A new digital prime time is emerging

With consumption for major tent pole shows seeing a huge rise on catch up on connected TVs, advertisers need to wake up to this great opportunity argues MCN’s National Digital Sales Director, Nev Hasan.

It’s no secret more Australians are consuming more catch up television on connected TVs than ever before. But, what we’ve discovered is the emergence of a new digital prime time for viewing.

An hour after linear TV prime time begins at 6pm, we are seeing a significant spike in viewing on both tenplay and Foxtel Now. By 8pm for example, viewing has more than doubled from daylight hours as viewers tune in to watch their most loved shows as illustrated in the graph below.

The reason for this is simple – viewers cannot watch all of their favourite shows that run at the same time on linear TV, so they’re watching catch up an hour later to make sure they get their nightly fix of hit shows like MasterChef, Love island or Married at First Sight.

Another interesting observation is that the rise in catch up viewing on connected TV is having a halo effect on viewing content on tablets and other connected devices. It means viewers are engaging more with their favourite TV shows across multiple devices at times that suit them.

So, what’s driving this ‘digital prime time’? It’s two main factors. One, the rise of connected TV viewing – 40% of 14 to 54-year-olds watch internet content on connected TVs. And two, more sophisticated (and enjoyable) BVOD and SVOD viewing experiences offered by Australia’s major TV networks.

Now, while viewers are flocking to watch catch up TV in larger numbers, unfortunately the same cannot be said of advertisers, who are yet to take advantage of this opportunity. The concerns that all of digital’s measurement and reporting capabilities cannot be met in a digital TV environment have meant advertisers and agencies aren’t leaning in.

You see, you can measure impressions and completion rates, but there is no standardised way to measure viewability and brand safety between different TV manufacturers. However, the thing is, there is no need to measure viewability and brand safety on television.

All content viewed on a connected TV is 100% viewable and 100% brand safe, and this applies whether you watch linear broadcast TV or IP-delivered catch-up. The same applies to catch-up apps on other devices, such as tablets, desktop computers or mobile phones.

The digital concept of ‘viewability’ – which refers to how many pixels of an ad was in view – has no relevance to catch-up TV, irrespective of which device you watch it on.

Despite this, the measurement argument can sometimes be used as a reason to underinvest in catch up TV. Or as a bargaining chip to drive down the cost of catch up inventory.

The concern with this approach is that, as an industry, we therefore run the risk of commoditising digital video on catch up in a similar way to what happened with mobile advertising five years ago.

This should not be allowed to happen and common sense needs to prevail.

For advertisers there is no greater opportunity to get full screen, non-skippable digital video real estate that you can't scroll away from in a digital prime time viewing experience.

We need to stop thinking of digital video on connected TV as a pure digital play and start thinking of it as a TV experience, where advertisers can reach and engage incremental audiences in highly viewable and brand safe environments.