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Japanese video viewers aren’t just spending more time watching mobile video. They’re also increasingly choosing to watch such content using portrait mode—where a device is oriented vertically.
According to February 2016 research from Japanese media firm Mobercial, the percent of smartphone video viewers who preferred watching using a combination of both landscape and portrait modes increased by five percentage points during the period between July 2015 and January 2016. Meanwhile the number who said they preferred watching exclusively in landscape mode (where a device is oriented horizontally) fell by five percentage points during the same period.
Although there’s no single conclusive explanation for the behavior shift, several factors may be contributing to this growing preference for vertically-oriented mobile video. One potential factor is the popularity of vertically-oriented apps like Line, a messaging app that includes a video viewing component in its interface. According to November 2015 research by mobile gaming firm Colopl, more than 50% of Line users in Japan across all demographics, access the site daily.
The location and situation where smartphone video viewers in Japan watch mobile video may also play a role in their preference for portrait vs. landscape viewing. Additional survey results from Mobercial found that watching mobile video while on a subway or train was among the three most popular situations to consume such content, with 21% of respondents reporting such behavior. While it's hard to say for certain, the popularity of smartphone video viewing in multitasking situations like commuting may contribute to a preference for portrait mode, which is easier to control with just one hand.
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