Sometimes, playing catch up isn’t a bad thing.
Video on demand (VOD), a long-time content consumption afterthought, is now promoted by TV networks, embraced by advertisers, a focus for cable service providers, and used frequently by consumers.
Matt Strauss, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Video Services for Comcast Cable, has been working in the VOD space for a long time and in a phone interview last week with Lost Remote, pinpointed the service’s recent growth to four things:
First is predictability. Historically, consumers would not know which shows were available, how many episodes there would be, or when the content would be loaded after it premiered. Now, the top 100 Nielsen-rated shows are typically made available on Comcast’s VOD platform hours after they first air on linear TV.
Second is ad serving. Programmers now have the ability to swap out ads on VOD just as they have been doing online.
Third is measurement. C3 viewing (Nielsen’s metric for commercial viewing which includes day of broadcast plus three days) has historically only included live viewing and DVR viewing, but now includes VOD.
Fourth is audience. 70% of Comcast subscribers now use VOD services, with a 100% increase in time spent viewing TV content on VOD in the past three years.
More than anything else, predictability has set VOD in motion. An extensive and current content library has allowed consumers to discover shows and to catch up on them, which in turn leads to a return to live TV. Until recently, viewers who missed the boat on a show had to wait until a season ended to catch up on Netflix. Before that, it was via DVD box sets.
Comcast releases a weekly list of the top 20 most viewed shows on its VOD platform. Sometimes the list mirrors the Nielsen ratings, but sometimes it doesn’t. The implications of this to networks and to advertisers cannot be overstated: audiences are now expanding in season rather than after the season. And whether this results in live TV viewing or in plus-three viewing, more ads are being seen within an important window.
“We’re finding that through on demand we’re seeing an increase in commercial viewing,” Strauss said. “On average we’re seeing about a 20% increase in commercial viewing during the C3 window in Comcast households and that’s even higher than 20% when we look at series that are stacked with a full season. It’s an interesting footnote because I think that there’s a lot of misperceptions around how on demand is viewed and used and I think binge viewing has been miscast, with respect to what we’re finding, in how customers are truly looking to enjoy the video.” Read more