Mobile video is gaining ground and getting cheaper but still faces a bumpy road to wider option, according to new data from Nielsen. The mobile video audience has grown 70% in the last year to 15.3 million as of the second quarter. That's equal to about 7% of all U.S. mobile subscribers.
The user base is growing as the expense if falling--a subscriber with a data package that includes video now pays $5.73 a month, on average, compared to $8.32 a year ago. But most people are getting video via the mobile Web anyway rather than any special package.
On the down side, half (52%) of U.S. mobile users have phones that aren't video-capable. Among those watching mobile video, satisfaction with the overall experience has dropped from 74% to 65% despite general improvements in things like audio and image quality. And so far the audience seems to be made up most of fickle "testers" why try it for less than a year before tuning out.
So mobile video is still being treated more as a novelty than another media option. Nic Covey, Nielsen's director of insights, calls mobile video today "a mixed bag" but a platform that has the pieces in place, including better devices, faster networks, dedicated programmers, and consumer interest, for growth.
If most people are watching video on the mobile Web, than an overall better mobile Web experience is the key to faster uptake. For video, that may not happen until the rollout of the wireless carriers' 4G networks over the next couple of years. The network upgrades coupled with growing use of smartphones and video-equipped feature phones, will help boost mobile video over time.