Over the past year, the global OTT market has begun to focus its expansion on Europe, and in 2020 there is expected to be an all out boom in streaming on the continent. Disney Plus is making its service available in Europe, Starz (which launched in Germany, France and the UK in July 2019) is expanding to more markets this year, and many other services are expanding their European efforts as well. Despite the challenging requirement to offer 30% European content by 2020’s close, the biggest streaming providers recognise that the opportunity in Europe is a valuable one, so they’re working to meet the requirement in order to reap the rewards of audience growth. That’s because the number of OTT subscribers in Western Europe is expected to increase from 133 million in 2019 to 159 million by 2023, according to eMarketer.
As more providers launch their services in Europe, the competition is going to increase, and it will be a battle for viewer attention. And as OTT in Europe sees a surge, the attitudes and behaviours of viewers on the continent are evolving. Understanding viewers’ changing streaming habits can help providers beat out competitors.
Our new report provides valuable insight into the shifting habits of viewers in Western Europe. Through a survey of consumers in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, Penthera uncovered a few critical lessons that providers need to keep in mind as they strategize to stay ahead in 2020.
Europeans are streaming on mobile more, but remain frustrated by issues like buffering
eMarketer estimates that the number of mobile video viewers will have significant increases worldwide, including in Western Europe, by 2023. Our study found that a significant number of viewers have already made mobile viewing part of their regular habits, with 46% streaming video on a mobile device daily and 27% streaming on mobile weekly. This is up from 2019, when only 39% of respondents reported daily mobile streaming.
Yet with this increased mobile viewership comes increased frustrations with experiential flaws. 85% of those surveyed said they’ve experienced streaming frustrations, including videos re-buffering, videos taking too long to start, and annoying advertisements.
Though cellular infrastructure is improving in Europe and will help alleviate these issues over time, providers who want an edge over their competitors need to find solutions to the problems that get in the way of audiences enjoying their content.
Viewers are downloading more to combat buffering, and 67% expect services to offer download capabilities
The best way to avoid streaming issues caused by poor connectivity is to avoid needing connectivity when you watch. That’s why more viewers in Europe are opting to download videos to watch on their mobile devices from OTT apps that offer the ability to do so. Penthera’s study revealed that 37% of viewers in all the countries surveyed download videos at least weekly. When asked why they download, 46% said their main reason is that it lets them watch whenever, wherever they want. As more OTTs expand into Europe, the expectation to have premium features like the ability to download on mobile is increasing as well. That’s why two-thirds of European respondents said they expect a streaming app to include a download feature.
People would even pay extra or watch ads in exchange for video downloading
The persistence of streaming issues has made downloading a crucial part of the OTT experience for European viewers—so much so that many are willing to spend time and money to get the feature. Two-thirds of respondents said they would pay a monthly premium for the ability to download videos to their mobile device. Meanwhile, 85% said they would watch ads in exchange for mobile video downloads. These attitudes show that providers have several opportunities to monetise offline viewership and bring in significant additional revenue.
As the OTT industry looks to further cement its status in Europe, providers will find the competition makes it more difficult to keep churn low and increase engagement among viewers. Yet the providers who solve the pain points of European viewers and leverage mobile viewing habits in new ways will find it easy to stay ahead of the competition—and to take the lead with the inevitable growth of streaming on the continent.