Do People Watch Video Differently on Mobile Phones vs. Tablets?

User-generated content preferred for smartphones

As the number of mobile video viewers continues its steady climb, it’s becoming increasingly clear that not all users behave in the same way. One example of this can be found in a survey of mobile viewing behaviors conducted by the The Rovi Corporation. When Rovi looked at how viewing behavior changed on mobile phones vs. tablets, striking differences emerged.

When asked what content they watched on mobile devices, phone and tablet viewers agreed on the big picture: The top three kinds of content for both users were movies, user-generated content (such as YouTube videos) and TV shows. But the difference lies in emphasis: Tablet viewers were much more likely than mobile phone viewers to prefer feature-length movies and TV shows. Mobile phone viewers were more likely to watch user-generated content.

In addition, mobile phone viewers were twice as likely to say they watched music videos on their devices as tablet viewers. By a slim margin, mobile phones were also the device of choice for news programming.

Even on smartphones, there is more than one kind of mobile video viewer. A separate study conducted by Nielsen found that in 2012, US mobile viewers watched via both apps and the mobile web: 72% said they’d watched video by either method. Downloading clips directly to the smartphone was a less popular option, although 42% said they’d done it.

The mobile web was a popular way to watch video in every country Nielsen studied. Only in South Korea did it fail to break 50% adoption among smartphone video viewers, and even there just barely. Also notable, in India, downloading video clips was more popular than elsewhere: 57% had done so. Smartphone apps, on the other hand, were a relatively unpopular way to watch.

The upswing in mobile viewing has not gone unnoticed by advertisers. According to Videology, mobile accounted for 5% of all US digital video ad impressions in Q4 2012.


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