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Broadcaster VOD shares the love - and the viewing

Broadcaster VOD shares the love - and the viewing

Posted on: February 17, 2020
Danica Webber

Former Research Executive, Thinkbox

In its infancy Broadcaster VOD didn’t lend itself to shared viewing, let alone a shared viewing experience on a larger screen. But this is quickly changing, says Thinkbox’s Danica Webber.

Long gone are the days where Broadcaster VOD was only watched by a lone person hunched over their laptop in the bedroom, or by a city worker crammed onto the Central Line, mobile phone precariously balanced in hand while on their commute.

BVOD has become an important part of the TV ecosystem with at least 70% of BVOD viewing now done on the big screen. In 2019, watching BVOD on a TV set grew by 30%.

BVOD also boasts an impressive average view-through rate (where an ad is viewed all the way through to completion) of 97% and advertising within it is always seen full screen, which research conducted by Karen Nelson-Field on behalf of ThinkTV shows has a greater sales impact than ads seen on a smaller proportion of the screen. So BVOD’s growth is great news for advertisers.

ITV and Channel 4’s research collaboration, ‘Project Firefly’, brought to light how BVOD is becoming an increasingly shared viewing experience that can deliver additional viewers across many demographics. With more homes than ever now VOD-enabled, BVOD on the big screen is creating more ‘appointment to view’ occasions that are being enjoyed by multiple members of the household at the same time.

But how do we know who is watching and who they may be watching it with? And how can we harness this knowledge to help advertisers continue to get the most out of today’s TV?

The IPA’s media diary survey tool, TouchPoints, unveiled its latest update in September, and now includes a way of measuring the shared viewing experience of Broadcaster VOD. Alongside the existing ability to assess who is watching BVOD, we can now also see who else they are watching it with, and thus what demographics any additional viewers may fall into. Every viewer counts – and can now be counted! 

To use an example from the latest survey, only 39% of 16-34s’ BVOD viewing is done by themselves and 7% is watched with their parents – the latter done mostly on a TV set. This showcases the depth of analysis that can be done around Broadcaster VOD shared viewing across different demographics.


As well as the survey updates on TouchPoints, the ongoing BARB initiative Project Dovetail also offers us new ways of monitoring BVOD consumption. BARB is now able to collect device-based data whenever anyone in the UK watches a BVOD service, providing a census-level measure of what’s being watched and for how long.

Using Dovetail to look at the first two weeks of June last year, live streaming of ITV2 on devices saw a huge jump - from 5.6 million total minutes per week to a whopping 189.6 million total minutes per week - making ITV Hub the most streamed broadcaster platform for 2 consecutive months. No coincidence, with the last summer season of Love Island starting on 3rd June and ending on 29th July.

So, what does this all mean?

Put simply: we can see who is watching BVOD, who they are watching it with, what device they are watching it on, and how long they are watching it for. This combination of new data is pretty powerful stuff and opens up new ways for advertisers to discover who is actually watching what and how they can best target them.

Let’s take the Great British Bake-Off on All4 as an example.

‘Project Firefly’ was able to delve into shared viewing at a programme level and revealed that for every 1,000 impressions bought for 16-34s, the average multiplier for this demographic in this programme is 1.5 viewers per view. So, as well as the 1,000 impressions you’ve already bought, you’re getting an additional 500 in-target (i.e. 16-34) impressions, all thanks to shared viewing.

For the whole audience – 16-34s and others – the multiplier for the show is 2.1, adding a further 600 out-of-target impressions (this could be parents, say, or a 35-year old housemate).

So, the extra in-target and out-of-target audiences more than double the original number of impressions bought. That’s the magic of shared viewing.

Shared viewing is also a positive experience and BVOD delivers a highly ‘absorbed’ viewing situation, something which produces greater happiness and engagement with the content. This in turn can have a halo effect on the brands investing in BVOD and result in them being viewed in a more positive light, and with greater brand impact (watch Lucy Bristowe, Head of Insight and Research at Sky Media explain more, from 01:05:14).

So whether you want to know if 16-24s have convinced dad to watch First Dates on catch-up or you’ve discovered that your brand can reach a whole new audience you hadn’t first thought of, TouchPoints and Dovetail can help you get the most of Broadcaster VOD.

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