Smartphones Boosting SVOD Subscriber Growth Globally

Not too long ago, Netflix’s Reed Hastings admitted the streamer wasn’t used much on smartphones. Now the co-founder/CEO thinks the platform’s next 100 million subscribers could come from India’s cellphone users.

New data from Digital TV Research contends the rest of the cellphone ecosystem is catching on. Smartphone SVOD subscriptions for 138 countries will double between 2019 and 2025 to 170 million. The total will climb by 25 million in 2020 alone.

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The net smartphone SVOD subscriber count will rise by 34 million through 2025 to 93 million — lower growth than gross subscriptions.

The average smartphone SVOD subscriber will pay for 1.83 services by 2025 — up from 1.45 in 2019. These figures are lower than for fixed broadband homes, which total about three SVOD subscriptions. Smartphone SVOD subs via mobile operators will reach 16% of the 582 million global SVOD subscribers by 2025; up from 14.6% of 403 million in 2019.

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Smartphone SVOD take-up will be highest in emerging markets, i.e. India, especially those with low fixed broadband penetration, where disposable incomes are limited.

“Our forecasts only cover subscriptions taken via a mobile operator, so they exclude direct SVOD subscriptions via a mobile app,” analyst Simon Murray said in a statement. “These forecasts could easily more than double if direct mobile SVOD subscriptions were included.”

Netflix Expanding Global Mobile Strategy

Netflix is set launch mobile access in Spain next week as part of an existing deal with Telefónica, the Madrid-based multinational telecom. The SVOD pioneer and Telefónica rolled out a similar promotion in Brazil affording subscribers direct access to content.

The strategy is aimed at growing Netflix’s global subscriber count targeting the service’s least-used distribution channel: mobile. Indeed, 70% of Netflix programming is streamed through the television – a percentage that undermines the service’s attempt to create a larger global subscriber footprint in regions with heavy mobile platform use such as India.

In June, Netflix inked a deal with Vodafone affording the telecom’s Indian postpaid subs one year of free Netflix access. That promotion is aimed at telecom rival Airtel’s pact with Amazon Prime Video.

Netflix, which has similar Vodafone agreements in New Zealand and Australia, is currently offering one-year of free service to T-Mobile subscribers in the United States.

The promotions are part of a concerted effort to raise mobile streaming of Netflix content. In 2016 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Netflix revealed 50% of its users accessed the service on their smartphone, yet only 10% actually streamed content.

“Behavior on mobile is different,” Scott Meyer, VP of Netflix’s device partner ecosystem, said at the time. “We’re just starting to learn about this.”

Flash forward two years and Netflix thinks subs are apparently willing to stream full-length feature films – not just TV shows – on their smartphone, according CCO Ted Sarandos.

Speaking Dec. 6 at Variety’s Dealmaker’s confab, Sarandos touted Netflix’s original feature film Roma as content subscribers would willingly access on their phone.

When questioned about the likelihood someone would actually stream director Alfonso Cuaron’s two-plus hour, black-and-white semi-autobiographical movie on a phone, Sarandos said his 22-year-old son, a film school student, does just that.

“He’s only seen Laurence of Arabia on his phone,” said Sarandos. “He thinks it’s one of the great movies of all time.”

Netflix screened Roma in select theaters exclusively to appease industry awards such as the Golden Globes and Oscars, but Sarandos is well-known for challenging the industry’s 90-day theatrical window, claiming more people would watch movies if offered concurrently via streaming channels.

“Most people see most movies that change their lives at home,” said Sarandos.

Report: U.S. Continues to Lead Global Online Video Consumption

With the United States the birthplace of subscription video-on-demand, YouTube and other over-the-top video platforms, it should be no surprise that it leads Europe in the consumption of video on smart phones and TVs.

But Europe is catching up, according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

The London-based research firm found that 32% of broadband users in the U.S. streamed video on their smartphone in the third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) compared to 23% in Europe. Consumption of OTT video on the TV was 66% in the U.S. and 60% in Europe.

Indeed, Europeans now consume more online video on the computer, including laptops and tablets (65%) than do Americans (61%).

“As online video viewing in the U.S .continues to grow, consumers are watching TV and film content on a wide range of devices, especially smart TVs and smartphones,” analyst Hannah Walsh said in a statement.“While the online video sector in the US has developed faster than European markets, a similar trend can be seen in both regions.”

Ampere found that 47% of U.S. survey respondents preferred using OTT video platforms (19% very strongly) to watch movies and TV shows compared to 35% (11%) in Europe.

“As [SVOD] continues to progress in European markets, the proportion of consumers who watch video on smartphones will rise, alongside the number of consumers who use online video services as their main way to watch TV,” said Walsh.


Survey: One in Five U.S. Children Under 6 Own a Smartphone

One in five U.S. children (20%) between the ages of 1 and 6 own a smartphone, according to a survey from, a service to sell unwanted items online, surveyed 1,007 U.S. parents about smartphones and children.

In the survey, 29% of parents said they spent more than $100 on their 1 to 6-year-old’s smartphone. Half of parents in the survey agreed the most appropriate age for a child to own a phone is between 10 and 13 years old. The majority (83%) said their children spent up to 21 hours per week on their phones, and 68% of parents said they have not placed limitations on their children’s smartphones

Among the group of parents with young children (1 to 6), respondents said phones are often used for entertainment, such as playing games and watching videos.

Most parents spend up to $200 on their child’s first phone, with 75 percent of parents opting for a new phone versus a refurbished option. While keeping in touch and safety reign as the top reasons parents purchase phones for their children, most children are receiving new phones from top smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung and Apple.

Additional data found that among parents whose children currently have their own phones, 87 percent said their kids spend up to 21 hours per week on their devices. Beyond messaging and calls, kids use their phones to play games (45%) and watch videos (37%).

Seventy-one percent of parents have not capped the amount of time their children spend on their phones, but 76 percent closely monitor it. About half (47%) said they allow internet capabilities to be enabled.

CTA: Emerging Tech, Smartphones Driving Household Consumer Electronics

About 87% of U.S. households own a smartphone, which is second only to the television at 96% ownership, according to new data from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

The trade group said that for the first time, the top three most-frequently owned tech products in the home are screen devices, with laptops trailing TVs and smartphones at 72%.

“The rapid ascent of smartphone ownership in U.S. households exemplifies [its] versatility — for communication, entertainment, productivity and more,” Steve Koenig, VP of market research, said in a statement.  “And because of that, it’s possible we’ll see smartphone ownership in the U.S. match that of TVs within the next five years.”

Echo and Google Home, have nearly tripled in ownership rate to reach 22% of American households — one of the fastest-adopted technologies since tablets, according to CTA.

Smartwatch adoption continues to grow, with 18% of U.S. households now owning at least one of the devices — an increase of six percentage points over last year. Additionally, ownership rates of drones and virtual reality headsets were measured at 11% and 10% of households, respectively.

Next-gen screen technologies and the availability of larger screen sizes drove more U.S. consumers to buy technology in and around the TV, said the CTA. The trade group said 4K Ultra HD televisions experienced the largest growth in household ownership rate, rising 15 percentage points year-over-year to reach 31% household ownership. Indeed, 19% of households own a TV with a screen size of 60 inches or bigger. Ownership of digital media streaming devices rose nine percentage points since 2017 to 45% of households.

“It’s no surprise that … smart speakers and VR are among the products consumers anticipate buying the most” said Ben Arnold, senior director of innovation and trends. “Many of these devices incorporate new technologies and features – artificial intelligence, voice recognition, faster processing – and at the same time provide a smarter way to communicate or experience content.”