nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

12-fold increase in mobile video volume by 2021, led by smartphone

mobile traffic volumes by device

New data from Ericsson and FreeWheel paint a rosy picture for mobile video. Mobile data volume is set to increase 7 fold over the next 6 years, with video’s share increasing from 50% to 70%. The smartphone looks to be in the driver’s seat.

Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report continues to show a prodigious growth in the use of mobile data. The company says total global mobile data traffic will experience a compound annual growth rate of 45% through the next 6 years. It will grow from 5.5 Exabytes a month in 2015 to 37 Exabytes a month in 2021. North American traffic will grow 7 times larger over that period, to over 9 Exabytes a month, and Western Europe will increase 10 times to 8 Exabytes a month.

The biggest driver of that growth is video. Today about half of all mobile data is consumed with video. By 2021, that share will have increased to almost 70% of the data volume. Video watching is a popular pass time on both tablets and smartphones. 55% of tablet data traffic volume is video. Video traffic is also the largest component of data volume for smartphones, consuming 43% of data volume.

To understand the relative importance of the tablet and smartphone to mobile video we need to consult FreeWheel’s Q3 2015 Video Monetization Report. The company says that smartphones, at least from the point of view of ads, are more important than tablets. 19% of video ad volume goes to the smartphone and 10% to the tablet. In Europe the difference is even bigger, with 29% of ads going to the smartphone and just 7% to the tablet.

ad views by content length and deviceFreeWheels ranking by ad views shouldn’t be confused with total video consumed however. For example, BBC iPlayer sees more online tablet requests than the smartphone (and drives zero ad views in the process.) August 2015 iPlayer data says that 29% of online video requests came from tablets and 24% from the smartphone.  As well, looking at ad views is liable to favor the smartphone over the tablet.

Looking at the mix of content consumed by the devices, short form video (less than 20 minutes in length) totally dominates smartphone consumption. 69% of ad views came from short form content. On the tablet just 41% of ad views were for short form content. Since there are far more ads per minute of content watched with short form content, smartphone users are clearly video snacking far more than tablet users.

FreeWheel says that the short-form video type most preferred by smartphone users is music. 31% of the ad views were served against music video. Reliving the touch-down catch or winning goal are also very popular on the smartphone, with 19% of ad views served against on-demand sports. The tablet shows a radically different content mix. Full episode Ad views by content type and deviceentertainment dominates with 19% of ad views, followed by kids’ content (17%) and live sports (13%.)

By 2021, the mobile device mix is liable to have shifted considerably further toward the smartphone. With tablet sales falling and smartphone screen sizes increasing, it could be that most of the tablet market will have been replaced by large-screen smartphones, or phablets, by 2021.

Why it matters

Global mobile video volume will increase from 2.2 Exabytes/month in 2015 to 26 Exabytes in 2021.

Today, the smartphone is more important than the tablet in terms of video monetization. It drives far more ad views than the tablet.

Within 6 years, the smartphone (and bigger screen phablet) could have completely replaced the tablet in the market.

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