The explosion of smartphones and tablets combined with a wider selection of premium content have given a big boost to mobile video viewing in the last year, according to mobile researcher Yankee
Group. Its study says the number of U.S. smartphone owners who watch video frequently (at least once a week) on their devices has doubled in the last month.
At the same time, half of iPad owners watch full-length TV episodes, indicating that consumers are no longer limited to watch clips or music videos on devices. Tablets are now as popular as PCs for watching video and second only to TVs. Overall, 65% of tablet owners watch video frequently on their devices and more than half (57%) of smartphone users do so.
In addition to increased adoption of these devices, the report points to the rollout of more premium video on mobile screens from cable companies, as well as Internet video services, like Hulu, Netflix and Vevo. In the first half of 2011, cable operators rolled out live TV apps and Time Warner introduced its HBO Go app. They have continued to update mobile offerings into 2012.
YouTube remains the biggest video brand for mobile users, with 40% watching the Google-owned video hub in the last month. Netflix was runner-up, with 20% viewing, followed by Hulu (12%), and HBO Go (5%). Yankee Group found that ad-supported and a la carte services have proven more successful than standalone mobile video subscriptions.
The cable companies, of course, are relying on the TV Everywhere model, in which mobile access is limited to authenticated cable customers. The report, however, did not directly address that approach.
Overall, the firm emphasized that service providers should recognize
tablets as a critical platform for extending video content. With tablets apps already out, they should focus next on improving their offerings, with assembling movie packages as one possible option.
The study also suggests that companies produce original content geared to connected devices.
Both the iPhone and iPad are the default platforms for mobile video. The iPhone accounts for 35% of frequent video viewers among smartphone users, and the iPad 40% among tablet users. By contrast, “Android suffers from OS fragmentation and owners who are less inclined to pay for content,” according to Yankee Group. The tablet landscape will become even more fragmented this year with the coming Windows 8 device and Google’s newly unveiled Nexus 7 tablet.
A separate study released Thursday by InMobi and Mobext estimated that 29.5 million Americans have tablets, or about 11% of the total population. Yankee Group said women and people over 35 are among the fastest-growing tablet adopters. Since both demographics are heavy consumers of long-form content, that trend bodes well for the tablet becoming a key video screen.