The US audience for digital video—that is, video consumed on any digital device—will pass 200 million in 2015, making up not quite two-thirds of the entire population, according to a new eMarketer report, “US Digital Video Audience Profile: Who’s Watching, How They’re Watching and What Screens They’re Watching.” It’s a large audience, but one that is not likely to increase much further. We estimate that growth will run in the low single digits over the next few years.
The most common screen for digital video consumption is the traditional desktop or laptop. Many digital video viewers use multiple screens over time (and even simultaneously), but computers remain the most popular access point.
A survey of US internet users by HUB Research found that use of mobile devices (and smart TVs) for video viewing grew in 2014, but significantly more respondents still used computers to do so.
Similar patterns can be seen in data from TNS, which found that laptop computers were the most common device used to stream videos. TNS’s survey showed a much smaller—but still significant—gap between computers and other devices for video viewing.
Another view, this from server data gathered by Adobe, suggests an even sharper tilt toward computer viewing. In Q1 2014, almost three-quarters of US digital video starts occurred on computers, while just over one-quarter occurred on mobile devices.
Looking at smaller-screen audiences, eMarketer estimates that there will be 89.7 million smartphone video viewers in the US in 2014. That total is about half the size of the overall digital video audience.
Although there are fewer tablet users than smartphone users, the size of the US tablet video-viewing audience is nearly as large as that of the smartphone video-viewing audience, reflecting the fact that the tablet is associated with leisure-time activities such as content consumption.
In addition, there is the connected TV audience.
This year, eMarketer estimates, about 46% of US households will have some form of connected TV (defined as a TV set connected to the internet through built-in internet capability or through another device such as a Blu-ray player, game console or set-top box—e.g., Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku).
And by next year, nearly 56% of households will have at least one connected TV.
While the size of the mobile audience is considerable, the numbers also point to how nonmobile video—computers and connected TV—is still going strong. That’s essential to keep in mind when planning and executing ad campaigns to balance against the hype that “mobile is taking over everything.”