As faster, bigger, and less expensive smartphones come to market, and as wireless providers continue to relax their data caps, mobile video will grow.
The main driver for mobile video growth is the smartphone category, though as recently as the third quarter of 2013, video plays on tablets and smartphones were essentially equal, each with about 8 percent, according to Ooyla’s first quarter global video index.
While plays on tablets have been flat, the growth in video plays on smartphones has been extraordinary.
In the fourth quarter of 2013, smartphone plays outpaced tablet plays by nearly 2 to 1, and during the first quarter of 2015, that ratio increased to more than 4 to 1, with 34 percent of all plays occurring on smartphones, with still only 8 percent on tablets.
The report noted much of this could be attributed to larger screen sizes in phones such as iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, as well as other phablets that are eating into or supplanting overall tablet usage.
"As faster, bigger, and less expensive smartphones come to market, and as wireless providers continue to relax their data caps and supply more opportunities to connect to WiFi, the growth of mobile as a first screen will continue," the report said. "Publishers, broadcasters and service providers should view this as a critical juncture, the point where a majority — rather than a plurality — of online video views occur on mobile devices."
Screen size is becoming democratized as viewers routinely use devices of any shape or size to watch video. Nearly 60 percent of the time people spent watching video on tablets is with video ten minutes long or longer.On connected TVs, that percentage is 43 percent, slightly greater than mobile phones (37 percent) and PCs (35 percent).
TV broadcasters saw more than half (53 percent) of their content play on mobile devices, compared to 31 percent for publishers and 31 percent for brands.
Plays on tablets and smartphones together increased more than 24 percent in Q1, quarter over quarter, and rose a stunning 100 percent since Q1 2014.
However, the report noted that doubling of plays on mobile devices over the past 12 months pales next to the 367 percent increase over the past two years.
That growth suggests more than half of all online video plays will be on mobile devices before the end of the year, with the report noting smartphones remain the engine of mobile growth, with four times as many plays as tablets.
For content up to 10 minutes in length, once the domain of mobile phone snackers, PCs surprisingly had the highest percentage of viewing time spent in Q1, 65 percent, closely followed by mobile phones (63 percent), connected TVs (57 percent) and tablets (41 percent).
"As we said earlier, mobile devices — whether smartphone, feature phone or tablet — are becoming ubiquitous among consumers," the report noted. "And, as those screen sizes increase, viewers are becoming less parochial in their designation of what constitutes the “first screen,” opting instead to use whatever screen happens to be nearby."