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IBC2014: Notes from the show floor – Video – the new killer app

Video – the new killer app

Charlie Vogt, CEO of Imagine Communications, was one of the participants in the opening keynote session at the IBC conference. He put up a slide which made me stop and think. It was headlined “video has become the ‘killer app’”.

Vogt’s figures – drawn from research by Cisco and PriceWaterhouseCooper – suggest that there will be a 30% compound annual growth rate in consumer video traffic on the internet between now and 2018. Already it is over 20,000 petabytes a month. Four years from now it will be 65,000 petabytes a month.

And, in the week that new iPhones were launched, he added the statistic that the worldwide market for smart mobile devices will increase by 21% CAGR over the same period. Here at IBC, I have a conventional mobile phone as well as my own smartphone, and it feels positively quaint.

Mobile video

What are all those new mobile devices doing? According to Vogt’s presentation, “conventional” internet use will grow on mobile devices by 15% a year to 2017. But realtime video will grow by 23%.

Or look at it another way. From 2012 to 2013, television viewing fell by 3%. But video viewing on a laptop grew by 1%. On a mobile it grew by 11%. And on a tablet it grew by 13%.

In the US, 86% of consumers use second screens regularly, such as browsing for products and services. In the UK, 22% claim to watch different content on different screens in the same room.

New model

So what does all this tell us? It seems to me that consumers, in general, are watching more content than ever. Just not necessarily on a television screen. We know, for example, that the football World Cup a couple of months ago was the biggest online event ever – that is according to CDN Akamai. The Netherlands – Argentina match saw a peak streaming rate of 6.9 terabytes a second, a staggering amount of data.

In other words, it is not TV that is the killer app, it is video, and the two should not be confused. This is a big shift in consumer behaviour. This is TV Everywhere.

Consumers genuinely now expect content wherever they are, when they want it. That is good for content producers and owners, because audiences are demanding more of the best, most creative content.

For content deliverers, then, the business model has shifted. They are the ones who have to find new ways of monetising that content.

While traditional advertising on linear TV is still surprisingly strong, I am not sure it will survive this new, agile consumer behaviour. If you are viewing on a mobile or a tablet, you can ditch commercials at the flick of a finger.

by Dick Hobbs, consultant and writer on television and communications technology