Online TV Surges To An All-Time High With Apple iOS Leading The Way
June 4, 2014

Online TV Surges To An All-Time High With Apple iOS Leading The Way

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

Online TV viewership reached an all-time high in the first three months of the year, and more people tuned in via iOS mobile than with any other devices. According to the Q1 2014 Video Benchmark Report, which Adobe released on Wednesday, online TV consumption across all devices grew at 246 percent year-over-year (YoY) with this past March setting a new record in total authentications.

The report analyzed online TV – known also as TV Everywhere (TVE) – as well as non-authenticated online video trends. It found that for the first time iOS apps actually had surpassed desktop and laptop browsers as the most popular access point for TV Everywhere. iOS devices achieved a 43 percent market share, while browsers actually fell from 47 percent a year ago to just a 36 percent market share.

A number of factors could be attributed including, "larger screens, lower weight, and faster networks, (which) made mobile TV viewing much more enjoyable than before," Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics, told redOribt. "It's not just phones, but you are seeing tablets making their mark here."

While iOS took the lead in Q1, it will likely continue to face competition from other mobile operating system devices – notably Android, which Adobe noted was the fastest growing TVE access point. Android devices saw a 202 percent increase, which outpaced not only browsers but also iOS apps.

Overall the study found that online video consumption across mobile devices reached an all-time high with 57 percent YoY growth in the United States, and the unique TVE visitors per month increased by 157 percent YoY across all access points.

"More than one fifth of all pay-TV households in the U.S. now watch TV online across screens," said Jeremy Helfand, vice president, Primetime, Adobe, in a statement. "With rapidly rising consumer expectations for TV across devices, the TV industry is moving through a rapid transformation and finding new ways to bring TV to whatever screen audiences want to watch."

The study found that while browsers fell behind mobile apps for TVE consumption, game consoles and other Over-the-Top (OTT) devices actually saw strong share growth YoY of 539 percent growth resulting in a six percent market share.

Overall, total TVE consumption grew 246 percent YoY, and that even excluded the data from the Sochi Olympics in Russia, which likely pushed the numbers even higher. The study further found that 80 percent of children's content was viewed on iOS apps while browsers drove the majority (50 percent) of news-focused videos.

According to Adobe's research, 21 percent of pay-TV households in the United States also accessed TVE content across devices in Q1, compared to just 16 percent six months ago. Ninety-five TV channels now power more than 160 TVE sites and apps in the US, which was an increase of 30 additional channels from six months ago. The amount of TVE content being watched was also on the rise, and the study found an increase of 157 percent YoY, while the number of TVE streams – including Video On-Demand (VOD), live and linear – increased 133 percent YoY.

The study also tracked more than 1,300 Adobe Marketing Cloud customers and found that some 35.6 billion online videos – including user-generated content – were watched worldwide. That was a new record and a 43 percent increase YoY. A total of 25 percent of all online videos were reportedly consumed across mobile devices including smartphones and tablets – a 57 percent YoY increase.

This is clearly going to cause disruption in the pay-TV market, but experts have suggested that the cause is more than just customers being fed up with high cable bills.

"A combination of two factors... are driving this trend," said telecommunications industry analyst Jeff Kagan. "One, it's about cord cutting and two it's about competitors seen the writing on the wall and making these apps available to their customers.

"If you can't beat them, join them," Kagan told redOrbit. "The cable TV industry is in trouble. They have not been able to pull themselves out of the rut that they dug themselves into. This will help. We have to pull the camera back and see what's happening. This is a much more historical transformation than most people realize."

TVE will likely continue to change the way video content is viewed, and disruption is just part of it.

"Standalone cable TV doesn't stand a chance," added Kagan. "But combined with other new innovative services like apps on iPhones and other things, that's where the future lies. We have not given up watching television. We've just given up watching it the old-fashioned way. Innovation changes everything."

The analyses of Adobe's findings were based on aggregated and anonymous data from over 1,300 media and entertainment sites between Q1 2013 and Q1 2014. It includes 151 billion total online video starts and 1.3 billion TV Everywhere authentications across 250 pay-TV service providers covering 99 percent of pay-TV households in the US.