Why Australia is on the cusp of rapid social video growth

Why Australia is on the cusp of rapid social video growth

The viewing habits of video audiences are changing. Traditional TV ratings are dropping rapidly as consumers swap high-cost satellite services for flexible digital subscriptions, social video and over the top (OTT) streaming services.

The penetration of consumer technology in Australia is among the highest in the world. 88% of the population uses the internet, 89% owns a smartphone and 69% are active social media users. However, Live TV remained the most popular video medium in 2018, followed by on-demand and recorded TV content.

On the digital front, 60% of Australians reported watching online video every day in 2018. While web traffic tapered slightly across devices, there was one clear exception – mobile, which grew more than 10% in the year. This growth in mobile device usage is a major signal that the Australian digital video market is at a crucial stage.

Digital streaming platforms and OTT services will make ground on TV in 2019. Broadcasters, media rights holders and content owners will see a sharp increase in demand for content in the mobile market, capturing the vast digital audiences with live, social and second-screen experiences.

If online streaming does overtake TV in the coming year, as it did in the UK in 2018, the commercial opportunities across mobile, social and OTT platforms will erupt.

Charting the rise

A 2018 Deloitte study found Australians are opting for larger data packages with their mobile provider, ahead of incoming 5G network upgrades, with an 11% growth in mobile web traffic in 2018.

Critically, social media access on mobile is growing 7% year-over-year, one of the fastest growth markets globally for mobile social consumption. The two most popular sites in 2018 were Facebook and YouTube – platforms dominated by video. These metrics highlight the relationship between the rise in mobile usage and increasing demand for digital video, as consumers begin to adopt social and mobile as mainstream content channels.

If media organisations want to lead the digital video market through the next period of rapid growth, it’s clear they must begin developing considered video distribution strategies to these channels now.

Social media – a serious business

Facebook usage grew 6% in Australia last year, with more than 6 in 10 Australians reporting that social media was their main platform of choice for live streaming.

Live streams and ‘real-time’ short video clips are highly effective in reaching and engaging vast social audiences. The community-based nature of live social video drives higher engagement that results in longer watch times and audience loyalty. Community participation and interaction creates a different viewing experience from traditional TV, creating more memorable moments for audiences.

Short clips receive the highest levels of engagement of any type of social content when delivered in real-time around live events, such as sports matches or music festivals. Brands are able to position their social channels as the ‘go-to’ place for fresh content by being first to market with relevant content.

A successful social video strategy not only increases reach and brand awareness. Using native advertising such as Twitter Amplify and Facebook Branded Content, combined with wider sponsor partnerships, means publishers are able to generate completely new revenue streams to increase returns on social content.

What content?

The three most-streamed types of media in Australia are TV series, esports and live sports.

Although TV series are predominantly streamed on OTT services such as Netflix, we are seeing the likes of Facebook’s new streaming platform, Facebook Watch, licensing content from 21st Century Fox and encouraging publishers to publish a broader range of content to the platform. The capture of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer back catalogue is redolent of this shift in focus and the move towards longer-form content formats. Snap is also striking partnerships to bring long-form, vertical-video shows to its app.

The global sports and esports community are actively looking for more content published to social platforms. Recognising this trend, Tennis Australia began scaling its social video content worldwide ahead of the 2019 Australian Open, syndicating content with players to share on their own channels.

There is also high demand for supplementary and ‘shoulder’ sports content which gives additional insights and context to build a richer experience for viewers. A great catch from a ball boy, or Novak Djokovic performing trick shots in training, present opportunities for content creators to deliver engaging content on their own channels that are not impacted by broadcast media rights.

These are lessons for media owners. It’s indicative that the most successful content is often not the main attraction of main events. Short clips from behind the scenes of TV shows, films or concerts will satisfy growing consumer expectations of using social media to discover more news, services, products and media.

In Australia, social media will the new battleground on which new audiences will be won and lost. Consumers will act on the recommendations of their networks when deciding where they access media and content. Touchpoints with a brand will have to be more impactful every time and be underpinned by more creative thinking. If Australian media organisations fail to compete in this arena, they risk falling far behind but 2019 will present and deliver exciting new opportunities in the social video and live content space.