The "computer continues to be the dominant device to watch online video," according to Limelight's The State of Online Video study released yesterday. When ranked in order of frequency of use by respondents, computers were highest -- just as they were in December 2015. In fact, the average rank was actually higher this year.
How does this equate with other studies showing the rapid cannibalization of other devices by mobile, such as Zenith's recent study?
Or with Ooyala Inc. 's Global Video Index that shows mobile video made up 48% of all video views in the last quarter, up 129% from 2014?
Naturally, each study has its own methodology and definitions, which is true of research on any topic. But with mobile media/video, I think there is a consistent inconsistency in three main areas:
- What is a mobile device? Usually the mobile device most people think of is a mobile phone. Most would include tablets, and some include laptops. Crucially, the Limelight survey lists laptops in its "computers" category. And that's why a shift from desktops to laptops doesn't affect its video viewing numbers.
Zenith's study, on the other hand, has a "mobile Internet" category and a "desktop Internet" category. So presumably laptops end up as mobile devices, pushing results the opposite way.
- Secondly, what is mobile video? Is it video delivered over a mobile (cellular) network? Or is it delivered via WiFi? An earlier Heavy Reading survey explored precisely this question, and found that a large majority of respondents were viewing video on their phones over WiFi, rather than a mobile network.
Limelight Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: LLNW)'s latest study also identified the same trend. Video views on smartphones via WiFi received a considerably higher average rank than those via cellular networks. This is only logical when you think of average connection speeds on WiFi compared with cellular networks, and the presence of mobile data caps. But when analyzing video consumption trends, it's critical to identify this distinction because the network implications are very different.
- Lastly, what is video? Ooyala's most recent Global Video Index was widely referenced, stating that mobile video made up nearly half of all video views. But the company's data comes from tracking the anonymized online video metrics that it collects for its customers. The key word is "online" -- Ooyala does not include TV viewing over traditional, private pay-TV networks or free-to-air broadcasting infrastructures.
So while mobile video viewing is growing rapidly, it's not really half of all video viewed. Video consumption via traditional TV infrastructures still dwarfs other platforms, even if it is declining due to OTT video. In fact, Limelight's study found that the number of people claiming that they would never cut the cord rose from 10.5% of respondents to 14.7% in the past year.
I should make it clear I'm not criticizing any of the companies I have mentioned here. They have every right to run their studies using their own methodology and definitions.
My point is that we need to be careful interpreting data from these studies, and be clear what exactly the trend is that we are seeing.
— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation