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China: Mobile Usage Will Overtake TV This Year

The popularity of digital video is a key contributor

London, 19 April 2018: This year, for the first time, adults in China will spend more time with their mobile devices than they will watching TV, according to eMarketer’s latest time spent with media forecast.

Adults in China will spend 2 hours, 39 minutes a day on mobile devices in 2018, up 11.1% over last year, accounting for 41.6% of their daily media time. By comparison, adults will spend 2 hours, 32 minutes per day watching TV, down 2% over 2017, representing 39.8% of daily media time.

Digital video viewing is a key driver of increased mobile time. We expect adults in China will spend 58 minutes per day watching video in 2018, up nearly 26% year over year, making up more than a quarter of their digital time. By 2020, adults in China will spend almost a third of their daily digital time watching video.

The popularity of video has been boosted by innovation in the marketplace, particularly by platforms owned by the so-called BAT companies—Baidu’s iQiyi, Alibaba’s Youku and Tencent’s Tencent Video—which have created their own original content to drive viewership and subscriptions. Short videos, most commonly viewed via smartphone, have also helped to drive usage. In addition, the BAT companies have announced investments into short video content during the past year.

“eMarketer’s forecasts are showing that in China, time spent watching TV will experience accelerated declines, with TV viewership falling further in lower-tier cities,” said Shelleen Shum, forecasting director at eMarketer. “Audiences increasingly consume digital video within platforms that provide a greater variety of content and allow for on-demand viewing. Faster networks and the proliferation of smartphones allow consumers to watch or post videos in between other daily activities.

“Beyond long-form content such as dramas, short videos—both professionally and user-generated—have witnessed explosive growth in the past year,” she added. “Short video apps like Xigua and Kuaishou have received heavy investment in the past year to help commercialize its content. Ecommerce and news aggregator apps have also used short video content as a way to increase engagement among users.”



eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.


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Founded in 1996, eMarketer is the first place to look for research about marketing in a digital world.  eMarketer enables thousands of companies worldwide to understand marketing trends, consumer behavior and get the data needed to succeed in the competitive and fast-changing digital economy.  eMarketer’s flagship product, eMarketer PRO, is home to all of eMarketer’s research, including forecasts, analyst reports, aggregated data from 3,000+ sources, interviews with industry leaders, articles, charts and comparative market data. eMarketer’s free daily newsletters span the US, EMEA and APAC and are read by more than 200,000 readers globally.  In 2016 eMarketer, Inc. was acquired by European media giant Axel Springer S.E.

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Posted on April 19, 2018.