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Embedded video and live streaming within social media is helping to drive the increase in mobile data traffic

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In the first part of this two-part series we looked at the evolution of 5G and its commercial future. The need for 5G has been underlined by the driving force and increasing dominance of mobile video traffic, which is forecast to grow by around 50 per cent annually through to 2022, when it will account for nearly three quarters of all mobile data traffic. One of the drivers of this traffic has been the increased use of embedded video in social media and web pages. The growth can be partly attributed to the emergence of larger device screens, higher resolutions and new platforms supporting live streaming. New applications are also helping to shift relative volumes of varying types of traffic, although each device size accounts for different forms of viewing.

According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, tablets are associated with a higher share of video traffic when compared to smartphones. While tablets and smartphones are used equally for short video content, tablets are used more for watching longer video content. The share of video traffic is now approaching 60 percent on tablets. In terms of video traffic as a whole, YouTube continues to dominate in most mobile networks, accounting for between 40-70 percent of total video traffic for almost all measured networks, regardless of device type.


User Generated Content (UGC) helps to drive surge in live video streaming apps

Consumers are increasingly embracing live video streaming apps to interact with friends, family and their followers. TV and video content has always had an intrinsically social element to it, enabling viewers to come together and communally watch their favorite programs. However, whereas once the focal point involved the main TV screen, consumers, and millennials in particular, are now migrating their communal viewing habits online, both with traditional content and UGC.

Live streaming has been popular in South Korea for some time, with the likes of AfreecaTV, one of the country’s most popular apps, offering free broadcast live video to consumers in addition to re-transmitted TV channels and user generated content (UGC) hosted by broadcast jockeys. In the U.S., however, the growth in popularity of apps such as Periscope and Babuser has caused a surge in millennial and video-centric smartphone users accessing this content. In addition, the inclusion of live streaming capabilities in social media apps, such as Facebook and Twitter, is helping to drive the availability and rise in popularity of UGC, as well as professionally made live video content. As a result, the Ericsson Mobility Report shows that the proportion of smartphone users in the U.S. using live streaming apps is likely to triple in the coming year, and double in South Korea.

The report also found:

  • While live streaming has been a success in South Korea, the global market is fragmented due to different content preferences and trends. One of the reasons for the slow uptake of live streaming in markets beyond South Korea is the number of people and brands creating live videos still represent a small fraction of those who are watching.
  • Around one in five U.S. smartphone users expresses an interest in live video broadcast, but there are twice as many smartphone users in high growth markets like India, Indonesia, Brazil and Oman who are interested in such apps. This indicates that over the next 12 months, there will be a bigger appetite for live video streaming beyond the U.S.


Creating a high quality video experience for mobile

Today’s consumers are interested in a content offering that suits their own needs, across all the devices they own. Yet just as importantly, the user experience must be consistent and delivered in the highest possible quality, overcoming common video streaming issues such as delays in loading and re-buffering. Roughly one in every five global smartphone users we surveyed reported video streaming issues on a daily basis.

In terms of network performance on the go, 22 per cent of smartphone users reported video streaming issues while outdoors, irrespective of whether they were watching on-demand video streaming apps or live streaming apps. In addition, 24 per cent face the same issue while using these apps over mobile broadband while at home.

The importance of improving the video streaming experience is clear. The delivery of increased connectivity, enhanced network efficiency and wider mobility will ultimately determine whether media players can respond to the consumer demand for seamless, streamed video content on the road to 2022 and with it, the realization of the Networked Society.

Read more about the increasing dominance of 5G in the first part of our two part blog series. You can find the full Ericsson Mobility Report here.

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