Viewership at a glance: Q3’21 State of Viewership + future planning
Content Marketing Manager
Nov 11, 2021
Our Q3 2021 State of Viewership Report is here! We analyzed approximately 33 billion hours of live and streaming TV viewership to share insights into how audiences around the world are consuming content – from the impact of direct-to-streaming movies and series to why it was a breakout quarter for advertising. Read on for some of our top takeaways, or skip ahead and download the full report.
Career Services and Travel ad categories saw the greatest year-over-year increases.
As the country begins to ease its way back toward normalcy in the U.S., there’s been a big year-over-year uptick across all ad categories in Q3 2021. Compared to ad categories in the midst of the pandemic in Q3 2020, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Career Services and Travel ad categories saw the greatest increases in Q3 2021 – up 127% and 99% respectively.
Career Services was also one of the leading ad categories across international markets. The U.K., for example, saw a massive 732% increase in year-over-year linear ad impressions in Q3 2021. As The Great Resignation and travel continues to pick up, the spikes we’re seeing within these two categories fit the trendline.
Expect to see some ad categories regain their footing from 2019 levels in the coming quarters. Improve your exposure and incremental reach by optimizing a hybrid approach to your ad spend.
Linear TV reach was at its lowest in years.
Despite stabilizing, linear TV reach was at its lowest of any quarter in the past two-and-a-half years, with the percentage of households reached on linear decreasing across nearly all dayparts compared against both Q3 2020 and Q3 2019. In fact, Daytime daypart viewership, which spiked during COVID, collapsed below pre-COVID levels – down 19% year-over-year, and down 9% from Q3 2019. While cord-cutting is an ongoing factor in linear’s declining reach, the cautious return to in-person activities is also a likely contributor in Q3, especially when you think about the Daytime daypart specifically. With more companies reopening offices, there’s fewer people home to watch Daytime TV.
However, while linear viewership reach continues to decline across markets, Q3 2021 was actually a breakout quarter for linear advertising! In fact, every market saw big increases in linear advertising impressions compared to Q2 2020 – meaning those who are watching linear, are consuming more minutes of this content. With more streaming networks entering the playing field and SVOD content options more robust than ever before, those who choose to stick with linear are likely loyal to the format.
With the proper strategy, you can make the most of these shifting TV habits. As cord cutting continues to increase, move spend to digital and CTV, or consider targeting cord cutters and light TV viewers specifically. But, as increasing linear ad impressions suggests, there’s still a lucrative audience there, as well. To effectively optimize your campaigns in the face of changing TV habits, make sure you have access to comprehensive first-party data.
Is this the end of day-and-date releases?
Day-and-date releases made for a popular distribution model in the U.S. during Q2, but how do these films fare once they’re released? While the most viewership does happen in the first month, these films continue to drive viewership in month two and beyond. HBO Max’s Same-Day release schedule limits films to 31 days on the platform, so it’s no surprise that three HBO Max thrillers (Mortal Kombat, Those Who Wish Me Dead, and The Conjuring 3) each saw more than 90% of their three- month viewership in month one.
With the future of day-and-date releases on Disney+ up in the air, and HBO Max set to end same-day releases in 2022 in favor of an initial theatrical window, the days of direct-to- streaming films may be numbered. However, this may give newer streamers an opportunity to shine. After all, it was Infinite on Paramount Plus that saw the highest increase between months one and two (32%), suggesting that buzz may have taken longer to build.
Sports viewership is down, with the exception of football.
While Q3 was full of big sporting events – the Summer Olympics, UEFA Euro, NBA Finals, and start of the NFL season – viewership was down quarter-over-quarter for every major league except the NFL. While 2020 saw teams playing in empty stadiums, in-person attendance was back in 2021, and TV viewership increased as well. The 2021 season kicked off in September with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. the Dallas Cowboys, and this game (part of NBC’s Thursday Night Football) saw a 12.5% increase in viewers compared to the 2020 Thursday night opening game between the Chiefs and Texans.
Want to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to sports audiences? Take a smarter approach to TV tentpoles but targeting viewers of past events on addressable digital devices during and after the broadcast. Mini-tentpoles, like this first game of the NFL season, can also provide a frequency boost and drive consideration with the right audience.