According to Ericsson's (NASDAQ:ERIC) latest Mobility Report, the proliferation of consumer smart devices and their applications is fuelling an unprecedented growth in video consumption. Mobile video traffic is forecast to grow by around 55% annually through to 2021, when it is expected to account for around 70% of all mobile data traffic.
Consumer demand for video content is forcing traditional and new TV service providers to address the same collective challenge of embracing new mobile delivery networks, platforms and technologies.
The report indicates that the growth has been further accentuated by the increasing use of embedded video on social media and web pages. As a result, other application categories such as file sharing, web browsing and social networking have annual growth rates ranging from 20% to 36% and are shrinking in proportion to overall mobile traffic.
As TV viewers demand content on their own terms, mobility can no longer be considered an optional extra, Ericsson says.
Elisabetta Romano, Ericsson's vice president and head of TV and Media, said: "Media content and its increasing connection to mobility is playing a pivotal role in the TV and media industry today; we can see this through the spread of smart, video-enabled devices and the massive explosion of streamed video content from the Internet. While TV and video viewership is changing for everyone, it's telling that today's teens are driving this evolving behavior from traditional TV viewing to streaming video on their smartphones."
Average values from measurements in a selected number of commercial HSPA and LTE networks in Asia, Europe and the Americas indicate that regardless of device type, video is the largest contributor to traffic volumes (41% on mobile PC; 43% on smartphones; 55% on tablets), but there is a large variation between networks:
- YouTube still dominates video traffic in most mobile networks and accounts for between 50-70% of total video traffic for almost all measured networks, regardless of terminal type.
- There has been a steady increase in the share of social networking traffic on smartphones, as well as increased share of video traffic on smartphones and tablets in recent years.
Consolidating upon earlier Ericsson ConsumerLab research, the report also indicated a sharp increase in streamed video viewing, particularly among younger generations, including:
- Between 2011 and 2015, teens increased their TV/video viewing at home on smartphones by 85% and nearly halved their time spent watching on a traditional TV screen.
- When TV/video viewing migrates from fixed to mobile screens, teenagers continued to have higher viewership and more video sessions for all parts of the day than any other age category.
- Older generations are slower to change their viewing preferences; for example, 30-35 year olds spent 4 hours more than teens in front of the traditional TV in 2015.
- Teen usage of cellular data for smartphone usage grew by 127% in 15 months (July 2014 to October 2015). While 30-35 year olds have a higher growth rate than teens for cellular video streaming data usage, the overall video data consumption among this group is only around a fifth of the teens' data consumption.