One in ten online videos viewed on mobile

Online video consumption in the UK is growing by over a third year-on-year, and mobile is a key driver.

UK Internet users are spending a phenomenal time watching video, and it’s a trend that’s going up rather than down, and while this isn’t strictly a mobile story, we’re convinced that video is becoming a driving factor behind the uptake in mobile. Additionally the mobile operators are starting to embrace video as another way of increasing revenue, Three announced last week that it intends to allow users to subscribe to ITV’s video on demand service for an additional £5 per month. The new service, provided in association with the On Demand Group (ODG), will permit subscribers to access ITV content that can be viewed in “catch-up” mode.

Analysts Hitwise’s latest Internet survey, “Online Video: Bringing Social Media to Life” shows UK Internet users are spending 240 million hours every month watching online video content.

In September 2011 four percent of all UK Internet visits in September 2011 went to a video website, making online video more popular than both the Travel and Sports categories. Whilst viewing video content online might have been an activity of the elite early adopters a few years ago, the transition of video from niche to mainstream media now means that 86% of the UK online population visits a video website at least once per month. The average Internet user makes 18 visits to video websites per month.

In September 2011, the UK Internet population made over 785 million visits to online video websites – an increase of 36% year-on-year. Not suprisingly the majority of growth in this space has been driven by YouTube, now the third most popular website in the UK after Google UK and Facebook. YouTube dominates with 70% of all visits to online video sites. Every month, UK Internet users spend 184 million hours watching YouTube content, with an average session time of 20 minutes.

Ranking second and third are the video-on-demand (VOD) services from BBC iPlayer and ITV Player, which now represent a significant percentage of overall internet visits to video sites. Niche sites have also seen a huge increase in traffic, including videozer (+853%), MSN Video (+913%) and Hulu (+123%).

According to Hitwise a big part of YouTube’s success is thanks to the uptake of video content consumed on mobile devices. Since January 2010 UK Internet visits to YouTube mobile have quadrupled, with a doubling of visits in 2011 alone.

Currently 1 in 20 YouTube visits comes from a mobile device used on a home WiFi network and this doesn’t even take into account the millions of videos watched each month using the 3G networks.
Factoring in the visits from mobile devices using 3G connections, Hitwise estimates that smartphones and tablets account for approximately 1 in 10 visits to YouTube; a significant figure considering the huge volume of videos watched on YouTube and the relatively short time that smartphones and tablets have been in mainstream use in the UK.

James Murray, Marketing Research Analyst at Experian Hitwise, said: “There are now more visits to video websites every month than to email providers, travel or sports sites, which represents a huge opportunity to the savvy marketer. The average Internet user will make 18 visits to video sites a month and almost half will visit at least three different sites. While YouTube dominates the market, the increase in traffic to video-on-demand and more niche sites demonstrates that content is what matters most to today’s Internet users and they’ll go to whatever site has the content they’re most interested in.”

Music, TV, films and gaming are the top four search topics that drove consumers to video websites. Music is the biggest driver of traffic, accounting for 33% of search clicks. The majority were looking for music videos, where Lady Gaga was the most searched for artist.
Seventeen per cent of search clicks to online content were for TV-related search terms; specifically EastEnders, Britain’s Got Talent, X-Factor and South Park, while gamers were looking for trailers for new games and walkthrough cheats.