Viewers tend to have the same reaction to TV and video adsA new wave of made-for-web video content has redefined what it means to watch television, according to a new eMarketer report, “Made-for-Web Video Content: The New TV.” eMarketer defines made-for-web video as programming created for digital platforms, including websites, desktop-based streaming apps and mobile apps.
Thanks to hits like Netflix’s “House of Cards,” it now matters little whether a show is delivered via cable, broadcast or Wi-Fi, or whether it’s viewed on a TV, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Consumers are making viewing decisions purely on the strength of the content, and advertisers are following their cues. These tectonic shifts in how programs are funded, distributed and viewed represent the biggest disruption in the television industry since the advent of cable.
Growth in overall digital and mobile viewing represents critical mass for content creators on new media platforms. There will be 204.6 million US digital video viewers in 2017, representing 78.1% of internet users and 62.7% of the general population. That’s an increase from 182.5 million in 2013, or 75.0% of internet users and 57.7% of US residents.
Original video content can be long- or short-form. In the longer-form category, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon are leaders, and the three services have each begun to introduce original content in the past few years.
In terms of the effect exclusive video content will have on subscriber numbers, a study by AYTM Market Research indicated just 37.1% of US internet users would consider paying for a streaming service if it had exclusive rights to a show they were interested in watching. The remaining 62.7% of respondents said they would “probably not” or “definitely not” subscribe on that basis.
Still, there are signs that, even at this early stage in its development, long-form made-for-web content is pulling viewers away from cable. In a June 2013 survey, CouponCabin looked at consumer attitudes toward pay TV services and discovered that 38% of US adult internet users streamed shows that were only available on streaming venues such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video.
While Netflix has taken an early lead in the world of full-length made-for-web video, YouTube has built a commanding lead in professional short-form programming.
comScore’s June 2013 ranking of YouTube partner channels found that VEVO was the most popular channel in terms of unique viewers and total videos.
Virtually all of the short-form, made-for-web content on YouTube and other venues is ad-supported. The same is true of full-length TV shows on Hulu and Hulu Plus. That means that, with the exception of subscription-only services such as Netflix or Amazon, enlisting the support of brand marketers is an essential strategy of content owners and platforms that cater to digital audiences.
Viewers don’t seem to make huge distinctions between TV and made-for-web video ads, either. A January 2013 Starcom study found that US internet users had similar attitudes toward ads during traditional TV and original streaming content. Feelings were slightly more polarized for streaming, with greater percentages of viewers reacting positively or negatively and fewer with neutral reactions. But the study did not indicate the kinds of statistical differences that would make marketers, content owners or streaming companies rethink the advertising model for online vs. traditional TV.
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