viewers to subscribe to an online service like CBS All Access to watch.
The data from comScore and Google illustrate there is still a tremendous opportunity for free-ad-supported video on the television set. And if traditional free-to-air TV providers are not willing to provide it on connected TVs, YouTube is happy to oblige.
Why it matters
The television is becoming increasingly important as a viewing platform for YouTube.
When YouTube viewing happens on a television consumption patterns mirror traditional television.
The data shows there is still a big appetite for free-ad-supported content on the TV.