The Growth of Mobile Video

ipad-review-3-new-10One trend worth noting is the explosion of mobile video, meaning on-line video that is watched on devices other than televisions or computers. Ooyala recently published a report looking at the trends in mobile video and the numbers are eye-opening.

  • In the past year mobile video watching has doubled and the rate of growth is accelerating. In February 2014 it represented 21% of all on-line video being watched and by June had grown to 27%.
  • It’s projected that by 2016 that more on-line video will be watched on mobile devices than on televisions and computers.
  • Cisco projects out further and says that mobile data could represent 69% of the world’s Internet traffic by 2018.

This has some real implications for anybody in the video business. Not only is on-line video growing rapidly with content being provided by Netflix, AmazonPrime and YouTube, but that video is being watched more and more on smartphones and tablets rather than televisions and computers.

This trend is being driven by a lot of different factors:

  • In the US this trend is partially driven by age. A recent Nielsen poll showed that Millenials are now watching 4.5 hours less of traditional TV per month than they did a year ago.
  • There is a big increase in TV Everywhere and cable operators say that about 90% of US cable subscribers now have access to TVE.
  • There has been an explosion in the number of mobile devices capable of watching video and sales of smartphones and tablets are sharply up.
  • There are now more worldwide users connected to the Internet through mobile devices than through landline connections.
  • There has also been rapid growth worldwide in both 3G and 4G mobile networks. Akamai reports that the average mobile data speed in the US is 5.5 Mbps. They also say that there are 21 countries that now have mobile speeds that average over 4 Mbps.
  • There are huge amounts of content being produced, particularly in the shorter lengths of under 30 minutes.

Viewing habits still vary by size of screen:

  • 81% of the on-line video watched on television screens is of lengths greater than 10 minutes.
  • 70% of the on-line video watched on tablets is of lengths greater than 10 minutes.
  • But smartphone users prefer shorter content and 45% of the video watched on smartphones is of 6 minutes or less. But the viewing of 30-minute+ videos on smartphones is growing rapidly

The interesting thing about mobile data is that in the US a large percentage of this traffic is being carried through WiFi using landline connections. The capped mobile data plans make it very hard for most customers in the US to watch very much data on their mobile plans without paying a big premium price. As I’ve reported in other blogs, American consumers are getting very smart about using WiFi whenever it’s available.

It’s also worth noting that video quality is increasing. Netflix and others broadcast a lot of content in high definition and are now starting to stream in ultrahigh definition 4K. The quality for shorter videos on sites like YouTube is also getting better with much more HD content. And better quality means more bandwidth demand for the network operator.

What does this all mean to network owners? My takeaways include:

  • The explosive growth of on-line video that is being watched on landline networks means a continued pressure to offer faster speeds in order to support multiple devices watching video.
  • A cable provider must offer a TV Everywhere product to stay relevant.
  • This is more mounting evidence that we are losing Millenials from traditional cable TV packages.

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  1. Pingback: The Growth of Mobile Video | Doug Dawson | POTs...

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