The rise of online news video is fuelled by advances in technology and platforms, alongside publishers' desire to experiment, a report released today (June 29) by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) has found.
'The future of online news video' discovered that although there is a significant rise in consumption of news videos when big stories break, this growth is not due to consumer demand.
After interviewing 30 news organisations across Europe and North America about their strategies and approaches to online video, the authors of the study found that people spend, on average, 2.5 per cent of their time on news sites watching video.
Even large producers of video, such as BBC News, are struggling to get more than one in ten users to access video on their site on a regular basis.
Over a two-month period, between September and October 2015, 11 per cent of visitors to the BBC News website and BBC News app watched videos, whilst data provided by the Guardian for April 2016 showed that only 7 per cent of their total web and app users had accessed video that month.
These findings support those from RISJ's Digital News Report 2016 published earlier this month, which showed that 78 per cent of the 50,000 people surveyed across 26 countries never or only occasionally watched news videos online.
Some 97.5 per cent of people's time online is still spent consuming text, a figure which may disappointing for publishers, as the report found the majority of the news organisations interviewed, even those with smaller teams or fewer resources, have been investing in news video.
The growth around online video news seems to be largely driven by technology, platforms, and publishers rather than by strong consumer demandAntonis Kalogeropoulos, RISJ
However, the survey also showed breaking news attracts audiences to online news video on a larger scale.
For example, access to video content on BBC News more than doubled after the Paris attacks in November 2015, with traffic soaring from a daily average of 10 per cent to 22 per cent immediately after the events.
But Antonis Kalogeropoulos, one of the report’s authors, highlighted that audiences do not find all daily news coverage compelling enough to engage with the video content associated with it, and the growth of online video news "seems to be largely driven by technology, platforms, and publishers rather than by strong consumer demand".
The study also found that off-site news video consumption is growing fast, with larger publishers more than doubling their video posts on social networks and experimenting with livestreaming services, such as Periscope and Facebook Live.
Publishers who saw more engagement on social platforms produced shorter and feature-based videos, related to lifestyle or entertainment topics such as cooking or family issues.
"Even for brands associated with hard news, such as The Telegraph, the Guardian, or The Independent, their top or second videos in terms of Facebook engagement numbers turned out to be animal videos," the authors wrote in the report.
NowThis was highlighted as a successful producer of emotional and inspirational videos, which get a high number of shares and likes, therefore being "more likely to be picked up by the Facebook algorithm".
Turning online video into a profitable revenue stream remains the biggest challenge for news organisations, the report pointed out. On-site monetisation continues to rely on pre-roll ads, even though RISJ's Digital News Report found that users were put off by them.
"Video has the potential to capture attention and therefore revenue in a more powerful way than text," the authors state in the report.
"Video advertising spend is growing year on year, but so is the supply of content, which may ultimately lower returns. The growth of off-site video offers new commercial opportunities, but there are also hazards with unpredictable spikes and potential changes of direction."
The full report is available here.
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