AVOD viewers: two-thirds accessing ad-funded streaming across Europe

With Netflix considering an ad-funded tier, new research shows more than two-thirds of CTV viewers are consuming free-streaming content on a weekly basis.

FreeWheel, a Comcast company and provider of video advertising software, has conducted a study, in collaboration with an independent research company, Happydemics, on the adoption and uses of CTV and other media platforms across Europe. 

The study assessed how viewers use CTV and their media platform preferences and sought to understand their attitudes towards video on demand (VOD) and AVOD (advertising video on demand) streaming services. 

The survey was also conducted in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands. Together with the UK, these countries are referred to as the “EU6”. 

Across Europe, Smart TVs device adoption is rising

60% of EU6 survey respondents access CTV via a Smart TV, making this device the norm in many family living rooms. 

Streaming services are audiences’ preferred method of accessing premium video content, with the majority (91%) of CTV viewers surveyed watching BVOD (broadcaster video on demand), SVOD (subscription video on demand) and AVOD (advertising video on demand) services. 

When it comes to CTV, audiences enjoy having access to a plethora of services. On average, the EU6 CTV viewers who took part in the study access 3.5 streaming platforms.

AVOD is also gaining momentum across EU6. More than two-thirds of EU6 CTV viewers consume AVOD content on a weekly basis.

The three key drivers behind CTV adoption

The UK CTV viewers surveyed enjoy being able to watch content with family and friends – co-viewing is an important point marketers should keep front of mind when building their media plans. 

Gen Z respondents primarily watch video content on CTV because of the quality of the user experience, which includes better user interfaces, larger screens and greater sound. The quality of the viewing experience is particularly important for 51% of the Gen Z respondents who use AVOD platforms and value the ability to cast content from a smartphone to their CTV.

Growing appetite for AVOD (advertising video on demand)

Compared to the other markets, UK CTV viewers are the most likely to tune in to AVOD platforms. Notably, the respondents who were SVOD subscribers appear to be the ones using more free streaming platforms such as Pluto.TV or Molotov TV. 

Only 29% of CTV viewers in the UK are willing to pay a premium offer to access content without ads, indicating growth prospects for AVOD and FAST services and that viewers in the UK are reaching their SVOD subscription point.

‘Light TV viewers’, ‘mobile addicts’ and ‘binge-watchers’

AVOD is also used frequently, with 71% of survey participants using AVOD platforms at least once a week, and with 31% using them daily. The primary reason for using these platforms is cost – 74% of UK CTV respondents state that free access is the main appeal of AVOD, while 38% consider the wide variety of content available to be the determinant factor. 

This opens the door for marketers to launch engaging campaigns in a premium environment,  reaching all types of viewers: from light TV viewers to “mobile addicts” and “binge-watchers”.

Stefanie Briec, Director, Demand Sales, UK & International at FreeWheel commented, “UK connected audiences are increasingly valuing CTV for accessing streaming services - in particular, through Smart TV, the biggest home screen. 

“Among younger generations especially, AVOD is becoming a regular part of their viewing schedules. For marketers, this means AVOD platforms represent a strong opportunity to engage a key consumer segment through premium video environments. With the growing appetite for streaming in the UK, ad-supported services are an important inclusion within the media mix.”

Premium video offers an optimal advertising experience

When it comes to advertising experience, premium video platforms – AVOD and the broadcasters’ environment – are seen as the most attention-grabbing channels for 63% of CTV users, and are likely to generate the most impact for advertisers, including high engagement, viewability, attention and brand lift.  

43% of the UK CTV users also showed a preference for ads that reflected their personal interests or hobbies. Those aged 25-34 years old in particular, want ads to be tailored around their lifestyles (28%). 

While there is scope for marketers to tap into viewer receptiveness to personalised messages, the study highlighted that personal data is a strong concern for connected viewers, as 64% of respondents state they are not willing to share their information in exchange for personalised advertising. In this data-driven advertising ecosystem it is paramount for the different players to ensure they acknowledge and address users' concern.