LONDON -- TV Connect 2017 -- Mobile viewing of video has been growing steadily around the world, with various studies showing that mobile devices were the only platforms showing increases in time spent while others decline, and that younger demographics increasingly prefer smartphones for media consumption. (See It's Mobile or Bust, Says Ooyala's Global Video Index, Mobile Is Taking Over Video: AOL Study and Mobile Cannibalizing Other Media, Finds Latest Zenith Media Consumption Forecast.)
A TV Connect panel titled "Disruptive Technology -- All Quiet Before the Mobile Storm" brought together a group of mobile service providers to evaluate the role of the mobile device in the overall video experience for consumers.
Right away panelists pointed out that mobile video consumption was fundamentally different to viewing of TV within the home. Matt Stagg, head of mobile and video content at mobile operator EE (now part of BT), said that even before you get to a discussion of technology elements, network capacity and so on, you had to first recognize that user behavior was different outside the home. Daisy Lang, head of products at children's mobile video service Hopster, agreed, adding that it was also very personalized and consumed on the go, making it very different from the TV experience. And Patrick Lopez, vice president of networks innovation at Telefónica , felt that the personal nature of the mobile device was importanct, leading to more of a self-selected experience, compared with broadcast TV.
All this means that operators and content providers targeting content to the mobile device need to think differently -- simply blasting TV content to the mobile device will likely ignore the real user interest in mobile video.
At the same time, there is no doubt that demand exists -- and is growing -- for mobile video. Attilio Somma, vice president of business innovation at Telecom Italia (TIM) , shared some mobile video statistics from the Italian market: Over the past four years TV viewing has dropped by 10%, while mobile video viewing has more than doubled (in terms of time spent). Similarly, the time spent viewing video on mobile devices out-of-home has also doubled. And two-thirds of time spent with any device by younger consumers is spent with their mobile device.
So is mobile the future of TV? It will be a mix, according to Lang, but there is no question that live/linear TV viewing is in decline. She feels there will always be a place for TV, but inevitably, mobile will change the TV experience beyond compare.
Stagg used sports to highlight a sort of hierarchy of needs for mobile viewing, saying that the best-case viewing scenario for a sporting event was to be at the stadium. If that wasn't possible, then most viewers would want to see the game at a pub or maybe at home, on a large-screen TV. But if those options aren't available, then you watch it on a mobile device.
But he saw opportunities for mobile to also bridge gaps between the stadium experience and the pub experience, or between the pub experience and the mobile experience. He pointed out that a lot of the coverage, with different camera angles for example, wasn't shown on TV. That, coupled with other stadium content, could be delivered to mobile devices as additional content to the main event, adding value to the overall experience for the viewer.
This brought the moderator, Ian Fogg of research company IHS Markit, to ask about live streaming of sports events to mobile devices. Was there demand for it, and how would the network handle it?
The network has to handle it, according to Telefónica's Lopez. He acknowledged that the industry had been wrong about a lot of things when building the business case for each successive generation of mobile network technology, but increases in video consumption have been correctly predicted. And now, we know video is a key part of the case for 5G, so operators need to architect for it -- they will need to deliver tens of thousands of streams.
Overall, panelists were clear that mobile video was a rapidly growing phenomenon, and likely to maintain its growth trajectory. While video consumption on the TV is likely to remain, the mix of viewing will shift heavily towards mobile consumption, both in and out-of-home. Operators needed to prepare for network capacity challenges for live streaming events in particular, while providers of mobile video services need to develop new video formats and services to cater to the specific consumption preferences and behaviors of mobile viewers (rather than just shifting the same content from TV to mobile.) Lastly, mobile can also be used as a complementary platform for video, both for live events and at-home viewing on TV sets, and both operators and content providers should look for opportunities to do so.
— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation