Study: Hongkongers watch more videos in 2020 but viewing time reaches plateau

Hongkongers' video viewing time has reached its plateau as it has seen no significant increase this year, but advertisers can enhance the overall video viewing experience to attract viewers' eyeballs, according to Omnicom Media Group Hong Kong's latest study of the content viewing landscape.

The study was conducted from 19 June to 14 July 2020. Online questionnaires were used to survey a sample of 1,000 consumers aged between 18 and 59 who had watched any TV or online video in the past seven days. 

Respondents' total viewing time reached 67.0 hours per week this year compared to 66.6 hours in the same study conducted between June and July 2019. They spent more time (18.5 hours) on viewing videos on social media this year compared to 2019, as well (15 hours). However, the viewing time of free TV, digital platforms, and pay TV all decreased this year.

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When it comes to viewership in the past seven days, Facebook (82%) and YouTube (74%) became the two top platforms. Meanwhile, TVB was the video platform that the audience spent most of the time with (10.1 hours per week), followed by YouTube (9.3 hours per week) and Facebook (8.3 hours per week).

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The viewing time of Hong Kong's free TV varied as TVB (from 12.5 hours per week in 2019 to 10.1 in 2020) and ViuTV (from 5.5 hours per week in 2019 to 4.9 in 2020) saw a decrease in viewership and viewing time compared to RTHK (from 2.7 hours per week in 2019 to 2.9 in 2020) and HK OpenTV (from 2.3 hours per week in 2019 to 2.7 in 2020) which gained viewership.

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As for digital platforms, YouTube experienced a seven percentage point decrease in viewership (from 81% to 74%). However, the viewing time of YouTube still managed to go up (from 8.8 to 9.3 hours per week), implying that YouTube audiences spent more time on the platform than they had done before.

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Among all OTT platforms, both myTV Super and Netflix dominated in viewership in the past seven days, with penetration of 30% and a similar viewing time per week (myTV Super: 3.2 hours per week and Netflix: 3.5 hours per week).

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Netflix increased in penetration and viewing time across ages. The increase in viewing time (2.4 to 3.5 hours per week) is very remarkable. Overall, Netflix gained substantial growth in subscriptions. About a quarter of audiences (26%) had subscribed to OTTs in the past six months. These subscriptions were due to COVID-19 (51%) and increased interest in foreign content (57%).

The popularity of video viewing on Facebook and Instagram remained very high and exceeded the number of video platforms. Both Facebook and YouTube became the major sources of news for audiences, particularly for those who were aged from 18 to 34.

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For Instagram, penetration of those aged 44 or below almost reached a ceiling in the previous year, whereas more audiences (43% to 48%) aged 45 or above used Instagram to watch video content.

The study has also examined respondents’ viewing preferences. 61% of audiences said they did not want to see ads on digital platforms. They were also reluctant to pay for ad-free service.
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In terms of viewing video ads, audiences would rather see them before the start of the video.  Shorter video ads translated to higher acceptance, and therefore, the acceptance of 5- to 10- second video ads tended to be present at different points of the video. 

Live streaming on digital platforms became a large part of consumers’ viewing experience. 64% of the audiences had seen a live streamed video in the past 7 days. Facebook was the top video streaming channel for audiences aged between 35 to 44 whereas YouTube and Instagram were more deployed by those under 34. 

As competition has been fierce and the room for growth has not been unlimited, platform owners can to broaden the variety of video content or launch a new platform to expand and grow their audiences. Owners of platforms were also advised to make video viewing more pleasurable, examining more formats of ads such as 5- to 10-second videos, placement, branded video, and live video streaming.

Advertisers were asked to understand and use the right platforms to make sure that they utilised the right features that will resonate with the target audience.

They can also create the right content to grab the audience's attention, keeping in mind that they are across multiple platforms and the unique characteristics of the platforms.