At this point, you’ve probably heard that mobile video viewership is on the rise. The average adult in the U.S. now watches 40 minutes of video a day on a video app (up from 31 minutes in 2016). As more people forego their cable service for a diet of only OTT content, the hours spent with connected TVs and mobile video apps is quickly growing.
Connected TVs seem like an obvious replacement for cable: viewers are still technically watching their television sets. But the surge of mobile video viewing has surprised many people, even industry experts, who struggle to understand why viewers are drawn to the smaller screens.
Yet mobile video comes with many obvious advantages. The ability to watch on-the-go, in a variety of different situations, is a valuable feature that is drawing viewers to spend more time watching on their phones and tablets. This is especially true of younger viewers. In fact, a recent study showed that more than half (61%) of Gen Zers said watching video content on a phone is as good as watching TV.
So why is mobile viewing so valuable? We asked a handful of people why they enjoy watching video on their phones and tablets, and got some surprising and unique responses. The biggest surprise was how many people cited advantages of watching mobile video not on-the-go—but right at home. Here are a few responses that shed light on how mobile video is increasingly an asset in modern lives.
1. To watch in rooms without a TV.
When you picture someone watching video at home, chances are you picture them curled up on the couch in front of a TV set. But in 2019, at-home viewing can take many different forms. Multiple people we spoke to said they love mobile video because it means their viewing habits no longer have to be confined to the living room.
One millenial we spoke to said he enjoys watching on his phone, because it’s more comfortable in bed: “I can lay on my side in bed and not have to tilt my head like I do if I’m on the computer,” he said. (Interestingly, his alternative wasn’t even a TV but a laptop.)
Another 20-something gave a similar reason saying it’s the perfect way to watch before bed, without needing to keep her contacts in to see the television: “My eyes get itchy at night and I want to take my contacts out, but I also can’t lay how I’m most comfortable with my glasses on (on my side),” she explained. “With neither, I can’t see far enough to see my TV.”
Mobile video allows people to watch comfortably in their home—in any room, any chair, or even in bed.
2. To not fight over the remote.
The more people in your home, the less likely everyone is going to agree on what to watch at any given moment. Especially if you have small children to look after, that means you may be relegated to watching Frozen a thousand times over. Unless—as we learned—you have your smartphone nearby.
“I honestly watched all of Big Little Lies on the HBO Go app on my phone with headphones,” one young mother explained to us, “while [my son] watched kids’ shows on TV.” She said the ability to sit together and watch their own shows is “very convenient as a parent that still wanted to watch something but not Disney Junior.”
3. To keep the volume and mood peaceful at home.
On the other hand, not everyone in the house always wants to watch TV at the same time, and the blaring sound of the TV can be a huge buzzkill for someone trying to relax in the next room.
That’s why one respondent told us, “When the TV is on, it’s like background noise and completely affects my mood. I hate it when my mother-in-law comes and has the news on all day. Luckily, my kids’ habit is to watch on their device quietly with their headphones, so I am 100% unaffected.”
Mobile video makes viewing more personal, whether in the home or out. That personalization gives people the freedom to enjoy their videos at any time of day without disturbing their families, roommates, or neighbors.
4. For unparalleled convenience.
“The convenience is overwhelming. My phone is always by my head.” This was the response we got that really sums up why it’s a no-brainer that mobile viewing is skyrocketing.
Most people these days have their phone within reach at all times: at home, at work, out shopping, in the bathroom, and even under their pillow at night (that last one’s not the best idea, but let’s be honest, most of us do it).
Mobile has not only made it easier to watch video. It has completely transformed how we watch video and our expectations about how quickly we can access it. Fewer people are living a lifestyle where they come home, watch the news, and then tune in to their favorite new shows during primetime. People are watching the news in line at the grocery and binging their favorite shows on the subway.
TVs—whether set up with cable or an OTT connected device—can’t match the level of convenience modern viewers now expect, and mobile video is filling that gap.