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Takeaways From Twitter Roundtable on Video vs. Mobile

by User Not Found | Mar 09, 2016

My colleague Sue Rudd and I were invited to join a “Twitter Roundtable” on “Can Video and Mobile Get Along”, hashtagged “#SaveOurStreaming”.

I found the experience exciting, not least because it served as a springboard for further discussion rather than reaching the end of the story.

To start with, I don’t quite agree with the motion the organiser, Giraffic, put forward that while 5G is still years away,  more people want video streaming on mobile already now but we don’t have the bandwidth to support it. I don’t even quite agree with the hashtag, as if video streaming on mobile is in crisis. Far from it. Here are a few datapoints:

  • YouTube announced the average viewing session on mobile is now more than 40 minutes, up more than 50% from last year;
  • Facebook’s 1.04 billion daily active users (DAUs), including 934 million on mobile, watch 8 billion videos a day, which is equal to 7.7 videos per user per day;
  • Snapchat, which is mobile only, has 100 million DAUs but also reports 8 billion daily video views, which equals to a whopping 80 videos watched per user per day.

Strategy Analytics has learned from consumers that even when they stream premium video on the go, they care more smooth playing than the high definition (the screens are so small anyway), which means they can tolerate video quality optimised for mobile, putting less pressure on the bandwidth. On the other hand, data cost, especially the punitive fees incurred if you go beyond your data plan cap, is a concern. When that ceases to be an issue, consumers do stream over cellular networks. Data from Strategy Analytics’ consumer telemetry platform, AppOptix, shows exactly this. Use the example of Netflix. A typical T-Mobile user streams 20-30 minutes of Netflix on mobile per day, which is a small part out of the 1.8 hours streamed by an average Netflix user. After T-Mobile launched Binge On, 97% of the 30-minute Netflix streaming was done over cellular, up from pre-Binge On’s 80%. To compare this with YouTube, which is not a Binge On partner, only a quarter of the 56 minutes daily YouTube watching happened over cellular. See the chart:

Binge On Effect

All these being said, a number of insightful observations came out of the roundtable, for example:

  • Video protocol and format vs. device compatibility is posing a challenge to video streaming on mobile. Sue highlighted that SSL and HTTPS are hampering service providers’ ability to optimize Video;
  • Live events streaming will be better served by LTE Broadcast, but it’s not being broadly adopted by operators yet;
  • High definition, e.g. 4K, will not come to mobile any time soon, due to both the bandwidth constraint but also device display compatibility;
  • VR streaming in the future will require even less latency to get the real experience, demanding new networks that can process on the edge as we run up to 5G.

To view more sparks from the discussion, search for “#SaveOurStreaming” on Twitter.


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