Boom in digital video expected to continue

Though growth is starting to normalize, data from eMarketer shows viewership has hit levels previously expected for 2024.

Digital video audiences have grown at a rate faster than previously predicted, according to new analysis from eMarketer.

The research and insights company expects the number of digital video viewers – defined as those who watch streamed or downloaded video content at least once a month – is expected to reach 27.7 million by the end of the year. That’s one million more than in its previous forecast, and a level it hadn’t expected to be reached until 2024.

This is, unsurprisingly, due to the record growth digital video services have been reporting since the pandemic began, which doesn’t seem to be slowing down. In addition to established services like Netflix and YouTube maintaining their strength, new players like Prime Video, Disney+ and Apple TV+ have found “committed audiences” in Canada that don’t seem inclined to leave their subscriptions.

While their viewer numbers are much smaller, eMarketer also says home-grown services like Crave, Club Illico and CBC Gem have stable audiences and are “defending their turf.”

Looking forward, eMarketer expects 30.1 million Canadians, or 75.5% of the population, to be regular digital video viewers in 2025. It also expects pandemic-driven growth – 3.1% in 2020 and 2.6% in 2021 – to continue, but begin to normalize, reaching 1.7% in 2025.

Despite this, TV remains popular, especially when it comes to long-form content, where it still has the highest average daily time spent watching. However, digital videos gains are being pulled from TV time: digital viewing now represents a third of long-form content consumption.

And eMarketer expects this trend to have a corresponding impact on ad spending. Digital video ad spending surpassed TV ad spending for the first time in Canada last year, and it’s expected that Dduble-digit growth momentum will continue through 2023.