nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Messages from the mobile media frontier

At the VideoSchmooze event in NYC Tuesday I sat in on a panel moderated by my podcast partner, Will Richmond, entitled Mobile Video Rising. And according to the panel participants, it is rising indeed. We were treated to a host of eye-popping data showing just how far video to tablets and smartphones has come.

Damon Phillips, VP of Watch ESPN and ESPN3, said that two thirds of smartphone viewing occurred outside of the home. This is very different from other data I heard in June of this year that said that 64% of smartphone viewing and 82% of tablet viewing occurred in the home. Mr. Phillips went on to say that he was very surprised at the length of time people watched. On a smartphone, 15 minute viewing periods are common, while tablet viewing can go the whole length of a game. With respect to the smartphone, this led Mr. Phillips to comment that ESPN targeted shorter subject matter at the devices. The long viewing times on tablets, however, suggest it is being used as a TV replacement.

One content type that has consistently stood out in the digital domain is children’s TV. Silivia Lovato, Senior Director of Products at PBS Kids Digital, discussed some of the viewing behaviors of her core audience, the 2-5 year olds. She said that today 75% of viewing takes place on mobile devices, whereas just a couple of years ago the PC was dominant. Ms. Lovato also said that the viewing behaviors had shifted in that period as well. PC viewing was mostly during the working week, with viewing dipping on the weekends. On tablets, usage goes up on weekends.

I cornered Ms. Lovato after the panel and she passed on a couple of other interesting data points. She said that, of the 244M streams delivered in November, 68% went to tablets and 22% to phones (the rest presumably going to the PC or other devices.) She also commented that it is hard to believe that children raised with instant access to the shows they love would ever come back to linear TV viewing. A comment I certainly find myself agreeing with.

Jonathan Carson, Chief Revenue Officer at VEVO, said the company’s mobile app has been downloaded 30M times. He said that on-the-go watching was very big for the company as music videos lend themselves particularly well to short viewing through smartphones. However, the company was also seeing users connect with content in long form. He explained that users create their own custom playlists, in effect their own personal music video station, which they can then sit back and enjoy. Regarding monetization of the content, he said the company didn’t differentiate between screens in their approach: ads delivered on a smartphone are the same as those delivered on the tablet.

Frank Stinton, CEO of Beachfront Media, said that his company worked a lot with YouTube content providers targeting millennial and teen consumers. In that demographic, 50% use mobile devices. He also said something that might at first sound self-evident: that mobile devices are for engagement. After the panel, I asked him to clarify what he meant. He told me that an app allows a user to customize how they engage directly with the content, to make it personal to them.

The data presented by all the panel participants shows that this new type of engagement is resonating with an increasingly large audience.

Why it matters

There has been a lot of data on the increasing influence of mobile devices in the consumption of online video

This shift in consumer behavior was confirmed by executives from three distinct content categories: sports, music and kids.

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