Commentary

The Mobile Video Sky Is Falling (Comparatively)

Ooyala’s trusty quarterly reports on what in the world is going on with video usage is out. And because every one of these reports just seem to pile on more mind-boggling usage figures, for me, it just registers the kind of shrug Mark Zuckerberg must get when he looks at his bank statements.

And still, some of those figures floor me.

The one Ooyala highlights first deserves special attention: According to its data, “Mobile video views have increased 616% since Q3 2012, and now make up 45% of all video views globally — and more than half of all views in some regions.” according to the report.

Wowie, zowie! But, in fact, Ooyala makes the case that mobile video is really not that much of a big deal story anymore, because it’s just so. . . unsurprising.  Mobile video is “ubiquitous, commonplace, the norm” says Ooyala, as if is finally realizing the quarterly Everything Is Up, Up, Up Report is getting a little predictable.

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So, OK, here’s something to worry about:

Mobile video’s growth is slowing down. The fact that mobile video has grown 616% since 2012 actually represents a loss of momentum! In Q2, Ooyala points out,  mobile video’s 12-quarter growth spurt was 840%. The quarter before that, its three year growth rate was 1,112%.

“To a degree,” the Q3 report says, “mobile viewing has reached a temporary point of stasis. There remains a shortage of premium content available on mobile devices — specifically the live, linear and other premium content that continues to be in demand. Content owners and publishers who can take advantage of that temporary shortage of supply will be well-positioned to reap the benefits of even more mobile growth.”

A quirky development worth paying attention to is that just 12% of those mobile views came from tablets; the overwhelming other 88% came from smartphones. Just one year ago, 21% of all mobile views came from tablets.

And at the same time, while 35% of long form viewing came off of tablets, that’s actually down 5% from its 40% earlier this year. 

What’s funny is that tablets rule for programming that is between 10 minutes and 30 minutes long, and other stuff that is neither long-form nor short-form. That seems to suggest at the very least that  the neither fish-nor-fowl positioning of tablets (which baffled observers when it debuted) is possibly being proved.   It’s not for casual quick YouTube-like views and it’s not for an episode of “Game of Thrones.” 

I have a feeling, that in use, a tablet is really the living room laptop--it’s in our laps the way our laptop probably never was.

But a tablet seems mighty commercial friendly. Ooyala reports: “For broadcasters, 92% of ads begun on tablets” were completed, a better rate than smartphones (89%) and PCs (82%). I wonder if that PC completion rate is partly the effect of ad blockers.

Moving into the living room, this year, on a global basis, the share of use of connected TVs to watch content longer than 10 minutes has jumped from 43% to 71%. Despite mobile growth, consumers still trend toward larger screens for longer content. 

Over the past nine months, for video over 10 minutes long, the share of time watched on connected TVs (CTV) has increased from 43% to 71%.  For bonafide long video--content that is 30 minutes longer or more, connected TV viewing gets 61% of the total, a figure that has virtually doubled since Q1.

All in all, nothing much to cry about. Again.

pj@mediapost.com

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