Slowing growth of mobile video could spell trouble for AT&T, Verizon

The explosive growth of mobile video is slowing, according to a new report from the online video firm Ooyala. And that slowing is happening just as wireless carriers are running headlong into the space.

Ooyala reported mobile video views have increased more than six-fold in the last two years, soaring from 6.3 percent of all views in in the third quarter of 2012 to 45.1 percent of all views during the third quarter of 2015. But those figures actually mark a slowdown, Ooyala observed: Mobile video enjoyed a growth rate of more than 1,000 percent during the three-year span ending in the first quarter of this year, and an 840 percent growth rate from the second quarter of 2012 to the second quarter of 2015.

Smartphones have largely driven that growth, according to Ooyala, while the share of tablet views has remained generally flat.

"To a degree," Ooyala noted, "mobile viewing has reached a temporary point of stasis. There remains a shortage of premium content available on mobile devices -- specifically the live, linear and other premium content that continues to be in demand. Content owners and publishers who can take advantage of that temporary shortage of supply will be well-positioned to reap the benefits of even more mobile growth."

Mobile network operators are hoping the slowdown is indeed temporary and not an indicator that the market is beginning to plateau. Verizon (NYSE: VZ) is pursuing mobile video aggressively with its Go90 initiative, and AT&T (NYSE: T) is preparing to leverage its acquisition of DirecTV with a mobile-first video service set to launch early next year. And T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) is luring new customers with Binge On, a video service that doesn't impose additional data charges on subscribers when they stream content from select content providers.

"Video viewing on mobile devices has become ubiquitous, commonplace, the norm; it makes up, literally, nearly half of all views worldwide," Ooyala observed. Unless the carriers can somehow grow that figure, their highly-touted mobile video services may struggle.

For more:
- see this Ooyala press release

Related articles:
Verizon's Go90 shows the company can take a risk - but the reward isn't guaranteed
AT&T's Stephenson says new mobile video service will begin 'turning heads' in January
Taking a deep dive into Verizon's Go90 mobile first video service

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