The largest service providers have spent a lot of time, effort, and money to figure out how to perform multi-screen delivery. The next round of service providers who will start multi-screen delivery won’t have to spend nearly as much. In fact, with cloud-based delivery, the option for making no investment will soon be available, turning a capex-intensive process into a pure opex play.

A lot of companies are gathering a virtual flood of data about multi-screen delivery that all combines to suggest two things: 1) some service providers are still wondering if performing multi-screen delivery is a good idea for them, and 2) the answer is more and more likely to be “yes.”

The Diffusion Group has been a cheerleader for multi-screen delivery for years. The only question for most TDG analysts is when multi-screen will become ubiquitous. Statistics the organization has recently compiled paint a picture of viewers increasingly using all of their devices to access video content.

  • One-in-two adult broadband users (ABUs) engage a mobile video app (MVA) at least once a month. “Translation: there is indeed a sizable market for solutions that make multi-screen delivery less costly and more efficient,” Greeson said.
  • 39 percent of ABUs watch MVAs on a portable computer, compared with 30 percent who use MVAs on a tablet and 22 percent that use MVAs on a smart phone.
  • In terms of the use of specific MVAs, four-in-ten ABUs on occasion use OTT video apps like Netflix and YouTube, 25 percent use broadcast network apps from the Big Four (ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC), 19 percent use cable network apps (like HBO Go and WatchESPN), and 16 percent use TV operator apps (through operator services such as Comcast’s Xfinity).
  • In terms of monthly use, OTT apps (used by 40 percent of ABUs) top both broadcast and cable network apps (25 percent and 19 percent, respectively), which again top operator-provided apps (16 percent).
  • Four-in-ten ABUs (41 percent) own all three of the mobile devices discussed above (so called ‘Tri-Device Owners’). Unsurprisingly, the use of MVAs among Tri-Device Owners is much greater than among ABUs in general (65 percent versus 49 percent, respectively).
  • More than a fourth (27 percent) of Tri-Device Owners—about 11 percent of ABUs—use all three of their mobile devices to watch MVAs.
  • Tablets and smart phones are rarely the sole device consumers use to engage mobile video apps (use of either statistically implies the use of Portable Computer MVAs); those that use both tablets and smart phones are more likely than others to report significantly higher MVA use.

TDG president and chief analyst said, “Put simply, a great number of consumers are engaging mobile video apps/websites on a regular basis, suggesting that there should be strong demand among video providers for services that can ease the costs and burdens of delivering video programming to multiple devices.”

Online TV consumption across all devices grew at 246 percent year-over-year (YoY), with March 2014 setting a new record in total authentications, according to Adobe. That’s across the full spectrum of viewing devices, including PCs, tablets, smart TVs, game consoles and OTT boxes. That data includes 151 billion total online video starts and 1.3 billion TV Everywhere authentications across 250 pay-TV service providers covering 99 percent of pay-TV households in the U.S.

The analysis also examined TV Everywhere content from 95 TV channels and over 160 TV Everywhere sites and apps.

“More than one fifth of all pay-TV households in the U.S. now watch TV online across screens,” said Jeremy Helfand, vice president, Primetime, Adobe. “With rapidly rising consumer expectations for TV across devices, the TV industry is moving through a rapid transformation and finding new ways to bring TV to whatever screen audiences want to watch.”

Other data points from Adobe include:

  • 21 percent of pay-TV households in the U.S. accessed TV Everywhere content across devices in Q1, compared to 16 percent six months prior to that.
  • The number of unique TV Everywhere visitors to websites and apps per month increased by 157 percent YoY, while the number of TV Everywhere streams (live, VOD and linear) watched per visitor each month increased 133 percent YoY.

Usage does not translate directly to revenue. That’s where advertising comes in. The opportunities for ad insertion in multi-screen are developing in parallel and only slightly behind the spread of multi-screen delivery (see “Engagement Driving A Resurgence In Multi-Screen Advertising”).

Wireless carriers are beginning to experience a lot of success with advertisements on mobile phones, but that’s success any service provider could and should be sharing, when you consider that a significant amount of smartphone data consumption occurs in the home, typically on a Wi-Fi network operated by someone other than the wireless provider.

More and more people are buying movie and event tickets increasingly often on mobile devices; that activity is up 40 percent this year, according to stats compiled by Vdopia, which specializes in mobile video advertising.

Specific calls to action, such as signing up for TV tune-in alerts and downloading music, are quite successful

  • The number of people who consumed entertainment content on their smartphones ever in a month jumped 28 percent in the past year, to 109 million.
  • Americans now average 33 minutes each day watching videos on their smartphones.
  • 62 percent of smartphone users will watch a 15- to 30-second ad in exchange for a free stream of a show or movie. The number is 56 percent for laptop users, and 51 percent for connected TV owners.
  • Mobile entertainment audiences are twice as likely to click on mobile ads
  • 45 percent recall seeing ads, almost double the rate for everyone else (24 percent).

More and more people are using multiple devices for entertainment, but also for information.

YuMe specializes in technology for multi-screen video advertising. The company recently compiled statistics about viewing habits specifically associated with politics. Viewers use multiple devices to watch video and to deliberately watch political ads to get information.

We’ll note here that pay TV operators’ ad revenue spikes, sometimes significantly, during election cycles.

  • More than 60 percent of voters state they are likely to use digital video for watching debates, speeches, and highlights from campaigns
  • Almost half (48 percent) agree that it is important to be able to follow election progress on multiple devices
  • Streaming video has become an important source of information, with 44 percent likely to stream video on a connected device to keep up-to-date
  • 32 percent of voters will stream video from a computer/laptop, 15 percent on a smartphone, 16 percent on a tablet, 11 percent on a smartTV
  • 54 percent claim news websites as their main source of information about candidates and their campaigns
  • Ads continue to be an important source of information for voters (Television 45 percent, Online Ads 17 percent, Online Video 16 percent, Campaign supported online video 15 percent)

“Results support our hypothesis that digital video ads are important and influential in the political realm,” says Bryson Smith, VP Political, YuMe. “The positive impact of multi-screen video is becoming more apparent to clients, and is now seen as an important campaign strategy.”

Ultimately, the issue for service providers will be finding a vendor that can provide a means to enable multi-screen delivery at a reasonable cost. As TDG’s Greeson said, “There is indeed an opportunity here, but there are simply too many players in the market.”