nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

More than half download video monthly

monthly content downloaders

More online video sites are adding download as an option for the customers, but is this really necessary in an always-connected world? New data from Limelight says yes!

Last year two stalwarts of the streaming video era introduced the ability to download videos to digital devices. Amazon now allows Prime subscribers (but not their family members) to download many of the videos available for free from Prime Video. A key benefit of YouTube Red, the $9.99 a month subscription service, is the ability to download videos to mobile devices for offline viewing.

Not to be outdone, pay TV operators are also beginning to allow some of a subscriber’s content to be downloaded to mobile devices.  For example, Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers can download their DVR recordings to mobile devices through the Xfinity Go App.

However, do people really want the ability to download video to the devices? According to Limelight Networks, a whole bunch of people are already downloading video, and the numbers appear to be growing.* The increased availability of legal downloads also seems to be reducing the amount of illegal activity, though it likely isn’t boosting revenue much for content providers.

According to the Limelight data, music and video are the two most popular types of media downloaded by consumers. 55% say they download video and the same amount say they download music to their device of choice at least monthly. However, 16.7% download video on a daily basis, while 14.5% do the same with music. This represent substantial growth for video over the last year. In 2015, 45.3% said they downloaded video at least monthly, and 11.5% did this on a daily basis. The increase in availability of premium video as a download could be one of the reasons why.

devices used to download contentThe device of choice for downloading is the cellphone. Limelight asked survey participants to rank the devices they used the most to download and the cellphone was ranked number 1 by the most people. It just edge out the personal computer from the top spot. Last year the roles were reversed. The PC just edged out the cellphone as the number one device to download to.

Those people that indicated they used their smartphone the most for downloads also download more media in general than the average. 64.5% said they download movies and TV shows to their devices, versus 55% of the average. However, in this group music downloading is still more popular than video, with 65.8% saying they download songs to their devices. Perhaps this is not surprising. Given the affinity for smartphones among millennials, and the young’s affinity for music, it seems likely that Limelight’s “cellphone downloaders” skew heavily toward the under 34s.

One interesting thing to note from Limelight’s results is that illegal downloading seems to be on the decline. In 2015, 12.3% said they had no problem downloading pirated movies and TV shows. That decreased sharply in 2016, with 8.3% saying this. That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean more consumers are willing to pay for the videos. The number of people saying they always pay for movies and TV shows they download actually decreased slightly in 2016, from 13.6% in 2015 to 12.7%. At the same time, the number saying they only download free video increased from 50.7% to 52%.

It will perhaps come as no surprise that millennials are the chief offenders when it comes to illegal downloading. 12.8% say they have no problem downloading pirated content, while just 5.8% of the rest say the same.

Why it matters

More online video providers are supporting downloads for their subscribers.

According to Limelight this feature should have broad appeal, as the company says over half of consumers download at least some video every month.

The most popular device for media downloads in the cellphone.

*Limelight ran the survey in the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. They do not state the number of participants explicitly, though calculating this from the tables presented suggest 1,111. Because of the small sample size, Limelight does not break the data out by country, presenting it in aggregate only.


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