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Ooyala Study: Mobile Video Plays Hit New High

More than 58% of all video plays worldwide came via mobile devices in the third quarter of 2017, the sixth straight quarter mobile devices accounted for more than half of all online video starts, according to a new study from streaming video services provider Ooyala.

That 58% figure is yet another new record for online video starts on mobile devices — with third-quarter mobile video plays jumping 12% from the same quarter in 2016 — and Ooyala forecasts mobile online video share to pass 60% for the first time during the first half of 2018.

Sports is playing a major role in the dominance of mobile video plays: according to Ooyala’s data, mobile devices accounted for 63% of all online sports viewing worldwide during the third quarter.

“Not surprisingly, mobile continues to be the major driver of online video, popular across all age groups and all content types, and sports are leading the way,” said Ooyala principal analyst Jim O’Neill. “Importantly, we know now that it’s just bunk to suggest the internet can’t support live streaming of major sports events.

“One need look no further than the NFL (I stream at least two games a week without issue) for an example of just how ready sports leagues are to seed the Internet, hoping to harvest viewers from around the world and especially in China and its vast store of video consumers. Content providers, operators and brands all need to focus on how best to leverage the increasing adoption of all things mobile or risk being an also-ran in the race for content dominance.”

And forget about tablets: Smartphones drew the largest segment of mobile, sports content viewers, at more than 46%, according to Ooyala, with tablet users accounting for less than 12%. Men under the age of 50 were, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most likely to use a mobile device to watch sports content. Ooyala’s report found that about 40% of mobile viewers watched sporting events on PCs.

But while smartphones owned the highest percentage of video starts for sporting events during the third quarter, they also proved the least likely to keep viewers engaged: “Tablets actually kept viewers most engaged, with the average viewing time exceeding 66.7% of the streamed event action,” Ooyala reported. “Desktops were just off that mark, at 65.7%, with connected TVs next at 61%.

“Smartphones proved to be least [able to engage] viewers, despite being the device most often used to access the action. Viewers watched just 44.2% of event action on smartphones.”