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comScore Says Growth of Mobile Video Maturing

After years of explosive growth, mobile media usage may be slowing down, according to a new report from comScore.

Meanwhile, traditional live TV still holds a strong position versus both delayed viewing and competition from over-the top.

According to comScore’s Cross-Platform Future in Focus 2017, live TV still accounts for 84% of all viewing, with 14.9% of viewing occurring on DVRs and 1.1% with video on demand. In primetime, live viewing represents 74.7% percent of the total, with 24.6% being delayed viewing on DVRs and 0.8% VOD.

Sports is the programming genre most viewed live, at 90%. The most watched on a delayed basis on DVRs over 15 days was drama, at 29%, with just 71% live.

While streaming is popular, the bulk of streaming is done in households with either a cable or satellite pay-TV subscription. Only 15.4% of households are streaming only, with another 15.2% of households have streaming plus cordless antennas.

In homes that have both traditional TV and over-the-top services, 5 hours and 28 minutes is spent watching TV with 1 hour spent watching OTT.

The key themes of its report were that mobile is maturing, that a cross-platform ecosystem is emerging, and that advertising is getting back to the basics, with measurement that focuses on fundamentals of reach, frequency, impressions and demographics across a more complex landscape.

Mobile media usage surpassed the 1 trillion monthly minute mark in March and continues to rise. The average person spent 2 hours and 51 minute per day on mobile by the end of 2016.

Digital media usage is up 40% since 2013, although use of tablets and desktops for media was down in 2016.

“The U.S. smartphone market is nearing saturation and the tablet market has flattened. Advances in device technology are now growing incrementally rather than by leaps and bounds,” the report said.

“While mobile now dominates digital media usage, consumption is beginning to stabilize and the days of huge growth are over. Digital media audiences are in the latter stages of a multi-year boom,” the report said. “Consumer usage trends always shift faster than dollars, but now is the time for the economics to catch-up with behavior. This will be enabled by better measurement, improved industry standards and less friction in running mobile ad campaign.”

Social media and video viewing were the two most popular online activities, together accounting for more than a third of all internet time.

The number of newly emerging large-scale digital media properties is also flattening. The only digital media properties to top 200 million monthly unique visitors were Google sites, Facebook and Yahoo sites.

The Weather Channel was the only TV brand with an app in the top 20 in terms of usage, a category dominated by Facebook and Google.

The election drove traffic to some TV and print news brands including CNN, Fox News,The Washington PostandThe New York Times.

“Desktop and mobile media usage are converging with traditional TV and OTT, as consumers watch their favorite content through any number of devices, including smart TVs, streaming boxes and gaming consoles,” the report said. The cross-platform era will be defined by a media-agnostic view of the consumer and comparable metrics to facilitate efficient media planning, buying and selling.

Issues of digital ad viewability and fraud only add to the confusion, erode trust, and distract from how advertising performance ought to be measured, the report said.

comScore found that nearly half of digital ad impressions on desktops can’t have an impact because they’re not viewable or not delivered to a human. The vast majority of that invalid traffic is difficult to detect. The problem is growing for video ads.

“Ad measurement is finally getting back to basics with a return to the metrics that matter—reach, frequency, impressions, demographics—which are every bit as relevant today as they have ever been. But they are also getting more advanced, with the ability to go deeper on audience descriptors and tying to behavioral outcomes,” the report said.

(Photo via Pabak Sarkar's Flickr. Image taken on Feb. 15, 2017 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 9x16 aspect ratio.)