Smartphones are going to drive the future of online video-viewing

In 2020, 50 percent of all viewing will be done on a mobile screen, with half of this done on the smartphone alone.


It all started with a bulky, wooden-bodied TV set, which had an in-built regulator for a remote, that let you surf a total of five channels that were available. And that content was wired in through bulky cables, that were connected to massive antennas on every housetop. This eventually evolved into slimmer LEDs that hang on the walls (are as thin as you can imagine), and the content being (now available with options of over five hundred channels) source in via sophisticated set-top box, that offer content basis subscription, also known as video on demand (VoD).

But, people were addicted to the video content then, and they are equally absorbed by it now. In fact, the addiction to TVs was so high in the past years, that people started to call it the “idiot box” to discourage dependency on it. But nothing changed the matters much. People continue to be hooked to entertainment, and the research has it that they will continue to be in future as well.

From cables to video-on-demand

However, since past few years, while TV still remains primary source of entertainment in many Indian households, we can agree on seeing a parallel rise of a new medium of consumption, that is via smartphones and laptops. Consequently, VoD is now slowly escaping set top boxes, and streaming directly on online applications. This increase in the option of content source, has in turn led to a massive growth in TV and video viewing in general, and a specific shift in the way consumers watch content, which is predicted to shift steeper in the coming years.

According to a recent Ericsson ConsumerLab report, the growth of on-demand viewing will continue to soar through to 2020, making up almost half of total viewing. The report predicts 50 percent of all TV and video viewing will take place on a mobile screen – which includes tablets, smartphones and laptops – seeing an increase of 85 percent since 2010, with the smartphone alone accounting for almost one quarter. That is an increase of nearly 160 percent since 2010.

In the third quarter of 2016, 52 percent of all video views came from mobile devices, according to Ooyala’s Global Video Index report. Since Q3 of 2013 till 2016, mobile video views grew more than 233 percent — that’s a faster growth rate than the adoption of mobile devices across the world during the same time period.

Time spent on video viewing is an all-time high

Not only has the shift to mobile viewing become faster, there has also been noticed in the viewing habit of a consumer. Apparently, people are now spending as much as 30 hours a week to watch videos and TV, which is an all-time high. Interestingly, teens are the biggest audience of this form of entertainment. Reportedly, teens between the age of 16 and 19 years watch the most content each week, which ranges up to 33 hours, an increase of almost 10 hours a week since 2010. However, more than half of this demographic spend their time watching content on-demand, with more than 60 percent of their TV and video viewing hours spent on a mobile device screen.

This statistic includes active viewing of scheduled linear TV, live and on-demand internet services, downloaded and recorded content, as well as DVD and Blu-ray. However, close to 60 percent of viewers now prefer on-demand viewing over scheduled linear TV viewing – an increase of around 50 percent since 2010.

A voluntary shift from 25-inch to 5-inch

To put this in perspective, the average number of used on-demand services has increased from 1.6 in 2012 to 3.8 services in 2017 per person; 2 in 5 consumers already pay for on-demand TV and video services today and nearly a third, which is about 32 percent of the people say that they will increase their on-demand spending in the next six to twelve months. ALSO READ: Online video consumption habits of Indians reveal the challenges for Netflix and other streaming services

Naturally, with that viewing pace, people are demanding this content, even when on the move. And that’s not exactly news, since we are now seeing people watching videos when travelling, waiting on queues, and to be honest, sometimes, sneakily in closed door meetings as well. Which means, portability is increasingly becoming an important factor, with more than a third of consumers wanting access to content when travelling.

As a result, smartphone viewing also continues to gain ground, with approximately 70 percent of consumers now watching videos on a smartphone – double the amount from 2012 – making up a fifth of total TV and video viewing. And this move to smartphone has really been eased by the rising trend of large screened smartphones, especially the recent models of full view 18:9 displays. Smartphones are now supporting 4K content, enabling Augmented Reality-support right into mobiles. For that matter, network providers too are acting as catalysts in this shift, by providing internet data at much more affordable price than before. ALSO READ: Reliance Jio subscribers get free access to Hotstar premium subscription worth Rs 199 per month

Content discovery is still a task

Arguably the typical human nature  – when there is too much, you spend the majority of your time just searching for ‘something better’. And that is somewhat what’s happening in terms of video content as well. Despite there being such a high increase in the video consumption over these years, reportedly, the average time spent on searching for content has increased to almost one hour per day, an increase of 13 percent since last year. In fact, 1 in 8 consumers believe that they will get lost in the vast amount of available content in the future.

With user experience becoming ever more fragmented, 6 in 10 consumers now rank content discovery as “very important” when subscribing to a new service, while 70 percent want ‘universal search for all TV and video’. ALSO READ: 10 emerging trends from India’s online video consumption boom

Rise of the third form of video consumption platform – VR

While the growth of Virtual Reality (VR) is still in a nascent stage, researchers are still betting big on the technology in the coming future. VR is predicted to be on the road to becoming mainstream, with 1 in 3 consumers becoming VR users by 2020.

However, if consumer interest in VR is to increase, several things will need to change. Close to 55 percent of consumers planning to get VR devices would prefer it if the headsets were cheaper, and almost half think there should be more immersive content available. A third would be more interested in VR if they could get a VR bundle from their TV and video provider. As of now, a VR headset from a trusted company costs nothing below Rs 35,000. YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: We’re approaching the moment when the lines between DSLRs and smartphones are blurring

  • Published Date: October 11, 2017 8:45 AM IST