The Sleeping Giant of Live Linear OTT in APAC

Isometric illustration of marketers around a large OTT screen

By Juliette Stead, SVP, Head of JAPAC, Magnite

As TV viewing shifts from traditional transmission to internet-delivered TV, live programming presents a rather unexpected bright spot for marketers. In the APAC region, we’re seeing audiences lean into OTT to catch up on shows they missed on traditional linear. Audiences are also devouring content they can only now find online, such as nostalgic or niche series. Beyond that, we’re also seeing audiences delight in live streaming: be it live sports coverage or live event-based TV such as a ‘Masterchef’ finale. Many viewers – surprisingly – simply choose to watch the prescribed TV schedule through an internet connection.

Ad-supported live programming is being consumed at a rapid rate, whether that be news programming, music or festival events, reality shows, or live sports, all driving audience engagement, value and demand. This presents a significant opportunity for video marketers and publishers alike. However, for brands to best engage with these hungry audiences, we need to understand better who they are, what they’re watching, and why they’re watching through an internet connection versus the traditional TV model of the past.

Live Linear: APAC’s Sleeping Giant

By 2025, digital video will reach 82.2% of internet users in Asia-Pacific for a total of 2.20 billion viewers, according to this Insider Intelligence article. With the growth of streaming, live linear has played the dark horse among streaming audiences, outpacing expectations.

Initially, on-demand streamers were expected to be much more dominant, putting audiences in control of what, when, and how they watch. Through live linear, audiences opt instead to lean back into a curated programming schedule with minimal tampering. As it turns out, many people are happy watching what’s presented to them in real-time rather than choosing where and when to watch or ‘surfing’ content.

According to Magnite’s recent study, live streaming is broadly adopted among CTV viewers across Australia and New Zealand. In Australia alone, 82% of all OTT users watch at least one live streaming service, and 80% of all New Zealand CTV users can be classified as live streamers.

In markets where linear video streaming is less ingrained, it’s becoming increasingly popular. For example, linear video streaming services had a penetration rate of almost 17 percent in Japan last year, according to this Statista article,and that number is only expected to grow year-over-year.

For advertisers, live linear OTT environments present special value. Viewers are even more receptive to ads in live linear OTT environments, which is more akin to broadcast TV. This is particularly true of live sports. In fact, 40% of sports streamers in Australia and New Zealand said that TV ads are ‘an important part’ of the watching experience, according to Magnite’s research.

That’s not surprising, given the quality of advertising creative used alongside live sports programming. Furthermore, live sports streamers are more likely to discover new products, remember ads, and make a purchase than traditional TV viewers.

‘Turning on’ Live OTT’s Value in APAC

Despite live linear’s popularity in the APAC region, the full value of live inventory hasn’t yet been ‘turned on’ as it is still a nascent format.

Some publishers in APAC are trialing and activating live linear but have yet to turn on the programmatic monetisation tools to drive greater revenues and monetise spiky supply. Other publishers are still discovering the best ways to deliver live linear across varying screens and devices. Working with partners that can streamline and track audience attribution and ad delivery across formats will help publishers drive monetisation.

This is especially important in APAC, a richly diverse region with a breadth of languages, cultures, and economies. Each region has different preferences in their choice of sport or entertainment. For example, in India, cricket is a star player. Its high-profile IPL League regularly attracts millions of viewers per match. In contrast, Australian Rules Football (AFL) is the most popular sport in Australia and brings with it its own brand of live-streaming audiences who increasingly prefer the big screen experience of CTV.

To tap into the wide diversity of interests and fans, brands and publishers would do well to tailor their digital marketing strategies to account for local differences. With a necessity for greater flexibility in reaching varying audience sizes, demographics and interests, continued innovation will be integral to creating more personalised environments for connection and engagement.

All the while, engagement on live linear OTT channels is booming – with ad budgets following suit. The global live-streaming market is estimated to reach over $247 billion by 2027, stated here on Globe News Wire.

Ultimately, we are only scratching the surface of the possibilities of live linear OTT in Asia Pacific. As more budgets move from broadcast TV to OTT, live OTT programming provides a natural fit for advertisers looking to build incremental reach with mainstay audiences. Programmatic tools and standards will do much to unlock live OTT’s full value. There have already been significant developments in digital video across the region. Looking ahead, advertisers will be presented with even greater opportunities to reach addressable, engaged audiences through live linear’s continued growth.

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