Are Smartphones the Future of the Television Experience?

As people watch more online video from more screens (see Figure 1, from Ooyala), one thing is clear: the smartphone is becoming an increasingly larger part of the viewing experience, rivaling and, in some cases, exceeding that of other devices for certain lengths of content.


As Figure 1 illustrates, the mobile phone exceeds that of the Desktop and Connected TV (CTV) when it comes to watching 10-30 minute clips. This trend is further borne out in Figure 2 (Ooyala) which illustrates the growing general popularity of mobile video.




Of course, this isn’t surprising as the smartphone has become an increasingly important part of consumer lives. Whether it’s accessing the Internet, using applications, playing games, or watching video, the phone is taking center stage in a very mobile world.


And this trend towards mobility has people watching more content away from their primary TV, consuming it on tablets, laptops, and other connected devices. In fact, this mobility movement, which has spawned the concept of “TV anywhere,” is reshaping the broadcast industry.


But what role does the mobile phone itself play in the transition we are seeing in the television experience? Although the modern smartphone is a powerful device, it has a small screen and mobile data plans (especially in the U.S.) can be expensive.


In our upcoming study, Mobile Video: Exposed (to be released on December 15, 2016), we uncovered some interesting behavior about how people consume video on their smartphone leading us believe that the mobile phone may well be the lynch-pin in pushing consumers to move from traditional, broadcast television to online, over-the-top video.


Our survey data, taken from 500 U.S.-based respondents, illustrates that consumers are using their smartphones consistently to watch more video content (supporting the data in Figures 1 and 2). Whether it’s user-generated content (YouTube), how-tos, or news, consumers seem to enjoy watching on their pocket-sized computers (in fact, over 25% of all respondents indicated that they watched two or more hours of video on their smartphones each week).


No, the smartphone is not displacing other, larger screens for watching content all the time, but it is playing an increasingly important role in how people consume video content. Not only are people watching videos on their phones more at home (drawing their attention away from the television), they are also using the smartphone to watch video more because of the ease in being able to share the experience with friends and family. When the video is in the palm of your hand, it’s easy to hover over someone’s shoulder or show it around. What’s more, if offered the opportunity (such as with more cellular data), consumers would watch more video content from their smartphone. It’s also not surprising that Millennials are driving this consumption, outpacing both Gen Xers and Baby Boomers in the amount of mobile video consumed each week and how much more they use their smartphone to watch video than other connected devices. And as content providers like Netflix and Amazon provide “off line” viewing features (enabling subscribers to download content to their smartphones for watching while offline), it will only increase the amount of video consumed on the smaller screen.


Don’t get left behind as consumers flock to the smaller screens and reshape the television experience. Get your copy of Mobile Video: Exposed today!


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Jason is the Executive Director of the Streaming Video Technology Alliance, a worldwide consortium of companies dedicated to helping shape the future of online video. In this role, he runs day-to-day operations, finances, member recruitment, strategy, and evangelizes the organization at events around the world. He is also the co-founder of a big data startup, Jason is a contributing editor at Streaming Media Magazine and has written several books.

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