How Live Linear OTT is changing the TV landscape in APAC

As the growing OTT APAC market evolves to prioritise programmatic trading tools, video publishers and marketers will have a unique opportunity to drive campaign outcomes at an unprecedented scale.

With the increasing penetration of smart TVs, OTT devices and smartphones across the Asia-Pacific region and 3.4 billion broadband subscribers, the APAC market is set to increase OTT content revenue by 90% to reach $54 billion by 2026.

As audiences are not only streaming their favourite programs on smart devices instead of turning solely to broadcast television, and watching many of these programs live, in real-time, OTT is upending the traditional TV landscape in APAC — and it’s not slowing down, as the global live streaming market is estimated to reach over $247 billion by 2027.

Within OTT, live linear programming has become a bright spot, with APAC audiences tuning in to live news, music, festival, or sports programming via their streaming devices. Highly anticipated sports events such as the upcoming 2022 Asia Cup in India and this spring’s NRL Grand Final 2022 in Australia will likely attract massive audiences with appointment viewing.

Live OTT presents a significant opportunity for video publishers and brands to reach highly engaged, addressable audiences at scale. Yet, more investment in live OTT and industry standardisation, together with a deeper understanding of these audiences’ consumption behaviours, is necessary to capture the medium’s potential fully and drive the most value and demand.

Live Linear Programming Draws Ad-Receptive Audiences

As OTT viewing has grown, audiences are embracing live linear programming at a rapid clip. This is particularly true in Australia and New Zealand.

According to Magnite’s recent study, live streaming is already broadly adopted in both countries, where OTT as a whole is now mainstream. In Australia alone, 82% of all OTT users watch live streaming through at least one OTT service. Meanwhile, 80% of all New Zealand CTV/ OTT audiences can be classified as live streamers.

With growing OTT markets, a plethora of live streaming services has expanded to the APAC region. In 2020 Discovery+ India added six live linear networks to their India streaming app, and Amazon Prime launched live sports programming in India. Similarly, sports streamer SPOTV recently expanded to Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. This has opened access to new, live OTT inventory and the regional audiences that tune in.

For advertisers, live linear OTT environments present special value. In countries like Australia, live ad-supported programming now accounts for an impressive 36% of total OTT viewing time. Live sports streamers are more receptive to ads in live linear OTT environments, which is more akin to broadcast TV. According to Magnite’s research, 40% of sports streamers in Australia and New Zealand said that TV ads are ‘an important part’ of the watching experience. That’s not surprising given the quality of advertising creative used alongside live sports programming.

Unlocking Live Linear’s Potential in APAC

Juliette Stead, SVP, Head of JAPAC, Magnite

​​Despite live linear’s building momentum, a few factors are holding back the true potential for growth in APAC at scale and the opportunity to take advantage of the full value of live inventory.

In many parts of the region, OTT content is most commonly streamed via a smartphone with earphones. This creates a highly focused viewing experience and provides publishers with valuable impression-level deterministic data.

Since viewers consume OTT content and other media through multiple screens, a holistic omnichannel strategy will be crucial for managing media spend and to streamline fragmented supply, in addition to meeting full funnel marketing needs.

Marketers will also want to see stronger reporting that goes beyond viewability and completion rates to account for audience attribution – a more difficult feat in some markets – before investing more in APAC. Live video publishers benefit from programmatic tools that help monetise their inventory and track performance and impressions, to manage budgets and optimise campaigns. Adopting region-specific standards for live linear content delivery and quality controls are needed for live OTT to truly take off.

Another challenge is that sports fans still expect live offerings to be delivered at traditional broadcast quality with the lowest possible latency. With internet access varying in different parts of APAC, the infrastructure to provide low-latency, live service, particularly over mobile devices, is limited. In a recent study, Asia recorded the worst buffering percentage globally at 0.98%. Here, 5G could be pivotal in terms of improving video quality and sustaining growing audiences and brand investment.

Ultimately, engagement with live linear OTT channels is booming — and as more audiences in APAC go online to stream video content, OTT and CTV investment is positioned to expand with ad budgets following suit. With more budgets moving from broadcast TV to OTT (or a mix of both), live OTT programming provides a natural fit for advertisers looking to build incremental reach with linear audiences. As the growing OTT APAC market evolves to prioritise programmatic trading tools, video publishers and marketers will have a unique opportunity to drive campaign outcomes at an unprecedented scale.