FreeWheel Finds Premium Video Ad Views on the Big Screen Surpassed 50% of Total for First Time as TV’s Digitalization Accelerates

Need for marketers to think beyond linear TV to reach consumers in the “new living room” hits tipping point.

NEW YORK — FreeWheel, A Comcast Company, released its Q2 2018 Video Monetization Report (VMR), which tracks marketplace trends on premium video consumption and advertising across Set-Top Box Video on Demand (STB VOD), Over-the-Top (OTT), Desktop, Smartphone and Tablets. The report found that in Q2 2018, the majority of premium, digital video ad views (57%) in the U.S. were delivered to the TV screen versus other digital devices, highlighting the increase of OTT and STB VOD advertising and reinforcing the importance of the “new living room” for advertisers. All devices, however, showed year-over-year increases in ad views, with smartphones showing the most growth (76%).

“Premium Video: Delivering Value Across the Marketing Funnel”

The Q2 VMR, titled “Premium Video: Delivering Value Across the Marketing Funnel,” highlights the increasing digital capabilities of TV and video — from the perspective of both consumer consumption and advertising capabilities — that are driving new opportunities and increased ROI for marketers. While TV has always provided high-impact reach, the proliferation of new distribution channels combines scale, with data-driven targeting and measurable attribution.

According to FreeWheel’s General Manager, David Clark, this marketing trifecta is what makes premium video uniquely positioned to grow its share of ad dollars, even in the face of competition from other data-rich, digital players.

“TV — which now includes premium video content distributed via an array of digital platforms — has never been stronger as an advertising channel. The ability to build targeted awareness with TV at the top of the funnel, then measure the impact of that exposure across devices, is now a reality,” Clark added. “The final piece of the puzzle is allowing marketers to use technology to plan and buy TV with added efficiency and automation. We’ve made some great strides in this area, and continue to work with our partners to build the next-generation, TV ad platform that meets the unique demands of the TV ecosystem.”

The growing role of automation and data-enablement in the premium video ad market is illustrated by the finding that 14% of total ad views in Q2 were placed programmatically, an increase of 58% year-over-year. The vast majority of these programmatic transactions were conducted via private marketplaces between buyers and sellers.

Technological advances are changing the premium video experience for consumers as well. Ad views within live programming now constitute 33% of the market, despite the technological challenges posed by real-time viewing environments. Furthermore, publishers are focusing more on viewer experience by utilizing technology to limit creative repetition, with only 11% of creative repeated once or more within full episode player content.

Additional Q2 2018 VMR Highlights:

  • Premium digital video viewing* continues double-digit YOY growth. Video views in Q2 grew by 31% year-over-year, and ad views reflected an increase of 35%.
  • Digital viewing is not just for series bingeing. Live viewing is increasingly important for premium digital video, representing 33% of all ad views, with sports content comprising 66% of this total, and news comprising an additional 10%.
  • Consumers are going digital, but Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (MVPDs) aren’t going anywhere. Despite a downward trend in traditional subscribers, consumers watched 111% more content YOY on MVPD platforms, by accessing TV Everywhere capabilities or “skinny bundle” services. 39% of all premium video content is now viewed via these syndication channels (versus directly from the publishers’ platforms).
  • Advertisers in premium video are diverse, but key TV-centric categories show room for growth. Top ad categories utilizing premium video include Entertainment & Media (18%), Consumer Packaged Goods (15%), Financial & Business Services (13%), Auto (11%), Retail (11%) and Healthcare & Pharma (7%).

*Includes viewing via STB VOD, OTT, Desktop, Smartphone or Tablet; does not include linear viewing. Premium video defined as professionally-produced, rights-managed content.

The FreeWheel Video Monetization Report, produced regularly, highlights the changing dynamics within premium digital video across both the U.S. and European markets. The data set used for this report is one of the largest available on the usage and monetization of professional, rights-managed video content worldwide, and is based off of census-level advertising data collected through the FreeWheel platform.

The full report can be downloaded here.

About FreeWheel

FreeWheel, A Comcast Company, empowers all segments of The New TV Ecosystem. We are structured to provide the full breadth of solutions the advertising industry needs to achieve their goals. We power the technology, data enablement, and convergent marketplaces required to ensure buyers and sellers can transact across all screens, across all data types, and all sales channels, in order to ensure the ultimate goal – results for marketers.

With offices in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, London, Paris, Beijing, and across the globe, FreeWheel, A Comcast Company, stands to advocate for the entire industry through the FreeWheel Council for Premium Video. For more information please visit, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.