Q4 2021 State of Streaming Report Details Global Streaming Viewership; Quality Challenges and Gains
After nearly two years of explosive growth, streaming adoption has slowed, showing just a 1% increase in North America in the final quarter of 2021, according to the Q4 2021 State of Streaming report from Conviva, the continuous measurement platform for streaming media. The global streaming market followed suit, growing just 7% in Q4 2021 as compared to the same quarter in 2020.
“Like many other industries, streaming adoption spiked during the pandemic, as people spent more time at home and continually sought the fresh, creative content delivered by streaming publishers”
“Like many other industries, streaming adoption spiked during the pandemic, as people spent more time at home and continually sought the fresh, creative content delivered by streaming publishers,” said Keith Zubchevich, President & CEO, Conviva. “Fortunately, like sweatpants and sourdough, streaming is holding on to the enormous growth it saw over the past eight quarters. The growth rate may be slowing, but the streaming industry is now well established and unlikely to ever go back to pre-pandemic levels.”
Conviva’s report also revealed connected TV devices lost some of their share of streaming viewing for the first time, down 2% globally YOY. Similarly, companies with a strong hold in connected devices saw moderate growth – or even losses – in Q4 2021, with Roku growing just 12% and Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV losing share of viewing time at -7% and -1%, respectively. Conversely, smart TVs experienced a significant 37% increase in streaming viewing time YOY. Specifically, Android TV grew 42% in viewing time as compared to Q4 2021 with LG TV (36%) and Samsung TV (27%) not far behind.
Quality Challenges Remain – for Both Content & Ads
Streaming quality in Q4 2021 was a mixed bag worldwide, with the most notable quality concern related to video start times, which were slower YOY in every region. Asia in particular struggled with video start times (up 109%) while North America experienced a 14% increase in start times. On the upside, buffering and picture quality continued to improve worldwide with buffering decreasing 22% and bitrate improving by 12%.
Advertising quality followed streaming quality, with video start times going from a short .3 seconds in Q4 2020 to 2.6 seconds in Q4 2021. Fortunately, missed ad opportunities continued to decline and picture quality improved.
Social Video Reigns in Sports
Following a dismal few quarters – thanks in part to pandemic restrictions on live events – North American sports streaming via social media saw a resurgence during Q4 2021. October 2021 was the first month to exceed pre-pandemic engagement levels for North American sports content posted on social platforms. U.S. sports content saw a 42% increase in social posts and a 23% increase in total engagements in Q4 2021 as compared to Q4 2020. Other regions were not as successful with sports content on social with Europe seeing flat growth (up 1% in posts and down 2% in engagement) and Asia seeing a decline in both posts and engagements (-31% and -23%, respectively).