No longer just ‘supplemental,’ non-linear TV viewing takes a starring role

non-linear TV viewing
Consumers are turning to non-linear TV viewing alternatives like Netflix and other OTT services as they migrate away from traditional linear TV viewing.

Non-linear TV viewing has become a significant alternative to traditional linear TV, a new report says, elevating non-linear from the “supplemental” role it once played.

“Non-linear television viewing was largely additive to traditional linear TV viewing, driving up the total number of minutes watched,” said Rob Moyser, research analyst at IHS Markit, and an author of the 2019 Cross-Platform Television Viewing Time report. As a result, he said, total cross-platform viewing time is returning to levels seen prior to the rise of on-demand viewing.

IHS Markit, the result is that cross-platform viewing times declined nearly 4% in 2018 to 273.7 minutes from 284.3 minutes in 2013. That decrease took place in every country studied, including the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.

As non-linear TV viewing rises, linear slips

More notable is the change in the composition of content viewing. In 2013, linear viewing made up 87% of total time watched. In 2018, that share was just 67%.

As we’ve also seen in our most recent Global Video Index reports, long-form video is making tremendous inroads among consumers. IHS Markit’s latest report concurs, noting that the per-person 2018 y/y increase in long-form consumption (15+ mins.) was more than six minutes per day.

The researcher attributed much of that gain – which occurred to varying extents in every country studied – to the prevalence of Netflix. But other outlets, Amazon Prime and Hulu for example, have obviously had major impact as well.

Social sees modest gains

Video viewing on social sites, especially Facebook, saw a slight increase between 2013 and 2018, bucking the general trend by adding eight minutes per-person, per-day. But, that’s really no surprise as social media platforms increasingly look to video as a value add for their customers. Both Facebook and Twitter, for example, have made delivering sports content – highlights and additional shoulder content like interviews and features – a priority.

Not to be forgotten, mobile is playing a significant role in the rise in non-linear.

“Mobile devices have become a key area of growth in terms of video consumption, particularly out of the home, as data plans become more affordable and screen sizes increase,” says Fateha Begum, principal research analyst at IHS Markit.

Recent Global Video Index reports have shown enormous increases in mobile usage for content consumption of all lengths. Last year, for example, mobile devices accounted for more than 60% of all video starts.

And, as next-gen delivery – 5G – continues to expand its footprint from the test rollouts we’re seeing this year, that usage will increase, even at home as more users cast content to their bigger screens from their mobile “gateway.”

The bottom line

We’re a long way from the days of OTT services being something that consumers added to their pay-TV bundle to give them something to watch during the summer doldrums or on quiet weekends the rest of the year. Increasingly, as we’ll see this quarter when pay-TV subscriber numbers are released (numbers that are likely to be the worst the industry has ever seen in the US), OTT has taken on a starring role, one it’s unlikely to let go of.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn