According to Ooyala's Q4 2017 Global Video Index Report, mobile video plays topped 60% globally for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2017 - garnering a 60.3% share of all video starts. Geographically, Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) had the greatest level of engagement at 63.5%. North America lagged most of the rest of world at 57.6% despite seeing mobile video jump 11% from Q4 2016.
Across all measured devices, including smartphones, tablets, connected TVs and PCs, viewing time for medium- and long-form content grew to more than 50% of all content.
One of the biggest viewing shifts occurred on PCs, where time spent watching long-form content dropped to 37% in Q4, its lowest point since Q1 2016, when it was 35%. On the other hand, time spent watching short-form content on PCs climbed to 50%, the most of any device. Elsewhere, short-form content was essentially flat year-over-year on smartphones (44%), tablets (26%) and connected TVs (0.7%).
Other findings indicate:
- Smartphone views were more than three times that of tablets.
- Tablets' share of all video plays at 12.8% represented a 68% increase from Q4 2016.
- Mobile plays could soon reach - and potentially exceed - a 70% market share, driven by more premium sports assets moving online.
"The primary screen is definitely shifting. All devices are not equal for video viewing," said Jim O'Neill, Ooyala principal analyst. "Consumers are as comfortable watching a sporting event, TV show or movie on a smartphone as they are on a connected TV, but not on their PC or tablet."
The explosion of digital content is helping to drive viewing off of the TV. On average, OTT services doubled their hours of content offerings over the last 12 months, with long-form content increasing 159%. Medium-form content offerings increased 87%, and short-form content increased 112%.
"Content is experiencing a flood unlike anything the industry has previously seen… and there is no end in sight. It's the lifeblood of an over-the-top provider and the key to keeping users engaged and coming back for more, especially if you maintain regular contact with your customers, letting them know in advance that new content is on the way," O'Neill said.
However, O'Neill said that content providers and distributors will need to maintain ongoing technological improvement with a focus on quality of experience (QoE).
"Near-instant startup, consistent video stream quality and uninterrupted delivery - without any buffering - will be critical to end-user experience," he said. "Fail at any of those quality of experience factors and customers will look for other options, and may even account for some of OTT subscriber churn."