More than 8 billion devices were connected to the web by the end of 2015, according to fresh data from IHS, averaging four devices per household around the world. And Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) has a presence on many of them.
The market research firm said 8.1 billion connected smartphones, tablets, personal computers, TVs, "TV-attached devices" and audio gadgets were in service last year. Roughly 500 million new smartphones come to market every year, IHS said, and while sales of tablets and set-top boxes "are growing quickly" they are still outpaced by smartphones.
Smartphones will outsell tablets by a nearly ten-to-one ration by 2020, IHS predicted.
"The proliferation of media-enabled connected endpoints has implications for media consumption, media production, broadband infrastructure, and the business itself of network management and traffic discrimination," Merrick Kingston, IHS's connected home analyst, said in a press release. "It drives media consumption, IP traffic and more."
Interestingly, IHS also reported that Netflix has a presence on 339 million connected devices in the U.S., accounting for 32 percent "of the audio-visual hardware landscape."
Netflix's prominence across connected devices – including smartphones and tablets – underscores the challenges facing mobile network operators looking to monetize their own video offerings. AT&T (NYSE: T), for instance, is preparing to launch a DirecTV-branded service across platforms, with one offering aimed specifically at mobile users. And Verizon (NYSE: VZ) continues to pursue Go90, an OTT video platform designed primarily to generate mobile advertising revenues.
Consumption of mobile video is clearly on the rise in the U.S., particularly among younger mobile consumers. But whether mobile network operators can differentiate their video offerings from competing content providers is far from clear.
"Netflix's reach is a testament to the company's unrivalled device strategy," Kingston said. "The service's ubiquity turns Netflix into a de facto rival – and on occasion complement – to any other given video offering in the U.S."
- see this IHS press release
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