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Report: Streaming Monetization in 2020

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Streaming video of all kinds—from premium TV to Hollywood films to user-generated content—is more popular than ever, but the age-old question remains: How do we monetize it? The 2020 Streaming Monetization Report provides some much-needed answers. 

Just prior to global lockdowns that upended the streaming business—but drove viewerships to all-time highs, even among those who hadn't previously embraced streaming—the Streaming Media team and Unisphere Research, along with sponsor Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), asked respondents to tell us how they monetize their content. The results of those 250 survey responses, analyzed by the team at Help Me Stream Research Foundation, are now available in a detailed report, available to download here.

The report covers everything from the popularity of server-side ad insertion (SSAI) to the key approaches of those organizations that have successfully cracked the code on viewership and revenue. A few takeaways from the report have also been turned into an infographic (below), but you'll want to download the entire report for additional, deeper insights.

The infographic notes that advertising and subscriptions continue to be the most popular ways to monetize content. That’s not really a surprise, as the two approaches have been the primary drivers of premium content monetization for a number of years. What is interesting, though, is the fact that transaction-based monetization is on the rise—after falling during the past decade, somewhat in lockstep with the rise of ad-free premium content on-demand services—now accounting for almost one-fifth of respondents’ strategies.

The report breaks down how free content delivery is also used for multiple purposes across various viewership levels.

On the ad-insertion front, SSAI continues to gain in popularity, with nearly half of respondents who generate revenue using SSAI. The majority of respondents still use either client-side ad insertion (CSAI) or linear ad insertion (traditional rebroadcast of interstitial video-based ads). This means SSAI still has room for growth.

To set a baseline for future versions of the survey, another aspect of the report covers reasons respondents told us they could not—or would not—monetize their content. Some of the responses were expected, such as those in university or government settings who are barred from charging for content, but a number of respondents told us they felt their audience sizes were too small or their content had little to no perceived value.

“We have not figured out a way to be efficient and priced right based on the audience size,” wrote one respondent from a sports organization.

We see this type of candor as a net benefit for those companies that are willing to educate potential customers as to the value of content. Not only does the streaming industry have the opportunity to educate these smaller publishers about monetization and audience growth strategies, but the industry also should consider coming up with new micro-monetization approaches for publishers looking to recoup content acquisition and delivery costs.

Download the full survey report here.

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