Mobile devices -- especially smartphones -- are where eyeballs are going, according to the latest Global Video Index from online video technology provider Ooyala Inc. The quarterly study analyzes data from Ooyala's customers around the world, to identify important trends in the consumption of Internet video.
The study found that 54% of all videos started in the fourth quarter of 2016 were on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), rising from 46% in Q4 2015, and just 17% in 2013. Smartphones accounted for 47%, and tablets for 7.6%.
The two most interesting findings here are that mobile viewing grew through the quarter (56% in November and 58% in December) suggesting rapid growth in 2017; and that smartphones are growing their share while tablets are declining slightly. Smartphone viewing grew 8% over the course of 2016, and Ooyala predicts it will continue to grow, driving mobile to 59% of all video starts in 2017.
The only exception to this overall shift towards mobile was advertising-sponsored video consumption in North America, where mobile video starts were just under 50%, while desktops were just over. Smartphone views came in at a comparative low of 39%, while tablets were relatively high, at 10%.
Ooyala's Q4 findings largely tally with prior Global Video Index reports, which have consistently shown the steady growth of mobile as a platform for video consumption. Other research also supports this conclusion, and it's clear that video distributors need to develop robust mobile video services aimed at smartphones.
But it's also worth taking into account the nature and scope of the study. Firstly, Ooyala is only looking at online video, not traditional pay-TV delivery systems to the TV -- those are not factored into this research at all.
Also, it is only drawing on data that it collects on its own systems, not the overall Internet as a whole. The company does point out that its customer base includes 500+ customers, with a collective audience spanning hundreds of millions of viewers across a broad range of countries and regions. As such, it argues that it provides an acceptable representation of video consumption worldwide, at least when looking at broad usage trends. This is probably true at a global level, but one provider could make a huge difference at a regional level. For example, we know Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) is responsible for more than a third of all US downstream traffic. It probably makes a significant contribution to overall video views and engagement in the country, and to North America numbers overall. But if it isn't an Ooyala customer, then that usage isn't part of this analysis.
It would also be helpful in future reports to better understand how connected TVs and laptops are factored into this analysis. Some of the research in the reports lists "PCs" as a category while other data only has "desktops". Connected TVs are also included in some engagement metrics, but for the top-line findings, the only metrics offered are for smartphones, tablets and desktops.
The Global Video Index is a useful study though, providing a broad understanding and quarterly comparison of online video usage trends. It also highlights a consistent shift towards mobile video consumption, which is starting to shape how content companies think about producing and promoting their TV shows.
— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation