iPad effect continues to impact TV, video viewing habits

There is no excuse not to serve up video content in formats supported by mobile devices any more, recent BBC iPlayer data confirms. That’s because tablet viewing via the on-demand television service doubled over the Christmas period as owners of new iPads logged onto the service.

Screen Shot 2013-03-06 at 16.35.57Flick the switch

This change in broadcast access habits is irreversible and profound. It suggests that not only is the viewing audience moving to access their shows whenever they want, it also suggests that the environments in which television is being watched have also changed. iPad owners can watch iPlayer content on the train, in a coffee shop, on public transport — anywhere with an adequate Internet connection.

That’s a big change even since five years ago, when TV watching was something you did at home in the evenings or at your PC. As YouTube and online video services are democratising video production, the tablet and smartphone are similarly transforming video consumption.

BBC’s Head of iPlayer, Dave Price said: “BBC iPlayer had a record-breaking festive period, with performance driven by new mobiles and tablets unwrapped on Christmas Day, and it looks like these devices have yet to be put down.”

He revealed that January saw record traffic to the BBC’s iPlayer service, which served 212 million requests across all devices and platforms — up 46 percent year-on-year.

Requests from smartphones and tablets (the iPad accounts for over 60 percent of tablets sold) “rocketed in January”, Price reveals, writing on the BBC Internet Blog. These climbed 32 percent in the month subsequent to December.

Screen Shot 2013-03-06 at 16.55.14

iPlayer everywhere as audiences change

In a separate post the corporation explains that demand for its content increased on Christmas Day — by over 40% on tablets and over 66% on mobiles compared with Christmas Eve.

“During the whole festive period the iPlayer app was downloaded nearly one million times – with almost 300,000 downloads on Christmas Day alone.” The iPlayer app has been installed almost 15 million times on mobile and tablet devices, according to the BBC.

YouTube continues to attract traffic from smartphones and tablets. While Google is reticent to reveal details figures regarding which devices access its video-sharing network, anecdotal evidence suggests tablets are part of the mix, The user interface for 10-inch tablets accessing YouTube was refreshed in December.

Statistics from the US show that tablets are also becoming devices that supplement traditional viewing habits, as suggested in a 2011 Nielsen report that claimed 40 percent of tablet and smartphone owners use them (primarily to check email) while watching television.

More recent research from the company confirmed the trend while pointing out that 20 percent of US homes are tablet owners while 50 percent own a smartphone. The research also offered some interesting glimpses that suggest how US users make use of Netflix and Hulu.

The changes in device ownership and viewing patterns seem unlikely to go into reverse. NPD claims 21 percent of US consumers have a TV connected to the Internet and are watching video from streaming services including Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Instant Video on their big screens.

Meeting the audience

“Despite these shifts in behavior, computers will remain the fundamental content creation device in consumer’s tool box for many years to come,” said John Buffone, director of devices, Connected Intelligence (NPD).

“Consumers, however, are switching their entertainment-centric behaviors to tablets, smartphones, and connected TVs at warp speed. During 2013 this trend will be further perpetuated as more mobile devices become enabled with screen sharing technologies such as AllShare and Miracast that allow users to bridge their mobile devices to their TV screens.”

Here at Dreamtek we think it is increasingly clear that customers creating video content cannot ignore the need to make it available to tablets, mobiles and the plethora of new devices emerging at this time. While for many customers ensuring their content is available to mobile devices can be as simple as uploading existing assets to Vimeo or YouTube, this isn’t always appropriate.

Customers, particularly enterprise customers, may require their video content be only made available in limited form. We have the expertise to advise on this, and believe making assets available to multiple platforms and devices will eventually be a great enabler for video-based communication.

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