Multichannel News: ‘Live’ Online Views Up 129% in Q4, FreeWheel Says
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‘Live’ Online Views Up 129% in Q4, FreeWheel Says
March 9, 2016 by P.J. Bednarski, Multichannel News

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The quick evolution of ”live” online video is interesting to watch. In short: It’s growing like crazy. The new FreeWheel Q4 2015 Video Monetization Report, out today, says live content consumption on digital platforms in Q4 grew a ridiculous 129% from the year before.

A lot of this must be because there wasn’t much live available in years past, but it shows the market for it.

FreeWheel, for example, shows that ad growth for live online sports video grew 127% and live news 135%, which has got to be because it’s growing from virtually nothing. (“Live,” as FreeWheel defines it, are “live simulcasts and live sports and news events.”)

Part of the increase from “live” programming is traced by the growth of TV Everywhere. Ad views from TV Everywhere sources grew 142%. (Sneeze at that! FreeWheel points out that in Q4 2014, ad views from authenticated sources were up an astounding 591% from the year before. That 142% is something like the first bounce after that, it appears.)

FreeWheel, not coincidentally, is beta-testing its Hybrid Linear Digital Ad Scheduler that lets video publishers plan and optimize live content by using spot scheduling and digital ad insertion.

A significant figure is the next one: FreeWheel says 65% of all long-form ad views are coming from behind the TV Everywhere authentication wall. That seems to me to be a sign that demonstrates, as broadcast and cable purveyors like to point out to advertisers, the enduring power of television brands as in a digital/app world.

This report also says apps from multichannel video program distributors now account for a growing 9% of all programmer ad views. Dollar-wise, it’s up 169%.

The FreeWheel money report continues the reporting of digital data that is increasing in increments of 100, so that another data piece–that long-form on demand content increased 56% year-to-year–seems almost depressing. That’s it?

Where’s the money coming from? FreeWheel says for Q4 2015, retail accounted for 25% of all advertising, up 31%; and consumer packaged goods accounted for 18%, up 12%. Entertainment/media advertisers comprised 10% of all advertising, but up 35%, and computing products made up 11% of all the advertising, but up 34% year to year.

A big portion of the FreeWheel report concentrates on where all this viewing is happening.

As observed everywhere else, the answer is over-the-top devices and smartphones. They now make up 60% of all video ad views. OTT ad views were up 76%; smartphones accounted for 92%, says FreeWheel.

For viewers, there is an ad storm coming. In Q4, programmers, on average, jammed 4.2 ads into mid-roll slot, for an average of 99 seconds. That’s not bad compared to television, perhaps, but it’s never been that long before. For live programming, it’s even worse: 6.2 ads per break for a total of 130 seconds.

“Even as content providers tinker and experiment with the optimal ad experience,” Brian Dutt, FreeWheel vice president of strategic development, writes: “We continue to see that push upwards toward the linear standard.” ( It appears “linear standard” is the polite way to refer to television?”)

And finally, though it’s hard for me to get my hand around a “billion,” it still seems relevant or daunting or outrageous to point out, as FreeWheel does, that for all of 2015, U.S. viewers saw “over 50 billion ultra-premium, programmer-quality digital views” based on the volume that comes through FreeWheel.

Amazing.