There’s a massive consumer shift toward streaming video services

OpenX has announced the findings of a nationwide survey conducted by The Harris Poll, showing a massive consumer shift toward OTT/streaming video content consumption is well underway. 

OTT stands for “over-the-top” and refers to content providers that distribute streaming media as a standalone product directly to viewers over the Internet, bypassing telecommunications, multichannel television, and broadcast television platforms that traditionally act as a controller or distributor of such content. One example: the upcoming Apple TV+ service, coming this fall.

With the majority of American adults now using at least one OTT service, and most subscribing to three separate platforms to stream content, the OpenX study highlights how OTT has become the primary video content channel for nearly all age groups in the U.S. today. Despite the report's finding that OTT viewing has surpassed live television for many demographics, only $2 billion of the $70 billion spent on television advertising in the US in 2018 was spent on targeted, addressable TV ads.

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Key highlights from the new study include:

OTT is now mainstream. A majority of US adults now stream OTT content daily, and they stream a lot. OTT Millennials for example watch more than twice as much streaming content as they do linear cable television.

OTT consumers are mobile-first. On average, OTT consumers use their mobile devices for more than 6 hours a day and watch more than two hours of mobile video each day. Nearly one-third now say screen size has no impact on how long they watch or the type of content. Millennial OTT users stream more video content on their mobile device than they do on their TVs.

Password sharing and multiple screens complicate marketing strategies. One-third of OTT consumers share passwords and the average OTT user has three different connected devices that they stream video content on. This sharing and fragmentation requires marketers to take more comprehensive approaches to delivering 1:1 experiences in OTT environments.

There is room for different business models. Streamers are about evenly split between wanting an ad-supported or subscription model. A slim majority of viewers prefer a cheaper or free service supported by ads rather than a more expensive ad-free service.

OTT ads work. 72% of streamers recall seeing OTT advertisements and 40% have "paused to purchase" - pausing the streaming content they were watching to learn more or make a purchase, creating significant new opportunities to deliver both lean forward and lean back consumer marketing strategies for OTT. 

"Consumer attention is shifting significantly to OTT channels and this sea change in how we consume video content represents the most significant evolution in media consumption since the introduction of the smartphone," says Dallas Lawrence, chief brand officer at OpenX. "More than half of all Americans now use an OTT service, and they stream a lot – over two and a half hours every single day. With OTT now capturing a significant percentage of total consumer video time, yet less than 5% of total TV ad spending, an enormous shift in how marketers diversify their advertising strategy is on the horizon. This research clearly signals that the OTT era has arrived, and with it, new and disruptive opportunities for marketers to elevate the power and efficacy of video advertising beyond anything we have seen before.”

The survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of OpenX from February 13 to March 6, 2019 among 2,002 consumers over the age of 18 that reported using at least one OTT service.