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What is a View?

Underlining the Urgent Need for OTT Data Standardization

06.17.2024 | Ray Gilmartin
 

A lack of data standards in Over The Top (OTT) media distribution is making it unnecessarily difficult for content sellers to understand performance across platforms.

When different OTT platforms define and count basic viewership and engagement metrics in different ways, it creates an “apples to oranges” situation where content sellers can’t easily compare the performance of content assets.

To understand this challenge and the urgent need for data standardization, you can simply examine one metric that’s vital for understanding content engagement: Total Views.

This article will explore how different OTT platforms are counting views today, why these differences create challenges for content sellers, and how data standardization can make life easier for both OTT platforms and content sellers.

Viewership data helps content sellers understand engagement and performance

Views are a critical OTT metric used to quantify the number of times a television or film media asset was seen on a streaming platform in a given period.

View counts can yield valuable insights into content performance, helping content sellers answer questions like:

  • How does viewership of my content change from month to month?
  • How does viewership for a given asset compare across two or more OTT streaming platforms?
  • What genre or type of content receives the most views across OTT streaming platforms?

In our 2024 State of Media Report, crafted with new research from Parks Associates, 83% of media executives considered view counts a “very useful” metric for evaluating content performance.

However, the metric is far less useful when OTT platforms all have different ways of defining, counting, and reporting on this basic content engagement metric.

Many OTT video platforms, many ways to count a view

The most basic strategy for counting video views is to simply count each time a video plays for any amount of time on the platform. This method is typical for social video platforms that want to show high engagement metrics, but no known streaming television or film platforms currently count views this way.

Let’s take a closer look at how some of the most popular OTT streaming platforms are choosing to define and count views.

#1 Minimum viewing requirements

OTT platforms that count individual views will usually implement additional requirements to validate user engagement before a view is counted and/or restrictions on how many views may be counted for each user.

YouTube counts a view when a user intentionally initiates a video and watches for at least 30 seconds. Embedded videos that auto-play in a browser don’t count as a view, and each YouTube viewer can only register 3-5 views of a single video asset per day.

Until 2023, Netflix would only count a view if the user watched at least 70% of the video, and multiple views on the same user account could only be counted once.

WURL, a technology provider that helps content sellers create and distribute FAST channels, counts a view on a FAST channel when a user watches that channel for at least 2 minutes. Most other FAST platforms also use a minimum watch time qualifier when counting views.

#2 Counting views in aggregate

An increasingly common method for counting views on OTT streaming platforms is to count the views in aggregate instead of individually.

Disney Plus counts views by tracking the total viewing time for a given title and dividing it by its total run time. For example, if a film with a total run time of 120 minutes accumulated 60 million streaming minutes in a given month, Disney Plus would report 500,000 total views.

Netflix adjusted its viewership metric in 2023 and now counts views using the same formula as Disney Plus.

#3 Counting implicit views

Some platforms may not report specifically on views but still provide information that can give content sellers insight into how many views their content received.

Amazon Prime Video pays royalties to content sellers based on total streaming minutes, which are tracked at the asset level and available for content sellers in their Performance Metrics Report. If content sellers know an asset’s total streaming minutes and total run time, they can roughly calculate views using the same formula that Netflix and Disney Plus use.

Non-standard OTT data leaves content sellers comparing apples to oranges

Content sellers cannot easily compare views between platforms when a YouTube view means “30+ seconds” of watch time, a FAST technology provider means “2+ minutes” of watch time, and Netflix means that someone watched the length of an entire video.

What is a View? Underlining the Urgent Need for OTT Data Standardization

Although this article focuses on views, the problem of non-standardized OTT data goes much further, impacting metrics like ad impressions, audience reach, unique sessions, and total sessions, that are also important for content sellers.

The lack of standardized definitions for any of these metrics makes it challenging or even impossible in some cases to extract useful content analytics. Just to get close, content sellers must determine how each of their OTT streaming partners is calculating each metric, then aggregate the data and apply data normalization techniques to standardize data from multiple platforms before comparing it. This process is time-consuming and error-prone and could easily be avoided altogether by standardization on the platform end.

The movement towards data standardization in OTT media

A growing number of stakeholders in the media industry are recognizing the need for OTT data standardization and building alliances between content sellers, streaming platforms, technology providers, and advertisers to define and adopt standard data formats. Together, they are addressing the lack of OTT data available to content sellers and the lack of standard definitions.

One example of this type of collaboration is the Streaming Video Technology Alliance (SVTA), an International Technical Association dedicated to solving the biggest challenges facing OTT streaming. The SVTA includes streaming platform providers, technology vendors, broadcasters, ISPs, and content sellers who collaborate in working groups to define standards and best practices for the OTT industry.

Another group is the Independent Streaming Alliance (ISA), an independent CTV industry forum that actively collaborates with OTT platforms, advertisers, regulators, and other industry stakeholders to address challenges facing the CTV industry, including measurement and data standardization.

A common standard for measuring and reporting OTT platform data will allow content sellers to better understand and compare asset performance across platforms. From there, content sellers can optimize their content creation and distribution strategies to delight audiences and maximize revenue.

Manage and analyze your OTT platform data with Revedia

As the OTT media industry moves towards data standardization, SymphonyAI is leading the way with innovative software products that help content sellers address their most pressing revenue and data-related challenges.

The Revedia Digital platform automatically aggregates and normalizes OTT platform data from multiple sources into the proprietary Revedia Universal Schema (RUS), making it faster and easier for content sellers to analyze their OTT data and extract content performance insights. Schedule your demo today to see Revedia in action.

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