Online catch-up television services can sometimes be a jarring experience. You’re watching your favourite show, only for it to head to an ad break, pause, flicker and spend several agonising seconds loading the advertisement, completely breaking the illusion of a seamless experience.
That happens because the catch-up service you’re watching is asking the device to do all the hard work: grab the video stream for the show then, when it comes time for the advertisement, make the switch to the right one. It’s the modern equivalent of the television changing channels to find the right ad to go with the show you’re watching.
We wouldn’t accept it when it comes to traditional broadcast television experiences, and we don’t appear to accept it either when it comes to catch-up services. A recent survey of Australian catch-up watchers by Edentify found 38 percent of those watching the catch-up services of Australia’s three major commercial broadcasters were disappointed with the amount of ads they were shown, while 24 percent said they were shown the same ads all the time with little variety.
Nearly one in five people said ad loads and lagging were a continuing problem with on-demand services, and a similar amount said they suffered video crashes.
In short, we dislike a catch-up experience that is broken up by repetitive, poorly displayed advertisements. That’s a major problem for broadcasters — with Australians alone watching nearly 10 percent less traditional television per month than a year ago, broadcasters need a way of providing sustainable, monetised content to their audiences online. Without a fluid, broadcast-like experience through catch-up services, their once-loyal audiences could leave in search of a better product.
Delivering a TV-Like Experience with Server-Side Ad Insertion
There is a solution to this issue, however. Instead of relying on our smartphones, tablets or television set-top boxes to do the hard work when it comes to switching between content and advertisements, broadcasters are moving to cloud or server-side ad insertion. By inserting the advertisements into the content stream in the cloud, rather than on the device, content owners can deliver just one stream to the viewer, making for a seamless, broadcast-like experience once again.
We recently spoke to Sky Business Australia about how broadcasters in Australia and New Zealand have led the way in adopting this relatively new technology. Network Ten, one of Australia’s largest commercial broadcasters, recently rolled out cloud ad insertion across a wider variety of devices after a year-long trial of Brightcove Once, our ad insertion technology.
Network Ten will now use Brightcove Once to insert ads on its catch-up service tenplay, which had more than 182 million views in the past year alone. That comes in addition to set-top boxes like Apple TV, Sony BRAVIA, Telstra TV/Roku and Xbox, all now utilising the technology.
As Liz Baldwin, General Manager of Digital at Network Ten said: “We’re now able to deliver a true broadcast-like experience for audiences and advertisers as well as address ad-skipping, giving advertisers greater assurance their content will be seen by their intended audiences”.
Nearby in New Zealand, the country’s largest independent broadcaster MediaWorks has also adopted server-side ad insertion to monetise its catch-up content on iPhones and iPads. It plans to roll out the technology across all of its online video content too, showing just how powerful this can be for content owners.
Watch the full interview below to see why server-side ad insertion technology has ramifications for ad blocking, and why those content owners that fail to give viewers what they want are unlikely to see their audiences stick around for long.