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Lean-Back Mobile: Smartphone Video Viewing Rockets 86%

Driven by short sports clips and voracious appetites for TV content, mobile devices accounted for 20% of video streaming in Q4 2013, according to Adobe's analysis of over 22.5 billion video starts. Smartphones both outpaced tablets in video growth and in absolute use for the first time. Vdieo streaming to handhelds was up 86% year-over-year, accounting for 12.8% of all digital video consumption. Tablet streaming was up only 23% to make up 9.2% of all digital streams. Sports clips are big drivers for mobile, with this content type up 640% since a year ago. On big event sports days, Adobe says it sees over a quarter of video going to devices.

TV Everywhere is experiencing marked growth, from 225.5 million streams measured by Adobe to 574.2 million year-over-year. And devices are king in this category, with 73% of the streams going to devices, and only 22% to PCs. TV is one genre where tablets dominate, now overtaking smartphones with 42% of views. Both game consoles (3%) and set-top boxes (2%) still represent very minor routes to video consumption. And sports, again, is a key driver that is responsible for 37% of authenticated TV viewing. Of course, the high visibility of ESPN Everywhere and mobile viewings of high-profile events like March Madness may well be central to these metrics. Only 28% of TV Everywhere requests are for TV shows. But with tablets, a dominant force in TV Everywhere, it is not surprising that iOS then is seeing nearly half of plays. In fact, iOS viewers watch twice as much TV Everywhere as PC viewers, and they are viewing over 10 videos per person per month.

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Facebook is unrivaled chief of video social sharing, according to Adobe measurements. Although the majority of videos are viewed direct from a branded media site, 80.6% of the 6% of starts from video shares come from Facebook.

The emergence of 4G networks, their increased speed and responsiveness clearly have something to do with the outside growth rates in smartphone video viewing. The dominance of devices in TV Everywhere authenticated viewing is a testament to how quickly people are looking upon smartphones and tablets as portable TVs. More so than the PC, where the desktop setting required the same posture as work mode, mobile invites us to lean in or lean back as needed. 

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