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Total mobile video streams increase, but with fewer streams per user

Video streaming to mobile devices is on a roll, doubling in popularity from 2008’s third to last quarter, according to QuickPlay Media, a mobile TV and video solutions provider for U.S. and Canadian cell phone carriers.

During the same period, video downloads increased by almost half. Nonetheless, although there were more total video streams, there were fewer streams per user, dropping from 19.4 to 17.4, raising some eyebrows and questions. QuickPlay’s guess is that growth in live mobile TV adoption leads to fewer streams but longer views. The most popular genres for mobile downloading are music, sports and comedy.

Maybe one reason for the increase is growing adoption of smartphones that make finding and watching video content notably easier. Another question is whether this upward trend will continue if consumers get cold feet about paying for extra mobile TV services in the current economic climate.

“While the downturn is expected to have a negative impact on wireless content and entertainment spending, we do anticipate that the industry will still experience growth, but at a slower pace,” said Lewis Ward, IDC research manager for wireless communications research. “To remain profitable, providers will not only increase their efforts to collaborate with technology partners to deliver engaging data, but they will also adjust their pricing and business models to encourage consumer take-up.”

The findings from QuickPlay’s quarterly analysis — aggregate usage statistics from 15 representative QuickPlay-powered services — show that total live TV and video streams viewed grew 118 percent from Q3 to Q4 2008, compared with a 27 percent increase from Q2 to Q3. The average stream duration in Q4 2008 was slightly longer at two minutes and 48 seconds when compared to two minutes and 47 seconds in Q3.

The average download per user experienced its best quarter of 2008, with an average of six per user versus about four per user in Q3, and total video downloads showed an increase of 73 percent from Q3 to Q4 versus 87 percent from Q2 to Q3.

“The positive results show mobile entertainment continues to be one of the bright spots in the current economy,” said QuickPlay CEO Wayne Purboo. “Consumers remain willing to pay for high-quality entertainment services. For mobile TV and video services, this should result in increased promotional activity and more attractive pricing options that stimulate service trial and adoption.”