Co-Viewing & TV Advertising

TV viewing is inherently social, whether you’re catching the latest drama on a reality show with roommates or binge-watching a whole season of the newest streaming hit with the family. Roughly 93% of TV watchers participate in co-viewing—watching video content with others—on any screen. This habit provides an opportunity for a brand to capitalize on conversation, and get people talking about their ads. With linear TV and OTT sharing most of the co-viewing experience, here are a few key takeaways about the impact of group viewership on brand marketing.

Four Friends Watching TV Together with Popcorn

The Platforms for Co-Viewing

Linear TV is the most co-viewed medium for video content, with 72% of U.S. viewers watching weekly with another person.1 OTT follows in second with 47% of weekly co-viewers, and VOD and DVR rounding out the group at 34% and 31%, respectively.1

A significant pull for advertisers to linear TV is the reach of the coveted primetime slot. OTT, however, can offer the draw of live TV along with the personalization of ad experiences for the viewer. While OTT has on-demand content, 36% of videos viewed as a group on this platform are live programming, and on weekdays, 77% of daily co-viewers are watching on OTT during primetime hours.1

Brands also have concerns about non-ad-supported streaming services pulling the majority of OTT audiences, which would make this investment not worth the ad spend. However, OTT co-viewers are actually twice as likely to watch programming on ad-supported services.

Demographics of Co-Viewing

While linear TV takes the lion’s share of reach for co-viewing, OTT is crucial to brands trying to capture hard-to-reach audiences. Co-viewers on OTT reach that critical 18-34 audience, as well as large families with kids, and Latino households.1 For viewers age 18-34, in particular, there’s a 16% jump in co-viewership from linear (37%) to OTT (53%).1

For brands catering to families and Gen Z, OTT advertising provides a targeted opportunity to communicate with their consumer base and the people who matter most to convert the sale—their friends and parents. Teen and millennial friends co-viewing together can even influence a potential customer about a brand seen on OTT. 45% said they have changed a friend’s mind, while 36% are influenced by friends to change their perspective on a product.1

Four Friends Watching TV Enjoying Pizza and Beverages

Brand Interaction During Co-Viewing

A brand’s ultimate task with any ad is to get people talking about and engaging with their content, but with co-viewership, this task is particularly immediate. When watching linear TV in a group, 63% of audiences are likely to talk about what they’re watching during its airing.1 This number jumps to 69% on OTT. During commercial breaks, co-viewing audiences are then 50% and 56% likely to talk about products and brands they see on linear and OTT commercials, respectively.1

The jump for OTT is likely two-fold. Co-viewing on OTT is generally motivated by a desire to share time together and relax after a long day, which caters to the increase in general conversation. With advertising, specifically, co-viewers for streaming services are more likely to talk about advertising because OTT ads are targeted to the specific household. Anonymous first- and third-party data allows brands to find audiences based on minute demographic markers, like a car brand selling minivans to a family of four in the market to buy a new car.

This brand interaction is a significant component of why linear TV is shifting toward data-driven means of advertising. The more targeted the ad, the more seamless conversion can be, and the added conversation about the product only moves the buyer further through the marketing funnel. Instead of targeting by time slot and channel selection, data-driven TV advertising can maximize its reach during primetime hours by finding a more specific customer base to drive conversion.

Additional Devices Used During Co-Viewing

With society as connected as ever, watching can be interactive with people beyond your living room. When watching TV as a group on linear or OTT, viewers are 52-57% likely to have another device in their hands.1 For OTT co-viewers, having their phone with them is only half the story; 41% of groups watching TV will discuss brands they see on social platforms, and the chance that they will search the product online and even buy it stands at 32%.1 Brands can take advantage of this online interaction with call-to-actions in their ads. Multi-screen campaigns through platforms like NYI’s Audience One can also drive home the message on other devices.


Source: 1.