Kristian Barnes
Aug 23, 2016

Streaming has changed my life

You're aware of binge watching and the video habits of 'streaming natives'. But have you really thought through what they mean, asks Kristian Barnes.

Kristian Barnes
Kristian Barnes

I often claim that as a household we watch less TV than we used to. However, after spending almost eight hours across the weekend watching back-to-back episodes of Wayward Pines (thoroughly recommend it) with my wife, and realising that in-between my kids' weekend sports, they were clocking up about the same time on YouTube, I have decided that I don’t know what I am talking about.

Streaming has radically changed all our viewing behaviours, and there are two interesting consumer phenomena going on here. The first is the growth of binge-watching, and the second is “streaming natives” behaviours around video content.

Binge-watching is not new. There used to be DVDs with full seasons to watch in one go. Technology has just made it much easier now: 74 percent of people who use streaming services do so for convenience, to watch what they want, when they want.

In a recent study by Netflix, 61 percent of its subscribers admitted to binge-watching, with 79 percent claiming it improved the viewing experience. and 37 percent said they wait for a season to complete in order to binge-watch it.

These percentages are important as streaming is growing fast—21 percent a year. By 2018 it will account for 82 percent of global consumer internet data traffic. Netflix alone currently accounts for more than 34 percent of peak data internet traffic in the US. Add in other streaming providers such as Amazon, Hulu, Apple TV, BBCiPlayer, Roku, Hayu, MUBI, Twitch and Vessel—to name a few—and it is not hard to see the impact of this behaviour.

Whilst traditional, ad-funded TV viewing is still bigger currently, it won’t be for long, and the hidden danger for advertisers with this changing behaviour is that binge-watchers enjoy either not having commercials, or being able to fast-forward through them.

Binge-watching is intentional and planned, and not to be disturbed. However, it is not a lone experience, but a group one. This means that as this shift accelerates, marketers and agencies will need to become more inventive in connecting brands with this “group event” behaviour.

Now onto streaming natives—that is, anyone under the age of 19. Not only are they making content—my eldest is forever uploading his “gaming videos” to his YouTube channel—but they are consuming vastly more video content, and across multiple devices.

Forty-six percent of teenagers spend at least an hour every day on YouTube, with 20 percent at 3 hours or more. The more amazing stat is that the amount of video uploaded to YouTube per minute has grown from 30 hours in 2011 to around 300 hours today.

On top of that 28 percent of teenagers' total video content viewing time is via a smartphone.

This begs the question: Where do they get the time? Obviously, when they are apparently doing “homework” or “school projects”.

Beyond parenting challenges, the implications here are immense, not only for advertisers but for traditional content creators. The people in this generation, who are about to become consumers in their own right, are used to creating, sharing and watching the content that interests them, no matter how niche. It is built around their interests, and commercial-free.

The discovery of content by this generation is driven more through social media, with referral traffic from Facebook and Twitter growing faster than traditional search engines as a source for video content.

In fact, some brands are already thinking differently about how to use social in this context. Seven out of 10 television-related tweets occur during programmes, and buying promoted tweets targeted to users has seen an increase of up to 58 percent in brand purchase intent.

From a content producer's side, many are experimenting with new ways to drive relationships with streaming natives. SyFy created Defiance, which is both a show and a video game, produced at the same time and with an interactive experience between them. This creates a new type of viewing experience, and engagement. Something that brands will have to consider how to integrate with in the future.

Anyway, I am looking forward to six straight hours of The Night Manager this weekend, and I am pretty sure that my kids will be running the power out on all available devices in order to ensure that they don’t miss any homemade Lego animation videos, or game play, or back-to-back episodes of Peppa Pig

Kristian Barnes is APAC CEO of Vizeum

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