nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

YouTube remains king of mobile video streaming

Video usage adults versus millennials 2016

YouTube is still the most frequently used site for mobile video streaming, but social sites aren’t far behind. And Facebook owns the social viewer, with two-thirds using the site.

Smartphone video viewing times remain small compared to TV

The Streaming Video Alliance (SVA) says that 43% watch more than an hour of video per week on their smartphone. 25% watch more than two hours, but only 8% watch anywhere close to daily. Millennials use their smartphone for video much more than average. 53% watch more than an hour a week, 31% watch more than two hours a week, and 12% watch close to or more than an hour a day.  

It interesting to compare the SVA data with Nielsen comparable metrics. In Nielsen’s Q2 2016 Comparable Metrics report the company says the average smartphone video user watches 51 minutes a week on their device. Millennials watch considerably more, at 67 minutes per week. Although it’s difficult to compare the two numbers directly, there does seem to be a degree of agreement between the two.

YouTube most frequently used mobile video site

According to the SVA, YouTube remains the most popular site. Over three quarters of the survey participants said they most often watch video on the site. Social sites were also very popular, with 53% using them most often. Premium content sites, such as Netflix and HBO Now, were used most often by 28%.

With 81M monthly uniques  (second only to YouTube,) it is no surprise that Facebook dominates the social sites that also deliver video. When asked what social sites they most often viewed from their phone, nearly two-thirds of respondents said Facebook. Instagram was a distant second (16%), Snapchat third (14%), and Twitter fourth (13%.) This must be a big disappointment to Twitter. The company has invested heavily in Live content, and the live broadcasts of Thursday night football do not seem to be moving the needle much on usage.

Deterrents to mobile video usage

Data caps and video quality remain the biggest barriers holding back smartphone users from watching more video. Data usage was rated just slightly ahead of video buffering as the most frustrating thing about smartphone video viewing. SVA looked a little deeper into the behavior of survey participants regarding their mobile data plan. The company found that 34% only watch video on the smartphone over a WIFI network, and 23% don’t worry about whether they are using cellular data or WIFI when watching. The largest group preferred to use WIFI first, and if that is not available move to their mobile data plan.

Connection used to watch on cellphone 2016Oddly, millennials seem less likely to use their mobile data plan than average. Just 19% said they don’t worry about the connection type when watching a video on their phone. 26% of all other age groups said. 50% of millennials said they will use WIFI first if available, versus 38% of other age groups.

The good news for video viewers is that video providers are acutely focused on the problem of buffering. In a recent nScreenMedia study for Akamai, 84% of video providers identified buffering as most exemplifying “bad” video quality.

Poor video quality was ranked third most frustrating by survey participants. Interestingly, screen size was ranked last of the four issues. Clearly consumers are adopting larger screened smartphones and becoming increasingly comfortable watching video on them.

Why it matters

As smartphone screens get bigger, and mobile data coverage improves, mobile video consumption increases.

But mobile data caps and video quality remain significant deterrents to smartphone video usage. 

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