Member Guest Post with Samsung Ads – Go With the Show! How Audiences are Fragmenting Across VOD Platforms, and What Trends Advertisers Should Look For

In this week’s member guest blog post, we welcome Alex Hole, VP  Samsung Ads Europe, as he shares new exclusive insights into how Samsung TV audiences embraced TV streaming during 2020. 

Last year was a disruptive year for every industry. TV was no exception. Despite video on demand (VOD) platforms having been in existence for nearly two decades, the last 12 months have seen an unparalleled rate of growth across all TV consumption but in particular OTT content. 

At Samsung Ads, we use ACR (automatic content recognition) on millions of Samsung Smart TVs across Europe to gain insights into how Samsung TVs are being used, and which services are most popular. In our new report, ‘Decoding the on-demand TV landscape’, we reveal just how much those viewing habits changed on those TVs over 2020.

In January 2020, we began the year with an almost even split between linear and streaming viewing time on our Smart TVs across Europe (51% and 49%, respectively). By the end of the year, the balance had tipped in streaming’s favour, with streaming viewership time increasing by 5% to account for 54% of total TV time. Whilst this shift towards streaming on our TVs is not unexpected —  it is a significant increase in just 12 months. 

Looking more specifically at streaming, we saw some interesting trends emerge. There was strong growth for subscription video on demand (SVOD) services, with viewing time across SVOD showing significant increase, particularly in Italy and the UK, growing 47% and 43% respectively. It’s likely this increased demand was fuelled by the continued growth of services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, and also the launch of Disney+ in Europe last year. The latter is on a rapid growth trajectory, with some estimating it might surpass Netflix in subscription numbers in just three years!

While SVOD services accounted for half of the total viewing time of VOD services on our TVs across Europe in 2020, ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) services also grew their share from 25% of viewing time in January to 31% by December. Spain was a particular standout, with AVOD viewing time growing an incredible 95%. Italy and Germany also saw strong demand here, with a 78% and 73% increase in AVOD viewing time respectively. 

This is an emerging trend for advertisers to watch. AVOD, while still relatively new, is showing promising growth numbers. Advertisers who have watched the rise of SVOD with some concern around how to reach ‘streamers’ can now see the potential opportunity to reach these audiences in ad-supported OTT environments.  Audiences today increasingly split their viewing time between linear, SVOD, AVOD, BVOD (and more!) giving advertisers plenty of opportunity to connect with them, if only they can follow the data.

Indeed, the evolution of TV viewership is incredibly complex, and audiences are becoming increasingly fragmented as their choices multiply. As viewers have grown used to choosing what they want to watch, when they want to watch it, advertisers have an opportunity to evolve and shape strategies around these choices. There are promising new opportunities opening up within curated streaming environments, enabling advertisers to reach highly engaged viewers once thought of as ‘lost’ to streaming. 

The audience habits that emerged over 2020 reinforces that TV is undergoing continual change and is evolving quickly. Viewers are being provided with new services and ways to interact with content they want on the biggest screen in the home. This, in turn, provides new opportunities for advertisers to reach new audiences and complement their existing Linear TV Schedules. As content options grow and technology improves, the industry will evolve alongside viewership trends. This is an exciting time for advertisers looking to connect with viewers on the biggest screen in the home.

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