Just a few years ago, received wisdom predicted that watching video on mobile phones would never really take off. Beyond kids watching the odd YouTube clip, who’d want to watch ‘serious’ content on such a small screen? But what a difference a few years makes. The mobile phone is ascending rapidly and will soon become the most important video viewing screen for entertainment beyond the TV set; by some measures trumping tablets, laptops, PCs, Smart TVs and other video-capable connected devices to the point that seventy per cent of Italians and nearly as many Spaniards and Americans now say they watch video on their smartphones. Nearly a quarter in several countries watch video daily on their device.
So, while the main TV set in the households grows in average size almost yearly, more and more viewers are using their smallest screen for regular alternative viewing.
The reasons for the shift are multiple. The rise of social-media driven video (beyond the ubiquitous YouTube) to now encompass Snapchat, Vimeo, Instagram, Facebook and Periscope, means that the opportunity to engage with video on mobile devices (both pre-recorded and live) has grown exponentially in the past 18 months.
The increasing availability of professional video and original content from the likes of Turner, NBC, and Viacom as well as the growing professionalization of user-generated video and the move in to content ownership and originals by Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook means that the line between the YouTube-style clip of old and ‘proper’ TV content are disappearing.
Targeting the mobile is no longer just about the youngest viewers, in fact the most active daily mobile viewers are in their 20s and early 30s. Now that half of the population in key markets watch video content at least weekly on smartphones, content development and marketing strategies need to consider not just the peculiarities of the platform on which the video will be made available but also the specific environment and opportunities presented by the screen on which it will watched.