Mobile video accounts for three-fifths of global views
Joseph O'Halloran
| 15 March 2018

The Q4 2017 edition of Ooyala’s Global Video Index Report has revealed what the authors say is a global shift in viewing devices, with an explosion of digital content helping to drive viewing off the TV thanks to a spike in mobile viewing.

The study shows that mobile video plays topped 60% globally for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2017, garnering a 60.3% share of all video starts. Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) had the greatest level of engagement at 63.5%. North America lagged most of the rest of world at 57.6%, despite seeing mobile video jump 11% from Q4 2016.

Overall, the survey calculated that smartphone views were more than three times that of tablets, even though the latter platform’s share of all video plays (12.8%) represented a 68% increase from Q4 2016. Ooyala believes that mobile plays could soon reach — and potentially exceed — a 70% market share, driven by more premium sports assets moving online.

The survey shows that the strong growth of digital content is helping to drive viewing away from the TV. On average, over-the-top (OTT) services doubled their hours of content offerings over the last 12 months, with long-form content increasing 159%.

Continuing a trend first reported by Ooyala earlier in 2017, across all measured devices, including smartphones, tablets, connected TVs and PCs, viewing time for medium- and long-form content grew to over half of all content. Medium-form content offerings increased 87% and short-form content increased 112% on a yearly basis, while one of the biggest viewing shifts occurred on PCs, where time spent watching long-form content dropped to just 37% in Q4. This said Ooyala was its lowest point since Q1 2016, when it was 35%.

Time spent watching short-form content on PCs climbed to 50%, the most of any device and growth on all other devices was relatively flat year-over-year, with 44% of time spent on smartphones, 26% on tablets and just 0.7% on connected TVs.

The increase in mobile video viewing was found to be driving a commensurate growth in mobile advertising. Smartphones, at 55%, topped PCs, at 36%, for the percentage of pre-roll ad impressions shown on broadcaster platforms while smartphone pre-roll impressions were highest (69%) on publisher platforms. In addition, publishers saw total impressions soar on smartphones, to 51% of all connected devices, and mid-roll ads saw the highest percentage of completions for broadcasters and publisher platforms; broadcasters saw completion rates top 97% for all screens.

Commenting on the research, Jim O’Neill, Ooyala principal analyst said that it was clear that viewers’ primary screen was definitely shifting and that all devices were not equal for video viewing. “Consumers are as comfortable watching a sporting event, TV show or movie on a smartphone as they are on a connected TV, but not on their PC or tablet,” he noted. “Content is experiencing a flood unlike anything the industry has previously seen ... and there is no end in sight. It’s the lifeblood of an over-the-top provider and the key to keeping users engaged and coming back for more, especially if you maintain regular contact with your customers, letting them know in advance that new content is on the way.”

However, O’Neill cautioned that content providers and distributors will need to maintain ongoing technological improvement with a focus on quality of experience. “Near-instant start-up, consistent video stream quality and uninterrupted delivery – without any buffering – will be critical to end-user experience,” he said. “Fail at any of those quality of experience factors and customers will look for other options, and may even account for some of OTT subscriber churn.”

The full Ooyala Q4 Video Index report can be found here.