Opportunistic On-Demand Users Spike Overall Video Viewing

A new report from Nielsen shows that video on demand, or time-shifted content, is a fast-growing part of the television ecosystem, providing new and exciting opportunities for digital marketers.

According to Nielsen’s Q1 2014 Cross-Platform Report, video on demand (VOD) has come of age over the last two years.

Whether they’re watching last night’s drama, last season’s premiere of a sitcom, or an original series that doesn’t even air on terrestrial television, Americans are digitally smitten with discovering, catching up on, and accessing content on their own terms. And it’s this content availability that has helped power a sharp video viewing curve, as mobile device penetration, coupled with on-demand options, continues to grow, and as viewers spend more time watching.

Currently available in more than 60 percent of U.S. households, VOD is increasingly contributing to the viewing potential. What’s more is that recently telecast VOD (RTVOD) has emerged as a legitimate choice for consumers who might not have a DVR or simply missed recording last night’s episode.

Nielsen’s most recent Cross-Platform Report took a look at the on-demand landscape and found some interesting insights to share. Key findings include:

  • Close to 40 percent of U.S. TV households currently subscribe to at least one subscription-based video-on-demand (SVOD) service and the opportunity to use these platforms has grown among younger segments.
  • While on average VOD contributes 4 to 5 percent in the coveted 18-to-49 demo, individual shows have seen upward of a 15 to 20 percent increase in viewership from VOD. It is also a platform that is appealing to younger demos, as well as Asian-Americans, whose overall contribution through VOD is 8 percent.
  • Overall, the Q1 2014 Cross-Platform Report found that Americans continue to watch more than five hours of traditional television per day — a statistic that has remained close to flat over the same quarter for three years running.
  • However, daily time spent watching time-shifted content has continued to rise, as has viewing using the Internet on a computer and using a smartphone, which now boasts 70 percent penetration in the U.S.

What’s more is that RTVOD — where the ad-skipping functionality is often disabled — could be an opportunity for advertisers and programmers alike. Not only do viewers of RTVOD have higher penetration levels across many devices, but they’re also more likely to have four or more years of college and to make more than $100,000 per year.


In the full report, which can be downloaded from the Nielsen website, Dounia Turrill, Nielsen’s senior vice president of insight, explains that today’s viewers are making device and platform choices that have a “profound” impact on the meaning of television and video. For example, this May there was a “great transformation” during a traditionally television-centric time of the year. She’s referring, of course, to the Upfronts and the Digital Content NewFronts.

She adds that early conversations around time-shifting and digital became very real. Upfront talks around shifting some deals from Live+3 days to Live+7 days, digital rights, and programmatic buying had those in the media and advertising industry on the edge of their seats. This year, digital publishers came out strong, Turrill says, adding that they are capturing the attention of Millennials in growing numbers and challenging the media landscape.

“The American consumer has never before engaged with more content across media type, media devices, and content type,” Turrill concludes. “Understanding, defining, and measuring this curve matters to our clients. Timeshifting allows us to watch more content, video-on-demand allows us to watch more content, and digital delivery allows us to watch more content.”

Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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