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Are the UK’s BVOD offerings fit to take on the digital giants?

Last week, Channel 4 revealed its new brand purpose, as part of a five-year strategy that aims to focus the broadcaster on digital audiences and revenue streams amid shifting viewer habits and growing competition. CEO Alex Mahon spoke of the broadcasters aim to “survive and thrive in this digital age” with the stated aim of doubling viewing on its video-on-demand platform All4 over the next five years and increasing digital ad revenues to 30% of its total (currently 14%), this comes just weeks after the initial launch of Planet V, ITV’s addressable platform.

Without the glitz of the yearly ‘upfronts’ events and big programme announcements – it’s noticeable that the major broadcasters are focusing on talking up their online platforms ahead of 2021. We ask how well these platforms have developed as they step into the battleground of Facebook, Google et al? And where do they currently sit within our planning dynamic?

As has been discussed ad-infinitum in the media, linear TV viewing is seeing a ‘slow’ decline. Touchpoints 2020 survey suggests 57% of all adults’ TV and video viewing time is currently with linear TV (this figure was 69% for the 2017 survey). This is rapidly accelerated for adults 16-34, where live TV viewing sat at 47% in 2017, but is now just 30%, behind subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) at 31%. Broadcaster video on-demand (BVOD) viewing has certainly risen over this time, viewing minutes are reported to have increased by 40% across the same period, but this still only accounts for 17 minutes viewing average per day. Live linear TV remains king, particularly for the top tier entertainment shows such as “I’m a Celebrity….” that benefit from live viewing.

This is the first conundrum for broadcasters, BVOD offers many benefits – a captive audience, digital targeting options, but its scale is still limited, and growth has been tempered by the rise of SVOD services. There are however other issues, that we feel could be more easily addressed by broadcasters:

  • Price: Costs vary by audience but generally we see CPTs that are 8-10 times higher than linear TV – whether focusing on brand or performance objectives, this means a BVOD impact needs to work much harder than a linear equivalent.
  • Delivery: Digital platforms should offer greater control over delivery variables; however, our experience suggests the opposite – daily weightings are often inconsistent and the response from broadcasters seems to be overly reliant on the fabled ‘algorithm’ guiding delivery.
  • Measurement and attribution: Whether it be measuring cross-channel reach with TV for a brand or harder performance metrics – measurement still lags behind where it should be. Broadcasters themselves have been slow to share data to allow us to gain better insight into campaigns, a charge they often level at themselves at Google or Facebook.

All these elements could easily be improved and would definitely see increased testing of BVOD. A lower entry cost, for less targeting parameters, for example, would tempt new advertisers and there is nothing stopping broadcasters from providing greater campaign control and opening data sharing.

All Response Media viewpoint

This isn’t to say that ARM does not recommend BVOD at all in its current form. For advertisers requiring tight campaign targeting at a demographic or regional level, the increased CPM can be viable. For brand campaigns, particularly those targeting younger audiences, BVOD can provide a lower cost for incremental reach at a certain linear TVR level. Measurability and attribution can also be improved by regionally hothousing a campaign and leveraging the unique regional functionality within ARMalytics to gauge incrementality down to post-code level. But with online viewing set to increase across all formats, we feel that the various BVOD offerings could be greatly improved for advertisers, which will, in turn, ensure the broadcasters are better prepared for the increased competition they will face from the major digital players.

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