YouTube and Netflix boosts mobile data traffic by 65pc
A significant increase in the number of people using their smartphones to watch YouTube and Netflix has caused mobile data traffic to rise 65pc in a single year, according to a new report.
The trend for smartphones with larger screens coupled with more competitively priced tariffs has made it more comfortable and affordable to watch videos on the go, while the number of Netflix subscribers now outnumbers the UK’s population - more than 69m.
Mobile data traffic from smartphones, tablets and laptops grew 65pc between the third quarter of 2014 and the same period in 2015, the Ericsson Mobility Report found. By the end of 2021, around 90pc of all traffic will be driven by smartphones, it predicted.
Video site YouTube, which was bought by Google in 2006 for $1.65bn (£1.9bn), accounts for between 50 and 70pc of all video traffic, and has around one billion users - one third of the entire internet population.
More than half of the company’s watch time comes from mobile, and it recently announced subscription service YouTube Red, which for $9.99 per month allows users to watch original content free from advertising. Currently only available in the US, it is expected to come to the UK in 2016.
US streaming provider Netflix, which has become well-known for its original programming including the US House of Cards remake and Orange is the New Black, is responsible for between 10 and 20 pc of video traffic in the 60 plus countries it is available in, due in part to its monthly subscription fee.
Apple is reported to be working on its own rival streaming service expected to launch early next year, after CBS chief executive Les Moonves confirmed Apple was "having conversations with everyone about doing their own streaming services" last month.
The likes of BBC iPlayer, Amazon Instant Video and Netflix are driving the UK’s video streaming subscription market towards half a billion pounds by the end of 2015, a report from Mintel found earlier in the year. Sales reached £437m in 2014, and are on course to surpass £1bn in 2019, up from £28m 10 years previously.
Digital video-on-demand services grew 45pc during 2013, bolstered by a 77pc increase in users taking up subscriptions.
Music streaming on platforms Spotify and Apple Music has also grown in popularity, but its use over mobile data traffic is generally lower thanks to their ability to save playlists for offline listening. Surprisingly, social networking on Facebook, Twitter etc accounted for only around 15pc of all data traffic throughout 2015, compared to video’s 50pc, the report claimed.
Executive editor of the report Patrik Cerwall said the dramatic increase in mobile data traffic was surprising, as it had fallen in the past.
Part of the reason more people are using their smartphones to watch videos was down to people wanting to continue watching films and series after they’d left their living rooms.
“We’re seeing a lot of place-shifting, when people are starting watching a film at home and continuing watching it on the go. It’s another channel for Netflix to reach audiences,” he said.
Data traffic is expected to increase ten-fold by the end of 2021, with 70pc of all traffic coming from streaming video, the report found.