Mobile Video Growth Drivers: Five key factors driving the growth of mobile video

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People are watching more videos everyday. More than a third (35%) of mobile video viewers watch more videos compared to previous years. The top factor driving mobile video growth is higher frequency of daily viewership.

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Availability of short form videos is another key driver of mobile video growth. More than three in ten (31%) of viewers prefer watching short videos on mobile devices. Short form videos are less than 5 minutes in length such as a music video or a funny viral. Consumers tend to come across short videos on social media while on the move. Smartphones are ideal to consume videos in such scenarios.

Increased 4G connections is another factor driving mobile video growth. More than a quarter (27%) of viewers increased video usage after getting a 4G connection. 4G enables faster load times and reduces lag while watching playback. A better mobile experience is a strong motivator to consume more video.

Lack of 4G can prove to be a key barrier in mobile video usage. Four in ten (40%) viewers watch mobile video only on a wireless network. Wireless offers faster and more reliable connections. Consumers value the viewing experience enough to wait till they can connect to wi-fi at home or work. They also wish for data plans that were video friendly. More than one in five (22%) say they would watch more if plans were more flexible. Limited data plans and high data costs are key pain points that discourage mobile video usage.

The final factor driving mobile video growth is a preference for online video. More than one in five (22%) viewers watch less television because of mobile video. People perceive online video as exciting and relevant. The greater attraction towards online content is a result of its novelty.

In summary, the four factors driving mobile video growth are:

  • Higher daily viewing frequency (35%)
  • Mass availability of short form videos (31%)
  • Growing 4G adoption (27%)
  • Preference for online video content over TV (22%)

All four growth drivers are much more prominent in the North American markets of US and Canada. Almost half (46%) of North American viewers increased their daily viewing frequency. More than a third (35%) prefer mobile for short videos. Viewers in the US and Canada are also driven by 4G (29%) and online content (23%).

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Mobile video pain points are also more prominent among consumers in North America. More than four in ten (41%) depend on wi-fi to watch videos. Limited and costly data plans prevent more than a quarter (28%) from watching videos.

Below we will look into the four growth drivers as well as a bonus fifth driver emerging quickly among mobile using millennials.

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1. Heavy users drive daily consumption

Heavy users are consumers who watch mobile video at least once a day. Viewers are more likely to be heavy users of shorter videos than longer videos. More than half (58%) of short form viewers are heavy users. In comparison, just over a third (36%) of long form viewers are heavy users.

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The US (60%), Europe (60%), and Latin America (61%) have highest share of heavy users. Latin American viewers are heavy users of both short (61%) and long (41%) videos. East Asian viewers are the least likely to be heavy users of short videos (43%). Viewers in the Pacific region are least likely to be heavy users of long videos (29%).

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2. People prefer smartphones for short form videos

Higher preference for smartphones has likely to do more with its greater accessibility. People can watch videos on their smartphones during the commute or during a short break. They can also watch videos on smartphones to kill time while waiting or avoid boredom.

People prefer tablets for long form videos likes TV shows (47%) and movies (42%). Full-length TV shows and movies on the larger tablet screen is a better experience.

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Smartphones are the device of choice for short online videos despite its smaller screen. More than half (51%) of viewers prefer smartphones when watching user generated short clips. In comparison only two in five (40%) prefer a tablet to view such videos.

People also prefer smartphones to view music videos (47%) and TV show clips (37%). Less than two in five (40%) prefer to watch music videos on a tablet. Even less (35%) prefer watching TV show clips on a tablet.

3. 4G drives mobile video traffic ahead of social media

Consumers on a 4G connection are likely to increase their video usage. A third (33%) of consumers using a 4G network increased video consumption. Another 15% have uploaded and shared video via their mobile device. Consumers also increased frequency of video calling (14%) since getting a 4G connection.

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A faster and more reliable connection means 4G users are power mobile media consumers. They not only watch more video, but also stream more music (45%). More than two in five 4G users increase their social media (44%) and navigation (42%) usage.

There might be more mobile social media users than mobile video viewers. But 4G consumers account a greater traffic share compared to social media. More than a quarter (28%) of UK 4G traffic comes from mobile video. In comparison, just over one in five (23%) 4G traffic comes from social media.


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Mobile video is already a more effective driver of mobile data growth. As a result, 4G consumers want plans that are either unlimited or more affordable.

4. Mobile viewers prefer online video to TV content

People’s preference for online video can driven them to cancel their TV subscription altogether. Online video is an important reason behind why people cancel their TV subscription. Almost half (48%) of consumers who cancelled their subscription agree. More than a quarter (28%) agrees it was somewhat important. More than three-quarter (76%) of cord cutters cite online video as a key influence.

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Mobile video, in particular, influenced more than half (53%) to cancel their TV subscriptions. Mobile video was definitely important for just over one in five (21%) cord cutters. Almost a third (32%) say mobile video played a somewhat important role in their decision.

Both online and mobile video also influences consumers who’ve never had a TV subscription. More than three in five (65%) of non-subscribers say online video influenced their decision. A similar proportion (63%) say mobile video played a role in their decision.

Mobile viewers perceive online video content as more desirable compared to television. They perceive mobile video as innovative and unique content. Traditional and generic are adjectives associated with TV content.

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Mobile video is also perceived as the domain of young consumers. As a result TV gets associated with older demographic. In a significant finding, consumers believe TV viewing happens at home. In contrast, they perceive mobile video as location independent.

5. Millennials drive growth of mobile video streaming apps

In recent times, mobile video viewers have also become content creators. Live streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat make this possible. Just over one in five (21%) mobile device owners have used or plan to use such live streaming apps. Live streaming app users skew male (24% vs 19% for female). Half of them are 18 to 34 year old millennials.

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The apps are free to download and use. This attracts more than half (59%) of all live streaming app users. An intuitive user experience also drives adoption among millennials. Over two in five (43%) find the apps easy to use. The novelty of the experience (42%) is also a key driver.

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With live streaming apps, consumers can watch events as seen by a viewer instead via TV channels. It is a raw human experience. A third (33%) of live streaming app users watch videos to see if something exciting happens. Things going awry or a funny candid piece of performance can make broadcasts come to life. Just under a third (32%) use live vide streaming to stay in touch with friends and family. This is a strong sign that video calling is moving to mobile. It also points to the relaxed nature of video calls compared to video conferencing.

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