Why We're Really Watching Smartphone Video

Reasons behind the rise in mobile video.

By on August 26, 2013

In the early days of mobile video, many thought it wouldn’t work. Screens were too small for an enjoyable viewing experience and wireless networks couldn’t meet the demand to make watching video on phones a satisfying experience. In the past year, however, mobile video consumption has grown faster than on PCs and tablets, with 41 million people in the United States watching video on their phones. Mobile video exploded in 2013, just as Business Insider predicted, largely due to the impact of 4G LTE, improvements in device design and the ubiquity of smartphones in our daily lives.

The expansion of 4G LTE networks has made it easier for people to browse the Web and social media from almost anywhere and has made the video streaming process much more enjoyable due to better upload and download speeds and less buffering. Many smartphones, like the DROID ULTRA by Motorola, now feature faster processors and larger HD screens — 5-inches in this case — to provide the best possible mobile viewing experience. So while a tablet or PC may be more suited to watching full-length movies or TV shows, most of the videos people watch on their smartphones are brief; only 40 percent of smartphone video sessions globally are more than 10 minutes in length.

So, on a given day, what exactly encourages to people grab their phones and type YouTube into their browser or open the app? According to a survey by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, 18 percent of people watch videos on their smartphones because of boredom or the need to fill time, and 22 percent have something specific they want to see, so they log on and go straight to a particular video.