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For some time, people wondered whether mobile phone owners would ever watch more than the very shortest videos on their handsets. In fact, the familiarity and attraction of video content is triumphing over the limitations of the small screen—particularly in markets such as the US. Now mobile video viewing is sweeping through Europe too, thanks partly to a surge in smartphone adoption.
Across the EU-5, the proportion of smartphone users ages 15 and older who watched video or TV programming on their phones jumped by 112% in the three months ending in June 2013 compared to that time period one year earlier, according to data from comScore MobiLens. That translates to 52.8 million smartphone viewers total, representing 34.8% of the smartphone population in these five nations who regularly viewed TV or video content on their handset.
Germany registered the most rapid growth, at 150%. In the three months to June 2013, 33.5% of smartphone users in the country watched mobile video, comScore found. In Spain, the proportion of smartphone users watching video rose less dramatically—by 110%—but from a larger base. An estimated 40.2% of Spain’s smartphone population watched TV or video on their phones. In the UK, 37.2% of smartphone users watched video, while France ranked last of all the EU-5 nations, in terms of both the percentage increase (77%) and the share of smartphone users watching mobile video (26.5%).
These steep rises in mobile video viewing are fueled by significant gains in smartphone penetration in all major European markets. Penetration of advanced handsets varies by country, but at least 41% of mobile phone users in all EU-5 nations will have a smartphone this year, eMarketer estimates. The UK leads smartphone penetration among mobile users in the EU-5, at 60.4%, followed by Spain with 47.5% penetration. In Western Europe as a whole, smartphone penetration will average 47.4% of mobile phone users this year, according to eMarketer calculations. These devices will be the primary device used by viewers in Western Europe to watch mobile phone video.
As an example, in the UK, smartphones already account for nearly all mobile video viewing in the country, and that share will continue growing. eMarketer projects that more than 97% of people who watch mobile video in the UK will do so via smartphone this year. By 2017, fewer than 1% of UK mobile phone video viewers are expected to watch on feature phones.
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