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OTT Advertising During The COVID-19 Outbreak

Apr 23, 2020

OTT advertising has been a fast-growing sector of the digital marketing industry. With the rise of COVID-19 and people self-quarantining in their homes, the world looks much different than it did just a couple months ago.

New York City is a ghost town, as people try to avoid crowded areas. Workplaces are empty as people try to stay productive from their home offices. Countless restaurants have completely redesigned their dining rooms with nobody allowed to enjoy a good meal without taking it to-go.

Students of all ages have been forced to move their classes online. The Coronavirus has had an extreme affect on how people live their everyday lives. 

Without the ability to go out and socialize, people are trying to find ways to pass the time. One of the most common ways people are counteracting the boredom is binge watching shows on their favorite streaming services.

If it’s Netflix, Hulu, Pluto TV, and/or any combination of other services, people are watching video on demand services more than ever!

OTT streaming services are set up to actually benefit greatly from these drastic changes, which isn’t surprising at all when you take into consideration how OTT has been growing the past few years.

The Evolution of OTT Advertising

At Conduit Digital, OTT advertising has been the fastest growing digital product since we launched it in 2017. This has proven to be a trend in the overall OTT industry as well!

Starting in 2010, OTT revenue has increased more than tenfold, starting at $6.1 billion in 2010 to $84.76 billion in 2019 worldwide. Most recently, within the U.S., revenue grew by 35% from 2018 to 2019 at $22 billion, and is expected to grow by another 29% in 2020 to $28.5 billion. 

The majority of the market is held by three of the top video-streaming platforms: Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime video. While OTT has succeeded, television continues to see subscriptions drop year after year as more subscription-based video-streaming platforms pop-up.

The way people consume their media is vastly changing and evolving, which should mean the way businesses reach their audience does too. 

For the years 2018 and 2019 combined, around 10 million US TV subscriptions were dropped (aka the infamous “cord-cutters”), while during that same time, online streaming service subscriptions have only risen. 

Where OTT Is Going

Now we know how much money is being spent on OTT, how much have actual subscriptions grown? In 2014, there were 150 million online streaming services subscriptions.

In 2019, this number has grown to over 600 million, a 300% increase! Subscribers are also expected to almost double to 1.1 billion by 2021.

Researchers also found that about 70% of US citizens are subscribed to at least one OTT service, while the average user subscribes to 3.4 different services. 

In addition to the average user being subscribed to multiple OTT services, it’s also been reported that the number of households with two or more OTT subscriptions has increased by over 130% in the past five years. 

In 2019, 46% of US households subscribe to multiple OTT services, as opposed to 33% in 2017 and 20% in 2014.

This proves that once users try one of the big guns like Netflix or Hulu, they are likely to expand on their OTT capabilities and subscribe to other services! It’s getting easier each year to reach a vast number of people using OTT!

The Impact of Coronavirus Quarantine

On January 23, 2020, Chinese authorities locked-down the city of Wuhan, which was expanded to the entire Hubei province on January 30th affecting over 11 million people. As the virus spread, more countries followed suit by locking down borders and issuing stay-at-home orders.

Unfortunately, the virus spread like wildfire throughout the United States, coming to a head when Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey’s governor, Phil Murphy, and others followed New York’s lead and issued a statewide stay-at-home order that all non-essential businesses in the state would be closed indefinitely. 

Since then, multiple other states have followed the trend and issued stay-at-home orders. According to a recent poll, 75% of U.S. residents are self-isolating in some way, even though there is no countrywide order. This means 200+ million people are stuck at home in America.

How Quarantine Has Helped OTT Advertising Skyrocket

Since the start of quarantine here in the United States, streaming services have seen some serious uptick in usage. Nielson is predicting upwards of a 60% increase in streaming due to COVID-19 isolation. 

We have seen instances of rapid streaming growth around the world in places like Italy and Spain who were under quarantine before the United States, as previously mentioned.

According to Nielson, first-time installs of Netflix’s app were up 57% (Italy) and 34% (Spain), respectively, according to Sensor Tower data.

In addition, live streaming across YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, and Mixer grew by more than 66% in Italy between the first week of February and the week of March 17th, according to StreamElements, and viewers were watching nearly double the number of channels (TechCrunch).

This increase won’t and is not only being seen in Italy and Spain, here in the United States we have already seen surges in internet usage up nearly 70% since the lockdown. 

This growth is directly contributed to the increased number of people stuck working from home, but the majority of individuals are just looking to pass their time by consuming content across the web. Early estimates have shown that streaming has jumped by at least 12%.

This increase in streaming movies, TV shows, and the plethora of content that spans from free streaming platforms such as Pluto TV to HBO Go means more eyes are looking at the in-home big screen (TV).

Why Investing In OTT Is Smart To Do Right Now

Experts expect only 2020 to be affected by COVID-19, and that we will continue to see the consistent rise of OTT. As stated previously, subscribers are expected to skyrocket to over 4 billion by 2027, which means there will be a lot less eyes watching traditional television.

While streaming services built around broadcasting live sports will see less subscriptions in the coming months due to ongoing pandemic, other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, will continue to succeed.

Almost all streaming services should see a big bump in their user bases due to so many people staying home looking for new things to watch. By 2025, the expected market size for OTT is projected to be around $180 billion

The main drivers of OTT services include more device integration, with a higher focus on mobile, and improved internet speeds and access.

With the incoming implementation of 5G which promises lower latency and higher bandwidth, which in turn creates improved Internet speeds, OTT will continue to rise and spread across the globe. 

When the pandemic is over and life returns to some amount of normalcy, we may see some regression in terms of new-subscription rates. With the help of 5G, and the audience reach OTT has, brands and businesses alike are investing in streaming service advertisements. 


Now is the time, more than ever, to incorporate OTT advertising to your client’s Digital Marketing solution! Prior to 2020, OTT was experiencing exponential growth in its industry and user base.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 affecting all aspects of our everyday lives, OTT has been no exception. The main difference is that OTT stands to benefit greatly from the extra time people have on their hands. 

Businesses that fail to acknowledge the potential this new form of advertising can bring them will only be left behind and struggle to compete against competitors.

Our skilled team at Conduit understands the impactful future over-the-top television will have on the industry, which is why we ran over 100,000,000 commercials in order to find what works best.









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