Consumers continued to watch video on mobile devices at a record pace in Q2, as global starts on smartphones and tablets topped 62% of all video plays, the highest share ever. Our Q2 2018 Video Index (you can download it here) also showed that the world’s love affair with smartphones remained torrid, as video starts increased on the devices more than 13% from a year ago, the biggest increase for smartphone plays in five quarters.
The increase follows a first quarter that saw mobile video plays stall for the first time, recording quarter-over-quarter growth of just 1.8%, the lowest gains since we started publishing the Video Index seven years ago.
Still, Q2 was the second quarter in the past three to top 60%; Q4 2017 saw mobile plays at 60.2% of all video plays. It also was the ninth quarter in a row that see global mobile plays top 50%. It was also the first quarter ever to see smartphones top 50% of all plays. The previous best share for smartphones was just 47.5%.
While North America and EMEA saw mobile plays collect more starts than other devices – 54% and 56% respectively – video starts on mobile devices in LatAm and Asia-Pac were huge. In Latin America, mobile plays topped 65%, a significant increase from LatAm’s previous best, 59% in the first quarter.
But Asia-Pac was the real story of the quarter, as nearly 75% of all starts were on mobile devices, blowing away the previous high of 64% in Q3 2017. The region has seen mobile plays take at least a 60% share since Q2 2017, far exceeding any other region. Of course, many countries in Asia-Pac have some of the highest smartphone penetrations in the world, and the region’s largest economies are markedly mobile.
As solid as these mobile numbers are, they’re just the precursor to higher mobile share coming in the next several quarters as content providers – especially sports teams and leagues – begin to cater to an audience that is slowly, but assuredly, moving away from traditional video delivery.
In Q3, the National Football League, for the first time, began making all of its games available over-the-top without requiring viewers be authenticated pay-TV subscribers. The results? A 147% increase in mobile viewing, dwarfing the still-noteworthy 65% increase in overall viewing on digital devices.
Mobile views have increased to a level that once seemed impossible. But, it wasn’t too long ago that the idea of live NFL games and the top entertainment content from networks going over the top also seemed improbable. But, it’s what consumers are demanding. The surge being experienced by the NFL will be reflected in the consumption of other content, too, a tidal flow of content coming to mobile devices that is really in its early stages. With 5G wireless networks already being deployed for testing around the world – and with projected global networks scheduled to be lit up by mid-2020 – the likelihood that we’ll see more mobile growth is certain.
As David Jurenka, the NFL’s senior vice president for digital media recently said, “Fans aren’t differentiating between a TV, tablet or phone.”
That device democracy, and consumers’ appetite for content, is here to stay. There’s little doubt content owners and distributors that can quickly and efficiently get smart content to the most markets and on the most devices will be the winners.