Video is sucking up bandwidth at alarming rates

Every minute, people around the globe upload 30 hours of video and more than 1.3 million viewers are on YouTube. So much video content is going across the internet every second that in a few years, it will take five years to view it all.

Cisco CEO John Chambers noted that last year, 53 per cent of the mobile traffic was video but that’s probably all of his IoE (Internet of Everything) things sending videos of you doing something to some cloud. Or, the 406 million smartphones added were sucking up bandwidth downloading videos.

Globally, smart devices represented 21 per cent of the total mobile devices last year and accounted for 88 per cent of the mobile data traffic.

It wasn’t smoothly downloading TV shows because globally, the average downstream speed was 1,378 Kbps or a little over 1Mbps.

Sure, 4G and LTE connections will help; but they’ll be needed to handle the growing number of devices streaming stuff.

For example:

  • The number of mobile-connected devices is higher than the world’s population;
  • Monthly mobile data traffic will surpass 15 EB by 2018;
  • The average mobile connection speed will surpass 2 Mbps by 2016; and
  • To free up cellular nets, the growing volume of traffic will be offloaded to WiFi.

Aldo Cugnini, of Insight Media, told us during NAB that the mobile TV we envision may not be real mobile TV anytime soon.

Action-Packed Booth – NAB may be all about rich, exciting, profitable video content but the folks involved in the mobile content industry seemed to be all about wishful thinking, rather than signing deals.

First, he showed us a photo he had taken of the Mobile TV pavilion – just one of many TV/entertainment everywhere venues at the show that didn’t get many broadcasters stopping by.

Work in Progress

Broadcasters are still working on monetizing digital TV. They have over the top services leaning on them; and now phone producers and service providers are spreading this idea that “everyone” really wants TV on top of all of the other video they have on their small screen.

The phone folks are making their case to grab a bunch of the broadcast spectrum to keep up with the video/TV demands of consumers (they don’t watch much TV do they?).

The larger telcos also argue that putting limits on how much they can participate (how much they can get) ties their hands in the auction.

They make the case that the government says they have to have so much revenue so they can also fund a nationwide network for first responders, and all those silly rules just limit how much they can put in their pockets.

At the same time, broadcast bosses are telling the FCC that they need that spectrum “for the public good” to provide critical communications in the event of natural or other disasters.

Sorta’, kinda’ gives you a lump in your throat.

O.K., so if you aren’t using your smartphone and other mobile device running around watching TV, what are you doing?

Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something – Because people never seem to be without their mobile device, they obviously have them when they sit down to enjoy some television entertainment, news or sports. They’re using the devices to learn more about actors, characters, the plot, advertisers and their offerings and more. Using the mobile device actually adds to viewers’ interest.

According to Nielsen, more than half of the smartphone and tablet owners use these devices while watching TV.

No big surprise here because people seem to use them during every single activity in their lives … yes, that too!

Ipsos, a global market research company, found that nearly 90 per cent of the folks worldwide are still plunking down in front of their TVs.

Viewing Habits

The research firm found that

  • 86 per cent watch traditional live TV
  • 27 per cent stream/download TV/video via their computer
  • 16 per cent are streaming Internet video to TV
  • 16 per cent are using DVR/recording devices
  • 11 per cent watch on a mobile device.


Ipsos found that streaming from the Internet is the second largest category (behind watching on a computer), with those under 35 viewing 20 percent of the time; 35-49, 16 per cent; and 50-64, 11 percent.

O.K., so mobile devices aren’t about turning a blind-eye to the TV set but about getting more out of the show’s you watch or multitasking by checking out something else.

In fact, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) found that sixty-three percent of phone video-watching is done at home in front of another bigger screen.

Nielsen (and almost every other researcher) concludes that if the iPad/tablet and TV were more integrated, people would be using the mobile device for more than just looking stuff up about the actors, shows, themes, cloths, etc.

Yeah, that could really tie the two/three screens together. Of course, that calls for new TV sets beyond even 4K being widely used even though 4K is just becoming popular/affordable.

Then, after the sets are in place, we’ll have to have new production/post production software, techniques and training for the creative people; and that probably won’t take more than 10 years … or more.

Still, there’s plenty you can do when you sit down with your arsenal of devices in front of the POT (plain old television).

Do like we do – read emails, check out details on the actors/personalities, use Facebook/Twitter to communicate with the show/actors/personalities; read/follow the show gossip/”news”;  get news/special offers on the stuff advertised; share your thoughts about the show/actor/personality with someone/anyone who cares.

The broadcast folks will push hard to keep their bandwidth–especially now that 4K streaming is being so rapidly deployed. It really sucks up bandwidth, even with the newer, better, more efficient codecs.

Content looks better on a big screen anyway; and we can chat back and forth on the web and/or watch other stuff because you can never have too much video … especially if Google gets its fiber to our house before I start believing the folklore.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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