How Phablets Are Changing Video Consumption In India

by Sohini Bagchi    Jan 13, 2016

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Large-screen smartphones, popularly known as Phablets are becoming the most preferred device for video consumption in India. A new report from Flurry, the research wing of Yahoo observes that “Phablets” are set to become dominant by the end of this year. What that means is more people will be reading news, watching video, listening to music and consuming other types of content on these larger format smartphones than on other media devices, including, PCs and TVs. Another poll from Strategy Analytics, also found that 42 percent of phone owners would watch more videos on phones with larger screens.

Specifically, phablet users were found to engage with media apps more than the average user.  The phablet category includes devices like the iPhone 6s Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note. 

Flurry research also states, the time users spent on phablets increased 334 percent year-over-year, which was 2.9 times more than the average growth of 117 percent for all device sizes globally. 

As phablet sales are growing tremendously in recent quarters, and more people have access to these mobile devices, a recent study by Vuclip further predicts that video consumption will continue to reach a new high in 2016 and beyond. Until recently, majority of the mobile video viewing in developed markets took place on smartphones in the five inches+ category while in India, this happened on smaller devices, typically in the 4.6-5 inches range. But with video consumption market growing leaps and bound, more people will use phablets for watching videos, going forward.

Researchers also observe, while mobile video is fuelled by the young generation, older people are also showing a lot of interest in videos, thanks to large screens that are increasingly creating their interests - making video watching a more comfortable experience. 

However, there are certain key challenges. The Vuclip shows that irrespective of the device, freshness of content as well as variety in content catalogue are considered most important by Indian viewers, when it comes to video consumption. Indian viewers also lay greater emphasis on video quality. Unfortunately, the quality of mobile video remains a key challenge at present, with 23% of viewers in India view buffering as a key inhibitor to video consumption on smartphones.

“As mobile access becomes ubiquitous and devices more capable, subscribers will be less likely to tolerate degraded quality. Instead, they will expect an experience similar to that which we now enjoy on wired networks,” says Frost & Sullivan Research Director Vidya S Nath. “To capitalize on the growing demand for mobile video, operators must first optimize their networks to deliver video efficiently, at scale, and with exceptionally high quality,” she says.

Not surprising then that users’ preference for OTT VOD services which deliver on the promise of providing them an unbuffered viewing experience. For mobile video players, revenue generation is yet another challenge. That aside, prices of phablet devices need to further go down to trigger adoption in the mass market.

Despite such challenges, it can be said that mobile video consumption especially on a larger screen like the phablets will continue to grow at a rapid pace. The IDC expects to see bigger screens on more devices through 2019. Moreover, bigger screen translates into higher selling prices, an added benefit for device manufacturers. According to the IDC, nearly all flagship device lineups will feature large screen through 2019, said IDC, predicting that devices with screens between 5-7-inches will account for 71% of smartphone shipments by then. This explains why phablets are changing the video consumption landscape.