Limelight’s State of Online Video 2019 research report highlights the latest findings in an ongoing series of consumer surveys about online viewing habits and opinions. This report is based on responses from 4,500 consumers in France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States age 18 and older who watch one hour or more of online video content each week. Highlights of findings include:
Viewers globally are watching more online video and as a result, traditional broadcast television viewing time continues to fall, narrowing the now slim lead broadcast has over online viewing. For audiences age 35 and younger, online viewing time already exceeds traditional broadcast. With this shift, cord-cutting trends continue. However, it’s interesting to note that cable and satellite TV subscribers on average have more SVOD services than non-cable subscribers.
Perhaps one cause of the increase in online video viewing is the ability to catch up on favorite shows at any time and for many viewers in one sitting. Binge-watching has increased in time significantly in the last year, by an average of 18 percent globally. On average viewers binge-watch shows for two hours, forty minutes at a time and 30 percent watch for three hours or more hours at a time.
In just the past year, Smartphones surpassed computers as the primary device used for online viewing globally. This mobile first shift will have implications across many aspects of live streaming.
Movies, TV shows, news and sports remain the most commonly watched type of online content. Yet with so many options and services available, content search is an increasing issue. With online content available on so many platforms, finding something to watch in among the many OTT providers will require new tools, as audiences still rely on a streaming service’s website to decide what to watch. Once they have found a new show they like, many people will binge-watch it for hours at a time.
With the increasing online video consumption, expectations for performance and high quality have also increased. Viewers report that latency matters, especially in live sports viewing. The majority of respondents said they would be more likely to watch sports online if they knew the online stream was not delayed from the broadcast feed. Video rebuffering also remains the most frustrating aspect of online viewing. The average number of times a viewer will let a video rebuffer before they stop watching has dropped 19 percent in the last two years from 2.7 times in 2016 to 2.2 in 2019.
Globally, people who watch online video spend an average of six hours, 48 minutes per week watching various types of content. Average viewing time is has grown 59 percent since 2016.
Figure 1: How many total hours of video content do you watch online each week (by year)?
Nearly half of viewers watch between 1-4 hours of online video each week.
Figure 2: How many total hours of video content do you watch online each week? 2019
Viewers in the U.S. watch the most online video each week at an average of eight hours, 33 minutes, followed closely by viewers in India. In the last year viewing increased the most in Italy, with a 25 percent increase, and France and the U.K. where both experienced 11 percent increases.
Figure 3: How many total hours of video content do you watch online each week (by country)?
Globally viewers age 18-35 watch over eight hours per week, with 26 percent watching more than 20 hours per week.
Figure 4: How many total hours of video content do you watch online each week (by age)?
Men watch an average of 30 more minutes of online video each week than women.
Figure 5: How many total hours of video content do you watch online each week (by gender)?
Taking a look at how many hours of video on broadcast, cable, or satellite TV are watched each week, respondents continue to watch more video from traditional broadcast sources than they do online, but there was a 10 percent decrease in broadcast viewing globally in the past year.
Figure 6: How many total hours of video do you watch each week?
Italy had the highest level of weekly traditional broadcast television viewing at nine hours per week, Italy had the greatest gap between online and broadcast viewing, with people watching one hour and 38 minutes of broadcast television more than online video content. Japan had the highest rate of online viewers who do not watch traditional broadcast television at 17.6 percent.
Figure 7: How many total hours of video content do you watch on broadcast, cable, or satellite TV each week (by country)?
Older viewers watch more traditional broadcast television than younger ones, with those age 26 and older watching an hour or more per week than those 18-25.
Figure 8: How many total hours of video content do you watch on broadcast, cable, or satellite TV each week (by age)?
Men watch almost 40 minutes more of broadcast television than women.
Figure 9: How many total hours of video content do you watch on broadcast, cable, or satellite TV each week (by gender)?
Movies are the most popular category of online video content, followed by TV shows, news, sports, professionally produced video content on social media sites, user-generated content, and online gaming videos.
Figure 10: How much of your online video viewing time is spent watching the following types of content? (Scale 0-4)
Movies are the most commonly watched content in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Singapore. TV shows are most popular in India, South Korea, the U.K. and the U.S. News tied TV Shows in France and India. Professionally produced content on social media sites has the highest viewership in India. In the past year viewing of movies, TV shows, news and sports in France increased 15 percent or greater – and the U.K. experienced similar increases in news and sports.
Figure 11: How much of your online video viewing time is spent watching the following types of content (by country)? (Scale 0-4)
Online video content preferences varies significantly by age. 18-25 prefer to watch TV shows, while older ones choose movies. Online news and sports viewership are highest among people 36-45. Online video gaming, user-generated content, and professional videos on social media sites are primarily watched by younger viewers. News is viewed the most by 36-45 and the least by 18-25 year olds.
Figure 12: How much of your online video viewing time is spent watching the following types of content (by age)? (Scale 0-4)
Men view more sports and watching people play video games, while women watch more user-generated content and professional videos on social media sites.
Figure 13: How much of your online video viewing time is spent watching the following types of content (by gender)? (Scale 0-4)
Traditional live online streaming events are generally delayed by 30 seconds or more from the broadcast feed. With the proliferation of people using social media while watching live sports, this has led to a phenomenon where online viewers experience “spoilers” where they learn about big plays from social media before seeing the action online. Latency such as this matters to viewers. Globally, 57.7 percent said they would be more likely to watch live sports online if the stream was not delayed from the broadcast.
Figure 14: Would you be more likely to stream a live sporting event online if you knew it wasn’t delayed from the TV broadcast?
Two thirds (65%) of people 26-45 would stream more sports online if it was not delayed from the broadcast.
Figure 15: Would you be more likely to stream a live sporting event online if you knew it wasn’t delayed from the TV broadcast (by age)?
Delays in viewing sports events is a greater concern with men than women.
Figure 16: Would you be more likely to stream a live sporting event online if you knew it wasn’t delayed from the TV broadcast (by gender)?
Globally, smartphones are now the primary device globally that viewers use to watch online video followed by computers, smart TVs and connected devices, and tablets. This is a shift that occurred in the last year, when computers were the primary device.
Figure 17: How much of your online video viewing is on the following devices? (Scale 0-4)
Smartphones are now the primary viewing device in France, India, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and the U.S. Smart TVs or connected devices are still preferred in the U.K., and Germany still prefers computers.
Figure 18: How much of your online video viewing is on the following devices (by country)? (Scale 0-4)
Viewers 18-60 have a clear preference for smartphones, while older viewers choose computers.
Figure 19: How much of your online video viewing is on the following devices (by age)? (Scale 0-4)
Men still use computers more than any other device to view online video, while women prefer smartphones.
Figure 20: How much of your online video viewing is on the following devices (by gender)? (Scale 0-4)
Nearly three quarters of consumers who watch online video use streaming devices to watch online video on their smart TV, a six percent increase in the last year. Globally, viewers choose smart TVs more often than any other device, followed by Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, video game consoles, Apple TV, set-top box or DVD player, and Roku. Three-year data shows set-top box or DVD player use falling.
Figure 21: Which streaming devices do you use to watch online video on your television (by year)? (Select all that apply)
Streaming device preference varies by country with smart TVs having the highest usage in Singapore at 48.5 percent, set-top boxes and DVD players in South Korea at 25.6 percent, Google Chromecast at 26.6 percent in India, Amazon Fire TV at 34.4 percent in India, Apple TV at 18.2 percent in South Korea, and Roku has the highest usage in the U.S. Japan has the highest number of people who do not use dedicated streaming devices at 38.8 percent.
Figure 22: Which streaming devices do you use to watch online video on your television (by country)? (Select all that apply)
Video game consoles and smart TVs are more commonly used by younger viewers. Older ones are more likely to not use any streaming devices.
Figure 23: Which streaming devices do you use to watch online video on your television (by age)? (Select all that apply)
The popularity of SVOD services has risen 17 percent in the last year, to 70.4 percent of online viewers now subscribing to one or more SVOD service. The highest rate is in the U.S., where viewers subscribe to an average of 1.7 services. The lowest rate is in Japan, where viewers have an average of 0.86 services and more than 40 percent do not subscribe to any.
Figure 24: How many pay online streaming video services (i.e., Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.) do you currently subscribe to (by country)?
Viewers age 18-45 are more likely to subscribe to SVOD services than older ones, with over 20 percent subscribing to three or more services.
Figure 25: How many pay online streaming video services (i.e., Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.) do you currently subscribe to (by age)?
Price continues to be the primary reason consumers around the globe would cancel SVOD services. The availability of interesting content is the second top concern.
Figure 26: Which of the following is most likely to cause you to cancel your subscription to an online streaming service?
Globally, 60.6 percent of people who watch online video also subscribe to a cable or satellite television service. Subscription rates varied from a high of 88.8 percent in India to a low of 39 percent in Japan.
Figure 27: Do you currently subscribe to a cable or satellite provider for your television service (by country)?
People under 26-45 are most likely to subscribe to cable and satellite television, however there isn’t a significant variance by age group.
Figure 28: Do you currently subscribe to a cable or satellite provider for your television service (by age)?
Similarly to the primary reason people would cancel an SVOD service, price is the primary reason global consumers would cancel their cable or satellite television subscriptions. 42.3 percent said they would cancel their service if the price continues to rise.
Figure 29: Which of the following is most likely to make you terminate your cable or satellite television subscription?
Concern about the price of cable and satellite TV was highest in the U.K. at 58.9 percent. Japan has by far the lowest percentage of consumers who would cancel cable service if the price continues to increase, at only 4.1 percent.
Figure 30: Which of the following is most likely to make you terminate your cable or satellite television subscription (by country)?
With online video content available across multiple platforms, there’s no one directory of content, making it challenging to quickly find new movies and series that are the most interesting to them. Viewers rely on a streaming service’s website to find content (27.3%), followed by recommendations from friends and family (22.4%), recommendations from a streaming service (18.4 percent), news coverage (13.1%), and message boards and websites (7.1%). Viewers in France and the U.K. rely on recommendations from friends and family more than any other method.
Figure 31: How do you typically learn about new series and movies that you want to stream online (by country)?
Men and Women both rely primarily on a service’s website to find content.
Figure 32: How do you typically learn about new series and movies that you want to stream online (by gender)?
With smartphones now being the preferred device for online viewing, consumers have the ability to watch content from anywhere, however, they overwhelmingly watch online video from home more than any other location. The U.K. had the highest home viewing of any country. South Korea had the highest number of people who watch from work or school, while India had the greatest number who watch while travelling or commuting.
Figure 33: How often do you watch online video from the following locations? (Scale 0-4)
Binge-watching ramped up. In the last year it has increased significantly, with a 18 percent increase in the time people binge-watch, with viewers binge-watching shows for an average of two hours, 29 minutes at a time. 30 percent watch for three hours or more at a time. Binge-watching times are the longest in the US, where viewers watch for over three hours at a time.
Figure 34: How long do you typically spend binge-watching an online series in one sitting (by country)?
Binge-watching is highest among younger viewers, with those 18-35 watching an average of over three hours at a time, while those over 60 watch for an hour and a half.
Figure 35: How long do you typically spend binge-watching an online series in one sitting (by age)?
Women are more likely to binge-watch online content and for longer periods of time than men.
Figure 36: How long do you typically spend binge-watching an online series in one sitting (by gender)?
Binge-watching has increased the most in France and the U.K., and by an average of 18 percent across the countries surveyed.
Figure 37: How long do you typically spend binge-watching an online series in one sitting (by year)?
Viewers are most accepting of advertising in online video if content is free. However, if online ads are of interest them, 74 percent are okay or neutral with ads. Opposition is highest in France, while viewers in India and South Korea are most likely to welcome ads that interest them.
Figure 38: I’m okay with advertising in online video as long as I’m interested in it (by country)
Younger viewers are more likely to be accepting of and to watch ads that interest them than older ones.
Figure 39: I’m okay with advertising in online video as long as I’m interested in it (by age)
Global consumers overwhelmingly accept ads in online video as long as they have the ability to skip them.
Figure 40: I’m okay with advertising in online video as long as I can skip it
Advertisement based video on demand (AVOD) is a popular option to viewers. Most people (87%) are fine with short advertisements before a video if content is free.
Figure 41: I’m okay with a short advertisement before the video if the content is free
However, consumers are not so accepting of mid-roll ads in free content, with 36 percent saying they do not like this format.
Figure 42: I’m okay with multiple advertisements during a longer video if the content is free
Video rebuffering (when the video pauses during playback so it can reload) remains the most frustrating aspect of online viewing. 43.1 percent of global consumers noted it as their primary issue with watching online video.
Figure 43: What is the most frustrating aspect of watching video online?
Most viewers will wait out a single rebuffer before they will stop watching but after a second rebuffer 66.3 percent of people will stop watching.
Figure 44: How many times will you let an online video rebuffer before you stop watching and abandon it?
Globally, viewers will abandon a video after an average of 2.2 rebuffers. The most impatient viewers are in South Korea, where people will stop watching after an average 1.9 rebuffers. The most tolerant are in Japan at an average of 2.63 rebuffers.
Figure 45: How many times will you let an online video rebuffer before you stop watching and abandon it (by country)?
Expectations for online video performance vary by age. Older viewers are the least less patient with rebuffering. 33.6 percent of people over 60 will stop watching after the first rebuffer. Only 18.4 percent of those 18-25 will stop watching the first time.
Figure 46: How many times will you let an online video rebuffer before you stop watching and abandon it (by age)?
Viewers expectations for high quality online videos have increased over time.
Figure 47: How many times will you let an online video rebuffer before you stop watching and abandon it (by year)?
Content distributors should consider the following recommendations to provide consumers with a viewing experience that maximizes engagement regardless of device or location.
Online video is viewed on a broad range of internet connected devices all over the world. Viewers expect the same performance regardless of where or how they are watching video. To allow for consistent experiences across devices, Content Delivery Networks (CDN) provide video services to make packaging and distribution of live and on-demand content simpler, by automatically packaging video in the correct format for each of the many different devices used to watch online video. This offloads the complex workflow used to create the different streaming media formats, such as HLS, MPEG-DASH, and MSS. For on-demand content, this eliminates the need to pre-encode and store multiple versions, saving storage costs. For live streaming, a single high bitrate ingest can be transcoded to the multiple bitrates required for adaptive bitrate delivery. These services ensure online video can be easily and efficiently delivered at the highest quality to as many viewers as possible.
It’s more important than ever for content providers to take a mobile first viewing focus. Many regions don’t have a robust broadband infrastructure in place, and mobile connections are often subject to changes in bandwidth and latency that can cause video to rebuffer when network conditions change during playback. Content providers can solve these challenges by using a CDN video delivery service that continually monitors and optimizes video delivery based on realtime conditions. This ensures each viewer receives the highest picture quality while minimizing rebuffering that causes viewers to stop watching.
Live video stream viewing is growing in popularity across sports, online auctions, gambling and esports. Sub-second live video enables creating interactive online experiences by integrating live data with video. Sports fans can now have more options for how they watch, such as which camera angle they would like to view, right from their computer or mobile device. Fans of eSports can participate in event commentary along with the live in-arena audience. Realtime live video opens up new business opportunities in sports, gaming, auctions, and more by making live viewing a more interactive social experience. More than half (58%) of viewers would be more likely to watch live sports online if the online stream was not delayed from the television broadcast. To capture these viewers, sports broadcasters and other distributors of live online content should choose a streaming partner that offers live streaming that can deliver content to viewers with a range of latencies appropriate for specific use cases, including sub-second latency where viewer interactivity is important. This will ensure online viewers experience the action as it happens, increasing both online viewership and revenue opportunities.
Figure 48: How old are you?
Figure 49: What is your gender?
This survey was fielded by a third-party company with access to consumer panels in France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, the U.K., and the U.S. Approximately 500 responses were collected from each country for a total of 5,000 global responses. Survey responses were collected between August 1-12, 2019.