Study: Think digital video, think mobile

Study: Think digital video, think mobile

When smartphones first came out nearly a decade ago, many scoffed at the idea that people would ever watch video on them.The screens were too small, they complained, and the video quality too shoddy.

Fast-forward to today, however, and those complaints seem laughable.

People are watching video on smartphones, and in fact soon mobile will become the most popular way to watch digital video, overtaking desktop.

That’s according to a new study from ZenithOptimedia, a London agency. It projects that next year mobile will account for 52.7 percent of all digital video viewing worldwide.

It’s shot up sharply over the past three years.

In 2012, mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets accounted for only 22.9 percent of time spent watching online videos. That grew to 40.1 percent last year, and by 2016, it will hit 58.1 percent.

Video viewing on mobile devices will rise 43.9 percent this year, compared to 9.5 percent growth for video viewing on non-mobile devices.

Three things have contributed to this shift.

First, quality of video streaming has vastly improved over the past three years. Advances in technology have strengthened the 3G and 4G networks that deliver video streams.

Second, the adoption of tablets has increased the mobile viewing audience. Over the past three years, tablet ownership worldwide has more than doubled, hitting 1.08 billion this year, according to eMarketer.

And third, people have become less picky about screen size.

While you might not be able to see everything perfectly in a YouTube video you watch on your phone, you’re probably not looking for perfection. You just want to know why other people were talking about the video on Facebook.

ZenithOptimedia says the gains in mobile video are having a direct impact on traditional TV viewership, which will fall 1.9 percent next year.

“The decline of linear TV viewing is in direct correlation with the increasing quantity and quality of content available online, both from short-form platforms like YouTube and long-form platforms like Netflix,” notes the report.

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