OPINION24 August 2015

Video content appeal across the platforms


The way in which people are watching video content is subtly shifting as Hyperfine Media’s Garth Haley explains.

According to the Ofcom Communications Report 2015, the average number of minutes of broadcast TV, watched on a TV set, was 220 minutes per person (aged four and above), per day in 2014. This was 11 minutes less than in 2013, resulting in a fall of 4.9% year on year.

There are a number of reasons why people are spending less time watching TV shows on traditional TV sets, such as the popularity of catch up services, increased employment, a lack of high-rated programmes, the weather and finally the rise of online video content.

Over the past few years, we have seen more and more people turning to websites like YouTube to watch online video content. Hyperfine Media has recently conducted a survey of 1500 people in the UK, asking them the simple question ‘How often do you watch video content online?’

The largest percentage of respondents, 24.4%, admitted to watching video content online at least once a day; 21.3% claimed to watch it once a week; 16.7% said multiple times a day; 16.1% said every other week and 14.9% said every other day.

Ofcom’s report found that 72% of people claimed to watch short-form videos (such as clips and music videos on YouTube), which 32% said they watched either daily or weekly. YouTube has become an important source of both information, as well as entertainment, with 47% of internet users claiming to have used YouTube when looking for information online. This increased to 57% of people in the 16- to 24-year-old age group.

Vlogging (the video version of blogging) has also become extremely popular in recent years and has resulted in some ‘vloggers’ reaching audiences into the millions, making them the envy of many TV production companies. These simple video diary clips particularly appeal to teenage audiences and have turned vloggers like Zoe Sugg (Zoella) and Alfie Deyes (Pointless Blog) into fully-fledged celebrities.

Many studies have found that mobile browsing is overtaking desktop browsing and it seems that mobile viewing will soon be overtaking desktop viewing too. The Ofcom report found that YouTube’s audience and reach on smartphones and tablets is higher than that on desktop and laptops.

YouTube is still the UK’s most popular online video sharing website, with a digital audience of 14.5 million in March 2015. Its total mobile audience is currently 27.1 million, exceeding its desktop audience of 2.2 million. One of the reasons for this could be that the YouTube app comes installed on Android smartphones.

While Vimeo and other services have become increasingly popular, Facebook has also become known as a great site for watching video content online. Despite not being a dedicated video-sharing service, Facebook for video on mobile exceeds that of all other video sharing services, besides YouTube.

The Ofcom survey found that between April 2014 and March 2015, an average of 8 million people used Facebook on their mobile to watch videos. Facebook has said that it is a major area of growth and that global video views had grown from one billion per day in September 2014 to four billion a day in April 2015, 75% of which are now taking place on mobiles.

In addition to watching short video clips online, many people are also turning to subscription on-demand services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video instead of traditional broadcasting. Ofcom’s report showed that 15% of people are using these subscription on-demand services more than they did the previous year.

The results from our survey, along with those from the Ofcom Communications Report clearly show an increase in the number of people watching video content online. What’s interesting is that many videos are now being watched on people’s smartphones and tablets. Could this lead to the demise of the desktop as well as traditional TV broadcasting? Only time will tell.

Garth Haley is corporate videographer, editor and animator at Hyperfine Media