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Published on April 25th, 2018 | by Brad Gibson

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First on BATV: Apple TV viewing up a stunning 709%, study finds

Viewing of streaming content by consumers on Apple TV devices was up 709 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the same period a year ago, outpacing all other mobile, desktop and connected TV devices by almost two to one, according to an industry report.

The study, released Wednesday by the online video analytics company Conviva, found huge growth in streaming content worldwide from movies to TV shows, live television, and live sports. The audience for video delivered over the internet grew 114 percent in the quarter over the same period last year, with total viewing hours reaching nearly five billion. Last year in the same period, that number was just 2.2 billion.

Of that five billion, more than 255,900 hours – or 5.4 percent – were on Apple TV units. That compares to a little more than 31,600 hours – or 1.4 percent – in the same period of 2017. As the report’s authors put it, the growth was “staggering.”

Of the total hours in the 2018 quarter, viewing on Apple TV ranked eighth out of 11 types of devices, a jump of two spots from 10th since the first quarter of last year.

The number of times streams were played on Apple TV devices was up to 3.7 percent during the period, a 224 percent jump to more than 539,500 plays from 2.4 percent, or about 166,460, from a year ago.

conviva_report_ quote_2

Despite Apple TVs not being the most inexpensive streaming products on the market, there are indications that acceptance of the US$179-plus device, and as a result its use, are having a positive impact on streaming viewership.

“The connectivity of Apple devices together with Apple TV, the sharing across screens of information, the ability to type on an iPhone to log into apps on an Apple TV without having to go through that awkward menu system with a remote…all that stuff just makes an Apple TV really easy to use,” Ed Haslam, Chief Marketing Officer at Conviva, told BESTAppleTV.com.

“While it might be more expensive, I think that ecosystem of Apple TV products makes a big difference. They can leverage their ecosystem to push these devices into the living room.”

Haslam also believes the sale and use of streaming devices is directly tied to the easy availability of apps from various services.

“We’ve seen a great increase in the viewing of services like Sling TV, Hulu, and DirecTV Now,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of those providers doing a great job of getting their apps out on devices like Apple TV and that’s driving consumer demand because they are often opting in to buying not necessarily because of the hardware brand of the device but, because of what apps are pre-installed and are readily available on that device.”

While viewing hours on Roku devices made up the majority of the total at 23 percent, its overall share dropped by three percent from a year ago.

The results are of particular interest as they come directly from actual viewer habits. Consumers worldwide agree to have a special sensor put on their television that monitors, collects, and measures activity ranging from the number of streams played, to viewing hours, regions, and devices used. The sensor also monitors the starting time of a video, its buffering time, and its streaming bit rate. The Conviva sensor is installed in close to 3 billion devices monitoring over 200 global streaming publisher-branded applications.

conviva_q1_2018_infographicInfographic courtesy Conviva

The good news

The report supports what Conviva called the “applification of TV,” finding that app-based plays of streaming content among those monitored grew four times faster – or 136 percent – in the period than browser-based viewing on personal computers, which grew only 23 percent.

Compared to a year ago, consumers worldwide are playing streaming videos 98 percent more to 12.5 million plays and watching 114 percent more hours to 4.79 billion.

The report revealed good news for subscribers of streaming services with evidence that the quality of the user experience is improving exponentially. The number of streaming video that failed to start after a viewer clicked ‘play’ was down substantially, a 60 percent improvement from a year ago. Additionally, the percentage of time a video stream was interrupted and froze versus the percentage of time the video played error-free improved 13 percent and the picture quality of the video stream as measured in megabits per second (Mbps) improved 29 percent from 3.04 to 3.92 Mbps.

“The quality of the user experience in terms of things like speeds, video playback, and videos starting are all getting better,” Haslam commented. “Equally important, consumers are demanding they get better.”

The not-so-good news

While streaming viewership is skyrocketing and experiences are improving, there is concern over the percentage of videos that viewers are exiting before a stream starts. Although a 25 percent improvement from a year ago, consumers that were monitored exited a stream before it began 11.54 percent of the time in the first quarter of 2018. That resulted in 2.4 billion lost plays and 800 million lost viewing hours.

The reasons for this could be many – from consumers not wanting to watch the selected program or being tired of waiting for the video to begin – but the impact can and does play a roll in a positive user experience of various streaming services.

“That an enormous amount of viewing hours lost to consumers being impatient and intolerant of non-perfect experiences,” Haslam said. “That’s a big, lost opportunity to providers and advertisers to get their product or message across.”

Another issue…re-buffering, or what many consumers call “the spinning wheel of death.” One of the most important indicators of how long a subscriber will stay engaged, the report found the average time a viewer spent waiting for a video stream to re-start from an interruption or freeze in Q1 2018 was 0.88 percent of the time. That’s a 13 percent improvement over Q1 2017, but a loss of 2.9 billion viewing hours blamed on streamed buffering.

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About the Author

Brad is co-founder and editor-in-chief of BESTAppleTV.com. He has been a technology reporter since the late 1980s having previously worked for MacUser, MacFormat, and iCreate magazines, as well as MacNN.com, MacObserver.com, MacCentral.com, MacMinute.com, and Macworld.com. He hosted and produced the MacFormat This Week podcast for three years. He was also a reporter, editor, and producer for the Associated Press and United Press International.



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