Consumption of mobile video in the U.S. might best be described as wide but shallow. The number of people watching video on smartphones (ages 2 and over) in the fourth quarter of 2013 reached 101 million, up from 80.7 million in the year-earlier period.
Average time spent per user in mobile video increased 23% to one hour, 23 minutes per month -- but still trailed well behind that of other media, according to the latest quarterly cross-platform report from Nielsen. Traditional TV is still easily the biggest time sink for Americans, at 155.32 a month, roughly the same as a year ago.
Starting with the fourth-quarter report, Nielsen noted that figures for mobile use and mobile video are based on metered data rather than survey-based insights.
“With this, we see some trend breaks as we migrate to a more precise and consistent reporting of mobile consumptions, one that is based on measured behavior,” stated Dounia Turrill, SVP, insights, Nielsen, in the study.
Time-shifted TV accounts for another 14:40, up from 12:38. One interesting development is the growth in time with apps or the mobile Web on a smartphone at the expense of time spent on the desktop Web. The former increased to 34:03 from 27:22 a year ago, while the latter dropped by almost two hours to 27:44 a month.
Likewise, the number of people using the Internet on a computer fell to 204.4 million from 212.4 million, while App/Web smartphone users jumped 30% from 111 million to 144.3 million in the last year.
The average time spent using a smartphone overall (among adults 18 and over) per month increased to 1:07 in 2013 from 53 minutes in 2012.
Nearly all the time (89%) spent on media among smartphone users is in apps, with the balance on the mobile Web. The same pattern holds in tablet use, where 81% of time spent is devoted to apps versus the Web. Women use both formats on tablets more than men, at 27:45 versus 22:41 in apps, and 6:30 compared to 4:07 online.
However, on smartphones there is less of a gender gap, with men spending 29:32 in apps compared to almost 31 hours for women, and both sexes even in mobile Web use, at about 3:45 a month.
In terms of other demographic trends, African-Americans and Hispanics consumed mobile media at higher-than-average rates. Both ethnic groups, for instance, watched about two hours of mobile video a month, while Asian-Americans came in at 1:39.
Whites, however, make up the vast majority of smartphone users overall at 70%, with 73% watching mobile video.
The biggest chunk (38%) of smartphone users by age fall into the 35-54 bracket, with those 25-34 making up 22%, and those 18-24 at 16%. People 55+ account for nearly a quarter (24%). Smartphone video users, again, broadly parallel those figures, although only 18% of those 55 and over watch video on their phones.
The time for watching video on a smartphone peaks between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. -- similar to the peak times for TV and online video viewing. That suggests people are dividing their attention among screens during traditional TV prime-time hours.