Hot on the heels of one of the world’s most-watched sport­ing events—the Super Bowl—comes the Sochi 2014 Olympic Win­ter Games. While mul­ti­v­enue, mul­ti­event con­tests such as the Olympics were once con­sid­ered to be “appoint­ment tele­vi­sion,” today’s social media net­works, online news updates, and—quite especially—mobile dig­i­tal video make that con­cept seem as old as wooden skis. Sports view­ing is clearly fuel­ing video growth across all screens.

It’s been 18 months since the Lon­don Olympic Sum­mer Games, and con­sumers are watch­ing con­tent on more device types and plat­forms than ever before. This year, start­ing with the Sochi Win­ter Games, view­ers are going to cap­i­tal­ize on these oppor­tu­ni­ties, access­ing the con­tests via gam­ing con­soles, Roku, tablets, phones, smart TVs, and, per­haps in the future, Google Glass.

To find out more about this trend, Adobe Dig­i­tal Index ana­lyzed 22.5 bil­lion online video starts and 574 mil­lion authen­ti­cated streams (TV Every­where) and asked 400 U.S. sports view­ers about their new view­ing habits. The result is the Q4 Dig­i­tal Video Bench­mark Report, which pro­vides a full pic­ture of all the dig­i­tal access points for online video. The trends out­lined in this report clearly demon­strate that sports view­ing is the engine behind dig­i­tal video growth and, because 2014 will have sev­eral multi-event con­tests, ADI expects dig­i­tal video con­sump­tion to grow 5 to 10x year-over-year (YoY).

Gam­ing Con­soles, Android Take The Podium

Sport­ing events such as the Olympics, the World Cup, or “March Mad­ness” offer too many matches to fit into tra­di­tional broad­cast sched­ules. In the past, of course, view­ers were lim­ited by the pro­gram­ming sched­ule and what was shown dur­ing prime time, as broad­cast­ers viciously edited con­tent, leav­ing most of it on the cutting-room floor.

Today, how­ever, media com­pa­nies can deliver live and on-demand con­tent online and mon­e­tize it with dynam­i­cally inserted ads. ADI data indi­cates that nearly half of all of these TV Every­where (TVE) streams are run­ning on Apple devices, and the num­ber of Android devices access­ing TVE con­tent has dou­bled. The use of gam­ing con­soles for TVE con­tent, how­ever, is grow­ing the fastest up 3x YoY (from 1% to 3%) Sports stream­ing accounts for nearly 40% of TVE viewing.


A look at unre­stricted online view­ing — which is any online video start not requir­ing a pay-TV sub­scrip­tion or authen­ti­ca­tion (non-TVE con­tent)– indi­cates that more than 1 in 5 videos are accessed from a mobile device. Gam­ing con­sole view­ing is grow­ing the fastest in this cat­e­gory with an increase of 365% YoY. New con­soles, such as the PS4 and Xbox One, flew off the shelves dur­ing the hol­i­days and accord­ing to Reuters, retail­ers of video games reported an 83% rise in total sales dur­ing the hol­i­day. With so many more con­soles in the home, TVE con­tent view­ing is expected to more than dou­ble this year.

Google Glass Use Grows 8x In Past Five Months

Accord­ing to USA Today, sales of wear­able devices are up nearly 2000%, largely dri­ven by the fit­ness cat­e­gory. Eye­wear tech, such as Google Glass, shows very small pen­e­tra­tion (<1%) at this point, but Google Glass use, in par­tic­u­lar, is the fastest-growing Web access device, up eight times in just the past five months. By culling data from tril­lions of vis­its, ADI has iden­ti­fied that Google Glass looks to be head­ing for use as a future media-consumption device rather than as a shop­ping device. In fact, Web sites see­ing the high­est pen­e­tra­tion of Google Glass vis­its are media and enter­tain­ment with sports being the most pop­u­lar con­tent in this category.

Glass viewership

Within media and enter­tain­ment, users are mainly using them to watch online video and, in par­tic­u­lar, sport­ing events.

Glass viewership M&E

As devices such as Google Glass grow their sales, they will have an impact on online video view­ing.  Broad­cast­ers will bring TVE to these devices and cre­ate new cross-broadcast, aug­mented real­ity ad for­mats. It’s not impos­si­ble to imag­ine that by the 2016 Rio Olympics, your office mates will be walk­ing around wear­ing a device watch­ing stream­ing video while you think they are working.

Smart­phone: The Come­back Kid

Through­out 2012, ADI watched the use of tablets speed ahead, as the screen size, data speed of WiFi, and high-quality media-viewing appli­ca­tions drove them into the lead in devices used to access a video. Smart­phones were not to be denied, how­ever, and use of these to watch video retook the lead dur­ing 2013—with stun­ning YoY growth of 86% ver­sus tablet’s 23%, when it came to unre­stricted online video consumption.

Mobile Growth & video

TVE saw a sim­i­lar pat­tern, but tablets are the pri­mary mobile device used (42%), up 110% YoY.

TVE device type

With the large num­ber of smart­phones in use and the trends in 2013 toward larger screen sizes and faster mobile data con­nec­tions, phones appear to be dri­ving much more mobile view­er­ship, espe­cially for sports clips.

Sports View­ing Up 7x YoY

The break­down of online video by cat­e­gory over the year demon­strates the impact of sports video on the mar­ket­place: With 640% growth YoY, sports view­ing is fuel­ing the growth of watch­ing videos online. In com­par­i­son, stream­ing of all video con­tent grew 440% YoY. The trend line also demon­strates a clear dip across all types of con­tent in the sum­mer months, when less new con­tent is available.

viewing growth

Key Take­aways

In sum, ADI’s research sug­gests that:

• Smart­phones over­took tablets for online video stream­ing in Dec 2012, and usage is up 86% YoY.

• With the intro­duc­tion of Xbox One and PS4, online video stream­ing from gam­ing con­soles is on the rise, up 365% YoY.

• Sports video stream­ing is up 640% YoY.

• More than one-fourth of video streams on large annual and bian­nual sport­ing events comes from mobile devices.

• The major­ity of TVE con­tent is viewed on mobile devices, with tablets pro­duc­ing the most, at 42%.

• 37% of TVE con­tent streams are for sport­ing events.