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One reason TV has to change: Mobile

(MoneyWatch) The television industry has approached the world of Internet streaming kicking and screaming. The potential loss of control, by people streaming what they want when they want, makes old-line companies try to nail down distribution of their programming even more than before.

But a new study from Ooyala, a video analytics company, highlights why the walls will break down. It's not just that consumers want to pay less for cable TV or that some are determined to stream only television programming over the Internet. One of the major deciding factors will be that video viewing goes mobile, and many traditional carriers have little to no strength in that arena.

Ooyala used anonymized video metrics from "200 million unique viewers in 130 countries" per month for its Q1 global video index. Here are some of the major findings:

  • Mobile video heats up -- Mobile and tablet video now account for more than 10 percent of online video playing. This is video traffic that traditional cable companies can't satisfy because they don't have the presence in wireless.
  • Tablet video viewing races ahead -- Split out tablet from mobile, and the growth is even more pronounced. The share of video viewing that went to tablet grew by a third year over year in the first quarter of 2013.
  • Long-form video -- More than half of the total viewing by tablet and mobile users was long-form (longer than 10 minutes) video. The idea that people are interested only in short snippets from YouTube no longer holds. That means video producers will need to move to mobile to satisfy consumers. A quarter of tablet viewing was of video at least 60 minutes in length.
  • Video on demand isn't the mobile answer -- Consumers like video on demand, but they love live video. You can tell because they spend much more time watching it. On tablets, there was a 4-to-1 ratio of live to VOD. (On desktops, the difference was a factor of 13.)

What does that likely mean for video producers? They have to find ways to get all video -- live streaming and on-demand -- to mobile users. If not, they will find market share shrink over time as demographic shifts that make today's younger viewers the majority make their consumption habits a must to address.

Image: Flickr user Retinafunk

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