For several quarters we’ve reported in the Global Video Index that long-form (20+ mins.) video increased to over 50% of time watched on every device: connected TVs, tablets, PCs, even smartphones, the smallest screen of all and a bit of a head-scratcher. This quarter, again, long-form made up more than 50% of time watched on every screen. It was the third time in the past five quarters that’s happened. It is no longer an anomaly, it’s a trend.
And, since trends deserve to be poked and prodded a little more than plain anomalies, we did just that in the Q1 2018 Global Video Index (which you can download here). For the first time, we’re taking a deeper dive into how long-form and ultra-long form (content 40+ mins.) is watched on devices other than connected TVs, where the content is usually watched to conclusion in excess of 85% of the time.
Not surprisingly, long-form and ultra-long-form content is watched to completion most often on PCs, to the tune of 71% for 20+ min. content and 59% for 40+ min. content.
What was a little more surprising was that smartphones turned out to be pretty popular devices for watching on, too. For 20+ min. content, think episodic sit-coms and the like, completion time was nearly 57%. Just behind tablets at 61%. For ultra-long content, episodic dramas, for example, completion times were a respectable 45%, again just behind tablets, which saw completion times of 51%.
So, is it time to throw away that 100-inch set? Not yet. But it’s clear that the barriers to watching any content on any sized device are rapidly falling, or at least are getting a little shorter. More evidence of that came this week in a survey from the Interactive Ad Bureau, which found that 47% of the consumers it surveyed said they planned to stream at least some of the 2018 World Cup this month, and I’m sure more than a few of those streaming intenders will watch on a device other than a connected TV at work, during their commute or just for the heck of it at home.
We’re also tracking another trend we expect to stick around, the growth of the content supply chain, which has seen a doubling – and in some cases a tripling – of the amount of content some of our customers are processing, an attempt to feed the gaping maw of consumer content consumption. Just as we saw last quarter, long-form content experienced the biggest increase in Q1 compared to a year ago, increasing 189%. Both medium- and short-form content saw similar growth.
Meanwhile, as we’ve found for most of the past four years, the share of video plays on mobile devices continued to see year-over-year gains – a firmly established trend stretching over 14 quarters. But the first quarter was a bit of an anomaly in that growth was just 1.8% over the year-ago quarter and – gasp! – actually down slightly from Q4.
Are we at the limit for mobile growth? Not likely. We’re just seeing a growth curve that’s more appropriate for a maturing market.