Live Video Beats VOD Hands Down in Per Play Viewing Time

Live Video Beats VOD Hands Down in Per Play Viewing Time

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Live video viewing times are far, far longer than VOD times according the Ooyala’s Q4 2013 Video Index. On connected TVs, no surprise, times reach more than 42 minutes while VOD on the same platform is just 5.1 minutes per play. So live sports, breaking news and live linear streaming of things like special events are pulling down a lot of viewing time.

Watching things like live sports and breaking news clearly would account for some lengthy viewing times. But that massive disparity between live and VOD seems counter-intuitive. Especially when just yesterday I talked about how much long form video is being consumed across devices. 75% of viewing time on mobile is content that is 10+ minutes in length.

Yet, the average time per play on mobile is just 2.8 minutes for VOD and 3.5 for live streams. So it makes it sound like long form content is only watched in 3 minute chunks on mobile devices. On connected TV, 81% of viewing time is 10+ minute content. While VOD average per play is 5.1 minutes, live averaged 42.8 minutes per play, topping the 34.5 minutes for desktops. On tablets, live streaming is nearly twice VOD. So what is it that everyone is watching that is considered a live stream?

Live vs VOD Time per Play 2013 Q4

Sports video is quite popular for the live streaming crowd, which makes sense because I think everyone would rather watch some things like and sports lends itself to that. Look at the success of the Turner Sports NCAA streaming this year with over 51 million streams in the first two weekends of the tournament. However, sports are somewhat screen agnostic in terms of live streams. The range of time per play is just 10.5 to 17.1 minutes versus those averages for all content above. So sports live streams are probably raising the averages on tablets and mobile and dragging them down on CTV and desktop.

live vs VOD per play sports content Q4 2013

So if that’s the case the unanswered question is still, what are the viewers watching for more than 30 minutes in live streaming? Maybe we need to look at where the data is coming from to find that answer.

Ooyala tracks “the anonymized viewing habits of nearly 200 million unique viewers in 130 countries every month,” so it is a more global audience than most research. That means the viewing habits will be diverse in this research so it is highly likely that they are watching less TV and movies and more news, music events, and sports in particular. Many countries are under 5 hours per day for TV viewing while the US is right around that level and those averages drop off quickly in the top twenty countries. So TV is not such a central piece of life outside of the country.

Sports on the other hand are much more popular in many other countries, especially games like soccer, rugby and cricket and they all have longer seasons which makes for more viewing a lot of which is probably being done on mobile devices instead of traditional televisions. Ooyala stated, “mobile viewers spent 62% of their time watching video longer than 10 minutes, often staying connected for long periods of time to highlight shows and game recaps.”

In 2013 ABI Research states that the average mobile video viewing per user was 12.7 hours per month. Given that around half, 47%, of pay-TV providers have some sort streaming now that is going to continue to rise and these live streaming average view times could continue to grow as well.

While the numbers might look askew we have to remember that this is viewing time and not plays. It could be that there are 10x the number of VOD plays than there are live stream plays which then would put total times vod vs. live on a more level playing ground. Either way, live streaming should definitely be seeing some great monetization potential right now with viewing times that long on average.

You can view the full report from Ooyala here.


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