Larger Phone Screens Drive Mobile Video Consumption

No, it’s not a hilarious analyst April Fools’ Day joke. Although, the elementary logic may suggest otherwise: larger screen phones — such as phablets — are a key driver in increased mobile video consumption.

That’s one of the findings of a new study by analyst Strategy Analytics based on polling more than 3,000 mobile users in the U.S., China, the U.K., France, Germany and Spain to ask which factors would make them watch more video on their mobile device.

Along with having larger screens, the two other mobile video drivers named by respondents are better video quality, and 4G networks. Which are equally elementary. For mobile video to be worthwhile, the video itself has to be worth watching and the framerate and size watchable. It sure ain’t rocket science.

Currently, almost three-quarters (72%) of consumers watch video on their mobile phone, according to the analyst’s data, but the frequency is low — with less than half (44%) doing so once a week or more. And less than 1 in 7 (15%) doing so daily.

The survey found the Chinese are the heaviest consumers of mobile video, with 59% watching mobile video every week vs 40% of Americans.

The largest portion of mobile video refuseniks are the French, with 38% saying they don’t watch any video on their handsets, closely followed by the British (37%).

Strategy Analytics

Despite the long slow march of 4G uptake in many regions, and growing numbers of larger screen smartphones as mobile screen inflation bumps up the average size of the pane at almost every price point, Strategy Analytics said its data indicates that mobile video penetration may be approaching its peak — with only 8% of mobile owners who don’t currently watch video on their phone indicating a desire or intent to do so in the future.

Among existing mobile video consumers, less than half (40%) report watching less than 30 minutes per week; just over a fifth (22%) said they watch between 30-60 minutes; 21% said they consume between 1-3 hours; and 14% eyeball more than 3 hours per week.

The survey also found that mobile video usage mostly takes place within the browser, rather than inside apps — with 7 in 10 mobile video viewers saying they stream content through the browser vs just over a third (35%) doing so from apps. A sizeable chunk — more than a fifth (22%) — said they side-load videos to watch on their phone.

On the network side, mobile video viewers are almost 3x more likely to stream content to their handset over Wi-Fi than via a mobile network — with 68% streaming over Wi-Fi and a quarter (24%) over a cellular network. 3G/4G streaming of mobile video had the highest share in France (33%) and the U.S. (30%).

As for suppliers, YouTube was rated as the most preferred supplier of mobile video to those who do watch mobile video now and who intend to in future — rated as their preference by 64%. Google was next (49%), followed by the manufacturer of their handset (27%), Apple (26%), Amazon (22%) and their mobile network operator (also 22%).

Strategy Analyst noted that despite YouTube’s enduring popularity, a “significant share” of mobile video is still being consumed via conduits coming from handset makers and mobile operators — ergo, it said mobile video content providers should continue to see handset vendors and carriers as key partners in efforts to drive mobile video consumption.