In the Living Room: Your Best CTV Strategy for the New Year

young woman watching living room TV

The year that most of us would rather forget produced effects that will linger well into this new year and beyond for advertisers and media agencies.

Trends in digital video and TV that had been moving incrementally for years suddenly fast-forwarded in 2020, thanks to a surge in demand beginning with lockdowns and quarantines in Q2, and impacts on production, including bellwether traditional TV content like sports events and live audience shows.1

Cord cutters, cord nevers and on-demanders

For example, while audiences overall have been shifting from traditional TV to streaming video for several years, a couple key statistics indicate how the pandemic has accelerated this trend.

Connected TV Households 2014-2024
  • Pay TV providers (cable, satellite and telecom) lost the most subscribers ever in one year—6.6 million households—down 7.5% year-over-year. Total households now stand at 77.6, which is down 22.8% from pay TV’s peak in 2014. By the end of 2024, fewer than half of US households will subscribe to a pay TV service.2
  • Connected TV households surpassed the 100 million mark for the first time, topping out at 104.7 million, or almost 81% of US homes. That number is up 82.1% from 2014. By the end of 2024, almost 86% of US households will use connected TV.3

Industry observers and analysts feel these accelerated trends are likely to continue this year and that CTV may have already reached a tipping point in its adoption.

Nielsen reported in June that “the rise in total media consumption during shelter-in-place restrictions was expected and has been well documented to date, but the persistent high levels of CTV use across smart TVs, internet-connected devices and game consoles suggests that life in the new normal includes a heavier dose of connected TV use than before the lockdowns.” 4

And Adweek added that this “…underscores the belief among many television streaming executives and onlookers that the pandemic may prompt an acceleration in streaming migration.” 5

Digital video and CTV top ad formats in 2021

OTT Video Viewer Penetration, by Provider

The pandemic has had similar effects on advertising as well. eMarketer/Insider Intelligence reported that time spent with digital video will grow another 19.4% in 2021.6 

And in its annual YouTube advertising report, it spotlighted the digital video platform’s dominance in OTT viewership and its significance for CTV advertisers:

  • YouTube is the largest ad-supported digital video platform in the US in reach and time spent. In 2020, YouTube was watched by 214.9 million Americans, making up 74.2% of US internet users.
  • This year, 95.4% of US OTT video viewers will watch YouTube at least monthly, surpassing even Netflix (74.9%). YouTube is second only to Netflix in share of time spent with OTT video in the US, particularly notable given that YouTube is largely ad-supported. 
  • During the coronavirus pandemic, YouTube saw both viewing and ad revenue increase due to behavioral shifts. For TV advertisers, this accelerated trend could make the platform a powerful alternative for those looking to re-allocate ad dollars from television to digital video.

Your best CTV plans include YouTube

The eMarketer report concludes that in 2021, advertisers wanting to extend the reach of their TV campaigns to digital video and CTV will increasingly target their audiences on YouTube.

Not only is YouTube the most-used digital video platform in the US, it is “the single biggest source of supply in US CTV advertising. YouTube’s outsize role in the US CTV space is particularly striking given that advertisers can’t access CTV inventory on YouTube on non-Google platforms (e.g., Roku).”7

Whether your desired outcome is TV extension or digital video reach, branding or action, your best plan should include a mix of:

  • Audience- or content-targeted YouTube on CTV—then augment it as needed with
  • CTV on other platforms or
  • YouTube across other devices.

Contact Sightly’s strategy team for specific digital video and CTV ideas you could incorporate into your next plans.


  1. How the future of TV was reshaped by 2020 
  2. US Pay TV Suffers Historic Cord-Cutting 
  3. US Connected TV Forecasts 
  4. Connected TV Usage Remains Above Pre-covid-19 Levels As Traditional TV Viewing Normalizes 
  5. Connected TV Usage Remains High as Covid-19 Restrictions Ease While Linear Drops 
  6. Digital video and CTV will be the top format priorities for ad industry in 2021
  7. US YouTube Advertising 2020 
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