Research Digest

Better Together: An Exploration of Co-Viewing on CTV

Abstract

  • Almost 80% of all Connected TV viewing is done together.
  • The younger an audience is, the more likely they are to co-view, and families with children have the highest rates of co-viewing.
  • Disney+ is the most co-viewed streaming app.
  • Co-viewing rates follow similar patterns to linear—hitting a peak around primetime and dropping off in the evening.

It’s that time of day again. You’ve just finished a day of work and are sitting down with your family to watch your favorite streaming show (or maybe a movie you promised your significant other you wouldn’t watch without one another). Before it starts, an ad plays on your Smart TV. It’s your account, so the business that served that ad knows you and your tastes. But do they know tonight’s viewing was picked by your kids?

This phenomenon, commonly referred to as co-viewing, is mostly unique to TV advertising. After all, most other digital ad media aren’t served on a screen big enough for other viewers to watch at the same time. But the television screen is often located in a communal space and used by the entire household. In fact, one recent study found that nearly 80% of Connected TV viewing is shared.

But is co-viewing really a bad thing for CTV advertisers? Sure, some believe it means that CTV ads are wasted on viewers who aren’t the target audience, others point out that getting your ads in front of more eyes than expected is just a bonus of the medium. In a “Behind the Numbers” podcast episode from eMarketer, analyst Paul Verna points out that co-viewing is actually a benefit of advertising on Connected TV, because it picks up additional audience segments algorithms might not have anticipated. “[My wife and I], we’re different genders, but we’re in the same demographic,” he says. “We have similar tastes, we share a budget. So you could argue that an ad targeted to me is actually getting more views when my wife—or even my daughter!—are watching with me.”

This thinking is supported by data that suggests that attention rates are actually higher when co-viewing. TVision’s co-viewing report from last year found that when viewers watch Connected TV with at least one other person, they pay more attention. (The threat of getting poked by your spouse or roommate for looking at your phone during movie night is real, folks.) For a deeper understanding of how co-viewing affects attention rates, you can also check out our breakdown here.

Here, let’s dive into some of the granular data behind co-viewing behavior.

Co-Viewing Behavior Breakdown

To help us better understand the nature of co-viewing on Connected TV, we turned to TVision’s State of CTV Advertising report. 

Who Are the Co-Viewers?

Starting with demographics, the report found that younger audiences are more likely to co-view CTV content. Gen Alpha and Gen Z have the highest rates of co-viewing, as seen in the chart below, followed by Millenials and Gen X, and finally baby boomers.

This data helps provide some context for the next insight—co-viewing rates for households with children are significantly higher than they are for households without children. This may come as no surprise; after all, many parents monitor their children’s media consumption, and 84% report that they try to turn TV time into a family bonding activity. 

What Are Co-Viewers Watching?

Family-friendly streaming platforms also consistently take the lead in lists of the top co-viewing apps. TVision found that Disney+ has the most co-viewing for households both with and without kids, but households with children have 42% more viewers in the room when watching Disney+ than adult-only households.

The next highest rates of co-viewing—all of which falling at almost the same level—were found in HBO Max, Paramount+, Netflix, and Youtube (this study was conducted before the Max rebrand, but considering 70% of HBO Max subscribers transitioned to the new service in the first week alone, we can assume the app’s audience will include a lot of the same folks for now).

When Do Audiences Co-View?

Co-viewing rates on Connected TV also follow similar timing patterns to linear. When looking at co-viewing trends by hour during an average day, there is a standard spike at primetime and then a dropoff during the evening when most people go to bed.

Unleash the Potential of Co-Viewing

Co-viewing presents a unique opportunity for brands looking to reach a larger, more engaged audience. And by understanding the demographics and preferences of co-viewers, advertisers can better target and tailor messages to resonate with that expanded audience. As CTV gets more and more popular among consumers, finding ways to incorporate co-viewing into their strategies as a benefit of the channel will help advertisers maximize their reach and impact in this evolving digital landscape.

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