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New eMarketer Forecast: Digital Video Nears Milestone in Germany

Viewers to tip past 50% of population this year, but linear TV still tops

April 26, 2017 | Video | Video

After a slow start, digital video viewership is picking up speed in Germany, according to a new forecast released by eMarketer. Many of those viewers now regularly stream or download video clips and TV and film content via free options like YouTube and subscription services such as Netflix on a variety of devices. And linear TV—still the country’s most popular video viewing activity—may soon begin to feel the effect of digital video’s rising popularity.

According to eMarketer’s latest estimate of digital video adoption in Germany, 2017 will be the first year in which a majority of the country’s population—50.2%, or 41.1 million people—will watch digital video content via any device at least monthly.

Digital Video Viewers and Penetration in Germany, 2016-2021 (millions, % of internet users and % of population)

As adoption grows, the demographics of the typical digital video viewer are widening. Historically, teens and younger adults in Germany have been far more engaged with digital video than older consumers, but this imbalance is lessening as the market matures, with older audiences expanding more rapidly. The number of monthly video viewers ages 65 and older is expected to jump by nearly 20% this year alone, eMarketer predicts.

The devices used to access video content are expanding, too. Desktops still claim a large portion of digital viewing, but mobile options such as smartphones are increasingly central to video viewing in Germany. According to May 2016 polling by BurdaForward, people who viewed digital video via smartphones viewed more frequently than those who watched on any other device.

“In terms of viewer numbers, Germany is the second-largest digital video market in Western Europe, behind the UK, and will consolidate that position during eMarketer’s forecast period,” said Karin von Abrams, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the April 2017 report, “Digital Video and TV in Germany: TV Gives Ground in a Diverse and Growing Marketplace” (available only to eMarketer PRO subscribers).

For highlights of the report, tune into the new episode of our “Behind the Numbers” podcast, which features a conversation with Karin von Abrams.

However, von Abrams noted that while “2016 saw a significant increase in the viewing population, penetration in Germany will continue to lag behind regional norms. One reason is that Germany’s population skews older, and many residents at that end of the age spectrum have been slow to adopt digital video viewing.”

Lagging uptake by older viewers is one reason a pre-digital preference for linear TV viewed via TV set remains in place in Germany—although that combination’s hold is weakening.

Live TV still dominates the country’s viewing habits, in terms of both penetration and time spent with the medium. Some 94.2% of Germany’s adult population will view TV at least monthly in 2017, eMarketer predicts. Moreover, there remains a larger-than-average corps of consumers unconverted to viewing on non-TV devices: An April 2016 study by Google and Kantar TNS found 36% of internet users in Germany never watched digital video on non-TV devices—the highest proportion of any country surveyed.

However, the long-unavoidable link between linear TV programming and the TV set has begun to weaken thanks to options like timeshifted viewing via smart TVs and other devices.

A May 2016 study by Bitkom and Deloitte, for one, found that 60% of residents in Germany ages 14 and older who watched digital video at least occasionally had viewed catch-up TV shows from a media library in May 2016, and 39% had seen a current TV show via live stream.

Furthermore, the study found that 59% of digital video viewers in Germany no longer made a point of turning on TV programs in time to catch them live, since they could watch them later on a digital platform. One-third said they now viewed digital video as a substitute for traditional cable, satellite or antenna-enabled TV, and 44% said they viewed less traditional TV since watching digital video.

Ooyala calculated that time spent with linear TV declined by only 0.3% in Germany during the year to January 2017, so professed usage and measured results for digital vs. linear TV viewing haven’t necessarily shifted in relation to each other to the degree one might expect. But time spent with online video content may well overtake TV viewing in the near future. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of video content providers in Germany quizzed by Goldmedia in 2016 said they expected that to happen by 2020.

Get more on this topic with the full eMarketer report, “Digital Video and TV in Germany: TV Gives Ground in a Diverse and Growing Marketplace.”

eMarketer releases over 200 analyst reports per year, which are only available to eMarketer PRO customers.

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