Despite predictions of a ”pandemic peak,” streaming adoption continues to gain ground in almost every single region quarter after quarter, according to the Q3 2021 State of Streaming report from Conviva, the continuous measurement platform for streaming media. Streaming viewing time grew 21% worldwide in Q3 2021 as compared to the same quarter in 2020, led by Africa, Oceania and South America while North America, an established streaming market, held steady with the most modest growth of any region, up just 2%.
“Streaming viewing has grown 266% over the past three years, completely transforming the entertainment, publishing and advertising industries,” said Keith Zubchevich, CEO, Conviva. “Topics like quality of experience, advertising measurement and social engagement are now top of mind and the publishers that effectively leverage opportunities to improve in these areas will not only lead the industry in subscribers and viewer satisfaction, but also revenue.”
The report also found streaming publishers investing heavily in video content on social media platforms in Q3 2021 – especially YouTube – in order to test new content and promote their catalog with viewers. In fact, streaming platforms increased their content output on YouTube by 97%, which resulted in an 8.4% increase in views and a 24% increase in engagement. Audiences for streaming platform accounts grew by 66% on YouTube in Q3 2021 as compared to Q3 2020.
Buffering Nearly Eliminated; Higher Quality = Higher Engagement
Q3 2021 marks the first quarter all regions experienced sub-1% buffering, with buffering seeing the largest improvements in more nascent regions like Africa, down 78% year over year. North America had the most modest gains over last year, with a 29% reduction in buffering, which was enough to maintain its position as the region with the least buffering at just 0.19%. Year over year, picture quality also made gains with bitrate improving in every region.
Higher quality delivered higher consumer engagement across the board. When buffering rates were less than 0.4%, viewers engaged for an average of 28.44 minutes in Q3, with that steadily declining with each incremental increase in buffering. Similarly, higher picture quality correlated with higher engagement as viewers averaged more than 20 minutes at bitrates above 3.5 Mbps in Q3 with engagement declining as bitrates dropped.
Big screen domination persisted
Despite seeing a slight decrease in share over Q3 of last year, big screens – which includes connected TV devices, smart TVs and gaming consoles – still accounted for almost three quarters (73%) of viewing time worldwide. Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung TV made up the bulk of big screen viewing time globally with Roku again coming out on top with 31.1% share. Amazon Fire TV fell from 20% in Q3 2020 to 16.8% in Q3 2021, while Samsung gained nearly 3 percentage points over Q3 of last year going from 9.4% to 12.2% share of global viewing time. LG TV, Android TV, Apple TV and Chromecast also gained share over last year.
In every part of the world except Asia, big screens were the majority of viewership, particularly in North America with 82%. Mobile phones, desktops and tablets barely registered in North America at 8%, 6% and 4%, respectively.
Advertising continues advances in streaming
Streaming advertising made significant gains in Q3 2021. Ad attempts and ad impressions were up over 30% in Q3 2021, as compared to Q2 2021. Just 15% of ads in Q3 2021 were not delivered as intended, for a 23% decrease in missed ad opportunities quarter over quarter. Ad duration decreased by 3% from last quarter to 26 seconds, satisfying consumer requests for shorter ad breaks. Advertising quality was a mixed bag in Q3 2021, as ad buffering worsened by 22% and picture quality decreased 1% from last quarter.
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