The Smartphone is now the preferred video viewing device, not tablets

7 December 2015 | Zackie Sweddin | About a 5 minute read
Tags: iPhone, Mobile, Smartphones, Trending, Video

Watching a video on a smartphone is now more enjoyable and more engaging than ever before. Gone are the days of clunky viewing experiences of the iPad and iPhone 1 – we’re now drawn into an immersive experience creating longer viewing sessions and interaction thanks to innovations, particularly in hardware and connectivity.

Consumer Behaviour

BBC iPlayer, the internet streaming service, now generates a 320 million+ views each month. Figures released in January 2015 indicate a rise of 32% year on year in smartphone requests compared to tablet at only 25%.

Adobe’s Video Benchmark report seems to share the same sentiment in their 2015 report. According to Adobe, the decline in tablet sales is contributing to the decline of tablet video views. This decline hasn’t gone unnoticed, eMarketer recently released a report stating the fact that “UK tablet audiences.…experienced in recent years will drop significantly in 2015 as adoption nears saturation” (eMarketer, 2015).





Evolution of the Smartphone

On the other hand, one of the key attributors to the increase of mobile video views is screen size. Adobe’s previous annual report certainly attributed this fact in the significant rise of video requests increasing over tablets. The report went on to confirm that “mobile devices are becoming much more relevant in online video consumption”.





Mobile phone screens are getting bigger, although we may have reached the tipping point at the 6 inch mark. The following chart certainly seems to correlate with Adobe’s yearly findings. The screen size and connective versatility of these devices is causing a seismic shift on how we’re consuming videos in the modern day.




Connectivity: The Key Ingredient

“As 4G becomes more prevalent and phone screens become larger, it will play an even bigger role in driving digital ad spend – particularly video.” (Dan Bunyan, Manager at PwC). It therefore goes without say that fuelling this rapid growth are the network carriers.

Citrix and IGR reported this year that video will consume 71% of all mobile traffic by 2016. The current figure stands at 42%. More astonishing is the fact that mobile traffic in Western Europe is expected to grow 8 times over by 2019. This is a mind blowing figure when you consider the US and Far East Asia who are advancing at a phenomenal rate in this sector.

In November 2015 Techcrunch reported that T-mobile in the US have to stopped counting data usage on services such as Netflix, HBO, Hulu and many others. “T-Mobile calls the new feature “Binge On”, playing on the fact that people often refer to blasting through a zillion episodes of something in one sitting as “binge watching”.

The network carriers are in a constant race to the bottom when it comes to competitive price points. This certainly seen as an aggressive move by a leading carrier which should see competitors follow suit. There is a caveat, streaming services included in this feature are limited to 480p which isn’t an unfair compromise.

Social Media – The Key Innovators

Overall, the most significant catalysts driving consumer behaviour to consume video data, and certainly the fastest innovators of mobile video, are the big social media players.

In November 2015 both Snapchat and Facebook published their average daily video views and the numbers are incredible. Facebook now boast a jaw dropping 8 billion daily view rate while achieving 894 million average daily sessions on smartphone devices (, 2015).

Surprisingly mobile video generates only 10% of Facebook’s staggering $4.5billion generated in Q3 2015. Facebook are certainly seeing the advertising revenue potential in the growth of mobile video and have been testing various ways of increasing user engagement and immersion in their video experience. These include a YouTube style multi-tasking interface that allows user to watch videos while interacting with their news feed. Also a dedicated video tab has been spotted which handles all videos in the news feed with an added video carousel feature.

Snapchat reported 6 billion average daily views. As a standalone mobile application this is significant step up from Facebook’s announced figures. What’s more astonishing is the fact that they’ve tripled their average daily views over the last 7 months. A potential driver of this growth is the launch of interactive filters which uses the device’s hardware capability to augment interactive images together with audio. It’s worth noting these filters are also monetised.

YouTube have seen continued growth with over half of all videos viewed coming from mobile devices. The most revealing figure is the fact that viewing sessions on mobile devices are reaching an average of 40mins, that’s up 50% from 20mins year on year.

From a commercial perspective

According to PwC, mobile spend now accounts for 20% of all digital advertising while digital advertising saw a 14% in 2014 year on year. Within that growth in 2014 mobile ad spend grew by 68%, £707m compared to £429m in 2013. More specifically in 2014 digital video accounted to £1 in £5 spent (Tim Elkington IAB, 2015).

When analysing the spending growth across the various formats in 2013/2014 mobile video saw a 196% increase indicating heightened popularity in this advertising format.


IAB / PwC study: Mobile Video Adspend Triples

So what do these findings tell us?

  1. As consumers of mobile content, we are putting down the tablet and picking our smartphones to view videos
  2. The big social media players are the primary innovators in mobile video
  3. The smartphone and networks industries are feeding the growth of mobile video
  4. Advertising revenue in this sector is growing. Advertisers are diversifying in order to generate content and market their products and services more effectively

How does this affect those of us working in the digital space?

In the world of digital, content is king and the innovation, technology and consumer behaviour is present for video to take centre stage in driving brand or product engagement.

Video has a become an asynchronous viewing experience used to supplement content. We should not only use it to communicate a brand or product more effectively but throughout the key user journeys in order to capture, immerse and engage the user.

Continue the debate in the comments section below!


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